Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Beauty's In The Details...

MY friend, Julie, had this blog entry link posted on her facebook today...

I randomly took the time to read it through, and it's been on my mind since. I don't agree with EVERY point, but I do agree with most of what he's written. I don't believe his main point is to say God does not care or that he doesn't have any plans for us in this life. I think he is mostly saying that God let's us grow and learn for ourselves... The dinner analogy he uses is perfect.

Overall, it's an entry talking about this man's belief on whether God has a plan for us in this life or not. I believe that God has plans for us, but we also make our own choices and aren't "pre-destined..." It's a tricky moderation.

I think we need to come up with our own plans, present them - utilize our relationship with God in that way, and then carry them forth. God is still at WORK in our lives (definitely), but it's about us learning to use our agency and trust Him... as well as ourselves. There are moments in my life that I see specs of God's specific plans for me, but mostly I make up my own life and destination... If I'm living right, he'll stop me if I'm wrong... That's what I think.

Another note: God is all-knowing. Thus, I believe he knows what I am going to choose and knows the plan that will be mapped out in the end... but being here on earth is about more than listening to our Heavenly Father's directions for us. That IS important, yes, but there's more... It's about work. It's about taking ACTION.

Most people use the analogy that a child won't learn anything if the answers are just given to them. However, I think this sentiment is a little off. The answers are around us and in us... but we have to uncover them - with or without help. A child has to discover the answers for a history exam, through the answers the teacher (and book) provides. Likewise, Heavenly Father has provided the answers for us, but we have to do the WORK to discover them... We have to make some effort, and choose to do so, in order to make successful decisions in life from a secular point of view as well as spiritually.

There was a comment near the bottom of this man's blog entry that I thought was great for me to come across... It reads:

"I spent years trying to hear from God what 'his plan' for my life was. In the end, i think it was just an excuse not to make the hard choices. I was passively waiting for some kind of sign so that I wouldn’t miss 'his plan', because if I missed 'his plan', then I’d ruin my life, right? What pressure!! How are we supposed to know who we’re 'supposed' to marry, or what job is 'his plan?' "

I think that I've been doing that a little bit these past two years... Not on purpose, but nevertheless, I have been excusing decision making because I was fearful. It was a way for me to put things off... until my decision to come to Germany. That's when I started taking action again.

I can not express how wonderful, trying, and perfect this opportunity has been (and will be) for me. I definitely saw God guiding my path in this choice and leading events to allow me to be here. So in this case, I felt that strongly... but I think the next steps are about me figuring it out for myself. Man, I am so blessed... I learn more and more about myself with each day I'm here - in Germany, and on this earth.

The beauty of life lies in the details... and we decide what to garnish our lives with.

"The personal challenge is not to wait successfully but to live richly, fully, & joyfully. The real fun of life is in overcoming obstacles while still happily hoping everything will work out. Fill your life with service, education, personality development, love for all, & other such meaningful traits. Live with purpose each day." - Elder Marvin J. Ashton

Song of the Day: I know that this song was popular a few months ago by a different band, but this girl's version of this song is fabulous... I like it better than the original for me. Here is Laura Jansen singing Use Somebody. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oh, The Places I've Been...

As an Au Pair I have the wonderful opportunity to do a lot of reading the the boys. I get to help their love of literature and reading grow, and in the process discover ways to encourage those feelings for my own future children. Luckily, with these boys, the love for books is already present. I'm sure that's because the parents and nannies in the past have taken a lot of time to read to them... My goal is to start reading more WITH them. I hope to start teaching them more of HOW to read, especially with Nico starting real school (first grade) in the Fall.

Sidenote: I am currently reading all of the Harry Potter books in the English form - English like, England. Haha! After I have finished a book, I watch the movie! I am currently on the third book in the series, and am finishing the second movie tonight. Classic.

One author I have fallen in love with all over again, and will read often with my children, is Dr. Suess. Man, that guy could write. He was ultra creative and convincing... What do I mean by convincing? The man created a new language using the platform of Children's Literature. He created words and mental images of characters and settings that were unique and completely bizarre - and they worked. Children and adults love his work because of these reasons, along with the fact that each of his stories teach valuable life lessons.

What started this particular blog entry, you ask? Surely it must have been reading Dr. Suess with the boys... well, boy - Finni. After dinner tonight, Patrick was trying to tackle violin practice with each of the boys - always a task - and so to distract Finni after his turn (so Nico could practice) I pulled out a few books and let him choose one. He made the brilliant decision to have me read him, Oh, The Places You'll Go.

