Tag Archive: Snow


Until Next Time

Our second to last day in Vienna was spent at a number of exciting places. We started our day at the famous Schönbrunn, which was covered in snow and also holiday cheer. The Christmas market there is one of my favorite. I think the trinkets they sell are the best I’ve seen and the food is delicious. We all shared some potato soup as well as crepes, chocolate waffles and I had some delicious hot chocolate. Never mind that by the end of our time there my feet had frozen off, it was well worth the pain.

One of the fountains in front of Schönbrunn. It was completely frozen.

Frozen Fountain Schönbrunn

I loved returning to Schönbrunn in the snow. I’ve been there through three seasons and I really can’t say which one I like better. If only I could see it in the spring, but I suppose I need to give myself a reason to return!

tunnel

Snow

Schönbrunn Covered in Snow

Empty Road

After warming up a little on the U-Bahn, we headed to Karlskirche. Outside is another Christmas market and also a small petting-zoo, placed where the fountain is in the summer. All the children were having fun jumping around with the goats and ponies.

Karlskirche

Despite having walked past Karlskirche every day, I’ve never actually been inside. Today that changed.

Inside was very different from what I expected. The domed ceiling is mostly covered by a large brown platform and off to the right is an elevator that takes people to the top of the platform. I’m surprised that they would put that inside the church, because it detracted from the overall feeling of the dome and also the beautiful paintings on the ceiling, but on the other hand it was fun to take an elevator up into the roof.

The Altar of Karlskirche

After exiting the elevator there are a flight of metal and woods stairs that can be climbed even further up the dome. As we climbed them, the stairs creaked and wiggled beneath stomping feet. I felt a little nervous about the entire structure, but it was pretty cool at the top, looking down.

stiarcase

Looking down into the church.

Looking Down

I had to show my family St. Stephen’s, so we walked down Kärtnerstraße and wandered around inside the church for a good while.

stephens

That night we went to the Musikverein and saw the Rotterdam Philharmonic perform in the Golden Room. We were towards the back of the room, but seeing the entire stage and audience set out before us was pretty awesome.

The Golden Room: Musikverein

The following day we set out to find the Kirche am Steinhof, which is a church built by Otto Wagner. It’s a popular place to go for Art Nouveau lovers, but it’s not on the map of the city and the actual road to the church could be considered something of a trek.

The effort and time to travel there was well spent. In the white snow, the golden roof was amazing. We were the only people there, which was nice and we even explored the forest behind the church, which seemed to be a park.

Kirche Am Steinhof

Even though I must leave Vienna behind physically, I’ll always remember the amazing time I spent there. The city and the people I met really changed who I am and opened my eyes to new possibilities. I know that I’ll never truly leave Vienna and its culture behind. Even as I sat on a plane destined for the international airport in Paris, I never really felt sad about leaving and I think that’s because I know I’ll return someday. I haven’t seen Vienna for the last time. Someday, I’ll be walking down Kärtnerstraße again, peeking through shop windows, or strolling along the Danube admiring the new graffiti, or sitting outside the Opera and eating a warm meal from one of the food vendors. It’s hard to say goodbye, but it was easy to say, until next time, Vienna.

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My parents arrived early in the morning, so we had the entire day to tour the city and I acted as their personal tour guide. Once we checked into our hotel, they helped me carry all my bags from my host mother’s house to the apartment. It was a little sad leaving the room that I had stayed in for about four months, but at the same time I was ready to leave and have some change in my routine.

Afterwards we headed down to the first district and I showed them the Rathaus with its amazing Christmas Market, it was extremely cold and snowing, so we didn’t want to hang out too long. Just a few days before my family arrived the temperature dropped to freezing and it has been that way ever since, sometimes even getting below freezing, which is pretty with the snow in the streets, but makes for a cold tour of the city.

I also showed them Parliament, Hofburg, and the National Library. We took a tour of the famous Spanish Riding School, which is host to the Lipizzan stallions. They are all white, because the emperor wanted them all to look the same, so they are bred that way. However, the school likes to have one Bay horse, because it is considered good luck.

