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My life in Vienna
November 1998For the moment I still consider my life abroad as new, and I still feel like a tourist, even though I'm really living here and have my own flat. The flat is really beautiful, built in 1845 but completely renovated. This means that the walls are about half a meter wide, the ceilings are high, the hall is old and that you enter the building via a huge wooden door. It also means that the flat itself has freshly painted white walls, new windows, nice spotlights in the ceiling, an entirely new kitchen with a fridge and oven included and a nice bathroom with beautiful lighting and a big bathtub. The location is also excellent, 2 minutes away from one of the main shopping streets, 10 minutes away from the historic centre, 10 minutes away from the Prater, the well known park in Vienna and 20 minutes away from the office.
For the moment my days are filled with buying things for the new flat, cycling around to get to know Vienna better, completing all the paperwork involved with getting settled in a new country and also with catching up in the new job.
After a slow first week the work started catching up. Lots of new things to learn, lots of customer requests coming my way so it is becoming really interesting. On the 15th of November the first snow fell. It was so nice and I was so excited. The other people here in Wien were not really amazed and were actually a bit unhappy with it as it meant that it was becoming slippery and they had to change the tires on their cars. Well, I still like it a lot even though it's still too warm for Wien to become covered in a white blanket. It snows the entire day and it gives such a nice feeling of winter...
December 1998Writing this mid December. My apartment is pretty much complete so I'm settled now and it's time to think about my social life. It's building up though. So many nice people here that sometimes offers need to be turned down in order to get some sleep... Vienna is nice. Unfortunately it's, once again, not going to be a white Christmas. Everyone tells me that the last time there was snow during Christmas was in..... in..... in..... hmmmmm..... well..... can't remember. Ah well, maybe one day I might move over to one of the poles to make sure that there is plenty of snow (Steph, you lucky girl!).
February 1999Ooops, it's already mid February so it's about time to write a new episode. Lots of things have happened in the mean time. After a slow beginning the job is getting more and more busy, not only because we get more prospects in or customer upgrades but especially because I'm now two managers in one body. I was already Manager Presales Support but since January I'm also Manager Call Center. 5 People need now to be managed which is quite challenging. I was always complaining about the managers we've had in the past but now it's my turn to try to make things work. Since I was not too familiar with the usual day-2-day work in the DIS CSC I first held a meeting to find that out. So I got a pretty good idea of everyone's wishes, problems, ideas and everything else. After that I tried to change things and it seems to work out. Most things have been completed and hopefully everyone will be and stay happy.
Private life is not bad either and I finally have a telephone connection and therefore finally reachable but I'm hardly ever at home anymore. Working till late (but also sleeping till late) or people coming over for a couple of days should cause my voice mail to be heavy used, but..... the Austrian PTT doesn't have a free voicemail service. They are behind here in some things and Telecom is one of them. No real customer service feeling there because they don't have any major competitors yet but that will change soon. Have a look at Tele.ring / Citykom . Okay that was a shameless plug but I know some people there and they did have good (and free) beer at the Inter networking Exponet.....
In the meantime enough time is spent on HTML coding anyway since I'm working on a nice internal web page for D.I.S so that everyone always has the latest information and can have it fast. I looks nice and more and more people are using it so it makes it even better. Some spare time is lost/used to study Java as I saw some cool things on Web pages and want to have that as well. Ofcourse I know how to program in Assembly, Basic, Pascal and C (see my programming page) but it's been a while ago and Java is different, one thing is that's it object oriented and I've always tried to avoid that so everything is new now. Ah well, one day my web pages look even nicer and will be slower to load. more bandwidth means more data to transfer means more bandwidth to buy means more customers for us means more money. No problems with that.... More later.....
June 1999Wow, it's already been 8 months ago that I came here and I'm pretty much settled now. I even have a couch, a real bed and some plants now, time to leave again :-) Nah, just joking. I still like it here, a lot actually. IT's good to be here in the winter but it's great to be here in the spring/summer. It's bit warmer than in the Netherlands, less windy and less rain so there are plenty of chances to sit in a park, read a book or sit outside in front of a cafe drinking a Weisse Gespritzte (white wine with sparkling mineral water). The parks are also covered in flowers and my favorite cafe is still the Kunsthaus where you can have some great food under the lilies, my favourite for a Sunday morning breakfast... For the rest I get to travel occasionally, Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam and Paris and, traveller as I am, I try to combine business with pleasure and stay some days after the meeting/workshop/training abroad. Have a look at my photo gallery to see where I've been.
July 1999Busy-Busy-Busy but I still found some time to restructure my photos on subject instead of date. Nearly everyone asked me to do that so there you go, you can now have a look at Vienna [removed], Austria in general [removed] or anything else.
The work is catching up right now. I'm made plenty of network designs and I've been to a couple of customers to explain and defend my design. Hopefully some customers will buy our services.
August 1999Wow, it's summer in Europe so everyone is having holidays and what's a better place to visit than Vienna :o) Well, everyone found a good excuse to visit me in Austria so lots of visitors from The Netherlands. It's great to see everyone again. Thanks Alberto, Stella, Marco & Catrina, Frank and Meindert. Some people even came twice as they found out that I was right: you don't do Vienna in just 4 days. You need much longer than that.
Every now and then I'm cycling around like in the old days. I've borrowed a nice mountainbike for the long distances. Beginning of August I've been to Hainburg, a town about 50 kilometers from Vienna. Well, it was nearly 30 degrees and 80% air humidity so when I finally arrived home I was wrecked, not used to cycling long distances anymore and especially not with this heat. So there just need to be more weekends in a year so that I can go cycling again. The next trip will go to the hills and woods to the west of Vienna, it's supposed to be nice and on the map it shows lots of scenic routes. More about that later.
