Saturday, September 7, 2013

Vienna, Austria

          Another excursion the school took us on was a two day trip to Vienna from September 6-7. We left at 7:30 in the morning and prayed the rosary on the bus. I didn’t sleep because I spent the time studying. Apparently there wasn’t a bathroom anywhere near the church we would be stopping at for Mass, so halfway there, the buses stopped at a rest stop so people could use the bathroom. Mark McCown decided to be funny so he stands up, puts his backpack on and says in his sarcastic voice, “Wow, guys, let’s go see some stuff.” He walks over to the door of the bus and sees the little coffee maker with water in it and is like, “is this water?” He moves the Keurig around and his friends are like, “yep, that’s water. You’re holding us up.” So he straightens out his backpack and says, “Wow. We’re already seeing stuff,” and walked off the bus. It was hilarious!
          When we got to Vienna, we got off the buses and walked down a few blocks to Kapuzinerkloster, a little Capuchin Church. There was this little friar standing outside selling rosaries. It was so cute! We all made it into the church and oh my goodness, it was a gorgeous church. We waited about 15 minutes so the priest could prepare for Mass and then after Mass, this guy who is a graduate of FUS and is working in Vienna gave a short talk.
We all went outside and broke up into groups for our tour. Mrs. Wolter was our tour guide this time. She is very good at keeping your attention even though she’s pushing a stroller, is like 6 months pregnant, and a three year old who walks around everyone, and a one and a half year old who likes to be held. Christian ended up pushing the stroller for her (which was a very comical sight). It’s really interesting how they have such a relaxed style of parenting over here. We were at this one monument and her three year old just walks up, climbs up and walks on the edge where people usually sit. He walked around the back of the monument and Mrs. Wolter didn’t even think twice about it where as an American parent would have been running after their kid and telling them to get down.
At the end of our tour that had to be cut short because the busses arrived late, we went to lunch a Zwofl-Apostelkeller. We were in the downstairs level of the restaurant where the lighting was very soft. I ate with Marissa, Rita, Elizabeth Derner, Ann Szczepaniak, and Amelia Schultlz. We were served the crepe soup again and when we finished that, they brought out this extremely oniony potato salad. It was huge slices of potato in this vinaigrette with lots of onions. I ate around the minced onion as best I could. Then they brought out this breaded pork. It was odd because it was just a piece of pork on a plate with nothing else. It was very good though and I ate the whole thing. For dessert, they served us apple strudel smothered in vanilla cream sauce. It was steaming hot and so delicious. Our table and a few others left as soon as we were finished to head to the Hostel with the RD’s. I talked to Sarah on the way to the metro and we had quite a nice conversation.
When we got to the metro station, Scott figured out where we needed to go and then we waited. I’ve never rode on a metro before, but I had heard plenty of stories about it. We all crammed onto this humid metro with a zillion other people and held on for dear life so we wouldn’t fall over. I absolutely loved it! It was so. Much. Fun. We got off after 4 stops and walked around trying to find our Hostel. We finally found “the Lounge” at Mariahilferstrasse and waited outside for the RD’s to get all the stuff we needed. When they let us in, the staff gave us the run down of rules (no eating in your room, no smoking in your room, breakfast opens at 7, the bar is open until 2, blah, blah, blah) and finally let us go to our rooms. I shared a room with Becca, Ann Szczepaniak, Elizabeth Durner, Grace Garcia, and Michaela. We originally had made plans to follow Elizabeth around (because she had been to Vienna and Salzburg before and knew where to go and how to get there) but while we were waiting downstairs, I bumped into Cecelia Bender, Hana Reichart, and Christian Schmitz. The had plans to go to the gardens and Schonbrunn Palace so I decided to head off with them. We got back on the metro (yes!) and then walked to the palace.
We didn’t go into the palace because it was closing soon and it wasn’t worth the cost, but we took pictures outside of it before we walked around the gardens. We found lots of little paths to walk on and took fun pictures by monuments and water fountains. We ran into a lot of Franciscan friends on our walk and decided to meet up with some of them later at the Ferris wheel.
We carried on our way and went back into the heart of the city to look for some dinner. Some of the girls got these baguettes with ham and stuff in them, but I just had some fruit. We sat on some benches and people watched while we ate our dinner. It’s quite interesting how people treat their pets here. There was this couple out on a date and the lady had brought along her dog and tied its leash to the table and set up its food and water. That would never happen in the states. I went to a souvenir shop and got some postcards for a scrapbook while one of the girls went to find a bathroom.
It was about 7:30 so we decided to make our way over to the Ferris wheel. We hopped back on the metro and then walked a few blocks to where there was an amusement park. We didn’t go to the Ferris wheel at the amusement park, but the one nearby that apparently is a big attraction. We were able to get student discounts and it cost us 8 euro each to go up. After waiting until 8:30, everyone we had planned to meet was there and we had a group of 15. Only 14 people fit in a car, but we were hoping we would be allowed to go up with 15.
