Kaprun – Zell am See

Well, what can i say? I tried combing through the ole brain to see if i could think of some creative excuse to give as to why it has taken me over a month to write my next blog post but nothing comes to mind. In turn i hope i can can reestablish your trust through this blog post and the many more that will (hopefully!) follow in the coming days. Let me first say that this post’s topic ‘Zell am See’ happened almost two months ago and i will have to draw on the long term memory to give you a glimpse of the trip so bear with me. As for what happened between this blog post and the last it involves that boring academic stuff that i will again assume no wants to read about. Onto the actual topic of this blog post: Kaprun – Zell am See. I suppose before i go into the chronological recounting of my trip i should give you a small summary of what Kaprun is. Taken directly from the info graphic they gave us before departure Kaprun is a glacial resort 3000m (roughly 10,000ft. for you non metric system folks) above sea level that operates year round. It contains about 41km (25 miles) of slopes in total ranging from beginners to highly advanced. Now onto the actual events. Luckily the bus ride wasn’t too early, 10AM, which helped a lot letting me be able to prepare and make sure i had all my supplies in order. Another plus was that the trip to Kaprun was only going to be about 4 hours including stopping for lunch. The weather was acting strange by reaching the low seventies (Fahrenheit) in Linz so many of us were worried that it may effect our chances of snow in Kaprun. Yet we were assured time and time again that we had nothing to fear. As we pulled up to our hotel we were hoping that the warm atmosphere of the inside of our bus was deceiving and once we stepped outside we would be embraced by the frigid cold of mountain air. To say the least we were very wrong. As soon as my feet touched down outside  i was not only missing that cold i expected but i was overcome by warmth. It had to be close to 70F. This only heightened our fears of no snow. Yet once we got moved into our surprisingly nice hostel rooms and settled with a couple beers we finally saw why our Austrian mentors had no fear.

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Our first day there we got our ski rentals and snooped around the hostel to find out about all the amenities offered. I may have forgotten to mention but this trip was actually a meet up of all REFI (the exchange student program in Austria) students in Austria so they had organized large dinners and parties for our group. The dinners, which we had already paid for, were buffet style and just as the quality of the rooms had surprised so did the food. A lot of it looked to be typical Austrian food which was good because it was just the kind of ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ meal someone craves after a long day of skiing. I digress though. After our hearty meals they quickly shepherd us to our next destination, a bar some distance down the road from the hostel. A couple of my roommates and I decided we would stay back and drink the beer we still had and meet up with the bulk of the group later. Thus after downing a couple more beers and gaining a little courage one in our group decided that we would take a route to the bar that wasn’t exactly viable but it made the difference  between a five minute trip and a forty minute trip. Let’s just say it involved us walking through a tunnel that most definitely didn’t actaully have a side walk:

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By far the funniest part had to be that the group that we told we’d meet there entered into the bar as we walked up. In turn thoroughly fueling many puzzled looks from our fellow exchange students who had not too long ago saw our group polishing off a pint and ordering another round. Overall the night was fun but we called it early because we all knew it was going to be tough waking up at 7AM the next day.

As we started the next day i was again surprised by how much effort was put into our breakfast. We eventually did make it up the mountain where we greeted by some of the most beautiful weather and spectacular views i had ever seen. Some of you may be saying, “Carter what about Hallstatt? I thought that was on the top of your list?.” To which i would respond that it is indeed on the top of my list but Austria ceases to amaze me with its mountainous views. Maybe it’s for the fact that i live in one of the flattest places in the United States but i imagine Austria rivals even the views of the Rockies or Appalachians.

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It again is one of those “You had to be there to really grasp it” photos but i’m sure you can get the idea. Here’s another one for good measure.

