|Our train compartment|
The train stops in Moldova and the Moldovan border patrol boards the train and checks everyone's passports. Being an American traveling from 2 non-native countries they asked us a lot of questions. After about 2 hours, the train starts moving again, crosses the border then stops and the Romanian border patrol boards the train and does the same thing. Then the baggage/customs people board and checks everyone's bags. It was a long process. Finally we got moving again. We had met a fellow American, Nolan while we were waiting. He was traveling through Europe by himself on his way down to Turkey. For the first few hours he was fun to talk to, but as the night went on, we realized it was time to go our separate ways. As we had spent months being schooled in how to not stick out as Americans, Nolan had not had such training and was loud and asking too many questions, being sarcastic to people who spoke little English who thought he was just being rude and just wanted to keep talking all night long. We all finally fell asleep although it wasn't a solid sleep as the compartment was inexplicably hot. We arrived in Romania at approximately 8am. From the train we took another train to the airport. The instant we walked into the airport it was a different world. There were restaurants and stores and we were very happy. We had breakfast at Burger King (a luxury these days) and waited for our flight. We boarded Austrian Airlines and it was like every seat was first class. There was plenty of room, it was comfortable, not incredibly full and the flight was only about an hour. We landed in Vienna and followed our explicit instructions to our hostel, Wombats at the Naschmarkt. I had never stayed in a hostel before so I was really interested to see what it would be like. The moment we stepped up out of the underground we new we were in a different world. Hell, even before we exited the train. Everything was SO CLEAN! I think we were in shock. We were pointing at everything and smiling and giggling and being stupid. We arrived at the hostel and it was beautiful. Lyndsey, who had stayed in hostels before, remarked that it was probably the nicest hostel she had ever seen. We were placed in a 4 bed room but no one else ever showed up so we had it all to ourselves, even with a bathroom en suite. Lyndsey was so excited to pee in a toilet. It's the little things really. It would've been easy to hole up in our room all day and just enjoy sleeping on a comfortable bed but we decided we should probably go out and see Vienna. We got a map from the front desk (which wasn't the greatest) and headed out to find a Christmas market. It took us a while as we were still a little star struck by all the pretty buildings. We finally found one and had some delicious eats.
|My homemade waffle with whipped cream, cinnamon and chocolate. (I asked for caramel, but what am I gonna do? Complain????)|
|Starbucks! Nothing says Christmas like Gingerbread Lattes!|
We walked around for a while but it had been a long few days of traveling so we headed back to our hostel. The hostel had a laundry room on the basement floor...WITH DRYERS!!!!! (A big luxury to us) So we decided to do some laundry while having some drinks in the bar in the hostel. We met a new friend, Ty, who was from Japan and traveling through Europe. He was hilarious and we enjoyed his company. There were a LOT of Asians traveling and Ty agreed with me and said that there are always a lot of Asians, Indians and Americans wherever he travels. I mean when we make up so much of the world population, I guess your always bound to run into those three ethnic groups. After our laundry was finished we headed to sleep. We woke up the next morning. We walked through the open air market across form our hostel and it was beautiful. We decided to treat ourselves to a heart meal and settled on an Italian place that had the biggest homemade raviolis I had ever seen. I had Caprese soup which was basically Tomato Cream soup with basil and mozzarella balls floating in it and then Truffle and Garlic Raviolis in a butter sauce. They were ridiculous.
We never did find the damn cemetery. I'm sure we walked around in circles for hours but we missed it somehow. I was disappointed but it couldn't ruin the day. So we headed back to the center of town and found the Haus of Musik museum which was really cool and I got to virtually conduct the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. It was a big ego trip, especially after the 'excellent' review I got from the computer.
|Me admiring Mozart at the Haus of Musik.|
We wound up eating dinner at Subway. Not what you'd call exotic but still delicious after 6 months of no sandwiches. We headed back to the hostel and had to say goodbye to our friend Ty as we were heading to Prague in the morning and he was going on to Prague. He was good people.
|Me, Ty and Lyndsey.|
|Vaclav Havel candlelight vigil.|
|Christmas Market view from the Tower.|
|Changing of the Guard.|
|The Steps leading out of the Castle.|
|Karel and Lyndsey re-enact some Czech history.|
We arrived back in Vienna at Wombats. This time we were in an 8 bed room so we didn't have the luxury of our own room. We did some more laundry, went out for one last fantastic dinner and got a good night's sleep. In the elevator, I saw this sign and it amused highly:
|We're not what you'd call "loved" around the world...|
|Tower Heist in Romanian.|
It was really nice to get away for a while but there are certain things I will never understand about traveling.
- The shoes that people choose to walk around in all day fascinate me. I saw more girls in high heels on cobbled streets and it is just fascinating to me that they don't die.
- Photos are way more important than moments.
- Why do people feel the need to update their status that they 'in Prague' more than just be in Prague? Don't get it. The lobby of the hostel, where there was free Wi-Fi was way more crowded than any attraction we were at in any city. Depressing.
- Phones on vibrate and silent is a thing of the past. Now it's the loudest ring possible, and oh, people will ANSWER!
- If a restaurant doesn't have Wi-Fi, it has way less foot traffic.
- Anyone sensing a theme here?
Yes, I'm sick of technology. I'm sick of it being the most important things in our life. Yes, I'm guilty of it but it's just taken over our lives. Get the phones out of your hands people and enjoy what's around you! It's out of control! (Stepping off soap box...)
Mostly what I enjoyed was just seeing different people and meeting nice people and have conversations with people I'll more than likely never see again. Staying in a room with 6 strangers may sound like a nightmare to some people but it was actually really fun. I'm sure there are horror stories from hostels as well but I had a really good experience. It's also really important to find good people to travel with. Lyndsey and I don't have a lot of the same interests but we're also both open to trying things. And we're pretty easy going and get along well and that's pretty important. I think the times we wanted to kill each other were kept to the bare minimum. Traveling with someone you're not compatible with sounds like a nightmare.
So that was Vienna and Prague. I would go back to either city in a heartbeat, wouldn't even mind residing in either one. I will definitely be back to Vienna because I will at some point see the grave of Mozart, plus I really want to go to Salzburg so I can do "The Sound of Music" tour.
But now, it's on to prepping for the next trip to London and Paris with some Too Faced girls from CA. I'm pretty excited for it.
Happy New Year!