Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11.23.2008


Today was the primary program. You know where my heart was: River Ridge first ward. Oh! How I miss my girls. It was a sweet sweet blessing to hear all those familiar primary songs auf Deutsch; I couldn’t help but hum along and think of days past. I was once again reminded to be grateful for the church, as whole and perfect as it can be in this world. The same principles are being taught world-wide, and that is an incredible thing.

Slovenia


It seems it is protocol for me to make friends with an animal in every country. not really, it just happens.

Do you see that miniature boat?



Me and Utah.
Utah.


?
more animal friends.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana and cute Alicia--who, by the way, just received her call to the Frankfurt Mission.

Hello familia!

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

video

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.

11.15.2008--Budapest, pronounced Budapesht

mosdef reminded me of Kurtis.

View of the Donau from the Bridge near St. Stephen's Basilica.

There she is. Full of beauty.

Within St. Stephen's.

Typical Hungarian market.


For some people, soda is as easy as ABC. Ha. :)

In the catacombs, an actual wine fountain! Or so they say.

Yes, that is a falcon and a baby Brewer boy.

A peak of some Hungarian architecture.

Thankfully, no tours today. We went to the second largest cathedral in the world (having viewed the third--St. Paul's--last weed in London and possibly the first someday in St. Peter’s in Roma)-- St. Stephen’s Basilica Cathedral, also known as the Basilica. It was so large and incredibly detailed! No matter how many spectacular buildings I see, I am always struck by their detail and grandeur. We meandered about the town after that and got back into Vienna early.

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

11.14.08

A sweet place we saw on the all day tour. So sorry I don't recall the name.

A sweet place we passed on our tour..wish I knew the name.

Town square.

The BATH! Best day!

Hungarian baths... a tradition mosdef.

These guys were loving their chess game. Not sure why this looks like daytime...

The city from the castle on the Buda side.

Parliament.

Castle atop a hill on the Buda side from which one of many great vistas were brought to pass.



Today our schedule read, “All day tour.” That isn’t something to be excited about, but our day ended up being great. We were able to experience the public transportation system as we rode into town; we visited two semi-castle-ish sites, one of which sat atop a hill was not only stunning in and of itself, but also benefitted us with its gracious view of the city. After this we went through some catacombs, then to a gigantic indoor market which housed masses of meat stores (all of which were full and grotesque! Will I ever feel the same about eating meat?). That was a cultural experience in and of itself. After our time there we took a boat tour up and down the Danube, which was a great time—naturlich! Ps I'm going to come home saying "Naturally!" all the time because it's so common here.

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!

11.13.08

A nighttime shot.

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.


Budapest is barely three hours from Wien by train. We somehow lucked out and stayed in a great hotel—note, hotel, not hoStel—where even towels were provided for us--what a simple luxury. We met up with our tour guide who basically wandered with us around the town showing us random things like, “Over dar ist Otel Astoria…” We did get the neat opportunity to enter Europe’s largest synagogue, and second largest in the world only to Cathedral of Sain John the Divine in New York. It was imposing and ornate, built like a Catholic cathedral except Oriental style. We subsequently walked around the chilly town for a glimpse of the blazing buildings across the Danube.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

11.8.08 Last Day

While we were in London, we stayed at a sweet place called Hootananny Hostel. Ha, it was ridiculous how off the chain this place was, seriously. It was in Brixton, which, I guess, is a shady part of town. A group of us told their cab driver we were staying there, and he asked if they had a gun with them. Ha. Despite that quite common reaction, we encountered no problems--quite the opposite, actually. Our hostel was the happening place—with a name like that, it ought to be! There was a pub and late-night dancing/partying, a restaurant with deeeelicious Thai food (I am officially addicted), and a whole bunch of crazy tenants. I think most of them were semi-permanent; we met a lot of interesting people, who were all surprisingly nice. We left our stuff out and about and we had no problems. I suppose some places and people just have more integrity than others. Hootananny. It was a good time.
Superb is right.


Friend.

Chico the cat. A Hootananny permanent.

This is it. Our hostel! We had a great time here.

Yesss. This was on the stage--ha.
Hootananny!





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.

Out with the old, in with the new. I used this bad boy up, see that hole in the pocket? All the zippers were broken, and as I was conversing with my amigos about buying the brown one, the strap snapped off. I took that as my answer.

Outward view from St. Paul's.

I promise I don't always get eis all over my face, but this waffle topped with ice cream was melting quickly! who thinks to put ice cream on a waffle?! it was spectacular by the way.

Kaylynn, these boots reminded me of you.

Atop St. Paul's. I do love the wind.

Downward view from St. Paul's of the parade below--for the new mayor.

Little did I know it was illegal to take this picture...which makes it all the more valuable. This was attained after hundreds of stairs spiralling upward.

St. Paul's.

Platform 9 3/4! Just about to disappear through the wall to catch the Hogwarts Express...

yesssssssss.