What an amazing book. That book is not only about teaching young ones to reach for their dreams, that it is okay to fail at things sometimes, and to persevere through those times of failure to reach success, but it also teaches adults the same thing. Each time I read that story with the boys I am amazed at how motivated and redirected I find myself. I truly love the clever writing inside of those pages and way it reminds me to believe in myself.

Right now in life, I am coming to a major cross-roads... Okay, I'm not coming to a major crossroads, I'm there. Yea. I graduated from BYU two years ago - TWO YEARS! That's a bit crazy to me... I loved going to college, but was happy to be past that point in my life. I was ready to move on, but I still miss it at times. I have spent a good amount of time since April of 2008 thinking about where to go to Graduate School and what to study. My direction seems to bend and change with the week, and I'm coming to the point in my life that I must choose a road to go down... The roads I have already taken since graduation have all been very meaningful and enlightening for me... They have all felt right. However, though the decision of Grad School seems right, I have not yet felt right about any street I have looked down... wondering if I should venture that way.

Since graduating from college... Oh, The Places I've Been (and things I have done):
- Been a Building Counselor (BC) with the Especially For Youth (EFY) program.
- Been a substitute teacher for grades K-8 in Utah.
- Worked in the Special Education Department as a Paraeducator at a local K-8 school.
- Spent two years volunteering as an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) for Staduim of Fire in Provo, UT
- Gone to the American Idol Finale two years in a row.
- Auditioned for American Idol.
- Gone to Hawaii.
- Moved to Germany to be an Au Pair for an entire year (I've already been here 4 months!).
- Been to over fifty concerts of a random assortment.
- Moved back in and out of my parent's home.
- Learned how to really cook.
- Traveled to four new countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and The Netherlands... England wasn't new, but still that was cool!), and planned trips to at least eight more (Norway, Sweden, Italy, France, Greece, Czech Republic, Poland, and Denmark).
- Dyed my hair numerous times.
- Seen over a hundred new films and listened to over a thousand new songs.
... and read tons of new books.

I've really done quite a lot that I'm proud of, and happy about. I feel like I'm fulfilling so much in my life and accomplishing little goals along the way. However, now, it's time to make a BIG decision and accomplish some BIG goals... In the next two months, I must really narrow down my choices and choose where I want to study for Graduate School. When I go home from Germany, it's time to choose a road and avoid, "The Waiting Place" that I've been in... That's not for me, and it's time to start doing what my blog header says and make things happen for myself. Not that I haven't done that up until now, but I feel like it's time to run... when I've been walking. I really believe that this move to Germany was the start of the slow jog, and once I return to the US, I'll be ready to step it up.

In fact, after JUST talking with Nicole about this very concept - the concept of deciding what to do - she gave me this take on things... Just CHOOSE one already and start prepping for it. When it feels wrong, quit. Then, start the process over again. So, I have a personal goal...

May 21st. May 21st is the date that I have to come to a decision and forge forward. I'll let you know then what I have determined to do... however, it might be before that. I think I already have come to terms with what I need to do. In fact, I want to do entertainment - acting and theater. I want to study that in Grad School... Now, I just have to determine what area I want to emphasize and look at specific programs I would be interested in.

Oh, The Places I'll Go....

Quotes and Moments of the Week:
"My underwear are clean... except for my bum feels a little crumply..." - Nico (HAHAHA!)
- "It's a pool for ants... They can swim."
"How do they swim, Finni?"
.... Finni continued dancing around the yard to show me how ants swim, which was just about the cutest thing ever! Haha...

Song of the Day: I just discovered this girl, and I LOVE her... This is Caro Emerald's song, A Night Like This. You can also check out her song, Back It Up, which I adore! Heck, I'll post them both... Enjoy!

Martini Moments - A night like this (Caro Emerald) from The Missing Sync on Vimeo.

Caro Emerald - Back it up from What about Fish on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's So Much More Than Wooden Shoes...

I went to the land of windmills. I went to the land of tulips. I went to the land of wooden shoes... and only saw one person actually wearing them - a boy walking from a gas station. I laughed to myself about that.

In the land of tulips and windmills, I saw a million tulips (no exaggeration!) and hundreds of windmills. However, most of them were modern windmills and not the ones you see in old school film - these ones are hardcore metal.

