Follow my travels as I study abroad in Vienna, Austria. Stay tuned as I casually go to the market while wearing a dirndl; learn how to ski in the Austrian alps; find the hills and see if they really are alive with the sound of music; become a coffee addict and order an Einspänner; master public transportation; make Herr Jordan proud and put my high school German ability to the test; learn the Viennese Waltz; attend a Viennese ball; ride the famous Riesenrad; visit as many Christmas markets as possible; escape to Oktoberfest; slide into a salt mine; and celebrate my birthday the Austrian way!
Vienna and I were a part of the few who decided to travel for the last weekend before study abroad comes to an end. Many people decided to stay back in Vienna, but we wanted to make the most of our time abroad and take advantage of our free weekend (Vienna will be studying abroad again next semester in London!). Vienna’s parents had points on their travel card, so they allowed us to use those points towards a hotel in Bucharest, Romania. It was nice to not have to stay in a hostel and to have our own space.
On Friday the 6th, St. Nicklaus and Krampus came to our German classes and delivered fruit and chocolate. We enjoyed the show and the snack. After class, I gathered my things and walked to Landstraße to get train tickets to the airport for Vienna and I. I met Vienna at the station when her German class ended. We also ran into some other fellow IES travelers who were going to Spain for the weekend.
Our flight went well and then we took an overly crowded bus into the city center of Bucharest. After the bus ride, Vienna informed me that the ride took an hour and a half. I did not check my phone at all and was unaware that the bus ride took that long. We were packed into the bus like sardines and I felt like I shouldn’t talk since my face was practically on this guy’s shoulder in front of me.
Romania was quite interesting. We got immediately distracted by a vegan café where we ended up getting cake before finding the hotel. Later on, we found the Christmas market that we would go back to each day in Romania. We got glühwein and found huge chimney cakes. These chimney cakes were the size of my arm. You can also see the smoke coming out of the “chimney.” It was nice to travel as such a small group and spend time with Vienna and check another country off of our bucket list. Unfortunately, we did not get to see Dracula’s castle, but we still made it to Romania! Vienna and I figured to take advantage of our last weekend, since this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We had a super nice, relaxed weekend in Romania.
We also found a cereal cafe which provided our dinner one night. The cafe offered a wide selection of American cereals which were called “imports.” We had a win-win since we selected the local cereal which was cheaper and allowed us to try some cereal that is foreign to us. At the Christmas market on Saturday night there was a group of ~10 year old boys on stage doing scream-o music. They seemed arrogant on stage and we did not enjoy listening to them as much as the girl from the night before.
We also ventured into a mall which was the strangest mall I have ever been in. There was so many levels which led to dingy floors and most floors contained a section of women’s bras and underwear in the middle of the hallway. We searched for a place for tea, stumbled upon the food court which was very dark and had open seating like a casino, took an elevator and ended up in a coat shop before leaving. I looked through an H&M store for these reindeer-avocado socks that I have been on the hunt for. They did not have them there, but when I got back in Vienna, I made the purchase and got 3 pairs of socks for less than 6 euros.
Upon returning to Vienna, we were greeted by finals week. All of my finals are done except German. I have a review class on Thursday and the final on Friday. Sara arrives around noon on Wednesday and then we will be in Vienna for a few days, so I can finish up my finals. Then, on Saturday Sara and I depart for Luxembourg. Our trip will also include Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam. I am sad for my friends to be leaving Vienna, but I am excited to visit 3 new countries.
On December 10th, Vienna, Claire, Maddie and I went to a Ramen restaurant and then to the Rathaus so Claire and Vienna could ice skate and take advantage of the discounted skating at 9:30.
On Thanksgiving, IES rented out part of this 800 year old Heuriger and hosted an American-style Thanksgiving. The meal included stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, hummus & pepper bread, lots of free wine, and apple strudel (sadly, no pumpkin pie). Vienna and I sat together on the bus and chatted for most of the long bus ride to and from the restaurant.
On the 29th, Maddie and I left for the Ski Trip. The hotel had a nice sauna which it is required that you go in naked, although you could cover up with a towel (we all covered up with towels). The sauna was soo nice, especially with the cold weather we have been having. For skiing, we went to Kitzsteinhorn and those who were beginners at skiing could take lessons. I was so lucky that I had lessons because the alps can be quite intimidating and make the PA mountains look like nothing. Skiing was pretty scary, but by the end of the trip I managed to learn how to stop with skis on. My calves were pretty sore afterwards. Our instructor’s name was Arnoud. Some girls in my lessons acted like they were too good for the lessons then Arnoud started to point out things that they were doing wrong like how they did not have control or could not promptly stop and how that could cause them to hurt someone else. The one girl said how she preferred to just fall and learn on her own and Arnoud said something to her too about needing to learn the basics so they are not dangerous and injure someone. Later on, I heard the girls who ditched lessons talking about how they got injured.
Also during the trip, Rose noticed a hole in her jacket pocket which was holding our hotel key. We knew the key went missing on the last lift on our way back to the bus. At hotel checkout, we had to pay as a group of 4, 100 euros. That day on the slopes we asked around for it and were so happy that we found the key, so we could get our money back.
On the ski trip, a boy dislocated his shoulder and was flown to the hospital. My mom expressed how she was happy that I survived the trip because she was worried that I would get hurt and it would ruin my last few weeks abroad.
I finally checked out Karl’s Kirche and the Karlsplatz Christmas Market. The church is super nice and going up the elevator to see the dome was amazing. The details were spectacular. The Christmas market at Karlsplatz is one of the best ones in Vienna, I believe.
Nicki hosted a pasta party in our apartment. It was nice to have everyone over and “combine pasta forces.” Some of our friends brought wine and snacks to accompany the wine.
My U-bahn pass expired for this month, so for the first week of December, I just walked. I did not use the U-bahn much anyways. Next week I will probably buy a week pass, since Sara will be here and I will need to meet her at the train station.
I am not ready to go home at all. So many people in my classes are expressing how they can’t wait to go home. I am happy that I will be traveling the last week and wish I could stay here longer. My blog posts are more boring right now. I apologize for anyone who reads it. I have too much stuff to do, so blogging is not my priority.
This weekend Vienna and I are going to Bucharest. Next week is finals and Sara arrives on Wednesday. My last final is on Friday. Sara and I leave for Luxembourg on Saturday the 21st.
On the 21st, we had a meeting for our upcoming ski trip. At the meeting, we could pick out snow clothes that IES had purchased from various consignment shops. I was so happy to find a bulky jacket and snow pants. I am a bit nervous for the ski trip. They showed a video from the ski resort website and the ski people appeared to be going pretty fast. Hopefully I learn and pick up on skiing easily! I got a coffee from McDonalds to use my mom’s coupon that she got from peeing at McDonalds. I also caught up on some homework by finishing my cross-cultural journal entries for the semester!
