"Down here at Cape Spartel is the celebrated cave of Hercules, where the hero took refuge when he was vanquished and driven out of the Tangier country. It is full of inscriptions in the dead languages, which fact makes me think Hercules could not have traveled much, else he would not have kept a journal."

-"The Innocents Abroad," Mark Twain

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Good evening, and welcome to the Saturday Evening News. Surprise, I'm tired... please excuse my extremely bad sense of humor, lack thereof, or whatever happens to come out of my fingers at this time, as my brain has released me for the night.

I have done things this past week, I promise. But I'm going to cut straight to the most interesting part - last night. In Austria, the season for balls has begun. (Yes, the dancing kind.) And so I went to my first one last night! When my friend came to visit me last weekend, we found my dress, which is pictured (with me) here, along my with my extremely long earrings:

I took the bus home from school, took about an hour to get ready, and rode back to the city, where I met briefly with a friend and dropped my bag off at her apartment. Then, I took yet another bus to another friend's house, where there was a group of people from my class for a pre-party. We then took a taxi to a bus stop in the old city, got in a shuttle, and finally arrived at the ball! Lots of to-and-from, and the evening had barely begun...

The ball was held in a huge building, and I have to admit I have no idea what it is normally used for. There were three levels - the lowest had the "disko," which is like a club; the second had a regular dance floor with live band for (actual) dancing: waltzes, the tango, and the like; the top floor had a small buffet and balcony overlooking the dance floor on the second floor.Throughout, there were also small bars and tables set up.  In Austria, at 15 or 16, pretty much everyone goes to dance school to learn how to dance formally, and it can be put to use here. The balls are for everyone (although for this specific one, you had to be at least sixteen), including adults. At 10 and midnight there were shows on the second floor, (and the lighting was terrible) but I got this right after the last finished:

Everyone was complaining that the music downstairs was not the best to dance to, and I have to admit that I agree with them, but it did not affect it too badly in the end. The worst thing was probably the smoke, since you only needs to be sixteen to smoke and drink here. We left relatively early at about 2:30 (taking another shuttle). I stayed overnight with a few friends before heading home after a late breakfast the next morning. Hope your weekend is going well so far!

much love,
mary beth

P.S. I apologize for not taking many pictures, as it did not seem to be a picture taking event...
pictures of the city transforming for Christmas are coming...
I have been in Austria now for three months (and two days)!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Food and Leaves (But Not Together At the Same Time)

I was sitting in my room, freshly showered after a beautiful day, when I realized it had been a little while since I had lasted written something. So here it is!

Halloween was last week; I actually had three days off from school - Halloween, All Saints' Day, and the day after as well. I guess that this was my fall break, as, naturally, Thanksgiving is not celebrated here. We had a small party with some neighbors for Halloween. This is actually unusual for Austria, as they normally don't celebrate the holiday. We did have one group of 4 trick-or-treaters, though! We had a lovely table:

This past weekend, my friend (who is also an exchange student) came to visit! She's living three hours away, so we made a weekend out of it. We explored the shopping of Salzburg on Saturday and my town on Sunday. We happened to eat a lot, as well... this seems to be all about food so far!

This is "Kebap," which is actually Hungarian, and is the Austrian version of fast food!

VERY GOOD coconut hot chocolate

Before she left, the two of us went out and got cake (mine was the chocolate )!

The leaves are turning quite nicely, and the weather has decided to favor us for a while. Today was warm, as was yesterday! I hope it stays that way for a few more days before becoming cold for the next few months. This past weekend, the city began setting up for Christmas. (No Thanksgiving, remember?) I'll try to take some pictures of the process to show you tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a bit of fall from Friday right across the street from my school:

Hopefully, I will have some more news from this coming weekend for you as well! Hope you are all doing well, enjoying the season, and staying warm.

Much love,
Mary Beth