Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Austrian Österreich

October 21, 2005: Praha-Salzburg

What could be more boring then Czech class? I sat there waiting for the 90-minute class to end with forty minutes to go. I decided to take a bathroom break to help pass the time. Physically I was there, but mentally I wasn't. This was the only thing keeping us from fall break. A break well deserved and anticipated. 30 minutes, 20 minutes, everything thing was in slow motion. Finally at 3:30 class had ended. From there, time rocketed forward, making up for the prolonged time in Czech class.

This would be our first great adventure! Bags packed and tickets in hand everyone was ready to go with the exception of Rheu and Israel. These two chaps were still waiting for their railpass to arrive. Time was up! We had to leave them behind. We rushed down to Hlavni Nadrazi to catch our train to the Czech-Austrian boarder. En route the train had a short layover, at a station where we were able to get some food.

At the boarder, we switch trains and then again in Linz to make our connection to Salzburg. The contrast between Praha Hlavni Nadrazi and Linz Hauptbahnhof was like night and day. Linz is clean like an airport, while Hlavni is like a sewer plant, filthy and dirty. Hlavni is like a homeless shelter, while Linz is like a shopping mall. At 21:09 our train arrived on platform six. Like their stations, their trains were just as nice. When we boarded, we discovered that the compartments transformed into beds. We were delighted to say the least. The Southern crew, Matt, Amanda, and Maranatha took one compartment leaving the Union kids, Liz, Jami, and myself along with newcomer Devann in the other compartment. I quickly drifted to sleep as the train sped through the Austrian countryside.


October 22, 2005: Sabbath in Salzburg

Arriving in Salzburg around one o'clock we set out to find our hostel. When we found the hostel we discovered that it had closed at 12:00 so we had to ring the door bed. The attendant welcomed us in and got us all settled in for the night.

In the morning Matt and I set out to find some real food while the girls ate at the hostel. Matt and I weren't able to find anything to eat; however we did stumble into the base of one of the mountains in Salzburg. Unfortunately there was a fence there to prevented trespassers from going up the side of the mountain. We decided that since there was a fence, there must be something worthwhile on the mountainside. So after evaluating the situation and making sure no one was watching us we jumped the fence. Climbing up the mountainside provided us with a beautiful view of the Hohensalzburg Fortress. When we reached the top, we found a trail and followed it to this house/restaurant. I am still not really sure what it was, but I do remember that the door was open so Matt and I took that as an invitation to enter. We wandered around the premises, cautiously of course. When we weren't confronted with any danger we decided that we should head back.

When we got back to the hostel all of the girls had left for church. Unfortunately we didn't know where the church was for sure. So we thought that it would be a good idea to just wander around until we found the church. Well after awhile Matt and I realized that we were hopeless. We decided that all we could do now was pray. What a good idea! Within five minutes we were at the church, praise the Lord!

At church, everything was in German, of course. But luckily one of the girls there, who was about our age, translated the service for us. At the end of the church service this strange man that looked like he had been living on the streets wondered up on to the stage. Now of course, as Americans we instantly assume that this is going to a skit. Well guess again! This was a real life crazy homeless man! The elders of the church gently apprehended him, without too much disturbance. When church was over, everyone welcomed us. Many of the members where curious as to what seven Americans were doing in Austria. Marky Mark took a special interest in Amanda and Maranatha.

After church the group was hungry. Amanda and Maranatha accepted an offer to tour the city with one of the church ladies. Devann and Jami ate a pretzel or something like that, trying to be economical but I have to add that the pretzel was like three Euros. I only know because I bought one too. Turk, Liz, and I were not ready to settle for pretzels so we set out once again. This time we were successful. Some smoking hot babes were sitting in front of this little Italian restaurant. Well they weren't smoking hot (I just wanted to say smoking hot) but they were attractive and they were American. The owner, whom we would later name Antonio, seated us. Liz looked the menu over, ordered, and requested that we delivered her order to the hostel when we were done.

When we had finished our lunch, we went back to the hostel to take a short nap.
When we were rested up Matt and I wondered through the city. At sundown we went back to the church to meet up with the girls and have vespers with the youth. But before heading to the church, Matt and I stopped at Antonio's to get a quick bowl of potato soup. For the rest of the evening Liz, Devann, and I played games and socialized with the church members while the rest of the group toured the city.

Later that night I was hungry, so I convinced Matt to come with me to the train station to get some food at the Burger King. In front of the station some drunkards started pushing Matt and I around. One of the men grabbed Matt's hand; Matt was ready to fight! He was like I got Mike Tyson and Tito Santana right here! Luckily we were able to get out of the situation without any blood shed. Then in line at Burger King we had another confrontation. A group of drunken teens started speaking to us in English. One of them told us that he had had an Afro but he had to shave it off because he had lice. Then one of the girls started hitting on us. Personally, I think she was more interested in Matt but what ever. Finally it was time for us to order. After ordering Matt and I sat down relieved that no one was bothering us. Then at the booth across from us two more drunk teens attempted to make a toast together. However they were too drunk and when they made their toast they smashed their paper cups together, spilling soda all over themselves and the table.

October 23, 2005: Sound of Music Day

The next morning was Sound of Music day! Marky Mark, Amanda and Maranatha's special friend had offered to take us to all of the important Sound of Music sights. At the bus stop we were faced with a short delay due to the fact that Marky Mark didn't know which bus to take. Eventually we made it to the palace in the movie. It was beautiful! There was an English style garden with pounds and fountains and ducks. Children were playing at the park, while their parents lay out on the lawn. Everything was very peaceful. It's the kind of place that you could go to and spend hours, just thinking, reading, or praying. Everyone went their owns ways at the palace. Liz, Devann, and Jami paid the fee to enter the palace while everyone else just wondered around.

Matt and I met up in one of the gardens. We had no idea where everyone else was. Feeling that we had seen everything there was to see, we decided to head towards the mountains. A little irresponsible, since we didn't inform the girls, but it was an adventure. Hoping that maybe we could hitch hike to the base of the mountain we put our thumbs out. Unfortunately no one picked us up, but after an hour or so of walking we had basically made it on our own. At the base there was a cable car that went up the side. Realizing that there was no way we could hike to the top, we took the cable car.

At the top it was it was cold, but fun. I must say that we took some of the best pictures of the trip up there, Matt doing a handstand, me going to the bathroom, and Matt falling of the peak. They are quality pictures trust me.
When we got to the bottom we were able to catch the bus back into the city. Feeling that we should stop by Antonio's one last time, we headed over to the café. When we got there, Matt shook Antonio's hand and of course I followed his lead, later we would wonder why in the world we shook his hand. I mean everything we knew about him, we had made up, including his name. After finishing our last meal with Antonio, it was late and we had a train to catch.

At the hostel we could only find Amanda and Maranatha. The other girls had already left. So we packed up our things and head to the station. At the station there was no sign of the other girls. Assuming that they had already boarded the train we thought that it would be best for us just to find a seat. After we had secured our spot on the train, we searched the train for our lost traveling companions. There was still no sign of them and we were already on our way to Vienna.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005