Bratislava and some Vienna Adventures

Trip Start Aug 2008
Trip End Jul 2009

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Flag of Slovakia  , Bratislava,
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So, it's been a self-inflicted busy week! My classes still seem to be alright. International Political Economy is still really (surprisingly) interesting and Globalization is alright/boring. Overall, not really that bad. Of course, we haven't really gotten into the hectic period, but I know it's looming in the not to distant future! This week we also had out Professional Seminar Class. We've had this class at every campus, and at every campus it has been completely different. Our teacher is EXTREMELY serious and had a crap-load of work for us to accomplish in 7 short weeks. Her main redeeming quality, though, is that she is a dog fanatic. She takes her dog everywhere ... including to school, important meetings w/ international heads of state, everywhere.

Now to the fun stuff ...

Wednesday, Kieffer, Erin, and I had an entirely food-centered day. We went to the Chipotle-esque Mexican restaurant for lunch, and then did a little exploring in town. We have been trying to go to this amazing-looking church for a couple weeks, but always manage to go when it is closed. It was no different this time! Kieffer tried her hardest to get in, but no such luck ...

We went to the Nasch Markt, which is a huge outdoor market that sells everything from fruits and vegetables, to spices, and tourist crap. The major find was the place that sold hummus!! I had been keeping my eyes peeled for hummus, and this is the first time I have seen it since I left America over 3 months ago ... how is a girl supposed to live w/o hummus for that long?!?? Not to far from the market, there is an "American Store." It wasn't nearly as good as the American store in Geneva. I's say it was more British, but it still had some important supplies, like Root Beer, Oreos, and Pop Tarts. Wheat Thins and Mac 'N Cheese were severely lacking from the selection, which was our main purpose for going to the store (HINT, HINT, HINT).

That pretty much ended our exploration for the day, since Erin had a backpack full of root beer and we had class later in the evening. After class we went out with some of the local students. The only bar that is open near where we live is across the street and is SUPER sketchy. We've lovingly bestowed the name "House of Roofies" upon it. The 'ole toothless residents of the neighborhood sure love when a bunch of 20-something girls come in, that's for sure!

Friday morning the 3 of us headed to Bratislava for the day. It is only an hour away by bus (surprisingly nice, non-Greyhound-like buses). The town itself is actually quite nice as well. I think we were keeping our expectations low, but Bratislava is more developed and tourist friendly than we had expected ... we were pleasantly surprised! One of the main attractions is the castle. It was closed for renovation, but we still went up to the grounds, so we could get a good view of the city and learn about the castle. The whole thing was pretty comical, because as we were reading the placard, we were like, "Oh wow! This castle was originally built in 907. It's pretty old." Then as we kept reading, we found out that the whole thing burned down in 1811, and the castle we were looking at was only built in 1953! Hello tourism ploy!

The grounds had some nice views of the city, though. This modern bridge has a nightclub up at the top of it ... KEGgers, get working on spicing up that New Mississippi River Bridge! Slovakia also recently switched to the Euro, check out this marketing campaign to get everyone on board ...

Afterward, we walked around the old town and then stumbled upon the Presidential Palace. These guards are wimps compared to the ones in England ... check out their SUN GLASSES! what?

We walked through the old-town, until we found an appropriate Slovakian place to eat lunch/dinner. The Slovaks incorporated everything delicious from Poland and Hungary ... SO good! We decided we need to find some Eastern European men, who know how to cook, to marry.

We saw St. Michael's Gate, the only remaining gate to the city, and a cute little church that wasn't open, but had a tribute to Van Gogh on the outside. We also stumbled along a bunch of embassies ... including the US! It's been a long time since we've seen the 'ole Stars and Stripes, but it was a little disappointing that we have the only embassy w/ security in the whole city.

After a short bus ride, we were back home in Vienna. Annie's parents were in town last week too, so that night I met up w/ them and Chris to hang out for a while. They were crazy-busy tourists and left us w/ a long list of places we need to see before we leave.

Saturday, the 3 of us (Erin and Kieffer) went to the Shonbrunn Palace. We had a little picnic and people watched in the gardens for the first part of the afternoon, then hiked to the Gloriette for an amazing (and windy) view of the city. Afterward, we did the audio-guided tour of the palace. It was actually really interesting. The Hapsburgs were a crazy bunch of people. The Austrians idolize Elizabeth (SiSi), who we found out was actually a huge bitch ... she refused to eat at family meals in order to keep her figure, spent hours everyday brushing her ankle-length hair, and hated/resented the man she eventually married ... GREAT idol there, Austria!

Sunday the 3 of us went to the Spanish Riding School Performance. Talk about crazy traditions! They train Lipizzaner stallions to basically dance to classical music. They went through the series of training that each horse goes through. They eventually get them to stand on their back 2 feet w/ someone on them, and also to jump and kick while someone is on them as well. It was insane! Their last number is commonly called the "ballet of the white horses." Which is a pretty accurate name. It's impossible to really describe it, but the show was really cool. Pictures were illegal, so of course I have some to share ;) Most of the pictures are blurry, though ... stupid horses wouldn't stand still while dancing

Sunday afternoon was filled w/ our new favorite tradition of coffee and dessert. We acted like we were going to study there all afternoon, but we just talked for a couple of hours. I think I managed to read one entire page ... but I think that was more than the other 2!

Today the school took us to the Prater, which is a giant ferris wheel. I was going to say like the London Eye ... but only if it was a rickety, old London Eye. It was still nice to see the city from another vantage point ...

We're planning another (shorter) road trip for this weekend, so I'm sure I will have lots of good tales to tell next week! That's it from my end. Have a good week!!
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