Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Do you see that miniature boat?
Früh Freitag, Alica, Annalise, and I caught a train to Bled, Slovenia. I had previously asked you to check it out on Google Images, yes? May I just say, it was just as beautiful as those pictures? It was. But let's back up. After our six hour train time, we arrived in Ljubljana. The Slovenians use more consonants than vowels. Ha, that is pronounced Loo-bee-yah-nuh. We went first to a castle atop a hill for a splendid view (I’m coming to take this as a regular thing—can you say spoiled? Some of the vistas my eyeballs have beheld are one of a kind, and I am grateful). How random it was to run into Elders as we were exiting the castle. It is heartwarming to not only be able to actually converse with someone, but to share religious beliefs is the most astronomical feeling in a foreign land. We greeted each other like we were old friends, ha, and we had a nice conversation with them. I have this ever-increasing respect for missionaries, especially those in some of the places I’ve traveled to. I mean, Slovenia? Anyway, after that, we went into two cathedrals, first St. Nicholas’s, and second, Annunciation. They were interesting and a haven from the cold. We walked to their Parliament with hopeful expectations because the Parliament in Budapest was unreal. After being disappointed, we boarded the bus to Bled.
Bled was 100% unreal. My words do it no justice, so I’ll just post the pictures. We got in Friday night and walked around the black lake with a majestic view of this glowing castle literally towering above us. It was lit up and looked amazing as it stood so high in the sky. The next morning, we took a boat to the center island where there is a church and an exhibition of historical artifacts. It was really neat; there is a bell inside the church we were able to ring in remembrance of a certain faithful woman. After this, we saw another church—which was also lovely, and set out through the snow up to the castle. We met a group of Americans, and it was wonderful speaking with them. We sort of stuck together while in the castle, and it was just one of those little tastes of home. Not to mention that the Alps there look jusssssssst like Utah. We live in such a beautiful place! Funny that I traveled all the way to Slovenia to be reminiscing of home. Hmm. After this and some other nonsensical happenings, we boarded a bus, then a train, and wound up in snowy Wien.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Woo! I managed to upload this little video to give you a taste of the atmosphere of the indoor market we went to while in Budapest. It was so neat; this music reminds me more of India, but it fit in to this scene. There was a multiplicity of meat markets, and I saw more skinned animals dead and for sell than ever before in my life. It was a cultural experience to say the least. Enjoy! Sorry it ends all weird. I was just freaked out being in there. Ha.
View of the Donau from the Bridge near St. Stephen's Basilica.
It was a pleasant weekend. During my stay I developed a profound respect for missionaries serving in Hungary; I cannot imagine how difficult it would be. The town is cold gloomy, and the people I encountered were not even remotely friendly. Despite its beauty, it is not a welcoming place. I couldn’t help but think how much the people I saw need the gospel. The whole world does! Anyway, the language is apparently difficult to learn—I can only imagine, it sounded like jibberish to me! The gift of tongues is mosdef a divine one Heavenly Father is gracious with towards His servants.
When we were in the catacombs, there was one option called the “courage walk.” It was insightful to me. It was simply a dark room lined with a single bar to hold on to and make your way from the entrance to the exit. We were meters under ground, so, naturally, it was pitch black. It was weighty to me; my first thought was “Hold to the rod, the iron rod…” I may or may not have had a hymn outburst for all to enjoy. I’ve done symbolic walks like this before at girl’s camp, etc, but that darkness was self-inflicted, with a mask or something. This was tangible darkness. I could not see my own hand in front of my face, it was that kind of darkness. The air was musky and damp, reminding me oh so much of Lehi’s vision—the cloud of darkness requisite to walk through in order to reach the tree of life. I realize this sounds philosophical though it was something simple and mostly dumb; however, it was an insightful moment for me. There was one random stranger who—in broken English—asked if she could cling to us because, “I’m skeeherd,” she said. May we succor those scared around us as we press forward through the darkness encasing us as we hold to the iron rod. The church is true.
Monday, November 17, 2008
A sweet place we passed on our tour..wish I knew the name.
Then came our best activity for the entire weekend, possibly entire study abroad: public baths. This is not a joke! Naturally heated, mammoth swimming pool-like bodies of water! It was a colossal place with multiple pools and glamorous buildings housing more pools and specialty rooms (? Lack for a better word… like saunas and stuff). We saw crazy people and had the best time there. It was amazing! It is supposedly a native, snazzy thing to do, but not a touristy attraction. So, for us, it was pure Hungarian culture a second, and we loved it!
Individual names carved out on these silver leaves.
A memorial at the Synagogue.
The façade of the Dohány Synagogue.
Inside Dohány, you can semi tell it is Oriental-ish.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Chico the cat. A Hootananny permanent.
This is it. Our hostel! We had a great time here.
Yesss. This was on the stage--ha.
Our first activity on Saturday the 8th was making out way to the one, the only Platform 9 ¾. It was legitimately rad! I was loving it; it’s a pretty popular place believe it or not, Will. After some photographing there, we went to Saint Paul’s Cathedral and hiked up the dome for yet another splendid take of the city. The cloudy skyline was punctured with innumerable cranes; I have gotten used to construction following me around. It was super windy up there, and because London had recently acquired a new Mayor, there was a parade going on, for which I had a birds eye view. After this we went back to Camden, ran a few last minute errands, met back up at the hostel, and began our return journey home. We encountered a hazardous complication which almost made us miss our flight, but needless to say, we were blessed. :) That’s what temple time does for you. We made it to the airport (literally) in the nick of time; the machines to check-in on even said it was too late to check in, yet somehow the attendants let us continue. We had sprinted and were beyond grateful. Ha. We flew to Bratislava and bussed back to Vienna, then barely making the Ubahn before it shut down for the evening. Oh, has anyone ever boarded a plane through the actual stairs and not through an airport hallway thing (what’s that called?)? I bet everyone has.. I haven’t, so I loved it when I got to. I felt like the president or something. A boy left his wallet in Bratislava, and this is a bit more tragic than it sounds because last week he was ROBBED. So now he has no laptop, no ipod, no phone, no wallet, and therefore no money. Poor guy.
We are back in Vienna, we are alive, and we are well. I am beyond exhausted. These past days have been packed with Viennese happenings and deadlines, so today is my rest-day before Budapest. Will, Grandma Rella was telling me about our forefathers from Hungary. How sweet! Do you have any radical stories for me, maybe? Peace for now.