4.24.2012

i don't know why i'm even surprised.

Of course I get really sick when my family comes to visit me in France.

You know, I used to consider myself a healthy personBut not anymore. Not after this year. I've already had four colds. And I'm fairly certain right now I have bronchitis. So sick for the last four days and no end in sightAt least I have my parents here to coddle me and buy me medicine.

So in light of this, I'm definitely not going to be posting until some point in time when my throat doesn't feel like someone took a machete to it.

But I promise when I'm well again I'll tell you all about France.

Until then! {and keep your fingers crossed that "then" comes soon, because I cannot take much more of this}


4.17.2012

For the record, I think it's a good thing that practically everything I've written in the past mortifies me {like, actually physically pains me to read it}.

That just means I was telling the truth at the time.

Although that knowledge doesn't allay my somewhat crazed desire for a wide-scale diary / blog-post burning.

isn't it funny?






















Life, I mean?

You know it's unpredictable, and yet in the end, it's always a surprise to look back and realize just how much everything has changed in ways you could never have predicted.

When I started this blog last April, I had no idea that I'd still be writing a year later, this time from a train in Europe as I set off for Munich by myself. I had no idea about the existence of so many wonderful people from so many corners of the world. I had no idea that I would be backpacking across Europe for 5 weeks, or that I'd be alone in a foreign city... and that I'd be okay with that {I mean, I really REALLY had no idea that I'd have that in me}.

I had no idea how different I would be in just one short year. How much more confident I would become. How much more comfortable I would be to just be me.

I had no idea that I would grow up, even if just a little.

No, I definitely could not have predicted that.

But the unpredictability. 
Wouldn't you say that's the best part of it all?

Life, I mean.

4.16.2012

in the land of my fore-great-great-grandmother


The day I arrived in Vienna, my grandfather told me that his grandmother had immigrated to America from that city. Perhaps that influenced my opinion of it. Or perhaps some part of my blood just recognized it as home, because out of any city I've seen so far during spring break, Vienna felt right to me.

I was only there for a day. To be honest, basically everything I did centered around Schonbrunn Palace {with which I completely fell in love}. But from riding the metro to eating the strudel to just walking down the streets, Vienna and I seemed to fit together
I loved it there.

Schonbrunn Palace was absolutely imperial, imposing, and undeniably stunning. It's no secret that I was OBSESSED with castles and palaces as a little girl {I mean, really, what little girl isn't?}. I dreamed of exploring old castles long forgotten, discovering hidden passageways and abandoned treasures. Everything I dreamed a palace was, Schonbrunn is. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but I kind of skirted around that rule.
{more on that in a moment}

The palace really had an entire day's worth of activities to do. I toured the palace and afterward went outside and wound my way through the gardens. There was a fun house of mirrors and the oldest zoo in the world {which I sadly did not get to enter; way too expensive} and a large hedge maze. Before entering, the sign warned me to "use games" at my own risk, by which I was more than a little confused and a lot intrigued. It turned out that in certain alcoves of the maze, there were strange games with weird directions carved into the stone ground. I felt like a kid again racing through the maze as if someone was chasing me {to be honest, the maze reminded me a bit of The Shining, which is perhaps not the most comforting thought}. Overlooking the castle stood a giant promenade on a hill from which you could practically see the entire city. I just sat up there for an hour, writing random thoughts and trying {and failing} to soak it all in. In the evening, Jeffrey and I splurged and bought tickets to a Mozart/Strauss concert in the grand ballroom of Schonbrunn Palace. 

Yes. 
Just look at those photos. 
I actually got to hear a classical concert in that room.

It's okay to be a little jealous.












Switzerland has been a bit of a disappointment, so I really wish I would have just stayed a few more days in Vienna. Maybe I'll return someday. You know, seeing all these places in Europe is not exactly making my "To See Before I Die" list any shorter. If anything, I am forced to add the cities back to the list as soon as I see them because I can't bear the thought that I'll never return. And of course, I'm adding other cities I only pass by on the way {like Bern. I don't care how expensive Switzerland is. I am coming back just to visit this city}.

The more I see, the more I want to see more.  It's a vicious and seemingly neverending cycle.

But who's to say this isn't how life is supposed to be?  Shouldn't we always be fighting for the experience of a lifetime? 

And why should we settle for just once in a lifetime?

So maybe I will see Vienna again. In my opinion, it's just inevitable.

Tomorrow I'm taking the train to Munich, and Wednesday night I'll be taking a night train to Paris. I'm desperately excited to meet my parents and brother in France on Thursday. I've missed them. It'll be good to just relax for a while. 

You know, I still can't believe this is my life. And I think that's a good thing. You cannot truly appreciate something if you allow yourself to get used to it.

It's like I'm living an adventure.  

And I must admit, I'm okay with that.

4.13.2012

while the hills here may not be literally alive, salzburg is still magical.


