I’ve been procrastinating writing this blog post and I actually have already been on another weekend adventure since this one. Writing a blog is much more time consuming than I anticipated. When I am in Florence during the week there is not as much down time as I thought there would be. I also have two “classes” in the evening/night so that also takes away from free time. I’ll always try to post about my weekends or cool stuff I did during the week but I’ve come to the conclusion it won’t always be in a timely manner. Last weekend we took our first trip with a program called FlorenceForFun. There are several companies like this all across Europe that employ people just out of college who have previously studied abroad in that city. It sounds like a great first job out of college…get paid to travel with college kids across Europe. They organize weekend trips to any place you could think of. The only downfall is that you are on their schedule and can’t always go and do whatever you please and that some are a little sketchy. Thankfully FlorenceForFun was a great company to travel with to Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. Thursday night we loaded onto a bus and were on our way to Budapest. The drive was 12 hours. Thankfully I can sleep on a bus so it didn’t feel nearly as long. However, for the people that could not sleep on the bus (aka some of my friends) the trip felt like an eternity and the next day we all experienced the result of their lack of sleep. Budapest was a little underwhelming. It supposedly is called the Paris of the west but I didn’t really understand why. The majority of the buildings were gorgeous but from what I have seen, all of Europe is that way. FlorenceForFun provided us with a guided walking tour to all of the main landmarks.
After a day of touring, we went back to our hostel to grab our stuff for the famous hot springs. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the hostel was too. It looked recently renovated and everything was thankfully extremely clean and sanitary. Going to the hot springs was what I looked forward to the most, or what I thought was going to be the highlight of my weekend. I had imagined getting to relax in a natural rock pool sort of thing with bubbles coming up from the ground from hot springs. Something similar to this picture below. However, that was the farthest thing from where we actually went. Our hot springs looked like a huge hot tub with a lap pool beside it, outside of a nice hotel looking building. Needless to say, it was the biggest disappointment of the weekend. The next morning, we got up and took a relatively short bus ride to Vienna, Austria. We were supposed to go on a guided tour but somehow there was a lack of communication and the guide never showed up. One of the leaders bought a map and a book to attempt to do a tour but we decided to just go and do a tour on our own. Vienna was a neat town that I’m glad I visited but I don’t really feel the need to ever go back.
The trip started to turn around at dinner. We went to an authentic Austrian restaurant that was in an old wine cellar. The atmosphere was great. I was a little hesitant on what to order because it all resembled German food and that isn’t one of my favorites. I hate sauerkraut so I was in for a real treat. Jordan and I both ordered the dish that was still authentic but was by far the most safe. It was roasted pork, kartoffelkloesse (a bread potato dumpling sort of thing), and sauerkraut. I was pleasantly surprised. I loved it all but shocker,the sauerkraut. It tasted different than in the US but still wasn’t my favorite. For dessert, we each got an apple strudel that was melt in your mouth delicious. A good dinner in a great atmosphere definitely made Vienna end on a high note. On Sunday we got up and headed to Salzburg, where The Sound of Music took place. As soon as our bus got there, we immediately hopped on a different bus for the grand Sound of Music Tour. They took us to all of the iconic places in the movie. I haven’t watched the movie in years but I somehow was still able to recognize several of the places. It had snowed the night before so everything had a gorgeous fresh coat of snow. The final stop had nothing do to with the movie but was a cute little town tucked away in the hills of Austria. We were on a bus for basically the entire day so it felt great to finally get back to Florence that night and sleep in our own beds.