Winter Break 2018

Alright, time to catch up on winter break.

So winter break started out with Dublin, and pretty much as soon as I got back from Dublin, my family came out to visit me in Salzburg.

DAY 1 (or rather 1/2) (19 December 2018)

They came out midday but mostly just wanted to sleep, partially because Jared was sick with Influenza A and they had just spent hours travelling, with no sleep, and Jared had spent more time than that because he flew back from China a day or two prior. So basically, everyone was sleep-deprived (naturally).

However, since my family couldn’t check into their hotel yet, I showed them around the center. I showed them my room, the classroom, the living area, and introduced them to some of my friends. Once they got to their hotel, they dropped everything off, relaxed for awhile, and later set off to go see the Christmas markets and get dinner. Everyone was pretty hungry but moreso, everyone just wanted to sit down, so we went to a restaurant near the Christmas market at the Domplatz.

They all headed to sleep because they were tired, and I went out to go hang out with some friends at Augustinerbräu, because there was supposed to be a Stammtisch that night (basically a bunch of Austrians or Germans get together to talk, but this one was for international students), but we couldn’t find it, so we just ended up playing games in Augustiner and went to Schnaitl afterwards.

Day 2 (20 December 2018)

We woke up pretty early, because we planned to go to Hallstatt, which is about an hour and a half away from Salzburg. I’d been to Hallstatt in the past, but I really wanted my family to see it – it’s like an Austrian, snowier, more Alpine version of the Amalfi Coast in Italy. However, on the train departure board, we couldn’t find any train that was going to Hallstatt, so we went to the ÖBB office and asked there, and the lady was super nice! Not only did she give us info about our train to Hallstatt, she ended up validating our Eurail passes and helped get us reservations on almost every train. Meanwhile, one of Jared’s friends from PLU HAPPENED to be in Salzburg at the same time, in the train station, which no-one was expecting, but it was pretty funny having a coincidental meetup thousands of miles away from PLU with no prior knowledge that either of the other would be there.

Anyways, once we headed to Hallstatt, my family fell in love with it. We wandered around the town a little bit and then went to get lunch. Unfortunately, most restaurants were either closed or packed due to the hour we came at, but we eventually found one. I got to test out my mom’s camera, which was a lot of fun. The restaurant had a great view of the Hallstättersee, and the food was delicious. (Some of these are mine and some are my mom’s!)

Anyways, Hallstatt was a lot of fun, and in winter it’s especially gorgeous. We took the ferry back to the tiny little Hallstatt train station, and headed back for Salzburg. On the way back, we met an Austrian student named Johanna, who studies in Graz, and we ended up talking about politics and cultural differences and school and a lot of stuff. She was heading home to see her family for Christmas, and she ended up giving me her number and offered to let me have a place to stay and someone to show me around Graz. Graz has been on my “to-visit” list for awhile anyways, so it worked out perfectly!

Once we got back to Salzburg, I showed my family around more of the city – O’Malleys, Schnaitl, the old town, the Universität, and more. Once that was all finished, we went to bed fairly early because we had to wake up early the next morning for our trek to Switzerland. Both of these photos are my mom’s:

DAY 3 (21 December 2018)

The train to Switzerland was long, but the views were incredible. With everything covered in snow, it looked like it was a scene from the Polar Express.  We were heading to Interlaken, Switzerland, as our first stop, and we passed through Zürich and Bern, and eventually made it to Interlaken after a long day of travel. Most of us just wanted to eat and sleep, so that’s exactly what we did. We went to a fondue restaurant (which was fantastic and a lot of fun!). There was music and dancing and the waiters were absolutely hilarious and very nice. We got a three course of oil/meat fondue, cheese/fruit/bread/vegetable fondue, and chocolate. All of it was incredibly good. After that, headed back to the hotel and passed out.

