Bratislava, Punkva caves, and Krakow!
I don't anyone was happy to be leaving Vienna. It was such a magical city! When I get back to Europe I will definitely be visiting again. But we had an interesting itinerary waiting for us so we couldn't be too sad!
We all piled into the bus and drove to Bratislava, which is the capitol of Slovakia. Even though it was only about an hour's drive away, the entire feel of the city was completely different from Vienna! You could definitely tell that this area had ben under Soviet control, it gave the same vibe that East Berlin gave when I visited there later. And don't get me wrong, it wasn't like some cesspool of a city, it actually reminded me of the suburbs right outside of Chicago. We stopped so that Dr. D could give us a lecture on Soviet occupation and also so we could grab lunch! We walked around the downtown part of the city, but we weren't really finding anywhere great to eat (lots of pizza and burger booth-like places). Finally we stumbled on a Subway, which isn't the greatest thing to eat if you're abroad I realize but we weren't finding any traditional "slovakian" restaurants and we needed to eat quickly to get back on the road. There was this old gentleman that came into the subway after we had ordered and started talking to JJ (since he had served a mission in Hungary and the man knew some Hungarian or lived there for a little while or something? The old guy was so funny! He spoke some english but not a whole lot, so whenever the conversation sort of died off he would just stare at JJ and smile! Right before we were about to leave to meet back up with everyone, he told JJ, "You are fantastic young man, like Putin!" Made for some good stories!
After we left Slovakia we drove to the Punkva Caves in the Czech Republic! We parked the bus (or I should say Martin parked it haha) then we took a very short train ride to the mouth of the cave system where we met up with our tour guides. The caves were so cool! Tons of stalactites and stalagmites (I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I still don't know which one is which). There was this one stala..... um mineral formation that was called the like the Negro or something in english that was according to superstition if you touched the top of it and yelled out your wish for all to hear then it will come true. Being the nerd that I am (and not wanting to yell my actual deepest desires) I shouted that I wanted to get all A's. Plot twist- it actually worked! Czech stalagmdjadjgdfs actually do grant wishes! Too bad I didn't say what I actually wanted!
^^^ start of the cave system, spoooooooky! (as my friend Rachel would say)
^^^ There was one section that the ceiling collapsed in on itself a long time ago, so plants are now able to grow there since the sun can shine in. It looks like it's not that deep, but it was!
^^^ We got to ride on boats throughout the watery parts of the caves!
After the tour was over we had another somewhat long drive to get to our apartment hotel in Krakow. We had to eat dinner on the road because we were running late and we still had an hour of driving left, so we stopped at a polish (i think?) kentucky fried chicken after we were done taking the final.
We stayed at the Ventus Rosa, which I recommend to anyone traveling to Krakow! Very nice accommodations, large rooms, personable staff, delicious breakfasts, plus they had these AMAZING chocolate toffee candies in the lobby so whenever we came in or out we grabbed a handful!
McCall and I roomed with Lauren and Catherine (since we'd never stayed together) in one of the 4 person rooms. We decided (since it was already kind of late) to stay in and work on finishing our assignments that we procrastinated for the entire trip. Worth it! Since I finished most of my write-ups on the bus (and the final -_-, which actually wasn't terrible but even though that was exactly what I signed up for with a study abroad I've never been a fan of doing any deep thinking/writing in cars or buses) I didn't have many to do that night. So I facetimed with my family and enjoyed the company of friends!