Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reality bites - The class of 1993

On Friday night Markus was yet again confronted with the fact that time is running fast and he is on his best way to become an old geezer. After work he headed south to Oberschuetzen, the little town in Burgenland where he attended high-school for the class-re-union celebrating 15 years school leaving examination (Matura). The most scary bit about this is, that it does not feel like so long ago but makes it quite obvious that Markus IS getting old.

This picture marked the end of Markus' "school-carreer" - You spot him?

Kurt Gamauf and Andi Gross have been so kind to take initiative a few weeks ago and organised the late afternoon/evening - a big "Thank you" for that. Due to work commitments Markus could not join the tour through the school starting at 1800 as he only left Vienna at around that time, so he only joined the food and drink session in Mostschank Unger. Out of the 28 pupils in the 1993 - 8A of the Bundesrealgymnasium Oberschuetzen 20 people could be detected, invited and made their way to - and it was pretty nice and funny to meet after such long time. As Markus has only with Andi, manager of the Oberwart Gunners, regular contact, it was almost like a "turn-back-time" experience and interesting to find out what happened to the classmates both on private level as well as in their careers.

It was nice that also Wolfgang Tretter, the teacher who led us through our last 4 years at school, and Heinz Hafner made themselves available and joined for some substantial meal alongside good wine and beer and helped to come to terms with the past. Similar to the past 15 years also last night time was flying by as there were so many old stories they recounted again accompanied by lots of laughter and several schnapps. By 0330 they called it a day, but an ipmortant decision has been taken as well: Regular meetings (at least every 2 years) will be called! Kurt, still spokesperson of the class, took ownership of this task.

There was neither much time to spend with his family nor a possibility to play the attempted round of Golf with Klaus (Promise: we will still play once this year together!) as Saturday morning Markus had to rush back quite early as he had an appointment at 1000 in Vienna before family Benkoe was coming for BBQ in the later afternoon. Hopefully Felix's bruise really has healed by now!

Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A hot night with Sophia Loren & a day by the Zurich lake

For many people the signs for an ending summer are foggy glass panels on the terrace, feeling cold in a suit in the morning on the scooter to work or when you need a jumper when sitting outside in the evening. For Markus another good indicator is the slow re-start of business travel-activity.

Zurich presented itself from its best side

Yesterday night he has boarded the first plane again since early July heading for a day in Zurich visiting clients. When he arrived at 2145 it was still 21 degrees and he checked into his hotel - Hotel Wellenberg - in the very city centre. Due to travel restrictions the hotel was rather dodgy: worn out, no aircondition and noisy. The best thing were two large photographs of Sophia Loren on the wall opposite the bed. So he spent a really hot and sweaty night with the diva for only 290 CHF!

Quite odd to have pictures of Sophia in front of your bed

The Wednesday was warm and sunny with 26 degrees and the lake was absolutely beautiful. In between two meetings it even worked out to sit down by the lake for 10 minutes and enjoy the view, but the rest of the day was meetings, taxis and lots of discussions. To wrap the day up and relax he will go for an 80-minute run in the Prater Hauptallee once he reaches home lateron.

Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, August 24, 2008

'Sex and the city' vs. 'Reservoir Dogs'

This weekend our flat was at centre stage for the 2 "Goldengnu" bachelor parties: On Friday night it was the ladies' turn and on Saturday the boys celebrated.

The girls' Motto was "Sex and the city" and all Maria knew, was that she will be picked up by a driver at 1915 who will bring her to the location of the evening. She neither know where he will take her nor what she has to expect. The flat was perfectly decorated in pink and white and upon arrival they had reception with drinks at the roof terrace. meanwhile the Thai cook, Miau, which Kerstin has booked served the starters and after an hour the 12 girls made their way downstairs for the main course and then the delicious dessert. After dinner Maria received her present, self-made "Manolo Blahnik" shoes with the girl's pictures on and loads of small, personal presents in the box for Maria from all the girls. What followed was a lot of wine, Prosecco and Gin and Prosecco, Karaoke, more wine and lots of laughter. In the early morning hours then the hardcore team (Maria, Angi, Claudia, Evi and Kerstin) moved on to Passage for clubbing and the driver who picked them up was incidentally the same who brought Maria! When Passage closed down at 0600 the ladies had breakfast from the sausage stand in the Burggarten which just opened up. Kerstin was home at 0730, woke Markus up and then went to bed. Markus himself got up at the time and cleaned up the mess in the flat to prepare it for the boys' night!

