23 December 2012
My Dear Piece of Home,
Bus rides have been precious time for me to retreat into my introverted hermit-hood and process whatever bits and pieces of this trip that I can. In some ways I prefer five hour bus rides to one hour train rides. It’s much cheaper and I have more time to put on my headphones and write to my heart’s desire. This last bus ride from Prague to Vienna, where we are now, I only slept an hour or so. The rest of the time I wrote frantically in my journal and wrote this letter to you here.
I know I didn’t write about our last day in Prague yesterday. Needless to say, I was completely knackered. It’s finally feeling a lot more like Christmas. Yesterday we walked outside of our hotel to a light flurry of snow fluttering down to stick on our noses and eyelashes. My friends were bouncing up and down (literally) with joy at the sight of their first snow. The little flakes of white transformed our time in Europe into another universe altogether–as if someone shook a snowglobe of Prague.
After gorging on the hotel breakfast buffet (I almost cried at the sight of yogurt and fruit. Croissant with nutella or brie with scrumptious espresso. Sausage and bacon and eggs. All of us had at least three plates and perhaps sneaked some snacks for later…), we found ourselves once again at the astronomical clock, this time to watch an hourly performance. Three minutes to eleven (or was it twelve?) I simply couldn’t wait anymore (I had a surge of hunger) and ran over to the Christmas markets right by the tower. I nabbed another trdlo chimney bread and ran back, only to find the two minute performance had passed. Oops.
My friends have already noticed that I’m constantly eating. Part of it is obviously because I get hungry often and because I love food. But another part of it is because of my frequent digestive issues. If I don’t eat every three hours and give my gallons of stomach acid something to busy itself with, whatever goes into my stomach will turn into… use your imagination. Thankfully I have my magic Korean prescriptive digestion-helping meds with me, which I’ve only had to eat thrice so far on my bread-filled trip throughout Europe.
Our last day in Prague was spent exploring the grounds of Prague castle, visiting the John Lennon Wall, walking across the Charles bridge, and blowing our korunas on delicious treats. Prague castle is an unbelievably massive medieval complex with palaces and churches big and numerous enough to make you dizzy. Prague castle itself sits on a hill; walking up and down the windy and narrow walkways of the castle complex was a uniquely interesting experience.
After perusing through the castle grounds (none of us were in the mood to pay for tickets that day), we navigated our way to the John Lennon Wall, a popular meeting place for young people during Soviet occupation. Like the Berlin Wall, today it stands as a huge political discussion board with messages of peace, war, love, and Koreans writing “Dokdo is our land.”
Walking across the Charles Bridge was another incredibly interesting walk. As you continue along the old stone bridge you are guided by statues of old Christendom on either side. It seems an eclectic collection–as if somebody’s old sculpture garden was moved to the Charles bridge instead.
We ended our last day in Prague by purchasing our favorite Christmas market snacks. I bought some roasted chestnuts for the road and asked for my fourth chimney bread in three days to eat along with friends.
Today we spent most of our time on the bus and our evening in glorious Vienna through snow and rain. After arriving at Wombats the Lounge, we headed back out in the heavy rain to find the large Christmas market in front of Rathau. Christmas markets have been our go-to for dinners in central Europe. It’s festive, convenient, relatively cheap, and delicious–much easier than gambling on a restaurant. Between the eight of us, we consumed fried sausages in dough, jacket potatoes, and candy. As in Berlin, we laid down a 2,5 euro deposit for a cup of hot liquid goodness which cost another few euros. I had another cup of hot wine while my friends drank hot chocolate with alcohol and Bailey’s punch.
MDPOH, I can’t believe I forgot that the Spanish Riding School is here, in Vienna, five minutes away by public transportation. I’ve dreamt about the Spanish Riding School as a kid reading and writing reports and presentations on it and the famed Lipizzaner stallions. But somehow in the midst of being a busy adult and coordinating with my friends, Vienna became just another destination on our Europe itinerary, AND I FORGOT THE SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL IS HERE, THAT I WILL BE THIS CLOSE TO IT. I can’t leave here without seeing it, can I?
Tonight at the hostel, I frantically looked up the Spanish Riding School. As fate would have it, we are staying in Vienna on the only three days throughout the entire year they do not have tours of the stable grounds. But they do have two morning exercises tomorrow and the day after Christmas. I’m going to give tomorrow a morning a try. Here’s to hoping and praying that I’ll get to see those beautiful grey horses move. I’ll write to you again tomorrow night and tell you if I was successful.
Missing you every day that I travel. Without you, I feel so ungrounded, like I’m floating through enchanting places without a bed or a meal to say “I’m home.” But after traveling for a week or so, these girls are slowly becoming a “piece of home” for me too… I don’t want to think that in a few days time, I’ll have to say goodbye to three of them. Why can’t I just carry around all my favorite people wherever I go? I feel like there’s so much more laughter to be shared, so much more to learn about these girls, so much more of me I haven’t shown due to introversion and fatigue…
Ah, what am I saying. Writing to you makes all this stuff come out. IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE, THEN CHRISTMAS! Time for me to step out of my thoughts and be present, in the moment these next two days (they’re the only days I have left with the entire group!)
Don’t be surprised if the next letters are tinged with the delirium of too many plates and laughs.
Keep warm, ok? And keep writing.