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The next day was museum day. To get to the first museum we headed out towards the south train station. The Belvedere is on the way, so we stopped to see the palace grounds covered in snow. There is also a Christmas Market outside the Belvedere.

*as an early Christmas present my parents bought me a fisheye lens, which is why the following photos are used with that lens =)

The ponds and fountains surrounding the Belvedere were frozen and the gardens were covered in snow.

Belvedere

Just a few blocks from Belvedere is the HGM (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum), which is a museum about the major wars fought in and around Austria. This includes the Turkish Sieges of Vienna, WW I, and WW II. It is probably one of my favorite museums here in Vienna. The amount of historic artifacts they have is impressive. Inside are a number of different weapons, armor, and other items of significance from influential people in history.

The stairway leading up to the second floor of the museum. The museum itself is a work of art.

The Staircase of the HGM

Weapons of WW II

Hot Air Balloon

The car below belonged to Franz Ferdinand, who was a Habsburg, the next in line under Franz Josef. However, he was assassinated in Sarajevo and because of this Franz Josef declared war. It was to be the beginning of the Great War. On the car are the bullet holes that missed Franz Ferdinand. In the room is also the couch where he died and the suit he died in. His suit had a small hole where the bullet hit.

Franz Ferdinand's Car

Next we headed to the Natural History Museum, which is right across from the Art History Museum. It hosts a number of different animals, minerals, meteors, and dinosaur bones.

The entrance.

Natural History Entrance

The ceiling of the museum.

Natural History Ceiling

Vulture

Giant Bird

Pre-Historic Dinosaur

Pre-Historic Dino

The Christmas market on Maria-Theresien-Platz, between the Art History and Natural History.

MQ

Day 115-120: Final week of the Semester

Our last week of classes in Vienna.

The best part was probably our presentation in German class. Annika, Addison and I gave a presentation on the Oregon Trail in our class. It was a great experience, not only because the other students had a fun time with it, but also because I could really tell how much my German had improved. Speaking in front of any group of people isn’t a strong point of mine, but when I stood up to present my part, somehow everything just went smoothly. I was able to just talk and everyone understood me. I made a lot of mistakes, but it doesn’t matter. I gave an entire presentation in German and it felt really good!

To sum up the entire week, we had four tests, two ten-page essays and two presentations, but everyone made it and came out alive.

Our last final passed quickly and as we celebrated inside the Institute, snow began falling from the clouds. We all went outside with a skip in our step and took pictures in the snow. It was a really surreal moment, standing in front of the Opera House, covered in snow. I’m really glad that we were able to see snow before we left Europe.

Snow and Me

After getting everyone’s bags to the airport for early check-in, we headed to Vapiano’s (one of our favorite restaurants here) and had one last dinner together. Then we went to Flanagan’s (an Irish pub) to meet Eugene (if you remember he was with us in Dorfgastein). We talked about our time in Vienna with him and he shared some of the highs of his own study abroad experience.

Even though I’m staying in Europe a little longer, the end of my classes is still sad. It means that my semester abroad is over and soon I will have to return to reality. However, I’m ready more than ever to face what is to come. I feel like it can only get better from here on out. Before coming to Vienna, I could never really imagined myself in Europe. I couldn’t even picture myself there when I tried, but now I know that it’s more than possible. I know that one day I will return to Vienna. It’s become a part of me that I don’t want to forget and the friends I’ve made here and the places I’ve been, will always have a special spot in my heart.

Day 59: Jungfraujoch

I had never heard of Interlaken before going there, so it was all thanks to Ari that I even made it there in the first place! It’s almost a given that if you go to Switzerland there are going to be mountains, and big ones none the less, so I wasn’t surprised when Ari informed us that just an hour from Interlaken was one of the highest train stations in Europe.

The station is called Jungfraujoch and it stands 3,454 meters high or 11,333 feet.

