Tag Archives: Europe

A Standing Ovation in VIENNA!

Has it really been a week and a half since my last post!? Well that’s embarrassing…

I do look forward to getting back to my regularly scheduled (hah!) programming.

Now where did I leave off? Ahh. Prague.

Okay, the next morning we had to pack up early (again) to leave for Vienna, Austria, several hours away. Isn’t it interesting how the length of time it takes us to drive to my parents’ house in the same state can take us from one major city in Europe to another in a different country?






That morning my appetite was giving me fits again. While getting ready I was starving but once I got down to the dining area for breakfast, I couldn’t stomach eating ANYTHING. I nibbled on a bit of muesli before calling it quits.

After several hours of road travel, I inevitably got hungry, but still had my weird appetite. Just certain things I COULD NOT imagine eating. Except this.


Yep. It’s some pastry filled with a ton of sugary custard. It was all I could stomach and it was probably the best thing for me because of it. It was might tasty and I was satisfied.

Oh, and during another convenience store stop in the Middle of Nowhere, Europe, I spotted Nutella (one for home and “one for now!”)! I also snagged some bread (albeit not good bread) and some Kombucha for my lunch.


Once we got to Vienna, we were running a bit behind, so our stop at the cemetery of many great composers was quite short lived, but I think it was probably enough, even though I probably could have stayed longer just photographing it.




I mean, not to sound creepy, but I really do like cemeteries. I like the tombstone art. And maybe I have some of the macabre tendencies of a former quasi-Goth. Whatever. I still think they’re pretty.







Immediately afterwards we went to tour the Shonbrunn Palace. This was one of the mansions that belonged to the Hapsburg monarchy and was designed as something of a miniature of the palace at Versailles.

Indoor pictures were not allowed, so these will have to suffice.






The palace gardens! I am told that it’s GORGEOUS in the summertime! I guess I’ll have to take their word for it. Or visit again another time in the summer. Winking smile


Seeing the structure on the top of the hill REALLY reminded me of Monticello. But then I realized that Monticello was built roughly around the same time and modeled after these buildings. This is the REAL DEAL here! It was hard for me to think of that. I’m so used to seeing reproductions in the the states!






After our tour, we had to leave for an early dinner. I snapped various shots around town through the bus window.




Um, can we have walking and biking lanes?!?!


Pretty please!?!




Our restaurant! Kardos, which is decked out quite nicely, I’ll say.



I love the style inside. I only wish I could have chosen off the menu. There were such awesome things to choose from! But since we were a massive group, we hadn’t a choice.




I wouldn’t have ordered this. Another beef-in-a-sauce with a side of bland dumplings. I think this meal secured my realization that I’m not big on Central European food. I found it rather bland. But then again, stuff was chosen for me. There could be some awesome dishes I don’t know about. I ate about three of my four pieces of meat and gave the other to Kris. I don’t recall eating all the dumplings, either.


But the cake was good! I never had any problems finishing dessert!





Then we rushed off to our final choral concert at the Karlskirche. I unfortunately got NO pictures of this church since we changed clothes in a different building than we performed in. I will say that it was literally FREEZING in that church (these historic churches in Europe do not have heating, and with all that marble…sheesh). Unfortunately my performance shoes disappeared in Prague, so I performed on the below-freezing marble floor in a pair of brown socks plus a pair of men’s black socks that another choir member pulled off his feet and handed to me out of pity.

I took and wore them because I am not above accepting charity. Winking smile


In case you missed it in a previous post, here’s the video of our ENTIRE CONCERT at the Karlskirche in Vienna! We were blessed with a standing ovation at the end! What a great honor! A standing ovation in VIENNA!

Do note, this video does absolutely NO justice to the acoustic power of that room!

Alright folks, this is my second-to-last European trip recap. Stay tuned for the final chapter!