On November 22, was the Vienna Red Cross Ball! Everyone had German class like normal on Friday and most people did not travel this weekend due to the ball. The ball ran from 9:30PM until 4AM, so my friends and I worked on homework, took a nap, then woke up to get ready for the ball. I was super happy to finish up my portion of my group project sociology paper. It was weird putting make up on and getting all glammed up. I have only worn makeup like 3 times since I have been abroad and those first two times were not really the full-makeup because I did not wear eye liner. I did not expect the ball to be as fun as it was. I expected it to be all formal dancing, hindering me from even being able to attempt. But, my friends and I did some ballroom dancing for fun and even located some non-ballroom dancing rooms at the ball. I was asked to dance by an Austrian student at the Universität Wien. He studies mechanical engineering. I felt bad because I did not know how to dance at all and he has taken classes. Ballroom dancing is a huge thing in Vienna. He was surprised to hear that we did not have balls in the United States and that the closest thing was Prom. Vienna, Maddie, and I also got super lucky and when they were blocking off the dance floor for the performances, we got to be front and center for watching the reveal of the donation, singing, traditional performances, and tapping of the keg. It was so amazing to see. Also, while we were walking around exploring, we heard Grease playing and went into the disco room. We jammed out to a ton of Grease songs as well as Don’t Stop Me Now… I’m having a BALL (literally, how fitting of a song). Then, the tunes switched to German pop and we did not know any of it. We left the ball around 3AM and got back around 3:30AM. The ball was SO much fun!
On the 23rd, Maddie’s friend came to town and she got caught riding the U-bahn without a ticket, so she had to pay 105 euros unfortunately. Claire and I went to a Cafe Ritter and did some homework. Later on, we went grocery shopping, made dinners, and met Vienna and her Great Aunt at the Rathaus Christkindlmarkt. We had some glühwein, chatted, walked around, then went to the University Christmas market. I had a baumkuchen and tried the chocolate-plum punch. Later on, we played cards at our apartment.
On the 24th, I finished up my case study assignment and hung out for the day. I also went for a walk and saw some new parts of Vienna. It is crazy to think that there is still so much of Vienna that I have not seen yet.
On the 25th I finished booking things for my final European trip of study abroad. On the 26th, I worked on finishing up my trip itinerary. It is almost 40 pages long and has screenshots of directions that we will need for our travels. I am hoping that my phone will work, but it has been pretty iffy, so the itinerary is good to have as backup. I made some good use of my one class being cancelled on Tuesday.
Vienna and I looked into some trip options for our last free weekend in Vienna. We still have not figured out where we were going. We were hoping that we could find suggestions from airlines and buss websites to tell us where to go, since we are unsure.
After class on the 27th, I went to the Schatzkammer in the Hofburg, Ephesos Museum, and Theatermuseum. I still have to visit the Hofjagd und Rüstkammer in Hofburg, Ancient Musical Instruments, and Wagenburg in Schönbrunn.
I have been working on the same assignment for quite some time. I wanted to get it done before fall break to be ahead of the game, but that never happened and I have had too much going on. With some more free time in the upcoming weekend, I hope to be able to finish writing about my research on the background of rave culture, finish my last two journals for cross-cultural psychology, and read and complete my psychoanalytic case study. I have also been religiously journaling bullet points of things that I do every day, blog weekly, and upload GoPro files. The GoPro uploads are giving me more issues now because it took up all of the storage on my cellphone. I have to find a solution. I also need to figure out my final two trips of the semester.
On November 13th, my mom arrived! Before she arrived, the cleaning lady was scheduled to clean… thank god. Our apartment was beginning to look a bit messy. While the cleaning lady was finishing up, I packed for my mom’s and my trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I also gathered some things that I wanted her to take home. I left for the Landstraße/Wien Mitte train station way too early because I thought my mom got on the train and did not have wifi when I didn’t hear from her for awhile. There was an abandoned bag, so she had some issues purchasing the ticket and finding the train since the area she needed to be in was blocked off and the platform for the train was moved. My mom made a friend with a girl who was traveling to meet her boyfriend and frequently visits Vienna. She helped my mom since they both needed on the same train and were confused with the bag issue. Her friend even had to get off at the same train stop as my mom and asked my mom if she needed any more help before leaving her (I was waiting near a different car at the same platform). My mom and I traveled to my apartment, dropped off her things, and went to get our nails done at Q Beautiful Life off of Mariahilf. We both got pedicures which included a razor which shaved off our callused feet. It was crazy to watch the dead skin fly right off of our feet. After the pedicures, we went to Greichenbeisl for some traditional Austrian food in an old restaurant. I had a beet vegan dish and aperol spritz. When we got back to the apartment, we chatted, drank my wine from my winery tour, and booked Sara’s flight to Vienna for my last week abroad travels.
On the 14th, my mom and I walked to my school so she could see some of the sights and get acquainted with the area. I showed her where the nearest McDonalds were and Stephansplatz. The McDonalds was reliable for providing wifi, so my mom could message me the details of where we would meet. Stephansplatz is a good meeting place and the center of town, so if my mom got lost, she would know a good place to try to locate. I went to German class and met up with my mom afterwards. Her and I went to Neubaugasse so she could purchase some boots, since we would be walking a lot and rain was on the radar. Then we quickly got our stuff and went to the train station. We chatted and ate on the train and had a quick transfer, but the platforms were right beside each other. We arrived in Ljubljana and walked to our AirB&B, then had dinner and found the famous art district.
On November 15, we woke up and went to the bus station and got tickets for lake bled. We got breakfast at a nearby bakery and left for lake bled. The ride was somewhat long and it rained harder as we got closer to the lake. We went inside the church below the castle and then climbed up to the castle. The area was pretty empty since the weather was not ideal. The castle did not have very much exciting aspects besides the view. Part of the castle had a winery room and we bought wine with our star-signs on the bottle. We did not see boats shuttling to the church in the middle of the lake, so we were thinking that the weather and lack of tourists stopped the boat shuttle. We tried the famous Slovenian fluffy vanilla cake before departing back to Ljublanja. We went back to the graffiti place to check it out in the daytime and retreated back to the AirB&B to dry off. We found a restaurant nearby (Druga Violina) that hires people with special needs. The restaurant was super cute and our meals were very tasty. After that, we walked around and listened to a band playing outside while we drank glühwein. The band did much better when they performed Slovenian songs.
On the 16th, we walked around the old town of Ljubljana and saw the farmers market and killed time shopping until the funicular opened up. We went up to the castle and explored it’s views and museum. We went back to old town, found a restaurant called Loving Hut which was located near the bus station, ate lunch, and left for Salzburg. We watched The Sound of Music on our way (until we crossed the Austrian border and the movie could not be played in Austria). When we got to Salzburg, we got on an OBB train to take us into town. We found our hotel, found dinner at Gasthaus Zwettler’s, and explored. We even relocated the hotel I stayed at when I was in Salzburg in high school.
On the 17th, we did a walking tour from Rick Steve’s book. We saw the impressive cemetery, went into the catacombs, got original Mozart balls, explored the castle, and ate at a fancy restaurant near Mozart’s Birth House. We later walked to the train station, killed time at Starbucks, and finally boarded the train back to Vienna. We went to the Spittelberg Christmas market, got stuff from my apartment for the next few days, and located the AirB&B.
On the 18th, my mom and I got coffee and apple strudel at Cafe Friedhof before I went to class. My class met at the auction house nearby. Then, my mom and I went to see the Stephansplatz Christmas market, Rathaus, and Prater. At the Rathaus, we shared garlic soup and spatzle. Later, we found the original snow globe store and I got one for 10 euros. We located Sigmundgaße and then my mom got me a travel backpack from this hippieish store. I went to my night class then met my mom after so we could meet Cristoff at his new apartment. Cristoff, Sebastian, and Magda treated us to an amazing dinner. We had pumpkin soup, salad, a mushroom dish with stuffing, and hazelnut cake.
