Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Sooooo basically, I'm going to start off this blog post with the coolest thing I've ever seen. You drive your car onto the train. It is strapped down, and then you go chill on the train. YOUR CAR COMES WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL. I would totally take advantage of this if it existed in the United States (and if I had a car).

The Polish countryside was absolutely beautiful. There are green parts, lakes, naked deciduous forests, sparse coniferous forests, farms, hills, fields, windmills, oil pumps, very traditional churches, eastern influenced churches, junkyards, ruins, broken-down neighborhoods, rent-a-garden plots, and just about everything else. In a few parts I found myself feeling a little *gasp* Montana-sick. The train was definitely the way to go. I got to see so much beauty, even in the more broken-down parts.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was a very moving experience. As someone who has grown up in America, safe and in equality with my peers, it was hard to wrap my head around what happened there. I thought it was something very important to see while I'm in this part of Europe. What shocked me the most was how absolutely IMMENSE Birkenau was. Standing in the middle, it was barbed wire for as far as the eye could see in every direction. The Polish people who had lived there before were pushed out in order to have a barrier around the camps, making the space seem even larger. 1.5 million people were recorded as having been in the camps, and that number does not include those who were sent immediately to die without being recorded. Only 200k of those interned here survived the Nazi regime. That is 25 times the population of Great Falls that were prisoners at these camps alone. Like I said, it is important to see, while enjoying the beauty and wonder of this region, what they have been through.

This is the dragon of Krakow!!! Krakow was built over a dragon's lair. The dragon liked to eat virgins, so the Polish king sent his knights to defeat the dragon, but the dragon loved it: the king was basically sending him delivery-dinner. So the king issued a declaration that anyone that could slay the dragon would be allowed to marry the princess. So a local farmer made a package of sulfer and other acids and put it outside the lair. The dragon, thinking it was more delicious delivery, ate it right up. Soon, however, his stomach began to burn and he flew to the nearbyWisła River and began drinking. He drank and drank and eventually he just EXPLODED! The farmer got to marry the princess and the town of Krakow has prospered ever since. This fire-breathing statue is a tribute to that dragon.

Despite the rain, I really reaaaaaally did like Krakow. I haven't lived there, so I don't know if I like it even more than I like Vienna, but it was great. Yes, it isn't as scrubbed-clean and developed as Vienna, but that is completely fine with me. If you're in the area I absolutely recommend Krakow.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sneak Peek (Krakow)

Regardless of the wet and cold weather, I still loved Krakow. It was an amazing city, one of the coolest places I've ever been, and somewhere I'd love to go back to. Here is a little sneak peek of the Krakow main square, and after I catch up on my sleep (yucko daylight savings time AND 6am trains), I'll make a long post because I took tons of photos. xoxo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In addition to the Bier...

They're on my IES blog, and I'm actually pretty fond of them. I loved Berlin and would recommend it to ANYONE! Included is a list of my favorite attractions as well as some suggestions from friends!

Bier Trinken

On rare occasion, father knows best: the beer I've had here in Austria (and Deutschland!) have been the best of my life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ohhhh Vienna

In yesterday's terrible weather, I had to go out and do some things for my Art and Architecture class. This included going to the Hoher Markt to go to the Roman Ruins museum, visiting Ruprechtskirche, and heading down to Maria am Gestade. They were all great buildings, but let's face it, it wasn't amazing picture taking weather (with the wind and the pouring rain and the cloudy sky). I did what I could, however, and managed to get a few shots to use when studying for my exam and writing my journal entry on these places. I also got a couple of random Vienna photos from the past couple of week(end)s, including some from the Buddy Bake-off (in which my roommate and I and our buddies took third place with our apfeltiramisu (a traditional Styrian dish)). Today I had my German midterm, and this evening I'm either going to a house party with Erin at her language buddy's house, or to brotundspielen, a drinking and board game night with Meaghan and her buddy. Or perhaps I'll meet up with the buddy I haven't met yet. We shall see. Tomorrow I study, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I have midterms. Thursday I'm headed to Krakow, Poland with my roommates, we're staying Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and then Meaghan and I are headed back at 6am on Sunday (the tickets were cheaper, but there were only two) and everyone else is headed back in the afternoon. I hope the weather is nice while I'm there, I would really like to get some good pictures. Did you know that Krakow was built by the mythic leader Krakus above a cave inhabited by a dragon? We will also be headed to Auschwitz, but I also want to see the old city square and potentially St. Florian's Gate.

