Great title for a post, right? I thought so!

The last time I posted a story about my life to this blog, I had gone shopping with Monica. Well, Monday morning, bright and early (by which I mean, like, 11am), my computer crashed. 

It made me SO happy. 

So I opened my laptop, per usual, to check my email and my facebook and listen to music while I was getting ready for class, and everything was fine at first. The internet is always really slow here, so the server that I use, Safari, freezes a lot. Something about the compatibility with American systems and foreign internet or what-have-you. So anyway, the little rainbow wheel of doom, as I call it, that always appears when an application freezes, popped up. So after a while, I closed down Safari, and reopened it. Well, it froze again, so I tried to shut it down, and the whole computer froze. Naturally, this did not frustrate me at all, so when I shut it down, I wasn’t really annoyed (I hope you’re catching all the sarcasm here). When I restarted it, the startup noise played and the little apple insignia appeared, but the wheel that indicates that the computer is loading wouldn’t stop spinning. So I left it and made something to eat, but when I got back it was still spinning. So I shut down the computer again, and when I restarted it for the second time, there was just a gray screen, and a file folder with a question mark blinking on the screen. 

Of course, I freaked out. I haven’t backed this thing up in a long time, if ever. And also, the computer is only 2.5 years old, so it shouldn’t have been acting up like this. Luckily, I brought my iPhone along with me, so I was able to look up the problem on the internet. Apparently the computer wasn’t recognizing the hard drive anymore (of course, 2.5 years I’ve had this thing and been between DC and New Jersey, both of which have very accessible Apple Stores, and where all of my software discs are, and it decides that my semester abroad is a good time to crash on me), and people were just kind of saying, “I hope you’ve backed up all your stuff.”

Once again, I hadn’t. 

So I freaked out and got in touch with Leah, wanting to know if she knew where I could find an Apple Store. Turns out there’s one by the Opera. 

How does she know this?

Sunday night, she spilled tea on her Macbook, and it died (or drowned). So I packed up my computer and met her there, and the first thing she said to me was, “We really are the same person.” Then she told me that she made an appointment to take her computer in, but she had gone when the store opened and managed to drop it off before all their appointments for the day filled up. 

Meanwhile, I’m just kind of like, “appointments?! There are such things as appointments at Apple Stores?” Maybe Atlantic City isn’t a real-enough city that one must make an appointment  before taking one’s computer in for work, but I was basically flabbergasted. Every time I’ve visited the Apple Store in AC for something, I’ve always been helped really promptly, and told to come back and pick up my computer in, like, an hour or two. (Atlantic City, you’re doing it right!)

So Leah and I go in, and Leah helps me explain to the employee in French what my problem is, but by that time it was around 3 and I had missed out on my chance to weasel my way into an appointment like she did. 

There are actually two Apple Stores in Paris - the one at Opera, which had no available appointments for a really long time, and one at Louvre. It’s in le Carrousel du Louvre, where the inverted Pyramid is located:

(I didn’t take this one- I googled it!) 

Anyway, their earliest available appointment was Monday, March 20 at 2:20pm. So I booked it, but decided that on Wednesday morning, my day off, I would go there and see if I could drop off my computer earlier. 

Long story short, it was a no-go. I had to wait for my real appointment, after the weekend. 

It was a bummer, mostly because the time for the junior/senior housing lottery and class registration for next fall were creeping up on us (for the rising seniors, these things were a week apart). So really not an optimal time to be out of touch with possible roommates, the course list for the fall, and advisors. 

However, the weather had started to get really warm. So after my computer was rejected Wednesday morning, I bought a crepe for breakfast (which I had skipped to try and get to the Apple Store earlier), and ate it by the fountain at the main entrance of the Tuileries. They have chairs there, so I laid back in one of the lounge chairs and soaked up the sun for a good hour or so. It was a little chilly because of the wind, but it was so sunny that I didn’t care. 

