Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Roommate

Tuesday morning I headed back to the Bezirkshauptmannschaft, as instructed. This time, I knocked on door 205 instead of 206 and was admitted to a room identical to the one from yesterday. There, the woman behind the counter, too, seemed confused that I wanted to pick up an Aufenthaltstitle. As I began spelling my last name, she slid a file out from beneath her keyboard and nodded towards a chair. I sat down and she said she had to make a call before she began my case. She made the call, another person’s case file spread out on her desk in front of me, and then informed me that she required my finger prints to finish the application process. I placed my fingers in various formations on a screen and they were automatically scanned into the computer and saved with my file. In 2 weeks, on Oct. 3rd, I will have to go back to actually pick up the Aufenthaltstitle.
I headed off to the old town to take a wander through the main sights of the historic town.
Then, I did some more grocery shopping, walking between 3 different stores to gather the materials to make Chili, so that there would be something hearty and warm ready when Riannon arrived.
I was in the process of searching for ground meat…beef or pork, I would take what I could find for the cheaper price, when I realized that asking for “Gehacktes” (the German word for ground and the word I had used while in Germany) was getting me nowhere. Stock boys would stare at me in confusion when the word appeared on my lips. I’d explain further what I wanted and they’d wave in confusion at the meat area. Wandering amidst the rows of meat, I discovered exactly what I was looking for, except under the name of “Faschiert” instead of “Gehacktes.” Austria strikes again!
After cleaning and airing out of the house, I wanted to take a quick shower, but discovered mine was stuck in the bathtub position and not budging. I hopped in Riannon’s instead and noticed a serious lack of hot water. It wasn’t freezing, but it wasn’t anything close to warm either. Our kitchen faucet was also on the fritz, spurting water at random times, dripping for hours after it was turned on, and all sorts of other wonderful things.
After I showered, I texted Irene on my German phone because I was still having issues with my Austrian one. She called me back right away and I described exactly what was going on. She said she would tell her daughter and son-in-law and when they came home, they could see to the hot water. The rest, she would take care of once she came back on Thursday.
As per Irene’s instructions, I left our door slightly ajar for when her daughter came home and headed off to meet Riannon at the train station. I ended up arriving bit early at the station, so I took a seat, watching the tracks her, when two pre-teen blonde girls ran up to me giggling and asked me “Who is the toilet?” between fits of giggles. I answered them in German and they ran away.
I saw Riannon’s train pull in and headed to our pre-appointed spot to wait. As I was searching the departing crowds for my new roommate, the girls approached me a second time, giggling, “I’m sorry. Who is the toilet?” I answered them again in German, not sure if they were actually looking for a toilet and trying to ask “where” as opposed to “who,” or if they were just being silly. They began to approach others with their question, and, it was then that I spied my new roommate, half buried behind her boyfriend in an array of luggage.
We hugged and after Nils and Riannon both had their obligatory smoke break, during which Nils ran into a fellow Hollander and they had a riveting conversation in Dutch, all three of us were finally on our way back to the house.
Panting, sweating and overheating because of all the baggage, we arrived at the house, dropped Riannon’s things in her room and I proceeded to re-warm dinner. Nils and Riannon gratefully devoured slices of plum cake that I had made along with giant bowls of chilly and almost an entire loaf of bread.
We chatted over dinner and I discovered how they met in Bremen, Germany through a conference both had attended. Through Google Docs they had continued their friendship after visits back and forth—Nils to North Carolina and Riannon to Holland they had begun to date and have been for about a year. They already have plans to hike a mountain in the middle of Morocco over Christmas break, as well as visit Nils’ family.
Irene called again and informed us that neither her son-in-law nor her daughter would be home until late that night and both had an early start the following morning, so off I headed to the basement with Irene on the phone to guide me through the steps of activating the hot water heater. Hot water normally comes from water heated via solar panels on the roof, but because of all the rain and cloudy-ness there hadn’t been any water heated through this method.
I told Nils and Riannon that we should have hot water in about 3 hours and left them to unpack and re-arrange Riannon’s new room.