In case you missed any, here’s what I’ve shared so far:

En Route to Europe
Eisenach, Germany
Epic breakfast in Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig, Germany
Terezin, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic, Part 1
Prague, Czech Republic, Part 2

Fairy Tale Town


It took some wicked ninja computer skills, but I finally got Windows Live Writer to get over itself and let me post a billion photos without automatically lumping them into an album! I don’t know about you, but I never sit and scroll through a blogger’s album. It just doesn’t happen. None of the computers I use can handle that much action.

That being said, I hope your computer can handle loading this post. I’m praying mine can! I can tell you know that photographing Prague requires a high quality wide-angle lens and unlimited time. Oh, and if you’re really trying to capture the intense beauty and essence of Prague, well, you’ll fail. You just have to go there. I really had to whittle down the number of photos I decided to post here. Here’s to hoping I can go again!


Here’re some Czech Crowns, or Korunas. They’re so pretty!


Our first stop in the city was the Prague Castle (the largest ancient castle in the world) grounds and St. Vitus Cathedral. The outside of the grounds reminded me of something that should be used as a setting for a live-action Beauty and the Beast film!


I mean, it’s so fairy tale-like!





Epic view. When international diplomats come to Prague to speak, it’s usually right here. Looks good for the press, the tour guide told us. Winking smile




And then we got to the cathedral.

Oh. My. Gosh.






I spent a great deal of time lying on the ground just hoping to capture the enormity of it.



I didn’t even scratch the surface.







*click* *click* *click* *click*….






Construction on the St. Vitus Cathedral began in the 1300s and was finally completed in the 1920s. The section you see here in the following picture was part of the earlier construction.


The castle grounds contain several different historical architectural styles, including baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, etc.



Haha, a blacksmith….



The view of Prague from the castle walls…
















Walking to the Charles Bridge…


The Charles Bridge reaches over the Vltava River and is studded with various sculptures depicting important historical and sacred figures.



This is St Wenceslas (of the Christmas Carol, “Good King Wenceslas”). He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.


If you look directly under St. Wenceslas, you’ll see an engraving with several figures rubbed shiny. The figure on the left is a dog. You rub him if you want to come back to Prague again. You rub the figures on the right for good luck. I rubbed both. In love











The Astronomical Clock. Aka, the coolest cookoo clock there ever was! I wish I had a video of this thing in action!



One of the things I loved most about the Czech Republic was the AMAZING sculpture art. I always say that the art that I really find appealing is the art that “breathes.” It pulls you in and moves you. It makes you feel what the image is meant to portray, as if you are a part of it. Every sculpture I found everywhere in the Czech Republic gave me that feeling. I’d love to visit Prague again just for the architecture and art!




After our morning sight-seeing tour, it was time for our choir concert at the St. Nicholas Church in Old Town Square



And after that, it was finally time to eat! It was about 3pm and we hadn’t eaten lunch! We hit up the square and I found me some Nutella crepes!



Yes. Absolutely, incandescently yes.


Kris, Jake, and several others got bratwursts in French baguettes.


How genius is that?!?!




Oh yeah, and don’t forget the trdelnik!








After eating we had several hours to kill, and a couple of us found this seriously hole-in-the-wall joint to grab some coffee (which I spent a lot of time drinking on this trip!)



I was slightly reminded of the Leaky Cauldron. Just a little.


I ordered a Vienna Coffee (in Prague. Strange, I know. This actually happened quite a bit. Ordering things that are popular elsewhere), and officially discovered that in Europe, coffee is always served with dairy, and also always served with two packets of sugar. Often, it is also served with a small glass of water and a shortbread cookie, but this particular place didn’t participate in that latter habit.


Old Town Square at dusk.



Before long we were all escorted off to dinner at this restaurant in the area. I honestly have no idea what this place was since it was dark, but we enjoyed the chance to sit and relax. I mean, more than we were in the previous 3 hours? Hehe.

