20 April 2009

Wait...are there really kangaroos in Austria?

20 April 2009

The day we left for Vienna was quite an interesting day in Barca. First of all, on our way to class, it started hailing like crazy! I was so glad I had my umbrella with me! Even so, I was still hit a few times by the chunks of ice moving at rocket speed through the sky. It was insane! All of the Spaniards were taking pictures on their phones and staying out of the hail’s way! We talked to Pilar and Aaron about the “granizo” and she said that it is incredibly rare in Barcelona but that it would be perfectly sunny again in about a half hour. She was right! Pilar was very excited to hear that we were going to Vienna and told us that “it’s very warm in Europe right now.” Umm, don’t we live in Europe right now? Apparently not! According to most Europeans, Europe starts north of the Pyrenees Mountains…aka, Spain is part of northern Africa! How very different. I got a package from Alissa and Lora for my birthday which was so exciting! They are too nice!! I cant wait to see them when I get back! So anyways, we flew to Vienna later that night and had some troubles finding which train would take us to the city center since nothing was really in English—just German! There was a lot of waiting and retracing of train routes involved. We finally got to our hostel which was actually quite clean! We were all starving at that point and decided to go look for some food. It was really weird though because most places were closed and it was only like midnight! There were some bars that looked more like strip clubs (mainly due to the neon lights in the windows) and one place with cops out in front and a guy that sounded like he was trying to explain himself. Yeah, no. We walked into one bar, but everyone just stared at us when we entered, so we left right away, haha! I think they were mainly locals who go there to share their “I hate my life” stories. Pass on that one too! We ended up finding a little pizza, kebap, schnitzel shack and got some pizza! We had a powwow on the concrete patio area about 20 feet away and ate our pizza! There was a mischievous mouse lurking around, so I threw some tuna at him to keep him from joining our little circle. Then just as we were about to leave, the guy from the shack came over and gave us 2 huge chocolate bars!! Why? Just because! Cool guy. Once back in the hostel I wasn’t able to fall asleep til about 7am due to allergies and the fact that I was sleeping right next to a window and it was really bright. Lame.

We got up around 10 the next day and started out by walking through the museum quarters which was very cool! We ran into the imperial palace and walked through the gardens for a bit. After getting some food, we set out in search of Stephansdom, a mainly gothic church in the center of the city. We got to walk down the huge, open roads with all sorts of shops and pretty buildings along the way. Everything is so green and open in Vienna. The air is fresh and clean and it reminded me a lot of home home. We went in the church, which is probably my second favorite church in Europe. It was so pretty! Despite the fact that it had high vaulted ceilings, it still felt homey and warm. Outside of the church, there was a marching band playing Shakira, Daft Punk, and the “You’re Unbelievable” song, haha! I watched the spray paint artist for a while as I listened to the band. Those guys are so creative—I wish I could do stuff like that! I considered buying this one of a snowy mountain scene at night but I figured it would be really hard to transport and then someone snatched it up in about 3 minutes. We walked past Mozart’s house on our way to Stadtpark where we made some feathery friends. I love seeing ducks. We don’t have ducks in Barca, so I always get excited when I see them, haha! They got really close to us and looked us right in the eyes. They must have been hungry. The park was gorgeous! So many tulips and so much greenery!! We got a sausage from a street vender on the way out, but since I had eaten a bunch of gummy bears on our walk, I couldn’t finish it all. It was too bad because it was really good too—the sausage had cheese in it and then he squirted some ketchup into a croissant and stuck it in there. Talk about spoiling your lunch! We hopped on a tram and then walked the rest of the way to the meeting point for our little train tour. After finally finding the right place, the Austrian man in charge of it didn’t really speak any English and had to ask for the help of some bilinguals. The audio on the tour was in German and then in English, so the when the Austrians laughed at something on it, we laughed awkwardly just to fit in. When it came on in English, we caused a scene because we were laughing so hard. The audio was seriously ridiculous. It told us to fasten our seatbelts and then told us it hoped we had brought our life vests and parachutes as well. Umm, what?! Crazy Austrians! We got to listen to some sweet Austrian music while the guy wasn’t talking which was also hilarious. The tour was actually really fun! We drove though the Beethoven forest in order to get to the highest point in Vienna where we got to take some sweet pics. We drove through the vineyards and the little wine towns before the tour ended. We headed back up to the wine town afterwards so we could try some typical Viennese wine! The two guys who worked at the winery we went to were super nice and helped us pick a good one--Grüner Veltliner! I must say, for a dry one it was pretty delicious! We headed back down and got some dinner at this lounge/restaurant place which was nice. On the way out, we ran into a huge group of guys with signs and one in a dress with a guitar. It was his bachelor party and he told us that he was going to sing to us and we were going to throw money into his guitar case. It was SO FUNNY! I got some video of it at the end, so I’ll put that down at the bottom for shits and giggles, but mainly giggles. We eventually found an Australian bar to go to! All the others were too fancy or night clubs…lame! Cant a girl just get a beer?! Well, we were finally content. After a beer, we headed home where I accidentally showered in the boys shower, haha! Good thing they weren’t communal and it was like 2 in the morning!

