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Tova and the Stadt - Winter Blues

I’m not sure if you heard that noise last week? It was the sound of despair. It was me.

Ski jumping was on - the 4 Schanzentournee - and I had to sit through hours of watching men in latex hurtle down slopes and throw themselves into oblivion.

My husband, being Austrian, has a gene that specifically forces him to watch anything that occurs in snow.

This includes skiing as well. When I first moved to Vienna to be with him, I found it endearing. Now, well, I could name the second cousin of Austria’s favourite ski jumper - Schlierenzauer, Schlieri for short - and I am not too pleased about that.

But winter in Austria is not just about skiing, it is also about balls. I mentioned last year that there are a wide range of balls to attend with different themes and dress codes which helps make January and February a little less dull.

Wien info offers a list of different types of balls here http://events.wien.info/en/?c=2&dt=12%2F31%2F2013. As you can see, there is a lot of choice! The ball season is always just before lent, when the Viennese let their hair down and party until early morning.

After a night of "balling" the idea of giving up everything enjoyable for lent is attractive, for a day, perhaps. This year I will be attending the IAEA ball at the Hofburg and I cannot wait! My feet? Not so much.

With lent looming, there is also Fasching. Fasching is like Mardi Gras for Austrians, but with no beads or parades or gumbo or inappropriate flashing. While not as popular as in Northern Germany (where they get an actual day off so that they can dress like a clown or nun and drink copious amounts of alcohol) it is still celebrated.

School children often dress up for the day and shops sell costumes for adults as well. If you have noticed, if you live here, shop windows are often decorated with confetti and streamers to celebrate fasching.

Do not forget to eat the traditional Krapfen (jelly filled donuts) before lent begins! Try to wear a bib because they can lead to embarrassing orange coloured stains on white shirts. Not that this has ever happened to anyone I know.

Luckily Vienna is fairly mild in the winter. And I can say that because I have spent many winters with temperatures hovering around minus 20. I am looking at you Moscow and Ottawa.

Mild winters mean walks in the parks and if the weather does dip just below zero, you can always head to one of Vienna’s many many museums. This is only an option if you are actually willing to leave your domicile at all. I am not.

To be honest, besides the skiing and the ball season, this is a pretty miserable time of year in Vienna. The Christmas markets are gone and the Christmas lights are brought down. I was bemoaning this fact to my husband the other day and he got a great big smile on his face and exclaimed "Don’t worry dear! The skiing world cup in Schladming is coming up!" I died a little inside.

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