On the 19th, I went to German class and met my mom after. We went to a cafe called Coffee Day to kill time before my other class. My mom got apple strudel and I got esterhazy cake. Then we went to the Rathaus and I got a chimney cake and some glühwein. We walked to the Rathaus and stumbled upon some more Christmas Markets. We tried some peach schnapps and bought some items from the markets. I had class again then met my mom after for Taco Tuesday at Taco Tante. We drank wine in the AirB&B, ate paprika chips, and packed my mom’s things for her flight.
On the 20th, we woke up at 4:20 and got ready to go to the train station. I helped my mom get her ticket and find the platform. We said our goodbyes and then I retreated back to Dürergasse.
On my first day back to classes after fall break, I had to meet at Schönbrunn Palace. I got there super early, so I could walk around and left some extra time incase I got lost. My teacher wanted us there by 8:50 so we could walk in at 8:55 for our 9:00 time slot. Some students were very late, so we did not walk in until 9:15, which was annoying for my professor because he booked our time for 9:00 and had to wait for late students. I think he should have just guided us in at the designated time and made those who were late figure it out or buy their own ticket. We received audioguides and walked through at our own pace. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos of the inside of the palace. After the tour, I walked around the outside to see the gardens. There were not many flowered plants, since it is getting colder. The colorful fall leaves made the gardens look pretty though.
I also purchased and wrote out some more postcards. If they go out like the others, they should take about 2 weeks to arrive.
On Wednesday the 6th, I had my psychoanalytic class where we received our take-home midterm exam. I met Claire at the train station, and we caught a bus to explore the Laxenburg Castle. It was situated on a beautiful forrest/park property. The castle was super small, and there was not much to see from the outside. We admired the fall look and walked around. It was very chilly out. Later that evening, Maddie, Vienna, and I went to the EisSalon. I got a Moscow mule and grapefruit spritzer.
From my recent viewings of The Game Changers and What the Health, I have decided I would try to ease into the plant-based/vegan lifestyle. I purchased vegan meatballs and really enjoyed them. I made them with quinoa, onion, zucchini, and spinach. I also bought a pumpkin patty and basil tofu.
I also received word that Sara is most likely going to visit to travel with me after my program ends. I looked into travel routes on my long bus ride to Kraków. It appears as though we will go to Luxembourg, Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam. This will be a good time to visit Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands, since they are a bit further from Austria and would therefore make a more difficult weekend trip. Also, there are apparently some good Christmas markets in Luxembourg. I will also be able to see more in this one trip rather than repeatedly traveling to that part of Europe. I looked into the cheapest route options and found a list of things that I wish to do while I was on my bus. Also, I will be kicked out of my Vienna housing on December 14th (the program officially ends on that date), so I might as well travel!
Our bus to Kraków took a lot longer than it should have. Our bus hit something too, so that delayed the 7+ hour ride. I think we ended up arriving 1.5 hours later than anticipated. When we arrived, we found the hostel and dropped off our stuff. We ate dinner at a Korean restaurant. Claire showed us this really good drink called Soju. We tried it in grape and grapefruit. Grape was much better.
On the morning of the 9th, we ate at Cakester. I got a waffle. The whole place was sugar and gluten free. I enjoyed my meal, but the others were not satisfied and Claire wrote a bad review for the restaurant.
Claire left us to be on her own on Saturday, so Vienna, Maddie, and I went to the Oscar Schindler Museum. They did not have tickets available, so we snuck into part of the exhibit. We were upset that we could not see the whole thing. We heard people asking about getting tickets for the next day and the ticket people said they would find out tomorrow if they could and the public would find out when the doors opened up at 9:00. It looked like a super cool museum and we really wanted to learn more about Schindler. We also wish we could have had more time in Kraków, so we could visit Auschwitz. Auschwitz was a bit further away, and tour groups were offering bus rides, but we did not have time to, since we only had a weekend.
We ran into the Ghetto Heroes Square. The area had signs to help try to reunite Holocaust victims’ belongings with their families.
We also got to check out this bar that is hidden within a restaurant. You have to enter it through these wardrobe-looking doors. The bar had a super cool, dingy vibe. We ended up going there twice because we had to go find food, then couldn’t find any other place with space for us. The first time I was there, I got mulled wine. The second time, I got an elderberry, basil, & lavender drink.
On Sunday, we went to a restaurant called Milkbar. I got a spinach pancake (crepe) with a garlic sauce. We walked to a flea market in the rain. Then, we went to see a Jewish cemetery. The cemetery had over 10,000 bodies in it. The stones were packed in and the ground was very uneven. It is very likely that there were many buried on top of one another.
We also walked into this church as the mass was going on. I did not think it was a good idea to go in. I was amazed at how many tourists were walking around and flooding into the church to take their pictures as the mass was going on. I did not stay in there long because I felt like I was bothering the church-goers, so I waited for my friends outside.
I purchased a small dish from a pottery shop for all of my lucky pennies. Kraków was super cheap. We did not spend much money at all while there. For our bus ride back, Vienna, Maddie, and I got food from the mall that was attached to the bus station. Vienna and I paid about 3 euros for our dinner which included a good amount of food.
We encountered a few super rude people while in Kraków and it rained almost the entire time we were there, but overall the city was very nice. I wish the weather would have been better, so we could have explored some more.
My mother arrives on Wednesday. We will be traveling to Ljubljana and Salzburg.
Our fall break trip began on Saturday, October 26th. I finished packing early on in the day, went to the gym, met Maddie’s parents at the apartment, made a big lunch to hold me off for the day and went for a long walk to kill some time before my evening flight to Copenhagen. Our flight got delayed 30 minutes which was not bad. After the flight, we took the metro to Forum and followed the Sleep in Heaven Hostel’s directions, which were spot on and very helpful. The hostel had a low bunk bed and strange stairs to get to the upper beds because the hostel room had two levels, both levels containing bunk beds. When we got there, we planned our route for the next day and then went to sleep. When I woke up, I showered at the hostel and used a pillowcase as a towel because I did not bring my fast-drying towel to save space in my backpack. We left at 8:30AM to head for the Little Mermaid. We got breakfast at a nautical restaurant by Nyhavn. I got yogurt, granola, and hot tea. We saw the Little Mermaid and star-shaped fort called Kastellet. We watched the band play in the fort and ate apples off of a tree inside the fort after we saw little kids picking apples. We were hungry and on a budget, so we figured we would have a quick snack from nature. It started to get super windy and sprinkle while we walked along the upper part of the fort. We saw a windmill and 2 rainbows. After that, we got butter cookies since they are apparently a well-known Denmark thing. We walked to the Rosenborg Castle and saw some ducks and fish that looked like catfish. We were all super hungry, so we finally ate at Grilled Burger. I got a veggie burger and fries with mayo. We also visited the Christiana which was super cool to see with all the graffiti. There was a zone inside the Christiana where photos could not be taken because they were selling weed. After we passed through that section, we saw many people sitting around rolling joints and smoking weed. We also saw some cool art within the Christiana. We posed on a giant, saw some glass art, and more graffiti. Then, we walked to the Travoli Gardens because we thought the entrance was free, but it was a bit pricy and we did not have much time. It was decorated like HalloweenTown and looked like a fun place. The entrance fee was fairly high and then there was an additional fee to ride rides, so we did not think it was worth it given our limited time. We walked to the hostel and relaxed for a bit. We met some people from the country of Georgia where she tried to convince us to go to Georgia. Then we walked to our FlixBus which was about 30 minutes from the hostel. I got the whole seat to myself, which was super nice because it was an overnight bus ride. When we stopped at the border, the passport check was more intense than normal. The police man asked Claudia where she was staying in Stockholm, for proof of reservation, how she was paying in Stockholm, and to see her credit card.
