Vienna’s New Optical Illusions Museum

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Tucked just a block off the popular Graben walking street, and behind Meinl, a luxury grocery store worth browsing for hours on end, is a brand new optical illusion museum.  There is nothing particularly Viennese about the museum but it’s interactive, surprisingly educational, and a lot fun.  This new museum is an ideal spot for ‘tweens and teens in need of a little independence, puzzling, and funny photos to share with friends.  It also provides a nice contrast to the many more traditional art museums in Vienna. Read more »

Seven Fun Things to Know About Traveling in Austria with Kids

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Austria is one of the best places in the world to live with or travel with kids.  There are information booths to help families find fun activities, the streets are safe, and the public transportation system is fantastic.  There is music, art, delicious food, lakes, and stunning mountains.  And there are plenty of guidebooks to help you get around.  But, here are a few tips for a great experience that you may not find in a traditional guidebook. 

1) In Germany, you may be greeted by “Guten Tag” as you learned in German 101 or even the relatively Read more »

Vienna ist fur Kinder

Vienna ist für kinder!  Vienna, Austria boasts castles, boat rides, music history, gorgeous Hapsburg-yellow buildings, and fantastic parks.  We lived in the 19th district of Vienna for six months with two young kids and we fell in love. Many activities and museums are designed specifically für kinder (for children) and others are just naturally fun für kinder. Here are a few of our favorite hidden family hotspots. Read more »

Skiing in Austria with the Family

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Reflections on Austria

Things are different in Austria.  This is why we came of course.  If things weren’t different, we’d be wasting a whole lot of energy on this trip.  First off, I should be very clear that Austria is not Germany.  They are pretty particular on this point.  Austrians ruled the world (or at least a big chuck of it) for 800 years and they did it relatively peacefully.  The collective consciousness is calm and independent.  Maybe they are calm because of the wind that never stops blowing (my own personal theory) and independent because they have had 5 different governments over the past 90 years (and only the very independent can survive the school system). Whatever the reasons, they have been amazingly successful within the EU and are certainly benefiting from the lifting of the iron curtain. Trams wait for pedestrians to cross in front.  Drivers are prepared to stop for Read more »

What I Don’t Like About Vienna … and What I Do Like

Everyone we’ve spoken to has asked what I don’t like.  So far there are only three things.  One is ordering in restaurants with our kids.  There just aren’t always choices that make them happy and we’re getting a lot of sudden outbursts: “I hate hotdogs” or “I hate pizza” but this is getting easier every day.  Last night, I gave in and made macaroni and cheese – they were very happy!!  Then we watched Ratatouille after ice-skating at the Rathaus (town hall).  The second is the toilets.  The system of a WC and a sink in a separate room is fine but in old buildings (such as my office), it means that there are often only 3-4 Read more »

Postcard from Austria

Life is great.  I know this is the least interesting part for everyone else.  Who really wants to get a postcard from Hawaii saying ‘It’s beautiful here!”  I should begin anyway with what a big success our Austrian Adventure has been so far.  We’ve seen opera and ballet, visited Eastern European countries, gone skiing in the Alps, and eaten an enormous number of pastries.  An unexpected bonus has been the family time.  Since we are somewhat isolated here, we spend a lot of time just the four of us and this is wonderful.  We have some new family traditions now – heading to a “heurigan” (wine house) after school on Fridays if we are in town or taking the tram whichever direction comes first.  We’ve maintained the weekend pancake tradition but it has metamorphosed into Swedish pancake/crepes with Nutella and “schlag”(whipped cream).  The girls are growing and learning so fast it’s hard to keep up.  Logan goes on exciting field trips for school, is loving piano lessons, and can say “fart” in several languages (I know I know).  She plans to be reading before we leave Austria.  Zoey can ride the public bus, transfer to the Read more »

Skis and Fish

I squeaked in another ski day!  With the rising spring temperatures, the rapid loss of snow at the local ski areas, and the distance to the high elevation Alps, I thought my ski season was over.  But I resisted sending my ski equipment home when the opportunity presented itself, in the faint hopes that I could find the snow again.  That hope blossomed last weekend when we went to Lunz am See.

BOKU has an aquatic research center on the shores of the lake in Lunz, about 150 km west of Vienna.  The center is the second oldest active research center in the world that is dedicated to the study of freshwater ecology.  Ashley was invited to take part in a five-day course there on the basics of fish, zooplankton, invertebrates, and stream morphology.  Since everyone at her institute at BOKU loves to go to Lunz, she invited the rest of us along thinking that we’d also enjoy the opportunity of hanging out at a mountain lake for the weekend. Then, late last week, one of my collaborators at BOKU told Read more »