The ticket man let us go on with 15 because each car looked like a caboose and had a bench in the middle. We started going up and I was really enjoying it (with ofcourse mom’s Ferris wheel experience in the back of my head). There car that was across from us was a dinner car and there was a couple in it eating. We decided to take pictures of them so all 15 of us walked to that side of the car to take pictures out the window. That’s when we found out we needed to balance the weight because when we all went to one side, the car tipped. A lot. So we balanced ourselves out and then the couple saw us and waved. We were getting higher and higher and the car was swaying ever so slightly back and forth as we moved around to take pictures. All of a sudden, it hit me. I was like, “Oh, no. I can’t do this.” All I wanted to do was curl up on the floor of the car and tell everyone not to move at all. We were about a quarter of the way up and all of a sudden I realized that I was deathly afraid of heights. I tried not to think about it, but every time someone walked around, the car swayed and I thought about how scared I was. Angela was talking about how beautiful it was and asked me if I was having a good time. I was like, “yeah, except I’m deathly afraid of heights.” We were at the top by now and everyone was walking around so they could take pictures out the windows and group together to take a group picture. It was terrifying! We started going down and I took some more pictures. Everyone was writing their initials on the roof of the car because people sign the inside of the car, but to put my initials up with the group entailed standing on the bench. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so of course I slowly stood up on the bench and held the pole on the ceiling while I wrote my initials. We finally made it to the bottom of the wheel and we all exited the car. I was so relieved.
Of course we needed to end our night with some Gelato, so we went to Gelaterria and I had coffee and chocolate again. After our dessert, we made our way back to the Hostel. We only had one key to get in our room and we thought the girl with the key had gone to the other hostel people were staying at. Three of us were stranded in the lobby for about 30 minutes waiting for her until she came down from our room because the other three girls had been up there and thought we were just gonna knock on the door when we wanted to come it until they realized we had to pass through two other locked doors to get to our door. I was so tired and a little freaked out about bed bugs, but exhaustion won and I just crawled in (no pun intended) and went to sleep.
The next day we were up at 6:30 so we could go downstairs and eat at 7. We had plans to leave early and meet everyone at Mass, but one of the girls in our room had sprained her ankle as she was leaving the Kartause to get on the bus, so she had to stop at the apothecary and get a new ace bandage. We all went in with her and the apothecary picked one out for her and wrapped her ankle. We made our way to the metro and met up with some other Franciscan students so we just followed them to the Church. Mass was at Minorietenkirche, a Franciscan church (of course), which had this beautiful mosaic of the last supper. After Mass, Marissa and I went to find a bathroom and stumbled across this little café. We went to the bathroom and then decided to sit down and get something to eat. I had fresh squeezed orange juice with a croissant and she had Irish coffee. We were there for about an hour talking and taking pictures. When we left, we walked around Vienna and came across this marching band that was walking around the city playing music. It was super cool.
Then we decided to go to the National Treasury which we heard was a great place to visit. We got a student discount and got in for 9 euro. There was all these old capes and jewelry and clothing and pictures. We also saw a unicorn horn that was taller than I was. Then we came across the room with the relics. There were so many saint relics and Marissa said it felt like you were in heaven because you were surrounded by saint relics. There was also the nail that went through Jesus’s foot, wood from the cross, and the spear that pierced His side. We also saw John the Baptist’s tooth, wood from the manger, a piece of Jesus’s loin cloth, and a piece of the table cloth from the last supper. It was a pity we couldn’t venerate any of the relics because they were behind glass. It was such an odd realization to be like, “Wow. This is the nail that went through Jesus’s foot,” and be in total awe of this nail which is just a piece of metal, and then realize, “but I can receive Jesus at Mass every single day and it’s actually him, not just a nail that touched him.”
When we left the Treasury, we walked around and found a place where Marissa got a Bratwurst. We made our way to the open market and walked past tons of restaurants and farmers market type shops. I got a scarf from this Indian man and then we decided to go back to the church we had Mass at when we arrived in Vienna so we could take pictures. Of course we stopped on the way for Gelato, but I only had coffee gelato. It took forever to find it and we got a little lost so we stopped at a restaurant to use the bathroom and ask the girl at the counter where we were on our map. She wasn’t too happy that we weren’t staying to eat, but hey, you can’t please everybody.
We went back to the church and took some pictures and prayed. When we left, we asked the little friar how much the rosaries were and he said it was a donation. I had seen on the table inside that they were 1.50 euro so I have him 5 euro and took two rosaries.
Marissa and I decided to head over towards where the buses would be picking us up. A lot of other Franciscan students were hanging out in the Albertinaplatz waiting for the buses. There was a Muslim rally going on and there were a billion police officers monitoring them so our buses were late. It was so crazy that the RA’s had to count us off in groups of 50 and tell us where to go to get on our buses which were all in different places. We all made it safely onto the buses and out of Vienna by 4:30. I slept for a bit on the bus, but woke up when Mr. Wolter lead the rosary.  

Vienna was quite an experience, but I don’t think I would ever go back. It had the feel of a modern, big city with people everywhere and a lot of construction going on. I much prefer the quaint, old fashioned city mobbed with people. 

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