One of the great irritations of German, apart from having genders and weird pluralising and everything else that goes on… is formal speech. You could say it is a little similar to English… but only in a very subtle way. In English, it’s normal to refer to someone older than you as Mrs or Mr so-and-so… until there comes a time where they tell you it’s fine to call them by their first name. But come on, that’s simple!
I am not a big salt eater. I grew up on less salt partly due to the fact that high blood pressure is in our family, and salt is one thing that exacerbates this. I remember cooking with my mum as a kid, and whenever I read out the salt requirements for a recipe, she would wave it away and tell me it wasn’t necessary. Hence, my taste buds have been conditioned to not require as much salt as the average person. And I was fine with that.
And then I came to Austria.
And I was as-salted (pun intended).
Following last year’s successful but cosy trip to Grado for our work team event, us girls this year planned a weekend away to Rovinj, Croatia, in early May. Each year the company allocates a budget to each team for a social event, but since us three girls actually like each other, we again decided to throw some extra money in the kitty and make a weekend of it.
Like last year we weren’t alone. We took three of our marketing mascots in our growing family of team members – TMF Bear, Gartner Giraffe and a new addition – Bonnie Jovi – the beautiful white horse.
There is one difference between Austria and Australia I haven’t mentioned yet, and while it’s certainly becoming less and less noticeable… noticeable it still is. In Australia, after years of campaigning, hiking up cigarette prices and banning of smoking pretty much everywhere, it seems these days that barely anyone smokes. But in Austria, it is much more widespread – you can smoke almost everywhere and cigarettes are cheap (and if you want cheaper ones just cross the border to Slovenia).
The Autobahn is a big thing here in Austria. It’s long, it’s well used and it takes a lot of maintenance to keep everyone safe. So people are very diligent about reporting anything that might cause a disruption or be unsafe. With drivers travelling at 130km/h there is a good reason why. Not just for the ghost drivers (people driving the wrong way), but also for accidents, bad weather conditions, broken down vehicles and random things creating a hazard.
Like, for example, foreign objects. There is nothing more terrifying than coming around a bend at 130 to find a piece of ‘something’ on the road in front of you.
Not to make light of it, but more to praise the almost instantaneous way the radio and traffic authority tells us about these things, I do find myself intrigued about what might be found on the autobahn today.
The most common is a Ladegut which seems to be a generic term for an item that fell off a car or truck… or a Holzstuck (piece of wood)… or a piece of tyre… and so on.
But then there are the things that are not only less common, but sometimes have me giggling and wondering how the hell they got there in the first place.
When I was in the Ukraine a few years ago I remember being surprised by how much dill was in everything. Every dish had dill in and on it. Well, it seems that in many countries and cultures there is a ‘spice of choice’. And in Austria, their spice of choice is definitely… cumin.
I am no stranger to bee stings. As a kid it seems I was often barefoot, and I had plenty of runs-ins with the peaceful creatures. The result was usually just a swollen foot and limping for a few days – and of course the tell-tale itching.
The last time I was stung by a bee I iced it and put my foot up, and really didn’t notice much else.
But while my foot may be immune, turns out my face isn’t.