The ladies definitely had fun

The initial plan for Mirko was to go to Velden in Carinthia and have a party there, but as the weather was rainy and cold we changed plans and surprised Mirko (who knew somehow what was planned due to a leak) showing up at his flat at 1400 all dressed in black suits, white shirts, black ties and dark sunglasses, just like the the "Reservoir Dogs". He grabbed his backpack and the 3l bottle of Vodka he had prepared and we set off to go to Christoph's, Oliver's and Peter's place where Mirko a) received outfit that matched ours and b) several Vodka shots in each place. By the time we left Peter's we have emptied more than 2 bottles and were working on the third one. On the way to our place Mirko surprised us completely on the highway when he was mooning us! When we came to our flat it was completely darkened, only the TV was on showing 'Reservoir Dogs' and on the table we had a poker set - we planned to play a night of Poker + Vodka with Mirko. Gery brought along a glass-Kalashnikov in a wooden box (just like a real gun) filled with Vodka as 'special' present! What followed was a lot of vodka & beer, noise and loud music, a bit of Poker, Pizzas, Karaoke and more Vodka. Mirko decided to sleep for an hour or so before we headed on to U4 where we continued to celebrate until it closed down at 0600. Mirko, Christoph, Gery, Peter and Markus moved on for breakfast at Cafe Drechsler with Goulash and sausages (Christoph opted for the take-away Goulash!) and Markus&Peter came home just before 0800.

The Reservoir Dogs in Peter's backyard

At 1230 on Sunday we met for breakfast with the Sinabells, the Strutzs and Sandra in Museumsquartier. The rest of the day was rather quiet and only in the later afternoon Katrin and Dipak stopped by before heading back to Vorarlberg on Monday.

So in a nutshell one has to say that the two parties were absolutely stunning as far as we can remember, we had lots of fun and our flat was properly introduced with a two-stage housewarming party (luckily our only neighbours are on holiday so we did not really disturb anyone) and now everything is prepared for a decent wedding party on September 6 in Weingut Hillinger in Jois.

In case you want to see some more evidence than the below short video, loads of pictures can be found in the link section as well as Peter's Picasa Webalbum or on the U4 webpage.

We wish Maria and Mirko (+Valentin) all the best for their wedding and marriage!

Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not 2Pac. Not Teabag. BUT: Dipak

Yesterday we finally met the newest member to the larger family for the first time: Kerstin's cousin Katrin's boyfriend Dipak. Katrin and Dipak are on a 4 week vacation in Austria and have spent a few days in Vienna. We met up on the City Hall square, where each summer a large filmfestival with exceptionally good food takes place and we spent an absolutely wonderful summer evening there. We so far have read and heard a lot about Dipak and were very curious to get to know him and he is definitely a nice and funny guy and it is quite obvious, that Katrin enjoys the time with him. Markus and Dipak talked a lot about economy and business while the girls exchanged all sorts of informations given the long period they have not seen each other.

Katrin and Dipak on our terrace for a glass of wine on sunday

Today the two holidaymakers have headed to Budapest in the morning for a 2-day sightseeing trip and we will meet up again on the weekend before they head back to Vorarlberg. Katrin was hiding in Gran Canaria, where she is living together with Dipak and the last time we met her at Werner's birthday party (see the pictures in the link-section) in April. They will return to Spain early September and the next possibility to meet up will be Christmas. Dipak will join the Blaser/Meier christmas experience for the first time. Good luck to the Rookie!

Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The last unicorn

After a rather chilly and wet Saturday on which we were "on the road" from the very morning shopping, Sunday presented itself absolutely stunning. Summer was back again and already in the morning it was blue-sky and sunshine. We got up early and went for a run in the Prater Hauptallee, basically our backyard, followed by a nice breakfast on our terrace with coffee and freshly squeezed apple&carrott juice (thanks to Heidi and her squeezer!). Lissi, Gery and Emma popped in for a quick flat tour and refreshment after their run and we soon had to move on to our next appointment: an afternoon with Jutta, Tom and Felix in the Zoo in Schoenbrunn.

Felix showing us where the penguins swim

Felix kept us all mobile and active. He was most fascinated by the penguins and seals - clearly the young boy is into water and we could hardly get him away from the large windows into the animal's pools. While the older generation got pretty much tired and needed a refreshement, Felix seemed to run on Duracell. Unfortunately that was the time when Markus took over and soon we met probably the last unicorn: Markus paid no attention for a second, Felix tripped, fell and hit his head. A nice bruise on his forehead and some alarming sounds were the result. Markus was not only embarrassed but also felt really sorry that he did not take better care. Luckily the pain disappeared after a few cookies and all that remained was the "unicorn".

We continued our tour,visited the lemures and the old-boys also entered the rainforest-house for a pit stop at the bats. We bumped into the family Lehner who also spent the afternoon at the zoo and we then moved on to the Gloriette for another refreshment. This location offers one of the best panoramic views in Vienna. No wonder that the Austrian emperors have spent most of their summers in Schoenbrunn!

On our way home we stopped by at Viki's, who took care together with Steve of our plants when we were on holidays, to pick up our keys and then we had dinner - Kerstin's speciality: Spinachstrudel - on our evening terrace.

Even though the weekend was "long" it went by far too fast and we got to go work again tomorrow.

Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 15, 2008

Long time, no see

There is nothing better than returning from your holiday and having a short week immediately. We could not wait to get out of the office yesterday and could not really immagine to spend all week in the office. So you can immagine, that we pretty much enjoy the long weekend, even though we have pretty much a full schedule.

Yesterday we have met the Trautenbergers - Tanja, Christian and lovely, tiny Sophie - again after more than 2 months. Markus combined the trip to Kritzendorf with his running programme and so he set off for the 1 hour and 50 minute run right after work, Kerstin drove there a bit later by car bringing along some fresh clothes for Markus. We had a chance to briefly see Sophie, an absolutely sweet little girl who has developed quite a bit in the past months, before she went to bed, had good barbecue, tasted a selection of international beers & several Aperol-Sprizz and listened to the cicadas in theb garden (as well as several cargo trains passing by). Also present Tina and Olli, a really funny couple who we have not met for an even longer period.

Was really nice and refreshing to see the five again and it was a great start into our long weekend!

Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Neither freezing nor smelling!

For all of you out there, who have concerns that we are either freezing as we have no warm water to shower or who are afraid, that the people near us have to suffer from heavy & awkward smells as we refrain from washing, let us calm you down: The gas meter has been installed yesterday morning and the heater has been re-ignited.

Hence we can CHOOSE again, whether we want to have a refreshing cool or a relaxing hot shower, rather than forced refreshment!

Kerstin & Markus

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to "reality"

After a long wedding party and us being the last ones to leave the location we were pretty dead on Saturday and showed up to the brunch at Heurigen Wechtitsch-Zuser only at 1230, 1,5 hours after the rest of the crowd. We kept the tone rather low, had some grape-juice and coffee and for the afternoon we decided to lead some of teh Bella Familia members to the Kalachakra Kalapa Center above the restaurant where we had dinner at on Thursday night. As the way was hard to find and we were the only ones who have been there before, we volunteered as leaders, even though we were dead-beat. What we were not aware of was, that from Gasthof Paulitsch it was another 10 minutes steep and narrow roads up, as the center was on the very top of the hill. The center itself was closed for a retreat, and so we only could walk up to the Stupa (Mirko carrying Valentin + the pushchair!!, Gery only carrying Emma). The beautiful Stupa was in combination with the view we had from up there really impressive, but unfortunately we had no camera - so no pictures.

