A Smorgasboard of Summer Vacation: Adventures in Central Europe - My Family Travels

It must have been the streudl. Flaky and sweet one bite, chewy and savory the next — each bite seemed to be better than the last, a lot like the different cities my friends, family and I visited this summer.

I was nominated for a Global Youth Leadership Conference last fall (2010), and I, having already been to the National Conference, eagerly accepted. The conference was to take place in three locales: the United States, Europe, and China. I picked Europe, hoping for a little adventure (and to be completely honest, a little romance), and boy, was I in for a big surprise!

The conference itself was fantastic — teenagers from 45 different countries come to talk about their culture and their hopes for our future — incredibly inspiring to find such passionate people our age. I arrived in Vienna, Austria on 1 July. I was a couple days early for my conference, but my parents made sure I saw as many cultural landmarks as I could. We woke up bright and early and stumbled through the map looking for the U-bahn, the subway system in Austria. I just have to say that all the public transportation is on-time, all the time and very easy to use(with great student discounts everywhere!), especially if you plan your route out first (thanks, Mom!). We went to St. Stephansdom, a huge cathedral in the heart of Vienna — it was also Mozart's church after he moved here from Salzburg — we liked it so much, we attended an evening concert later on.  We stayed in a two bedroom apartment in the city with all the fixings – Internet, TV, hot water, and probably most importantly, a washer and dryer. The apartment we found online, at a really good rate too, 130 Euros a day. It was definitely worth the extra money, since we stayed in Europe for 3 weeks.

The next day, my parents dropped me off and hopped on a plane to embark on their second honeymoon.

We stayed a couple days in Vienna, dining at the City Hall while lovely people came to speak to us about making a difference in the world. We also watched an International Youth Music Festival, and I have to say, I was incredibly impressed. We got free passes to the MuseumsQuartier, too!

We then proceeded to Budapest (say it Boo-dah-pesch), which is seperated into two by a bridge and a river. It was so hot even the vendors gave us popsicles for a discounted price! We watched a show called a Puszta, which is a horseriding show of skill and bravado. We had dancing and dinner in a rustic but homey cabin. Moving on to Prague, which has to be my second favorite city in Europe, it took us five hours on bus. The fields aren't green, they're YELLOW from all the sunflower-fields. I bumped into my parents at a Hofburg Summer Palace (owned by the intimidating Habsburg clan) but only had time for a quick hello since we were going to a very lovely river cruise. Finally, we returned to Austria but not before stopping by the best rest stop I've ever seen — it's called Excaliber City with a dragon breathes, knights that are littered across the parking grounds and a wizard inside the premises, as well as an old airplane turned into a cafe!

Back in Austria, we all were a little quiet, since our last conference days were upon us. We had a farewell dinner at a fabulous restuarant underneath the Albertina museum, and a dance later on at a discotheque not far off. To top it all off,  at the end of the night, the boy I was crushing on pulled me in for a hug and kissed the top of my head. So I guess you could say I got a little bit of everything this summer: culture, adventure, great food, and just a little bit of romance.

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