On the morning of October 28, we arrived in Stockholm. We followed Xavier’s phone to direct us to the hostel. We dropped off our stuff and made our beds then went to breakfast. We ate breakfast at the Café Kladdkakan which was not far from the Castanea Old Town Hostel. I had a mango smoothie and a hazelnut ball, which was super good. We got bus tickets and headed for the open air museum, Skansen. We took the funicular, walked around and saw animals. The animals looked super depressed to be sitting in their exhibits. The bear especially seemed depressed. It was also super, super cold out and the animals did not really have many places to go to within their exhibit. After that, we went to the Vasa Museum and saw a ship that never went anywhere because it was built too narrow and too top heavy. 30-50 people ended up dying when the ship tried to set sail. The ship is super well preserved and the museum had a lot of interesting exhibits to show what life was like. We took the bus back into town and walked through a mall because Rick Steve’s book told Claudia that that was a thing to do. We went to McDonalds since Nicki had a goal to go to a McDonalds in every country. We got sweet potato fries which were hard to believe that came from a McDonalds. We walked through a flower market, took the subway, saw some art, and then went back to the hostel to get ready for dinner. We had dinner at a restaurant that was right under the hostel. We got free water and Claudia just ordered chips, so the waitress felt bad and brought chips for everyone. Xavier and Nicki shared a small meatball dish, which the restaurant split for them. I got soup, which was not very big, but tasted pretty good. Then since everyone else did not have much to eat, we went to Ben & Jerry’s. Claudia and Xavier got waffles with ice cream. I got a hot chocolate. When I showered at the hostel, I used my cover up sweater to dry off because towels were not included again.
On the 29th, we went to breakfast at the Greasy Spoon. Our waiter was from New Zeland and the one barista was from California. I got a vegan breakfast meal which had a variety of items included in it. After breakfast, we did the Rick Steve’s walking tour of Stockholm. We saw the little boy statue and pet his head for good luck. I went to a boutique and purchased a scarf because it was super cold and the wool scarves were quite popular in Sweden. Then we went to the National Library of Stockholm and saw the Codex Gigas where I got Maddie her tote bag and pin. Then, we went to a free art museum and took lots of pictures. We walked over a crown bridge, and then it started to snow a little bit. We had dinner at Stockholm Gastabud. I had a super good fish soup. We walked around the gift shops and went to a cafe for some Glogg which is really Gluhwein, and a hazelnut ball. We snacked some more at the hostel and had chips and hot chocolate.
On my birthday, we woke up early and got ready to leave for the FlixBus at the central station. I grabbed a lunch from a place in the station called Lett. They had healthy salads and bowls. I got a blueberry vegan frap from the Espresso House for breakfast and ate some of my snacks that I brought with me for the trip. Claudia played 22 by Taylor Swift because they said they would play that song 22 times for my birthday. On the bus, I got the seat to myself for the whole ride, which helps a lot for napping and comfort. I watched the Game Changers on Netflix and caught up on some social media uploading. Claudia and Nicki got some snacks to celebrate my birthday on the bus. We had Oreos, Ballerina Cookies (amazing cookies with Nutella), Twix, and Snickers. When we arrived in Oslo, the sky looked like cotton candy. We walked to our hostel which was in a strange location. It was called Club 27. We dropped off our stuff and went out to shop and find dinner. I got carrot and pumpkin soup from a mall. When we went into one of the shops, I went to purchase these wool socks and asked the chatty man if he had any birthday specials. He gave me the socks for over half off. He also gave me a non-alcoholic beer that he had in his fridge because carrying alcohol is illegal in Oslo. We went to a grocery store and prepped meals for the next day and picked up a birthday cake. We went back to the hostel, ate the cake, then went to a bar. Claudia bought me a spritzer with the amazing spring water from the region, apples, and bringebærcider. In our hostel that night, some guys came in at 2AM and turned the lights on, were drunk, and stripped right in the middle of the room. They must not have noticed all of the people sleeping in the room.
On Halloween morning, we ate cereal from the hostel and did Rick Steve’s tour of Oslo. We saw the dock with lots of big sailboats and the fort. I ate my store packed lunch in the McDonalds so Nicki could try McDonalds in Norway. We walked to the palace and witnessed a guard away from his station talking to two girls and the other guard staring at him in disappointment while he guarded the entrance by himself. I came to the conclusion that seagulls and other birds like standing on statues’ heads. We killed some time and got on the train to go to the airport. The airport was super empty. We charged up our devices and relaxed a bit. We also snacked on some more Ballerina cookies. When we got to Tromsø, we took a taxi to the Radisson Blue hotel which was the meeting point for the Northern Lights tour. We checked into our room (Claudia’s parents had points, so we got the night for free, which was super nice). We went to the grocery store to pick up snack and breakfast items for the next morning. I got banana chips and beans. For our northern lights trip, there was us 3, one random guy, and a family of 11 Italians. The young girls were quite annoying as they did not stop talking behind us in the van. On the tour, we learned about the northern lights and how there is a certain number that needs to be high in order for us to see the lights on a given night. The northern lights can be yellow, green, blue, or purple. When we found a location to watch the lights, they set up a fire and made everyone hot dogs. They even had a veggie hot dog for me. We had some fancy Norwegian drink, vegetable soup, and marshmallows. It was super cool to be able to see the northern lights in person. The sky would intensify and the lights would temporarily light up the sky. The color was mostly white light, but when the lights would intensify, we could see some color with our naked eyes. Claudia got some super good pictures from her nice camera. My camera got bright green pictures, but did not show the stars or have as crisp of an image. Cellphones did not capture the lights at all. One of the tour guides was from Vienna and it was her first day on the job. We enjoyed chatting with her about her life and Vienna. She is 23 years old and said she came to Norway to save money and make money. I gladly wore one of the thermal suits during the tour because it got quite chilly. A snowstorm started approaching, so we tried to move to another location to see the lights, but we had no luck. Our tour lasted 5 hours and ended around midnight. It was supposed to last until 2AM, but the snow was supposed to continue. I saw a shooting star, reindeer, light pollution, the northern lights moving, and a seal the next morning. It was nice to sleep in a hotel after being in hostels.
On the morning of November 1, Claudia and I went on a search in the hotel for a microwave to heat up our beans. The hotel did not have a microwave, so we went to the restaurant within the hotel. The waitress did not speak good english and was confused when we asked her if we could heat our beans. She tried to show us the beans in the restaurant’s buffet. She told us that the beans that we had were the same as the ones in the buffet. We told her that we were not eating at the restaurant and we wanted our beans heated. She brought another woman out and we told her the same thing, then she finally realized that we just wanted our beans heated. Then, we ate our breakfasts and explored some of Tromsø. We walked by the water and saw some birds that looked super cold. We found a cafe that was open and got hot chocolate and coffee. We went back to the hotel to catch our taxi at 9:45AM. Our flight ended up getting delayed 30 minutes, but it was okay because we did not have anywhere urgent to be. When we landed back in Oslo, we took the train back to Oslo Central Stationer and immediately went to the Munch Museum to see the famous Scream painting. After that, we went to a grocery store and got some food for dinner to make at the hostel because Oslo was expensive.