We had our dinner pre-ordered for us, but that didn’t bother me too much. In fact, I spent most the evening chatting about world views, faith, and art with Michelle (another one!), Justin, and Kris, so I honestly didn’t pay all that much attention to my food. In fact, by this day on our trip, my appetite sort of threw me for a loop. I’d be FAMISHED then wait five minutes, get to food, and suddenly lose all appetite. My stomach would suddenly shrink to the size of a peanut. I have no idea why. The food was great!

Noodle soup!


Sparkling water. I became obsessed with this stuff over the trip. Well, not this particular stuff. This one wasn’t so good, but all the other sparkling waters I had were awesome!


A pasta dish. I overheard a lot of “where’s the meat?!”




It was good. I was quite full after half a plate of this, but then again, my stomach was the size of a peanut.


LIVE MUSIC!!! The best part about this guy was his contagious SMILE!


Ah, yes. The picture of Mr Black, the Wayland Singers director would sadly had to opt out of the trip at the last minute. We took him everywhere!


Dessert! Another yummy crepe!



*Exhale!* I hope you enjoyed that! I have to say that my previous impression of Prague did change with that day. Instead of it feeling “depressingly beautiful,” it felt more like a fairy tale, which I love!

I’ll leave you with a fun moment of the other Michelle and me at dinner that night!


Bohemian Evening

When I first decided to go on this trip to Europe, I figured the Czech Republic would be sort of an afterthought. However, my time in Prague turned out to be my absolutely favorite part of the trip!

What I love about Prague is that of the three major cities we visited, Prague was definitely the more “Old World” and least modernized. I also realized later that we were in the very heart of Bohemia. Why didn’t I think of this at the time?! That’s why Prague is so awesome!



On the day we arrived in Prague, we immediately had to get ready for the band’s concert at the Church of St. Simon and Judah. Us choir folk had the blessed chance to roam around the town square, scour for something to eat, and take pictures of everything we saw.





After roaming around a few blocks, we stumbled upon the town square, where there seemed to be some sort of festival going on.





I was starved, so after scoping out my options (and gosh, do I love European street food options. No deep fried Twinkies-on-a-stick here!), I decided on jacket potatoes, which really just looked like an awesome hash!


Oooh so good. I know there’s ham and potatoes in this. Mariah told me there was sauerkraut in it, but I don’t know. I didn’t care. I didn’t ask questions, I just ATE!


Somebody (I think Kris) ended up buying a trdelnik. I have no idea how to pronounce that, but it’s this Slavic pastry that’s cooked over coals and dusted with big sugar chunks. I think it tastes somewhere between a cinnamon roll and a soft pretzel, and it was AWESOME. I’ll show more pictures of it later when I go over the next day, since you know we went back for more…



It wasn’t long before we needed to be back at the church for the band concert.


Oh yeah, people! Winking smile Jake, Mariah, and David. Smile


Oh. My. Gosh.







Our first evening in Prague felt rather otherworldly. It may have been in part to our tour of Terezin earlier in the day paired with a mentally exhausting several hours of bus travel that day. But it was a truly unforgettable experience standing in the middle of the city square the day before the tourists really came out, eating street food with friends, listening to local musicians playing with all the passion they could muster, surrounded by brooding, breathing Gothic cathedrals. The stones really did feel alive around us. We went back to our hotel with our first impression of the city: depressingly beautiful. At least, it that was the impression we got that evening. We did modify that interpretation a bit the next day, but that’s another post. Winking smile

A Band (and choir) of Gypsies


Hey everyone! It’s almost noon here at Chicago O’Hare.

We left Plainview at around 9PM last night and arrived at DFW airport a little after 3AM. My trip was spent watching The Phantom of the Opera on a classmate’s laptop while the rest of the bus watched the fifth season of The Office. After a while, though, it was “lights out” and I attempted (unsuccessfully) to sleep.




We arrived at DFW at around 3, but we had to wait around for the airport to actually open at 4:45. My mom and sisters were gracious enough to meet me at the airport to give me my shoes I accidentally left at their house over the holidays! Now I won’t be walking around Europe in flip flops!