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The snow was pretty amazing that day. Not too much powder, not too icy, pretty close to being perfect. I suppose though i should stop blabbing on about the view and conditions. You probably want to know how the skiing actually was. To start we had formed a small group which included a Fin, four Americans (myself included), a Canadian, and an Italian. Of which all the Americans excluding myself were pretty much beginners. This lead us to taking several ‘beginner’ level slopes at the start to get them warmed up. In that time we had lost the Canadian and Italian. Eventually though the Fin (whose name was Joni) and I decided we needed to do some more difficult runs. They had your typical blacks that one would suspect we would be headed to next but on the way up the ski lifts we saw these huge runs on either side of the mountain that seemed to be out-of-bounds. Thus we began shifting our group that direction. Once we arrived on one of the sides of the mountain two of the Americans decided that they would take the easier blue run back down to the bottom while another one (after some convincing and prodding of course) decided to join Joni and I. The aptly named slope ‘X1’ would be a our first real run of the day. We decided to let the somewhat newbie guy go so that maybe we could keep track of him going down. Oh how we were wrong. After a moment of waiting then pushing off the top of the hill i began coasting through the top segment of the slope. Because these slopes were free range the snow was fairly untouched and fresh for the taking. As i’m enjoying my run down the first half of the slope not too behind far Joni my mind drifts to the other American that i’m suppose to be paying attention to but i shortly dismissed the thought thinking he should have no problem if the rest of the slope was this nice. Let me add the this slope ran about half of the mountain and in turn was a fairly long run. As we reached the half way point we began rounding this huge curve. As we worked our way around it i saw Joni stop ahead of me for which i assumed was to just to catch his breath. As i pulled up to him i saw why he had really stopped. He was peering over onto the next part of the slope which consisted of an enormous valley probably about half a kilo long. It was definitely a lot more steep than the last section but i figured i could handle it. Being on the side of the mountain that was going in and out of the sun Joni was pointing to a small area that was lit up by sun saying something about how our American friend may be in trouble. At first i had no idea what he was talking about. Then i saw them. Brightly glistening in the sun now stood innumerable moguls. I then started looking into the areas that had no sun and saw that hidden behind the veil of the shadows stood countless more moguls. My brain started racing, i was beginning to question whether or not i was going to be able to make it down the slope. Then it hit me like a brick wall. The poor American whom i had partaken in convincing to go down this very slope was about to meet his eternal resting place on the side of a mountain in Austria. We scanned the area to see if we could find him but there was no sign so we decided we had to move on being in a fairly dangerous spot for oncoming skiers. After some less than safe skiing by myself to reach the bottom me and Joni met up at a place out of the way so we could check again for our American friend. After some time of staring at this wall of moguls we spot what seems to be a guy going every few meters then crashing. Had to be our guy. After some patience on our part and endurance on his he eventually made it down to where we were. To say the least he had some not so nice things to say to us after he caught his breath. Also, i may add, that was the last time he ever followed Joni and I down a run. Eventually we caught up with our other two buddies and headed back up for a couple more runs.

As the resort was reaching closing time Joni and I agreed that we needed to do at least one more tough run for the day. Seeing as how we had already conquered one side of the mountain we decided we’d check out the other. Again we began leading our little group to our destination. When we arrived at the slope (named X2) there was a general consensus among the other Americans that they would be taking the blue slope down to the bottom to meet us. Let me also add that this slope ran the entirety of the mountain which probably made it the longest run in the resort. Our little group splits ways and Joni and I begin our descent down X2. It started it out pretty great with some untouched snow and fairly sloped hills but i wasn’t going to be deceived as i had been on X1. I knew there had to be something lurking in the shadows. I just wish i hadn’t been so correct. As we are rounding the second or third curve the slope took an odd twist by cutting across an 80 degree incline. Pretty much your’e skiing across a wall, where on your right there is a 100 or so foot drop into an un-skiable ravine and the only thing holding you on are the ridges of your skis. You know that feeling when your skiing and your’e going down something tough and you tell yourself “It won’t be bad if you fall, it’s just snow.”? That was not the case here. It was either get across or find out what was at the bottom of the ravine in spectacular fashion. It gets even better though. Because of the steepness of the wall we were crossing there were hundreds of different little grooves from previous skiers for each separate ski. You might think this would help. Yet the reality of the situation was that as you had one ski on one of these paths and one on another they would start to separate. Which meant you started doing random splits on this nearly vertical wall a 100 feet above a ravine. To say the least this was definitely one of the more nerve wracking things i’ve done. Eventually we did make it across, though my legs were pretty much shot. Only being about halfway through, it was not good that i was already that tired but we pushed through. Ahead we conquered multiple steep valleys of moguls such as the one we had done on X1 but nothing came close to crossing the wall. I also want to add that through all of this we were dodging rocks like it was going out of style. Unlike the mountains back home which are mostly trees, Kaprun hosts only rocks on its barren landscape. Here are some photos from X2 when were taking the occasional break:

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Sadly we did not get any photos of the wall which probably had to do with us being in shock that we were still alive, but you can kind of get the idea of what i mean when i say it’s just rocks scattered along the slope through these photos. After we met up with the others and described what had happened on X2 Joni and I decided to call it a day to which they concurred.