Afterwards, I headed back to the apartment, and afterwards, met Ebonee and her friend Michaela for lunch and to hang out for a while. So we went to this place in St-Michel that they really like. It’s a gyro place, and I’m not a fan of gyros because I don’t like lamb, but Ebonee explained to me that these are cheater gyros because they make them with chicken, which is way cheaper than lamb. And therefore, I liked it a lot!

Afterwards, we spent the afternoon walking all around Paris. We walked from the Seine all the way to le Marais (where I went to the craft and vintage markets), then from there to the Bastille, and to the office of the place where Michaela and Ebonee work. After that, I parted from them and met up with Leah on the Champs-Elysées for a little while. 

Thursday morning, I had class with Leah. We have the class with a French girl named Ingrid. She and Leah became friends last semester, and now she has become my friend too. The reason I tell you this is because I am obsessed with the Hunger Games, I got Leah obsessed with the Hunger Games, and Ingrid is also obsessed. So we were talking about that night, because Leah and I had tickets to l’avant-premiere, or the advance showing, of the Hunger Games movie. And the cast of the movie was going to be there. Ingrid couldn’t get tickets, but she was still going to see the actors and actresses when they arrived.

After class, I went down to the 15th arrondissement to see Ebonee. I was borrowing a pair of shoes from her, and needed to pick them up. So we decided to get lunch, and where did we end up? McDonald’s (or McDo’s, as they say here). 

Now, you would think that when you walk into McDonald’s you pretty much know what you want. Well, not this time. We stood there staring at the menu for a good 10 minutes. The people working behind the counter were very clearly judging us, and people kept giving us weird looks when they would ask if we were in line. But, as Ebonee said, “The Chicken Mystique is throwing me off!”

After we finally ordered, we went upstairs to where all the seating was, and found this high table with high chairs that was behind this weird wooden plank. I guess it gave us privacy or something, but it was odd. Anyway, we proceeded to be pretty obnoxious and loud, like those Americans, because literally everything we said to each other ended up being absolutely hilarious. It was worth it, though, and since McDonald’s is McDonald’s, I regret nothing. 

So after the McDonald’s extravaganza, I returned to the apartment, and before long I was meeting Leah at my metro stop. We took a walk around my neighborhood for a little while, then went back to the apartment and got ready to go. It was still pretty early, they had told us to be at the premiere at 7:30, an hour before it started. So we left at around 5, maybe a little after, and were going to go to the pizza place next to the movie theater and just sit there for until 7:30.

Well when we got to the Champs, there were people lining the arrival area for the celebrities, and the red carpet was out, and they had a bunch of plants and fancy things (for the record, this picture was taken probably at around 7:45 or so, when they had started letting everyone in. But this shows you the madness! Those bright lights are where the red carpet was).

We decided to ask where we were supposed to go before we went to get pizza. So we asked one of the employees of the theater who was standing outside, and he pointed to this line.

This really, really long line.

So we go walking down to the end of it. There had to have been around 200 people in front of us. We were really confused, because when we waited in line for two hours on that rainy Saturday morning, there had been maybe 50 people waiting for tickets with us. But this was insane. 

So we stood there for a good two hours as the line got longer and longer and finally wrapped around the block (and the blocks on the Champs are biiiig).


For the record, I look like I’m crying, but for some reason my eyes were just really watery that day.

Anyway, they finally let us go inside. We had to turn in any cameras or things that could take pictures (any phones or ipods or whatever) so that no one could film anything. Then they ushered us into the theaters. For the record, the seats were really comfortable. And we ended up at a really good vantage point. And they gave us free posters!

We got to watch the movie stars arrive and give interviews on a live feed from the red carpet. Leah and I also saw Ingrid, front and center at the barriers, getting the autographs of everyone! Afterwards, they brought them around to all the theaters, and did a brief introduction of each of actors, and then ushered them out.

Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), and the director Gary Ross (who introduced everyone in French. If you can imagine French in a kind of Texas-esque accent, that’s what it sounded like). 

And roughly an hour after it was supposed to start, they finally started playing the movie. I really enjoyed it, and so did Leah!

