In 2010, we went to Vienna, Austria. We also toured Europe, stopping by Berlin, Germany, Prague, Czech Republic, and Budapest, Hungary. It was our most expensive trip.
Hey guys. I meant to write a whole treatise on how my trip went, but I was gone for a month and that would just be too long. So instead, I’ll summarize all of the major events that I can remember in this neat, bullet point format. Like so: •
• Iris Jing Hu and I drive to DC, stopping to eat three times on the way. *yum!*
• Iris and I run into Trumpet Rob Troyan and drop off her car at Gordon Steenbergen’s parents Jack and Kate’s house.
• We stay at Trumpet Rob’s house because communicating with Daniel Davenport and Benjamin Davenport (who are also in the area) is impossible.
• Trumpet Rob takes us to a beautiful park in Maryland, then we go to the mall where Ben said he’d meet us at 11. Ben and Daniel show up some 4 hours later.
• We say goodbye to T-Rob and the Davenports take us to get food and then drop us off at the airport.
• We fly away.
• Iris watches the football game at Heathrow while I sleep. I wake up in time to catch 75% of the goals, which I find amusing, but all of the people nearby do not.
• Iris leaves her passport on the seat. I pick it up and hold on to it until she realizes it’s missing. She panics while queueing for immigration.
• Arrive in Vienna and get our keys. Our contact had waited outside for us for nearly an hour.
• Iris goes to her room, I decide to go on a quest for toiletries. I take a wrong turn and get hopelessly lost. I begin following signs that say “Einbahn” inside an arrow in the hopes that the arrow is pointing to something really cool. I follow these signs for two hours before I– somehow– find my way back home. It turns out “Einbahn” is German for “One Way.”
• I wake up no less than a dozen times throughout the morning and race downstairs, searching for the tour group that is supposed to meet there at 2 p.m. When I finally find a group of us that’s going there, I latch on.
• It turns out Nate is my neighbor. Also, he never got his luggage from the airport. This begins a five-day-long stretch of uncomfortableness and expensiveness at Nate’s expense.
• The tour is a grueling 5-hour walk through the historic parts of Vienna. Iris gives me a muffin that she’d kept. Steve Martin and others are jealous of me. I refuse to give up my supplier
• We arrive in time to change and get ready for the Welcome dinner.
• … it appears Vienna will not be good to vegetarians.
• Day 1 of VISU is long and intense. I still had so much to do from before VISU, so I can’t even enjoy hanging out at a local Pakistani restaurant.
• Jing, Gordon, Becky, Becky’s sister, and I go out to another restaurant. We learn first hand about the rudeness of Austrian waiters.
• In the evening, Dave, Jing, Kat and I go out to Charlie P’s. It’s a British bar in which everybody speaks English….. actually, everybody already speaks English.
• We get some falafels. This proves to be a regular occurrence.
• Breakfast at McDonalds with Kat. Neither of us is really awake, but we said we’d do it so we do.
• Christoph takes Dave, Mike, and me to an all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-want restaurant. It is awesome.
• After VISU, a group of us go downtown because Nate needs new clothes and we want to get dinner.
• On the way back, Mike runs into some people he knows and they take much of the group to a local bar to watch the World Cup game.
• I go back to stay up until 3 a.m. working on a paper I should have finished before I left for Europe.
• Christoph leads us through a tour through philosophical Vienna. We hang out at Casa Wittgenstein, the Schlick murder spot, and the Freud Museum. Wokka wokka wokka.
• I leave early, get back in time to finish the paper I’d had hanging over my head.
• Iris, Salman, and I go to a local bar to catch the Germany game.
• They don’t let us in for nearly 30 minutes. Jing panics, Salman is frustrated. I’m amused.
• We enjoy the game very much. Jing is devastated that Germany lost, Dave is happy the final game will be between teams that have never won before, and I’m sort of ambivalent. We have video to prove this.
• I come back and end up meeting talking all night to Amir and a few of his friends. They’d recently suffered a personal loss. We talked about it and a few other things all night.
• Yummy bread dumplings at Centimeter… mm…
• DREAMS! Guest lecturer blows our minds about REM sleep.
• Christoph takes us all to an absolutely fantastic wine garden. We have cheap wine and food and enjoy a view of Austria we’d not seen before.
• We come back and David Barack goes out to Flex, a local bar he’s been to twice before. Amir and I join him, then stay out longer. It’s very much fun, even if we do make fools of ourselves.
• I do laundry all evening. It costs me $20 and I have to walk 4 kilometers for the privelege, but at least I have clean underwear. Nate knows what I’m talking about. 🙂
• I consider going out to a club with some people, but end up having pizza with Amir and his friends Irina, Francesca, and Ulia and her boyfriend instead.
• Amir and I go out afterward and end up going to a really cool Latin club. We get back at 3 a.m. Dave and Jing are also getting back. I confirm with them that they both want to go to Salzburg the next day. Nate cancels. I think it’ll be fine: everyone else seemed really keen on going.