We arrived back at the hostel at around four or five and immediately went to the local supermarket to grab some beers for the night ahead. The next most eventful thing for the evening was my first experience with a ‘Finnish Sauna.’ Before this trip i had zero knowledge that the Finnish people are very proud of there sauna tradition. Kind of makes sense though if you think about the fact that it’s snowy and cloudy most of the year in Finland. That’s beyond the point though. I was definitely not prepared for what the Sauna entailed. I’m fairly certain if there is anything close to the fiery pits of hell it’s most likely a Finnish Sauna. Some may think i know a little bit about heat and humidity coming from the southern United States. Not even remotely true. I’m sitting there practically in tears after about five minutes and i’m getting stares from all the Scandinavians like i’m some little girl. Good memories nonetheless. Eventually though i did learn to love it. You feel amazingly refreshed afterwards which is particularly nice when you are really sore after a rough day of skiing.

After my Sauna experience i was well prepared the following morning for a full day of skiing. We again woke up bright and early at 7AM to eat the breakfast provided and head out to the slopes. Yet this time we were in for a huge surprise. As we neared the gondola that would take us up the mountain it began to start snowing. From the time it took us to walk from the bus to the gondola the light snow fall had transformed into a near blizzard. You could tell some around us were questioning whether or not they actually wanted to go up in these conditions. Only being there for two days our group trudged onwards. Once we reached the very top of the mountain (after a couple of chair lifts and the gondola) the snow started to thin out luckily. Still being tired from the day before i had decided early on that i was going to take it easy for the day. So as the day progressed we stuck to the top of the mountain doing mostly average level runs. Though Joni, somehow still having energy and courage, was trying to convince me to go down some more X related slopes to which i politely told him ‘no chance in hell.’ Also with the amount of snowfall there was easily a good foot and a half of powder on the slopes which only added to the workout on my legs.

Being the day that we had to return we left the mountain fairly early to go take back our skis and grab some lunch in town. By the time we had come down the mountain the whole town of Kaprun was white and in turn made for a cozy lunch inside a snow covered restaurant before departure. On our return journey i slept like a baby. My only fear being that they may need a wheelchair to get me off the bus because of how sore i was. Overall the trip was a great success though and i can now say i have been skiing in the Alps.

As for the next blog post, i would not expect it to be even remotely as long as this one. There were many stories that happened on the Ski trip that i thought you may like so i decided to include them all. I don’t think i’ll be doing that again both for the fact of how long it took me to type this blog post and that most of my future travels i have more photos than stories (which was not the case for the ski trip.) In all honesty none of these photos are mine but are Joni’s so i have to give credit to him. Lastly here’s a little photo as proof that i actually was there and until next time.

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Prague – Hallstatt

First let me apologize profusely for this post being extra late. Hopefully i’ll try to make up for it in some extra text and pictures in this post. As things have been progressing over here so has the pace of everything around me and thus, in turn, making it difficult for me to have some time for these blog posts.