The night before we had asked one of the employees at the hostel, which day was going to be nicer. She told us immediately to go on Monday, because the following day was going to have horrible weather.

Monday morning, after a fitful night of sleep (mostly everyone in the room was snoring that night), we woke up to a bright day. There were a few clouds in the sky that covered the mountains, but even before we had finished breakfast they had begun to clear away.

There are multiple ways to reach Jungfraujoch. All throughout the little valleys there are a number of small villages, all of which are connected by train. Admittedly, getting to Jungfraujoch was pretty expensive (over 100 swiss francs), but we got to ride on the train the entire way up and none of the destinations points at the top cost any money. However, not everyone who visits Jungfraujoch has to take the trains all the way up. If we had had more time in Interlaken, hiking part of the way up would have been wonderful. There are plenty of hiking trails around the area that make it pretty simple, but as it was, we traveled by train all the way up, from Interlaken, to Lauterbrunnen, switched trains to Kleine Scheidigg, and finally boarded one last train to Jungfraujoch.

The entire journey from bottom to top is amazing and breathtaking. At first we were low in the mountains and our view consisted of rolling hills overshadowed by giant craggy cliffs, but as we climbed up the side of the mountain the world began to unfold around us. Suddenly we could see hundreds of peaks stretching out and many small villages tucked safely inside the valleys.

Looking back down the hill from where we came, all we could see was bright green grass and trees, but looking ahead, the landscape drastically changed and suddenly all I could see was snow, crumbling rocks and barren land.

About half way up we were able to spot the end station, it’s so high and yet it still doesn’t reach the summit! On the right of the Jungfraujoch station is Jungfrau at 4,158 meters or 13,642 feet. To the left of the station is Mönch, which is a little shorter at 4,107 meters or 13,475 feet.

Once we reached Kleine Scheidegg the train basically dissapears into the mountain and the rest of the way up we had no view. There are, however, two spots where the train stops and we were allowed to leave the train to see the view. One of the stops was called Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) and the other Eismeer (Sea of Ice).

View from Eigerwand.

As we climbed it was easy to feel the difference in temperature, luckily the train was heated, although the one before hadn’t been. After about an hour and a half of riding we finally arrived at Jungfraujoch. The tunnel we arrived in was long and dark and as I stepped out of the train, it hadn’t quite hit me just how high up in the mountains I was.

At Jungfraujoch there are a number of things people can do, but in general people stick to the “guided” tour. I say guided, but really there were only signs telling us where to go. After exiting the train we had to walk down a long tunnel until we came to the Jungfrau Panorama. Basically this is a giant room with wonky projector screens that show you what you’re going to see outside. It was kinda cool, but at the same time I would have liked to keep the view a surprise. However, the projections of the view, as you can probably imagine, are nothing like the actual view itself.

To get to the very top of Jungfraujoch we had to take an elevator to the Sphinx. The Sphinx is the platform outside on the mountain. It has a inside viewing area with two levels and then an outside viewing area with a large deck. It was one of the most amazing and absolutely freezing views I have ever experienced. I had dressed appropriately for going to Switzerland, but I hadn’t realized that we would actually be going so high into the mountains and I forgot a hat or a scarf. Despite my lack of hat and scarf, when I stepped outside I completely forgot about how cold I was.

The Aletsch Glacier

Standing there I felt so insignificant, just looking at the Aletsch Glacier and imagining the sheer power it must take to carve through mountains. I took so many pictures of the same view that my fingers were beginning to hurt from the cold and I could already feel my ears turning red and my cheeks stinging, but we must have stayed out there for at least twenty minutes. We had been completely lucky and there were barely any clouds in the sky, so we could see for miles and miles on end. It was the perfect day.

From the Sphinx we were apparently suppose to be able to see France, Germany and Italy, although I was all turned around and really couldn’t tell which way each country was.

A helicopter far off in the distance. There were also a few jets flying overhead. They would circle the mountain and then come around and fly over Jungfraujoch, probably showing off for the tourists.