• David Barack gets two locals to organize a trip for us to go to Salzburg if we can get six people to come with. Many people say they will. Only I do.
• We miss the tram and end up taking a taxi to the train station. The trip is much more expensive for just four people than for six, but we decide to do it anyway.
• The train arrives in Hallstatt, but we don’t recognize it, so one of our locals gets out to investigate. The train takes off without her. It’s a very scenic moment and it amuses me greatly, but her boyfriend and Dave are panicked.
• We get off the next stop and hike to the local hostel then take a boat ride over to meet our missing compatriot. I enjoy the scenic view, but others complain at how this puts us behind schedule and we won’t get to swim, or ride a boat, or hike through the scenic countryside anymore. I am greatly amused.
• We find our companion and make our way into a Salt mine.
• We come back in time to see all the shops and museum close. But we’re hungry, so we grab a bite to eat then go to a local bar to watch the World Cup.
• We get up and catch the train to Salzburg: Mozart’s home town.
• The city is beautiful and we can’t get enough of it. We grab food at a nice place and have some impossible Salzburg dessert souffle. Apparently, it only keeps its shape for ten minutes. It’s worth it. Try it sometime.
• We go to the local castle, which has never been taken by force. It’s pretty cool.
• We get back in time for the FIFA final. I go to the fourth floor and watch it with about a dozen other VISU participants.
• Steve, Nate, Gordon, and I go upstairs to sit under the stars and drink beers.
• I check out a cool pizza place with Nate and the Martin clan.
• We meet their neighbors Patricia and Diana.
• Werewolf! That evening, Steve teaches us about Werewolf, which is a mystery game that requires nothing more than good acting and good friends. It was an utter blast. I never survived an entire game. :'(
• The evening devolves into a game of Kings. Nate and I eventually make our way back downstairs.
• Konrad Lorenz institute! I meet Bill Wimsatt!
• Mike Stanton and I get kicked out of a club, then a bar, then an ice cream store. We feel unwanted.
• Some Bob Jones University students prosletyze us. We find it awkward to explain that the conference we just came from is the exact opposite of what they’re doing.
• We have drinks with some couch surfers that seem extremely bored by us. Then, as we leave, they ask why we’re not going to keep hanging out with them.
• Mike, Dave, Iris and I go to a Mexican restaurant to talk about our plans. I was supposed to wait up for Linda, but I fail and she is disappointed in me. I am disappointed in myself.
• Laundry again. I try to get everyone to come with me to the Danube, so that I could swim nude, but they all stay out at a monkey lab all day instead.
• Dinner with Gordon and Susanne and Birkir. It’s insane how many people are in Vienna!!
• I race back to try to catch a movie with Amir, Francesca, and much of the dorm, but end up arriving too late.
• I still manage to have ice cream with Birgit.
• I translate for Eduardo Bermudez, who fields a discussion about the concept of artificial intelligence and chess machines. It is very interesting and I am scared to death
• Jing picks up my friends Daniel and Benjamin at the airport. Daniel’s luggage never arrives. Benjamin’s flight is delayed. I get these messages when I return, panic, and race to the airport.
• We cross paths. I come back hours later when they send me an urgent message. Oops.
• I return and we all go out, with Amy Dent, Dave, and Christoph to the WUK. It rains, but we go out to the only restaurant that’s open. 🙂
• I hop up to the top floor and say hi to some of my dorm friends. We talk for a bit when the fire alarm goes off and everyone runs down.
• Ben and Daniel refuse to move, preferring to burn to death than interrupt their sleep.
• None of the locals leave the building. Most of the rest of us just hang out talking near the fire trucks. 🙂
• I go back up and sleep in the lounge. Amir shows up in the morning and brings me a pillow and a blanket.
• The last day of VISU ends with a series of group shots.
• SUPER FRIEND BASH 2010 OFFICIALLY BEGINS!!
• A group of us go to the Belvedere to take pictures of the outside.
• We have to race to the airport as Daniel’s luggage arrives while I’m in class.
• We get back very late and rush to the train station.
• The people in the compartment with us utter the phrase “I’m an Artist.” They are a photographer and a PR specialist. They met while studying Contemporary Dance…. a long discussion about art begins. Then a discussion about the worth of philosophy begins. This proves to be a continuous topic throughout the trip.
• We arrive and take a quick cab ride to our hostel.
• Ben’s been to dozens of Hard Rock Cafes over the years, so he seems adamant about going to it. Jing e-mails Kat and Dave to tell them to meet us there that evening. Instead, Ben gets us to go there then.
• We eat. Our waitress charges us nearly $20 for six glasses of tap water. This is patently absurd.
• Ten minutes past the time we were supposed to meet our friends, Ben and Daniel decide to leave. We all get ice cream and shop for a bit.
