Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Graz Update: Something Happened Edition

Greetings from south central Austria, where the the weather has finally opted for winter. It snowed a little, which wasn't a big deal, but then it got cold. We haven't seen much above zero (°C, that is) for a week now, and several below most nights. Brr. (Hard to complain, given what some US folks are seeing. But it's still cold, especially for those of us who recently lived in the Southwest!)

Turns out our apartment is utterly air-tight, which means that in this cold weather, with the windows closed, the windows get really steamy. Especially if we cook or do laundry or breathe.... which we do. We've been running the heater more to dry the place out, than to heat it. Mold is clearly one of the unexpected problems of really well-sealed windows and doors! The cat is the only one happy about this interior condensation business, she'd get all of her water intake by licking the windows, if she could.

First, the exciting thing mentioned in the subject line:

A winning beer cap is something we don't see everyday,which is probably for the best.

Because if we did see that every day, our apartment would be full of these:

Which isn't bad, but it's a small apartment. We only have room for one case of beer at a time, really. Even if it's free. We would get really strong lugging 20 bottles of beer across the street, though. A case is 20 bottles, rather than 12. Have we ever talked about the different bulk packaging quantities here, versus the US? For instance, eggs come in packages of 6 and 10. Beer comes in 4, 6, and 20. (And, naturally, 1.) Small breads are sold in quantities of 1, 3, or 10, and large breads are sold by weight, which usually works out to 1/2 or 1/4 of the full size loaf. It's very rare for anyone to actually buy an entire 5 kilo loaf of bread!. (Technically, ALL bread is sold by weight, but they've worked it all out so you can buy Semmel without having to get each one weighed.) Foods bought by weight are generally decagrams or kilos, unless it's liters. Like... beans. Except not coffee beans, those are by the gram. And, fresh sheep cheese from the Turkish market is sold piecewise. Mmm. Fresh sheep cheese. Selling things by the dozen isn't really a thing here.

This is the Weihnachtsfest Tram. It's a miniature train, half the height and half the price of the regular tram, and goes between the holiday market sites. Of course, the regular tram does that, too. This one is definitely cuter, and probably serves the valuable purpose of clearing the sidewalks on a regular basis. Otherwise, the loitering would be totally out of control. We were trying to get a picture of the *front* of it, because it's got a Knight Rider style flashing LED display on the front, for no reason we could figure out, but it would have run us over if we'd stood in place to get the picture. Oh well. Can't stop the trains...

Here are some pictures of one of the Fest markets:

Of the 14 booths pictured here, 6 are Glühwein (a hot, spiced wine concoction that we're afraid to try), 5 are confections, and the remaining 3 are crafts. It seems possible that some people spend so much time hanging around the Markt drinking wine that they actually forget to do their holiday shopping.

This is about half the booths at this market, and there are 8 markets in Graz. The Glühwein :: Sugar :: Decorative Objects ratios seem pretty consistent. Interesting to note, there are NOT a bunch of disposable beverage containers piling up downtown. The stands are all using ceramic mugs to serve drinks--you can see them on the tables in the last picture. Customers can either pay to keep it, and reuse it, or they can give it back and get their deposit money returned.
We saw a couple of movies this week (in German),Beowulf in 3D and Golden Compass in.. uh... flat. In case you felt sticker shock last time you went to the theater to see a movie, you'll feel better to know that 2 adults seeing a full-price evening show costs €17 here, which at the current exchange rate is about US$24.50. Which, by the way, tends to make a person very sensitive to nearby theater patrons who insist on talking during the whole film. The next film we see, probably Sweeney Todd, will be at the English theater. It costs just as much, but there are never any other people in it. The last show we saw there didn't have any ads or previews before, because we showed up right at show time, and they weren't expecting anyone. There weren't any other patrons, and they were probably not going to show it at all.
What's going on in your neck of the woods?
Holly & Greg


boredlaura said...

Don't be afraid of Glühwein, it is fan-freakin'-tastic!

Rufus said...

I should note that Greg and I are starting to look alike.

clairev said...

i should note that this is frighteningly true.


gregvw said...

Beyond just the 30ish cranky and somewhat mad academic look?

Holly said...

Everyone looks like that when they've just won some beers.

Rufus said...

Sadly, I've never won beer. Isn't beer the prize for all contests in Germany?
Yeah, I think we both look like disheveled academics. And we both currently have similar facial hair.