Now that that’s out of the way i suppose i should start where i left off. Last you heard i had just returned from Weyregg Am Attersee and was about to get back into school. Well that following week was fairly uninteresting with lots of academic details that i won’t bore you with hear. The following weekend though was actually fairly interesting. The exchange program i’m a part of organized a trip to Prague for everyone. Beforehand though i was able to negotiate my way into a car with some Czech’s from Prague so that i could go up and meet the exchange group. Which made for an extremely cheap trip with only having to pay for my transportation and having somewhere to stay covered by the fact that Uncle Dean’s apartment was open at that current moment. Upon arriving in Prague after a short three hour car ride I immediately met my fellow exchange student at one of the countless breweries located in the city. Let me apologize again in advance as there are no photos of Prague because i didn’t really do any touring with the group while i was there and mostly joined them at the bars/pubs later in the day (which i’m sure you wouldn’t mind seeing but i’m trying to keep a little class to this blog ha.) The first thing my fellow exchange students remarked on was how cheap the beer (‘Pivo’ in Czech) was in Prague. In Linz a beer would usually cost you around three to four euros where as in Prague it might run you 30 to 50 Crowns (roughly one to two euros.) Well lets just say that led for a hangover for myself and I imagine some other exchange students the following day. Which was ‘awesome’ when i had to wake up at 10AM to meet Dean, Martina and the little munchkins for a hair appointment. Not to worry though i made it, got the hair cut, hung out with them for a little while, made it back to the apartment and immediately took the nap i sorely needed. After the nap i once again joined my fellow exchange students at the arranged pub/bar, but this time i paced myself and can honestly say i was probably one of the most sober people there. After another lovely night out on the town the other exchange students were headed to Czechy Krumlov early in the morning, which, in response, me and the Czechs i rode up with decided that we would take our leisurely time getting back to Linz (which was great for the small hangover that i was combatting because of the night before.) Overall the weekend in Prague was a success and everyone i talked to couldn’t stop saying how they ‘had’ to come back soon.

The week after Prague has a similar story to the week after Weyregg Am Attersee. Class stuff that i don’t think really anyone wants to hear about so i will move onto the following weekend: Hallstatt. Our little travel group has been fairly good at organizing trips (Weyregg being one of them) and thus has expanded quite rapidly. Compared to the eight or nine that went on the Weyregg trip our Hallstatt trip garnered a whopping eighteen people bright and early at 7AM on a friday morning. The weather was suppose to be beautiful (almost reaching 70F at some points during the day) and our trek to Hallstatt consisted of a fifty minute train ride, switching trains and then another hour and a half train ride. Though as soon as we began to near our destination we could tell the long train ride was going to be well worth it.

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This was our first view of Hallstatt exiting the train. Because of it being built into the side of a mountain the train tracks had to be built on the opposite side of the lake. In turn that made it so we had to take a reasonably priced ferry from one side to the other. In the above picture you can see the little house that has the ferry located behind it, and beyond you can see the town of Hallstatt.

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This is a photo taken from on the ferry of the opposite side of the lake. If you can make out the small white building in this picture it’s actually a 500 year old castle that we were unable to visit because of some miscellaneous constraints and its exact history is unknown to me (somewhat random yes but i felt i needed to add a ‘little’ history to this post.) As we landed on the cobblestone of Hallstatt our group was getting a bit agitated because of a lack of food after an early morning and being cramped on a train for the past couple of hours thus making our first goal to find a restaurant. To our surprise though most of Hallstatt was closed down for repair/construction because of what we guessed was preparation for the ‘true’ tourist months.

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As you can see by the crane in the background of the above photo, much construction was going on for such a little city. The far restaurant in this photo (the one covered in what i guess is some sort of ivy) is actually a fairly renown restaurant in Hallstatt and was our destination after some internet searches. Sadly it was closed as well and we moved on continuing our search into Hallstatt for the ever increasingly rare sight of food. Eventually we came to the conclusion that the only thing open in Hallstatt was a solo burger stand guy that was about get an explosion in business from all eighteen of us exchange students. I might add that this was a fairly tough decision because we all knew that were about to have to hike a nearly vertical hill as soon as we got done with our greasy burgers. Yet that didn’t stop us and I ordered what I have to assume be the famous ‘Hallstatt Burger’ and we were on our way after a quick chow down. Walking through the town was an experience within itself though. Everywhere you turned there rose giant ridges the likes of which i had never seen before.

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In this photo you can somewhat see what i mean when i say that they literally built the town into the side of a mountain.

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The above photo was my attempt at an artistic photo with sunbeams coming off the mountain. Honestly i was surprised my iPhone was even capable of capturing the different hews of light so i was pretty happy about that. Eventually though after taking another brief stroll around the town we found a path that seemed to head directly up the mountain in the way we wanted to go. After eating those burgers we begrudgingly walked up the hill, but as we rose our little group again began to assertain that our struggle and effort exerted to get to the destination would be well worth it.

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In this picture you can see some of the progress we had made up the mountain. The town of Hallstatt was becoming smaller as we climbed and the temperature (after being nearly 70F) was beginning to drop fairly quickly as well.

