Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for October, 2008

Austria 3 – Ice Caves and Salt Mine

September 24, 2008

This morning started with a visit to the Höhlenwelt ice caves in the Dach Stein. We rode a cable car above the cloud line, coming to a stop about 1500m above sea level, above the first layer of clouds.

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The German Toilet

When my high school band traveled through Europe, I noticed that something was fundamentally different between European and North American culture. The shock has stayed with me for years, and it’s only been recently that I’ve reached out to the online community for comfort. I’ve found that I’m not the only one who’s been traumatized by these stark differences in behaviour.

A few European countries, particularly Germany, Austria, and apparently England, seem to be eternally visited by the ghost of sewage past. A wise man wrote a brilliant essay in which he coined the term the German Poo-Shelf Toilet (GPST), although Wikipedia refers to it as the Flachspüler, Washout, or shelf toilet.

Washout Toilet

Whatever you call it, it’s horrible. I had close encounters with 6 of them in just 10 days in Austria. My kingdom for a properly designed toilet.

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Austria 2 – Monastery

September 23, 2008

I spent most of my second day in Austria driving with Felix and Nina to the tiny Austrian village of Obertraun. We stopped in Admont along the way to visit a monastery called Benediktinerstift Admont. The abbey contains a massive library, the biggest monastery library room in the world. It was built in 1074, and it comes fully equipped with fake bookshelves that cover hidden windows that doubled as emergency exits in dire times. We also saw books that were more than 1000 years old. It turns out that the scribes of old doodled as much as we do today.

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An Ode to a Dog

As far as Higginses go, he wasn’t the most famous. He might’ve been the smelliest. But if he goes down in history for anything, it’ll be for his laziness. He was right at home in our lazy family. Read more


Austria 1 – Arrival

September 22, 2008

Waking up to catch a flight at 02:30 is even worse when you have a cold, but that’s a small price to pay to spend the next 10 days visiting my Austrian friends, Felix and Annina.

Felix and Annina whipped up an awesome walking tour of their hometown, Graz. Like any good tour, it started and ended with chocolate. I saw an alien which commemorates Austria’s 2003 title of European Capital of Culture, climbed a rope maze on a metallic river-island, and gazed out over the beautiful rooftops of the city from the top of a once decimated castle:

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A Polish Welcome

My flight plan had a stopover in Poland. I guess this is normal there.

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