Bella Familia (ex wedding couple) at the wedding party

Given it has been raining again and the low temperatures at these heights we made our way back to the hotel rather soon, where we hade a short rest before we headed for dinner at Gasthaus Stöcklpeter with a nice view of the castle Deutschlandsberg where we had typical Styrian food: Backhendl (baked chicken). As most of the crowd was rather tired we called it a day rather early and went to bed at 2200.

For Sunday we decided to head back home right after breakfast as we had 2 weeks of holidays behind us and for sure a lot of things to sort at home, tons of clothes to clean and wanted to start work in a relaxed way. This turned out to be the very right thing to do! Traffic on the way home was good and when we arrived at home in our new flat at first all seemed ok. A bit warm inside, but ok. After a while only Markus found out that the heater was not working and the reason was detected soon: our neighbours haven been installed the gas meter but the technician has cut makeshift-gas supply. That means: no warm water! Luckily its summer and not too bad, but stress was back with us. Now guess, what Markus was trying to sort out all Monday: Installation of a gas meter and re-connection to the network. Great! A solution is on the horizon, but it wont be solved today!

Apart from this "gas-suprise" we were fine though, managed to clean the majority of our clothes, went for a run, worked on a few issues for the coming weeks and relaxed a last time before heading back into what most people call the real world: work. As always, the first day back is rather slow from our side, but that will for sure change.

Blog-feeds will be reduced now that we are back at work, but stay tuned for more input, especially as stage three of the wedding tri-athlon is not far away: the wedding of the
Goldengnu - Mary and Mirko on September 6th!

Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lini and Peter are married!

Yesterday at 1600 it was finally time for the church wedding of Elisabeth and Peter Strutz! The weather was stable and so the ceremony started off outside in the park of beautiful Romantikschloss Ottersbach. Priest Raggam, an old friend of the grooms father held a wonderful and funny sermon and kept the whole crowd in good mood. Noone minded the slight rainfall we had during the ceremony and everyone cracked up laughing when he asked Peter and Michaela (Lini's sister!) by mistake. It was clarified quite quickly and the right people exchanged rings. We are very glad for both Lini and Peter and wish them all the best for their life together!

Flying hearts - Lini and Peter confess to their love!

The late afternoon and evening was continued with loads of pictures (take a look at the link with our pictures), excellent red and white wine, great Styrian food and lots of games, dancing and fun. Even Markus, who never attended any dancing lessons danced several times with the bride, Mary, Lissi or Kerstin during the night. This is very rare to see, as usually he is minding to dance to music other than electronic beats!

Overall the night was long and really big fun and we are happy to spend also the rest of the weekend with the newly-weds here in South-West Styria!

Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 8, 2008

The final countdown

Men and women are definitely different! This yet again became quite obvious by the activities of the bride and groom on the day of their church wedding.

While the bride has arranged an appointment at the hairdresser for herself and the brides-maids in order to look stunning, the groom relaxed with a short round of early morning golf with Heli (his father) and Markus at GC Frauenthal, his homeclub. Tee-time was 0800 and the groom was absolutely confident and played great golf. His mind was crystal clear! Just as it should be.

Perfect swing - fully concentrated - wedding here we come!

After 7 holes the sky though darkened and we have seen a proper thunderstorm for 30 minutes. This rain cleared the sky and so the afternoon should be fine. Today's main event starts at 1500 in Romantikschloss Ottersbach. We can't wait!

Kerstin & Markus

A day on the road

Yesterday in the morning we hit the road east towards South Styria for the Strutz-wedding. Last night we finally came to the decision to go for the short journey (highway to via Munich-Salzburg-Radstadt on through the Ennstal and south on the A9). Traffic was very decent and we reached our destination at 1615, ideal to freshen up for the evening with the bride and the groom.

