Monday, January 26, 2009

Kitzbuehel - where investors, party animals and modern gladiators meet

The 15th International Investor Conference in Kitzbuehel which has taken place the past few days and was organized by Markus’ employer UniCredit MIB was a great success again. During two days 56 investors had meetings with the most important and largest Austrian companies listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange and the main message they got was, that the trough in the economy is probably going to be for longer. Visibility for sales and earnings is very low and that makes it extremely difficult to judge when the recovery can kick in.

After the business part and the meetings both the Kitzbuehel slopes as well as the nightlife were visited - the
Hahnenkamm race weekend turns the city every year into huge party-place. Friday night Markus and his clients dived into the crowds at the Weisswurst-Party in Going at the Stanglwirt, which is every year the hotspot for celebrities the night before the downhill race. Masses of people including A-, B- and C-celebrities squeezed through the stables of Balthasar Hauser’s huge complex eating the famous sausages alongside beer, champagne or stronger drinks and listening to the really impressive live act, the Sumpfkroeten. A mere disappointment was the main act, Bonnie Tyler who only performed 4 songs playback. Clearly her time is long over. The night was concluded at the A1 Kitz Night hosted by one of the main sponsors of the race weekend, mobile telecom provide A1 where Markus and his clients and colleagues danced away to cool soul & funk tunes alongside Austria’s beachvolleyball player Nik Berger and Judo Bejing Olympic silver medallist Ludwig Paischer.

Usually a horse stable. Once a year a stuffed party place - Stanglwirt's Weisswurstparty

Saturday Markus et al hit the slopes to watch the downhill race close to the Mausefalle near the top of the course, climbed up to the startin area to take a close look at the athletes (watch Patryk Jaerbin get on the way to the race) and enjoyed the slopes with perfect skiing weather. In the afternoon, when the race was over and the crowds were gone Markus, his boss Fritz and two clients decided to go down the Streif. They entered just above one of the key-areas, the Steilhang, and what they saw there was absolutely unbelieveable. Not only is the Steilhang extremely steep but also absolutely icy. The area where the racers make turns is not hard snow which allows grip (the kind of slope we as “normal” skiers like) but pure ice. Its not only the speed at which the racers ski down the hill but also the slope conditions which are stunning. For the four the only possibility to go down the Steilhang was with tight turns at the sides of the race-line. The middle-part of the Streif – between Brueckenschuss until Hausbergkante – were in perfect conditions and allowed normal skiing. One only needed to slow down ahead of jumps like at the Seidl-Alm. The bottom of the slope (Hausberg, Traverse & Zielschuss) showed a similar picture as the Steilhang: ice. One needs to be mental to ski this slope with up to 140km/h as the racers did a few hours earlier.

The racers can't enjoy this view as they have better things to do when they ski this turn

Saturday night the successful conference and great weekend were concluded at the official race party at the Kitz Race Night and after an early skiing day leaving the hotel on Sunday at 0900 again with sunshine and cold temperatures Markus left the town just before the slalom race ended and the crowds fled Kitzbuehel to reach Vienna in the late afternoon. And probably next year he will do all that again.

Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snow on and off

Vienna was turned into a wintry environment on the weekend with decent snowfall all Saturday night and Sunday long and everything would have been perfect for an afternoon of sledge-racing with Rosemarie on Jesuitenwiese. Unfortunately she became a victim of mumps and we had to postpone.

Warm temperatures at the beginning of the week took away all the snow again and not much was left after the rain on Wednesday. After a day on the road in Vienna visiting clients with three of his Polish analysts he made his way by car to Kitzbuehel where UniCredit hosted its International Investor Conference. Together with a client he drove through first rain followed by ice rain and then snow fall that covered the highway and made driving far from easy. But ultimately the two reached their destination. The next days will be fulfilled with lots of meetings with investors and Austria’s leading companies as well the
Weisswurstparty in Going on Friday evening, the Hahnenkamm downhill race on Saturday and skiing in the mountains surrounding Kitzbuehel. Hoping for an exciting race and good skiing!

