Archive for July, 2011

Villach, Austria

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

After our few short days in Germany we started to make our way down towards Italy. On the way though was Austria. We drove through miles of countryside and finally the Alps. It was beautiful driving around the countryside of Germany, and Austria. Here unlike the USA, towns are scattered, rather than having a large city that fans out into countryside, it seems like hundreds of little towns were plopped down in the middle of nowhere without purpose.

The little villages are so tiny and quaint all the red roofs, surrounding the epicenter, the church.In many places these towns are not allowed to build structures taller than the church. I thought that was an interesting notion.

Villach is a relatively large place and is quite beautiful. The town surrounds a beautiful church named after St. Jakob.

 

The town itself like many others here is speckled with multicolored buildings and quaint little shops on every corner.

Maiya was lucky enough to get chased around buy a guy in a weird suit trying to sell Fanta to tourists.

Instead of Fanta we stopped in a cute little cafe for some gelato!

They gave us gigantic spoons that were really fun to eat with and on a nice hot day in Austria, nothing beats gelato.

After a nice little trompe through the town we went and visited a very interesting cemetery. With a beautiful entrance way the cemetery was basically begging us to come inside and have a look around.

It is interesting, in this cemetery there were plenty of flowers but it seemed like instead of more flowers most graves were dotted with little red candles. Apparently that is tradition here and it is one I really enjoy. I think it is an extremely nice idea to leave behind a burning candle to light the ways of the ones you love that have gone their separate ways.

Our stop in Austria was very brief but very interesting. We had stopped to have lunch with the family I am traveling with’s son who is doing an internship there. We ate at a nice little place where I got very typical German/Austrian food. I got goulash with some dumplings which is basically the only kind of food that they eat; meat and potatoes. That and cake. :) It was extremely good and flavorful and after just one dumpling I felt ridiculously full. It was a good Austrian experience and I was glad for the stop. However it was just a brief reprieve from our little road trip down to Italy and within that, VENICE!

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Munich

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Munich, Germany was the first destination on our European trip and what a place. On this gray rainy day, the city seemed extremely somber. Being a Sunday, all the shops were closed and the city was extremely quite. Silence and quietness are something that seems prevalent in Germany. The people seem to enjoy their silence. Not in a rude or snobbish way, they just appear to be a more silent people who keep many thoughts to themselves. As if they contemplate each word or sentence that comes from there mouth, they seem to keep most words inside as if to spare us if any of the words are not entirely worth hearing; in total opposition to many people I know in the US who talk simply so silence is never heard. It is a calm and almost serene silence but the grey sky brings a sadness to this great city.

The first thing we saw was the city hall building which was more akin to a giant gothic cathedral rather than a government building. It was magnificent, reaching high into the drizzly skies the peaks and spires seemed as if they would tear the sky open.

Decorated in flags and red flowers this building was a worthy monument to stand as the center of attention for the entire city. The large clock tower it its grandeur also has a somewhat childish side and is basically a giant cuckoo clock. Within the green part of the tower are all manner of figurines that upon every hour come to life as the towers ring and music plays and dance and twirl for all to see. Among a rather massive crowd we watched these figures twirl about as the rain started to fall very softly. We went into a cafe right across from the clock tower, high above where we were almost level with the dancing figures. There we had cake. Along with silence, the German people really seem to enjoy their cake. In Germany, it felt like all we ate was cake. For breakfast there was cake, and of course yogurt with cereal on top, for lunch there was more cake, and for dinner there was even more cake. Do not get me wrong, the cake was delicious and there is nothing wrong with massive quantities of cake, I just thought it was an interesting observation to share. In this cafe we had some extremely traditionally German cakes; a warm apple strudel (which technically isn’t cake but i think it still counts) and an interesting fruit cake that is basically a yellow sponge cake with fruit like raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries on top coated in a jello like substance. It was very good and really nice to try some authentically German cuisine because as my friend tells me the rest of German cuisine mainly consists of meat and potatoes, which I also found to be very true. However they are very good meat and potatoes.

I seem to always wind up talking about food, even when there is a beautiful city that still desires attention. Walking through the streets of Munich we passed numerous shop windows filled with tinker toys and tons of little knick-knacks of every kind.

Besides these funny little shops, the architecture is quite amazing. There seem to be clock towers and church spires all around us. Everywhere I look I see some beautiful building in the distance or right next to me.

In a city square of sorts we came upon a structure that at one point was the stand for one of Hitler’s very first speeches to the German people.

It seems like everywhere I go there is so much history hiding in the cracks of the sidewalk and behind building walls. This city is full of life that we barely scratched the surface of in our very short time in the city. With our short ime we were able to go inside one church. It was one of the first things I spotted in Munich, the tall watch tower with the teal dome resting on the top caught my eye from quite a while away from the city’s center.

Nestled within the city streets, this giant resides as if it does not stand tall above all the other buildings. If the towers were not magnificent enough, the inside was astounding as well. With a ceiling framed with window crosshatching, this church had the most amazing ceilings I have ever seen.

In such a large cathedral t is hard not to feel small and insignificant in this house of God. It really was beautiful though, with high arching ceilings, and giant stain glass windows the silence of Germany seemed to be filled with a different sound.

Munich feels full of life that thrives in a contemplative and silent manner. It was amazing to feel the splendor of this city as the first of many amazing cities to come that are all astoundingly different. This place though has the feeling of an antique portrait of a time where life was grand and the people are kind, if not a little strange.

Notice the man in the bottom left hand corner and you will know what I mean.

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My Busy (Wonderful) Life

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

A couple of days ago my grand adventure around Europe came to a bittersweet end. Back in the USA now I had one full day at home before being shipped off to Michigan. So here I am sitting in my grandmother’s beautiful library addressing you. I have seen so many amazing things and of course I desire to share all of it with you. But I would like to share a brief preface before the fun begins:

All the things I will tell you, all the pictures I show you, and all the tales I will weave may at best reveal a fraction of the true beauty and sheer amazingness of the things I have seen on this trip. Words can barely describe the thousands of brightly colored doors, or the strange and quirky people I saw, or the myriad of homes or shops hidden down dark and wondrous alley ways. I will try my best to full describe the things I saw in Europe during my crazy busy and beyond wonderful life, but remember the reality can only be glimpsed in these words and pictures. I will do my best.

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Europe: Travel Update

Friday, July 8th, 2011

For those of you who are not aware, I have been in Europe for the last week. I have been without internet and will soon be again, so I will just give a quick update. We started in Germany with a flight to Munich, after several days there we left for Venice, on the way we also stopped in Austria. We had a magical stay in Venice and have just finally moved on to Tuscany where we are currently staying in Chianti, a very small wine village right between Florence and Siena. After a day trip to Florence today tomorrow we are moving on to Siena and ending our day in Vinci, Italy.

Soooooo if you didn’t catch all of that I have been to Germany, Austria, and Italy. I am having the time of my life and can’t believe I am almost half way done with this trip already. Frankly it breaks my heart, but this is the advenutre of a lifetime and I am trying to appreciate every single moment of it.

Here are some random pictures of our adventures so far, when I return from my escapades in Europe I will elaborate and provide all stories, observations, and of course, pictures.

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