Today, I am back from a LONG LONG hiatus!

Oh. my. goodness. have we been gone for quite a long time?!. However, I still remember what Markie’s mom mentioned to her. I don’t remember the exact wording, but that it’s important for us all to keep up with this blog, to post our thoughts. Afterall, we’ll turn this into our best-selling memoir, right? 🙂

It’s been about 1.5 years since we first started this blog and so much has happened. On my end, I’m confronting the multiple crossroads that Charkie refers to her in her analysis of Rules of Civility. But I’m just struggling along on this road, so much that I decided to take a trip to Fallingwater last week. If you ever get a chance to go, I’d suggest going! 🙂 I know you shouldn’t run away from your problems, however, this was the perfect location to just listen to the sound of the waterfall, bathe in the sunlight that crept through the foliage, look at a cool-ish building, and think. Sometimes, it’s easy to stress ourselves over what will happen next. Which path will I take next? A job or further schooling to launch a career? Some reflections of my friendships and of the relationship that slowly slipped through my fingers. But whatever happens happens and we can only build and grow from those experiences.

Anyways, the Kaufmanns were a well-to-do family living in Pittsburgh who loved to vacation in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania. Having made this trip myself, I find it very easy to see why they would have enjoyed such a thing. Their summer camp home here had originally been just a little cabin with no heat and no running water, however, they turned to Frank Lloyd Wright to design this building over the waterfall. What makes this house unique is it’s utilization of cantilever structures (terraces, furniture inside, etc) over the water.

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Today, I still feel at home in Vienna.

For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.
– Simon van Booy

Last weekend, Megan and I met for a semi-spontaneous trip to Vienna! It’s about a 3 hour train ride from BP, and a slightly longer plane ride from Madrid. She doesn’t have class on Fridays or Mondays, and school’s about to start for me again, so it worked out really well!
My memories of the city are tinged by nostalgia and the summer heat: ice cream every day, walks in the park, strangers who took to me, the girl traveling without her parents. I was prepared for the possibility that the city wouldn’t have the charm and luster that lives in my memory, especially in the winter and with the changes that more than a decade inevitably bring to a person and a place.

Stefansdom then ...

Stefansdom then …

... and now.

… and now.

Anna and I arrived on Friday around noon, and took a subway straight to the hotel. One great thing about Vienna is that public transportation there is extremely accessible: every subway stop has an elevator, for example, which makes life there A LOT EASIER when trying to get around in a wheelchair.

Megan arrived shortly after, well-fed by the airline snacks on Air Italia 🙂 We walked around the city center, including a visit to Stefansdom and Peter’s Church. Afterwards, Megan and I saw more of the city by ourselves. We tried to go to one of the cafés that her father recommended, but all of those had a least a step precluding my entrance. Accessibility issues still abound! However, it worked out for the best because we stumbled across a delicious Italian restaurant called Ristorante Sole. The staff there was so considerate, even taking pity on our indecisiveness and portioning our two entrees so that we could each have half. For dessert, we split strawberries with creamy mascarpone.

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

That’s when the excitement really started, though, because as we walked around, we found ourselves on the outskirts of a riot protesting a ball in the Hofburg. Megan and I tend to gravitate towards home before the night owls even take flight. It so happened that the entrance to our hotel was RIGHT in the middle of a crowd of protestors. Fortunately, the policemen deemed us harmless and allowed us to pass through the barriers.

On Saturday, we took a subway to Schönbrunn, the Hapsburg’s summer residence, painted Maria Theresa’s favorite color, ochre yellow.

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

The palace itself is only half the fun of Schönbrunn; its vast grounds include a zoo (with pandas!), rose garden, and paths for meandering.  We walked to the top of a small hill to see this view:

I didn't realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

I didn’t realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

After warming up in our room, Megan and I ventured out again for dinner at Café Landtmann and explorations around the city hall. The city hall is a gorgeous building, reminiscent of the gothic style of Duke Chapel.IMG_0793

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

Temperatures were frigid at this point, so we called it an early night again and relaxed in our room.

On Sunday, we went to the Albertina to see the newly acquired collection of Impressionist, Expressionist, and Surrealist art, entitled “Monet to Picasso”.

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites.

Per Anna’s request, we had to to have Wiener Schnitzel (when in Wien …), so that was our mission in the afternoon. That was when the snow started to fall! It was enough to be pretty without becoming an inconvenience like the Snowpocalypse and Polar Vortex of the East Coast.
In the evening, Megan and I went to visit Stephi, an old friend of mine, at her home. It was really nice to see her again and meet her family. I had not spoken to her in quite a while, though she sends me Advent calendars every December! Moreover, Megan and I had just become friends in middle school before I met Stephi, so it was sweetly bizarre to introduce these two people who have been in my life so long.