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Above you can see some of the water running off of the mountains. Some of these waterfalls were quite large and you could barely hear yourself think when near them. The two pictured above are on the smaller side. It was kinda of funny though because the water had a crystal blue clarity to it, which is nothing like the brownish tint i’m use to at home. We laughed that it was probably cleaner than bottled water but no one tried it first hand to my great disappointment. Eventually we did reach the top though where there was an awesome viewing platform where we were able to grab all sorts of great pictures.

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From this height the people of Hallstatt looked like ants and the train resembled something you would see set up under the tree near Christmas. Again i have to say that this is one of those things that pictures really can’t do justice. Obviously you can see that there is magnificent beauty through the pictures but one has to be standing on that viewing platform to truly understand the shock and awe that rush through your body when you first take in the sight. I suppose i should add a photo of myself so you know i’m not just getting these photos off the internet somewhere:

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After some time at the viewpoint and everyone getting there pictures we decided to see if we could go up any higher. After some walking we discovered a closed down resort (for the season, not permanently) that seemed to be centered around an ancient salt mine of sorts.

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You can can see the houses to the side which are the resort i’m referring to in the previous sentence. I took this picture mainly though to show that though we had reached what i thought was an extremely high spot the mountain’s still kept rising in the distance. You also may notice that there is snow on the ground. By the time we had reached this elevation the temperature had easily dropped twenty degrees.

It was beginning to get late so we decided it was time to head back down to Hallstatt for a couple beers before our departure. On our way in we saw an inn that would hopefully be open by the time we got down to quench our thirst.

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As you can probably tell the sun had begun to fall behind the mountain which led to that temperature decrease sticking around even though we were descending. You might also be able to see the inn (the yellowish one situated next to the Church) where we sat down and had some of the best weissbiers i’ve probably had in Austria.

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As we waited for the last fairy to depart we got a spectacular view of the sunset hitting the mountains with the moon in the background. In conclusion my trip to Hallstatt was a great success and i hope to have many more like it here in the near future. We made it back safely and i’m still attempting to get back into the swing of things with classes and all that. I’ve got a fairly busy couple weekends coming up though. This weekend i’ll be going Skiing and the following we’re headed to Budapest so expect (hopefully) blog post on both of these excursions. Best of wishes and until next time.

 

Weyregg am Attersee

Greetings from Austria! Hope all is going well over the pond or wherever you’re positioned at the moment. The previous week proved to be an interesting one. After the german test mentioned in the previous post school was fairly simple with my Cultural Sensitivity class being very straight-forward and (hopefully) an easy 2 credits. The class itself consisted of  two lecturers speaking about Austrian culture and comparing it to the many other cultures in the room. The most interesting part was having to find someone that was a longtime resident of Austria and interviewing them for our final presentation. The groups were fairly random because the lecturers demanded that each group be made up of people  of different nationality. Our group was one of the last to form so it consisted of two Americans, a Russian, and a Hungarian. We got along fairly well, all of us had technical majors so we had that in common. I guess i should mention first that each group was assigned a random part of Linz in order to make all of us experience something that should be new. Well our part of Linz consisted of nothing but apartment buildings (later i found out the Austrians call them ‘Hitler Houses’ because they were built to accommodate the industrial workers necessary for WWII.) To say the least people weren’t exactly inviting and after being turned down 5 or 6 times we finally found a nice older man by the name of Walter that allowed us to interview him. The only one that spoke even a little German was the hungarian and thus he took lead by asking the questions in his broken attempts. The whole time me and the other American are conversing several meters away figuring we were useless when it came to speaking to Walter. Near the end of the interview though Walter laughed and said in perfect English that he spoke German, Russian, and English (every language our group spoke) if we wanted to use those instead, but we were already near done and thus the Hungarian finished the interview and we were on our way. Overall it was a good experience, i got to meet some new people and the above the segment was by far the funniest part. (maybe you had to be there?) Now that i’ve gone fairly off-topic of what this post is suppose to be about i should probably get to that. Weyregg am Attersee, a small village nestled near one of the larger lakes in Austria was to be our destination saturday. After hopping on a train for 30 minutes, then missing our bus (making us have to wait two hours for the next one), then getting on the bus finally for another 30 minute trip we arrived in Weyregg am Attersee at around 2pm. After being two hours later than expected we were all fairly hungry so we stopped at a local restaurant for a beer and some food. Before that though i managed to snap a couple photos close to the lake you can see below.