On November 2nd, we ate cereal for breakfast from the Club 27 hostel before we went to the Oslo Central Train Station to start our Norway in a Nutshell Fjord Tour. We traveled to Myrdal by train, then caught another train to start the tour into Flam. The train going to Flam was super cute and stopped along the way to see a waterfall in the fjord. Then we had some free time to shop in Flam before boarding the catamaran to go to Gudvangen. The boat trip was super nice and relaxing. The scenery was amazing, but the air was frigid. We got hot chocolate and would take pictures outside, then run back inside to warm up frequently. After the boat, we took a buss to Voss. Then we caught another train from Voss to Bergen. Our hostel was called the Bergen Budget Hostel and it was not very impressive. I made the bed and slept with my backpack on my bed.
On November 3rd, Nicki and I got ready to leave for our flight from Bergen to Oslo. We took the airport bus which was only a 7 minute walk from our hostel. It was kind of upsetting that we did not get to see much of Bergen since we arrived when it was late and left early in the morning. I got a tomato and egg heated baguette in the Oslo airport. It seemed like the most worthy purchase since everything else was highly overpriced. We took the OBB train back to Vienna, then hopped on the U4 and walked back to our apartment. I went to the gym, made dinner, and unpacked my backpack. It was nice to just travel with a backpack for the week. When I emptied my backpack, I was surprised when I saw how much stuff I was able to fit in my backpack for the week. My packing skills must be getting pretty good.
I had a little more free time this week to catch up on some things, since it was finals week and my one class did not meet at all. I wrote out several postcards and mailed them at the brand new post office. I had to go on a search because the one I passed every day was unexpectedly closed. To my surprise, I found the new one with balloons for their grand opening. The international stamps are pricy, but they gave me a free jelly-filled donut and chocolate-covered marshmallow thing to celebrate their opening. I am still on the search for some more postcards.
I planned a trip with Claire, Vienna, and Maddie to go to Kraków, Poland in November. It seemed super easy to plan, unless I just got better at trip planning. I am excited to check another new place off of my bucket list.
I have also completed a very detailed itinerary for my fall break trip. We have several transfers in transportation and accommodations, so I wanted to keep everything organized so we could easily follow along with our trip plans. It took me a ton of time since I was including maps to get from location to location.
Nicki asked me to go with her to this organic restaurant. It was super good and not badly priced for the amount and quality of food that we got. The restaurant was inside a shop on Neubaugasse and it is called Maria Kocht.
I went to see the Vertigo exhibit at the Mumok Museum. It made me feel kinda dizzy to see some of the paintings. The interactive exhibits were super cool to experience. The one part of the Mumok had a huge trampoline-ish thing with 3 huge balls. It was so much fun.
Right after finals, Vienna, Maddie, Claire, and I departed for Hallstatt. I left after my german exam and came back to the apartment to grab lunch, snacks, and my overnight stuff. The others left right after their exams since they had theirs after mine. We had to transfer trains with less than 6 minutes, so we had to run through the Linz train station to make it onto the next train. Our Air B&B in Hallstatt was adorable. The owners were from Holland and were super nice. The house was located right beside a farm with the only cows in Hallstatt. It was so nice to watch them with the gorgeous scenery. We had dinner at Höllwirt because area we stayed in was just with houses and not many restaurant options. I got a pumpkin soup and shared a veggie plate with Vienna. We went to sleep before 10 and got a very restful sleep. I woke up early, made coffee and watched the cows while everyone else slept a little longer. The house owner drove us into Hallstatt for 10 euros. We got spinach pizza for brunch. We walked around the adorable and small town of Hallstatt and saw some churches, the Charnel House (filled with bones and painted skulls), wood shops, etc. We also rented out a paddle boat for 15 euros total. Claire and I paddled for the hour trip. After that, we walked back to the train station. The leaves were changing and we walked along the lake, so it was a nice walk. We got dinner at a pizzeria/bowling alley. Again, there were not many options for food. I got tomato soup and split a veggie pasta dish with Vienna.
When we got back from Hallstatt, we immediately had to pack for the mandatory fall break trip that is provided by IES. We got back late and had to wake up early. Everyone in the apartment also decided to wait to shower late, so there was a little bit of a delay before going to bed.
For the mandatory fall break trip, many of us got the whole seats to ourselves, so we did not have to sit directly beside anyone. We went straight to Prague where we had lunch at the Lindner Hotel Prague Castle. The vegetarian meal was super good. Then we went on a walking tour. In Prague, they have a small firefighter helmet monument for 9/11. After the walking tour we got a few minutes to ourselves before getting on the bus to go to Dresden. Most of us got chimney cakes (they are called something else in Prague). There were many stores that we passed selling them, so they must be pretty popular in Prague. The city was super pretty, but we did not have much time there. I would have liked to be able to explore more of it on our own.
Each night of the fall break trip, we spent in Dresden. Dresden is fairly new since many of it was rebuilt since the city was bombed in WWII. One of the nights we ate burgers at Hans im Glück. Jacey, Vienna, and I watched the first episode of Dark. It seems like it would be a very good show to continue watching. It has two seasons already out, so it might take awhile for me, but it looked really good from the first episode. We had a walking tour of Dresden the next morning. The tour guide was really good. After the tour, we had free time, so we got lunch at an Italian restaurant. I got a salmon and pasta dish. Then, we looked for museums that would be open for the IES museum pass. Most museums were closed on Mondays, so it was a waste of money for IES to have gotten us those passes. We went to a Tiki bar and got waffles and ice cream and a Cuban bar where we got chips and guacamole. I also got a piña colada here. It was a cute little bar and the drinks were reasonably priced and good tasting.
The next morning we went to Leipzig. While in Leipzig we got a lecture on Wilhem Wundt at the University of Leipzig. His office was kinda cool to see, but they dragged the time out for no reason. We also saw the Runde Ecke and learned about the Stasi. The Runde Ecke was a really interesting museum. Our tour group was very large, so it was not as enjoyable as it could have been since the rooms were too small. We ate lunch at the Panorama Tower. We did not get much free time here either, which kinda stunk. We only really had time to walk around the farmers market in the square. We saw the huge Battle of the Nations monument and Wundt’s grave and drove back to Dresden. That night we ate dumplings at a restaurant in new town Dresden. Then we got ice cream at the Eis Cafe.
On Wednesday, we ate breakfast at the hostel and then drove to lunch in Telc at the ZACH restaurant. I had breaded cauliflower. It was pretty good. Again, we did not have much time in Telc. There was a traffic jam that delayed us some. Then when we were leaving, a girl got lost, so we were delayed 45 minutes until they found her. I felt like I slept most of Wednesday since we were on the bus for 7 hours. When we got back, I unpacked and went straight to the gym.