We were still kind of disappointed, though, because we didn’t realize that they were going to open up all of the theaters for the premiere. We thought it was going to be the kind of thing were they have a certain amount of seats in the same theater as the cast and crew and everyone and that we would be watching the movie with them. But I don’t think they even stayed to see the movie (which is understandable, they have to go to basically every major city. I’d get sick of it too). It was a really, really cool experience, but had we known that it was going to be like that, we would’ve stood outside with Ingrid to get autographs and just gone to see the movie when it came out in theaters on the 21st, like 5 days after the preview. 

So by the time we were out of the theater, it was getting close to 12, and we still had to take the Metro home. Neither of us had eaten, so we wanted to get pizza (the place stays open until like 3am), but I had to get up early so we decided it would be better to head out. Plus the Metro closes down at around 12 on week nights, and we would’ve been stuck!

So I got back to the apartment, and was trying to find my key to get inside, when EVERYTHING fell out of my bag. Really loudly. And I was trying to be quiet, because I figured that Natalie and Sam would both be asleep, but nope - Sam opened the door for me because he “heard me struggling,” and all the lights were on. He asked me if I was drunk, and I said no, because I obviously was at a movie premiere and not out drinking, but I was struggling so much he very clearly didn’t believe me. And Natalie wasn’t even home yet! So much for trying to be quiet….

So I quickly packed everything for the morning, and went to bed.

Where was I going in the morning, you ask? To Vienna! My first out-of-country trip since I’ve been here!

Friday morning I got up bright and early, double checked all of my stuff, and headed down to the metro. I transferred at Les Halles, the closest stop to me in which the metro and the RER trains (they go everywhere the metro doesn’t, including the airport!) intersect. 

So I knew that to get to Charles de Gaulle, I had to take the RER straight to the airport. But the RER is weird, and kind of complicated, and I had never taken it before. I probably should’ve practiced or researched or something beforehand, but I didn’t. All I know was that Ebonee and Michaela said that sometimes it takes a good hour to get to Charles de Gaulle on RER B, and my flight was due to leave at around 12:30, so I wanted to be at the airport by 10 or 10:30. 

Since I’m not a complete idiot, I was able to follow the signs to the RER. And I made it to the platform, but I wanted to double check that I was in the right place, so I asked this older woman if this was the train that was going to Charles de Gaulle. Now, she was a pretty cool old lady. She had on a bright red coat, and she had this shade of violet eyeshadow on her top lids, and like a really heavy smattering of lavender eyeshadow under her eye. It was pretty wild. 

She explained to me that on the board (you know, “train arriving now”, “next train in 5 minutes”… that thing), the destinations of the train would light up, and not to get on right away. She said that sometimes you could end up waiting for a train for quite a while. 

So while we were waiting, she asked me where I was from and what I’m doing in Paris and where I was going for the weekend. She also told me that my French was pretty good (yay!). Then she explained to me that RER B goes to the different CDG terminals. The thing about this airport is that it’s huge. Massive. And it’s all really spread out. The RER makes two stops at the airport: Terminals 1 and 3, and Terminal 2. 

Well, I had written down my booking code and all of my information for the weekend and everything (not printed it, since I don’t have a printer), but nowhere in the information Austrian Airlines emailed me had it indicated which terminal I should go to. This seemed to distress the lady, because I literally had no idea where I was going (another reason why I wanted to get there super early - I was going to ask where I needed to go, and if I was at the wrong terminal, hop on the bus that goes from terminal to terminal. 

Finally, the right train came (I really had only been waiting for maybe 5 or 10 minutes), and the lady said goodbye to me and wished me “bonnes vacances” and a good semester, and I got on the train. Then, just before the doors closed, she held up two fingers (for terminal 2), and waved goodbye (for the record, whoever said the French were snobby and unhelpful, it’s not true!).

I was planning on going to terminal 2 anyway, because both my and Allegra’s flights on January 26th had come into terminal 2. I figured that was the main terminal for international flights. The ride to the airport was maybe a half hour or 45 minutes or so, and I got off at the last stop, Terminale 2.