The Roman Ruins: Beneath Vienna is a hidden city, originally built by the Romans when the area directly south of the Danube became part of the empire around 15BC. Eventually a Roman garrison was built here and named Vindobona. The Romans were, as can be learned from the ruins, very advanced, and even had heated floors, as shown in the first picture. Not only did Ptolemy mention Vindobona in his writings, but Marcus Aurelius is believed to have died here.

Ruprechtskirche (St. Rupert's): The oldest church in Vienna, this church is named after Saint Rupert of Salzberg and is located in the oldest section of the city, where Vindobona was once located.

Maria am Gestade (Maria on the banks): One of Vienna's original and oldest surviving gothic churches, was once located on the banks of the Danube and was known as the fisherman's church. It was used as a stable and storeroom by Napoleon, but has since been restored to its former glory.

Random Fun Times (Language Buddy Bake-Off and a Night At Some Club)

Sunday, March 13, 2011


After spending a few days fighting off stomach flu, I've finally gotten to the point where I feel like doing stuff. Thusss, I'm finally putting up photos of the lovely city of Prague (and a couple of Vienna.)
This is my friend Hannah. She came to visit me from London, and it was with her that I journeyed to Prague. (This picture, however, was taken in my room before we went to a Heurigan(a traditional Austrian wine tavern).)

This is meeeee in front of the gates of the lovely Belvedere which I posted about earlier.

Here is the view off the balcony of our hostel room.

This is the astronomical clock of Prague (also called the Prague Orloj). It is pretty impressive to see in person. It tells the position of the moon and sun, the zodiac, and the time, and it also sings and puts on a little show.

This is the view from (not of) the Charles Bridge.

This loverly fountain is located outside the Kafka museum.

This is the black Madonna of Prague. She used to be in a church associated with the Templars, but it burned down. Now she just looks at Templova street.

This is the old town square of Praha. Included is the statue of Jan Hus, a religious reformer who was burned at the stake.

This is the door at the House of Two Golden Bears. The bears light up gold if the photo is taken with a flash. Alchemists lived here and created the door.

This was the best breakfast I've eaten in Europe. It was so delicious. American pancakes, eggs, American bacon, European sausage, and a miniature bagel which I saved for later. This was the happiest part of my trip.

Oh! And syrup too. Sooooooooooo delicious. I swear I will eat pancakes every day for a week when I get home. (Also, I heard a rumour about an American food store that sells pancake mix here in Vienna, so I'll probably go check that out soon.)

This is Bohemia Bagel, a popular ex-pat cafe where the delicious American breakfast was eaten.

Here is me outside of the museum of Communism. I loved this poster so much I bought one for myself. I also got some other hilarious Communism-related souvenirs which no one but me think are amusing (but you'll probably like them Dad!).

I was in Prague during Carnivale, so I got to witness some awesome Bohemian Carnivale stuff. Like these bird-stilt-people. Next best thing to Venice, I suppose. :)

The two pictures above this are of the 27 crosses commemorating the 27 nobles turned rebels that were decapitated here. Well, only 23 were decapitated. Three were hung, as the king decided that they deserved to die but not to have their blood spilt, and the last was spared from death and just had his tounge nailed to the scaffold for flapping it too much.

Here is me in all my fuzzy winter-wear as it was FREEZING COLD the whole time we were there.

Aaaaaah Praha. What a lovely town. All of the really interesting stuff is within walking distance of each other and it is pretty quick to be able to find your way around. I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling through this part of Europe.