We were all up early to head out to the Meldeamt and arrive before 8am, but we soon realized that Irene’s daughter had not signed the Meldezettel that Riannon had taped to her door with a note. Without a signature from the landlord, we wouldn’t be able to go to the Meldeamt, or get a bank account, or see about getting Riannon a cell phone. Since we were all already up, I took the two on a bit of a tour of the old town and we headed to McDonald’s to make use of the free internet, as well.
I also managed get my phone in working order and attempted to call a family friend of my grandparents, the Bauer family. At first, the phone refused to accept the numbers, but at Riannon’s urging, I added a zero to the front and the call went through, but no answer. I tried both the cell phone and home phone numbers that I had…no answer. I decided to try again in the evening.
Still at McDonald's my phone rang, it was the "Techniker" aka. the Internet installation people. The earliest they could come would be, you guessed it, Oct. 3rd. I made the appointment and, now, at some point between noon and 6pm a Techniker will appear at our door and set up our internet. I just hope I can make it home from my first day of school before he comes. With any luck, he will come closer to 4-6pm.

Meanwhile, we walked around the mall, which is named City Arkaden, looking for various items.

The three of us split two giant pizza slices for lunch at a Döner place inside.
Finally, we walked back home, rested, dropped our heavy bags, and then went back out to grocery shop in Süd Park, another mall-like structure near us with a much larger grocery store than the store just around the corner from us.
Before buying anything, Riannon wanted to finish off something from our list of things to do, so we headed back to the nearby train station to look for a passport photo place, where Riannon could get a photo for her Vorteilskarte. Finding nothing, Nils and Riannon returned to the grocery store to acquire massive amounts of food and returned home.

I called the Bauer family again, this time reaching the woman of the house. She was extactic to hear from me, but said she would have to call me back because she needed to talk to her husband about when exactly to meet with me. She called me back that evening and we made plans for Friday.


Irene came by first thing to check on our issues. In fact, Irene stopped by three times before Riannon or Nils were even awake. I informed Irene that the water was still not hot, she tried a few things and then called a repair man.
I survived my first round of laundry, letting it dry on our rack on the patio.
For breakfast, well lunch for me by this time, it was noon after all, Nils whipped up a pile of Dutch pancakes. This meant some had cheese or bacon melted directly into the batter. During this feast, the repair man arrived and a short while later we had functioning hot water. Hurrah!

After breakfast, Irene showed Riannon the two bikes left behind by previous tenants, one in need of repair. Nils fixed one in a jiffy, setting the tire and steering column to rights and pumping air into both bikes.

Then, the Meldezettel finally signed by Irene, the three of us headed to the Meldeamt with me riding on the back of one of the bikes. We were in luck that there was no one in the Meldeamt and Riannon was in and out in record speed. We rode away to the bank next, where we asked to meet with the same banker I had met with on Monday and set up an account for Riannon. During the visit the banker had me call the office phone with my new Austrian cell phone, so we could enter the number into the system. I dialed the number, but the office phone didn’t ring. Then, we heard “Hallo? Haaallllooo?!” Quickly, I ended the connection and passed the phone to the banker. He had given me the wrong number, so he entered the correct one himself this time, read the number off of the office phone display screen and typed it into the system. Laughing, Riannon and I walked out to meet Nils guarding the bikes.
As we re-grouped, Riannon noted, “Weph! I’m so glad you were there! I definitely did not understand most of what he was saying.”

Right next door, was the A1 store where I had ordered the internet and been given the phone, so off Riannon and I headed to ask if we could add an extra line to our phone for her. The answer was, quell surprise, we have to wait until Oct. 3rd when the internet is installed before we can do anything.

So, off we headed once again, after picking up Nils to get a Passphoto for Riannon. We ended up in this small store stuffed with photos of naked babies, children dressed in Lederhosen, and weddings, all of which seemed to be set in the 1980s. Riannon got her photo, several in fact, and we got directions to a bike store to investigate a method to actually lock up the bikes. Nils was bent on buying a long metal chain with a pad lock, saying it was the only thing not easily cut.
First, we dropped by City Arkaden , and Nils and Riannon picked up a few items, while I watched the bikes and observed the chicly dressed teens meeting in droves in the vicinity of the mall.

Second, we made our way to said bike shop, but found only cloth covered chains with combination locks. A young man in the store told us to try the store across the street. Off we went and there the man pointed to the exact same thing, but when we described what we wanted, he told us to try the hardware store (Bauhaus), the German word of which had, until this point, escaped us. We asked where to find one, explaining we had just moved to Klagenfurt and he gave us directions. Nils wanted to bike off right away to buy the chains on his own, but we convinced him to ride with use to the train station, so we could buy out tickets and order the Vorteilskarte for Riannon. Then, Riannon and Nils biked off to the Bauhaus together and I walked the rest of the way home.

After a shower in our finally warm water, I ate a dinner of leftovers with the returning and triumphant chain-lock possessors.

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