Austrian-American author and blogger comparing life in Los Angeles, California with life in Vienna, Austria.
Lifestyle, work, food, customs and everything in between.
Check out my book 'LAlien-From the Austrian Alps to the Hollywood Hills'.
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Frightening New World
The horrible terror attacks in Paris last Friday took many of us back to that fateful September day in 2001. Most of us were not directly affected by the attacks (luckily) but it became obvious that the world changed that day...
I moved to the U.S. on September 21st, 2001. Ten days after
9/11. It was an odd feeling to move to a country at war. Growing up in Austria
and also living in Germany for a few years, I had a certain ‘idea’ of what war
meant. Elderly neighbors and family members had been witnesses of World War II.
I grew up in a house that had – as was required by law – a bunker you can go to
in case of an air raid. Sure, my parents used it to stock potatoes and it had
no door – but what was required was there. What did it mean when America was at
war? Not much for the regular citizen who didn’t have a family member in the
armed forces. Only when I turned on the news was I reminded of the war.
The day I arrived at the Los Angeles
airport, LAX, the day I arrived, there was police everywhere. Men dressed
in black uniforms with a stern look on their faces holding weapons I had only
seen on TV before were patrolling the airport. I landed after dark and LAX
seemed like a ghost town in a zombie movie. Under normal circumstances, LAX was
a bustling lively place with lots of honking cab drivers and lost tourists
desperately looking for that train going to the city center. Soon they would
learn that there wasn’t one – no airport train and no city center.
When I walked through the LAX arrival gates, I had already been on two flights: Munich to
Philadelphia and Philadelphia to L.A. On the first flight, a bunch of drunken
Germans caused a ruckus and the air marshal had to step in. After the 9/11
terror attacks, air marshals were a new sight on flights to give passengers the
illusion of safety. A funny and at the same time scary fact: the air marshal on
my flight was way over sixty years old. The drunken guys were in their early
30s. The air marshal’s presence did not make me feel safe at all. I was crying
for most of that flight holding onto a stuffed animal for dear life. I was so
scared of moving to a ‘war zone’ that I felt no shame about seeking comfort the
same way a toddler does. The stuffed animal I was clinging onto was an orange
mouse from a famous German kids’ TV show. The middle aged German man – who by
his own account liked to wear a suit and a tie when flying – tried to involve
me in a conversation by saying “Ah, I see you are also a fan of ‘the mouse’”. We
started a nice long talk about the TV shows we grew up with and where we were
going in the U.S.
Going through the security check in Philadelphia was a long
procedure. There were armed security guards everywhere. The airport was nearly
empty. Any sharp objects were removed from people’s luggage. Smokers had to fly
without lighters or matches. You could cut the fear and the tension with a non-TSA-approved
knife. I was scared. Growing up on a farm, I saw pigs and cows get slaughtered
but I had never seen this many weapons in person before. I was afraid to say
the wrong thing even if I had nothing to hide. So when the TSA guy asked me if
I had any food on me I told him I had some cookies in my backpack. He looked at
me as if I had just told him that I was chewing gum and making a mockery of his
job. “I said food!” I asked if cookies weren’t food. He looked annoyed and waved
me through. I was confused. Cookies were not food?
The second flight was nearly empty. I had three rows to
myself. A luxury I should never experience again after that flight. The same
goes for the absolute silence on the plane as well as the friendly passengers
and flight attendants. It weighed heavy on my mind that all of the planes that
crashed on 9/11 took off from the east coast and were bound for the west coast.
So there I was with my tear-soaked stuffed animal and a big bag of unknown on my
2017 was a mixed bag in many ways, therefore I am not really sad that the year is coming to a close.
And although I have a lot of plans for 2018, I don't want to make a lot of resolutions except for losing weight - but that's always on the list. ;) Instead, I have joined an online group that focuses on cutting spending to the necessities.
I really enjoy online shopping for clothes - I can browse for hours in my sweatpants and don't have to deal with people. So when an email lands in my inbox promising x% off, I get very excited. I am not much of a luxury shopper. Most luxury items I own (a purse, a coat and a wallet) were gifts or I got them (jewelry) for a lot less because I worked for the company.
Most of my funds go towards vacations. I just love traveling and exploring different countries! Now that we've adopted a kitty cat, traveling will require some additional planning and consideration. We have a few trips on the radar for 2018, however, way less than previousl…
Morocco has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time. This May, the time had finally come!
I thought Moroco was all about camels, couscous and desert but I couldn't have been more wrong! Marrakech has countless parks and the buildings show intricate designs and powerful colors. I especially loved the beautiful doors and gates of the various buildings. People are very friendly and everyone speaks English!
Did you know that designer Yves Saint Laurent used to live in Marrakech? You can visit his incredible blue house surrounded by a lovely and colorful garden.
The souk was bustling but no one was pushy. The food was INCREDIBLE and very vegetarian friendly. We took a trip to the ocean to visit the city of Essaouira, which apparently used to be hippie-town where Jimmy Hendrix briefly lived.
We went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride (my first) and it was an incredible experience! Floating across the tree tops of olive trees and seeing the sun rise in the distance was ab…
Austria feels a sense of pride when it comes to being what they call nostalgic about the past and going against the mainstream. The rest of the world calls it being backward.
In 2015, the Austrian government at the time passed a law that would finally take Austria to the same progressive level as the majority of Western countries: banning smoking in bars, restaurants and clubs. However, it wouldn't be Austria if things were that simple. The government gave establishments over 2 years to prepare for the law to come into effect - May 2018 - which would fall under the legislative period of the next government. I was very happy about the law as I am one of those 'annoying' people who get a headache and burning eyes as well as the urge to cough as soon as I am exposed to smoke. At the same time, I thought the long time before the law actually will be enacted may be problematic as the new government may have other ideas. It turned out that I was right... and in this case, I wish…