Our mandatory study trip week also included Thursday and Friday being in Vienna, but still meeting up for activities. We went to the technical museum on Thursday. The one tour was kinda interesting and talked a lot about robots and new technology. There was not much of a connection to psychology. Friday’s activities were actually pretty fun. We chatted about the connection with the locations we visited, made spaghetti & marshmallow structures and analyzed the process, and had a collage dream & writing workshop. My collages turned out really cool looking.
On Wednesday night, Vienna organized a double birthday bash for Claire and I. Claire’s birthday was on October 22 and mine is on the 30th, so a party between our days during our time off of classes was perfect. Nicki and Mauri made amazing cupcakes and Vienna made really good banana and chocolate bread. Allison brought falafel. Others brought wine and sturm. Vienna is too good to us. She also gave Claire and I chocolate from Amsterdam and jam from Telć. During the bash, I continued with my GoPro uploads, since it is a lengthy process and I had a busy couple of days ahead.
On Friday night, I checked in for my flight to Copenhagen. I also booked all of the transportation and stays for when my mom and I travel in November. We will be going to Ljublanja and Salzburg. Booking took some time because I had to figure out how all of the transfers would fit into the schedule and then the prices kept changing while I was booking. Also, Air B&B & hotels are difficult to find through the Air B&B site sometimes and will show places to stay that are way too far from the desired location.
On Saturday, I will be leaving for my fall break trip to Scandinavia. I am super excited about it! I also successfully uploaded all of my GoPro content so I can travel with a empty SD card to capture my memories without worrying about running out of space. I am also just traveling with a backpack for the week, so I am hoping that I can fit everything into my backpack. Traveling light will be nice, but it will be stressful trying to figure out what to pack in a small backpack for a week of travel.
One of my classes had a take-home midterm, so last week I worked on it so I would not have to worry about it on the weekend, and it was due on the Monday of midterms week. I am much more proactive than my classmates. Many of them wait until the last minute. I always prepare ahead, and I do not regret this strategy of mine. On Monday, I had 2 midterms in person. I think they went pretty well and I stressed about them for no reason. I am not sure of any of my grades since most grades are based off of participation. For the actual assignments that I have had, I have not received any real grades. This is kind of good because it is helping me to focus less on school. I know that sounds bad, but one of my goals for study abroad was to not worry about school as much, especially after my super stressful summer courses. I just wanted to take the time abroad to enjoy life and travel without stressing myself out over academics. I only have one midterm left before my very busy end to October.
My friends wanted to procrastinate studying for German, so last week on Wednesday night, Vienna, Maddie, Claire, and I went to the Eissalon. It is a small bar right down the road from our apartment. It was super nice and more of my scene, since I do not care much for the clubs. I drank spritzers which were much cheaper than the specialty alcoholic beverages with “eis” or ice cream. My whole class ended up thinking that the German test was not what we were told to prepare for, so going out did not necessarily hurt me. I typically do most of my studying early in the mornings anyways.
We had our meetings for the mandatory fall break trip. The mandatory fall break trip for psychology students is going to be to Leipzig, Dresden, and Prague. The field trip aspect (out of the country) is from Sunday to Wednesday. We also have a 2-day part that takes place in Vienna on Thursday and Friday. I am not quite as excited for the activities on Thursday and Friday, but I am excited to travel to Leipzig, Dresden, and Prague.
On the 10th, Claire ran into my room and fell (she did not get hurt). She stayed on the floor and then was accompanied by Jacey. Claire predicted Jacey, Maddie, and my futures in 20 years. She said I would be working in some sort of travel planning or corporate business.
My Personality Theories and Psychopathology class required that we go to the Sigmund Freud Museum on our own time. The real exhibit is closed, so we had to attend the Moving Freud Museum (temporary exhibit until the real one is done with renovations). The museum was not very exciting. I am interested in Freud, but the museum did not provide much insight into his life. The home movies were kind of interesting to watch though. I want to find a documentary- maybe Penn State’s Kanopy will have something similar. Some interesting things about Freud was that he wrote a lot of letters and one of his early experiments was on himself and he would do cocaine to test its effects. He also was initially studying zoology.
I ran around shopping and searching for postcards for various people at the end of last week. I did not get all of the postcards that I wanted to get for everyone, but I got a big bulk of them. For others, I will get postcards while I am on some of my upcoming trips. The postcard writing took longer than I expected, but it was still fun to do. I am excited for people to receive them.
I tried a new restaurant that I found from walking around and getting my steps in. Claire, Maddie and I tried the Kriterium 3 restaurant on Stiftgasse. It is a pub-style restaurant and I ate dumplings and drank a white spritzer.
On Saturday the 12th, I went to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. It took us 2 hours to get there. The introductory lecture was super interesting in explaining how these camps came to be and how Hitler gained so much support. It is unbelievable to think about how so many people could be brainwashed into the same mindset and view others as not human. What is even more bothersome is that there were other concentration camps not related to the Holocaust that existed, but many people are not even aware of them. American history classes usually just talk about the Holocaust since America got involved in the liberation of the camps. This leads to the lack of knowledge of other camps that were in existence, killing drastic amounts of people. The introductory lecture talked quite a bit about the Dachau Concentration Camp which is not far from Munich. On my high school trip we also went to Dachau. Dachau was the first concentration camp and it opened in 1933. Mauthausen was modeled after Dachau and had many many sub-camps throughout Austria. In my sociology class we watched a movie called Teenage by Matt Wolf. It highlighted some youth who became a part of Hitler’s following. This was the part of the movie that surprised me the most was watching and listening to some of these youth and how they were so inspired and thought that what they were doing was a good thing. They genuinely thought that this movement was benefitting society.
I was shocked to hear that the tour groups were under different impressions of if the people who lived in the area knew what was happening at the camp. My group was told that people knew and came to watch the soccer games played by the Nazi guards to show their support. Also, I was surprised to hear that the guards were willing to have their weddings at such a place. The setting to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp was hauntingly beautiful and situated in a very gorgeous location. The leaves were changing colors and the green hills provided a picturesque view. When looking at the beauty of the scenery, I thought about how lucky I am and what the prisoners of the concentration camp must have thought while looking at the same hills and trees as myself. Did they start to believe the mentalities imposed that they were lesser of a human? Did they think that they deserved what was being done to them? Did they hold onto their personal identities or did they just allow it to be shed like their hair, clothes, personal belongings, and physical closeness to family?
Right after German class on Friday, we will be traveling to Hallstatt by train and stay for one night. We are coming back on Saturday because our mandatory fall break trip starts on Sunday.
On Sunday the 13th, I went on a solo trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. My roommates went to the club and returned home close to 4AM, so it is a good thing that I decided not to go because I had to be up early for my bus. My bus came surprisingly early and I got a whole seat to myself on the way there. I went to the castle, ran into a fellow independent traveler a few times, went to the cat cafe that my friends raved about, checked out some spooky graffiti, bought a wristlet for less than 5 euros for my GoPro, saw the famous blue church, and just explored! My sim card did not work and I had to pee, so I knew the cat cafe would help me by providing wifi and a place to pee while also get a tea. I never got hot tea at a restaurant before, so that was also an experience. I got blueberry vanilla black tea. It was super good. The waiter was super nice and gave me too much change back (in change-nothing too drastic), a free sticker (my friends paid a lot for theirs and were jealous to hear that I got one for free), and a handful of candy with my receipt. People are typically surprisingly nice to independent travelers (except for my waitress at lunch, she was not the friendliest). Also when you travel alone, you are more aware of other independent travelers and almost share a bond without talking to them. You just kind of give each other a look without knowing the native tongue of the other, but still have a mutual respect for one another.
