Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Journey over

This is all being posted from McDonald's, thanks to free wireless internet, as I still have no functioning internet.

I have arrived in Klagenfurt. The blue marks the section of Austria, where I now live and the name of Klagenfurt is printed below in white.

After dinner with my Omama Wednesday night, my mom dropped me off at the airport.
I waddled up to the Lufthansa check-in desk, and proceeded to follow the process, lifting my bags on the appropriate scales. I had to pay 70 dollars for my second bag, but the credit card machine was broken at the desk where I was waiting. My backpack and I were sent to another counter down the hall to pay.
Phase One complete, I headed to security, finding myself standing exactly at the same point in the security line where I had been at this time last year. I even had the exact same passport/ticket checker, or at least his identical twin.
Two phases completed, I found myself sitting, waiting to board the plane. Throughout the course of my two hour wait, Lufthansa workers came around, grabbing cases away from people then weighing them or sticking them in the suitcase measurer. Nobody so much as glanced twice at my backpack.
I boarded the plane and couldn’t fit my backpack underneath the seat because a fixed-in-place box took up half the space, so I slid it as much as could underneath, then covered it with my big blue coat and our provided blanket, so it appeared that only a blanket was covering my feet and nothing was out of the ordinary
I watched Fast and the Furious 5 and then proceeded to watch Pirates 4, at which point I fell asleep
I woke up feel grainy and my legs feeling cramped and I finished watching the movie during breakfast
The last 5 minutes played on the screen with me attempting to interpret the ending minus my headphones, which had since been collected by the stewardess. We landed early in Munich, despite a slight delay during our take-off.
I then made my way down a never-ending corridor to passport control, where they stared for several minutes at both of my Visas from Germany and both looked completely confused. The young man called over his supervisor, who told me I would need an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residency permit) once I got to Klagenfurt. I told him that I knew that and had already applied in June for it, but I wouldn’t be able to pick it up until I made it to Klagenfurt. He nodded and young man finished entering my information and waved me through. Relieved, I made it to my gate after another impossibly long walk down a series of hallways, where I commenced waiting for my next flight…the one that would actually take me to Klagenfurt. After about 3 hours of funny looks from travelers waiting for other flights as I stretched and walked back and forth in front of my backpack, behind it, and around it, I boarded a bus which brought what felt like all of 6 people to the plane. Most of them appeared to be businessmen, carrying brief cases and sporting spiffy suits. There were only two other women besides me.
Soon, we were on our way into Austrian territory, quickly leaving Germany behind. Through the propeller on the wing, I watched snake-like paths wind back and forth between mountains and green forests surrounding shining blue lakes. The stewardesses brought out Toblerone and drinks at lightning fast speed, parading up and down the aisles, address guests in both German and English. After the snack, I closed my eyes for what felt like 5 minutes, enjoying the warm sunshine pooling on my lap and before I knew it, I felt a slight jerk. I opened my eyes and realized we were landing.
We walked directly from the tarmac into a building, where we awaited our luggage. In no time, it appeared and I was the last one left with my two bags. I emerged into the sun and watched as everyone on my plane met someone, hugged and then headed away from the airport. I perched myself on the curb, searching for Irene, my future landlady and my ride to my new home. Glancing at my watch, I wondered if I should call or continue waiting. I agreed with myself to wait until 4:30pm before calling. Suddenly, a car appeared and a woman’s head poked out of the window. She smiled and drove onwards to park. I wheeled my things over and she wrapped me in a hug before leaning backwards and checking I really was the person she was supposed to pick up. I wrestled both cases into the trunk and we headed off to Klagenfurt to have coffee with two of her friends.
Thus far, I had been understanding everything she had said, even if the accent was distinctly Austrian. As soon as she sat with her friends, I was completely lost. They were speaking a completely foreign language from the one I had just spent a year speaking. They must have noticed me trying to understand because Irene turned to me and smiled off-handedly, saying, “Don’t worry, with you we will speak Hochdeutsch, so you can understand.”
At this point I was so tired, all I wanted was go straight to bed. I didn’t care two figs about understanding their conversation.
By 5pm, we were on our way to the house and Irene was showing me around her garden, where apples were in ample supply. She was in the middle of completing the harvest for the year. Then, she whisked me inside and began showing me around. My bathroom still had a few items that were under repair, but luckily, one of my two sinks was still usable. At first we couldn’t find sheets for my giant bed and ones we did find had holes in them. At last, found decent sheet and she quickly showed me around the kitchen. How to turn on the hot water for the sink, how to use the oven or the stove and, most importantly, how to turn on the lights…
One of her daughters, Joanna, who now goes to school in Graz, came home to visit and Irene left me alone to unpack, as she chatted with her daughter and worked in the garden. Around 7pm, she came to my window and called my name. I, however, thought she was calling “Claudia” and at first didn’t answer. I met her at the door and she told me to follow her up to her apartment, saying I should eat something. She gave me an ample dinner of pumpkin mixed with vegetables, Rettich (shredded beets), lentils, some sort of meat in a sauce, peapods, cabbage, and apple cake with a giant heaping side of apple sauce. I couldn’t eat the dessert, so I brought it down to my floor of the house and left it for the next day. I quickly checked my e-mail using Irene’s computer and then I headed off for bed.

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