I went to The Netherlands (Holland to many outside the country) with my mind on seeing those things and learned that there is SO much more to the country. Yes, the tulips WERE phenomenal and the windmills quite breathtaking in their number, but I also had the opportunity to spend time and meet family I had never even known about... other members of the Struiksma clan, if you will. Haha!

I was ecstatic when my "cousin," (we'll go by that because I'm not sure what we actually are - 2nd or 3rd... something), Klaas, called and invited me to actually come and stay with him, and offered to pick me up from Bonn. There was worry on both sides that it might be a little awkward with a three hour car ride to and from Bonn to Sneek, but it was great. It was like catching-up with distant family - which is precisely what it was. We laughed and jokes and had serious conversations about faith, politics, ambitions, and our lives... It was just great conversation.

Anyway, Klaas picked me up on Friday night and we headed to Sneek. It was dusk by the time we got into The Netherlands, so I could barely see anything sight-wise, but I was just so thrilled to be there I didn't care. Haha! When we got to the apartment, we checked on the kids -he has a seven year old girl and a three year old boy - and then visited awhile before heading to bed. The next morning we headed first thing to Struiksma Bakery! I know - the name thing again... Why do I get SO excited about seeing my name somewhere. Perahps it's celebrity syndrome (I have always wanted to be an actress/singer), but I think it's more than that. I feel excited that I have heritage somewhere and that there's history behind my name (all three parts) in the form of people. When I was at Struiksma Bakery I got to talk for a few moments with Klaas dad and step-mom, and see a portion of how they live - SO stellar! Needless to say, the trip to the bakery was fabulous... and the croissants & jam weren't bad either. Haha!

Klaas, the kids, and I headed off to the Keukenhof tulip (and other flowers) festival afterwards, and found it to be rather crowded and busy... It happened to be the day of the HUGE flower parade throughout a chunk of the country, and it was cutting through Keukenhof that afternoon. Thus, everyone was there to see that... It was still REALLY beautiful and nice to walk along the flowered walkways... It certainly smelled like heaven. Mmm... Haha! The tulips were great and the parade was fabulous... We totally jumped a fence to get out of the park and away from the crowd - everyone was watching and it was pretty classic... :) It was a good time overall! The crowds were excessive, but it happens that way sometimes... (Pictures of the flowers and parade are on a slideshow at the bottom!)

Before heading back to Sneek, Klaas took us over to a beach so I could see the coast there! I hadn't even thought of that, but it was cool. I picked up some shells to take to the boys and my parents, and then walked along the beach for a short time before heading to grab some dinner and then drive back to Sneek - about an hour North of The Keukenhof. We drove back through the cities and I saw a little bit of Amsterdam, however not a lot. I'll just have to plan another trip up to see that, I guess! Haha...

Sunday I went to church with Klaas, which was a cool experience. They had a lady there to translate for me, who happened to be the preacher's wife. She was a GREAT translator and huge sweetheart. The sermon was on Job and his trials in life... I thought it was a great depiction on the meaning behind the story. I enjoyed the singing and rockin' out a bit during their meeting, but it was definitely different than my own church. I liked it though - I mean, I like learning about other religions and it was a good opportunity for me to learn about Klaas's beliefs, as well as to talk with him about my own - way cool discussion.

Afterward, we headed with the kids over to their grandparents house for a BBQ and so we could get to know each other. I wasn't sure what to expect because of the language barrier and just being different ages and such, but it was great. The dad, Jacob, and I were able to visit quite a bit and I just loved the family. He was super kind too and invited my parents and I back to stay when they were visiting from America... apparently that's not a common thing either, so I guess I came across positively. Haha! They kept saying I reminded them of Klaas sister in personality, but also looks - funny! I guess I really am a Struiksma! Haha...

Sidenote: Jacob, being the amazing baker and cook he is, made this AMAZING potato and such salad... When he walked with it I died laughing, because it said STRUIKSMA in Ketchup on top - haha! So classic for the family, yet again! Oh, and it seriously was the best salad ever... I said that he needed to teach me his mad cooking skills so I could come back to Bonn and impress the family here - haha!

We headed out a bit after three to drop the kids off to be with their mom and start the journey to take me back to Bonn. I was quite tired for some reason, but we spent the trip chatting a lot and laughing a lot... Our family sense of humor carries overseas in a lot of ways - haha! Klaas reminded me of a more Dutch version of Derek - haha! It was seriously so nice chatting and jamming out on the car ride back from Sneek... and it was SO great of him to drive me so out of his way - way cool of him. Haha!