DAY 4 (22 December 2018)

Day 4 was our big day for seeing Switzerland. We woke up early to go to Lauterbrunnen, which is probably one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. Once we were there, we took a cable car up the mountain to see Wengen. Jared quipped about “being able to run circles around us” in the snow, but pretty much as soon as he said it, he slipped and fell and got injured. But it was pretty hilarious, and we all joked about it for the rest of our trip. We had lunch up in Wengen, and it was delicious. We got soups and pastas and it was just really nice to have my family all there in one place. After that, we took the cable car back down, where we met an Australian couple that was on their honeymoon. They were travelling for 2.5 months, and they had been to Japan, a lot of Europe, and were continuing on to Paris, then to the US, then Canada. It sounded like a lot of fun, but definitely an expensive trip, but they were very friendly and we talked about life in California and life in Australia. My dad always told me to “look for Australian travelers” because they’re the nicest, and he sure was right.

Anyways, once we were down the mountain, we headed up another train to go see a little ski town called Mürren. That was a lot of fun as well, and we mostly adventured around the town, and Maile and I got into a snowball fight. Maile really wanted to go back down and get back to the hotel but we missed our train by a minute (which wasn’t really a big deal because they come every 30 minutes) and she was pretty upset. Anyways, moving on.

Once we got back to Interlaken, we ate at the same fondue place (it was SO GOOOOOOD), then we headed to bed, because the next day we were heading to Nuremberg/Nürnberg.

DAY 5 (23 December 2018)

We woke up pretty early (of course) to head out to Nuremberg. Once we got into Nuremberg, we checked into our hotel (which was SUPER nice), then we headed out to go explore a little. When I was in Nuremberg, I didn’t take public transportation, I just walked everywhere, and figuring out how it worked was a little frustrating, but we ended up getting it. We first headed to Courtroom 600, because I wanted my family to see it.

Next up, we headed to the Zeppelinfeld and the Ehrenhalle, two other destinations that I wanted my brother and my dad to see. Maile was upset because it was a lot of walking, but we did it anyways, and we ended up taking a bus to old town Nuremberg, where we checked out the Christmas markets and got dinner.

I showed them some sites from Old Town, and afterwards we ended up heading back to our hotel.

DAY 6 (24 December 2018)

On day 6, we headed to Vienna. Since it was Christmas for Austria (it’s celebrated on the 24th and not the 25th like it is in the US), a lot of restaurants were closed, so after adventuring around for awhile, we found a crowded little Italian restaurant that was still serving food. It was pretty good, and then we headed back to St. Stephen’s and I took a lot of pictures, because I wanted practice taking pictures of other people.

After this, since Maile and Jared were both a little sick, we headed back to the hotel. I gave them their Christmas gifts – I got my sister a leather journal from Florence with her initials engraved in gold, I got my mom an oil-on-glass painting of the Florentine skyline, I got my dad a tie from Dublin and a keychain from Nuremberg, and I got my brother a Guinness hat from Dublin.

DAY 5 (25 December 2018 – American Christmas!)

On Christmas, we headed to the Wien Hbf. pretty early to catch a train to Budapest. It was kind of a long train, and the cabin that we were supposed to be in with reservations wasn’t actually on the train? So we ended up finding a few unreserved seats and taking those.

We only had a few hours in Budapest, but it was such a cool city! It’s interesting to see how Soviet architecture is still somewhat prevalent, at least near the train station. We walked across town to see the Buda Castle and a cathedral, and we ended up getting lunch at a restaurant up on the hill. Outside, we had a nice view of the Pest part of Budapest. We walked down the hill and crossed the bridge separating Buda and Pest, and we adventured around in Pest to see the “Shoes on the Danube,” a memorial to Holocaust victims who were shot there and whose bodies were dumped into the Danube, but whose shoes were kept because they were valuable.

After that, Maile wanted to head back to the train station, but I wanted to see the parliament building up close, so we headed there instead.

We eventually made it back to the train station, 2 hours early, so we took an earlier train back to Vienna instead. However, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen on the train!

We eventually made it back to Vienna, and spent the night exploring around. We went to an Italian restaurant that I went to when I was in Vienna for the second time, that our Music professor recommended to us. It was really good, and not very expensive, and then we went around sightseeing a little bit. We went to the Belvedere Christmas Market, explored downtown a little bit, saw the sightseeing stuff, and checked out the Rathaus Christmas Market.