Now, apparently you have to have a special ticket to get into the airport. I have my Navigo Pass, of course, which gets me around wherever I want to go on the metro, but they have these big, glass, un-jumpable doors that you have swipe your tickets or your pass with to actually get into the terminal. 

Well, I came by metro, and then got on the RER. Nowhere was it indicated that I needed any kind of special ticket. And there was nowhere to buy one on the train platform, or at the gates. And there was no way to get through. Everyone was going through and on their merry way, but I couldn’t get through. So I rang the bell for assistance, but no one came (and I think I probably lucked out with that, because they probably would’ve ended up fining me 50e or something). So of course I began panicking and worrying that I would be stuck here forever and end up just having to get back on the RER and going home. So I started asking people for help. No one was sure what to do, so they would apologize and just go on their way. 

Finally, this nice American woman who was leaving the airport took pity on me. I was almost in tears at this point. She was trying to give me suggestions - and I was even ready to give her 10e to go get me a ticket just to get through (the tickets cost like 9e… it’s ridiculous!) - and finally a guy came from one of the trains, and she was like, “just follow him through.” So I followed really close behind him so that the sensors would think it was just one person, and I ended up getting through. So I thanked the woman (probably around 5 times) for helping me, and then I went into the airport.

At the top of the escalators, there was an information booth, so I went to find out where my flight would be leaving from. Luckily, it was leaving from terminal 2, so I had come to the right spot. 

Since I didn’t have any bags to check, I got through check-in very quickly. Then I had to go through security, obviously, but it wasn’t crowded at all. I was patted down for the very first time at the security gate because even though I didn’t have any metal on me, I kept setting of the metal detector. So that was pretty interesting. 

Then I just hung out until it was time to board. And let me just say - best. Flight. Ever. AirFrance, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right. Delta could learn a thing or two from you (although I flew over on American Airlines and it wasn’t awful. But, for the record, European airlines are definitely way better than American ones).

Since the flight was only around 2 hours, they had us on one of those mini airplanes, not the full-sized ones that you take across the Atlantic. I really wanted a window seat, but nope - I was in the middle. However, it was totally ok because I was in the emergency row, and they actually removed a row of seats, so I had a ton of leg room. 

I was also sitting next to the flight attendant. She was really, really nice to me, and was interested in where I came from and where I go to school. We only spoke in French, but she told me that she had gone to a French-English school in Oregon (fancy that, right? Who would’ve thought Oregon would have French-English schools?). She also told me that I had a very pretty French accent. That really surprised me, because I always thought that I sounded the same as Arnold Schwarzenegger would if he tried to speak French. So I’m either a whole lot better than I thought I was, or she was just being nice. 

Anyway, AirFrance gives you lunch and a drink. They even have free booze! Now, I had a coke (I have a caffeine deficiency problem, and I didn’t have time for coffee before I left), but I just want everyone to know that free booze is an option.

So we landed at the Airport in Vienna, and I settled down by baggage to wait until Kara’s flight got in two hours later. So we bought bus tickets that would take us to the train station, Westbanhof, near our hostel, Do Step Inn (I googled this picture):
 

Anyway, we checked in, and we were offered free Welcome Wine! Of course we said yes.
 
We actually stayed in a building of theirs that was just around the corner, because their main hostel was full. Parts of it were under construction, but the place was beautiful. Super clean, really new, really nice. I definitely would recommend it to anyone traveling to Vienna. Here’s a picture of Kara in our room:
 

So after we chilled for a little while, we decided we were starving. So we stopped back in the office of the main building to ask the girl a place she would recommend for dinner. Well, she recommended a place to us, she told us it was traditional Austrian food, but we got about halfway there (in our defense, it was a really long walk) and figured that we were going to collapse right there, on this massive, busy shopping street in the middle of Vienna and wither away into nothing. So we went to the first place we saw, which was an Italian place.

Needless to say, it wasn’t very Austrian, and I’m sure Kara didn’t want to go to Austria for Italian food that she can get in Italy (she’s studying in Rome this semester), but we were starving, so it didn’t matter. And it was delicious. And Kara said it tasted pretty authentic. So we were happy.

