Look, this might not be reading for everyone, but I promise to keep the details vague. Because after seven years in Austria I was recently reminded of my very first trip to the gynecologist, and it still makes me laugh.
In Australia I had gotten used to the ‘surprise’ Pap Smear. You know when you’re at the doctor on a Tuesday morning with a sinus infection to pick up a certificate for work and he or she looks at the computer and announces – says hereyou’re due for a Pap Smear, should we get that done while you’re here? So through your snotty nose and scratching eyes you weakly nod, and lie on that table to suffer the experience that is a Pap Smear.
After arriving in Austria this topic inevitably came up. Well no problem, I said, I’ll get that done the next time I’m at the doctor. Yeah… no. Because in Austria, your GP or Hausarzt doesn’t do Pap Smears. You have to go to the gynecologist for that. I’d always thought that people only went to a gynecologist if they needed specialist help with their nether regions or were having a baby! Apparently not the case.
On a recent trip to the supermarket, I discovered something I’d never seen before. Something that once again had me questioning the curious things that Austrians eat. So naturally I took a photo and decided it was worth a blog post.
Is anyone else out there interested in trying one of these Gabelbissen snack pots? Apparently they are Typically Austrian (according to advertising on the website) and are touted as THE Austrian classic for small snacks on the go for decades. They are available in six tasty varieties. What’s in them, you ask? Crunchy vegetable salad, mayonnaise, and a garnish of sausage, fish or egg… wow.
I returned to work this week after more than three weeks off. I don’t think I’ve had this much time off with no ‘real goal’ in mind ever – except perhaps when I was unemployed. In the midst of lockdown (only essential shops open, restaurants takeaway only, restrictions on visiting people), there was nowhere to travel, no one to catch up with and being winter, very little to do.
I thought it would drag. But all of a sudden, it was over and I was back to work.
They allowed us out of lockdown for December 24 and 25 so Christmas could be celebrated in a semi-normal way. There were limitations on how many people you could see at one time, but since my family here is on the small side anyway, we spent Christmas pretty much in the same was as always: Covid test in the morning, gathering in the early afternoon, singing Silent Night, opening presents and eating together. Oh… wait… the Covid test, that was something new for this year.
When you’re a kid it’s easy to make friends. You don’t even know you’re doing it. You get pushed together through school or sport, or you simply start playing together in the playground. As an adult most people have plenty of friends they’ve collected over the years, but what if you don’t? What if you’re the last single left after everyone’s married off, what if you suddenly realise that most of your friends have drifted away, and what if you’ve moved to another country where you don’t know anyone?