House sitting in Spain … and good bye Vienna


Well, I finally arrived in Spain – as my body is here since over ten days the rest has been following now. In a beautiful old house, surrounded by a mediteranean garden with seaview – there is even a pool although the water has not seen more than my toes.

It is a nice and big house and I leave it only rarely at the moment – for groceries and to have a closer look at the sea – but mainly I am here, enjoying to have so much time to spend in the fresh air and in the sun, while finding a good rythm between gardening and house work, taking care of the cat, reading, Yoga, computer, watching films and good food.

In the following two months I want to build up my repertoire around the topics Yoga and burn-out prevention – in this lovely mediteranean winter and upcoming spring. I practice and read a lot, develop sequences and much more.

This is good for me, as I was very busy in the last weeks in Austria. To move all my stuff from Salzburg to Vienna in a knee-jerk action (two days packing, one day moving, two days storing all the stuff) has not left me without traces. And then I was suddenly not so sure, if it was the right decision to leave my nice place in Salzburg. This might connect with the fact that Vienna is not really a good place to be in January. Too grey, too dark – a time where single sun rays are the source of jubilant messages. Some say that it is not by accident, that the psychotherapy was invented in Vienna. But I deviate from the subject.

However – the apartment in Vienna is almost ready, nicely furnished and I can now dedicate my time unhurriedly to my new environment and new projects. Watch out!

Vienna – colourful walk around the Danube Canal

Colourful graffitis around the Danube Canal in Vienna



I am in Vienna at the moment and I could tell a lot about this city, as I have lived here most time of my life. On the other side I tried again and again in previous years to escape  sometimes for a shorter and sometimes for a longer time. I also think there is a love-hate relation between me and Vienna- and the degree of affection is related with seasonal changes. And now I am doing something I don’t like at all –  a few weeks in winter in town. A time, where I just don’t like the city.

Maybe because there is a really high probality of a grey veil lying over the city. Far and wide no sun, and no sky – everything just grey. To contrast this with some colour is really pleasant –  for example with a walk along the Danube Canal.

Around the Schottenring (underground station) there is a lot to see. Big, colourful graffitis some legal, some illegal give the city a colourful look. And next to it, in direction of Urania the “cultural mile” Agora – a unique art project taking place every summer since 25 years. But also in winter there is a lot to see. Have a look


Bye Bye Getreidegasse (Salzburg) – Room with a view

After six months I am again for a few days in Salzburg – the city where I lived for the past five years, when I was not (like almost the whole last year) somewhere else travelling around. Now I say goodbye. In three weeks I will empty the appartment and I am here now with a mix of melancholy and relief.

I really loved to live here, but on the other side the habituality paralyses me. I look around in the apartment or I go out for a walk and I know everything. Also the view from my window, in my flat in the middle of the old town. There was also die idea to span a clothes line – right over the street – so that everybody can see, that there are still a few people living here. Well this can be done by my successor in the apartment.

In the meantime you can have a look at a few pictures I made directly from my window over the last years.







About Austrias Image

The image of Austria - mountains or traditions and music?

Austria - Customs and landscape?

Two days ago,I  heard on the news that Austria now wants to start with nation branding. At the end of a long process, a kind of trademark Austria should  be found. I take this opportunity to recycle an article about Austrias image, which I wrote in 2010.

I know it already for a longer time: All of my guests from oversea, no matter whether they come from America, Asia or Australia (only from Africa  I had no couchsurfing guests until now) -have a very similar  image of Austria. Sound of Music, Mozart and music in general. Most suspect that these stereotypes can not be true . But sometimes I come across  guests who take it all a bit more serious.

I once had a Chinese host, who was not only totally surprised that it is a mountainous country (that’s Switzerland!), but she almost did not want me to believe that not everyone plays an instrument and is very musical. Mozart, on the other hand, was an important motive for her travels. However, not his music, but his tragic fate, was relevant to her. She did not really believe my notice that Mozart was not so poor , and some Internet searches later, she was visibly shaken, that   was not a poor devil.

I took this as an opportunity to do some research on Austria’s image. There is obviously a long tradition of image studies where the respondents are exposed to images and so-called word stimuli from a specific country , and they must correlate them  either to Austria, Germany or Switzerland. An example of such a study (in this case Indonesia) can be found here. All these studies have  a similar result in the end, that Austria is a land of culture, music and customs – Switzerland stands for the mountains and skiing and Germany stands for progress and intelligence.

What comes to people's mind, when they think about Austria

A survey of Austria Tourism at ITB (International Tourism Exchange Berlin (text in German) led to different results. For the majority of the German-speaking audience are ignorance (answer is “no idea”), mountains, skiing, Vienna and the Austrian Gemütlichkeit. Even if this was just a totally unrepresentative survey, I do think that the bottom line is very consistent.

So while in Europe nature and comfort characterize  Austria’s image, cultural aspects such as music and customs are more predominant for potential visitors from oversea. These Image measurements are quite relevant for the tourism advertising,as they are sharpened into clichés and then specifically marketed. I’ve added here, for example, a spot marketing Austria and titled “Charming Austria”, which plays very targeted with these clichés , where the country  is celebrated as a place of music, traditions and festivals.



Rupertikirtag – when Salzburg gets rural (Photostory)

The Rupertikirtag is a fair held annually to celebrate the birthday of St. Rupert, the patron and – as legend says – the founder of Salzburg.

At the  Rupertikirtag everything is traditional. The Dirndl (the traditional Austrian and Bavarian dress) density is as high as never before, the food is typical Bavarian hearty (not such a newfangled ethnic food, like at so many other festivals), and last but not least the fair is known for its beautiful old-fashioned fairground attractions – for example, a chairoplane from  1848, which is set up only once a year (see photo above).

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Salzburg Views from the Couch (1)

Via couchsurfing I receive visitors in Salzburg on a quite regular base.  We often discuss the main attractions of Salzburg or the main reasons to come. Most guests are either searching Mozart’s footprints or the search traces of “Sound of Music”. But still, I wanted to know, the main impressions of Salzburg. And therefore I started a new project. All my couchsurfing guests are asked to send my a few photos of Salzburg, and describe them in a short paragraph.

We start with Jason from Australia, who has been living in London for the last year, and has now started a five month Europe trip, before returning to Australia.  Here are his photos and the descriptions:

There are some windows in one of the chambers of the palace in Salzburg which are glazed with a polarising, pinkish plastic. I do not know why this is, but the city has a strange, dusky glow when photographed through these windows. It is not real, but interesting none

Fuschlsee and the surrounding countryside were so beautiful, but I could not seem to capture this on camera. This photo is the closest I could come; the mountains, woods, countryside and lake come together here and make a very peaceful scene.

If you look in the middle of the photo, you can see the palace and stretching out below the city area south of this hill. It is a beautifully located city with many wooded hills in and around the city which help you forget the crowds.