Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blog Europe

Well… I am back. I wasn’t able to write after the second day because I had no Internet service in Austria. That was not cool though because so much happened there. Well, let me start from my last day in Budapest. That was the day we went to the Budapest school.

January 22, 2007
I had to get up early and eat breakfast. It was basically the same breakfast as the day before. We then went on the subway until we got to the correct stop. We got off and were met by a woman who took us to the school. We met an English teacher who worked there and then we met a few seventh graders who told us their names. They seemed very nice but we didn’t get a chance to talk them much. We learned about the school, which was a Jewish school. It had about 400 kids and it was larger and much nicer then Ramsey. Our group finally split up and went to separate classrooms. My group went to a physics room. I sat next to two girls named Vikki and Rachel. They were doing a model of trying to measure something (I think) but they were confused and didn’t really know what to do. They asked me if I wanted to try. I tried but I was unsuccessful. Elliot, Cecilia, and me all talked to the kids in a group and they spoke incredibly good English. We went into an English class and they were playing loud heavy metal music. A kid brought it in and the class listened to it while they filled in the missing words on a sheet of the lyrics. After that we talked to the girls a little more and then it was time to go. From there, we went to a thermal baths place where there were hot swimming pools outside. It was nice because it was raining and I got very hot. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and that was our last full day in Budapest.

January 23, 2007
The next morning, I had to get up relatively early because we were going to ride on the train around 9:00 but we wanted to go the Hungarian market. That meant we had to get up extra early to get there before we left. Cecilia and I started freaking out when we woke up because GUESS WHAT?? We woke up to late! Cecilia had really wanted to go and she was very disappointed. She knocked on everyone’s door. When she came back, she got in the shower. But then there came a knock knock knocking. I opened the door and guess who it was… Mr. Needleman! I stared at him with a surprised yet scared look on my face. I was not expecting to see him. He was supposed to go to the market already. I called for Cecilia and I finally said to him… “You just woke up… did you?” He took Cecilia and me to the Market and I got some gifts for my family there. We got back to the hotel and got into the taxis, which took us to the train station. When we got to the train station we hung out there for a little while and I bought a Hungarian dog magazine. We then got on the train when we got back and it was a nice train ride. We went to the dining car and ate some food. I had some broccoli and cheese soup. It was nummy yummy. I then slept on the floor the rest of the train ride. When we got to a stop, I was hoping and hoping it wasn’t our stop but it was. I was very disappointed. We got off the train and went into the train station. It was nice to see a language I sort of knew. We ordered a taxi and went to our next hotel. I was glad there wasn’t a freezing pool like the one at our last hotel (in case I forgot to mention that! OOPS!). We went up to our room and it was very beautiful. We hung out for a while and then went on the tram and took it all the way around and looked at the sights. After that, we came back to the hotel and got dressed up. We then went downstairs to the restaurant and ate a nice dinner. I had some beef soup, which had vegetables, beef, and pasta in it. From there, we went the SPCO concert. Everyone was so tired that we all fell asleep at it. It was a little embarrassing. Elliot, Cecilia, and me went out to get dessert with Elliot’s mother. When we were going home, we got lost for about an hour!! It was very funny. We saw a beautiful gothic church we found out later was St. Stephens’s church and we even toured it later as well. We were all very tired by the end of our excursion that when we got back home and we were very tired and got some rest.