At the gym, I feel like I am getting stronger and might be able to bump up the amount of weight that I can bench soon. I try not to do anything too uncomfortable since I do not have a spotter and my mom says that people get killed from dropping weight lifting bars on themselves. I bought some more of my protein powder from Hofer to be prepared ahead of time for when I run out. I love the taste of chocolate protein powder.
My GoPro uploads go much quicker early in the morning than later in the day and at night. I assume it is because everyone is on the wifi. In the morning I can fly through uploads. I should stop wasting my time trying to upload anything during the day or especially at night.
I also looked into a trip to Krakow for after fall break. It seems like it would be pretty cheap and a super nice trip. Later on this week, I hope to finalize the trip, so I can start planning my travels with my mother. We will most likely be traveling to Slovenia and might squeeze in a day trip to Salzburg. Everyone’s parents always seem to want to go to Salzburg. It must be the parent place to go. I have already been to Salzburg, but I don’t feel like I was there long enough and it was raining, so going back might not be a bad thing. There is much more to see than what I saw while I was there in high school. October is flying by. It is scary to think that it is almost November. When November hits, then it will be a month away from my arrival to go back to the states, which I am not necessarily looking forward to. I only wish that I had Scrappy here to take with me on my extremely long walks. I could totally live abroad forever.
There is a mandatory trip to the Mauthausen Concentration camp as part of my sociology and psychology trip coming up. I stumbled upon a show on Netflix called The Photographer of Mauthausen. I am not sure if it is available on American Netflix, but it was a really good movie. The movie had both German and Spanish speaking throughout it with English subtitles. I highly recommend watching it if it is available in your area.
My classes have been okay. German is rough since we have so many quizzes all the time. I do not really have the time to keep up with it. I want to learn German, but I am too busy with other tings. My other classes are mostly laid back. For my management class, we were to plan a HalloWien party (because Wien is Vienna in German). My teacher gave me the task of buying avocados and making the guacamole. This task is quite the coincidence since I am a guacamole-making expert. Perhaps he has heard of the PSUGAAC and found out that I was the president (Penn State Greater Allegheny Avocado Club). After making the guacamole and being prepared for the class party, the rest of the class decided to cancel the party the day of so they could focus their efforts on the next party. I was pretty upset about this since I spent 40 euros on guacamole supplies and took a lot of time to make it. Claire helped me peel onions and Jacey helped with the garlic. It was a team effort for the initial preparation and then I finished off with the avocado smashing the morning of the party. The whole process took some time. The class decided to meet at Salon Shräg to discuss the next party and eat the guacamole. They are all supposed to Venmo me 2 euros ($2.19). 10 people from the class no-showed for the meeting, 12 still ended up coming. They also tried to schedule the event for when my mom was going to be in Vienna, but I found a conflict with the date (there was ballroom dancing lessons that other IES students might be participating in). So, I got the date moved to November 20.
I found a cafe with Kurbissuppe and it was super good. The cafe is called Gustav, Emil, Paula, Paula and it is located near Museumsquartier.
One of our cleaning ladies had her son with her when she was cleaning. He is 7 years old. He was playing with some animal figures and on his iPod or phone. I asked him if he spoke English and if I could eat my lunch with him and he said yes. I chatted with him about some shows, movies, tv characters (he likes the bad guys-hyaenas in the Lion King, etc.). His favorite animal is a cheetah, he loves Fortnight, and he wants his mom to get him a huge nerf gun. His mom was really impressed because that was the first time she ever heard him speak English. She is from Hungary and her husband is from Serbia, so she only ever hears him speaking their languages.
Everyone in my apartment was getting sick, so that was not too fun. My sickness only really lasted a few days, which was a miracle. I lost my voice for a few days, but felt pretty good other than that. The sickness did not ruin any plans I had.
On Thursday, the Baierls, Berardinellis, and Evanchek parents were all in Vienna, so we made a plan to get dinner. We ate at Trattoria La No which was only around the corner from IES, so my commute from class went very smoothly. We also got gelato and then went to a bar called Chattanooga which is near Stephansdom. It was so nice to be able to see all of them and talk about our trips along with catch up since I haven’t seen them in such a long time. We were going to meet at Oktoberfest, but that didn’t work out, so luckily they were all coming to my new home in Vienna, so we could work something out!
I finished my cross-cultural psychology journal/papers early so I would be ready for the midterm. I have a take-home midterm for that class, an in class exam for sociology, marketing, and German. There will not be a midterm until later for my psychoanalytic class. I have to start preparing for my papers and exams.
Over the weekend I participated in the IES-planned Styria trip. We went to Stubing and toured the Osterreichisches Freilichtmuseum. This museum had lots of cabins, sheep, and outdoorsy things. We were lucky with the weather because that museum would have been a flop if it were to rain or be freezing outside. Our lunch was a cheese, dip, bread, and dessert platter (there was meat for those who ate meat too). The restaurant was called Mostschänke Fattingerhof. We rode to Graz and took a walking tour and only got sprinkled on. We saw the “Heart of Graz” which was marked by a statue of a peach pit, and not actually located in the center because the center is a parking lot, so it was placed in a nicer location nearby. We also saw the spiral staircase and got to walk on it.
We checked into the A & O Hostel Graz and then had the evening to ourselves for the Lange Nacht der Museen. My friends and I started off by going to the Kunsthaus Graz Museum. It was a modern art museum and was super trippy. There was lots of unusual art, loud noises, and even a room with just lights where we laid down for awhile to watch it. On the way to the museum we saw a man in a wheelchair being dragged by his racing dog ON THE STREET. It looked dangerous and like it was a common everyday occurrence. I really wish I got it on video, but I was in shock. The dog was flying and we questioned whether the dog knew to stop at relights. After that we went to the Flann O’Brien Original Irish Pub. I got a veggie burger and cider beer on tap. After dinner, we went to the Naturkundemuseum and Joannemuseums Viertel: Neue Gallery Graz.
The hostel served a really good breakfast. I had yogurt, granola, and soft-boiled eggs. After breakfast we went to a heurig along the Slovenia and Austria border. I got red sturm and tried a chestnut for the first time. Then we went to the Gamlitzer Weinlesefest. I got chestnuts for lunch and some more sturm. To make sure you return the mug or pay for it if you keep it, you are supposed to put a 2 euro deposit down. I apparently was not charged for my mug, and I gladly kept it. There was a parade at the fest where we got some free sturm, to sample wine honey, free candy, and corn.
I planned a trip with my friends to Hallstatt for right after midterms and before the mandatory study trip. I also booked a trip to Bratislava for myself for the day after the Mauthausen excursion. The Bratislava bus was only 5 euros per one way trip.
Recently, I have come to realize how much Pittsburgh is liked around the world. At the gym, I saw a guy with a Steelers shirt on. Apparently, he has family living in Detroit, but he is a major Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Also, I saw an advertisement with a girl wearing a Steelers hoodie. Some people who we have run into have been excited to hear that I am from Pittsburgh because they are fans. Most people are not as excited to hear that my roommate is from Philadelphia. Some Germans have told us that the NFL has become more popular in Europe in recent years. Also, I have seen a few Pittsburgh Pirates hats walking around Vienna.
