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Hello from Chicago – Multiple Austrian Connections

So the two of us expatriate Austrians are staying at the Arlington House Hostel, in itself an exciting experience, to be immersed in this environment of young (and older) travellers from all over the world.We got going early again this morning, at about 7 am. In the shower room Linda and I were talking and joking to each other in our Austrian dialect, all of a sudden a woman in her mid to late forties said, in German, “Am I hearing Austrian being spoken around here?”It turns out that she is currently in Chicago with her 22 year old daughter who is working as a nanny in Boston. The two ladies got away for the weekend to Chicago. Linda and I said how astounding it was to run into someone from Austria during our trip to Chicago.Well, it was time to get breakfast so we headed east to Clark Street, one of the main restaurant areas in Lincoln Park. We strolled northwards and bumped into a bakery / restaurant called “Austrian Bakery” which was open at this early hour. Of course we went inside and we saw a whole assortment of beautiful baked goodies, a variety of breads and rolls, and a glass display case full of cakes and pastries.One thing that Austrian cuisine has is great pastry and great breads. As a matter of fact, Austria’s loaves of rye bread, with their crispy crust, can hardly be found anywhere else, even in Toronto, where you can generally find foods from all over the world. You really have to go to a very specialized bakery that will make these types of loaves from scratch.Well, this place had them, and talking to the owner we found out that he hails from the same province as Linda and me: “Steiermark” or “Styria” (in English), whose capital is Graz, Austria’s second largest city. The young man who owned the bakery had completed his apprenticeship in Graz, and both Linda and I had gone to university in the same city. What a coincidence…..We enjoyed a beautiful breakfast with different types of breads and sweets, and then we were approached by a young lady sitting at a table next to us who asked us in German if we were from Austria. Of course we confirmed and she indicated that she was from Salzburg and was currently studying medicine in Michigan.So within about an hour and a half we had met 3 Austrians from 3 different Austrian provinces in Chicago. I sometimes go years in Toronto before I run into anybody from my home country, so this Austrian connection was definitely surprising…..Well, it’s a cool, grey and rainy day, but we decided we would defy the weather and made plans to head to another one of Chicago’s interesting neighbourhoods: the Pullman Historic District.

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