We stopped in Bonn to get a drink before he headed out and we had a funny experience... There was this medical man who had just put up a cone on the road to block the street off and two seconds later this car, who clearly saw the cone, came barreling around the corner and took out the cone. Haha! Funnier still was the medical man yelling at the guy to halt and come back - yea... right. Haha! I shouldn't laugh, but it was pretty classic.... After that the guy stood behind the cone and waved off like thirty cars before we left... Hm. Sad job for him that night - haha!

Anyway, the trip was great! The country is FABULOUS and I'm glad to have my ancestry there - my new goal is to learn even more about that. I want to know dates and more genealogy dating back to Holland and the family I had there. It's going to be exciting to learn more about... It was such a great trip - wow... Just SO good to reunite a family after almost a century. Plus, who would have thought that I could be used as a link for that someday? It was stellar.

Next adventure...? Norway & Sweden is the plan for May, but I still need to plan that and make sure that's gonna happen. I'll keep y'all posted!

Song of the Day: I discovered this song while in The Netherlands, and am LOVING on Cheryl Cole lately. She is super! The song is by Snow Patrol, Featuring Cheryl Cole... Here's Set The Fire To The Third Bar. I love them together - Enjoy! (Also, Cheryl Cole's song, Fight For This Love is great!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Loved Like That

So, I was inspired by the following video and felt the need to share...

I simply love this girl - Catrien Maxwell. I think she's fabulous and a talented writer/singer... I needed to give her some props. Enjoy!

(I also like her song, If I Died In Your Arms)

There's actually a lot to write about, but... I'm tired and it's 1:30am here... Old habits die hard, eh?

Song of the Day: Um.... Check the link above.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Salzburg, Austria!

The city of Mozart. The city of The Sound of Music. The city of the Bosna. The city of Salzburg.

In all honesty, I never would have chosen a weekend in Salzburg on my own. However, when the "lottery flight" picked that as my location I was excited. I had to do research and get to know more about the sights there and the things that were available to do. It was a trip of learning and leisure, if you will.

That's not how it started out on Friday morning though...

I was suppose to leave at noon on Friday and get into Salzburg an hour and a half later. At 3am the morning of, I had just finished cleaning and packing and had the impression that I should check my flight info again. This time, when I looked at my email confirmation, I noticed the dates were off. Somehow I had booked the flight for a weekend before... I don't know HOW that happened (Patrick and I are still flattened about that), but somehow it did, and I was out 40Euro. Now, my first inclination was frustration and money worry. With the help of Koko, who thankfully was still awake working on a proposal, we looked at new flights... only to find they were VERY expensive. So, we tried the train, and found that to be expensive too. I debated cancelling the trip altogether, but then I would be out the money for the Salzburg card and my hostel deposit too. Plus, that would be a rash and emotional-driven decision I would end up unhappy about. Thus, I sucked it up and found a train for 99Euros (altogether there and back) and determined the incident would not ruin my trip.

I had eight hours on the train to calm my senses. Haha!

So, I showered and got myself together without any sleep and caught an early morning train out of Bonn Hauptbahnhof. I spent most of the train ride resting, but not really sleeping because I had a connection train (seven hours into the eight hours) and kept waking and worrying I was going to miss that too. That's the only thing about trains... I always worry I won't get off when I'm suppose to.

Anyway, the ride there was good and when I finally got to Salzburg (and dealt with a few issues there regarding my card - print your vouchers people -and a few other things) I found my hostel easily enough. The hostel was called Yoho's International Hostel and it was GREAT! It was a quick and nice location with fairly nice rooms, good food, great people, and great staff. It's a place I'd recommend to anyone going there...

After loading my bag into my weekend home, I ventured out into the city. I have to say, I was quite proud of myself for creating a complete itinerary for each day in Salzburg and routing little maps on how to get to places before I even arrived - all inspired by my brother. However, I quickly realized how easy it was to get around Salzburg (not very big) and completed my itinerary a lot quicker than anticipated... Thus, I had time to add in a few extra sights, museums, and even the zoo. Haha! I'll get to all that though.

So... Friday.

