Hungary & Austria

from Aug 3 -10 2016

Woo!! So mom and Delaney were here (a surprise that I learned about when I was in Europe already, what a blessing!), and we saw the cities Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. In Budapest, we took a bike tour, wandered through the shopping streets, took an evening cruise down the Danube River, and began the journey of eating gobs and gobs of gelato. It took every second of each day to learn to say thank you in Hungarian, and I am certain I still cannot pronounce it correctly.

Danube River Cruise sillyness :)
Danube River Cruise sillyness :)

Bike Riding in Budapest
Bike Riding in Budapest

Going to Vienna was my mom and Delaney’s first European train experience which was just exciting as it was a first 🙂 We arrived in Vienna only to find that our air bnb had fallen through, so sitting at a cafe, we ordered some food and got back on booking.com. This might have been one of my favorite meals of the trip because it was so surprisingly authentic!!I had no intention of ordering creamed spinach, but I did and it was delicious. A traditional Viennese meal of sorts?
Viennese meal!! :)
Viennese meal!! :)

We made our way to our new accomodations and then I stayed in to work on some homework (from my Ireland Creative Writing course). For dinner I had a cucumber salad – refreshing! The next day we went to a church service, which I think was missing a whole chunk of Mass (Catholics call it the liturgy of the word) and so we were out of there in a minute and it was probably the most unfamiliar service I have ever attended because it was in German and did not follow the expected structure.
Since it was a Sunday and Vienna is almost entirely closed on Sunday, my cousin and I took to walking the streets and running into little gems of architecture or street art. We went to a natural history museum (super rad) We eventually found a film festival that had food trucks inspired by cuisine from all over the world!!

Silly finds in Vienna!
Silly finds in Vienna!

Something very popular in this part of Austria was to eat fried sardines, whole, by the plateload. We were too chicken to try it out.

Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria

Then we headed over to Schönbrunn Palace which was breathtaking in every way. The gardens outside were fantastic and the rooms inside the palace were, again, I could not do it justice with an attempted explanation. It’s enormous and a must see if you ever go to Vienna!
Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace

Making our way to Salzburg was abeautiful journey as the landscape in Austria is lovely. We stayed a bit out of town at a quaint hotel and took the bus into town where we visited the fortress at the top of the hill (featured in the Sound of Music!!) and walked through the cute streets of shopping. I think this city was my favorite to visit with my mom and Delaney, as it was filled with nature and spontaneity. We went to a café and I tried to ask the Austrian waiter if he wanted to hang out with us the next day (at my mother’s request lol) but he declined. We still had a blast anyway!
Beautiful Salzburg from the fortress
Beautiful Salzburg from the fortress

We found ourselves in the pouring rain hiking up the Maria Plain hills. It was peaceful and we were steps away from a deer!! After a day of soiled shoes and shivering shoulders we made our way back to town where we went to an apple struedel cooking class. Johann, the chef, was so kind and gave us free goulash! We learned to bake apple strudel, which is a less unhealthy version of apple pie 🙂 He was kind and funny and it was so refreshing to spend time with a local after being in tourist mode for a week.
Maria Plain in the rain <3 Maria Plain in the rain <3[/caption] The next day we took a train to Munich and boarded a plane to Venezia, Italia!!

From World Youth Day to World Traveler

Hello one and all 🙂 I am so grateful for patience that I have forced you to have with me as I retroactively write about my Summer experience. Time goes by so so fast and it is not always the best time to pull out my iPad, but wow have I seen and done so much!

My World Youth Day experience, which was so much more extensive than my speed blog post could offer, ended on the most high note. I had a day to myself because all of my fellow pilgrims were already off to their next destinations and I had a night train to Budapest, Hungary. During this day I picked up my train ticket at the post office in Krakow center, and made my way around town to discover a burger restaurant and an amazing tea place in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. Ironically, the tea place was English/American themed, but the workers were so kind and the tea delicious.

View of the Castle in Krakow!
View of the Castle in Krakow!
"Hands that help are far better than lips that prey." Cytat Cafe in Krakow.
“Hands that help are far better than lips that prey.” Cytat Cafe in Krakow.

The narthex in the Jesuit church located in the city center. Beautiful paintings!
The narthex in the Jesuit church located in the city center. Beautiful paintings!
I was able to catch up with my father, and soon after I wandered my way back to the Jesuit Church next to the center where my bags were stowed away with the Jesuit coordinater for the U.S. chapter of Magis. I arrived about an hour and a half early, so I made my way into the church, and within fifteen minutes, a mass started! it began with a moment of adoration, which caught me so off guard but was so exciting (Adoration is when the Blessed Sacrament – the Eucharist – is exposed, and Catholics pray and worship in its presence, which we believe to be Jesus’ presence!). Then there was Mass, 100% in Polish, which is lovely to listen to, but I can’t tell you anything that was said to me.

The best part about going to Catholic services around the world is that they all share similarities, so even when there is a language barrier, I know what us going on and what responses to give and what is coming next. It’s a universal church, and so radical to experience!!

Afterwards, I got my backpackand made my way to the trainstation. My train did not depart until 10:30 pm and got into Budapest at 8 am so I wandered around and ate a quesadilla in the mall that is connected to the rain station. There was a random Polish man who walked up to me with his World Youth Day backpack and started talking to me about the next World Youth Day which will be in Panama! I absolutely plan to go, and he said we could meet in california as he wants to do a month long pilgrimage through North Central America. He then gave me a clay bell souvenir from a nearby Polish town which I have since had to part with because I broke it. I had nothing but wonderful experiences with all of the Polish poeple I have ever met – their spirits are radiant!

