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Showing posts from August, 2010

A Taste of Heaven: Remembering L.A. (Guest Post 1)

By Lorraine Seal Lorraine Seal is a fellow expat blogger who moved from Los Angeles to Ireland and on to Salzburg, Austria. Her blog, A Spy in Another Country, is about "the European gestalt as experienced by an American woman married to an Irish man". Across the Pond asked Lorraine for a guest post on the things she misses about Southern California. Dear Christina, As I write this, it’s been three years to the day I departed Los Angeles for life in Europe. This morning, I think of you and your family in Southern California, beginning a new phase of your lives. You asked me what I miss, and I had to think a bit before I could answer. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve made a point of remaining focused on living where I am rather than looking back. Our intention is to stay in Europe, so I’ve tried to avoid comparisons or to consider what I miss. But since you ask, yes, there are sights and tastes and sensations that stand out vividly as I let my imagination wander through

Mercer vs. Forbes, Vienna To L.A.: Are We Crazy?

Sunny days, brilliant light, endless streams of traffic - after two years in Vienna we are back in L.A. We moved from the most livable city in the world to one of the most stressful cities in the US, gave up the security of life in Austria for the uncertainties of life in the USA. Are we crazy? According to a Forbes study which was published last week only Las Vegas beats Los Angeles for stress level in the USA. Forbes used six metrics "that can either cause or be caused by stress" to arrive at its conclusions: high unemployment, long commute times, long work hours, limited access to health care, poor physical health, and a lack of exercise. The main reason for Los Angeles to fare poorly is apparently the physical health of its residents. 22.8 percent of Angelinos report that their health is "less than good". Forbes comments that "physical and mental health are closely intertwined, and it's hard to keep from stressing out when one's body is failin

Madrid Blessings: Food, Footwear, and a Friendly Priest

What a treat: we got to spend a few days in Madrid, an elegant yet careless, old fashioned and easy going, proud but welcoming, southern place with French, Austrian, and Arabic influences. The people were friendly, and the pickpockets we had been warned of by tourists from Austria must have been on vacation. We met friends of relative F.'s, an international bunch of happy, energizing people in their thirties, talked politics and culture, ate simple food: Spanish omelet made with firm, waxy potatoes; goat cheese, Iberian ham, green olives, served with plain white bread, country fare, tapas. The yellow peaches were so rich in taste and so juicy that our preteen daughter exclaimed, "I have been waiting to eat this all my life. It is like in James and the Giant Peach." In three days of wandering we noticed more colorful shoes on feet and in shop windows than I have seen in decades; we studied architecture in all styles from Madrid Baroque to Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Fif

A Patch of California in the Heart of Vienna

The other day we stumbled upon a patch of California right in the middle of Vienna: California poppies grow in the botanical gardens of Belvedere Palace. Spotting the deep yellow flowers on their thin, bent stalks, I was reminded of how these plants cover vast expanses of desert in California in the spring. The California poppy, scientifically known as Eschscholzia californica, is the official flower of the state of California. It blooms from February to May in the wild. The best place to see it in L.A. is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in the Mojave Desert. Images: California Poppies in Vienna in August and in the California Poppy Reserve in April 2005

5 Weeks + 13 Days: Austria's Generous Vacation Law

Today's Room for Debate in the New York Times asks, why Americans don't have longer vacations. Interesting topic. To read the debate and join it  click here. Austria has 13 national holidays. The minimum vacation time is five weeks. As a reporter in Vienna in the 1990s I got so much vacation time (plus the national holidays plus compensation days for working Sundays) that there was no way I could have spent it all. Unfortunately for my employer the unconsumed days and weeks carried on to the next year and further to the next. When I quit my job the paper had to pay me for all the free time not taken which added up to almost three months salary. I spent it all.

Dinner, Dance, and the City (This I Will Miss 5)

It is right in the city, mixes the new and the old, and in the summer it is always crowded: Vienna's MuseumsQuartier, a large cultural center with museums, exhibitions, and lots of events around film, dance, theater, architecture. The complex includes renovated baroque buildings, modern constructions, and much empty space for in between. It was opened in 2001 and quickly became one of the meeting points in Vienna. Many come here to educate themselves but most people just want to hang out, drink coffee, eat dinner. MuseumsQuartier is an urban spot, lively, international, young, inclusive.Vienna at its best.