Tuesday, September 30, 2008


After our trip home, a bit of rest, and a bit of class, here am I reflecting on the beautiful week we just spent traveling. Really, we had a well-rounded vacation! From Hallstatt, to Salzburg, to Dorfgastein, and everything in between, it was priceless! I realize now that I would most likely never do many of those things on my own; I am very grateful the opportunities!

I wanted to include a few things that I skipped over that I realize now you’d like to know, Kristen. I feel like every time I wish to plant imagery in your mind of my experiences I am speechless, so I’ll be concise in these vain efforts to get the point across.

  • Dorfgastein. Wow. What a dream! The town was honestly unbelievable.

  • We stayed at a Pension, which is like a sweet bed and breakfast.

  • Our beds were clouds! How are their comforters so much more amazing than ours?

  • The man who owned Pension Theresia—Fritz—was the sweetest guy ever. He hung out and practiced German with us, showed us around, and played soccer with us.

  • Everyone here is so into soccer. We went to a game and it was pretty sweet! I’ve never been way in to soccer, but it was enjoyable because of the players' apparent passion—plus Fritz has coached some of them for years.

  • My best thing about this place is that there are literally cows grazing on the hills. Not only are the hills greener than the greenest “Green” Crayola, but there are legitimate cows on them. Cows with bells! It doesn’t matter if the hills are at a vertical angle, they are there grazing. I mean, where does that ever even happen?

I forgot to include the Pacher Altar St. Wolfgang. We visited this exquisite church in after Mauthausen—which, Will, was mosdef interesting; concentration camps are heartrending yet fascinating. In the picture is this unreal altar which, as you can see, is quite large. And quite expensive! It is wood coated in seven layers of gold. There is one little figure at the bottom that didn’t make it into the photo that was driven by tank to an exhibit and was ensured for an equivalent of 1.5 MILLION dollars. !

Mom, when you see Kerri Johnston next will you tell her that I thought of her as I read her favorite scripture the other day? Tell her she’s such a great example and I loved being in YW with her. Thanks.


Our last day in Dorfgastein was well spent. We arose sehr früh and commenced a “walk” up to a little house for a brunch. (The Austrians say “a little walk” about anything. It could literally be a few meters, or it could be a few miles. There’s no difference really.) No one had ever done this before, thus no one knew what we were in for.

The “walk” was pretty much straight uphill for over two hours. It was absolutely gorgeous; we hiked through forests (with signs bearing pictures of bears on them), across streams, near cows, everything. It was hardcore! We finally got to this adorable home and had some great food. Then we hiked down. Ha, funny that we hiked all the way up there for food… The descent took considerably less time. We then slept for a time, packed up, and trained it back to Vienna. So yes, there is a train out here, it’s not as inaccessible as I thought. I would recommend it for anyone anywhere anytime. It’s five fours from Wien.


Today we had the opportunity to go to mass. Not only that, but we were fortunate enough to be here on the only Sunday of the year when there is a special Thanksgiving program. I had quite the time at this meeting. I couldn’t understand much…there were odd things happening, weird smells, kids in altar clothes running around with bread and incense... Afterwards there was a parade with traditional clothes and ornaments (guns), and then everyone lit up for a smoke. Ha, then there was a bit more to the meeting. I couldn’t help but think that these people were so sweet in their endeavors to show God that they care and are grateful for their blessings, yet being there made obvious the divinity of our church. It’s funny how things like that can strengthen your testimony. Spending the Sabbath in such a minute town was bliss. The weather was warm and we spent the day outside and I was enlightened by some James E. Talmage. I absolutely LOVE Dorfgastein. Has anyone been here?