Kerstin & Markus

Monday, January 12, 2009

Search for the limit

Sunday morning we set our alarm very early as we had a lot to prepare for the guest we expected, but we were woken up by a sound that we haven’t heard so far this winter: the sound made when shovelling snow. Even though the thermometer showed -8 degrees (which we believed is too cold for snow) we were presented a winter-environment with ca 5cm of fresh snow. It looked fabulous and the fact that it was so cold and there was no wind made us confident that it could last for a while (apart from on the roads). Once awake we got on the task of preparing everything for a quite huge crowd of 16 adults + 5 children (between 8,5 months and 5,5 years) which signed up to come for a brunch on the occasion of Kerstin’s birthday.

Freshly squeezed juices (apple/carrot/orange and orange), freshly cut fruit salad, pineapple with mint & sugar, yoghurt, cheese, sausage & vegetable platters, bakes beans, sausages & scrambled eggs as well as fresh bread & bread rolls needed preparing and after more than 2 hours we were done and were expecting the first guests to come. By 1130 we could call it a “full house”, the espresso machine was running on full steam and the “chef de cuisine” Markus did his best to keep everyone happy and feeding. A birthday song by Kerstin’s godchild Rosemarie accompanied us toasting to Kerstin’s health during the break between the
Men’s Slalom in Adelboden and the ski flying competition in Bad Mitterndorf shown on TV.

Noone had to leave with hunger - there was enough for all of us

Later on we left for a walk in the snow-covered Prater where Markus tried the sledge hill on

Jesuitenwiese (which is floodlit and serviced with artificial snow) on a plastic bag which is not exactly the right vehicle - hence the decision was taken to go and get a proper sledge as lateron this week. With some help from Peter&Lini and Mimi, Bruno&Max we reduced the food pile a bit more and then focussed on cleaning the elevator and anteroom of our flat which were both flooded with water, dirt and gravel from the street. The day was definitely a stress-test for the flat (we don’t think much more people can be accommodated during winter times without the terraces) and it has coped with bravery. Especially Kerstin enjoyed the day with many of our friends a lot, even though we were dead tired in the evening and fell asleep very early ahead of a normally long week.

Kerstin & Markus

Friday, January 9, 2009

Donny - the only one missing!

Winter has taken its grip on Vienna this week with temperatures dropping to -8 degrees and even during the day not reaching positive territory. The only thing missing to have a perfect winter setting is the snow. Some people are quite happy about that as snow in Vienna is fun for something like 1 hour after it stops snowing as the salt that is poured on the roads in order to avoid icy surface turns the roads and pavements into alleys through grey heaps of snow or better said slush. We also prefer snow outside the city and don’t mind the situation as it is.

2 lanes, 20 pins and 10 dudes means a lot of fun

In order to get some activity the Bella Familia organised a bowling night on Thursday after work in the Brunswick Bowling Wien-Prater, very close to our home. Dude Pete, Chesus Maria and Sobchak Markus hit the lanes alongside Hunter Chris, Bella Isa, Rolandinho, Chesus (Gery) and Du (Mirko) as well as Thomas and Kerstin (whose nicknames we can’t remember) and rolled balls just like in the Coen brothers’ classic “The Big Lebowski”. Supported by little Valentin, Maria and Mirko’s 11,5 month year old son we tried to give our best, but it was quite obvious that we haven’t been bowling in quite a while looking at the inconsistent performance. The motivation of a plate of (really good) French Fries helped that all of us at least scored one strike in the 3 games we played and we also got Valentin hooked up to fast food already, so we can celebrate his birthday already together with Ronald McDonald. All of us have been winners that night, be it for the high score of almost 160 points, the biggest number of double 0s bowled or the highest speed of 34,6 km/h. It was very good fun and we decided to organize a night of ten-pin bowling more frequently going forward.

Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HAPPY 2009 !

We've welcomed the new year with Kerstin's closest family (only Sandra and Flo were missing) with Raclette, games of Jenga and Hornochse and stunning fireworks prepared by Markus. The icing on the cake was fresh snow - it has started at 2200 and snowed until 0100 providing a romantic setting. After some decent brunch we will unfortunately end our holiday and get on our way back to Vienna this afternoon as Markus has to go back to work tomorrow.

We wish all of you a successful 2009, health and joy throughout the year!

Kerstin & Markus