Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Austria Part II and 24 Hours in Munich

Here we are day three in Vienna. I started this morning by walking to the closest Starbucks with my friend. It was in a mall and across from the Starbucks was a Dunkin'. These were the only two US chains I tried while we were over there. Both tasted very similar to products here.

After coffee and breakfast we headed to the Schonbrunn Palace. This served as the Haspburg's summer palace. The palace is still in Vienna but back in the day (way back in the day) I guess it probably took a long time to get there. We toured the grounds and the inside. It was STUNNING. You could spend a whole day, if not two here. I wish we had more time so I could've soaked up everything this palace had to offer. I am still amazed that I got to see this piece of history in person. Fun fact: some people live in this palace, and no you don't have to be royal or rich. This palace is so big that some of the "houses" are now used as apartments. Our tour guide said that rent isn't terribly expensive but the waitlist is miles long. The palace also has a zoo on the grounds. If I could go back I would be going here! Our professor said after coming to Vienna for 15+ years it is still one of his favorite things to do.

After our palace tour the rest of the day was a free day! A group of us decided to take a tour of St. Michael's crypt. This was such an interesting thing to do, we even got to see mummies! Like real serious mummies. I highly suggests this tour. I do not remember the name but I can tell you exactly where to go if you want to do it. After this the rest of our day we spent shopping around town. Around like every corner they had these stands that had a brat stuffed into a baguette so we got one of those-so good! We also went back to Swarovski and I made my second purchase there. One more ring for me and one for my mom! For dinner we went to the restaurant that has the "best schnitzel" and even though it is probably considered a tourist trap, it was damn good and the serving was huge!

Our fourth day in Austria was crazy busy but one I had been looking forward to. Our first stop- The Mauthausen Concentration Camp. I was really looking forward to being able to see this piece of history in person. This was one of the biggest concentration camps; some Americans were even tortured here. I can't lie- this experience wasn't as emotional as I thought it would be, but don't get me wrong, I was still emotional while walking through. We got to take the time to explore on our own which was really nice. This experience was a lot to process and there were so many areas to explore. The hardest parts were seeing the gas chambers and (especially for me) the crematoriums. I just didn't expect to see so many crematoriums, it seemed like they were everywhere you turned. The eeriest part of it all was thinking about the weather. When you watch Holocaust movies they are in black and white or take place on a cloudy day, but not every day was cloudy at these camps. The day we visited was a warm, gorgeous, sunny day. I'm sure there we're many days like this for the people in this camp. These torturous things happened in such a beautiful place. It is really crazy to think about. 

On to happier thoughts. After our time at Mauthausen we were on our way through the mountains to Salzburg to tour a salt mine. We stopped in St. Gilgen to have lunch and see the gorgeous views. Only the stop was so chaotic, and I wasn't going to miss my chance to eat, that I did not really get to take it all in. The drive to the salt mine was so pretty; we got to see the snow capped mountain that "start" the alps. (so naturally, I tell everyone I saw the Swiss Alps) Once we got to the salt mine there was SNOW on the ground and we had some extra time so of course we played in it. The salt mine tour was a HIGHLIGHT of my trip. I know you won't understand, and trust me, I didn't expect this to happen, it just did. I'll tell you the highlights:

1. we took a cute little train to go into the mine
2. to get down into the mine you have to SLIDE! Yes, slide, on big slides! (see video)
3. you take a BOAT in the mine to get from one side to the other
4. part of the mine was in Germany, part was in Austria

There we're a lot of cool facts to learn, but I am no miner so I'm not going to try to explain them to you. All I can say is even if it sounds stupid or like a waste of time, if you find yourself in Austria, find a way to do this tour! 

After the incredible salt mine tour we walked around Salzburg (really, really fast) and ate our "last" (you'll understand in a moment) dinner all together. We we're then on the way to our airport hotel in Munich to leave the next morning. Like most of the nights, we all found ourselves in the hotel bar, talking and hanging out for one last time.

The next morning we get up for breakfast and head to the airport. I was sad to be leaving, but ready to go home. This trip was the perfect amount of time where I didn't feel homesick but I also wasn't sad to leave. After going through security I started shopping in the duty free stores I couldn't decide what to buy but lucky for me, we heard over the intercom that boarding was delayed. After using my extra Euros on more souvenirs and Marc Jacobs perfume (treat yo self) we learned our flight was delayed even further. Like at least an hour. We then learn that there is a law in Europe that if a plane is going to be delayed for 3 or more hours, the flight must be canceled. So what do you know, our flight gets canceled. We then learn that we won't be going home until 3 pm the next day, it had to be around 1 pm the day before that our flight was canceled. 

The delay actually turned out to be really fun. Delta put us in a nice hotel, gave us lunch and dinner, and even gave us money to spend on purchases at the hotel. We used this money to buy a train pass into Munich. Even though it was a Sunday and most everything was closed, we still got to see the city and stop inside Hofbrauhaus for a beer and pretzel bigger than my head! This day was such a fun experience!

3pm the next day eventually came and we finally boarded our plane... only for it to start snowing!! Yes, snowing. But don't worry, we were still able to take off for our 10 hour ride to Atlanta. Let me tell you I was nervous for this flight but it was a really good experience. The flight was under booked and I ended up with a WHOLE ROW by myself. My friend ended up sitting with me and we chatted, drank champagne, and watched movies the whole ride back to the US. 

This trip was one of the best experiences I have ever had. History, wine, and friends. I was truly LIVING (my best life) this week. Anytime someone asks me about it, that's truly all I can say. It is crazy what traveling away from your home country with a group of strangers can do to you. I left feeling closer to these people more than I expected, this experience was a big experience that we all shared. If you're debating going on a study abroad, just do it. It will open your eyes and seriously change you for the better. 

I know these posts were so long, but in all honestly I wanted to recap these for me to have. You see July was a tough month, for no other reason than I just had so much going on. In these tough moments it is so hard to sometimes see that it is just a moment, I have had a great year so far and I wanted to remind myself of that while sharing it with you. If you would like to see a simple bullet point list of my Austria/Czech recommendations, go here: (insert link). Also feel free to email me, facebook me, whatever questions.

Don't forget to check out these other posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment