Filzmoos 2013: Pictures and Movie!

Hereby I’d like to invite you to check out my photo and movie report about the 34. Internationale BP-Gas Balloon Trophy in Filzmoos (Austria) held from 12-19 January 2013. Sit back, relax and enjoy!

Pictures: click here

Movie: click here


Filzmoos 2013: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

In fact I had a very fun evening of chit chatting with two of the Dutch guests at the hotel here. They live in the same region as where I was born during the tenth day of the fabulous nineties. Both children of the woman I was talking to were nicely adventurous, living in all kind of interesting countries, just like me. It was awesome to hear some good old dialect expressions again. I guess I’m well prepared for my trip back home (The Netherlands in this case) tomorrow. 

Wednesday was snowy, foggy and anything else balloonists do not need. So, therefore the flight was cancelled. There was some slight balloon action though. There are two guys from the Northern part of Sweden wanting to become a pilot. With some help from Simon and Olle they both got the opportunity to inflate the Mastercard balloon and to play around a bit with it on a rope, just to get the feeling for it. After diner it was swimming pool and sauna time! Nice that those facilities are all here. Ohja, earlier this week I did my yearly little barefoot dance in the snow! Hmm, maybe that’s the reason why I’m a bit sick now… After a sauna visit it was for sure a welcome refreshment.

Thursday, again no flight. Together with the Olle-gang and my beloved Swedish family I went to Salzburg for the very first time. Guess I definitely have to come back there in summer. A lot of things to discover, however, also too many touristy things gratefully making use of the fact Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born there. I was surprised to see so many beggars there, I didn’t expect that. Something else… I think Austrians are in general very friendly towards their customers. I always feel so welcome, everywhere. I found one exeption though! Don’t go to the McDonalds at the main shopping street. They get very grumpy when you want to order your burgers without any salad or other vegetables (something which I have been doing all week for Simon). They even started to discuss among colleagues, right in front of us. A bit embarrassing, but well, it doesn’t matter. We had a good day after all. And, Simon led us to a giant store full with eggs. My goodness, I’ve seen enough eggs for the rest of the year. Easter eggs, Halloween eggs, Spring eggs, Christmas egg kind of balls and just a lot of hand decorated balls you don’t need.

Thursday evening I joined the Swedish pilots to a presentation by Don Cameron. He mainly discussed all the adventurous challenges Cameron Balloons has played a role in. There was not that much new stuff for long time balloon fanatics, but still it was pleasant to hear the stories and jokes told by Mr. Cameron himself. I was however quite surprised by the end of his presentation. Since I like to give presentations myself I have read a lot about how to do it, and how not to. I would always try to end my presentations with something positive, even though the topic is something sad, dark and beeeh. This particular presentation ended with ‘Well, sometimes things go wrong too…’ and a whole collection of balloons in trees, church towers, the water, electricity cables, etc! Interesting…

Friday, finally an opportunity to fly! Or? A second briefing was held and eventually a hand full of pilots decided to actually start. The sight was not perfect and also the direction didn’t offer too many possible landing places. Simon however was convinced it would be all fine and he was absolutely right. Together with him, Tore and Erik we made a more than 2,5 hour flight. We were warmed up by the sun and pleased by the Alpine rooftops. What a good way to end this lovely week.
Tomorrow it’s time to fly home from Salzburg Airport. On the one hand it will be great to be with my parents in the Netherlands again, on the other hand it will be hard to say all the Swedes goodbye, knowing soon it’s also time to start University in Lithuania again. I don’t want to think about it.

That was all for now I guess. The following blog posts might be a bit more Baltic related again.

Thanks for reading!

Filzmoos 2013: Monday and Tuesday

No balloons to be seen Monday. Too bad sight, too much snow. Together with Lasse, Inga-Lill, Bengt, Hasse, Tore, Peter, Henrik and Ulf I made a 7km long trip towards a cozy little Austrian food-place.  Nothing better than a germknödel floating in melted butter after a long walk, hmm!
During diner Simon’s cousin Hanna got baptized and ever since she’s the proud owner of the title ‘Ballonggrevinna af Dachstein’. When it was supposed to be bedtime we got a free screaming concert of our Dutch neighbor, a little boy who obviously didn’t agree on something. Besides his high dissatisfied frequencies my ears had most trouble with the creative amount of very, very bad swearing words from both of his parents. 
Tuesday seemed to be a nice day for some ballooning, however, the wind was pretty strong. It seemed to be something local, so with a lot of helping hands Simon managed to lift off and make a long, nice flight (with a soft landing!). He flew around 33km, however, when retrieving in the mountains it’s easy to drive around 80km for the same distance. We passed Gosau and saw a lot of balloon teams retrieving from the balloon event there. Nice! I feel like my grandmother now, but oh, the Austrian environment is really breathtaking (and for the insiders: the driver was very good too!).
Let’s see about tomorrow and the rest of the week. The weather doesn’t look that wonderful unfortunately…
Currently I’m sitting in the hotel lobby accompanied by four Dutchman who don’t realize I’m one of their fellow-countryman. I secretly enjoy this very much since they obviously come from the same farmer-like region I originate from. Haven’t heard this dialect for over half a year! Seems they just started their ‘let’s look at pictures from our grandchildren and melt away with oooehh’s and aaah’s’ –phase. ‘Leeeeuwwwk heee?’. Ow no, now it’s about all their diseases and insurance coverage; I better have a look for my Swedish friends!
For the Dutchmen: 
‘Ja jong, wat ‘n ziekte, en dan he’m ze ook nog kleine kinder!’.
‘Wat is de mooise plek van Groningen? De bus naar Friesland’. 
‘We he’m het Pieterpad geloop’n met vrie’n van oons. Nederland heeft ook heeeeule mooie plekkies’.
‘Oma Jannie en Opa Appie, he’.
‘Ee’m lekker optutt’n’.
Ok, doeg.

