Austria Week 1

My flight was only a couple of hours though, so when I got to the airport, I was still exhausted to say the least. But I thought that it would not be a long wait for the others to get to the airport (because we were car pulling a group of us to our host families). Alas, I was wrong. Once in the airport we had to wait two hours for the last two people to arrive. Had I not been so disoriented, I would have rather braved a train and gotten there sooner, but it was probably for the best that we took a van together because I was falling asleep waiting at the airport.

I was the last person dropped off for the day, because my family lives in the 14th district, which is kind of in the ‘burbs (even though it is still technically in Vienna). I met my host mom, who is a really sweet lady and made me left overs for lunch (some noodles that kind of reminded me of mac n’ cheese.) She told me where I could go get groceries, and since it was a Saturday, it was imperative that I went as soon as I finished eating because everything is closed on Sunday here (except for restaurants and some souvenir shops.) It was an interesting experience. I ended up walking down the wrong street until I got to a store similar to Aldi. And I forgot to bring bags so I ended up carrying everything almost a mile back, but it was okay. Then I slept, and I did not wake up until 7 the next morning. Not much happened on Sunday, other than I got lost going to the American Institute for orientation. But I eventually made it, then everyone went to the Donau Insel Fest, which is by the Danube (Donau in German). It was kind of like Big Spring Jam, with a bunch of stages with different genres of music, but it was really spread out and there were a lot of other different activities and shops. And after that I went back to meet my roommate and have dinner with my host family. It was nice, although I was a tad late… oops.

The next day was my first day of classes. My first was from 9-11 and my second was from 3-5, which leaves a pretty significant gap in my afternoons. We just sort of wandered around (after registering and becoming temporary Austrians). Then we went on a city walk with our instructor, and she showed us about 10 different significant places in the 1st district. The highlights were the statue commemorating the Holocaust, the Roman ruins, a church from the middle ages, and the famous clock. But unfortunately, I could not take pictures because my camera batteries would not charge at the time. This also means that I can not recollect everything in the proper order, so I’m not sure if I did anything after class or not. I do remember that we stopped for ice cream at our teacher’s favorite place. I got hazelnut and pistachio, and it was the best ice cream I think I’ve ever eaten.

And, since I can not really remember on what days I did things, I’ll just do a short week’s recap here instead of a daily blow by blow. We saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral (which is the symbol of Vienna and one of the most gorgeous churches I’ve ever seen). The history is kind of interesting, as is the architecture, which changes as you move through the church. It was originally Romanesque, but was redone in early Gothic in the back part, and late Gothic in the front part. We went to the Folk Art museum, and got to see how people back then lived, which was kind of cool. Becca and I went up to Schoenbrunn (summer palace of the Hapsburg’s) and went up to a nice pavilion overlooking the city. It was one of the most relaxing things I have done so far. There was a party being held up there and they had a jazz band playing. It was just the start of dusk and the sun was casting a faint glow on the city. We just stayed up there until around 8:45, which was fine except the grounds closed at 9, so when we got down to the front the gates were closed. Thanks to a nice gentleman and his lady, we hopped a fence and went through the kitchen of some restaurant (very sketch, I know) and made it out. We went to the art history museum, and I decided that I really like the painter Peter Bruegel. Our instructor was amazing though (we only had her lecture for three excursions, so she was not our regular teacher). We went to the National Library, which reminded me of Beauty and the Beast and the grand library the Beast gave Belle. We also went to the Belvedere (the palace of Eugene of Savory who was an important general who defeated the Turks in 1683 and is now an art museum). We saw works by Gustav Klimt (his most famous painting being The Kiss) and Egon Schiele. You might know Klimt from his painting “The Kiss”, but we saw many of his other works as well. We also went to the Funeral Museum, and had possibly the creepiest tour guide ever. He closed with, now wouldn’t you like to die in Vienna? But there is an interesting connection with the Viennese and death. I think I’m actually venturing into the next week’s excursions, because I actually have pictures of these…

Over the weekend I sort of walked around Vienna (I didn’t really have a way to get in touch with most people) and did homework (at least on Friday). Saturday I took a tour of St. Micheal’s Crypt, which actually has the perfect conditions for preserving bodies, so there are several mummies down there. It was all in German, but when I didn’t understand, one of the German teachers was there to help. But I probably understood 75% of what she was saying, even though it was very fast Viennese dialect. After that we went to a street food place and got a Kebap sandwich (kind of like a Turkish version of a gyro on a bun). It was delicious. Then we went to the Central Cemetery and saw the graves of some famous people, as well as memorials to Mozart. It was really cool, but I did not really know a lot of the people our tour guide was talking about. And my German was exhausted (the tour was in German) so I didn’t catch everything she was talking about. On Sunday I walked around some more, and ended up going to St. Charles Church and going to the top to look at the dome and see a view of the city. But it was raining so it was not a great view, but still fun. I do not think I did too much more aside from that. Everything is kind of jumbled of that week due to the lack of camera, will to write things down, and sleep.

I do want to add as a side note, I was strangely taken aback the entire week when people would speak German to me. Why? My brain is stupid and tends to think that everything should be in English. I got over my initial expectation of English quickly, and I imagine when I go back to the states, I will expect German for about a week. Oh well, maybe my brain will get the hang of life eventually.


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