January 24, 2007
The next morning, we ate a breakfast very similar to the breakfast in Hungary. There were meats, vegetables, fruits, pastries, desserts, and cereals. It was very delicious. I loved it!
After our meal, we went walking and Kate lost a credit card or an ATM card or something like that so she had to go back while we kept going to the church. On our way there, we stopped at a hat store and we tried on lots of hats. It was so much fun! They had lots of expensive but fasionable hats. Afterwards, we visited the Gothic church we saw yesterday. It was even more beautiful inside. It had an alter that had frogs and lizards carved into the railing. At the top, there was a dog carved into the stone that would protect the people from the evil creatures climbing up the railing. There were also stained glass windows, which were gorgeous and let a lot of the light shine into the detailed room. It was cold enough inside the church that you could see your breath. The church was very tall and large and I found it very hard to believe that people without cranes, tools, and equipment. Like we have today could build such a marvelous structure. I loved being in the church and I was pretty excited when it turned out we were going to take a tour in the basement where all the tombs were. When we went down there, I was very disappointed to find out we couldn’t take any pictures. The tomb of Marie Antoinette’s mother was buried down there. What was even more exciting yet scary was that people are still being buried down there now. I think it would be so neat to be able to say up in heaven or where ever you go when you die, “I was buried and am being kept where Maria Theresa was buried!” I think that would be awesome. Some other interesting things in the catacombs were we saw rooms where people kept dead bodies and we saw a room where the bones were stacked up perfectly around the room but there was no more room left in it because there were to many bones. It also smelled pretty darn bad!!
Elliot met us after we were finished with our tour and he wanted to see it as well so he left us and went to see it. We were all very excited for him on this day because it was his anniversary of his birth... his birthday! While Elliot went on the tour, I went with some of the adults and the other girls went to get some pizza and then we did a little bit of shopping. We went to a chocolate store and I got some chocolate for my math class. When we met Elliot and the rest of the gang, it turned out they didn’t get to go on the tour so they got to see the tower instead. Elliot said it had lots and lots of stairs. I would have liked to see that sight but I didn’t get to go… not this time.
After our experience, we went to the Spanish Riding School and got a tour. It was so neat. There were many different rules that had to be followed and they were very strict. The one that caught my attention the most was that women couldn’t ride; only men. One man was assigned five or six to take care of and then no other person could ride or handle that horse. We saw the horses and they were the most beautiful white I have ever seen. I loved how when they are born, they are a blackish-grayish color and over time (after four to twelve years) they turn white.
After the tour, we went to the gift shop and I got some coasters with some pictures of the horses on them. We went to one of the most American shops you could ever think of after that: Starbucks. We stopped there and waited there while we warmed up because it was a little bit colder there in Vienna than in Budapest.
From there, we went to see Austrian Imperial Crown Jewels. We didn’t have much time to see much so I ran through quickly and saw most of the items. They were very beautiful and I can’t believe people would use the swords, clothes, and religious structures almost every day of their life when now we can’t get to close to them at all. Will any of my things be worth anything to anyone in the future? Will anyone see some of my things behind glass? Wow… what a thought!
After we finished looking at the crowned jewels, we went and listened to a synopsis of Don Giovanni, which we were going to see later that night. “Skip” Layton told us the summary. He told us the story and played us a little of the music. The music was so soothing and I was so tired I fell asleep. I felt so bad and so rude but I couldn’t help myself! What was I supposed to do? Hold my eyes open like a maniac?! It was fun though. I liked the story a lot.
After the summary, we were behind schedule so we had to stop at a restaurant and get some food. Guess which one we stopped at? MCDONALDS!! It was weird going into one of those but it was fun. It was a lot nicer than American ones and there were a few different things on the menu. We rushed back to the hotel room and quickly ate and got dressed.
We rushed to the opera and got there in time to get tickets and we even had a few minutes to spare. I had the honor of sitting next to Elliot which was kind of fun except for we got lost when we were finding our seats. We were in Box 11 except the problem was there were like, a million Box 11’s! We went into the wrong one once or twice until we finally found our correct seats. I feel asleep once again here and my head was back and my mouth wide open. When Elliot noticed, he poked me and woke up with a jolt. It was very embarrassing. Cecilia and Elliot switched seats during the second half so she could sit by me and I liked sitting by her. It was a lot of fun. I did fall asleep by her but she would give me a small poke when a good part arose. I really liked the opera. It was entertaining. From there, we went back to the hotel and went to sleep since we were all so very tired from our long hard day.

