AustriaWell, we made it back to Blighty by the skin of our teeth, not realising we were on one of the last Euro Shuttles out of Calais before a strike shut the entire town.

Just as well, as the kitten was due to be retrieved from the cattery by 4pm and The Teenager needed picking up from his flight to London in the wee early hours of Thursday.

Anyway, the trip to Austria with my boss/friend exceeded all expectations and amazingly, my tattered remnants of German held up – I was able to confidently order beers, ask how much a sausage with curry sauce was and change money for the endless loo breaks (they charge in European motorway stop offs, but well worth it just to watch the loo seat swivel round after flushing).

I tagged along, feigning interest in the Austrian Grand Prix, whilst secretly swotting up beforehand – what’s a few fast cars between friends? The boss magnanimously declined to attend the qualifiers, so we drove through Slovenia to Croatia on the Saturday instead, ending up in Zagreb for coffee and a wander round the old town.

Back in Austria, I initiated him into the joys of Wiener Schnintzel, small pale beers, bread with ham and cheese for breakfast and watching the F1 highlights in German, with me translating.

In retrospect, I learned a lot from our six-day trip:

  • A car is a very small space. As such, my friend didn’t always appreciate my attempts to stick ‘Blob’ gummy sweets (sold at every good German petrol station) to the dashboard when he was nudging 110 miles an hour.
  • A Grand Prix is kind of exciting. I bugged my friend with a lot of questions. He missed the crash at the beginning and started to reply through gritted teeth. I found the easiest way to calm him down was to pop another sausage and coffee in front of him.
  • The Grand Prix merchandise is waaaaaaay overpriced. I scraped together the money for a tiny teddy-bear keyring and got my friend to swipe the flags from the seats in front of us – you know, the ones that were to be waved by the spectators to show the Austrian flag to the watching world? Yup, those missing gaps are my fault.
  • I am much more confident with driving, helped no doubt by very fast cars behind me flashing their lights.
  • Most importantly, I have expanded my horizons a little bit and discovered that life does indeed go on outside my own four walls.

Back home, I had a pit-stop then schlepped to London to get The Teenager. He had travelled as an unaccompanied minor and as such, was mortified to be led through customs by a flight attendant. There was a moment’s hesitation when I was asked to sign for him (lol), but The Teenager and his passport were handed over.

A perfect week was rounded off by finding out that my book has been short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award 2015. Wunderbar x 10.

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14 thoughts on “Wunderbar

  1. Judy Epstein says:

    Enjoyed your travel report! I lived in Japan for 14 years, the Amazon jungle for over 2 and now more permanently in Lyme Regis, Dorset and surroundings for the last 18 years. Travel to another country can be so eye opening. Living there can change everything…

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Wow! Japan must have been incredible. And the Amazon jungle!!! I’m jealous.
      I’m glad I lived and worked abroad before The Teenager and could possibly do so again once he’s grown (older, definitely not taller).
      We had a brilliant time, jam-packed but plenty of rest. Thank goodness Austria was having an unseasonably cold week 🙂

      • Judy Epstein says:

        Where did you live? What’s the name of your book?

        Re Japan and the Amazon: It was way before ms. Ms touched me while I was teaching in Japan and it was a severe solvent allergic response that lead to ms. I was around it everyday, sometimes in high amounts while photocopying for my hundreds of students. Solvents are in printer ink and house paint. It was the high solvent exposure that got me. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410015

        Most neurologists don’t know about the possible link between ms and solvents because it does’t affect everyone and it’s not part of their education. My British neuro inwardly rolled his eyes at me (and probably thought oh, we’ve got a good one here. just humour her, she’ll leave soon…) My American cousin the neuro said “maybe – we don’t know what causes it”. I appreciated his honesty.

        In Japan I quickly got out of my American habit of talking to fill the space.

        • stumbling in flats says:

          That’s very interesting reading! I had never heard of that before. Pretty frightening. I heard that Parkinson’s has been linked to pesticides.

          I lived in Austria, Norway and America (New York and Hawaii). Loved every minute!
          The book’s imaginatively called, Stumbling In Flats’ 🙂

          • Judy Epstein says:

            Re Parkinsons & pesticides: I knew an older woman who loved gardening. She made sure her great big lawn didn’t have a single weed, used a ton of pesticide and developed Parkinsons.

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Scary. Wonder what the environmental factors of MS could be?

          • Judy Epstein says:

            Nice! What did you do in NYC, Hawaii, Austria and Norway? Considering we humans are billions of years old and many chemicals have only been in use since WW2 there could be a connection for some of us. I met a medic whose brother used to spray paint cars for a living and ended up in a wheelchair. Medic brother thinks there’s a connection and Finland and Norway know there is.

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Wow! That’s frightening. But chemicals have a lot to answer for.
            I ended up in Norway as my dad had Norwegian heritage and I wanted to learn the language. So I hooked up with a Norwegian guy in Austria who wanted a Norwegian-English-German translator for his business. It was a random and totally amazing four years and at the time, I learned a lot more than I could have in University, which I went on to do when my son was small.

          • Judy Epstein says:

            Wow! Full immersion!

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Totally! Best way to learn a language 🙂

  2. The Rubery awards, cor we could be corresponding with an even bigger star.

    Well done and I hope it wins!!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you!
      I’ve got some tough competition, so just chuffed to be short-listed.
      If, and it’s a big if, I win, it’ll be a win for everyone with MS 🙂

  3. glad you had a good time! 😀

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