“Blossom by blossom the spring begins.”Algernon Charles Swinburne
I have been struggling to find the words to express the past week and a half. It has been truly incredible watching the trees bud and the flowers bloom. In addition, I spent five days on a marvelous trip. So here we go: The latest in The Becca Chronicles.
Last Thursday one of Gloria’s friends came to visit Ostrava. We wanted to take her up Halda Ema, so we set off to do so in the evening. By the time we reached the top, the sun had just dropped below the horizon and the city was lighting up. We sat on a bench and drank beer while enjoying the cool spring air and the view of the city. I had not yet been up there past dark and loved the experience. The mountain was also steaming more than I’ve seen yet.
On Friday I woke up early and set off for the first day of my long weekend. Yaren and I headed to Vienna. I needed to pass through there to get to my next destination, and she had not been yet. So, we spent the entire day exploring the city. I was able to take her to my favorite spots and we also saw new things together. The parks were all beginning to blossom and the world is coming to life. The city looked so different than it did 7 weeks ago. I am awed by the cherry trees and their vibrant blossoms. I could sit among them all day long (which I’ve been doing, but more on that later). We also visited the art galley in Belvedere, which included Gustav Klimt’s very famous peace, The Kiss. It was quite spectacular.
In the afternoon, Julia, Elina, and Iiro joined us. We got lunch and spent the evening visiting more of the city. We saw Yaren back to the train station so she could make it home to Ostrava, and we set out to burn a couple more hours. We decided to ride the famous Vienna Ferris Wheel. The view of Vienna at night was great and it was a relaxing ride.
Once back on the ground, we had dinner at a fabulous Chinese restaurant, where I had dumplings. Yes, it is possible I have become obsessed with dumplings. Then we went to the train station and boarded our first overnight sleeper train. The compartments were small and set up with six beds (two sides each with three bunks). Between the people and our luggage, we pretty much couldn’t move once we crawled into our little caves. Surprisingly, I slept fairly well and woke the next morning to a train attendant holding breakfast and coffee!
We arrived in Bregenz, Austria, and took another short train ride to our destination: Lochau. Our friend, Thomas, lives there and invited us to come stay for a few days. Upon arriving, he and his girlfriend helped us get settled in the house and make our beds. We sat on the balcony on the third floor, where we could see the village around us. Lochau is located on the edge of the Lake of Konstanz, at the base of the Austrian alps, and within sight of both Germany and Switzerland. From the balcony, we had a view of all of these things.
After a bit of rest, we walked to the next village over where Thomas’ said his mom would give us some “snacks”. Well, apparently “snacks” means an entire multi-course homemade traditional Austrian meal. She prepared wienerschnitzel, salad, vegetables, pasta, and potatoes. We feasted, each of us so excited to have a mom-cooked meal. It was the best meal I’ve had in two months. After lunch we sat and had coffee and traditional Austrian cake, sachertorte. It was to die for. We had a lovely afternoon talking and eating. Oh, and I chased some of the neighborhood cats.
We walked along the edge of the lake and went to a small German island town, called Lindau. It was a beautiful town and we enjoyed an evening of strolling around. After returning to Lochau, Julia, Elina, and I went to the lake shore to watch the sunset. We stayed outside a long time, enjoying the weather and talking about all sorts of things.
The next morning we headed up into the mountains. We caught a bus on the way up and hiked maybe 100 meters once we got off. We stopped at a café overlooking the lake for breakfast. We sat for a couple hours, ordering more food and coffee when needed. Eventually we moved on and went through an animal park (like a zoo) on the side of the mountain. The highlight of this was a slide that was built into the side of the mountain. Yes, it was probably made for kids, and yes, we each rode it three time and laughed hysterically while doing so. It was not your average slide. It was steep, long, and curvy, and provided us with a lot of amusement.
We continued on to the top of the next mountain, where we lay in the grass and enjoyed the view of the alps. After maybe an hour of napping in the sunshine we began the hike down. It was a couple kilometers of steep downhill through the forest, which is turning green and was beautiful. We reached the bottom and walked along the lake. I think we ate more good food at some point in there. And ice cream. And maybe cake. Essentially the whole weekend consisted of naps in the sun and good food.
The next day Julia and I made ourselves a picnic breakfast to eat on the balcony in the sun. We then travelled by car to Meersburg, Germany, where we visited a beautiful castle, and, you guessed it, had coffee and sweets. We dined (briefly) like royalty on the balcony of the castle.
We then took the ferry across the lake to Konstanz, Germany, where we toured the city. One of the most interesting things in Konstanz is the giant rotating statue on the shore of the lake. The statue depicts a prostitute, holding the Pope Martin V in one hand and Emperor Sigismund in the other. It is a satirical take on how the woman held power over the men after “working” with both of them and learning their secrets.
After another great meal, we drove back through Switzerland to Lochau. The next morning we headed towards home and travelled by train for about 11 hours. It was an amazing trip and we visited some of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week I spent the majority of my time laying in my hammock in the riverside park. I found a lovely spot beneath the cherry trees where I got a little bit of sun and a view of the river. I worked on a lot of things from there and had a picnic lunch both days.
As some of you may know, my family sent me a package over a month ago. For weeks I heard nothing about it, until finally I received a notice that it was stuck in Czech customs. So today I took a quick trip to Prague, where I rescued my package, and finally got my birthday presents. I had cards from both sets of grandparents, including chicken feathers and dog hair straight off the Camp Verde farm. It’s a good thing customs didn’t think to check inside my letters, because livestock is largely forbidden. I also heard from several friends and got some wonderful gifts from my family. I miss everyone dearly.