Oct 25, 2011

No Dream is Ever Too Big

Kendal and I recently found out that our host mom's daughter-in-law, Brigitte, owns a boutique.  It's next to the U-bahn station, so we stopped by on Wednesday to visit.  It's a really cute shop.  Brigitte told us to stop by someday when she closes so that she can show us everything!  Can't wait. 

A few weeks ago on Wednesday, a few of us went out to Huttledorf (the end of the U-4 line on the U-bahn) where Kiersten and Lindsay live.  We shared pizza and then went over to their house to watch The Ring.  It's a bit scary, but definitely not near as heart stopping as I thought it would be.  Personally, I still think Signs is the scariest movie I've seen.  It was fun to hang out with just a small group of us though!

We got back on Sunday from our 10 day trip which included stops in Český Krumlov and Prague in the Czech Republic, Dresden and Freiberg and Berliln in Germany, and we even stepped over the borders into Poland and Slovakia for a bit.  It was such a fun trip!

Our first stop was Český Krumlov, a small but very beautiful town.  It was crazy going into the Czech Republic because I really have no idea what any of the signs or people are saying.  At least in Austria and Germany I can understand a little of what's going on!  But it was really fun.  We walked around the town just hanging out and taking pictures.  Chris, Stephen, Josh, and Maddie and I found a mirror maze!  That was super hilarious, we never knew when we might actually touch a real person or just their reflection.  We also found a playground which we loved.  Playgrounds in Europe are so much more fun than ones in America because they don't have all those safety regulations!  There's no boring plastic play structure, just fun ones!

We found a bowling alley as well and 18 of our group went.  For a lane it was about 60 Krono for an hour, and shoes were 10.  Splitting that up, we each paid about 3 dollars total to bowl for an hour, how great is that?  There were six people to a lane, and we were having a competition between the lanes to see which group could get the highest score.  Becca, Lindsay, Josh, Chris, Kiersten and I were in one lane, and guess who won?  That's right, we did.  Total domination!  It was really fun, and we were super loud.  Everyone else in the bowling alley would get a strike and even cheer, our whole entire group went crazy if someone even hit one pin!  They probably thought of us as crazy, dumb Americans, but we had a great time!

Český Krumlov Castle 


Mirror Maze!
The sweet playground


The Winning Team!

When we went on our first trip to Salzburg and Munich we took a tour bus and had the greatest bus driver ever, so our professor requested that he be our driver again for our 10 day trip.  So we got Willi again for this trip!  Before the trip Professor Minert and a few of the girls on the trip who are interning, did some family history work for Willi, because he had told us that he didn't really know anything about his parents or where his family was from.  They compiled all their information into a folder to give to Willi, and then we surprised him and had him drive us to this little town on our way to Prague.  We went to the Catholic church where his father was baptized, and gave him the folder of his family history there.  He was so happy he was tearing up.  It was so great to do this for Willi, and even greater that he really appreciated the effort the girls and our professor took to find out all this information for him.  After that Willi invited us to dinner, and told us he would buy us all schnitzel on our way home to Vienna at the end of the trip.  Such an awesome guy!

Prague was really fun as well, but there were so many people.  We took a tour of the castle (which is the biggest castle in the world), and that was really neat.  A few of us also rented paddle boats on the Vlatava River.  It was fun to see the city from the river, to relax, and not stress about moving through all the people on the streets.  

It was interesting going to Dresden.  Before our trip we watched the movie 'Dresden' which shows the whole town getting bombed during the war.  Actually being there was a sobering experience.  Wherever there was empty land, there had been a building or structure there before the war.  Whereas the streets were narrow and buildings packed tightly together before the war, now the streets are wide and spacious.  It's just sad to think about.

This church was destroyed during the war,
and has just recently been rebuilt.  They
tried to use as much of the original as
possible in the reconstruction.

Church ruins that have been left since the war

Going to the Freiberg temple was an amazing experience, I can't even describe it.  I loved every moment of being there!

Berlin was a great experience as well.  Our first night there we went to Check Point Charlie.  In the morning we went to a place where a young man named Wilhelm Huber was executed.  Wilhelm Huber was a teenager when he began questioning the actions of the Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.  He listened to BBC news which was against the law and him and his two friends also made and distributed anti-Nazi propaganda.  He was captured, as were his friends, but Wilhelm was the only one sentenced to death.  Before he was executed he was allowed to send three letters to his loved ones.  All the letters said essentially the same thing.  Wilhelm bore his testimony that he knew the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true.  He said he was glad that soon his life would end because being alive, at this time when war was waging and people were being persecuted, tortured, etc., was unbearable.  He also wrote that he was sorry that in his last hours he would be forced to drink alcohol (because prisoners were forced to take a shot of whiskey to numb the brain, so they wouldn't fight back when being taken to be executed).  We went into the very room where he was executed.  On the records, it says that from the time Huber walked into the room to his time of death was 18 seconds.  Wilhelm was only 17 when he died.  I have so much admiration for this young man who fought to his death to stand up for his beliefs.  

The room in which Wilhelm Huber was executed

A monument commemorating the Jews of WW11
We stayed in a small town called Forst one night during our trip.  It is right across the border from Poland.

Bridge between the former GDR and Poland
that was bombed

Willi didn't want his bus dirty so he cleaned
all of our shoes before we got on the bus!

Here are just a few random pictures that I have (or other people have) taken of Wien since we've been here.  I love this city, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I'm having to explore the world and experience the German language and Austrian culture first hand.  I love it!

Hundertwasser Huas

Maddie and I in Wien!