I finally traveled to a place outside of Austria! As I mentioned last week, I went to Ljubljana, Slovenia this past Monday for a quick day trip in order to finally get my visa and to wander around for a few hours. It was a really cool experience, Ljubljana is a really pretty place with a lot to look at.
I had to get up at around 4:00 AM in order to try and shower and be awake for the bus which left at 5:15 in the morning. I learned an important lesson about my apartment that morning, which is apparently the hot water isn’t turned on at 4 in the morning, which was an unfortunate surprise. I left my place at about 4:30 since the buses don’t start until around 5, which would be too late for me to catch. It took me around a half hour to walk across the city to where we were meeting, which was by a park across the street from the opera house. Why meet there and not at the university? I haven’t a clue. In any case, I made it there on time, and we took off at about 5:30. It was a double decker bus, so we got a seat on the top level and had a pretty nice view of the countryside as we drove to Slovenia. If you were wondering what the European countryside looks like, its equal parts mountains and farmland, which is alright to look at. It took us about three hours to get to Slovenia, so we were a little early for our visa appointments in the morning. The Austrian Embassy wasn’t quite what I expected; I thought it would be some large official government-looking building, but it looked like it was just somebody’s house. I had been running around all week trying to find the right paperwork for my application, and I was convinced that I was missing something. The first woman I saw gave me a hard time, telling me I didn’t have proof for this or that, and making me get out of line to redo my application since my application form was only in English. I tried a different person my second time through the line, and he took all my forms without any trouble, so in the end, I officially got my visa! I expected the visa to be some fancy form, but it’s just a thing they stick in your passport. Darn.
There was about a dozen of us applying for visa, and we were all done within about 30 minutes, but since the visas wouldn’t be completed until later that afternoon, we had some time to kill. The original plan was for the international group in Ljubljana to give us a tour of the city, but that was suddenly cancelled, so we were free to roam around. A small group of four of us decided to try and find breakfast somewhere, so we wandered from shop to shop trying to find a place that sold food. Turns out in Europe, it’s far easier to find a place that will serve you beer at 9 in the morning than any food. After about 4 or 5 different shops, we finally found a cool little cafe were we had breakfast. And they had waffles! Actual waffles! They were wonderful, the Slovenians know what’s up. We wasted an hour or two in the cafe, then set about wondering through town trying to find the city center. We finally found a riverwalk type area and rows of small shops that we wove in and out of looking at the various things. You can find these types of areas in the US, but instead of them being fake and all built in the last 20 years, these were all really old, authentic buildings.
After browsing for a bit, we finally decided on going up the nearby mountain and seeing the castle which is one of the landmarks of the city. We spent most of the day there, going around the old castle and looking at the museum exhibits that they had. A lot of it has been ‘modernized’ with glass walls and steel beams, but it was still a cool place to travel through. I even took pictures!
So there’s that. We made it back to the embassy at around 1:30 and got our passports back, and got lunch (pre-made sandwiches from a grocery store…) before we loaded back into the bus and left by about 2:30 PM. All in all, we made it back to Graz by about 6 PM, and I went to bed very early.
The rest of the week was much less eventful. I had to miss my German class due to the trip, and two others were cancelled, so I ended up doing very little schoolwork this week. There was a solar eclipse over Europe yesterday morning, so I did get up and went over to the university where they had a telescope set up and eye protection things. I was a little late, so I missed the highest coverage, but it was still really cool to see, and it covered more of the sun than the one in North America last fall.
Not much else to report besides that. This next week will be my final week of classes before my 3 week long Easter break! Which is absolutely absurd, but I’m not complaining. So next week will likely be dull and full of going to class and making plans, but most of April will full of exciting new things! Then back to dull again. I’ve found some cheap transportation, and have some idea about where I might be going, but nothing final yet. Until next week!