Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

Another week rolled around in early November and it was time for our meeting with the Landeshauptmann (the governor of the state where we live).

Naturally, this included a tour of Landhaus (the former seat of power in historical times and today still where the politicians meet today to debate) and a private meeting with the Landeshauptmann.

We began with the Landhaus in the Wappensaal (the hall of shields), which is covered in the crests of the royal families of Kärnten from floor the ceiling. The ceiling itself is plastered with a giant painting of the king on his throne.

And of course...The prince's throne, which dates back to Roman times when the local ruler would "pay" a farmer to become king as a gesture of goodwill and a promise that he would care for the land.

Next, we slid from the past into the present and into the meeting room where the politics take place today...

Right next door is the room from which the Nazi's reigned. A modern artist redecorated the room with the words "tat" on one side and "ort on the other. Put the words together and you have "Tatort" or "crimescene." "Ort" can mean a place where something happened, or it can also mean bathroom. In this case it means both. Behind the metal door is a bathroom. The artists sense of humor.

Next, we all slid over to the Landesregierung, the government administration building and the home of the office to the Landeshauptmann. He was, of course, running a bit late due to his important duties, but soon arrived for our group photo. You can follow this link. Scroll down and there are a lot more photos to follow. We were even in the newspaper.


Then, we sat down to have a discussion with the Landeshauptmann. The young looking man in the suit with the black hair is the man in charge of our program and an Austrian, who has lived both in the US and Japan. The woman with the grey long hair is named Wauki and is in charge of our division of TEA (Teachers of English in Austria). She was an English teacher in Austria when she met her English husband. Now he teaches at the University Klagenfurt and she's in retirement (well, sort of). She also just so happens to be the former English teacher of one of the sons from the Bauer Family (the family that lived underneath my Opapa growing up in Ferlach).

Anyway, the Landeshauptmann was presented with brownies from the head of the TEA organization and he joked that if they really were "American," they would be from McDonald's. Then he gravely began lecturing us on our responsibilities to Austrian students and interviewing us with stern questions.
Before we got very far, Nicole and I had to run away because we had our German class at the university and time was ticking. We serenely and quietly walked out, closing the door behind us. Then we sprinted to the coat racks, giggling and out of the building towards the bus stop, where we nervously waited. The bus arrived late, but we still made it on time to class, barely.

The following week was the week of Birthdays: Riannon, Catherine and Christine.
Catherine celebrated on her own, as her friends from England flew in.

I orchestrated a surprise party for Riannon because she was feeling blue about Niels not coming. With the help of Lora, I baked a secret cake. With Uska as the excuse. luring Riannon out of the house, the rest of us commenced cutting fruits, baking fish and setting out the surprise dinner.
Riannon made a wish on her double-chocolate-johannesberry with a plum jelly filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting, topped with raspberries cake, which I must say was delicious (if I am allowed to say that about my own cakes), if a bit misshapen.
Riannon's birthday

Shortly after this picture, Nicole and I went running for the bus, which we missed. So we high-tailed it to the train station, where we caught a taxi to the University and still made it on time for class, just barely.

Friday, we celebrated Christine's birthday. But let me back up a bit. See Walter and the other TEA representatives from our program were coming down this weekend for the annual Klagenfurt Autro-American Thanksgiving on Saturday, which meant we were hosting 3 people in our home for the weekend. Walter was the guy I replaced at my current school and he now lives in Vienna. He came back to visit the school Friday morning. From there Riannon and I met and went to our new Couchsurfing friend's art exhibit at the Messe and from there we went straight to Christine's birthday dinner at Salud's, a Mexican restaurant...well pretend Mexican restaurant. Right after dinner I left the group, to re-join Walter and the head English teacher at a classical music concert. During the intermission, we received frantic calls from the TEA head that she was lost on her way from Vienna to Klagenfurt and couldn't find our address. I sent her Riannon's way and hoped they would find each other before rejoining the concert. At the end, Walter and I quickly went back to my house, where a group had gathered and our 3 new additions soon arrived. At last, we lit the candles and wished Christine a happy birthday.

The next morning, I marched the 3 over to the guided tour of Klagenfurt, followed along for a bit and then returned home.

Close to the opening time of the Christmasmarket in the center of Klagenfurt, Riannon and I donned or dirndls

Riannon and I before heading out

Here we are freezing in our dindls, waiting for the grand opening

Lora joined us and the three of us met our ride to the Austro-American Thanksgiving dinner.

me at dinner

The dinner was delicious...but not quite Thanksgiving. We had Knödel instead of stuffing and because I was wearing a dirndl, the crowd insisted I stand up and sing songs from The Sound of Music with one of our three guests, who also happens to be an opera singer in training. Riannon left early due to a splitting headache.

The next morning our three guests were gone, already left for the train back to Vienna, by the time Riannon and I were preparing breakfast.

And that was Thanksgiving the First.

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