Today has been unreal! We woke and walked up to this tram area to take a “gondola” thing—like a ski lift tram thing—up the mountain. It was like a dream! We had to take two different lifts up to the top of this mountain. Yes, there was snow. Yes, it was freezing. Yes, it was absolutely amazing! Take a look at the pictures. We then took a slippery walk/hike for awhile down the mountain to a tiny hut that a man built and dedicated as a church to thank God. There was a cross on the roof, and a few paintings and a little statue in there. It was literally in the crevice of two peaks. After this we walked to a miniature cabin for some fruit tea and a native sandwich…bread with cheese (which was thick and smelly, word around the street is that it was absolutely volatile) or meat (raw bacon. This is what I had, and it was fatty and horrifying). Ha, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. Then we hiked down! And now we are in this remote city with the afternoon up for grabs. I’m not sure what we’ll do. But I’m off!


yep, this restaurant is from 803. legitimately? all i know is i paid 5 euro for a bowl of nascar broth..
view from the castle wall.
look familiar? anyone? "You are 16 going on 17.." except we found it later it's only a replica. boo!

Last summer I made my way to Salzburg; it was lovely and enjoyable. I found the city the exact same way today. Megan McAllister even purchased a local musician’s cd of classic guitar arrangements then, and I saw him today! Ha, I thought to myself… “Self, this song sounds awfully familiar,” I have his album on my iPod. I also found my way back to an open-air market of glory I basked in last year.

Instead of paying the 7 or 10 euro to go inside a castle atop the hill—I checked that off already—a few of us hiked the castle walls (literally) and chilled upon them with a fantastic view of the city for awhile (photo included). The city of Salzburg is absolutely wonderful; the history is classic. The day began with a tour from a very…localized tour guide who was thorough yet concise. We then ate at the oldest restaurant in the WORLD—I don’t know how this could possibly be known for sure, but just go with it. I got expensive soup which was completely unenjoyable, but I was eating the oldest restaurant in the world. So it was worth it.

We are now in Dorfgastein. It is a fake city that doesn’t exist somewhere in the Alps. I think there’s a grocery store here. Ha, it is miniature! We're tired and are going to bed now; tomorrow is a hike, where the idea of snow is not so far away. Hope all is well fam. Chao.


We eventually wound up at Hallstatt, the most BEAUTIFUL city in all the cosmos. Sincerely. Words, pictures, postcards, telegrams… nothing can ever do this place justice. Unreal mountains tower over this little city while the lake (where the Loch Ness certainly dwells) reflects the splendor. It is green and serene and picturesque beyond belief. It was rainy as we walked around this town in disbelief. I don’t know who lives there in real life, it was like a dream! Has anyone ever been there?

We went to a Salt Mine while in Halstatt. It was the best thing ever! It was super close to our hotel (seen as how the Alps are within arms reach) and after our short walk and a tram ride up (gorgeous view included) we were in the mountain. We got equipped in our awesome suits (see attached photos for proof of this transpiration) and began a pretty sweet tour going through the history of Pangea, and water level, and salt, and machine-men telling stories…we rode a few slides and a “roller coaster,” then reached the end. I tried to buy the soundtrack of the documentations but they haven’t thought to sell it quite yet. Ha, joke, it was horrendous.

We then took a hike through the Alps. (I can’t get over it that I’m just kickin it with the Alps!) It was five miles or so up to this euphoric waterfall—I have a thing for waterfalls. I took my shoes off and hiked up to a pool of water where one of the falls originated and the vista was unreal. Because I’d risked my life to get up there I’d spared my camera’s, thus I have no validity. It was absolutely unimaginable though.


Today we were fortunate enough to tour a famous monastery—St. Florian—where Anton Bruckner worked. It was unreal! There were legitimate catacombs there with bones galore and viele tombs where famosas were buried. We got locked in the catacombs actually, ha, pretty intense.

Monday, September 22, 2008

danube video!

okay take two of our donau pedal boating video for your enjoyment. cross your fingers!