We are staying in a very nice farm and vineyard, owned and run by Family Grebenz in Grossklein (funnily the address is though Kleinklein 10). Its located on the hill overlooking the village and the room is absolutely lovely! A big "Thank you" to Evi, who booked the place for us.

Family-run vineyard Grebenz is our base for the coming three days

In the evening we drove up to Gasthaus Pauritsch where we had together with the bride, groom and relatives and friends delicious fish with garlic and polenta and discussed the different strategies for the big day tomorrow! We are looking forward to the wedding of Lini & Peter!

Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The end of an era!

Today was our last day in Vorarlberg and we tried to make most out of it. We got up early and the forst positive news was that our car-key has been delivered early as well. So perfect setting for a good breakfast and afterwards Markus cycled to the garage to pick up the car. And it all worked with the spare key. The fact that the garage did not solve the problem was damn expensive, but nothing we could do about. Kerstin in the meantime painted the windows a second time and prepared some light lunch. We also discussed which route we should take tomorrow to South-West-Styria - whether the short one via the highways or the attractive one via mountain roads taking us approximately 9 hours.

In the afternoon Markus did some gardening for Heidi while Kerstin was sunbathing, we had coffee and cake and went to the lake for some swimming with Heidi. For the evening we had tickets for some stand-up comedy by Rolf Miller as part of the Seelax festival. It was boiling hot in the Freudenhaus, and the guy seemed to have forgotten the text permancently. Overall though a funny evening. Sad though, that we have to leave tomorrow morning. Which route we should take has still not been decided. Latest Thursday morning we HAVE TO know.

Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A mixed bag - improvement on the horizon

The first thing we heard today were the raindrops on the road and so we turned around again and slept in a bit. There was no rush to get out of bed! A big late breakfast was supposed to be the only food for the day (apart from dinner) and we then continued somehow were we left off yesterday: A bit of bakery (Kerstins beloved Joghurt-cake with blueberries) with the fruits we collected ourselves, a bit of further DIY by Markus and a combined effort to sand the terrace-window and put some fresh colour on.

Later in the afternon the sun managed to dispel the clounds and the temperature rose clearly in to the high twenties. So Sandra Flo & Kerstin set of to walk up the Pfaender and Markus to a 90 minute run.

We are now about to have the (after all) well deserved dinner on the terace in the evening sun and will enjoy the summer evening. For tomorow, unfortunately already our last full day in the Laendle, we put a lot of money on sunshine, summer weather from the morning and swimming in the lake!

Kerstin & Markus

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lazy monday - what a great start to the week!

Monday was a pretty and rather boring lazy day and and we just relaxed. The weather was warm, but overcast and we did not mind at all as we had to keep some parts of our bodies away from the sun anyway. Kerstin's legs were burnt decently and she was putting after-sun-lotion on them in regular intervals.

Good news from our car: it was still in the garage. Bad news: we need have Viki (Markus' brother's girlfriend) send us the spare key by mail as the main key needs to be replaced and it takes 2 weeks. Thank god we gave Steve and Viki a key to our flat and asked them to water our flowers.

In the afternoon we did a bit of shopping and some DIY: Kerstin and Heidi prepared some home-deco and painted an old footstool for our flat new, Markus changed the TV-socket into a power-socket for Heidi. Afterwards a fast 50 minute run was on the agenda. The evening was spent at the Meierei (Werner & Renate) for Werner's speciality - Schweizer Wurstsalat.

For tomorrow the weather is supposed to be better and we plan to enjoy the lake again.

Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A day in the mountains

When our alarm went off today at 0800, we both felt like in a bad dream as the night was not only short but also we were plagued by mosquitos and therefore did not sleep much. Especially Markus needed almost two hours to wake up in the morning.

After a large breakfast we drove off together with Sandra and Flo to Laterns and we set off at 1035 for a mountain hiking tour to the Hohe Freschen, a 2004m high peak. We climbed steep mountain trails, walked through fields of blueberries and dark forests which offered cooling shadow and passed beautiful alps. After 2hours and 20minutes we have reached the peak which offered a superb panoramic view of the region. We saw on the one hand Lake Constance and the Rhine Valey, on the other hand the Bregenzerwald and many peaks of the Alps. Our typical mountain lunch - consisting of Montafoner Landjaeger, bread, vegetables, apples and a lot to drink - was consumed just below the cross on the summit of the mountain and after a decent rest in the tricky mountain sun we had another drink at the Freschenhaus before we started our descent.

