This week, we received a text from Joe's mom saying that she just realized we have been living in Austria for a month now! It seems like only last week that we were getting off the plane in Vienna, but I guess it goes to show how easily we have slipped into living here and how friendly everyone is.
Let me just say it's been a whirlwind in the best kind of way. In the past month, we've learned how to grocery shop in a foreign language (thank you google translate!), find our way around cities and transportation systems, started our school year, and gone on three different trips with the ITI community. It's been incredibly busy and so much fun!
The weekend that all the students arrived on campus, student life representatives gathered everyone together to hike the tallest mountain in Lower Austria! According to alltrails.com, Schneeburg is a 27km hike (roundtrip) that gains 1,684m in elevation. My legs were killing a couple of days afterward! We climbed a little under halfway up the mountain and celebrated Mass before continuing on.
When we finally reached the top, we found panoramic views, a mountain top restaurant, and a live band! It was perfect weather to sit outside, drink a beer/wine, and take in the breathtaking views.
I normally don't like beer, but for some reason, I actually am enjoying some of the beers I'm trying here. Joe says they are more subtle and have fewer hops in them and that's why I like them more. I don't know, but I'll take it!
Take a minute to watch this video. I tried my best to capture the music and the views.
It was a killer hike, but it was absolutely worth it! If you're a little wary of the mileage, there is a train that takes you almost up to the top and you can hike to the restaurant from there. We are assuming that's how the band got there...there's no way they could carry that all up the mountain, right? :D
The next weekend, we got a group of friends together to go rock climbing! It was our first time climbing in Europe. So crazy! Turns out, just 20 minutes away from Trumau is a great climbing location. The wall was about a 5-minute walk from the bus stop and right outside of Baden (the wall was called Jammerwandl). While we were climbing, we could see the ruins of an old castle in the distance.
Can you spot the castle in the top left corner of the picture below?
To top off the weekend, the next day we went on a pilgrimage to Heiligenkreuz Abbey, I believe they said it is one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe and has been around since 1133!! It was another long walk, but definitely much easier than Schneeburg since there wasn't nearly as much elevation gain. We walked through many fields, vineyards, and forests. About halfway there, we ate lunch at a huge tower that overlooked the surrounding towns of Trumau, Baden and you could even see Vienna in the distance!
Below is a video of us arriving at the monastery.
Once we arrived at the monastery, we celebrated Mass in a little side chapel and afterward a monk blessed us with a relic of the true cross! A beautiful way to end the day.
(picture courtesy of David Bratnick)
We've been making so many new friends here and it's kind of the best! I love when people just invite you into their community with open arms. It makes the transition to new places so much easier and way more fun! Have you ever been to Austria? If so, let us know in the comments down below. We want to hear all about it!
Till next time,