Saturday. Usually my Saturdays are filled and busy and crazy, but today I had all the time in the world to just study and get stuff done before Sunday. It was delightful! Basically the highlight of tonight was… the ball. I don’t think you realize. I’m talking about a legitimate ball her. It was like Cinderella. I was even late. And I almost lost my shoe running out (to catch the train…), except my shoe wasn’t glass. Ha, anyway, there’s only the one picture because the lighting was horrid and did it zero justice. We got tickets at a suuuper reduced rate because we were students. Mostly we just sat and watched because people were legitimately waltzing—they would almost take us out as we stood watching! It was a superb event—a ball? Come on!


Wooooow. Today= Melk-Kremz.

We took a bus early in the a.m. to Melk where we toured the world famous baroque monastery “Stift Melk.” It was lovely! Words and pictures don’t describe. So I won’t even try. My best part was when we walked into one of the twelve (?) Libraries full of thousands of thickly-bound books. It had two levels, and reminded me soo much of Beauty and the Beast. I wanted to break into song or just pull up a la-z-boy and take a book at random! The view of the town was unbelievable from windows and spacious balconies as well: rolling hills, the Donau, foggy skies… ah!

From here we boarded the bus a bit to a bike shop where we all got a bike (equipped with classic bells) and began the 20 mile ride to Krems. Family, you would not BELIEVE the gorgeous-ness! You think south fork is pretty? This was uuuuunreal. We rode alongside beautiful forests, through picturesque town squares, and near the Danube. We found a quaint “Eis” (ice cream) shop along the way and indulged in heavenly goodness. Oh and we toured ruins from castles. It was a bit of a hike through (what looked like) Mordor, but we came out alive. Take a look for yourself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Danube movie

So I just found the one and only movie I meant to post. It was from the day we went pedal boating, and it's totally classic.

100% frustration. the wrong video just took 100 hours to upload. oh well, no use deleting it now. here's jason and ingrid michaelson singing "lucky"--originally sung with colbie and jason. mom, ingrid sings that song you looove called "The Way I Am." Erin really likes it too, I believe. It was legitimately sweet!


We didn’t sleep in our spare time today.

Well, we slept in, but the jet lag still wakes me at four or five. Frau watches tv until then, so I can always hear it blasting and can’t get back to sleep. We went to Cindy’s flat for some explanation of a few classes, uploaded some minuten onto our phones, got lunch, walked around the city, and went to the Danube and rented a paddle boat. Not a rowing paddle boat, but the kind where you’re semi-cycling, yeah? It was a gorrrrgeous day for this. Windig (windy) but nice. I’ll post some pics. After this, we chilled about in first district until we met up with some of the group and headed off to a carnival place to celebrate Mirielle’s birthday (a girl in the group). We went on the world’s oldest Ferris wheel! It was legitimate and pretty high, and considering it 100 + years ago is quite substantial. I loved it.

Vienna is getting cold. Frau Alfons told us fall is upon us and that’s it’s the best time of the year. I am loving this. Vienna is incredibly diverse. The group is well-mixed as well; there are new freshman, non-BYU students, majors of all kinds…everyone is so interesting and fun. I’ve never used much public transportation because I’ve been blessed with generous parents and thus a car; using buses, trams, street cars, the Uban, is all very new. I am enjoying messing up and learning and getting acquainted with it all. It’s surprisingly efficient! My German is not so good. I get discouraged when I can understand zero percent of even simple conversations. It’s okay, though. Patience.

Tomorrow is stake conference. I’ve been anticipating my church situation. It should be quite interesting for me to understand 2% of my meetings. But I should remember the time at Rumbi when we discussed how the church and the spirit are the same—no matter what land or tongue. I hope everyone is well. Love you!

(Robyn, if you’re reading this, I had a dream about you last night. Yes, you were a car dealership owner, and you were totally awesome at it. I was your little key runner or something, and you were totally legitimate in your business suit. Can you say random?! Ha, I hope you’re doing well and feeling better!)