After a nice, long, slow dinner, where we did a lot of catching up, we headed back to the hostel. I showered, and after my shower, we started looking up places we wanted to see the next day (Saturday, if anyone is timeline-lost). 

Luckily, almost everything we wanted to see was in the Old City. For the record, Vienna is massive. It’s a huge, huge city. But luckily, almost all of the really touristy things (the Opera, the Spanish Riding school, Mozart’s house, etc.) are in the Old City. So we decided to go there. Kara needed to do some sketching for her class (for those that don’t know, she’s an architecture major, and is obviously studying architecture in Rome), and I just really wanted, more than anything else, to see the Spanish Riding School where they train the Lipizzan Stallions (the ones that do the tricks and the acrobatics). Since Kara knows that I’m just a little bit obsessed with horses, she agreed to put up with my antics and tag along to the school with me.

So the next morning we got up, and were out of the hostel by about 11. Even though both the metro and the tram run through Vienna (although neither go all that close to the Old City), we decided to walk. It was pretty straightforward, just along that shopping road that we had been on the night before, but it was pretty far. About halfway there, I started to feel the effects of not having coffee (it’s a problem), so we started looking for cheap-looking coffee shops (not restaurants or cafes). Well, there weren’t any, but there was a McDonald’s. So we went in to get some coffee and some breakfast.

This was seriously the most beautiful McDonald’s I’ve ever been to. In fact, here’s a picture:

Seriously, it looks like it could be a 5-star restaurant. The plates were glass. And when we were finished eating, someone came by the table and took our trays for us. We were kind of shocked. 

So after McDonald’s we continued on our way. It was actually pretty hot in Vienna. Kara had her peacoat with her, and I had my new jacket, but neither of us needed them. When we each checked the weather, it had said that it was going to be in the 30’s (Fahrenheit). But no, it was probably in the 60’s. Crazy warm. 

So we reached the Old City at the Museums Quartier. Here’s a map of the old city (although we didn’t stay at the Best Western. That has nothing to do with anything, except I think it was their map):
 
Down where it says “MUMOK,” that’s where we came in. Mariahilfer Strabe was the name of the street we took.

So those two buildings facing each other were a natural history museum and, I think, an art museum of some sort:

So then we walked through this gate…

…and into the complex. On the map, the entire complex is that one weirdly-shaped building, and all the rest. Look for where it says “Hofburg.” This is the weirdly-shaped building, by the way:
 

So in this complex, one can see the Treasury, which is home to the Crown Jewels, among other things, and the royal apartments, and all kinds of stuff. It all sounds very interesting, but Kara and I decided that we were more interested in actually seeing the city than in doing museum-y things. 

Also, there are tons of horses in Vienna. They do lots of Cape May-style carriage rides:

We asked, but it was way too expensive for us. I was tempted to find out how much it would cost to just take the horse, but I figured that wouldn’t be allowed. But here are two more pictures of horses:
  

So we went walked through the complex, and to the Spanish Riding School (for the record, all of this stuff is one giant building). It turns out that to see a performance, you have to book well in advance through a travel agency. You can watch them train, but it’s also rather expensive. We didn’t have the time or the money, so I’ll have to save it for my next trip to Vienna, but we did get to see the stallions:

And we got to see the stables!
 

So this is what the Lipizzaners do. What makes them so special (for the record, these are all googled too):
 


Yes, that horse is supposed to be doing that, unlike other horses who may or may not do that when they aren’t supposed to. But anyway, I promise that these are the last horse pictures I’ll put up in this post. Probably.

So we walked out of the complex and into the city. The building behind me is the back of the Hofburg, and the part of the building to my right (my right! in the picture I’m looking at you! - for all you directionally challenged people out there. Mom.) is the Spanish Riding School. Then we continued walking down that street (the one to my right, through that little arch that you can barely see). Actually, the stables are over by that arch, not in the school itself! 

So we were heading toward the Opera (if you look back at that map, the Opera is just underneath “Albertina” and next to “Staatsoper.”). That was the other thing I really wanted to see.