Filzmoos 2013: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Hello from Filzmoos, Austria!
A little update about our trip southwards. Thursday afternoon, on my 23th birthday, I started my journey together with a bunch of balloon minded Swedes. During the evening we took the ferry to Rostock (Germany) on which we stayed overnight. An interesting mix of passengers… Polish and German truckers and a group of Swedes singing ‘happy birthday’ to the Dutchy. The whole Friday we have been driving, from North to South Germany. In Burghausen, a German/Austrian village we took a well-deserved rest. The view from our hotel was absolutely breathtaking; the old city center of Burghausen and its longest (around 1,2 km) ‘burg’ of Europe. During a filling Bavarian meal I got another ‘ happy birthday’ concert, followed by my very own Ballongklubben Andrée winter jacket as a present. ”Welcome to the club!”. Thanks guys! The next morning Simon was so kind to give us a nice tour through the long streched historical castle. 
After 127 km of driving we reached Filzmoos. A long bearded horse-taxi-driver singing a happy jodel song noted me and said ”Oh, Alles Gute! Und du! Wie Engelhaft!”. Thanks again. The first long missed German chocolate bars were bought, the Austrian beer was tested and also the sauna and swimming pool were used well. The nice thing about this balloon event in Filzmoos is that there is no rush. Pilots and crew have breakfast in peace and prepare themselves to go to the launch field whenever they wish. This morning Simon made an interesting flight with Bengt, Hanna and Christer. There was quite some fog and when being above the clouds, not exactly knowing where you’re located above the mountains, that can be quite challenging. Luckily it went all fine and they came down to earth softly. Inga-Lill, Lasse and I retrieved slowly, enjoying the beautiful nature Austria has to offer. Even my sensitive balance organ could handle the twisty small roads very well today, what a luck.
Now it’s time to take a little rest and to join the night glow later on this evening. All the best!

Maybe I should become a show host

Just a little update about the last month of my first semester in Kaunas. When looking back at all the pictures I noticed I’ve been doing quite some presentations lately. I personally absolutely dislike presentations read off from a little (or complete A4) paper or a powerpoint overflowed with boring long sentences. Therefore, I always try to give my presentations a spontaneous twist with some improvised elements but without prepared lines filled with difficult words looked up in a dictionary. Hm, I remember presenting the weekly class performances at primary school. I felt comfortable on stage and even though in real life I could be quite shy, with a microphone in my hand it all disappeared. Well, let me just bring you through a description of my last speeches about pictures, student affairs in Kaunas, The Netherlands and prospective international students in Lithuania.
On International Student Day Vytautas Magnus University organized an evening for international students in Kaunas wanting to show their talents. I was amazed by the diversity of performances, from ballet and Azerbaijan dances to singing and knitting. I gave a short summary of the best pictures I took during my first weeks in Kaunas, accompanied by some photography tips. I can’t preach often enough how terrible it is to have an almost perfect picture but with the feet cut off while there is an enormous amount of unused space above one’s head, aargh!!

Besides International Student Day it was also ordinary nationality-doesn’t-matter Student Day. I was asked to represent all of VMU’s international students at a conference held in Kaunas’ City Hall. The gathering emphasized problems that students face in Kaunas and how the municipality can play a role in improving the city’s student-friendliness. The whole meeting was held in Lithuanian, however, a friendly young lady was appointed to be my interpreter. Since I was not completely sure on forehand about what the conference would be I decided to take the risk and improvise my entire speech. I used the topics mentioned by Lithuanian students about important facets for students (green environment, night life, libraries) and the problems they encountered with Lithuanian public transport. I noticed once again that Lithuanians appreciate comparisons between Latvians and them, especially in their favor. Also they were quite surprised by my critic on the danger of cycling in Kaunas. Wish the city could be more Dutch in that aspect. But hey, I’m right, it is life endangering. 

The Erasmus Student Network in Kaunas is known for organizing weekly Cultural Nights starring the international students proudly representing their country. The aim of these relaxed but educating evenings are to introduce students to other cultures, customs and, very important (concerning the fact that every calm student becomes a wild animal when it’s served) food. The representatives of every country are asked to prepare a short presentation and some traditional dishes, snacks or drinks. Since I’m the only student from the Netherlands I had to do the presentation by myself. However, later that evening also the students from Belgium, Georgia and Sweden enriched us with their beer and waffle fascination, birth place of Stalin and Midsummer traditions.
After a long day at Uni students are not too eager to concentrate on a presentation with facts soon to be forgotten. Therefore my presentation consisted almost only of visual material, both pictures and movies. I showed them a video containing Dutch stereotypes as well as some of my own movies shot for Amsterdam In Your Pocket about the red light district and fatty snacks which in the Netherlands you can just buy out of a wall, really. Ohja, I did write down the word ‘geslachtsgemeenschap’ (proper way to say: having intercourse). It was not so much about the content of this long word, but rather about the cat-with-hairball sounding pronunciation. To satisfy the boys I also wrote down some names of famous Dutch soccer players, causing frowned eyebrows on how actually to say ‘Kuijt’. I stated once again that not the whole country looks like Amsterdam and that not the whole Dutch population is smoking weed all the time. Then it was time for liquorice and ‘speculaas’ cookies. Till 01.00 the loudspeakers entertained us with the Vengaboys, 2Unlimited and Frans Bauer too.

And then the unexpected presentations during my trip to Drunkininkai. I won’t be decribing that here since my extensive blog post published November 26th, 2012 tells you all about it. Let’s see what kind of performances the next semester in Lithuania will offer!