Bratislava—“a miniature Prague.” I haven’t yet enough knowledge to compare the two, but Bratislava is a lovely place. I say lovely a lot. Slovakia is just schön (something like nice, only German feels more accurate). We had a guide who showed us all around the city in great detail. There are gorgeous churches and a castle atop a hill, only the castle was under construction and not very satisfying for a history-seeking eyeball. We were exhausted from our long day and a few of us cooled it at a park for a little while before getting lost on our way to the train station for a second.

I’d say the most exciting thing was having our first International Slovakian Dish: Bryndzoné Halušky so Slaninou! This is dumplings with Bryndza (famous Slovak SHEEP cheese) and bacon. The dumplings were potatoes and were okay, the sauce was… again, no English word, only Deutsch—verruckt (weird/crazy). I was so Hungarian, but even my state I could not force myself to eat it all. Good experience though! Plus BYU paid. No regrets.

It was a long day and my cold is getting the best of me; however, venturing to Bratislava was a great time. Only one girl got left at the train station. Ha, only one… Morgen wir haben (tomorrow we have) nothing. Sleep? Love you all. Chao.


My. Today has been quite a long, classic day.

I awoke at four—I am getting a cold—and couldn’t get back to sleep for long because the television was blasting. We had classes and information until 2:30, then Meliss and I went for lunch at a Bakery, and began a lengthy, circuitous trip to swim in the Danube. Getting to and from the 23rd district takes forever! Eventually we found our way, missing the group we were supposed to meet just by two hours. I couldn’t believe I was swimming in the Donau though! Kinda chilly, but totally sweet. Then we went to the Supermarkt for sustenance, and were then eager for our abendessen (dinner) of what Frau Alfons calls “Pitzer,” aka Pizza. Classic: our bus didn’t halt at our stop… nor at the next one… nor at the next. We ended in Ost Leising—so far from life! Ha, and the bus schedule is cryptic—we don’t understand it. Eventually we got home, and Frau Alfons said it was too late for the Pitzer. Ahh. So we made pasta on our miniature stove in our miniature bowl, all the while cleaning every plate and utensil. I’ve come to understand a different… mode (?) is lived here. It’s okay for there to be spider webs, crumbs, hairs, ____ all over. I promise my towel, sheets, or laundries aren’t clean, I don’t know how well the washers work! OH oh, there’s no dryer, and Frau hangs things outside to dry. So on our towel to dry our dishes there is everything imaginable. We bought makeshift paper towels today (toilet paper) and are doing our best. But I am in a foreign place; I can’t expect things to be the same! I’m praying for patience and to just embrace the differences.

Morgen we’re going to Bratislava—SO early! We have to be at the station at seib Uhr—7 a.m. Coming from the 23rd district=30 min, plus bus times, walking time, we have to be at the bus station at 558. baah. Loving this though! Hope you guys travel safely, see you next week!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meine familie, guten tag! Today was our first day in the city. My, let me tell you, the jet lag wore us out pretty early on in the day.

I slept great—thankfully—we awoke and had unser frühstuckt (breakfast) and got onto some public transportation to get to the AAIE (Austro American Institute _______--not sure about that E). It is a loooooovely school; a wealthy man owns the building and we rent a floor there. It has high ceilings, and intricate décor; the walls are fabric and cushioned, much like a quilt. There are seven klassenzimmer (classrooms), and there are two other universities from the states schooling there as well. The institute is equipped with internet, lockers, a kitchen, computers… etc. It is in the first district, in the heart of the town. I’m unaware how much anyone/everyone reading this is informed about districts. There are 23 “districts” in Vienna. They somewhat distinguish the class of the area, and are also part of the zip code. They basically surround the city; the closest are surrounding the city hall, and they spiral out. The first district is very touristy with all the museums, opera houses, and what not—therefore the shopping and food is much more expensive. My house is located in the 23 district. Ha. Meine Mitbewohnerin (roomie) and I have the farthest to go to get to Karlsplatz (the station right by the AAIE), which is where we’ll be going daily. Soo we got the school, covered a lot of info, went on a walking tour, ate lunch, and went over more info und dan our host familien started trickling in to pick us up.

