Hello!!So its been awhile! Things have been very busy and a little crazy lately, but I will try to update on you on my past few weeks!First off, our program took us on a 5 day, 4 country field trip to Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. So that would be Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. We left bright and early Friday, October 2nd. What pulled up to pick us up was something else. Picture the ghetto-est bus you have ever seen, then add more ghetto-ness and a bad egg smell and then you have our bus. Though it looked like it may have been straight out of 1965, it was actually built in 1990. As the bus driver said (it had) “Over one million miles” I found a comfy spot on the back of the bus, which turned out to be a great decision.
Our first stop was Cesky Krumlov, a quaint and charming small town located in Southern Bohemia part of the Czech Republic. We hiked through the woods and visited some castle ruins in a near by town that I cannot remember the name. Not to sound unappreciative, but after a while, castles and castle ruins in Europe all start to look the same. After that, we could choose to either A) ride the bus the rest of the way to Cesky Krumlov, or B) hike back through more woods and meadow with our resident social director, Geiger. I chose option B which turned out to be another great choice. After enjoying some great scenery we arrived at a town called Zalta Koruna, which means “Gold Crown” to take the train to Cesky Krumlov. After checking with the train depo, the next train did not leave for almost two hours. Resourceful kids that we are, we decided to pass the time at the local pub. We had dinner, checked into the hotel, and went out again. Around 2am, another girl and I headed back to the hotel, but had forgotten our keys, so we threw rocks up at the window until someone let us in. I then slept for a few hours until it was back on the bus at 7:30AM sharp and off we went.
Our next stop was Vienna, Austria (or Wien, as it is called in German). Beautiful. We ate at a beautiful vineyard called Heuiger Hirt, over looking the Danube and the whole city. The food was so good! Then, we checked in to our hostel and us girls went out to explore the city. On the night we were there, they had a once a year thing called “Museum Night” where all the museums in the city were open till 1AM. We checked out the Leopold Museum, which had some Monet, Klimt’s famous “Life and Death”, and other works of art I really enjoyed. Then we went to the Modern Art Museum. If anyone knows anything about modern art, well its not my favorite. While I can appreciate the style and innovation it experienced when it first arrived on the art world scene in the 1950′s, its weird. They had a room where literally people filmed themselves rolling around with dead chickens and fish while they were naked. Another man lied in a sleeping bag pod like thing in a meadow, completely motionless. Yes, this is art. The paintings consisted of a blue square or scribble marks that could have been made by a 5 year old. Then we made the worst mistake on our whole trip. Us girls, being very hungry and slightly hungover, decided to eat pizza, McDonald’s and gellato. I was so sick I almost lost my dinner at the Modern Art Museum. But hey then, maybe that could have been considered “art” in some way. The next day we got to explore the city a bit more and Vienna has so many beautiful buildings and things to see I was not disappointed. My favorite place was the Belveldere Palace and Gardens. We had fun constantly calling the city “Wien” and making Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes. All and all a great city. Then we were back on the bus to head to Budapest.
Hungary and Budapest was the favorite place we visited on our whole trip. Our first stop was at the city of Esztergom where the Hungarian Cathedral is located. Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in Hungary and use to have a large Jewish population until the Nazi invaded. After WWII when Communism took over, the Soviets punished the town for its strong religious ties and used the Cathedral for their armies. It is a very interesting place. The views were breath-taking. We ate dinner at a local restaurant and the food was delicious. Then is was off to the capital city of Budapest, where one of our program advisers named Richard, who grew up in Budapest, took us on a night tour of the city. Prague is one of the prettiest cities at night I have ever seen, but Budapest offers Prague some tough competition. It was so beautiful. Also, Budapest has a fascinating history. During WWII, Hungary sided with Nazi Germany. Hungary was then destroyed by Russia and most of the entire town of Budapest was leveled. Worth reading up on. We stayed in a little hole in the wall place near the river and it was actually pretty fun. The next day we woke up and probably had one of the best days I’ve had since I’ve been here. We went to Szcheni Spa, an outdoor hot mineral water spa with 3 huge outdoor swimming pools, all heated. Though it was early October, it was still nice enough to walk around in just your bikini. (Which makes a girl from ND very, very happy) Inside they had numerous different spas that ranged in temperatures from 16 degrees C to 40 degrees C….it was so much fun to jump into the freezing cold water after sitting in the hot water for as long as you could stand. They also had a bunch of saunas and steam baths of different temps. I also got a massage!!! Hungary isn’t on the Euro yet, its on its own currency the Forint, so a 30 minute massage cost around 20 bucks! Such a relaxing day. After dinner, we went out and I had one of the most fun nights I have had in Europe. We went to this club and there were not a lot of people there (It was a Monday night after all) so we got to hang out and pretty much had the dance floor to ourselves. Then in the morning it was off to Bratislava.
Bratislava…well what to say about it. I was rather tried but compared to other European capitals, Bratislava cannot really compare. Sure it was a rather cute Old Town sort of thing and has some of the best souvenir shops around ( I am a sucker for those things) but someone, do not ask me who, decided to build all these ugly industrial towers and buildings that crowds the city skylines. It is u-g-l-y. Cities like Prague made rules against building stuff like that. So not too impressed with Bratislava. One advantage was though that even though it is on the Euro, things are super cheap. We went to (another) castle in Slovakia before heading home. All in all a great trip.So that is my 5 day, 4 country trip for you. O, I almost forgot to mention the best part. The back of the bus. We had a bed to lay down and a table to play card games at. Well, with as much time as we spent on the bus, we had to invent our own games. I cannot take credit for this, but someone invented “Bed Slap Poker” where since we did not have chips to bet with, you bet bread slaps. Whoever won got to hit that person across the face with a piece of bread. Instant Classic.Nessie