We put them in rest homes, we kinda kick them under the rug and make believe they don't exist. They [the people in Vienna] don't feel like that. In a lot of these older places in the world, they value their older people and their older people feel they can still be a part of the community and I thought: This is a terrific idea - that old people are useful -and that means I don't have to worry so much about getting old because I can still have a use in this world in my old age. I thought "Vienna waits for you..."

-Billy Joel

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hallstatt: A MUST SEE.

Hallstatt, Austria is close to Salzburg-about 3 hours train ride from Vienna. We left yesterday morning and got back Saturday night. Oh-and make this train #2 that I have had to chase...Ashley and I made it on the train to Hallstatt with literally 10 seconds to spare. Lets just say we are both not so good with keeping track of time!

Every city we have traveled to so far is unique in their own ways, so I have loved every single one. But Hallstatt...Hallstatt is out of this WORLD! Its a tiny city build next to and around a lake that young people here in Vienna have never even heard of. It's 700 years old and is famous for it's salt mine.

Here it is: A lake up in the very green mountains with the most picturesque homes I have ever seen surrounding it, clouds so low that you can barely see the top of the mountains, and pouring down rain. Now...some didn't enjoy this weather for obvious reasons. However I LOVED IT! It's the Oregonian in me. Walking around with my bright yellow umbrella in the cold made me so happy. Even the people who didn't enjoy the rain will admit that it was a beautiful town.

We got there in the afternoon and from the train hopped on a boat that took us the the main part of town. I loved the rain hitting lake and the fog and EVERYTHING! :) We got into town, split up into groups of 5 or 6 and were on our own to find our houses we were staying in and figure out what to do for the rest of the day. A lot of people who live in Hallstatt rent out their upper floors as bed and breakfasts since people travel there quite a bit (asians LOVE it there for some reason). The house we stayed in was just adorable. The older couple who lived there were gems and made us a yummy breakfast. Spoke zero English so it was fun. :)

There's a very limited amount of activities in Hallstatt. We went to the Catholic church Cemetery and Charnel House. Because of limited space, they started digging up the bones in the 1700's, cleaned and put them in a Charnel House. It was a small room with stacks of painted skulls with names on them as well as bones. It was actually pretty cool!

We went up to the famous Salt mine in Hallstatt (Salzwelten). We rode a trolly up a very steep railroad track (when I looked at it I thought it was a giant roller coaster and got really excited...). We had to put suits on to not get our clothes dirty and because inside there are wooden slides. ;) I don't know why they gave me the shortest suit available...I looked like I was preparing for a flood. Greaattt!

Going through the mine was SO worth the money we paid! Plus, when will I ever have the opportunity to do that again?  It was cool learning about how all the mining works (ancient and modern day).

This weekend I lived off of hot chocolate because it was freezing. Get this! They drink 3.5% milk in Europe so you can probably guess the deliciousness of the cocoa. :) Other than the church and salt mine we all just walked through town to enjoy the view and cute houses and shopped around the little shops. Two days was the perfect amount of time to spend there and the Minerts are so awesome for taking us! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm Running Out of Words to Describe Beauty.

This week was yet another one filled with adventures and fun. We were blessed with beautiful weather every day!

On Monday our whole group went paddle boating on the Alte Donou (Old Donube River) here in Vienna. It turned out to be such a nice day and it was a blast!! J

Tuesday we went to the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts for Art History. Our professor was a student there back in the day! There is some pretty amazing stuff in there. During our break Ashley, Naomi and I went to the Catacombs underneath St. Stephens Gothic Cathedral. It was really interesting! A bit freaky but cool to learn about the history. That night Ashley and I had dinner with our host family. It was fun like always, but remind me to never eat liver dumpling soup EVER again.

Wednesday Ashley and I got tickets to go watch the Spanisch Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School) practice in the morning. It was SO cool! It’s amazing how well trained the horses are and the style of riding is beautiful. That afternoon we had Mormonism in Germany at the Minert’s apartment. That class always makes me happy! A few of us went to the Shonnbrunn Gardens that afternoon. The castle is gorgeous and the gardens are even better! Great place to run-you can run to the top where the restaurant is and have a view of the castle with the city around it. Yet another beautiful view here in Vienna! While waiting for institute to start, we went to the Opera House and watched the opera outside on the big screen. They do this every night for the opening month of opera season  (September). 

Thursday our History class went to the Military Museum. I must be growing up because I don’t think I could have handled this many historical museums a couple years ago-haha! I also don’t think I would have appreciated the architecture as much as I do now. There’s a right time for everything!