By the time I got through security, it was 5:45 and our flight was scheduled to board at 6:05! Not many things were open for breakfast, so I grabbed some kind of peanut butter+banana protein smoothie. It was good and filling, but after all the dried and fresh fruit I brought, I was kinda tired of all the sweets!



The flight to Chicago was fairly pleasant. I managed to half-sleep most the way, which is significantly more than I can say about the bus ride. Maybe I was just that tired. But when I woke up I looked out the window and saw what looked like we were flying over the Arctic. Nope! It was clouds!




I’ve never been to Chicago! This airport is pretty awesome! Where else do you find psychedelic hallways and toilet seats that replace your toilet seat covers for you??





I went to Washington D.C. in 2002, and until today, that was the farthest north I ever traveled. I’m sort of excited! I was walking through the terminals looking for food and turned to Justin and noted that once one gets out of the South, the food options apparently get a lot healthier. Every food place pretty much served the same stuff! Fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, cold cut sandwiches and wraps, salads, etc. I was pretty excited at the thought!


And what did we end up getting? Deep Dish Pizza.


I got a spinach and tomato pizza, which was alright. The sauce needed more flavor, and it could have afforded more cheese.

Justin got a pepperoni+Italian sausage pizza. I had a bite of it and the meat had enough spice that the flavorlessness of the sauce wasn’t noticed. His was pretty good!


Sure, it’s not “real” Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, but it’s the best we can do during a 6 hour layover.

And no worries, I plan on getting an overpriced banana later so I can eat my almond butter on the plane.

Meanwhile, I need to change clothes. I’ve already given myself a wet wipe bath and refreshed my deodorant and makeup. I don’t get to take a real shower until tomorrow night, so I guess we’ll be living like gypsies for a few days!



I’m sitting in the band hall getting ready to leave on a bus headed to DFW. Here’s what I packed for snacks!



Unsweetened dried mango, a Larabar, some Justin’s nut butter, some 72% dark chocolate, and bananas. Let’s see how much of this actually makes it onto the plane!


Wish me luck! I’m not sure when I’ll get internet service, so I guess we’ll see when this pops up!

Fat Tuesday, what?


I swear, I’d never know what month it was unless you bloggers talked about it. Since I don’t really observe Lent, I really have no idea what’s going on this time of year. But some talk about Fat Tuesday and New Orleans got me thinking about some shrimp for dinner, especially paired with some Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning I just happen to have in my possession. Worked out well, because I came home and found that Edgar had taken both of the last two servings of Shepherd’s Pie for his dinner.

It’s been forever since I’ve had shrimp! I once attempted to save some money by purchasing a cheaper bag of frozen shell-on shrimp. It ended up being a complete waste of $8; I never have the energy to shell and devein hundreds of tiny little raw shrimp. Never again. I’ll pay the extra money for convenience, thank you!


I sauteed some shrimp in butter, olive oil, salt, and creole seasoning. On the side I served some Lundberg Wild+Brown rice mix (tasted great with the buttery shrimp juices mixed in!), and what was originally going to be sauteed red kale. Since it was pretty old and I only used a very little bit of oil spray, it ended up being pan-baked kale chips. Eh, whatever works!

By the way, that’s a salad plate. Since when did dinner plates get so HUGE?!

Right now I’m sitting on my bed, using my suitcase as back support. I leave for Europe in less than 24 hours!!!!!

Just so you know, I’m packing the laptop and my CAMERA and will hopefully remember to be trigger-happy with it! I’m going to do my best to blog every day, and some days I may end up blogging more than once (I have a six hour layover at Chicago O’Hare and four hours of NOTHING TO DO in the Frankfurt airport as I wait for our second plane to arrive!). I do plan on blogging once more before I officially leave tomorrow night, so stay tuned!


Have you ever been out of the country? Where did you go?

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