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These were taken from a small pier of sorts that looked like it might have been used to dock a few boats and accommodate some swimmers. Though everything was closed because of the cold weather so we couldn’t go all the way out on it. Nonetheless not but a few moments after this picture was taken we went to a restaurant 20 meters away from the pier to grab some lunch. At lunch we hashed out what we were going to do with the remaining hours and whether or not we wanted to catch the earlier bus or the later one. We all decided that we wanted to attempt to hike the hill behind the town in order to get some better views of the lake but our group was fairly divided on which bus to take. After a more than heavy lunch (Cordon Bleu and a wheat bear for me) we were all starting to get a little skeptical of hiking the near vertical hill that awaited us. Yet after having so much trouble getting there we decided we couldn’t waste the opportunity so we had to follow through. We paid our checks and headed on our way looking for the nearest road leading up the hill. After some walking though and not finding a road to take we decided to just hike up, which was convenient because the hill next to the town was a golf course and made for decent conditions. Here’s a photo of us making it about halfway up the hill:

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As you can see there are what might be golf cart paths that you might think we should have taken but in reality they just stayed on the golf course so we had to make our own path up the mountain (deceivingly steep i might add.) We had to take breaks every so often because we would all become out of breath, barely able to talk to one another. Each time we were reassured of our mission by turning around and seeing the view. Here’s another one of those views:

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Going up the mountain we lost three members of our group (taking us down to six) who decided to take the early bus, but that didn’t dissuade us from continuing on. After some time we found a road that seemed to lead to shut down ski slopes. We thought the hill was fairly deserted so we figured we would hike to the top, snap a couple of photos, and make our way back. Oh how i love being wrong in this instance because when we reached the peak there was a small restaurant where we were able to get a couple of Radlers (a beer mixed with lemonade) and look at the view of the hill we had just conquered moments ago. Sadly my phone died while we were drinking so i wasn’t able to get the view from the balcony of the restaurant, but here’s the inside of the restaurant where you can kind of see the view:

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Because we were taking the late bus we took our time coming down the mountain (taking a road this time thank god) and slowly made our way back to Linz via bus and train. Overall the trip was a success but i was exhausted and thus stayed at the dorm for some quiet time during the night. The next day (sunday) i started off fairly lazy not waking up until very late in the morning. After sitting around and typing some of this blog i figured i would go check out the hills behind my dorm for a few hours. Here’s one of the photos i captured whilst hiking:

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In synopsis though the week was a lot of fun i only hope i can continue to travel as much as possible. Classes are starting this week so i have to reenter the real world again so that’ll be interesting. Until next time.

The Town of Linz

What to say… what to say. I guess i first need to apologize for being a little late on this post. Was hoping to to update it yesterday so i could create some sort of consistency with these things but yesterday threw me a bit of a curveball. In one hand i knew i needed to get some pictures for the blog and on the other i had an incoming German test the following day (yesterday.) So i struck a deal with myself. I would go check out the church on the top of one of the taller hills in Linz with a group of exchange students, snap a couple of photos for the blog, see the sights, and come back the way i came (via tram) in a reasonable amount of time. Before i get into the events that followed our little church excursion i should show what i was able to photo beforehand.

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This is the church which was surrounded with an eclectic group of tourist attractions ranging from Jesus statues to beers at the pub nearby. The best of these being a circular viewing point that you can essentially see all of Linz.

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This photo was taken from that spot in which you can see (relative to the viewing point) the left part of Linz which holds most of the entertainment such as bars, clubs, and museums.

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Also taken from the viewing point in this photo you can see the right side of Linz and what it is so well known for, its factories. Particularly the steel industry which Linz is one of the base manufacturing places in all of Europe.

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Here are a few picture of the inside of the Church seen previously. I believe it’s still somewhat in use for religious purposes after passing a few Nuns when walking in and the fact that no one was talking  once we were inside. After we strolled around the back of the Church to see the old moat that contained some species of mountain goat our group began to fracture with some saying they were about to take the tram down and the others saying they were going to try and trek it back. Being that the actual tour around the Church took less time than expected i figured i’d join the walking group to snap a couple more photos. I assumed we would be taking the roads back but oh how i was wrong. Not to say that we didn’t, but as soon as we spotted a small trail leading into the woods we decided to investigate and lets just say that was the last time i saw the road for some time. We walked through some beautiful woods with brooks scattered around that i sadly didn’t photo. I did capture a few of the things we ran into on the way through which you can see below.