I took off from the hostel around 3:30pm, without time and energy to see much. However, I wanted to make the most of ALL my time there so I walked over to Linzergasse (Linzer Lane - SO cool! Haha...) and to a little overlook of the city called Kapuzinerberg above the Franziski School. It took my on a hike up to a great view of everything and had a map at the top so you could actually tell the buildings you were looking at. It was the perfect way to start my trip off, and since the weather was nice, the hike up and back was peaceful. On the way back, I actually cut down the mountains a different way and into some small alley-way stairs. It was classic, and reminded me a bit of pictures you see of Italy... I'll have to compare someday.
After that, I cut into the city and walked around, taking pictures of all the buildings around me as I tried to determine their importance. Haha! It wasn't a hard city to figure out, but every time a city is new you have to pull a map out or ask for directions a few times before you have it down. The hardest part of Salzburg is that things aren't labeled well. So you think you might be in the right spot, but you're never quite sure till you enter a near-by building or ask a local. Anyway, I got some amazing evening shots and even joined in giant Red Bull sponsored hockey celebration in Mozartplatz - way cool. Haha!

After that it was growing dusk and I wondered back across the river, up Linzergasse, and found a small restaurant near my hostel for dinner. It was a place called Oregano's and was FABULOUS! It wasn't pricey, but wasn't the cheapest (street vendors there give GREAT food for cheap), but it was fabulous. There weren't a ton of people there and the lady serving me was all about giving me whatever I wanted... Plus, she offered me a take-out box... which is unheard of in Germany and most of Austria. You just don't ask, so when she offered I was grateful! I walked back to my hostel after dinner and went straight to bed - boring, I know. Haha! I didn't visit with people and try to get to know anyone because I was just too tired.... That came later anyway.

The next morning I woke up bright and early with a list of places to go and things to see, starting with the flea market off of Universitätsplatz at 7am. However my favorite time in Salzburg was spent early that morning, walking the streets when barely anyone was around. It was peaceful and quiet... and just beautiful. I loved the feeling that I was able to walk the usually crowded streets with virtually no one around... It was heaven. For someone who LOVES being around people and the "hustle-and-bustle" of things the majority of time, I really love my quiet moments too. It's a good unbalanced balance.

I wondered around the Farmer's Market for a little while before grabbing a breakfast pastry from Flockner's (some of their stuff is great and other stuff - eh. For as much hype as the place gets, I think it's merely mediocre.) and then headed over to Mozart's Birth-house. It was cool to see and read the stories of his family... I appreciate classical music, but I'm not jumping up and down about Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, or Bach's lives. However, it was good to read about him and him family. I have to say from stories I read and listened to through the whole time I was there I think that his father pushed him to do music just enough, but not too much and seemed like a good father... and their family seemed to have good priorities that carried onto Mozart himself. He appears to be a very loving and thoughtful person, focused on his music but not at the cost of family and good friends. That was a cool thought because today, many musicians have lost their way a bit in that aspect. I feel like I can say, Mozart and his father, Leopold, were good examples.

After the Birth-house I went and say the Collegiate Church (beautiful inside!) and then St. Peter's Abbey and cemetery. I have to say that St. Peter's and St. Sebastian's both had two of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. WOW! St. Peter's Abbey was great inside, but the most incredible part was the cemetery around the back. It had so many gravestones... Some on walls, some with elaborate tombstones of crucifixes above the burial ground... and they were all one right after another. It was just a really COOL place... Plus they do SO much to keep these old cemeteries nice - it's just really cool and good way to show respect to the ancestors of our past. I kept walking through and hoping I would find a stone with a familiar name, but to no avail did that come to pass... not that I was looking really hard, so, hey.

After that I walked over the Salzburg Dom... The actual rotunda part that you can go up inside of was closed for renovation, but the cathedral was open and looked AMAZING! It's a beautiful building and I took some time just checking out all the architecture. Architecture designs always fascinated me a bit... Also, I thought about symbolize in churches. I know that there are specific symbols in every religion that carry specific and special meanings with them, and I wonder if some of those can be found in the designs on these old cathedrals... I know of some buildings where this is the case, but I know nothing about the churches over here in Europe. I'm sure there are some that do things for specific reasons, and others that do things to show how much grander they can be than the surrounding cathedrals.

For lunch I grabbed a brawt with sweet musturd from a local stand and it was muy bien... I'd reccomend this vendor to anyone - he was by far my favorite. I stumbled across a rather AMAZING and fantastic cookie shop at some point during the day and found by FAR my favorite treats - Manner wafer cookies with shokolade und carmel creme... SO GUT! I was in heaven each time one of those things touched my lips and slide straight to my thighs. I'm sure I did enough walking to burn them off the thighs, but still... I ate a few of those things... Haha!