September 1999Live is terrible. After having told everyone that I'm a cyclist and cycle with ease 100 km in one day, I came to the conclusion that now, at the end of summer, I've only cycled once, that was the trip to Hainburg. Of course I've been cycling all over town but that's just commuting and sightseeing, not real cycling, if you know what I mean. Ah well, live can be hard...
At the beginning of the month I went to Amsterdam for a few days with 'locals' (thanks Ap!) before Stephanie and Annette came over from California for a few days in Amsterdam and, in Annette's case, some time in London or, in Stephs case, some time in Vienna with me. Of course The Netherlnads is much more than just Amsterdam so I took them to my parent's place 70 kilometers up North from Amsterdam. That's the area I grew up in, the flat land of the polders. We've been driving around a bit, and of course we also went to Amsterdam every day. Have a look at my photos and you'll see what 'the rest of The Netherlands' looks like, my first windmill pictures ever are on there as well, being a tourist in your own country is good fun. Anyway, so after a few days in Winkel and Amsterdam we headed off for a brief visit to my sister and two nice Austrians (Ronnie and Maria) in Groningen. The night train brought us all the way to Vienna where I left Steph for sightseeing during the day while I went to work. Well, sightseeing in the evening is still great in Vienna so I haven't missed much and we even went inside the Schoenbrunn. I had promissed Steph to wait for her before doing the real tour. For a virual tour have a look on the Schoenbrunn website.
One of the other great things to do in Vienna is to visit the theater. After having seen the musical Tanz der Vampire three times earlier this year, Andy and me just had to go to the new musical Mozart. Fortunately he could organise some tickets for the try-outs so we were amongst the first people to see it in the entire world. The world premiere is on the 2nd of October but we have seen it already on the 29th of September! This weekend (2nd of October) we will go to the opera 'Eine nacht in Venedig' you just have to do something with your free evenings...
October 1999A said before, the amount of culture here is not too bad. So this month I went another time to Tanz der Vampire and Mozart. My friend Andy was really jealous because he hasn't seen Tanz after the summer break and about half the crew has changed. The reason of going to both musicals was that Katja came over from Hamburg for a few days. The second evening we went to Mozart, which she really liked and when I told her about tanz, we just had to go there the evening after. Ah well, there are worse things to spend your evening.
One October weekend was spent in Muuml;nchen/Germany. One friend invited me to join her on her weekend trip to Germany so we went with the three of us to our neighbouring country. It was nice and relaxing. Unfortunately one weekend was not that long. I mean, we arrived on Friday night at 22:00 and left again on Sunday afternoon. Saturday was mainly spent on a big breakfast and waiting for the theater to open as we were planning on seeing the musical Grease. But it was sold out, except for some very expensive seats so we decided not to bother with it and go out for dinner. After dinner we went to the East of Muuml;nich where they have built a big party area out of old factory halls. It was pretty cool, dancing, dancing and dancing.
November 1999Apart from lots of hassle at work, life is fine. I still have trouble working in the company for several reasons (but I won't put that on the Web) but it's getting better. In the mean time I've seen Mozart for a third time now. Corinne came over from Luxembourg, after having quit her life in Sydney, and we went to the musical together with two of her other friends. It was nice to see them again.
One of the great things in Vienna during the winter is the Christkindlmarkt. It's not open yet but it will be soon. Some food, lots of drinks (punsch!) and lots of people. It's so funny to walk around and to hear Dutch people talk about how nice it is but also that it's such a shame having to go home in a few days. I'm happy to live here, Wien ist anders!
Having said lots of things about the culture in Vienna before, I have to come back on that and tell the world that The Netherlands does have some theater culture as well. On the 27th of November we (Stella, Andy and myself) went to the musical Elisabeth in Scheveningen/NL. Most people probably expect to see something like the old kitsch Sissi movies with Romy Schneider but this is not the case. The musical tells the real story of her life and even makes fun of the current view on Elisabeth. I already had the CD from the Wiener version (the original) for months so I knew all the songs in German, but now I got the chance to see it on stage and it is great. All of us really liked it. Being back in The Netherlands for a long weekend was great, it was nice to see some friends again but of course a weekend is not enough. We just had to eat some Dutch delicacies such as poffertjes, jonge kaas, patatje pinda met kipsate and hagelslag. The more time without these things, the more you appreciate them. Unfortunately we didn't have time to refill my supplies at home so hopefully the next visitor will bring some over (hint!)
December 1999The month was filled with social activities, going to the cinema and some bars. For the first time in my life I've seen the movie the Third man. It's set in post-war Vienna and it's just great. The music fits perfectly to the pictures, the setting is excellent and it's in black and white. Since it's playing constantly I might be visited by me more often...
The time around Christmas was spent with a friend of mine at her parents in the Waldviertel. When we arrived there everything was already pretty much covered in snow but after some days and lots of snow the world had turned completely white, as you can see on the picture. Yes, it was relaxing and since the people were, as all good Austrians, Catholic I decided to join in on the church ceremonies to see the differences with the protestant christmas activities I've once experienced in The Netherlands when I was still a kid. Interesting.
New Years Eve was spent with friends at Andy's party in Wien (well, actually in Transdanubia). Unfortunately the next day I was expected in the office at 9:00 to check the network status. One of the disadvantages of being in the IT part of businness. One of the guys had organised a champagne breakfast for us so it was not too bad...