Dobre den gentle bloggers! I apologize that it has taken me a while to update this (remember, you’ve been forewarned) but we were in Vienna for the weekend and I didn’t have access to a computer. But as you can well see I am alive and well and have seen incredible sights. Let us begin.
As I have already stated my group, which is quickly becoming my family, had the opportunity to travel to Vienna, the city of classical music, for the weekend. The bus ride there was a treat within itself as the outskirts of Prague gave way to a rolling landscape of farms, vineyards, and quaint European towns. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies and white billowy clouds marking our way towards Vienna. A part of me almost didn’t want to visit another city but instead stop the bus and walk through the stalks of corn and wheat that flanked both sides of the highway. A feeling of comfort and at the same time adventure swelled inside of me as we drove past the breathtaking landscape.
Soon though, the rural landscape formed itself into Vienna as we entered the majestic city. The sprawling Gothic architecture and the stunning sculptures and statues filled the city. Yet, despite all the beauty that was before me in one place, the service that I was most impressed with was the free water fountains. I know this might sound arbitrary back in the States, but here, free water is surly a rarity. It’s as if we live in a civilized desert. After settling in and seeing some of the minor sights, such as the churches and the main shopping area, our family retired to their hostels (sorry dad, we stayed in one). It was a long day of traveling and we were all exhausted.
The hostel that we stayed in was impressive and felt more like a three star hotel rather than what Hollywood makes European hostels out to be. Our room contained four bunks, a small desk, chairs, bathroom complete with a shower, sink, and toilet, and a fan. It was a quaint and resourceful place. The next morning we were up and headed to Schonbrunn Palace, the home of Maria Theresa, the most famous Austrian Empress (though she was never given that title), and another chap that I can’t remember the name at the moment.
The estate was sprawling containing a rose garden, zoo, massive fountains, and of course the palace itself. Inside the palace was breath-taking and I feel as though the beauty overwhelmed me to the point where I couldn’t fully understand what I was seeing. The gold lining all the portraits and ceilings; the ornate rugs and furniture; even the bathrooms themselves were made usually of ivory and gold. It truly, in every sense of the word, was a palace fit for an Emperor (or Empress). One of the more impressive and yet shocking facts that we learned was that we only visited 40 rooms of the palace during our tour and that there were over a thousand more elsewhere. It made sense, due to the fact that staffs ran anywhere between 500 – 2,000 members, but it still was an eye-opening number.
After visiting the shopping district again (every tourist needs to pick up something from Vienna) we headed back to the hostel for Neil’s 21st birthday. This usually can go without say so I will summarize: it was a great night and fun was had by all. It’s a memory that will be special to my friends here and I’m glad I had the blessing to share it with them in Vienna. After the birthday night we all boarded a train for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. To be brutally honest, it was a dirty, poorly used town that I really have no desire to see again. The entire trip’s purpose was to get visas for us who don’t have them and we still left empty-handed. Fear not gentle blogger, I am getting ever closer to the sticker that will keep me here for more than 90 days. I should have it within the next couple of weeks if it is God’s Will.
The ride back to Prague was relaxing and enjoyed. We were served some drinks and naps were had all around. It rained mostly that day but it was a refreshing sight after walking around the city in such blistering heat for the past week. I must say, the country side is stunning no matter what climate it must bear. It seems that the colors burst when it rains, making the greens more lush. I’m sure, before too long, we will all be out there for a day, just to breathe in some cleaner air.
Currently I have just finished my first full day of classes and am exhausted. Nine hours of class is no laughing matter and sleep will be welcomed here soon. The classes that I am taking are exciting and I look forward to them next week. I am currently taking a Czech language class, a detective film class, a media tools class, a creative writing class, and finally a post-European seminar class. It is a nice mix and so far have been enjoyable, especially my creative writing class. All my professors are Americans which is, again, refreshing hearing the American English rather than the slight Czech undertone that most have in this school.
Well gentle blogger, it is getting late and I must retire to my bed. I really appreciate all your prayers and your faithfulness to this blog, even when I haven’t been. Till next time!