So I spent all day Tuesday packing more or less… and then unpacking and repacking just trying to get everything to fit and eventually I gave up and decided to have 2 checked bags… so all in all I had for bags, all very heavy to drag around. Needless to say, my back has not appreciated it!!
Tuesday night, I had my last meal with Amanda and we talked about things that we were going to miss and things we were looking forward to. I already miss the mountains, and the food, and the trains… I am also going to miss being able to drink a bottle of wine out by the river, or just a bottle of beer on the sidewalk. Seriously, open container laws are stupid! I am looking forward to ENGLISH and friends and driving!! Its strange to think that it will be a while til I return to Salzburg, considering it has been my home now for the past 9 months!
I left the dorm room around 8pm and made my way to the train station. While sitting at the train platform waiting for the train to arrive I cam to the realization that I no longer had my residence permit. When I went to the bank on Monday to close my account they needed to see an ID that had a picture and a signature so I showed them my residence permit, and they took it to make a copy. I had papers I had to sign and what not and then they were like ok that’s all we need and I completely forgot about my ID and left. I sorta panicked briefly and checked my wallet about ten times through and through to see if I had stuck in a different pocket or something, but nothing to be found! CRAP!
The last few times I ahve gone through passport control in airports, I was required to show the permit along with my passport since I had been staying the EU for longer than the 3 months that is allowed for visitors. I knew that they had every right not to let me pass through, but I asked to borrow someone’s cell phone at the train station and called Dr. Landgraf, our program director and he said that it should be ok since I was going home and not trying to get back into the EU. I was somewhat comforted, but I also had read about needing proper documentation, so I had like 10 hours to keep myself calm before I would find out what would happen at passport control without my residence permit.
Power of Positive Thinking has seriously saved me! OMG, sooooooo lucky. So as I am waiting in line and the several hours before I had time to think of ways to convince them that it would be fine for me to pass through. I had documentation that I had registered with the city and de-registered on Monday, so I was hoping that would show that people knew I was here and that I wasn’t just lying about losing my residence permit. When I explained to him that I wasn’t planning to return and that I was going home for good, he seemed upset but was like “Okay, just go!” I wasn’t going to argue and a huge sigh of relief overcame my entire body…
Security was strange about looking through my back pack and the lady asked me about what I called a picture frame. I think she just didn’t know the English word…maybe? idk. I had a few more hours left to wait til we boarded, but we boarded a little later than expected and we took off later than we were supposed to, but we still arrived in Toronto on time, thankfully. I had waited in the Munich airport for about 10 hours! and only slept a litte, but all in the upright sitting position since all the chairs there had arm rests. Somehow I didn’t feel all that tired though.
On the plane I sat next to a guy who travelled through London, Paris, and then Munich for about 2 weeks I think and it was for some grad school related thing and a conference in Munich. We talked for several of the hours on the plane ride which was a lovely distraction from the long journey and all the sitting, especially since it was hard to sleep with it being so bright outside and I just couldn’t get comfortable when I finally did try to rest.
I sat at the front of the plane more or less so I was one of the first to make it to customs and there WAS NO LINE!!!!!!!!! when has that EVER happened?!?! haha. So without any delay I made it to baggage claim and had to wait for my bags to come onto the conveyor belt. It started to worry me a little when bags would stop coming out from the shoot, and I hadn’t seen mine yet, but then they would start coming out again… My one bag showed up adn then there was a really long pause with bags not coming out again and I was like I really don’t have the time to deal with all the BS of claiming lost bags so I was like it just has to show up! PLEASE… and then it did! wooo
Then the ridiculous travel through the Toronto airport began. I came in at Terminal 2, but had to drag everything to Terminal 1 to check in with my second airline. Finally I made it there, and I waited FOREVER in the line to drop of checked bags and get my next boarding pass. Since I flew into Canada, I had to also go through customs for the US, but they actually did within Toronto so I went through customs twice in on airport! such fun… luckily it didn’t take much time at all! Went through security for a second time and then made my way to find the gate which was like the furtherest it could possibly be! geeze! The plane arrived into the Toronto airport a bit late so the flight was slightly delayed but I managed to make it out of the Cleveland airport at 6pm.