That afternoon I saw more sights as I went to the Residenz Haus - The State Rooms are found within there, as well as a national gallery. It was cool to see, but the audio tour was extremely dull... If they used the words "traditional stucco" one more time... No one cares that each room used stucco to create the walls appearance! They should have just said, "The whole palace used traditional stucco to coat and design the walls and ceilings." Done. No more. Haha! Sorry to get really passionate there... but I was SO over stucco after leaving Austria. Those are words I never thought I'd use.

I spent some time on Getreidegasse - a HUGE shopping lane - and looked around there... That's where I got most of my souvenir shopping done, but otherwise it was just fun to watch the people and see the way the streets were set up... it was very cool. I think it is somewhat hilarious to see how McDonald's buildings are displayed in each country. Here in Germany they have levels more often than not, but they're fairly mornal... a little nicer than back in America. However, in Austria the sign for Mickey D's was beautiful and the golden arch was surrounded with a beautiful metal hanging... too funny to me.

There are few things I saw along this strip that we quite classic... One, you know those guys who paint themselves gold or silver and pretend to be a statue till you put money in their hat and then they dance? Yea, have you ever seen a MOZART one of these? (Or, upon arriving back in Bonn, a Beethoven one...) Yea. No joke - there's a picture to prove it... Haha!

Second, there was this adorable little, old lady I saw a few times over the weekend and she would always have this completely and utterly thrilled look on her face as she watched the side-street acts - Haha! It was adorable! I think we should all find that much joy out of the little things in life... life street singers. Her expression and happiness made me stop every time I saw someone preforming on the street and at least clap a little for them.

At 2pm I went for a tour of the Festival Halls... This consisted of a huge outdoors theater and two other indoor theaters - all GORGEOUS! It was really cool! Now, some of you might be thinking, 'Linze, you thought it was cool because you were a theater major.' True. However, I think that others would agree that these halls were pretty impressive. The Halls are used mostly during May through August, and especially for the Salzburg Festival in July-August. The city makes over 250 million euros each year in those few short weeks with ticket sales (expensive), accommodations (booked MONTHS in advance), food, shopping, etc. It's pretty incredible actually... Anyway, the theaters themselves were fabulous and we even got to go back stage in both the indoor theaters and see the set for this year's Don Giovanni and see one of the widest stages in the world. Some of you are perhaps still rolling your eyes and thinking this sounds boring... I loved it.

*With that previous statement in mind, know that I am leaning more and more toward Grad School in Theater of some sort... Acting is a huge passion of mine, but I also really like stage management. I'm considering options right now with those ideas in mind. Back to Salzburg...

I hung out in Kapitelplatz for a bit and it was really good... just nice. I did that on my last day as well and it was just chill sittin' next to the big fountain there and seeing the GIANT chess set - THAT was cool! I was sad that I never walked past when people were playing the giant board (you have to pay a few Euros to unlock it I think), but seeing the board and pieces was cool enough -haha. It reminded me of "wizard's chess" in HP with the big pieces on McGonagall's board. Don't hate.

I walked up the hills behind the Salzburg Fortress and overlooked the city for a bit and then headed to the Nonnberg Nunnery. It's where a piece of The Sound of Music was shot, so that was cool. As for the nunnery itself, well, it was nice and quaint, but I wasn't overwhelmed. You had to pay a Euro for different parts of the building to light up so you could see things, which I thought was bizarre. I wouldn't have even known if some lady hadn't come up and done it - I used her light too. Haha! I thought it was just suppose to be really dark till then... or that I was somewhere that wasn't suppose to be open. Haha!

I walked back up to Linzergasse and sat in the cemetery for St. Sebastian's Church - again, so beautiful. I even stumbled across the Mozart family's platz for burial, which was cool... It was raining while I was there, so I just walked through with my umbrella and it felt nice... relaxing even. It was a good way to close up the day.

I headed back to the hostel and ran into a girl (from New Zealand!) that I met on the tour whom I had talked with, so I joined her for dinner. She introduced me to some other girls staying there and we all quickly bonded. One of the girls was from Canada and is traveling all of Europe after her study abroad in Spain, and is loving it. Another girl was from America and just finished teaching in Switzerland, and was seeing sights before heading home. The American was the only one staying past the next morning, so we actually continued to hang out and it was kinda nice to have a buddy for part of the time there!