January 25, 2007
The next day was our last whole day. This was our shopping day. It was a nice, more relaxing day, which I truly enjoyed. We went over to the area where the Gothic church was and went shopping in that area while Elliot went on the tour of the tombs. I got to go shopping with the other girls for a while. It was fun but I had to look for a while until I finally figured out what I wanted to get. I got the most beautiful thing for my dollhouse. It was a kitchen sink set with things like dishes, plates, silverware, wine bottles, soap, shelves, cabinets, and a china sink. It is gorgeous! I also got a mask at another small store. It was a lot of fun. Elliot broke a few things on the trip like a small man bring hung. He broke his head off. Personally, I was kind of glad he broke the head off so the man could be free of the awful fate. For lunch, we had a Viennese bratwurst, which was very good. It was wrapped in bread and there was a lot of bread on it so I fed some of it to the pigeons. They seemed to enjoy it a lot. From the bratwurst stand, we went to Mozart’s house. It was fun. We got to go where ever in the house and look at some of the furniture in it. My favorite thing was a 3-D video of some famous selections of his operas. I enjoyed this experience a great deal. After the tour and when we finally got back, we had some down time before we got to go to our last main event: a ballet. It was very fun a beautiful. I barely fell asleep and just for one moment. For almost the entire thing, I stayed awake because it was so amusing and fun. But when we were going to go home, we were going to walk and it was pretty far. We got a little lost and I didn’t want to walk home in my heels. Everybody we asked for help from thought we were crazy walking home that far. We eventually took the tram and the subway because it was quicker. We got home and Cecilia and I watched a few German shows, a fashion/modeling show, which we had watched for the past few days, and then we watched Conan, which was in English and it was very funny. We finished packing during this time. We were very tired by the end of all this so we wet to bed, ready for the adventures that awaited our homecoming tomorrow.

January 26, 2007
Today was the day we were going to go home. I woke up with a small stomach ache but I seemed to be alright. Later I found out I was wrong. I had a smaller breakfast than the other days but it was still nice to have something in me. Our group was ready to go to the airport so we got in our taxis and said good-bye to Vienna. I still wasn’t feeling well when we got there but I decided to ignore my angry stomach. We stopped in a few little stores but I didn’t buy anything. When it was finally time to go through security and board, I started feeling sicker and sicker. My stomach started to hurt so bad and I started feeling dizzy… never a good sign. I was telling Elliot and Mr. Needleman that I needed o sit down and Mr. N was telling me I could do it in a couple seconds because we were very close to the front of the line. I said one more time, “I need to sit down!” I what I think happened (Elliot saw it, I didn’t) was my face turned gray, my eyes turned crystal clear blue, and I fell over. Mr. Needleman caught me and I was sort of kneeling so he tried to kick my legs up. Elliot thought I was dead but he acted like a gazelle and took about five steps over a twenty meter area and got me some water from the Starbucks. Here was the quick and to the point conversation:

E: Do you speak English?
SB: Yes
E: I need some water. My friend just fainted!

He brought me the water and I woke up. I asked him if I just fainted and he told me I had. I drank some water and a guy who worked at the airport helped me. He let me take my water on the plane and the flight attendant was very nice to me. “If you need to throw up, there is a bag right here. If you need me, just push this yellow button here and I will come.” She said to me. She also checked in on me many times. I fell asleep most of this flight. Elliot kept saying to me, “Claire, please don’t ever faint again. You scared me so bad. If you ever do faint again, I will faint, too.” On the next flight, I slept the first half hour or hour. I filled out a small slip of paper on what I brought back and that sort of thing. Then I watched movies. I watched Flicka (which made me cry uncontrollably), Beauty and The Beast, and 102 Dalmations. I loved them all and they passed the time very well. I also played games and slept some more. When I got back, Elliot had to go stand by the blue line and get checked because he had a sausage in his bag! I thought that was pretty funny. My dad was there to pick me up and so were the rest of the parents and families. I felt very weak but I could walk but very slowly. I did however feel fine the next day. Once I got back from getting food and visiting the rest of my family, I went home, walked the dog, showed my dad the treasures I brought back, and just hung out.

I loved this trip so very much and I know I will remember it always. I would like to say thank you to Kelly and Kate who made this trip possible. I love you both! I also love Cecilia, Elliot, And the other girls, Sophia and Jasmine. Thank you all. I will post pictures later. Thank you to all my supportive friends. I missed you on this trip and I missed America but now I miss Europe. Oh well… What can you do?



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