It was lovely to finally be done and know that all my luggage made it. Ryan, my friend who picked me up from the airport, also gave me a lovely surprised of buying me Reese Cups!!!! omg I ate like 4 or 5 of them right away! SO DELICIOUS!! When I arrived at his apartment, I showered because I felt absolutely gross and sweaty from lifting and dragging all that luggage around all day! Then we met up with a friend of his at a Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo, and the food was delicious! It had been a while since I ate good Mexican food! I also ordered a large Piña Colada which was also really tasty!
After dinner, I literally just crashed. It was around 9pm I think, and then I woke around 3am which I wasn’t shocked by at all. I felt too awake to just lay down and fall back asleep so I watched an episode of “Burn Notice” and then decided to watch the movie “The Proposal,” and it didn’t take much into the movie for me to be fast asleep again which happened probably around 6am. Then I woke up around 9 or so, feeling much more rested. Hopefully I am mostly reset on the time difference, but I guess we will find out later tonight!
I am heading to BG tonight, and then the Mercer County on Saturday and the Columbus on Monday and then making my way to Poughkeepsie, NY on Tuesday!!! BUSY BUSY BUSY… it’s actually going to be weird not to have a blog to update anymore, although I would still like to make one last post to summarize everything, but I want to take the time to reread everything and track where I have all been and what not, but I can honestly tell you that I definitely know that I have grow as an individual and I think it will be interesting to read through all my posts to see how that change took place!
Anyways, it’s great to be back in Ohio, weird to have a cell phone again and be in the same time zone as the majority of people I talk to, and I am very thankful that all my luggage made it without getting lost. and a big thanks to all the people who read this and support me in my life. You have all had an incredible impact on me and have helped me through a lot and encouraged me to push myself more than I probably have on my own! So, one more post, and this blog will be concluded… seems just a bit weird to me!! My European Adventures are done (at least for now!)
So, this is it… I am heading back to the states for a while now, and it feels strange packing my life up again.
Yesterday I attended my LAST AND FINAL undergraduate course!!!! I LOVE the sound of that!!! no more classes!!!!! woooo…. I managed to get a 2 on my final exam as well and I am getting an “A” in the course again! SWEET! I was only aiming for a “B” this time so I didnt waste any time studying, and I didn’t do much of the homework, so that was actually a bit shocking to come out with an A! haha
After class, I “de-registered” from the city, cancelled my Austrian insurance, and closed my bank account. I also spent a bit of the day cleaning. I chip off the HUGE chuck of ice in the back of fridge, washed down the inside, wiped down some of the bathroom, organized the dishes and cleaned our kitchen cubbies.
We had our typical program meeting where we filled out course evaluations and then Monday evening we had a program party at Stiegl Keller. I ordered a delicious liter of beer and a typical Austrian dish, Wiener Schnitzel. At the dinner, I met a girl who is an Austrian graduate English major who will be attending BG this fall. I had a lovely time!
Monday night I thought about potentially packing, but I knew better then to think it would actually happen! haha…
Today I have spent the majority of the day packing, unpacking, repacking… and finally I have managed to get everything into 4 bags!!! I ideally wanted to have just one checked bag, but it just wasn’t going to happen in order to get all my shit home, so I am just going to pay for the second checked bag and call it quites because I can mess with it anymore. Besides, a girl in the program was getting rid of your really nice hiking back pack so I now have a really nice piece of luggage! haha. I am hoping to have nothing break!! fingers crossed.
This afternoon, I brought stuff to the program directors office for students next semester to use and then sold my bike to a girl who is staying here for the next year. I also went into the altstadt and made my last gift purchases and ate my last Dönner Kebab!
