Got a letter today from those great folks at NCARB, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards saying that I have completed all of my hours required by the Intern Development Program. What does this mean? I’m one step closer to fufilling my lifelong goal of being professional reponsible. And you get a cool stamp.

I have also completed my state application, which once approved, will allow me to sit for the Architectural Registration Exam. Yay tests.

Back to Vienna – The Return Home

Once we got back from Prague, we had two days in Vienna. The first day we spent going to the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum and the Hunderwasser House. At the museum, we saw the car where the good Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assinated in 1914 to start the first world war. The most interesting thing was how the museum handled the Nazi issue, I thought they did a good job of covering the subject. Most surprising to me was the fact that Austria had a Navy. The second day we went to Schoenbrunn Palace and spent the afternoon riding the Strassenbahn seeing all that we could see from the warmth of our trolley car.

The flight back was pretty uneventful, but the security was pretty tight. I guess that’s what to expect in this day and age in an airport that has only been terrorist free since 1985. Probably a good idea in a place where you had one flight leaving for Moscow, one flight leaving for Tel Aviv, and one flight leaving for Cairo. Not to mention our flight to Washington. It did seem to get progressivly tighter as the line got longer, we were one of the first people through the line, they checked our shoes, our bags, but we weren’t subjected to a search or a visit from the bomb dog. The Ukrainian gentleman traveling with his 2 year old son, a bottle of Vodka, and a lasagna wrapped in tin foil got a little bit more scrutinity.

The flight back to the US was a lot like the flight to Vienna, it wasn’t very full at all, which for a ten hour flight, it fine by me. We landed in DC, we made our way through customs, and then before too much longer we were back in Nashville, the trip was done.

All in all, it was a great trip. Vienna seemed a bit more like a real city where people actually live and go to work, Prague seemed to be stuck in time somewhere and very dependant on the tourism trade. But I guess that’s what 45 years of communist rule will do to a country.

Prague and the Czech Republic

We got up on Wednesday and made it to the train station. After a bit of wayfinding, we found our way to the right track, right train, sat down and had a nice breakfast of croissants that we had purchased at the local bakery in the train station. Dallas bought some sort of crossiant with bacon and ham embedded in it, he informed me that it was good and I should try it when we got back from Prague. (Meaning he didn’t want to share his, he would have been better to just say, “Gee, this is good. You can’t have any.”) The train started moving, the friendly Austrian zugkommandant (my word, not theirs–I’ve noticed that Germans put words together all of the time, I think that I can too) came over to inspect our tickets and to inform us that we were sitting in the wrong place, we would have to move, and he was going to fine us for sitting in the wrong place. Of course, we actually didn’t realize it was a fine until later, but we paid the man the six euros and went on our merry way.

Another Austrian fellow, this time one with a passport stamp and a gun gave us exit visas. This was followed by a representative of the Czech Republic’s security forces, she gave us a entry visa into her country. The ride was good, there was a very noticible difference between the Austrian portion of the train and the Czech portion of the train. One, in Austria, the announcements are given in German and English… In the Czech Republic, they are given in Czech, and broken English. We traveled through Breclav, Brno, and Pardubice, and saw a lot of the Moravian and Bohemian countryside. Dallas slept the whole way, I could have but I didn’t want to miss anything. I’m just like that, I guess.

We got to Prague stepped off the train and were greeted by a nice Czech man who I think was named Nicolai. He was holding leaflets for the Hotel Salvatore, he said that he could take us there and give us a good rate on a room. It was kinda a scary thing, I thought, but it seemed very easy, and the next thing we knew we were in the guy’s car heading toward Prague. Our original plan was to get on the Metro, Prague’s underground mass transportation, but since the floods of last August much of the system is still down. We got to the hotel without incident or Czech mafia intervention, we czeched into our room at a rate of 50 euros a night. We put down our bags and headed out for a night stroll.