Along the way, we came across this little Pinocchio in front of a clock shop:

And finally, we came out on the other side of the Hofburg complex, over by where the Opera is. There was some kind of film museum over here, with all these stairs going up to a terrace, so Kara and I climbed them. They gave us a beautiful view of the area, including of the Opera and of the Buurgarten. Here’s Kara on the stairs:
 

So here was the view:
 

Cafe Mozart

The Opera

We also had a view of the roof of the botanical garden at the front of the Buurgarten, and there is a restaurant called the Palmenhaus in the greenhouse, where Kara and I actually went for dinner:

Here’s Kara and I with the copper roof behind us:

So we went to the Buurgarten to make dinner reservations, and then went back out and to this little food cart that sold Weinerschnitzel. Neither one of us were particularly hungry, but we both wanted bottles of water. 

Then we walked over by the Opera House. I really wanted to go inside, but unfortunately, there was a show there or something, so we couldn’t go inside (not like the Opera in Paris, that you can go tour). 

After we saw the Opera, we decided to go try and find the Holocaust Memorial that Kara’s professor recommended she see. When we couldn’t find it, we decided to head back to the hostel to get ready for dinner. 

On our way, we came across this guy. I think the trick was in his cane, which he never let go of, but it was still really cool!

There was also this uber-goofy sign that I absolutely loved:
The back of the riding school/stables
That’s the back of the Spanish Riding School, and on the right side of that arch in the bottom right corner (it’s actually a tunnel for traffic and carriages) are the stables.  

So we walked the whoooole way back to the hostel, which is very far, and freshened up and relaxed for a little while, before leaving again to walk the whooooole way back to the Buurgarten for dinner. I mean, from our hostel to the Hofburg Palace was probably about a mile. However, instead of going through the Complex and around the back, we cut around the front and hoped that we ended up in the right spot. 

Luckily, we did! So we ended up at our restaurant, the Palmenhaus (I took one during the day, and one at night!):
 

There’s Kara and I during dinner. The couple sitting next to us spoke enough English to ask if we wanted our picture taken: 
 

Kara ordered some steak thing with a garlic mashed potato crust, and I got sea bass with a ginger-soy-chili marinade. Neither were Austrian, although in the guide book it said this was a traditional Viennese restaurant, but it was suuuuper delicious so we didn’t care:
Kara's steak My sea bass

And here was our delicious chocolately dessert:
 

So after our delicious dinner, we decided to walk around the Old City at night for a little bit, and to try to find the Holocaust memorial again. The city is, I think, prettier at night than during the day. Whether it was because it was less crowded or maybe because everything was all lit up, I’m not really sure, but I liked it better at night. 
St. Stephen's Cathedral

So because I have an awesome sense of direction (it’s one of my few talents hahaha), I managed to find the Holocaust memorial for Kara. If you go back to that map that I posted, I think that little building above the Best Western sign is the memorial. I’m not sure that that’s what it’s supposed to be, but that’s exactly where the memorial was, so I’m going to assume it’s the memorial. 
 

It’s actually made of library shelves turned inside out so that the spines of the books are hidden and the titles and contents are forever unknown. It’s a really cool concept, and it commemorates the 65,000 Austrian Jews that were killed during the Holocaust.
 

So after that, we walked back to the Riding School part of the Palace through the complex:

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had thought about trying to find an Irish bar to stop have a celebratory beer, but we were both completely beat, and every bar we saw had people spilling out into the streets. So we decided it wasn’t worth it.

I actually figured that we walked around for a total of 7 hours on Saturday, not including time at the hotel or at the restaurant. That is insanity. Insanity! And I had really big blisters in really painful, awkward places on my feet to prove it!