I really wish I could skip over the travel between Austria and Ohio because draggin all this luggage around, and sitting on a plane, and going through security, and going through passport control/ customs sounds like ZERO fun! holy crap tomorrow is going to suck and I am going to be exhausted when I arrive in Cleveland considering I am spending tonight in an airport!! oh boy!
I am hoping to late write up a summary post with highlights from my travels, but who knows when I will get around to that! My summer is jammed packed with awesome adventures that I probably won’t have time to miss Salzburg and Europe til around Sept… First I will be heading to Poughkeepsie, NY for the month of July to work with a Eleanor Roosevelt’s Girls Leadership Worldwide program that focuses on human rights and social justice. Then I am hosting a campfire, going camping in Hocking Hills, taking a road trip south to visit friends in GA, FL, and MS, then flying out to Seattle to visit another friend and then finally moving myself into a new place that i have yet to figure out where exactly in Findlay and start work at Marathon on Sept 24th. BUSY BUSY BUSY!!!!!
OMG it was gorgeous to be out on the water in a boat!!! I am so happy that Jenna came into the room randomly yesterday and said, its the perfect day to go out to the lake and go swimming. I was in the middle of cleaning adn somewhat packing, but I contemplated briefly and decided, what the hell, why not! It ended up being a wonderful idea. The water was such a pretty emerald color but it was still so clear… the EXACT opposite of Grand Lake St. Marys… and when I accidently swallowed some of the water, it actually tasted refreshing. haha.
Jenna and I took a bus out to Fuschl Am See which is about a half hour outside the city and I am pretty sure it is the closest lake of the Salzsammergut region to the city. When we got there, we walked along the lake to find a public free beach/ dock to jump in at. It didn’t take long to find and we went swimming for a short while. Then ate some lunch that Jenna brought with her that consisted of butter bread and Nutella. haha. Then we rented a row boat and that was probably the best part of the day! It was such a gorgeous view being out in the middle of the lake. We had my iPod playing some jams as well, so there were crazy moments of dancing and singing and then we realized nearby boats or people on shore if we were close enough could hear us, and this only made us laugh more. Over all it was a fabulous day and I really enjoyed it. It was also probabaly a good thing I went so that I wouldn’t have spent the entire day cleaning!!
Yesterday (friday), I took my last final EVER for my undergraduate career!!! WOOO and man does it feel wonderful to almost be done. Now, I just need to finish my paper for my Research grant and I am DONE!!! BRING ON GRADUATION!! So the paper needs to be at least 20 pages long of content, so cover pages and table of contents and what not doesn’t really count sadly! Since I am receiving a 3-credit hours for independent research course, I have to have a decent rough draft of my paper done before graduation on August 4 so that a grade can be submitted for that course. The actual paper doesn’t need to be submitted til Sept 30th I think, or at least some time in Sept. …SO I have time to get it done, but my month of July is going to be pretty hectic so I really should buckle down and get to work the next few days… OR I am really hoping to be productive in the airport and on the plane ride in home!
I am still pretty toasty red, but I have been lathering the Aloe Vera as well as taking cold showers and freezing wash clothes to lay on the burns to help remove some of the heat. I think in a day or two it will be a lot less red and barely any pain. I am really hoping I don’t peel, mainly because I don’t want to burn again! haha
Ok, anyways back to yesterday… after the final I met up with Natalie and Megan at the train station we headed off to Munich to visit a concentration camp! I knew that it was something I wanted to do before leaving Europe and this one was really easy to get to! It didn’t shock me as much as I was expecting, but probably also because I was already expecting it to be a bit uncomfortable. It was really nice to read a lot of the information they had organized, but there was just SOOO much to read and take in.
The camp at Dachau (about 20-30 minutes outside of Munich) was mostly just a work camp, not a death camp. There was a crematory there, but it was mostly used to burn already dead bodies instead of trying to bury them all. There was also a gas chamber where you could see where the shower heads would have been, but it said that they didn’t use them for mass murdering at this particular camp because like I said it was primarily a work camp.