On the opposite side from the glacier. One of my favorite things was the low-lying clouds hiding in the valleys.

After we had officially all frozen into icicles we decided to head back inside and check out the rest of the area.

Exiting the Sphinx, the tour signs led us down a long hallway that came out in a room with a giant snowglobe. This part of Jungfraujoch is called Alpine Sensation. Basically, it was a long tunnel full of lights and music, and some history.

The giant snowglobe that would change from day to night and then through the seasons too.

The second thing I was most looking forward to at Jungfraujoch, after the view, was the Ice Palace. To enter the palace we had to walk down a flight of stairs and then step into a very long tunnel completely made of ice. It was really exciting and fun to slide around on the ice with our shoes and walk through little tunnels made completely of ice.

The entrance to the palace.

A small ice tunnel that I could basically touch the roof of with my head if I stood up straight.

An example of the ice sculptures that were placed throughout the palace.

After goofing around in the ice palace we headed to the last stop on the tour, the Plateau. The Plateau is off to the side of the Berghaus, or the main building, and it allows people to walk out onto the mountain. There were ropes on either side of the Plateau, but it was actually a little precarious walking out there, because it was so slippery. Right outside the door the snow sloped up to the Plateau, so we had to shuffle our way inch by inch until we could reach flat ground. It was hilarious seeing so many people shuffling along up the hill. Luckily no one slipped.

The small hill everyone had to climb to reach the Plateau. It wasn’t actually that steep, but ice makes everything tricky.

After we took some photos Ari and I decided to have a race down the hill, so we both sat down and using our hands pushed ourselves down the hill on our butt. It was a safer and much more fun way of getting down.

Completely frozen and exhausted from the altitude, we decided to get lunch at one of the restaurants in the Berghaus. We were lucky, because after we were done eating the Plateau was closed, maybe because it was too icy.

We ended the day by traveling back down the mountain. This time we went through Grindewald instead of Lauterbrunnen, because Ari and I wanted to explore some of the smaller villages. We stopped for a half hour in Grindelwald, giving us just enough time to walk down the main street and enjoy the disappearing sun.

Walking the small streets of Grindelwald.

We arrived back at the hostel late that night and thanks to a special deal we had with the hostel we were served a three course meal at one of the local restaurants called Des Alpes. It was so delicious that we decided to return the following night. For one of my dinners I ate Rösti, which is a traditional Swiss dish made out of potatoes, onions, cheese and bacon. Yum!

All in all our trip to Jungfraujoch was a day that fell perfectly into place. We got lucky with the weather, we were able to walk out onto the Plateau before it closed, and we were served a cheap and delicious dinner.

I recently took a trip to Park City, Utah and was completely blown away by the beauty of the mountains. It was an amazing place and it has such a diverse landscape! It was shocking to land near Salt Lake City and see the multi-colored lake below and then see the towering Wasatch mountain range above.

Although Park City is best know for the 2002 Winter Olympics and great skiing, I actually didn’t make it out onto the slopes all that much, but that was ok. There was a lot more to do than just ski. In fact, I spent most of my time taking pictures.

 

EDIT: 4/25/12

More on the photos taken:

Most of the photos are ones that I took while in a hot air balloon. It was amazing to be so high up in the air and not really have anything surrounding me. The air was completely still and it was actually warmer up in the sky than on the ground. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I really can’t wait to go back up someday.

You can see some more photos of my family and I taking off in the balloon on the Facebook page for the company Morning Star Balloons. If you are planning to go to Park City I would highly recommend them.

However, there was a lot to do on the ground too. Another highlight of the vacation was getting to see all the old mines. There were a ton of very cool looking mines up on the ski slopes. Most of them were falling apart and unsafe, but it was fun to ski past them and think about what was once there.  The old mines fascinate me, because I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like to work miles and miles below the earth. One of the pictures I took is of a closed mine alongside one of the main roads in Park City.  I wish I could have taken more photos of the mines up on the ski slopes, but that just gives me an excuse to go back!