At 2004m we were very close to the clouds

On the way down we took a different route and had to pass very narrow footpaths which were very densely overgown, cross large meadows alongside groups of cows and shady woods. While we very successful in collecting blueberries and small wood-strawberries, Flo was a bit frustrated as he did not find a single mushroom - not even a magic one! At the bottom of our tour we realised, that the mountain sun burnt us in several places (neck, forearms, legs) and we stepped into the ice-cold mountain water to cool off and refresh before we headed back home where a delicious dinner was waiting: traditional Vorarlberger Kaesspaetzle. The right dish after a day of hiking in the mountains.

We are pretty sure that tonight we won't have problems to sleep well after that tour - no matter if there are mosquitos or not!

Kerstin & Markus

P.S.: Congratulations to Lini and Peter who are since yesterday by law Mr. and Mrs. Strutz! The church wedding will follow on Friday.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rock the cashbah!

Saturday did start on a negative tone as the theft-security-system of our car was for a so far undetected reason faulty and we could not starte the engine and drive home after Tosca. So we were back in teenage years and Heidi did pick us up at 0045. The morning was then characterised by checking out an available Peugeot garage (not easy as holiday season and saturdays they are generally closed anyway) and organizing our car to be towed there. Once we reached the destination, to make things worse, the energysaving function did not allow us to close the front windows anymore!!! So we sealed them with plastic cover and keep our fingers crosses noone takes the opportunity until monday morning to empty our car...

The rest of the day we more or less built up energy and enthusiasm for the big party organised by Kerstin's uncle Werner, the super-top-fit 60 year old (fitter than 80% of guys half his age!!). With the Erlachstrassen fest, a neighbourhood party, he lives up to one of his retirement/birthday promises to revive this event. Inspired by his recent trip to San Sebastian and the Bruce Springsteen concert there (including conversation with and autograph from THE BOSS) he fired up the party with rocking tunes, games for the kids, a large variety of salads, all sort of meat and sausages, cakes and loads of
Mohren, the best local brew in Markus' opinion.

For sunday we have planned a hiking tour, so an early start is likely. Stay tuned for more information!

Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tosca's tears on our heads

Friday was a pretty lazy day for us as the BBQ last night lasted quite long and we were exhausted and tired from food and drinks. Kerstin met up with a friend for breakfast, which consisted of only coffee and a piece of breadroll as the ordered soft-boiled egg was forgotten by the waitress. Lateron we have planned to meet Sandra for lunch in Dornbirn but due to heavy traffic Heidi, Kerstin and Markus ran late, and so Sandra already ordered her food as she had to head back to work. For us three patience was an absolute must, as the kitchen seemed to have been under quite some pressure and it took an hour to deliver our set menu! Luckily patience is a virtue which we have and so we were not too bothered.

The rest of the afternoon was dominated by preparations for our cultural evening, Puccini's "Tosca" on the floating stage in Bregenz to which Markus has invited a few clients over to Austria. The gloomy weatherforecast (thunderstorms) did turn out to be true and it started pouring at 1730 and we already did expect that we might not see the opera on the floating stage but rather inside in slyghtly less impressive performance. At 2030 the decision was taken that the outdoor performance has been cancelled and it became clear, that we are going to see the slim version. A shame, but better than no opera at all!

No ever-changing hi-tech floationg stage...

... but a dry & slim version of Tosca instead

The performance of the artists and orchestra was absolutely stunning and we are glad to be part of the very exclusive group of people who have seen the in-house-version of "Tosca" - no matter if the stage did not change at all during the performance.

We are looking forward to next year's "Aida" and say Good Bye to Floria Tosca

Kerstin & Markus