Friday was go go go. Our group rented bikes to ride along the Donou river. It was wonderful! We rode through orchards in Krem (lower Austria) and it was a bright sunny day. J It was quite the adventure getting home. Some of us needed to get back to Vienna to make the Balanchine and Robbins Ballet. That is…George Balanchine and Jerome Robins. AKA amazing. We all split up and had no idea where to put our bikes at the end. We ended up rushing and still got to the ballet a little late but seeing Balanchine and Robins blew my mind. BLEW my mind. So good! It made me miss dancing that much more. I need to get on finding a good place to dance here! I’ve looked, but so far they are either schools or studios for just beginners that I could dance at for a limited amount of time.  After the ballet some of us went SALSA DANCING! Haha, it was great! Having Austrian friends who know the city well and the fun things to do is definitely beneficial.

Inside the Opera House at the Ballet!

Saturday- We woke up and went to the Minert’s to watch Dresden, a war movie. We are going there in a couple weeks and he wanted us to be informed on what happened there during the war. REALLY good movie! We went to a market then went to a church building to watch the Saturday morning general conference session. It was weird watching conference at night rather than in the morning! All the talks were so great and inspiring. I’m so glad we are able to hear the words of the prophets twice a year and get that enlightenment! It made me happy when Germany was mentioned TWICE! Woop!

Ashley and I decided to make a to-do list of things here just in Vienna. So we hit out DK Vienna book and scouted out everything to do here! This is the Hundertwasserhaus. The artist wanted to strike a blow against all the modern architecture so he came up with this very colorful and slanted looking apartment building. Way cool!

I love waking up and remembering that I’m in Vienna. There is still so much to do! J

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Something About A Man In Lederhosen...

Last week we went to Salzburg, Haag, and Munich for 5 days total. We took a bus, and did SO much. Such a fun time!!! Here are some pictures a brief descriptions!
Our very first stop was Mathausen Concentration Camp. I really like learning about World War II and find it really interesting, so I was pretty excited. However I was still kind of shocked at the feeling I got while touring the camp. It was nothing but cold and dark and you just can't help but feel so many things for the prisoners that suffered there. Nonetheless it was good as it made me more fully understand the Holocaust the horrible things that took place at that time. I'm sure grateful that I live in the world that I do live in today!

The Minert's-aren't they adorable?! We love em. On a more unfortunate note, this is the stair case that prisons at the camp were forced to carry 50 pound slabs of granite down. This was a humbling and sobering experience that I won't forget.

Salzburg is a prett cool place. First of all it is absolutely breathtaking. Second of all, The Sound of Music was filmed there. SO naturally we went to most of the sites. YES! I'll be honest, I've only seen the movie twice but I do like it! 
Mondsee Kirche. This is the church that Maria and Captain Von Trapp got married in during the movie!

Look familiar?! Clue: "You are 16 going on 17..."

"I have confidence in confidence alone!"

"Doe: a deer, a female deer!" -Mirabell Castle and gardens
The Hellbrunn Castle. Okay now THIS is my castle because it's yellow. Nevermind the one in Budapest. This castle is yellow everywhere and I love it! It was a summer home for the Prince. No big deal. Haha! This castle is also known as the "water castle" because the gardens behind it have little trinkets that are water powered and holes where water comes out randomly. So you get wet when you least expect it. Very creative and fun!!!

This was in Salzburg. Just so happened it was St. Ruprecht's day and they had a huge festival!

The largest Science and Technology Museum in the world! It was awesome! Being in there reminded me of my dad. It's funny how I used to get bored at airplane museums and such but I like going now-he's rubbing off on me!

The Rathaus (city hall) in Munich, Germany! At noon the Glockenspiel goes off and plays a fun show. This afternoon we had free time to shop for Dirndls (they have pretty cheap ones there) and i found a steal of a deal!

My yellow Dirndl :) :) :)

Munich. :) From the top of a church.

Going to Oktoberfest sure was an adventure! 

The Herrenchiemsee Palace! King Ludwig I had it made for recognition to King Louis XIV. Inside there were rooms absolutely COVERED in gold making the most expensive rooms in all of Germany.

All of us at the Eagle's Nest. We're goofs and I love it. This tea house was given to Hitler for his 50th birthday. You ride up in specialized buses that can go very steep, go into the mountain in a tunnel, then ride up his private elevator. This place is insane. It's on the Appalachian Mountains and the view was exhilarating. I don't know how else to describe it, I could have sat up there for hours. I would highly recommend putting it on your bucket list! 

We stayed in the cutest hotel the last night of our trip and went to this church building on Sunday morning. It was my first German speaking ward without translation. Very..interesting. Haha! I could pick out few words yet I felt the spirit so strongly there. The people were kind and loving and were so excited/surprised to see 23 new faces walk in those doors!

In Haag.

On this trip we were able to see some church history sites. In class we have been learning about the first Austrian member-Johann Huber. We went to the farm he lived at, visited his gravestone, and went to other places that have to do with the church history in Austria. I never thought I would be so interested in the subject but I love it!