Anyway, before we headed to be we popped into the bar there because we heard some themes from Soundtracks playing and recognized them... Turns out there was a contest to see who could name the most. Well, since we were late we didn't "really play," but we still did with the bar tenders and hostel workers. Haha! Apparently everyone did really poor, but between the three of us (NZ had gone to do laundry) we could have gotten almost all of them - haha! It was a nice way to bond with the staff a bit though.... I talked with them quite a bit after that - funny people.

The next morning I got up early to catch the first cable-car up in Untersberg. I caught a bus to get there and met a cute little Thai couple heading there too. They were awesome! They were SO eager to learn more English words and ways to say things and they we re asking all about the traditions of America and Germany, our religion and beliefs, and told me about their traditions. It was way cool - such great people! Unfortunately when we got to Untersberg it was a rainy day and thus, snowing up in the mountains... So, when the car got up the mountain about half way, you could only see snow - PURE WHITE around you. It wasn't the best for taking pictures of the valley, but I got some okay ones from the cable-car on the way back down. However, while we were on-top of the mountain I did venture into the snow for a few moments and took a few shots of the crosses on the mountain side (what you could see of them). It would have been better to see the valley, but I figured, "Whatever, I met some cool people at least..." Haha!

After Untersberg being a bit of a bust (I did ride in a cool cable-car - Haha! ) I headed over to Hellbrunn Palace and Water Fountains. THIS was one of my favorite things I saw while I was in Austria. The whole points of the palace was to be a place created for royalty and the upper-class to come and escape their reality for a bit. So, everything was based on myths and practical jokes. It was quite the place... Beautiful, but tricky. Haha! The Water Fountains were not like any others I have seen... There we some regular fountains, but LOTS of hidden ones that had to be turned on and off by someone who knew where the buttons were - in our case this was the guide, but back in the day only the prince there knew. Anyway, I have some CRAZY pictures fro there and it was REALLY cool to see... It was my favorite thing to sight-see there I think.
The village above was a running mill from the 17th century - WAY cool! Even cooler and inventive is the crown below... It turned out to be a secret fountain as well, and when turned on the crown could go up and down, symbolizing the rise and fall of power and dynasties- LOVED that!
The palace itself was nothing exciting until you got to the last room - The Octagon Room. This room was built for amazing wall paintings (every other room was dull and bland) and it's INCREDIBLE acoustics. SO, since I am a singer, I decided I HAD to sing in this room. Actually, the girl I met at the hostel had already went through and told me to do so - good thing too because it was my favorite moment of the trip. I recorded myself singing "And So It Goes" and "Be Still My Soul." Good thing no one else was around because I might have chickened out a bit... Haha! However, with it just being me, a couple rooms ahead of other people, I very quietly sang and recorded it... "And So It Goes" is posted below...

That afternoon I went to Salzburg Fortress on the hill, and I'm not gonna lie... It was cool but not overly so. The history of it didn't really appeal to me as much as other ones I have seen, so that didn't grab me, and the tour was rather dull. The fortress itself was cool and I'm glad I went and saw it, but it was nothing special. I did get some pretty shots of the city from the top of the fortress, but otherwise it was a "whatever" moment. Sorry, readers.

I headed back to the hostel after that and I took a little nap - I was SO tuckered out from the past two days on non-stop going - and then mat one of the girls in the city to walk around and just enjoy the city. It was nice to just walk and visit... another perfect way to end the day. Haha! We had dinner together and then visited for awhile before saying our goodbyes (she was leaving the next morning). I skype chatted with Sarah a bit and then headed to bed too... It has been SO nice having Sarah home and now NICOLE is home too!!! My best girls will all be in Provo when I come home - well, that's the plan for at least another semester. Anyway, talking to them has been AMAZING! Haha... Now, Sam just needs to get home - haha!

Monday morning I didn't have a lot left to do... So, I ventured out and headed to Mirabell's Gardens. (This pictures to the left is my favorite from the whole trip...) Apparently there is suppose to be some palace too, but I never found an entrance... I saw the Scholls and not a palace... but it didn't matter cause the gardens were good enough. It was SO beautiful there and I spent a good hour just wondering around the gardens and watching the people there. It was the perfect start to a morning...