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After are small ragtag group fractured from the walking group to go into the woods we began to joke about how we were all about to be picked off one by one by an Austrian madman. To boost our fears the first thing we ran into was this shrine. Hopefully for good religious purposes and not sacrificial ones.

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This is a little bit what the trails we were following looked like. I was wearing tennis shoes which worked fine until we got to the muddier parts then i was wishing i had brought my boots. Maybe next time. Luckily our little trip paid off with some outstanding views and other curious rock formations.

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This is one of those views when the trail popped out onto some farm lands and we were able to snap some photos of the landscape. I feel like my iPhone camera can’t do the the true depth of this view justice but i digress. Overall the trip was a success and we managed to find a tram once the sun began setting. I was fairly tired after a day of adventuring and ready to get back to my dorm for some relaxation time (Maybe a an episode of House Of Cards.) Yet sadly i had to go back and study for my dreaded German test. Which in the long run i turned out to be worrying way too much about because the test wasn’t too difficult. For now that’s all that crosses my mind, hopefully some exciting adventures to come in the near future. Also here’s a photo of the brave ones that decided to go into the woods.

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Steyr & Schlierbach

Well… Here’s my first blog post so here goes nothing. Bear with me, hopefully as i do this more often it will become slightly more normal.

It’s almost been a full week since moving into JKU Kepler Heim and i can honestly say things started out rocky. Upon arriving i discovered that my new roommate for the next five or so months was a friendly Russian, also on exchange. I immediately experienced the language barrier that could show to be interesting over the next couple of months as my new Russian roommate spoke fluent german but his english needed some work. I can’t blame him though he went to study in a german speaking country most likely expecting to speak german most of the time and gets stuck with some ignorant american who can only hope to try and sign english words that he doesn’t know as a means of communication. Curious start to my trip to say the least but i wasn’t going to let that get me down. The room was nice enough (somewhere to sleep which i’m thankful for) and after a few days of settling in it was starting to look like home and that awkward tension between my roommate and i began to fade. As the week progressed i got all my paperwork done (bank account signed up, tram pass, class registration, etc.) and was starting to meet people from all over (thankfully it seems english is the language that everyone seems to know so thats what everyone talks in.) After a get together at a local inn and some drinking i could say that the ice was beginning to break for the new exchange group that i would be hanging out with for the next months which was nice. The next big thing was our trip to Steyr and Schlierback (towns located near Linz that had some interesting history.) Before i get to the pictures a little background on the two places. Schlierback was the home of an old monastery where the monks manufactured glass (for churches and the likes) and all sorts of cheese. Steyr was an old industrial town that at one point in time accounted for one third all iron production in Europe and thus the town was filled with old buildings reflecting its age.

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This was the inside of the old library at the monastery that contained books from long, long ago. A couple of interesting things our tour guide relayed to us in broken english: The oldest book they possessed was a version of the old testament that was 700 years old, and that the library when it went up for sale in medieval times was 20,000 of whatever the token of currency was at the times ( an average worker would make 1 token for a years work) so you can get an idea of how ornate and expensive it was.

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This is the old church that the monks come to pray in. The monks would pray at the chapel four times a day. Once early in the morning and once after every meal. Also another interesting tidbit was that there was 367 small angels scattered throughout the chapel. Our tour guide (who’s head you can see at the bottom of the photo) said they were unsure of why they chose 367.

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This was the view from the place we tested the cheeses that the monks produced. Beyond the beautiful view the building was modern so no interesting history there. Something funny though: While we were standing there eating fine cheeses, drinking some white wine made in the area, and enjoying the outstanding view one of the Finnish exchange students exclaims “Man, it’s tough being an exchange student these days, hard times…” Haha yea definitely some strenuous times for us exchange students but we’ll work through it.

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This is the river that runs through Steyr. Sadly i was in the back of the tour group so i didn’t catch much of what our guide was saying so no interesting history facts for this town. Here’s another view of the same spot just looking the other direction:

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Well that pretty much sums up most of everything that has happened this past week. Hope all is going well back home and i will keep everyone updated and of course the blog as well.