I think walking through the Crematory building was the most gut wrenching. The housing units were replicas, not the actual places prisoners slept because after the US Army liberated the camp, they ended up turning the camp into a refugee camp so they remodeled the insides of the barracks to be more like apartments and then all of them were torn down eventually, and just the 2 replicas are still there.
I think everyone should go to one, and I hope to make it to another one at some point in my life. This was definitely a low key one, like a baby step, into the cruelty of the Holocaust and hopefully some day I can even make my way to visit Auschwitz!
Today I decided to go back out to the “Lake District,” but this time to a different lake. I went to Mondsee am Mondsee (the town has the same name as the lake! haha). I spent the majority of my time there chilling on a dock reading with my feet dangling in the water, which felt wonderfully cool. But, I spent too much time on the dock and now I am terribly sunburnt!!! I have been applying frozen wet towels to the burns until they completely thaw and I have to put them back in the freezer!! man on man am I RED!!! I am really hoping that it doesn’t stay uncomfortable for too long though!! Let’s hope I get lucky!
So I have had a wonderful weekend, and I figured I would start off with my little adventure I took on Thursday. I didn’t have any class and it was finally sunny outside and not chilly. I hopped on my bike and began my exploration. I rode back out to Leopoldskron so that I could ride around the entire pond/lake. I also enjoyed some time chilling on a bench reading. This was the day that I stumbled on the Stone Labyrinth and a random large collection of Flamingos that I refer to as a Flamingo Farm.
I also rode around parts that I didn’t really know where I was and then laid out next to the river. In the shade it could get a bit chilly feeling, but if the sun was not hiding behind clouds, it felt nice and warm. That was a lovely change from the gross rain and chilly temperatures we have been experiencing for weeks on ends it seems.
That night McLane and I went out passed Hellbrun to watch the sunset with the Untersberg in the background. We couldn’t stay there for the whole sunset though because the shortcut gate was going to close at 9 and we really didn’t want to take the long way home. So we rode to a new spot with a mostly open view. I love sunsets and I hope to go out and watch at least one more!
Friday, after class I decided to enjoy the beautiful sunshine again and took a nice little day trip out to a nearby town called St. Gilgen. It is right along the edge of Wolfgangsee, part of the Salzkammergut (Lake District). Basically there is a lake surrounded by mountains, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It took about 50 minutes by bus and the ticket cost 11.80 roundtrip; it was totally worth it.
I spent my time there walking around the little town and then laying near this beach type area. I read some of the book as well as took a nice little nap, which resulted in a slight sun burn that has already disappeared luckily. I think I would like to make another trip out to the lake district, but probably to another little town… maybe tomorrow? hmm..
On my bus trip back to the dorm, I run into Megan and Natalie, and they had tickets purchased for going to Vienna for the Regenbodenparade (Rainbow Parade, a part of Gay Pride) and invited me to join them. It just happened to be Pride in Columbus, OH the same weekend and I would have been going to Pride if I were in OH, so it only seemed fitting to go! haha. It was an awesome time and I am glad I went. Everyone is in the festive mood and some of the outfits are just awesomely creative, or just plain entertaining! I love people watching at pride.
The train ride home however was super frustrating! It is supposed to be approx 3 hours by train between Vienna and Salzburg. About an hour into my return trip, the train just comes to a halt and then sits there, in the middle of no where, for an hour and a half… so needless to say I arrive to Salzburg an hour and a half later than expected. I then missed the bus home by 3 minutes and since it was so late the buses only run every 30 minutes instead of every 10 so I had to sit there and wait 27 minutes for a bus… so I got home 2 hours later than expected. Then I skyped with Ryan and Chris and Ethan who were all enjoying pride in Columbus.
Sunday, I chilled out in the room and relaxed. Can’t always be on the go, although I do love my random adventures!!
More pictures from Pride:
So I cut my hair today. Normally when I cut my own hair it is just to relayer it some and thin it out a bit. Today, I actually trimmed it. Took off over an inch and really took a lot off from the back! Amazingly, it turned out just fine. I mean I haven’t actually been able to see the back of it yet, but it feels fine and according to 2 other people it looks good, so I would call it a success!! It feels awesome to have it off my neck and shoulders again!