• Kat eventually shows up. Jing waits a total of two hours. I feel bad, but I want to go home.
• Ben tries to get sleep. He hasn’t slept in days as Daniel’s snoring is about 20 decibels louder than normal. This proves to be a regular problem for Ben.
• Daniel and I go to Bar 25 to meet up with my friend Stephan from Australia.
• Bar 25 is the most awesome club/bar/place I have ever been.
• Daniel boxes in Stephan’s girlfriend to talk about how different European women are. Somehow, this eventually makes him our resident expert. This is sad, sad news.
• Jing and Kat join us. An older guy apparently hits on Kat all night, not realizing that day was her 21st birthday.
• Free breakfast just isn’t worth it. The hostel is like a rave meeting a Footlocker.
• Dave arrives to apologize for not meeting up with us the night before and bailing on the hostel. He’d… had success the night before. 😉
• We go out to Burger King, then hit up the Museum of Contemporary Art before meeting up with Dave’s new friend. Then we go to an Indian place to eat dinner and meet up with Stephan again.
• We hang out, drinking girly drinks. Then we get some beers and hang out by a bridge on the Spree River.
• Daniel dares Jing to jump. Then he dares me. We consider it for half an hour and would have done it if not for the fact that we still wanted to hang out with our friends.
• We all hang out a few more hours and mock Jing for her fear of butterflies.
• Breakfast with Nate and Daniel before packing up and leaving.
• I say goodbye to Jing. She hadn’t realized we were leaving, apparently. I feel bad.
• Cab to the train station.
• Train to Prague. We pass Dresden and listen to Jack Johnson’s “Breakdown.” Next time we go to Europe, we’re going there. Dresden is the Bomb!
• We arrive in Prague without a plan. We take a taxi to the nearby Hilton. We get the executive suite.
• We decide to collect another Hard Rock Cafe and go downtown.
• Prague square was breathtaking.
• We walk to a nearby biker bar. On the way, we see a cute chick playing the flute for money. I could get used to this sort of homeless people.
• Jacuzzi! Sauna! Steam Room!
• Free breakfast! … Well… I had Risotto. It was the only vegetarian option I liked.
• We head over to the train station and buy tickets for the next day. Czech customer service is a bit lacking.
• We walk over by some Czech architecture and end up eating some authentic Czech food… well… I had Risotto. Again.
• Some Dutch chicks walk out of the Czech restaurant. It was less than heartening.
• We hung out in downtown Prague some more before we decided to go back to the hotel’s free bar.
• I… indulge.
• I don’t recall anything past the last Manhattan. Apparently I smoked a cigar, said hi to a lot of strangers and pretended to be a ninja turtle
• Hungover breakfast, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. Horrible. Just horrible.
• Train to Budapest. The train empties, we find a dufflebag full of drugs, and Daniel witnesses a rape in progress.
• We arrive in a very disturbing train station: half-nude homeless people litter the ground. So we pay a taxi driver $20 and end up in another Hilton.
• Benjamin’s birthday jam!
• We walk around town and find it is a lot less rough than we’d expected.
• We meet up with Ben’s friends and go out for dinner. We enjoy a meter-long pizza and walk around downtown enjoying the sights.
• Sam takes us out to the water park. The slides are fun, the water is warm, the waves are exciting, and the crepes are delicious. Also, Europe is… nice.
• That night, we go out with Erika Belt, her husband Sam, and their friends at the US Embassy.
• We hang out for a few drinks, I try to steal some food from a nearby buffet.
• We head to a “Taco Stand” and have some “Mexican Food.” Also, a really cool combination of red wine and Coke. Must try again.
• For some reason, this place brings out some racist remarks in some people. I am uncomfortable.
• Daniel finally gets a European kiss. It’s like a French kiss but more general and less fun.
• Sam and Erika take us around town. We see the memorial of the Jewish Holocaust survivors and see some major buildings in the town. Did you know they keep St. Stephen’s hand in a case?
• We go down into some underground tunnel and explore the town.
• Rock Band! Pizza! What a way to end a trip!
• We leave for Vienna in the afternoon.
• Ben leaves his new sweater on the train.
• We arrive, get to our hotel, get food, hit the sauna, and go to bed.
• Our final day in Vienna, we meet up with Christoph and go grab some food at Centimeter. I loves me some bread dumplings.
• Christoph takes us to a Darwin rEvolution exhibition at the local museum. It is cool, but the taxidermied animals freak me out.
• Classical music concert!
• Back in time for sleep.
• Benjamin and Daniel leave early in the morning.
• I run into Jing at the airport. We’re wearing the same shirt.
• We fly back to America: she takes my seat, though… and leaves me without entertainment for 8 hours.
• We arrive, Super Shuttle our way to Gordon’s parents’ house, and drive home.
• … the drive home nearly kills us, as we’re so tired from the whole damn move.
• I realize I still have to move into my house and I don’t even have a bed to my name. Sucks.