Saturday we were out by 10 since we wanted to go to the Naschmarkt with Flea Market before country hopping for the day! I got this really cute antique looking ring for 5 euros. I tried to bring the price down more since it’s missing a stone, but she was stubborn and rambling in German or something. We caught the train to Bratislava around one (Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia) and then spent most of the day there. I listened to Pink Floyd all the way there and saw a pheasant walking around on the train tracks, haha! For the record, Bratislava is nothing like how it is in the movie Eurotrip!! It’s actually very pretty there—a lot like Vienna! We took the bus to the center of the city and got dropped off by the Bratislava Castle. So we hiked up the hill to get to the castle which was really cool except for the fact that it was covered completely in scaffolding. I guess it’s a good thing that I have such a good imagination! We got a beautiful view of St. Martin's cathedral from the top and could see the river and the new bridge leading to the modern part of the city. It was such a great view! Once down the hill, we took the main road through the town in search of some food! We ended up at a restaurant by the main square where I tried some broccoli quiche…which was delicious! Stuffed, but still with an empty dessert stomach, we got some really cheap but delicious gelato and walked around something resembling the rambla. We went to the main square and took pictures with the statues and then headed out in search of the blue church! Such a cool looking church! And since mass was going on, we got to peek in and check out the inside! Gorgeous! Love that church! Since it was getting late, we headed back to the train station where I got yelled at twice in Slovakian. However, before that, we got woofed at by the crazy man. It was SO FUNNY! I cant even describe it. But the first time I got yelled at was totally uncalled for. I tried to open one of those Coke fridges to get a drink out and the guy yelled at me and said I had to ask inside the stand. So I asked for something that was in the fridge and he said he didn’t have it. Ummm, yes you do…its right there. He got pissy and I settled on a fanta which he basically threw at me. It was warm =/. Then not even 5 minutes later, I got yelled at again by the bathroom lady. The girls in front of me were getting yelled at when I went up so I decided to be very cautious. It was 0,40 to use the bathroom, so I walked up to the window, but she didn’t even look at me. So I put the coins in the slot in the door and then she went off. Holy shit, she was scary! She threw a special coin at me which allowed me to go in. I think that woman just hated life though. One woman just walked in with her friend who was also getting yelled at and the bathroom woman got out of her office-room threw the bathroom door open and started ripping her a new one. Holy crap. The bathroom saga gets better when the goth/emo girl came by. Her hair was down and her bangs all curtain-like, emo, and jagged. BUT! She had hair sprayed one layer of her hair to stand straight up making it look like she had one of those circular saws coming out of her head. Megan had to seriously walk away so the girl didn’t see her laughing. Yeah. She was on our train too. I snuck a picture of her hair sticking up around the chair, haha! There were 2 older, clearly inebriated, men staring down this poor girl who was traveling by herself. They kept telling her she was very pretty and would literally stare at her with gaping mouths. They reeked of smoke and alcohol and kept hitting each other. It was incredibly bizarre. I was keeping an eye on them in the reflection of my window to make sure they didn’t try anything with us or that other poor girl. I think they got kicked off the train though because when they left they talked to one of the train guys outside. Phew! We got some souvenirs once back in the main area and then headed back to the Australian bar. We decided to do a 3 liter beer tower and got a sampler platter of appetizers which were delicious! We had a lot of fun watching the Barca game and listening to incredibly random 90’s music! We met 2 people from Canada who were studying in Munich. They said they have a friend who is an engineer at U of I who is currently studying her friend in Barcelona…I wonder who it was!

On our last day, we were all checked out by 10 and headed back to the museum quarters again in hopes of finding the city hall building. There was a huge marathon going on that day in all of the main roads which was really cool to see! The weather, the breeze, the smell of spring, the sounds of the planes buzzing by, the music in the large public areas, people sitting in the park…it all reminded me of home! I’m seriously getting so excited! We saw the Parliament building and then found City Hall (Rathous) which was GORGEOUS! There was some sort of festival going on that involved beer, traditional garb, music, and singing. It was so cool!! It reminded me of Laurie and Tim’s Oktoberfest party, haha! After exploring all of the little wooden stands and what they had to offer, we went to Schloss Schönbrunn, which is basically the Versailles of Vienna. On the metro ride over, we witnessed a drug deal. I mean come one! Who did they think they were fooling?! Their attempts at being inconspicuous = major fail. The palace was so beautiful! We walked through the gardens in the back and everything. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but time was short and we had to head back to catch our train to the airport!

Dublin and Belfast this weekend—WOO!!


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