When I was a little girl I loved The Sound of Music. I mean, really, what child wouldn't like the singing and the frolicking in curtains and the comically sinning / curiously mechanically-experienced nuns? I would watch the movie over and over again and DREAM about going to Austria, which I thought looked like a land out of a storybook.

I think I forgot about that growing up. Austria wasn't even on my list when I originally started planning my trip.

But oh, my little-girl self is shoving it in my face right now, because Austria has turned out to be one of the most amazing places on Earth.

After our horrible experience in Venice, we decided to spend an extra day in Salzburg {the real-life setting of The Sound of Music}, and basically it was the greatest decision I've made this entire trip. Salzburg is so lovely, cute and quaint, but there was so much to do there. And believe me, I took advantage of this. 

My Salzburg experience:

1) I gazed upon an actual lock of Mozart's hair. Put aside the fact that it is totally creepy and a little bit disgusting that Salzburg legitimately possesses a lock of Mozart's hair. Because I GAZED UPON A LOCK OF MOZART'S REAL LIFE HAIR. And saw his house and stood in the exact spot where he was birthed... Wow. Just hit me how weird it is for the Salzburgans to commemorate that. {By the by, I will also hear a Mozart symphony tonight, but that is for next post}.

2) Passed by a seemingly random and yet non-ironic window display of hedgehogs {sadly not in lederhosen and so obviously not totally authentic}.

3) Climbed to the top of a mountain {with the help of a cable car but I'm NOT going to mention that}.

4) Trick fountains. Basically, the Archbishop was the douchiest banquet host in the world. Also, touched the gazebo in which Julie Andrews {and that Liesl girl hey whatever happened to her?} ACTUALLY STOOD.

5) ZOO. Pet some animals. Made friends with a sheep. Saw the cutest baby animal in the world. Rhino fight, flamingo fight, terrifying hissing critter on rock {whose species I can't name because German looks like gibberish to me}. And of course, lazy bear doesn't even care.

I dreaded having to leave so soon. In fact, I could have spent at least another week in Salzburg. Because really. 
Look at it.












And um, yeah. That is a monster poodle. 

Run.

For your life. Or snap an embarrassing amount of pictures of the horrifying creature.

Vienna post will be up soon, loves!

4.10.2012

when it rains... it sucks.


Let me preface this post by saying that Venice really is a gorgeous city. I'm serious, it is one of the most unique cities I've ever seen. And believe me, I realize just how lucky I am that I get to visit all these amazing places.

That being said, for reasons that are totally not the city's fault, I hated pretty much every minute of it.

Um, let me explain.

1) Our hostel was pretty much the sketchiest place in the world. In fact, it was less of a hostel and more a camping trailer park. Our trailer was tiny and badly lit and FREEZING. I would wake up in the morning covered with bug bites. The bathroom was literally a trek, and it was open to the elements. Just imagine trying to take a shower in 30 degree weather. So, so fun. Also {although this is more humorous than awful} I could only pick up the WiFi I was paying for in the little "supermarket" {I'm using this term lightly, because 50 percent of the supermarket was cookies and the other half was alcohol... more on that in a minute}, so I had to awkwardly shuffle around the Bacardi and wine to get out of people's way while wishing my parents a happy Easter on Skype. 

Anyway, needless to say, the second Jeffrey and I checked into our hostel, we got online to see how quickly we could get out. We ended up deciding to leave Venice a day early and stay an extra day in Salzburg {excellent decision, but that's for next post...}.

2) The weather was horrendous. Unseasonably frigid and extremely wet. My shoes were soaked within 10 minutes of walking through the city. Plus, the rain forced me to keep my camera safe in its case {which explains my serious lack of photos here}. Because we were only going to be in the city for a day, we didn't buy a map. However, we then spent an hour walking around lost in the dark, and by the time we finally found our way back to our hostel, let's just say I was frozen solid and more than ready to leave the country.

3) The Venetians were also kind of horrendous, rude and unfriendly. In one restaurant we were actually lectured for trying to pay with a credit card {"I'll take it this time but don't try this again on the streets of Venice..." Which we didn't and only were that time because we were paying for a 37 euro meal}. Of course, it was Easter, so they may have been a little fed up with tourists that weekend, but seriously, being there made me realize how amazing service is in America.

4) Again, It was Easter. EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED.

So.

Sorry this post isn't a glorious cultural review.

But Venice, it's not your fault. Under better circumstances, I'm sure I would have loved you, and I promise to come back to do you right someday.


Enjoying the famous Venetian SpritzWhich to me just tastes like orange Fanta liquor

Please be sure to read the entire first line of the last salad's ingredients...





The liquor aisle of the hostel's "supermarket" was the only good thing about our hostel. Not a single bottle of wine here was more than 5 eurosIn fact, I don't think there is a single bottle of anything here more than 15 euros.


Jeffrey's face after I told him I wish he were fatter because it would be a funnier picture.


Farewell, Venice. I wish I could have experienced you the way you deserve

That being said, thank GOD for Austria.

More soon!

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