Stephi suggested we go to Sunday Swing at the Leopold Museum Café, so that was our next destination, since the night was still young, even for us. At this point, there was an inch layer of snow coating the streets, making for a charming winter wonderland as we trudged out. The Sunday Swing was in full … swing… when we got there. I felt transported to the ’20s! The only downside was the thick smoke hanging in the air from all the cigarettes, but perhaps that contributed to the authenticity of the experience.

Monday was our last morning, so we went to see Karl’s church and a peak of Belvedere, but it was too cold and snowy, so we ended up getting hot chocolate and coffee in a bakery underground. 🙂 Warmth and a friend – not a bad way to end the trip, after all.

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl at the Albertina. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

Vienna wasn’t quite as I remembered it, but that ended up being okay. After all, I’ve changed a lot, too. Time has worn down parts of us, circumstances have enriched us, but we are still recognizable.

Today, I share Megan’s photos!

Megan captured some beautiful photos of Budapest and our non-costumed Halloween weekend together in her latest blog post. 🙂 I was WOWed — the riverbanks have never looked more lovely.

Gotta run, anatomy midterm tomorrow. Second year continues to be a nonstop funfest.

Today, I eulogize Big Red.

Big Red aka John Redling, the all-American, candy apple red Dodge Caravan that has been a part of my life since 1997 is being donated to Kars4Kids. He’s rusted through, almost entirely on the bottom, and it’s finally time to say goodbye. I’m not one to name inanimate objects, but Markie christened this car some time around 2009. She was one of his frequent drivers; in fact, all of the -arkies and most of my other good friends have had a turn in him at one point or another. Big Red was also the car I used to make frequent trips to my grandparents in Toronto, a 10-hour drive that he tolerated very well several times a year. During the college era, we had road trips to DC, Charleston, Asheville, and Big Red came with me to Boston one summer. In all earnestness, this adapted van with automatic ramp opened up a lot of possibilities for me.

Farewell, Big Red! You were a great vehicle for freedom.

Big Red in his parking spot on West Campus, covered in freshly fallen snow.

Big Red in his parking spot on West Campus, covered in freshly fallen snow.

Today, I return from the most marvelous staycation!

Last Spring, I mentioned that Megan, one of my best and oldest friends, would be in Spain for the year, and that we hoped to see each other in our homes away from home. Well, she was able to visit for the long weekend (we both had off on Friday for All Saints’ Day) from Wednesday night until Sunday afternoon. After our crunch period of exams, it was so good to have some guilt-free relaxation.

Thursday was Halloween, and though we did didn’t do anything festive ourselves, we went out to see the nightlife and the Basilica and riverbanks illuminated. During her stay We had afternoon desserts at Gundel, cider at Spiler, chicken paprika homemade by Anna, and seafood paella at The Big Fish. It was my first time visiting the House of Terror Museum, which chronicles some of the horrific times in European History.

Megan also got to know some of my classmates here, partly by arrangement, and partly by chance meetings around Budapest. It was invigorating to see my day-to-day through her fresh perspective. The best parts were out long talks into the night 🙂 It was the best time I’ve had in a long time!

Today, I’m suited up!

WHY HELLO!

Friday again, and the days are blending into one another this semester as an endless cycle of study, sleep, eat, class … in fact, the main difference is where we have our Introduction to Clinical Medicine session each week (last time was in the Pediatrics clinic). This Wednesday, we suited up for (watching) surgery!

Sophie and I after putting on our colorful gowns.

Sophie and I after putting on the colorful gowns.

I didn’t go into the OR because I wouldn’t have been able to see anything from my vantage point, but I did get a lot out of our tour in the ICU. The physician gave us a history of each patient there, e.g. their pre- and post-operative statuses and difficulties encountered in their treatment. One notable procedure mentioned was the gastric pull up esophagectomy, in which the stomach replaces the esophagus.

Other than that, I feel as though I’m at the base of a mountain of reading. Off  I go to start my climb.

Happy weekend, y’all 🙂

Today, I Remember September

Arkie summed up the state of things well in her last post when she said that life is happening, and it’s all-consuming. September was a stressful month, mostly because school has been a barrage of things to memorize. I’m starting to feel like less of a crazed worrier and more like myself now that there’s a routine and I know what to expect from the classes.

I saw this graffiti over the summer, and it's still humorously resonating with me.

I saw this graffiti over the summer, and it’s still humorously resonating with me.

Poster child for healthy living ... Rina and I shared some potato chips, cookies, and caffeine drinks (sugar free!) while reviewing before class.

Poster child for healthy living …
Rina and I shared some potato chips, cookies, and caffeine drinks (sugar free!) while reviewing before class.

The Basic Science Building is a bright place to study if there's a free table and not too many around.

The Basic Science Building is a nice, bright place to study if there’s a free table and not too many people around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The autumnal chill is in the air, and I can’t say I share Jarkie’s enthusiasm for the season (summer ftw!), but I will concede that it’s nice to bundle up at home with a warm beverage and books.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
-L.M. Montgomery

(Any other Anne of Green Gables fans among you? Top 5 childhood classic right there!)