Afterwards I hit up Mozart's actual house of residence and saw some cool artifacts... It was nothing exciting, but I heard some good stories and saw a few things that were of interest. I'm not sugar-coating, can ya tell? Haha... Then, I grabbed a bus and headed to.... The Zoo! Haha... I had finished the things on my list so I though, "why not?," and just went. I went mostly with my younger sister in mind. For all who don't know, I have a younger sister who is SO great with animals and very passionate about it. She's just about to finish HS and will simultaneously get her Vet Tech license. She's pretty much a little super-star...

Anyway, I missed her and was thinking of her all weekend, so I thought going to a zoo and taking good pictures to send her would be a good activity for the day. The zoo wasn't huge, but it had a variety of cool animals to see – though it was lacking my favorite animal, the elephant. I took some cool pics (till the battery died) and sat and read for a bit in the middle of the zoo. It was good... When I finally headed back to town and walked around the city a bit I decided to hit one museum up before going to take a short nap. I went to the Panoramic Museum and have to laugh because it was SO not worth it. There were some beautiful photos, but I'm glad it was included on the Salzburg card (all I did was on there or was free – which was great) because paying extra for it would have been a bust. Haha! It's a bunch of paintings of scenery settings from around the world set in a panoramic room, with a panoramic view of 1800th Salzburg in the middle. It was a creative idea, but lacked any flare.

I woke up from my nap to find a boy sitting in my room (it was a mixed room cause that's what they had left). It had been just four girls, but a boy joined us in there. It wasn't weird at all and I actually became friends with him in a matter of minutes. We ate dinner that evening together and stayed up visiting. He was from AUS and had spent two months living in Africa before he'd decided to backpack Europe. You meet such classic people in hostels.... Really! I'm sure you can have bad experiences too, but I have really loved the hostels I have been in, and each time have met AMAZING people. It's really a good way to find travel buddies and get info on other places to go too... I think I'll try and use hostels wherever I go now.

*The downfalls to hostels are public showers and bathrooms, but it's just like being in the freshman dorms again for a few days -no bigs.

The last morning there was spent back in Mirabell's Gardens, reading and eating breakfast there. It was great! Oh, and in the picture to the left, yes. Yes, that IS a man bathing in the fountain... I think he might have been looking for coins, which there were ton in there, but that would make the photo rather sad. Thus, I'll choose to believe he was bathing. Perhaps that's not better though... Hm.

While in the park, I also played the game Sarina and I use to play where we would plug our Ipods in and choose a random song. Then we would watch people and come up with a story about them surrounding the lyrics and/or melody of the song. Haha! It's become a traveling favorite. Haha!

After the gardens, I did all my souvenir shopping and ate lunch outside by the Mozartplatz fountains... Again, it was perfect. It could have been slightly warmer, but I'm okay with what I was given weather-wise. Haha! I made my train with plenty of time to spare and even had time to snag a picture with Julie Andrews before I headed out... If you don't believe me, check my facebook profile pic...

Overall, Salzburg was FABULOUS! I think if I were to have that much time again I would split the trip into two different places – like going two days in Salzburg and two in Vienna – because I really like go-go-going. However, it was nice to chill and just have down time the last two days. This trip was good one... a place I would not have chosen for myself, but once it was given to me, I fell in love with it! Oh, and an extra bonus to the city... my name was EVERYWHERE - loved that too... :) Haha!Sidenote: I used more German while there too! I'm not great or anything yet, but I'm getting there with the basics. Haha!

Next trip? Well, since you asked → HOLLAND! I go to The Netherlands this next weekend actually! My cousin who lives up there contacted me and is going to be in Germany on Friday, so he'll be able to come and get me, and then bring me back Sunday night. So, I'll see a new country, the Tulip Festival (I've wanted to go since I was little!) and get to know a family member all in one! It's going to be fabulous... I think it's the trip I'm most excited about, followed closely by Italy...


Song of the Day: Today I had a few songs to choose from that I have discovered or “re-discovered” this past week. However, I figure I'll list a few and choose one main one to post below... You should check out Billy Joel's, I Go To Extremes and David Cook's version of Eleanor Rigby, originally by The Beatles. These are current favorites of mine. Another one to mention is Natalie Walker – Her song, Empty Road is awesome. Her version of Colorblind (originally by The Counting Crows) is really great too and thus, that is the song of the day! Love her. Enjoy!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Photos That I Love!

No more needs to be said. Next post will be Salzburg as I will be home to upload photos....

Song of the Day: In honor of Mozart... and cause he's everywhere here - listen to him. :)