Field Tour Day 3

Our second and final morning in Vienna was spent at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It’s a fine art museum in the museum quarter and had pieces from Rudolf II’s Kunstkammer in an exhibit which was something I really wanted to see since I had written my essay on it.

My favorite part was when I saw the bust of Rudolf II that Adriaen de Vries sculpted because I had even included a picture of it in my paper!

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The fact that I learned so much about this subject and these important works of art and then all I had to do was travel a few hours to see it in person was amazing. It’s a unique experience that you don’t get much in the United States and I think it’s invaluable.

After spending about an hour in the museum, Megan and I went to get more chocolates from the store we went to yesterday (we may have eaten all the ones we had gotten for ourselves and I needed more for my family because I know they wouldn’t want to share). Then we went into another local cafe on our way back to Maria-Theresien-Platz. The waiter was super nice and helped me translate the German menu and I got a Greek salad. Megan got an apple strudel which she said wasn’t as good as yesterday’s.

Once back in the square we napped in the grass for about an hour before meeting the rest of USAC to leave for Budapest. Jan, Dáša, Lukáš, Geiger and his wife, Lenka, all showed up in traditional outfits which they then wore the rest of the day.

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Once outside the city, we stopped at a rest stop and Jan cracked open a box of Sacher, a Austrian dessert, that we all had before setting out. On our way to Budapest we stopped at Pannonhalma which is the oldest abbey in Hungary. We got a tour from one of the monks, Father Albin.

While we only got to see three rooms in the monastery: the dining room, the hallway, and the abbey (fun fact about the abbey: the furniture was recently replaced and the designer wanted it to be very straight and square so he put the seats at a 90 degree angle. The monks didn’t like this so they compromised and the seat backs are at a 92 degree angle instead). Father Albin totally made the entire tour worth it. He was so funny and answered any question we had about his life and life as a monk.

Someone asked him what would happen if he ever wanted to leave the monastery and he said that they have little bracelets on their ankles that would explode. He also asked us if we’d ever heard of Pope Francis and said he’s a great guy.

My favorite part about Father Albin was that he loved movies a lot and one of his favorite things to do is go to the theater and get a big thing of popcorn and watch his movies. He told us, after making us swear to not tell his class (he’s a history teacher at the boarding school at the monastery), that his favorite movie is Clueless.

After the tour we continued onto Budapest. We arrived around 8 and after checking in we jumped right into the city and did an Danube Promenade. Essentially a fancily named walk. Jan walked us along the Danube River (which was crazy because I remember learning about the Danube in like seventh grade and freshman year but never thought I’d see it) to dinner.

We had some wine which was very dry but also very good with some soup. While I didn’t sample the non-vegetarian soup, many people claimed that it was incredible. My soup was also really good, there was some type of Hungarian noodle in it which I loved. The same noodles came with my dinner which was some sort of mushroom dish. Lukáš and Alzbeta tried to convince us that the non-vegetarian dish was dog. I’m still not quite sure what the dish was but everyone liked it.

Following food we were led on a walk to and around the castle. The Professor said that they consider tonight a highlight of he tour and I would agree. Seeing the castle and it’s structures lit up over the Danube River where I could look out upon both the Buda side and the Pest side was something I’ll never forget.

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See the pictures from today here.

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Field Tour Day 2

I woke up this morning in Vienna, Austria. Since we had gotten into our hotel at midnight and Europe has strict laws regarding that bus drivers rest a certain amount of time, we didn’t leave the hotel until 11:30. So until then we woke up, went to the free (and delicious) breakfast at the hotel and returned to take a nap.

At 11:30 we left for Schönbrunn Palace Gardens. Two things Vienna does better than Prague are their gardens and their palaces. They were so big and grand, complete with massive fountains and entire forests.

We walked around Schönbrunn for about an hour before getting back on the bus and driving to lunch. We ate at Schimanko which is a vineyard as well. It was no surprise the wine was really good. They served us soup and potato salad before bringing out massive pieces of Wiener schnitzel. As a vegetarian, I had mac and cheese instead which was fine by me.

After finishing we hopped on the bus (it’s a trend of this trip) and it dropped us off in the Central of Vienna where The Professor gave us a tour. The Professor is a teacher (shocking, huh?) that is on the field tour and gives small lectures everywhere we go. He does have a real name but no one can remember what it is so we call him The Professor.

We walked through Vienna and saw many grand and beautiful buildings, many of which I do not recall their purpose, before ending outside a cathedral. At this point a group of us, including Megan and I, did some shopping before walking to the castle. I bought some chocolate for myself and my family which was perfect because they ended up asking for some chocolate later.

As a group we saw the castle and surrounding area before ending up laying in a park outside this building:

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It was the first time all day any of us had WiFi so we laid in the grass for probably a good hour on our phones and chatting. We then split up and Megan and I went to get some Apple Strudel. I googled where to get the best apple strudel and there was a cafe just six minutes away, Cafe Elias, and the two of us headed there. It was a very historic feeling Cafe and their apple strudel was indeed really, really good. I also had an Aperol Spritz which is a drink many of the USAC girls like.

We then wandered around, originally intending to return to our hotel, and were sidetracked while trying to find souvenirs. Outside the Opera they were live-broadcasting Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande so we stopped for a little to listen even though we didn’t have a clue what was happening. We made it back to our hotel around 11 after I navigated us there using only my paper map! That was a proud moment; maybe I’m not so directionally challenged.

See the pictures from today here.

Rollin’ on a River

Our final went really well Thursday morning! I got a 29/30 which, frankly, was surprising. But a welcome surprise.

After class I went with Miranda, Jackie, Steve and Chase to IF Cafe to get some breakfast. When we got to the cafe, Janek, a YouTuber who had become a celebrity within our group due to his “Insider Guide to Prague” videos, was there. None of us went up to him though, we just starred from a distance. The cafe was good, I just had an apple strudel which was good, but many other dishes looked way better. It’s sad that I will not be able to return and try some of the other dishes.

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After breakfast I returned to my bed to nap since I still was not feeling well.

At 4:30, all the Summer 1 USAC people met for the farewell boat cruise. As we got on the boat we all were handed a shot of some very gross cinnamon vodka thing.

We had dinner and floated East and North on the Vltava River. At one point we even passed under the Charles Bridge!

After the cruise many people went out but in desperate need of a tissue and good lay down I returned to K17.

The rest of the night I spent slowly working on packing up my part of the room. I’ll only have seven hours between returning from the field visit to when I leave for my flight so I wanted to have pretty much everything ready to go.

There’s one thing I can’t seem to get ready to leave: me.