Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Last Stop, Vienna!

The last city that we visited on our travels was Vienna. Sadly, we were only here for a day, but we all loved it.

My first stop was Schönbrunn Palace. I loved it last time I was there and I wanted to go back and see it in the Spring when everything would be alive. It ended up being the perfect day for that.

The outside of the palace.

I decided not to go in again and instead headed straight for the gardens. They were beautiful at this time of year.

Instead of going up one of the paths that was in the direct sunlight (it was pretty warm out), I found a little path to go up through the trees.

There were squirrels everywhere! It made me think of Grandpa and how he would have been itching to get rid of them all.

Finally made it up to the structure at the top. At this time of year it's used as a cafe.

The view back down to the palace.

Another squirrel. There was even one that ran right up to me and just looked at me for a while. Funny little guys.

They had carriage rides going through the gardens.

Weird duck-like bird.

After walking around all morning I got a nice chocolate milkshake to cool down.

At lunch both Jenna and I tried lemonade beer. It wasn't bad but I dont think that I'd ever order it again.


Crazy building in the city centre that was essentially a bunch of mirrors. Pretty cool.

Pistachio gelato!

Shopping street in the city centre.

Museum somewhere in the museums quarter.

Another big shopping street next to the museums quarter. This street eventually turns into the one that Amanda and I stayed on when we were here in December.

This is a cool old building across the street from our hostel.

The entrance to our hostel. Actually, it wasn't really a hostel. It was someone's apartment that they rent out as a hostel. It was super nice. We had a tv and computer in our room and use of a full kitchen. Very cool.

Again, it's too bad that we were only there for a day, but it was definitely a good day to be there. Even though we loved it we were still fairly eager to get back to Cork and our own beds.

So, that's the end of my travels. Now I'm just hanging around Cork, studying for the most part. Not too exciting.

Sadly, I found out today that my friend isn't coming to visit in May. She found out from her job that if she took that much time off they wouldn't let her come back, or something like that. So, her dad got the tickets refunded and hopefully she's going to come down to see me in Santa Barbara over the summer at some point instead. We'll see. Part of me is slightly relieved because it would have been hectic having someone visiting in the middle of finals and packing, but mostly I'm sad that I wont get to show off where I live to anyone while I'm here. Also, it looks like I wont get to go up to Belfast or Galway since almost everyone I know went with their family/friends who visited them and I had planned to do it with Britt. I'll have to see if I can convince someone to go to at least Galway. Again, we'll have to see how that works out.

On that disappointing note, I have to get back to studying. I just finished my Irish work and now I have to type it all up and send it to my teacher. At least tomorrow I'll get a proper study break when we have Laura's birthday party!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Czech It Out!

Our trip through Europe next took us to Prague, which I must say is still my favorite city to visit. The more times I go, the more I love it. At this point I can mostly navigate without a map, which is very convenient since I was the only person who had one and I forgot it in the hostel on the first night. Oops.

When we arrived we went to our hostel (just down the street from the one that Amanda and I stayed in at Christmas) to drop our stuff off, then headed out in search of a bite to eat. I took us to the city centre, figuring that we could find a good place down a side street. Turns out we didn't need to even look that far. On the main street we found this "traditional" Czech restaurant. It was definitely a tourist trap, but it was well priced and looked to have reasonably good food.

As soon as we were seated this guy came up to us dressed up as St. Wenceslas. He politely informed us that he was there to answer any of our questions and to take free photographs, so naturally we took him up on that offer. We later found out that he is a student at the university and he does this job for pocket money and that he grew up outside of the city in a small town. Really nice guy.

For dinner I had goulash and bacon was incredible!

We happened to come on a night when there was a jazz band. These guys were soooo good. The one on the far left sounds just like Louis Armstrong...just with a Czech accent. They were all really nice and chatted with us during their breaks.

The National Museum.

I didnt expect the markets from Christmas to still be up, but they were still everywhere. It was great!

Random statue we found.

Carriage rides in the Old Town Square.

This guy had all kinds of yummy treats. We all ended up buying some.

I got candied almonds. Delicious!

It was a pretty dreary day. Lots of rain, but the city was still beautiful.

Charles Bridge. All of the vendors had to cover up their stuff to keep it from the rain.

The street we walked up to get to the castle.

View of the city.

Entrance to the castle.

The cathedral.

I bought a cheap was broken within 30 minutes. Oh well. Later that day I bought a hat instead. It worked out much better.

You can barely see it but the water on the roof was draining out of a gargoyle's mouth.

On our way out we got stuck because of the changing of the guard.

Very awkward guard.

At this point it stopped raining for a while, but was still pretty cloudy.

On our way back across the bridge we ran into our band playing! They were singing "What A Wonderful World" (Vhat A Vonderful Vorld, the way that they pronounced it) which is the song that we had requested from them the night before.

A whole huge shop of those wooden dolls within dolls things. I forget what they're called.

For a few minutes we got some blue sky!

This is the cute little hole in the wall place we found for lunch.

This time I got some sort of beef and gravy with bread dumplings.

We spent the rest of the day buying our train tickets to Vienna, then wandering through shops on the main street. For dinner we went back to the restaurant that we ate at the night before and all of us got pretty much the same thing. It was just as delicious the second time around.

The National Museum on our way back to the hostel for the night.

Well, I've only got one more city left to put up after this, then I dont quite know when I'll next be posting. Depends on if we do anything exceptionally fun soon. Not exactly likely since finals begin next week and for the most part we've all been locked in our rooms studying since we got home, with the exception of Jake's party and going to lunch with Amanda yesterday.

I'll try to get the Vienna stuff up soon, but I want to finish an Irish assignment today so it probably wont be until tomorrow, maybe the next day. Soon though!