After that, since Maile and Jared both were sick, we headed back to the hotel instead of staying out longer. Unfortunately since they were sick and we headed back, we couldn’t meet up with Christina/Lukas/Flo, but I’m sure I’ll get out there again sometime soon.

DAY 8 (26 December 2018)

On day 8, we headed to Munich for the day. Once we got into Munich, we almost immediately headed out to Dachau, and that was really powerful. I didn’t take any pictures, but Dachau was incredibly moving and sad. We walked the same walk that the prisoners had to walk – around 3.5 miles, but we were bundled up in winter clothes and we were still cold – I can’t even imagine how the victims felt in thin clothing and having to do the same walk in even colder temperatures.

After Dachau, we headed back to downtown Munich to see the Rathaus and get dinner. The dinner was amazing, and the restaurant was nice and cozy. My brother and my dad both found out that they love Gulashsuppe, which I’d been trying to get them to try for awhile. After this, we headed to Hofbräuhaus, where my dad, my brother, and I got beers, and my mom got a wine (she didn’t really like it though).

After Hofbräu was easily the funniest part (in my opinion) of the trip.

So two bits of background: 1) my mom and my sister were competing for steps on their Fitbits. My brother and I both wanted my mom to win, but she was down by a few hundred steps, so we took her Fitbit and were “running” by swinging our arms around with the Fitbit so that it would make up steps.

2) In the U-Bahn, there are announcers, which up until this I thought were automated, that would say messages such as “Platform 2 is closed,” or “Please stand back from the doors, they are now closing,” etc.

After Hofbräu, since my mom was still down on steps and I figured I could use the workout, I took her fitbit and was running in place beside my family. When we got into the U-Bahn, I was still running in place, and I looked across the platform and there were a bunch of Germans watching me. No big deal, I’d never see them again so I wasn’t worried. However, the reason that they were watching is because the PLATFORM ANNOUNCER, which I THOUGHT WAS AUTOMATED UP UNTIL THIS POINT, was shouting things such as “Faster, faster! My grandmother can run faster! Much better!” to cheer me on as I ran in place. So Big Brother definitely saw me running in place in a metro station through some security camera and decided to cheer me on. Sweet.

Anyways, we headed back to our hotel, and I ended up helping my mom beat my sister by a few hundred steps. So mission successful, I’d say.

DAY 9 (27 December 2018)

Day 9 was pretty short, at least in the time with my family. We woke up early to get to the Munich Hbf. and said our goodbyes. I headed back to Salzburg alone and expected to sleep the rest of the day, but it was actually a pretty productive day! I ended up breaking a guitar string, so I went out and bought a new one and restrung it (my first time restringing!), and Andrés and I ended up making homemade eggnog. I ended up learning 3 songs on the guitar and overall, it was a pretty good day.

So that’s it for my winter break travels. I planned on going to Vienna for NYE and Bratislava (Slovakia) on the 1st, but it was INCREDIBLY expensive, and that didn’t account for accommodations or food or anything, so I ditched that plan and stayed in Salzburg.

So what’s going on the future? Well, I’ve got a trip to Berlin on the first weekend of school with my German class, and I’m thinking about going to Amsterdam the weekend afterwards, but I’m not sure.

I also just bought a 2 month Eurail pass, which I’ll start near the end of the year so I can travel for free for April and the first month of summer. I’m really excited for it! My dad gave me the brilliant idea of just finding sleeper cars to go to my next destination so that I wouldn’t have to pay for Airbnbs or hostels, which I’ll likely end up doing.

The song is called “Blues Run the Game” by Jackson C. Frank!

Anyways, that’s all for now.

Mit Liebe aus Europa/Szeretettel Európából/With love from Europe,



Szia! = Hallo/Servus = Hello/Hi!


“Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan. I just learned this on guitar the other day too!

Photo dump! There’s not a lot, because most of the ones I liked are already in the document.

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