I also attended the Rapid Wien vs. Salzburg game for 21 euros. The game was pretty intense and I have never seen a fan group so committed to a game. They have people who lead the fan group with megaphones and the fan group is SO into the game. They have flags waving for the duration of the game. Their section also doesn’t even have seats so they stand for the entire game. We were seated near that section. Rapid Wien ended up losing in overtime. One of the IES kids actually cried about the loss, which is very surprising because I doubt any of the IES kids were really that invested into the game.
Vienna and I tried this all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. It was around 7 euros, which was super cheap for everything. They did not restock the sushi bar, so that was kind of upsetting, but we got our moneys worth.
Clarie, Maddie, Elise, and I went to the Burgtheater to see the play, The Party. It was all in German, but I could understand a good bit of it. However we were tired and falling asleep during it. After the show, we went to Addicted to Rock and I got the Moscow Muel of the Month and the Ganz Wien Muel. Claire and I shared an appetizer platter and it was super good. The platter had sweet potato fries, regular fries, mozzarellas cheese sticks that looked like fries, and onion rings. Addicted to Rock is probably one of my favorite places.
After German class on Friday, I went to the gym then checked out the Flohmarkt. I bought 2 pairs of bamboo socks for the winter for 12 euros.
Maddie, Elise, and I went to this conveyor belt sushi place. It was quite pricey, but still good. I would probably opt for the cheaper sushi options because conveyor belt sushi was not that exciting, especially because I was seated on the other side of the table, so I had to ask the others to grab the food for me. I packed for Oktoberfest and took a long walk to kill some time and get some exercise. I also took a brief nap because our bus was leaving late for Munich and was scheduled to arrive at 5AM.
I slept for the majority of the bus trip to Munich. We were stopped around 3 or 4 AM for a passport check. The first police man was questioning every person, but then another police man arrived on the bus from the door in the middle and flew through his section of the passport check. When we got to Munich, it was around 5:45 AM and was raining. The rain was not too bad, so we walked to the München Hauptbahnhof. I have been to the bahnhof in high school, so it was cool to be back to see it again. I found 2 lucky coins on our way to the U-Bahn (located inside the train station). It was easy to figure out how to get to the campground from the U-bahn since I saved the directions to my phone from GP Tents. We arrived to the campground around 8:30 and were able to check-in early and receive our tents. The payment for the tents could only be done in cash, so it was a good thing that I read the check-in information beforehand. We got ready and left for Oktoberfest around 9:40.
Oktoberfest was wild. It was so extremely packed. This was surprising since the Oktoberfest fair grounds was so large. We first walked around and looked at some of the shops. I bought a pin with my name burned into it for 4 euros. Maddie and Claire bought hats that look like the Harry Potter sorting hat. Shortly after we saw the Hofbräuhaus tent and decided to go in. It was a good thing to go see, but the tent was way too packed for our comfort. It is one of the most well-known places, so it wasn’t that surprising, but still. Also, one of the waitresses got mad because she tried to serve us beer (we decided that we didn’t want any yet since we wanted to find food and a more comfortable place to be since we were smooshed in like sardines). We decided to keep looking and we found a tent called Augustiner Bräu. At first it was hard to find a seat and people were not willing to let us sit in their open seats (it is all bench seating so they are bound to sit with strangers anyways). We ended up getting lucky and some Germans and Colombians allowed us to sit with them. We stayed there for awhile and ate lunch and got some beer. Vienna and I shared one because we knew it was going to be a long day and we were not comfortable drinking too much with the large crowd. Claire and Maddie drank a bit more. My lunch was really good. I got the “1 Stück geräuchertes Forellenfilet (aus dem Voralpenland) auf Sauerrahm-Schnittlauchsauce mit Brot” for 10.50 euros. The Germans who we sat with were quite entertaining. Two of them were named Andreas and one of the Andreas thought we said Jaguar wrong (I guess it was an observation he made through other Americans because we were not talking about Jaguar). He kept telling us to repeat after him, “Jag-uar.” They also really seemed to be in favor of Pittsburgh because of the NFL and the one didn’t realize Pittsburgh was in Pennsylvania and said he would have to Google it (except he said google like “Goooogle” which we all thought was hilarious). They also referred to drinking as “Saffn.”
When we finally left the tent, we went shopping for some snacks from the booths. I got candied pecans which were amazing. Of course, I purchased a official Oktoberfest 2019 beer stein and Lebkuchenhertz (gingerbread heart which I will hopefully be able to keep forever as decoration). Vienna and I kept the bunch in line since it was so extremely crowded. Eventually we went to wait to try to get into another tent for dinner, but it was taking awhile and one of our travel companions was not feeling too well. I suggested we walk toward the Rathaus and find something to eat there. We ended up eating at a place called Hofer. I got an egg, spinach, and potato dish with some white wine which was delicious. After that, we left for the tents. On the U-Bahn we talked to some Germans who live near Cologne, Germany. One of them is going to be moving to Cleveland, Ohio for 2 years for work. They sang on the U-Bahn and got others to sing along, so it was pretty funny.
Sleeping in the tent was actually really nice. They had mattresses over the gravel ground. The duvet was the most comfortable duvet I have ever seen yet. It was not too cold either, only a little chilly. So, sleeping with my leggings, socks, coat, and ear warmers kept me at perfect temperature. I suggested we wake up at 7, but the others did not favor that idea. I woke everyone up around 7:40 so we could checkout, eat breakfast, and start exploring. I did not want to waste the day sleeping! GP tents provided breakfast of sandwiches (ham and cheese, but I requested just cheese since I don’t eat meat). I added some tomatoes and put it in the panini machine. It was surprisingly super good and unexpected for a breakfast at a campground. We talked about things that we could do for the day, but did not find too much to do in Munich for a morning before our bus departure. I suggested we walk to the bus station because we would pass through the city center, we could get some exercise, and it could kill time. The walk was supposed to take 2 hours and 30 minutes, but the crew was not walking very fast and got tired, so it took a bit longer. We also stopped to see some things along the way. We saw a cute little garden, a super nice looking cemetery, some cute dogs, and an oddly placed Michael Jackson memorial. We stopped at a botanical garden near the bus station since Vienna and Claire were scheduled for different busses than Maddie and I. Maddie and I panicked a little when we saw that our bus was not on the departure screen and none of the platforms were labeled for our destination. We did find our bus, but it was scheduled to stop somewhere else first, so the sign did not say Vienna (our tickets did not inform us of this). I slept most of the way home.
Oktoberfest was definitely an experience that I would recommend everyone participate in, but it is not something that I would recommend doing all the time. I feel as though the little German restaurants are just as satisfying, if not more satisfying than being among the wildness of Oktoberfest. There was lots of puke everywhere, it was hard to walk around since there were so many people, and some tourists were just rude (some Germans too, but it can be expected when all these tourists rush into your country). I did enjoy the pretzels, candied pecans, my half of the beer, my food, and sleeping in the tent (I am sure if it were colder, I would not have viewed the tent as favorably, but the weather was perfect).
I cannot believe we are already into October. This month will be busy with the Styria trip, Mauthausen trip, midterms, mandatory fall break trip, and independent fall break trip. This semester is flying by so quickly. I have to finish up my fall break trip plans, and start planning for trips in November.