So why did I take it upon myself to cut my own hair??… well, I was bored because I wasn’t actually doing anything like I was supposed to, i.e. my research paper. I have been rather good at avoiding it thus far… hahaha… anyways, for a while now I have been considering getting it cut when I came back home or still growing it out long. I always struggle when my hair gets to be around the length of my shoulders because it just irritates me that it’s not really longer enough to be put up easily, but it gets too heavy to curl nicely and look good down. So, as I sat here bored and avoiding home, I decided why not just cut my hair. It was going to just be the usual, but then I got curious: Was I capable of trimming and styling my own hair…??… so I figured what the hell, why not! Took a bit of time, but all in all it was a success and I am def glad I did it!
Sorry there’s no picture just yet… I guess you will just have to wait to see me in person when I return in just a little over 2 weeks!!! omg!
Loving Life and Still Smiling
So, by some stroke of unfortuanate luck, I got to witness yet another beautiful sunset tonight and it made me smile. And then I realized that the smile was for more than just the colors dancing in the sky… I seriously had a wonderful day getting to chat with my family and friends. I must say I am one of the luckiest people because i have really awesome family members. I can’t say that I would have always said this because there was definitely a time where I strongly disliked my family, but now that we’ve grown up some, I freaking love how awesome they all are. It’s incredible how I can spend so much time just chatting away and sometimes it will literally be about nothing. I just simply enjoy having the conversation!! I think it took me leaving to finally appreciate them. I have definitely grown quite a bit as a person while here and it has been one of the best decisions of my life.
I also examined my map of Europe that I have hanging up in my room. I have been coloring all the cities I have been able to explore, and the count has now reached 34 cities in 9 countries!!! It has been quite an enjoyable adventure!!! Anyways, I feel blessed with how everything in my life has currently been working out so wonderfully, and I still have so much awesomeness to look forward to!!! A big thank you to all the wonderful people who have been a part of my life and have helped make it so beautiful!!! You all make me smile
The world is a mysterious place here to be explored!!!!
Oh, and the reason I caught the sunset tonight was because I missed the train going back to the city by a minute… I was at the top of the stairs when I watched the train pull again… needless to say I was out of breathe considering I sprinted from the school building in hopes to still catch the train… but it all worked out, even though I had to wait an hour for the next train to come… but if I hadn’t missed the train I would have missed the sunset, so I would say it all worked out for the best!
… and only 16 days left… such craziness!!!
Thursday morning I got up early to pack; like always, I waited til last minute to pack for the trip! We headed out of the room around 9, and we rode our bikes to the HBF which took about a half hour. The train left a little after 10. We made one change of trains in Linz, which was a close call because at one point the frist train was delayed and we were supposed to arrive in Linz after the second train had already left, but luckily train one made up enough time and we arrived in time to catch the second train. All and all the train ride was a little longer than 6.5 hours long!! Thankfully we packed sandwichs and snacks, and I brought a book along to read, so I managed to pass the time, but it still seemed to last FOREVER! haha.
When we arrive in Prague, we find an ATM so that I can get some of their currency (Koruna). The exchange rate is strange and it is approximately 20Koruna to one American dollar and it is about 25 Koruna to one Euro. Next step was to find a store to buy a map so that we could figure out our path to the hostel. After looking at the map we decided to just walk from the train station to the hostel to avoid having to figure out the public transportation. It was a really simple walk and it only took about 20-30 minutes. Besides it was nice to get to stretch the legs a bit after all the sitting on a train!
After checking into the hostel, we locked up our things and then headed out to do a bit of exploring. It was around 6pm so we didn’t have a lot of daylight left so we figured it would be just nice to walk along the river for a little while. We stumbled upon the Dancing Building. McLane had known it was in Prague, but I had never even heard of it until I saw it… and it is a pretty awesome looking building! I liked it a lot!
