This weekend was very long, I am trying to fit as much into my time here as possible. And the Austrian people that I am meeting are so nice. There is another PhD working here on barnacles who is Viennese and she has been playing the host. So far she has introduced me to some Austrian food like palachinken which is basically pancakes, taken us out places such as the Schonbrunn palace and begun to hand out invites to family functions.
So yesterday we went ice-skating. There is a small lake beside her parent's house that freezes solid. It seems amazing to me that this happens all on it's own while in New Zealand we have to make an ice-rink. First we went to her parents house where I was given some very nice home-cooked Austrian food (of course in Austria all food is Austrian but still, you know what I mean). I was lent some ice-skates and also ski-gear because hopefully we are all going to go skiing.
Ice-skating out-of-doors is very different to an indoor ice-rink. It was first of all full of kids (and adults too) playing ice-hockey. There was snow on the ice and every now and then somebody would skate around with a shovel pushing it all out of the way. Instead of stands to sit on and get your skates on you stand and lean on a friend or just sit in the snow. All of the kids wear these big puffy snow suits. But you can't even throw the snow because it is to powdery. And you have to be careful when going fast because the ice is a bit bumpy. And I reckon it's definately colder too.
So after a couple of hours ice-skating we went to the house of a family friend to return some borrowed gear and we were given tea and cake, and had a look at their preparations for Fasching. Fasching is like what we might call Carnival or Mardi Gras. It goes for all the winter months, and all the balls that are on are sort of a part of it, and there are a lot of parties and things. All of the markets on before Christmas are a part of it. And it ends with a party, so I have been invited to one.
Anyway, basically the people here seem to be really nice, and keen to show a person around.