travle journal 2010 part 2

Jour 4/5-6/7

Prague, Czech Republic – Vienna, Austria
I fell in love with the headlights of the tram in Prague because the design and the two headlights of the front of the tram reminded me of the Volkswagen Beatle. When I came to Viena, I too fell in love with the tram but this one only had one headlight, a cyclops Beatle. (Should I mention that the new line of trams in Vienna was designed by Porsche? They are extremely silent, even when moving.) If Prague is the thousand year old city, then Vienna is the thousand year old city that has moved along with the ages. I don’t mean it in a particularly complimentary sense. Sure, the roads are wider and are paved with asphalt instead of stones. They’re definitely a larger variety of shops than only having tourist-targeted souvenir shops in Prague; Nor will you fear that taxi drivers or shop keepers will try to scam you with overpricing and such. But the downside is, hundred year old buildings have signs of international slogans protruding from their facades. People here are very snobbish, maybe towards us tourists only. They, even hotel trainees, have an air of aristocracy, snobbishness that radiates from them. I, as a guest, feel very offended by their attitude.

Our tour of the city was short and quick, mostly spent in the back of a booked car to take us around. The driver was
funny but I could tell too he was proud to be Viennese, almost too proud, to call Vienna the centre of the world. His stories of Franz Joseph I, Mother Thereia, of all the Hofburg family lines in Europe were interesting and humorous. However, his thinned mustache on the sides suggested he wasn’t a man of the present, but from the Austro-Hungary empire which has never ceased to exist inside the head of thee Viennese. It was almost scary to think that these people were the ones who joined Hitler to purge the Jews. Could the same happen to the Turks taking over their cities?

My two days in Vienna were spent in comfort. I don’t think it could have been done in any other thousand year
old city but it was done at the steep expense of a true welcoming feeling.

Jour 6/7-8/9

Vienna, Austria – Budapest, Hungary
Our two days in Budapest started on a low note, with Western Union scamming us of our money. We very quickly finished
touring a lot of the most important parts of the town: Chain Bridge, Vaci utca, Buda castle, St Matthias Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, National Gallery and even managed to do a river cruise all in half a day.

Dad says we’ve become experts at choosing the best monuments and buildings to visit. I say we’re just skimming the top of a lot of these cities. At this age, I’m still ok with listening to my parents and going wherever they want me to. But a growing part of me wants to visit that Leopold Contemporary Art museum in Vienna, the Turkish bath in Budapest. I
don’t know how to put this but am I only just a participant that has been paid for?

After three cities, the dead things of the city – buildings, museums have sort of eclipsed us already. Instead, we have
increasingly focused on the more humanistic side of the city, coming up with our own verdicts of the people through our interactions with the citizens, mostly taxi drivers.

It started with the supremacist Austrian who had great pride but bitter resentment towards Turks, EU and little things.
He made us laugh but he also made us scared. In Budapest, we met a taxi driver. His bald head, his humble story about learning English to make a living, his tragic story of his wife eloping to Barcelona, his great story of being a
single father. This is what appealed to us. Sure they also have nice trams, which have become a fascination of
mine lately. But the people are friendly, always smiling and courteous, despite admitting to be negative thinkers.

Sure, what we see is even less than fraction of the population. It’s only a single individual whose life we’ve briefly intruded
into. My mom has based all her opinions towards that country on that one person. I don’t think she’s justified in doing that. (But they do work in the tourism industry.) I’ve enjoyed all these places so far, I guess cause I draw
from a much smaller sampling.

Jour 10-11

Milan, Italy
The last stop on our hurricane Europe trip was Milan. The most shopping we did was in the windows. Instead, the most impressive thing in Milan was the Duomo cathedral. The spires were more extravagant than aesthetic but they were a clear indication of the amount of effort that was put into building the cathedral. The cathedral took more than 450 years to complete.

All the churches I’ve seen on this trip have so far been the same. They’ve taken centuries to complete and all beyond huge. My question is what gave all the people involved in this construction the conviction to work on this never ending gigantic, magnificent piece of architecture. I am one of those who doubt the benefits of limiting yourself, of shutting all the other open doors and decide to walk a one-way alley with no intersecting streets. I doubt I’ve ever had a calling.

But the question as someone has pointed out to me is that I need to find my purpose in life, before I can find my future, before I can tell someone else what I can share with them, before I can learn to love someone.

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