So when we finally made it back to the hostel, I decided to take a shower. Well, while I was in the little shower room, someone tried the door. I mean, I locked it, so it was no big deal, but then a few minutes later, there was this really loud pounding sound, like someone was trying to break in. So I was just kind of like, “what in the world is going on?” When all of the sudden there was this really, really loud sound, and the little vent at the bottom of the door popped out (I think I shouted something really obscene, too). Well I was freaking out at this point, because all I was thinking of was that movie Hostel. I mean, I haven’t even seen it, but I know it involves some kids who go to a hostel and because it’s a horror movie, scary things happen and then some of the probably die. So I bolted out of there as soon as I could and ran back to our room and told Kara that an evil leprechaun tried to break into my shower. A little dramatic, sure, (and I mean, I was joking, obviously. It was St. Patrick’s Day, after all), but really, the whole thing was pretty freaky. I don’t know what the heck was going on, and I don’t know if I would’ve been less freaked out or more freaked out if someone hadn’t just tried the door a minute or two before the loud noises started, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the downstairs bathroom is haunted, and if you stay there, only use the upstairs bathroom. Problem solved. 

So Kara and I made plans for Sunday morning before we went to bed. We wanted to go to the Great Belvedere, a palace-turned-art-museum. It’s a museum that now houses the works of George Klimt, whom I had never heard of before Vienna, but with whom I’m pretty familiar now (because they’re obsessed). 

We got up, packed, and headed over to the main Do Step Inn building to check out. After that, we walked over to Westbanhof Station to check out the bus schedules and to get some coffee and breakfast. We had researched the metro beforehand, so we decided to attempt. We got our tickets, and got on the metro. 

It’s a smaller system than even DC’s metro, but it is, like, really fast. Really, really speedy. So we got there pretty quickly, and walked down to the Great Belvedere. Here’s the front yard:
 

And the backyard:
 

It was a pretty quick visit, and we didn’t have time to go inside (and you had to pay), but I was really happy that we had time to go see it. 

So then we walked back to the metro, which took us back Westbanhof. Kara’s plane was due to take off at 5:15, and mine at 5:30, and the bus trip to the airport was 45 minutes, so we wanted to leave no later than 2:30. Neither of us had bags to check, which makes things easier, and we got back to Westbanhof at around 2. The buses left every half hour, and we could’ve made it, but we decided not to rush.

When we got to the airport, we both checked in, and printed our tickets. The weird thing about this airport is that, instead of going through security to get into the terminal, you go through security right at your gate. All you have to do to get into the terminal is swipe your ticket. 

So we got through, looked in some of the shops, and finally got some coffee and a snack from the Starbucks in front of both of our gates (luckily enough, our gates were about 100 feet apart). 

When they opened the security check for Kara’s flight, we said goodbye, and she went through. Not 10 minutes later, they opened my security check. It was no biggie in Vienna like it was at Charles de Gaulle, and I was one of the first through, so I didn’t have to wait in line. Then all I had to do was sit in the waiting area at the gate until they started boarding my plane. 

No window seat, again - this time it was an aisle seat (but apparently they don’t charge you if you want to change your seat, like they do in the States). But I was sitting next to a really nice older couple, although neither of them spoke much English. Or French. 

On this flight, they gave you cake. And again, they had free booze. Which I took advantage of (and the flight attendant teased me about. “Oooh good choice. Cake and beer!”). And then I followed it up with some coffee (it’s an addiction). 

They also had tv’s that were playing some kind of prank show, almost like Candid Camera (I really hope I’m not the only one who remembers that show!), but it was in German. However, you don’t need to know the language to understand the pranks, so it was pretty entertaining. They also played classical music before the flight took off, and during the landing, and just after we touched down, the music got really dramatic. I hope they planned it that way, because it was really funny. 

The older couple told me that they had a flight out of Charles de Gaulle at midnight, and were headed for Rio. I know I already said this, but they were really nice!

So I went back through the airport, and headed to the RER. I knew that I needed to waste money on a ticket this time, so I went and bought one (luckily I got to the ticket window just before it closed). There was a train leaving in one minute, so Idiot Mary got on it before looking at where it was going. And I didn’t realize that I had done this until after the train was already moving. Oops. 

So I’m sitting on the train, trying to decide what I should do if we don’t stop at either of my stops (Gare du Nord, which is two stops away from me in one direction, and Les Halles, which is four stops in the other direction). We sped through stop after stop after stop. I was beginning to freak out because I still had to get on the metro, and I was hungry and wanted to shower and to go to sleep. So I was pretty annoyed with myself.