Thursday we walked through the Jewish Quarter, the old town, across the Charles bridge into the Mala Strana and up the hill to the Prague Castle. We vitzited St. Vitz’s Cathedral, and saw all of the sights. I went into a store near the American embassy that sold historical maps and items and bought a 5×7 map of Europe in the 18th century (I’m just guessing there, it’s not dated) for 1500 Czech Crowns. We then walked back through the Mala Strana and across another bridge to the National Theater and then down to Frank Gehry’s “Fred and Ginger” building. We sat and ate in the cafe there, had a beer and filled out post cards. We then walked up to the main Nove Mesta square, and then went back to the hotel.

Friday consisted of arranging for transport back to the Holsovice train station. Armed with the knowledge that the train seats are different, we found where we were supposed to be and were not fined. We had to sit backwards on the train for the return trip which was disappointing to me, because it was the same scenery that I had seen on the way down.

I liked Prague, it had a more laid-back feel than Vienna does. I guess that goes along with the whole Bohemian lifestyle that it is famous for.

Tag Ein: Wien

Day one consisted of getting up at 10 CST, to fly 4400 miles to Vienna. The flight was good, I was able to complete the Frank Abagnale book, Catch Me If You Can during the eight plus hour flight. Thanks to the Austrian Airlines inflight entertainment, I was able to fathom that we passed over Moncton, Labrador, Ireland, Liverpool, Manchester, Amsterdam, and other points continental. We landed, and after a bit of discussion, about where exactly we were going, we were on a bus to Vienna. And I had my first stamp in my passport.

We spent the afternoon trying to find Herr Adams, which consisted of taking une autobus to the Landstrasse, and then several U-bahn lines to find our quarry, our host. We picked up the key to his place, and the traced our route back to the flat. It’s a very large place, several rooms and I think that it was orginally intended for several people, but he occupies it himself. He pays 500 euros a month, which is comparable to the 450 dollars a month that I pay for housing. After a few minutes watching the Austrian TV and CNN International (one of two English Language stations that Herr Adams has– BBC being the other) we headed down to a local establishment for some food. I had a beef tenderloin with a fried egg on top (It was 6am, CST, I was in the mood for breakfast) accompanied with side of was basically were home fries. It was quite good. I did my best with my Rick Steves’ German Phrasebook, but it was determined later that the waiter spoke fluent English, so there was no point in pretending. That and two cups of Caffe later, we headed down to the Sudbahnhof to arrange for travel to Praha manana. (I’ve found myself, lacking the knowledge in German reverting to Spanish. It really doesn’t help in anyway shape or form, but it does make me feel better.) One hundred and fifty seven euros later, we took the rail back to Herr Adams’s flat, and took a nap.

Tonight we met up with a co-worker of our host, he was a nice Austrian man named David who spoke English better than most folks I know. We had a fine time talking politics and other things, while enjoying the local bier and other Osterreich goodies. I saw the cathedral at Stephanaplatz, which I tell you was damn impressive. You see things in books, architectural history books, and I’ll admit, those kind of things generally bore me, but seeing them first hand, realizing how old they are, how big they are… It’s pretty awe inspiring. I should have come to Europe a long time ago…

Another thing that has struck me is the amount of English that people speak, the impressiveness of being bilingual, the amount of advertising that seems to be everywhere, and the density of this city. I really would like to see a map of Nashville and Vienna, two metro areas that are supposed to be the same size population-wise. Also, top 40 in the US is top 40 everywhere. I’m conviced the best way to blend in is to walk down the street singing Elton John at the of your lungs with a fractured German Accent….

Houhld meee clooser Tineeeey Dannncerrrr….. Kount de headlighcts on de hiiiiighhhway….

Tomorrow we go to Prague, our tickets that we have purchased are available for travel at four times tomorrow, a 6:50 am journey that I know we won’t make, a 10 something journey that we probably will. Next update will be Friday most likely, when we return from the Czech Republic.

Auf Weidersehen por manana.