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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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.

Souvenirs

Sorry my blog posts will be/are pretty sporadic. Not only is my free time limited now that I’m on the field tour but Wifi is also hard to find. Thus, I am writing my blog posts offline and will post them when I have enough time and internet to post these.

Anyways, Wednesday was pretty much like any day right before a major test. Jackie and I spent the day studying and finishing our essays. Oddly, we had both chosen the same topic from the list that our professor gave us: Mannerism and Rudolf II. While I found it hard to complete the essay due to lack of sources, I did find Rudolf II to be very interesting!

Today I also finished up my souvenir shopping. I think my family will like my gifts, but I know at least my dad reads this blog so I’ll blog about the gifts in my “I’m back home and grateful for free bathrooms and ketchup but otherwise very sad” post.

Also, my allergies got really bad today and it looks like I’ll spend my last days abroad with a stuffy nose and cough! What a great souvenir for myself!

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Some people had a great idea when they worked on their term paper at chunks of time for a few days and managed to finish early.

Because it sucks to spend some of the last days in Prague sitting and working on a paper.

While it helps that Jackie is in the same situation as me and we were keeping each other company, I really wish I had done my paper earlier so I wouldn’t have to spend my last Tuesday working.

I ended up in a good spot though (its not due until Thursday so I could work on it Wednesday also) so it was nice to not have the entire paper weighing on me when we went strawberry picking.

It was a USAC organized event with 25 students. We took the metro and a bus to somewhere outside Prague and then walked to a strawberry farm. There, we were given a bag and about forty minutes to pick.

Of course, I had to sample each bush as I went to make sure I was picking the good berries!

I think I ate more than I put in the bag which made for a nasty side cramp when we were walking back to the bus.

Next, we took the bus to a church nearby and made jam and dumplings from the strawberries. First, I was put on the job of cutting the tops off the strawberries along with about ten others. When we were done it low key looked like a crime scene.

Also, the berries had spent a decent amount of time turning to mush in the hot bags as we walked so they were kind of gross.

Some people worked on making the dumplings while we did that. We then took our strawberries to be made into jam. It was something I had never done and I was not aware how much smashing/stirring was required.

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Everything turned out to be really good in the end! All 25 of us sat around and ate dumplings while complaining how many there were (and while this was going on Geiger’s wife Lenka was still cooking and serving us more dumplings).

While we did end up taking several tupperwares full of various strawberry products home, I was totally strawberried-out… until the next morning.

See the pictures from today here.