Luckily, though, we stopped at Gare du Nord. So I went to the metro, and ended up having to wait, like, 10 minutes for a train. Now, this hasn’t happened since I’ve been in Paris. I mean it was like being in DC again. There are never any trains in DC! I’ve gotten spoiled. Well, the train finally came. Now, heading on the 4 towards Porte de Clignancourt: I’m at Chateau d’eau, then you head north towards Gare de l’Est, then Gare du Nord. So it’s two stops. That’s a 5 minute trip at the most, if the metro is running a little slow.

Well it was running like molasses.

We got to Gare de l’Est, and waited for a good 10 minutes there. There were a million people on the train! So you couldn’t move or sit or change the song on your ipod. After an exhausting weekend, with big blisters and a weekend bag and a day of traveling, there was nothing that I wanted less than to be stuck on a train in a metro station. So of course, I was thrilled. And it doesn’t help that I’m the most impatient person alive. 

However, before too long, we were moving again, and 30 seconds later we had finally made it to Chateau d’eau, and I booked it back to the apartment because I was so tired of traveling. 

I got back and dumped my stuff. I hadn’t packed much, so it didn’t take long to unpack, and Natalie had just made dinner. So I made a plate and joined her and told her about my weekend, and she told me about hers. 

So I finally got my shower, and got to bed, and I got to sleep in! And at 2:20 I was at the Apple Store at the Louvre, with my computer. 

I explained to the guy what happened, and he plugged it in to his system, tried something, and not 2 minutes later told me they needed to replace the hard drive. It’s two and a half years old! Apparently this is like kind of a freak thing, but I guess it’s not freak enough. Then he asked if I had all my stuff backed up. And I replied, “not recently.” He just kind of gave me a sympathetic look.

At that point, I had pretty much made peace with the fact that all my stuff was gone. Worse things happen, and the majority of the pictures that were important to me (except a bunch I took of Molly) are on facebook. My important documents are in emails that I’ve saved. Really it’s just the music… I lost a good 2000 songs. A lot of it is on CDs, but they’re at home. And I can’t update the music my ipod or iphone again until I put it all back on the computer when I get home, or everything I have on there now will be erased. Big headache. That’s what it is. 

It’s also a big reason why a) I haven’t posted in so long, and b) why I haven’t put up the pictures I promised from Strasbourg. They’re on my facebook, but they’re no longer saved on my computer, so I can’t upload them. I could take them directly from facebook easily enough, but that’s time consuming and I have a bunch of homework and am trying to keep the blog updated, so it ain’t happenin. Sorry! I might post a few more pictures from Vienna, but I wouldn’t hold your breath - I got most of the good ones into this post, and all 370-something are on my facebook. 

Now, it’s 1:40am here, and I’ve been working on this for hours (to be fair, though, I was mixing it in with homework, dinner, laziness, etc. - I haven’t exactly been writing up a storm until the last two hours or so…), so the next week and a half that I need to catch up on will have to wait. 

If I finish this one paper tomorrow, I might post the rest of the stuff. Not sure! In addition to all the homework, I have a pretty formidable tower of laundry that I’ve been studiously ignoring, but it’s not going to do itself, so I have to get on that soon. I’ll try and not do anything else fun, though, until I have completely updated this blog!

It shouldn’t be hard, though, because I’ve placed myself under homework house arrest to try and get as much work done as possible before spring break (which starts, for me, Friday, April 13). However, the whole “house arrest” thing is really a “do homework until I make plans or having something more fun to do” arrest. But I’ve been pretty good at staying in and doing homework. Or at least trying. I tend to procrastinate, as you all know, and I get pretty easily distracted. It’s because everything is due in a month, I don’t have the panic of this-is-due-really-soon to drive me. But I’m trying. I should be finished with a paper tomorrow, and I have a schedule made for my other stuff. I can do it!

Look out for “lots and lots of stuff has happened part 2.” Coming to a computer near you. Eventually.