The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Wednesday, August 24

Austria is gorgeous!!!

Hello from Austria!! I am sorry for the delay in posting, Internet seems to be everywhere in Europe, but it is still not very easy to access. I am currently at a family`s home in a small town in the hills southwest of Vienna, they are letting me use their Internet access. The family is one that travelled with me from WYD in Germany on the bus. I do not have much time, but I will try to summarize my journey thus far...

In Germany, as you know, I was privelidged to stay with a beautiful German host family, right in the center of Cologne. On Friday, however, I left them (with tears!) to meet up with an Austrian priest that was known to the Emmanuel Community at one of the other parishes in the center of Cologne. I did not find him at first, but after the Way of the Cross Friday night (in French and German at this church!), I did find him, Fr. Achem (not how it is spelled... but that is how it is pronounced! I do not know how to spell it!). There was another girl, from Indonesia, named Felicia who was also to meet him on Friday night and go with his group back to Austria from WYD. As it turns out, she was not ready at that time to go with us, so it ended up being just Fr. and I travelling by Cologne tram, train and then bus to the place where the Austrians were staying, outside of the city of Bonn (south of Cologne on the Rhein I think). It took a long time to get there, more than 2.5 hours! By the time we got to the school where the Austrians were staying, it was after midnight... I was so exhausted that I did not care about sleeping on the classroom floor. In the morning, we got up early and left for the trek to the Marienfeld for the vigil with the Pope on Saturday night. It took a long time to get there, but the Austrians were very hospitable to Felicia (who met us in the morning) and I. We finally made it to the field, early in the afternoon, and found places for our sleeping bags. Later on, I made my way up one section and was very happy to find Fr. Williams' sister Katie and a bunch of other people from Emmanuel!! So, I moved my stuff up by them and stayed with them for the Vigil and Saturday night and through the Papal Mass on Sunday. We were very crowded, one of these days I will find a place to use the Internet from my laptop and then I can post pictures.... It was so soggy, muddy, wet and COLD. We scavanaged for as many pieces of plastic or tarps as we could find, and threw them down wherever there was room, people just sort of scattered themselves like puzzlepieces. We all fit somehow. I was soooo tired, by the end of the evening set up, that when the Vigil itself started with the arrival of the Pope, I do not remember much of it. I think I slept through the Adoration part!! :( I do remember how cool the Pope's hill looked all lit up with candles, and how neat the field itself looked with everyone's candles. Oh, and the WYD music people playing Ave Maria "musak" style (yuck!). There was a lot of bad music here actually, but the choirs themselves were pretty good, they just had a very bad idea of what was "cool" to the young. Oh well.

So anyway, on Sunday morning, I woke up SICK. I realized that the sweatshirt that my host family had given me was saturated in cig smoke (everyone smokes here... young and old) and I was definitely allergic to that. So all through the night, on the wet muddy ground with bad air I was sneezing and sniffling because of the allergies, and when I woke up I had also acquired a very very bad headcold. I have not been that sick in a very long time, and then I woke up and Fr. Williams was the only other one up, and it was soooo cold our breath was icy, and he was getting ready to leave to go meet the other priests who were going to concelebrate the Mass with the Pope... and I realized that I had to leave everyone I knew that morning and go with a group of Austrians I didn't know and didn't speak the language of, for who knows how long, and I just pleaded inside, I want my Mommy!! (Love you, Mom, don't worry, I'm better now!). So I pretty much "existed" through the Mass itself, so tired and miserable that I couldn't even follow along very well with the radio translations (I need to find a way one of these days to print the English translations of all of the Holy Father's speeches and homilies from the Vatican's website...). Communion time, however, was very good. Suddenly I could breathe again, and I just sank to my knees and gave thanks to God for everything He has done for me - sniffles and all!! After the Mass, I said good-bye to everyone again, and went back to find the Austrian group. By that time I was miserable again, and my head was pounding... they were very good to me, and Fr. found me another pilgrim with medicine for my headache. Then I realized we had a long walk back to the bus to take us for a 12 hour drive to Vienna Austria. I will spare you all those details. :) In the end, at 7:30am on Monday morning, we arrived in Vienna Austria. Felicia and I were very very happy to discover that Fr. was putting us up at his parish/school/rectory/office - it is basically an entire religious complex located just west of the center of Vienna, mostly a school for the brothers of his religious order, and he is the director of the school. This means that there is a great guestroom for the parish/school, and so we are staying in luxury in real soft beds and hot showers!! Much excitement, but that first day we were so tired we just collapsed into the beds and slept the whole day. We got up for Mass in the evening, and I think my appearance worried Fr. Achem because he called up to the room later to see how I was and was going to try to send a doctor in the next morning (ended up not needing that, thank goodness). I only mention that to show how good the people are here, and how well they have treated me, an American foreigner! No matter what the people may think about "America" or politics, I am pleased with how friendly and kind they have been to us personally. I am well taken care of here, safely in God's hands!

Vienna itself is GORGEOUS!! I love Vienna!! The family I am with right now, the mother and the two daughters (16 and 18, who went to WYD), took Felicia and I all around Vienna today, sightseeing. I love the city, I am so happy that I am spending another few days here so that I can explore it. It is beautiful, like Rome with history and fountains and museums and churches, but it is somehow fresher and cleaner than Rome. The city is dripping with old world charm and good food! It is good I am not staying here too long, I would get VERY fat! Austria has wonderful pastries, coffee, and food! The father of the host family, who stayed home today, invited us back to their home for dinner, and he cooked us weiner schnitzel (I have NO IDEA how to spell that, barely to pronounce it... you know what I mean I am sure!), which I had never had before. It was very good!

We went to Mass today (feast of St. Bartholomew!) at the Cathedral in Vienna, very beautiful, very splendid Mass with full music and bells & smells (I love Europe, they sure know how to use those altar bells here!! RING RING RING! All the time! :) We also went all over the city by tram ("Bim bim" as Fr. Achem loves to call them... I am not entirely sure why yet though!) and went into the Viennese treasury, where the crown jewels and ecclesistical treasures are kept - beautiful!

And joy, oh joy, I was also able to stop into the the Spanish Riding School today, to get tickets to see the horses' morning exercise on Friday and to have a tour of the complex in the afternoon. I will also see on Friday about possibly coming back to Vienna next summer to attend an actual performance, you need to reserve tickets for performances months and months in advance. (If you don't know why I am so excited about horses and a Spanish Riding School, go see my first couple of posts to this blog...).

I must go now, I have not even begun to tell you all the wonderful things that I have seen and done so far... If I am not able to connect again sooner, I will probably be speaking to you again next from France. I made contact with Caroline, my friend in Nantes France, and I will be leaving for Paris on Saturday. I may stay in Paris for a couple of days with a friend of hers in Paris before heading onward to Nantes next week. Then I will stay with her for a longer period of time, and be a little more "settled" if you will.

I am praying for you all, half a world away but I am with you in the Spirit!!


  • At 6:20 AM, Blogger Anonymous said…

    are you coming to WYD 2008 in Sydney? I'm going to organise a blogger get together (hopefully!)


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