My woman is single and worked for a cosmetic company. Her name is Eleonore Alfons and she recently retired. She is absolutely classic—so funny! She is beautiful and appears to be almost Native American. She lives in a cute home and we have our own apartment, but it’s much different than in America. It’s a separate room, and this is considered quite a luxury. She said that housing in Europe is ridiculously expensive to own a home—she gave us a ridiculous number for her house…500,000 euro… a year? We can’t remember if it’s a year or a month, however! That is still ridiculous. She also told us that citizens spent half of their money on utilities, gas, water, and gasoline. HALF! Maybe it’s about the same for us? Ich weiss nicht, aber dieser ist nicht gut! Frau has a weiner dog, fish, 26 birds, and a turtle. She is such a comical woman; she makes funny noises and uses facial expressions constantl. Meiene Mitbewohnerin is named Melissa, and she’s from Seattle. She’s only a Freshman, and she’s very sweet.

After Frau showed us around we wanted to go the Supermakt to get some food and cleaning supplies (our room has spiderwebs galore! And I have arachnaphobia, remember?)—and it was closed. Ha, 7.30 and no access. We’d planned to get dinner there, too. Luckily, we found a little place near the Uban station and got a _____ we don’t remember what they’re called either, ha! Our brains are PACKED with so much information, you wouldn’t believe it! Anyways, then we cleaned the room and ourselves, unpacked, and voila!

Morgen ist unser (our) erste (first) tag (day) von Schule (of school) (trying to get in the mode of Deutsch). It should be a good time! Hier ist dieser email. Oder blog. Yeah, it’s long. Time to sleep.

Post script. On Freitag (Friday) we’re taking train to Bratislava. Has anyone been there? This will just be a day trip, but Cindy says it’s like a mini-Prague. It’s beautiful and cheap to get to so we’re going! I’m sure it’ll be great.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


After much air travel i have successfully and gratefully landed in Vienna. There are 34 students here, and I am loving getting to know them all. We're at a quaint little hotel (isn't everything here quaint? i love it) just basking in the reality of our dreams. We have a large room with vaulted ceilings, floral wall paper, and antique decor. There is even a skeleton key to the bureau with a T on it. It would make a lovely necklace... don't worry. We have a balcony and the door is open to let in the air flow and sounds from the street below. We're located betwixt 70 and 72 Lange Gasse; it's a busy little street with many shops. I wish I had a bit more energy to check it out! But no avail here--I am exhausted. Tonight we plan to dine around 19:30 when the rest of the crew gets here, and then craaaash. Morgen we are meeting our host family and possibly going to the Austro institute--where we'll be schooling.

It's already lovely, and I've seen .2 seconds of the city. The narrow roads, blumen shops (floral) and people on bikes with baskets just makes my heart happy--it's beautiful here! Can't wait to get settled.

Hope all is well at home! The time difference is gigantic--eight hours. Kurtis is just getting off to school. Hope your egg was good this morn, homie, Kristen is good to you to make it every a.m. Tell Dad hello, have a great day at work, and if you talk to the grandparentals ask them what statue to look for. Gramp mentioned something and I knew exactly what he was talking about but I forgot. Oh, I believe he said it was near the Opera house? Welllllll my school is right there, so ask him to remind me of the statue to take note of. Love you all family. Tschüss erstmal!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

uhhh 12:40 am?

Hello one and all--

Mother dearest,
For thee this blog was created
So you can travel the Alps and spacious skies
With me, your daughter related.
My heart is fond of you guys,
God bless until we are reinstated.

Ha, it's late. I want you to know that I do care. I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity to study in such a lovely place. You have been very influential, helpful, and gracious in the planning of this excursion. I will figure how to work this blog and post some pictures for your eyeballs to enjoy.