Sunday, 9 September 2007

What would I miss?

When I was younger, I could not understand why were there that many different newspapers. "There is just one piece of news," I thought, "only one event happened, it has to be the same for everybody and it should be reported in the same way... shouldn't it?" I had not realized yet that it is not what you say what counts, it is how you say it.

One of the silent readers of this blog, my friend S., told me last week that I seem to adopt a rather negative point of view when I write about my life in Salzburg. I was a little surprised, but looking back at my short blogging history, I have to admit that he may have a point.

I began writing this blog because I wanted to talk about what surprises me about my life here, what catches my attention. Reading it now, it turns out that most of the things that I considered worth blogging about, did surprise me in a negative way. But, hey!, I don't want to be taken for one of those whiney Spanish expats, always moaning about the weather, about the language, about how hard it is to make friends here, always looking for the Spanish expat community because "you are going to have the need to grumble about the locals with a couple fellow countrypersons."

I think I may have a communication problem. I think I might have failed to transmit how much do I enjoy living here. I think I might be putting too much weight on the negative sides of my opinions. Perhaps the way in which I express them happens to be too direct. Perhaps I happen to express myself in a too self-confident way, while I am doing nothing but speculating about, guessing, trying to put some order in the world around me. I think what I say might not be correlating with how I feel.

Mar told me something very beautiful yesterday. She thinks of her blog as nothing but a collection of all the warm memories that she will want to keep along from our Murmeltierjahre in Austria. And I think that is very wise. That's why she sounds so warm and so cheery in her blog, that's why mine seems some sort of evil twin when putting them side by side.

That's why I decided to come up with a list of all those things that I would miss about Salzburg, about Austria, should I now have to leave.

(i) Salzburg has just the right size to bicycle around. I could never do it in Barcelona, because motorists are not used to consider bikes as road users there, there are few dedicated lanes, and your bike is likely to be stolen the five minutes you don't look at it. I love commuting by bike. The 45 minutes ride to my office helps me start working full of energy in the morning, and helps me leave all work issues at the office when riding back home in the afternoon.

Volksgarten, Salzburg, May 2005

(ii) Living around wonderful lakes and superb mountains. I always admired mountains. I used to spend summer vacation at the Vall d'Aran, in the Pyrenees, as a child, and I always loved going back there from time to time. Now I live at the feet of the Alps, and I can get postcard views of them every day.

Untersberg, Salzburg, February 2006

(iii) If I want to be in contact with Nature, it is just five minutes away from home. Really. I just need to take the lift up the Mönchsberg and I am already there. How cool is that? Salzburg is green. So green it even hurts the eyes of someone like me, who grew up in a quite brown, dusty and hard landscape, which I also love, by the way. Most of Spain looks dusty because it doesn't rain enough. Everything looks bright green in Salzburg because it rains a lot. It might seem trivial, but it took me a while to realize that!

Wolfgangsee, Sankt Gilgen, August 2007

(iv) I think for a hobby photographer like myself there is nothing more appealing than the orchestra of colours that play wonderful symphonies every autumn. Dark greens, ochres, yellows, reds, oranges... I can't get enough of them!

Thumsee, Germany, October 2006 / Wolfgangsee, October 2005

(v) Spending a rainy afternoon in a coffee house, reading a book, having a good conversation or simply letting life pass around me.

(vi) All kinds of wonderful edible products that you can get directly from the farmers at the marketplace. Kohlrabi, lots of pumpkins that look like aliens, Speck (a kind of bacon), Steirisches Kürbiskernöl (pumpkin seed oil from Styria), Kren (horseradish), and a seemingly endless row of Würstl (sausages) that you eat at the Würstlstand, quite an Austrian institution.

Naschmarkt, Vienna, August 2007

(vii) How easy it is to have your life organised. Working times are reasonable here, and I love having lunch around noon and being back home at 18h to have dinner around 19h. It might seem to go without saying, but try to do something like that in Spain.

(viii) The Fingerlos breakfast.

(ix) The winter. I mean, a real winter with snow, with minus temperatures, with frozen nose, ears and finger tips. Where it takes five minutes to put on all clothes you need to go outside. Where you might even be able to walk on a frozen lake.

Fuschlsee, January 2006

(x) Having the chance to practise a foreign language every day. Having to live in a foreign language might be often quite despairing, but it is the only way to get to master that language. Seeing it as a challenge and not as a burden is, I think, the right approach to it.

(xi) I did not like beer back in Spain. Then I came here and it was clear that I had to review my beliefs. Even the much acclaimed Czech Budweiser beer does not match Salzburg's Stiegl (hey, that's my poor opinion!).

Freilichtmuseum, Grossgmain, May 2007

(xii) I will certainly miss those little advantages of being a stranger. For example, being able to ignore the subtitles at the last Almodóvar movie and understanding every single joke in it. Or knowing how incredibly silly are the lyrics of the last latino hit song. Or knowing that, even though this one song is in Spanish, the guy singing sounds more like an Italian...

And, of course, I am going to miss a lot of great friends that, in spite of all the Spanish whiney expat folklore, I have been lucky enough to find here.

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