Adam & I at the Mall in Krakow!
Adam & I at the Mall in Krakow!

My experience with the night train was inexchangable though it was difficult. The train cars are incredibly tiny, like little sardine cans. Gratefully, in my car there was only me and a middle-aged Hungarian man who spoke only a bit of English. I woke up throughout the night to the realllly loud crackling of the wheels on train tracks right out of our window and the group of French folk next door who were having a grand ole time, booze and all. I also was certain that the ticket I purchased was supposed to come with breakfast but I did not receive any – however, it was no worries! I made it to Budapest and would be seeing my mom and cousin in nine hours!!!

Ma & Delaney make it to Budapest!
Ma & Delaney make it to Budapest!

Mag+s pt. 2 & WYD 2016

The Church where we performed at end of our experiment!
The Church where we performed at end of our experiment!
Mag+s Part Two/World Youth Day~ (from July 23-Aug2)
My experience of Magis concluded first with a concert at a church in Piotrków Trybunalski where my experiment, along with one other singing group and then a dancing one, performed with the band Mocni i Docnu (Strong in the Spirit). It was so much fun and the church was filled with Polish folks and the spirit of love was so radiant in the praise and worship. Then, we pilgrims moved onto Czestachova where we made a small pilgrimage to Jasna Gora, a beautiful and enormous monastery that holds the painting of Our Lady of Czestachova (Also known as “Black Madonna”). That was a very surreal experience. At one point in the evening I was sitting alone on the grass in front of the monastery after most people had gone inside for a prayer vigil. I was just singing to myself the song “He Loves Us” when a boy who I thought couldn’t hear me started singing with me. He didn’t make eye contact with me but just began singing the song too and we finished it together and that made me feel so special and so touched!! He shared that he was from Singapore and invited me inside to the vigil – what a kind lad. It is moments like this..
After our last Mass, all of the pilgrims proceeded to board trains to Kraków, where we would meet Papa Francesco!! (OKay, so no one actually met him, but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get!). We stuffed onto the trains like a sleeping bag into its case, and that was the start to a week of adventure, anxiety, crowds, sweatiness, stickiness, crowds, hunger, laughter, uncertainty beyond compare, and may I mention more crowds!! There are much to many details to include about World Youth Day (in Polish it is Światowych Dni Młodzieży) but the only way to imagine it is to truly experience it. For me, much of the time was spent in disbelief and awe, and so I can’t imagine trying to explain these abstract and emotional experiences.. To be a witness to ~3 million Catholics & Christians from almost all of the countries in the world come together in one beautiful city and country and celebrate the Eucharist together is, well, you can imagine that I struggle to find words to adequately say anything about the experience at all.
We stayed the nights at a school about a two hour train ride outside of Kraków sleeping on a gymnasium floor – it was a wonderful and humbling experience. I did not experience the discomfort of this pilgrimage in a negative way; I actually really enjoyed the simple living and not having so many choices to make. Each evening there were fun activities happening in the square, but we usually had to run to the station to catch the train back to our host parish. The train station experiences were nothing short of intense – folks had to push and shove to get on, and the schedule as well as the duration of the trains would vary. It created a lot of anxiety and stress in many people, but I think strengthened my understanding of pilgrimage. This is only my one perspective though, and I am sure the situation was either smoother or more difficult for other folks around the city!
On the last day, we were celebrating Mass at Campus Misericordiae (Field of Mercy) where we had just slept the night before. It was not very hot, but because the sun was showing no mercy, there were pilgrims all around us dropping from heat exhaustion (I don’t joke – we saw at least five people get carried off in stretchers because they were no longer coherent). I decided during the Eucharist to walk around with an umbrella and hold it over people who were waiting in lines to receive (they were everywhere) and it was so nice to be able to offer some kind of refuge even for just a moment, and also to hear the many thank yous that came through in a variety of languages. I thought it was so much fun to go around even though I may have only helped these people for 10 seconds.. The sun had nothing on me!! Little moments like these throughout the week really stuck out as unifying, especially among such diverse crowds where often times the only form of communication is through eyes and smiles and silly hand gestures.
Maybe it is important to ask, how have I changed because of this experience? Yes the details are so important, but if I am not a different person than I was before, it was quite a waste of time (right??). The trick is that though I know I am different, it is so difficult to put how I feel or what I’ve experienced into words. I can say I’ve learned so much, though.
The world is massive, but it is also small. I am careful to draw generalizations about a human experience because we each experience humanity through our identities. However, we really are interconnected, interdependent. It is quite frankly the most profoundly beautiful realization to come in contact with.

Our Campus Minister and group leader, JoAnn, wearing two packs and a parka! "Double Wide" became her alter ego.
Our Campus Minister and group leader, JoAnn, wearing two packs and a parka! “Double Wide” became her alter ego.
Some of the food we received on our first night - canned fish sauce/dip and chłeb!
Some of the food we received on our first night – canned fish sauce/dip and chłeb!
God saying hello on the field!! 2.5-3 million pilgrims gather to hear Pope Francis!
God saying hello on the field!! 2.5-3 million pilgrims gather to hear Pope Francis!
A mob of pilgrims from all over the world walk down one of the main streets in Krakow.
A mob of pilgrims from all over the world walk down one of the main streets in Krakow.