Once the sun more or less disappeared, we made our way back to the hostel and decided to chill out in the bar in our hostel. There was going to be live music, and there was also a restaurant so we were able to order food and drinks and have some entertainment. It ended up being a nice chill evening and the live entertainment was actually really good, so that was enjoyable.
Friday morning we left the hostel around 9 or 10 and went in search of breakfast. We eventually found this cozy cafe that the front desk reccomended and we both ordered a cinnamon twist with vanilla sauce. Probably one of the best decisions because OMG was it delicious!!! It came out in a large soup-like bowl and it was just sitting in a pool of vanilla sweetness. Seriously one of the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had!
Then we made our way towards the city center or the old city. The buildings are really cool in Prague, I particularly enjoyed just walking and looking at the architecture! The Town Center Square was crowded with people. They were also setting up for the big party that would be taking place there for the soccer game that night.
From the city center we got a bit turned around but eventually found the river and we walked along it a bit until we crossed a bridge to make our way to the Prague Castle. Going up all the steps was not terribly fun, but it was totally worth it. The Castle was massive and gorgeous. Naturally it cost money to go inside and I am not all that interested with the insides of buildings so I decided not to go in. Seeing the outside was more than enough. Also the castle is built up on a hill so it gave us a pretty awesome viewpoint of the entire city.
After walking around the enitre Castle, we eventually made our way down the other set of steps that led us towards the famous St. Charles bridge. From far way the bridge hardly looks impressive or worth making a big deal about, but being on it was another story. There were so many little vendors with all sorts of artsy things that made it fun to walk along. Also, the statue were a bit more impressive close up. The atmosphere was just sorta cool.
Then we began our search for food. We had a list of a few restaurants that the front desk recommend for an inexpensive traditional cuisine experience. From our options, we picked the one that was most on our way back to the hostel. On our way to find the place, we stumbled back onto the ice cream shop that looked awesome so we decided to have our dessert first. It was as good as it looked! After enjoying the delicious ice cream we made our way to the restaurant where I found it quite difficult to decide on what to order, but my choice ended up being a good one. These were probably some of the most delicious mash potatoes I have ever had and the pork was beautiful seasoned and very flavorful. I was definitely satisfied!
After food we headed back to the hostel to unwind a bit. Our bodies were a bit tired from all the walking around, and my feet particularly wanted a break. We decided the pub crawl was a bit too pricey and our bodies weren’t really up for it. Instead we decided we would chill in the bar and watch the soccer games. It is tournament time for the EuroCup, so the games were a big deal! haha. We ended up meeting this guy Alex at the bar, and he threw out the suggestion of heading to the big screen that was set up at the town square that we had seen earlier.
I was ready to do something so I said let’s go. It also ended up being a great decision! We not only got to witness a breathe-taking sunset, but being in the atmosphere of all the soccer fans in the square was pretty awesome. I throughly enjoyed it! Then we made our way back to the hostel. As usual, I decided to leave the packing for the morning, and I made my way to bed.
Saturday, we packed and then made our way to breakfast. We just paid for the breakfast buffet at the hostel which was actually pretty good. Since we didn’t have any snacks for the trip back we made sure to eat a decently big breakfast. Then we made our way back to the train station.
While at the train station, I overheard an elderly couple asking some lady who only knew some English some questions, so I offered my help. It then just so happened that they were also trying to make their way to Salzburg, so we helped them transfer trains and I took the time to explain the information provided on their tickets as well how to find their reserved seats. They sat first class, so we weren’t able to travel with them on the train, but on the second train from Linz to Salzburg the lady made a point to come find us to thank us. She gave both of us a $10 bill and when we were gracious and told that it was no big deal and that she didn’t need to do that, she replied with oh but you girls are college kids, it’s the least we can do for all the help today. It was very sweet of her.
All in all, I really liked Prague and I cannot wait to return there!! It was wonderful and definitely some place I would like to chill for longer than just a few days.