What a beautiful sight to wake up to! A lake, just kilometers away from our lodge. The sun was shinning the birds were singing and I knew right from that start that this was going to be a FANTASTIC day!
First, I had to go around and wake up my roommate and suite mates, then we got dressed and went down the breakfast. Surprise, surprise, ham and cheese with bread, warm milk and juice accompanied by cereal and yogurt. However, we were also provided with scrambled eggs and their version of bacon.
Today was our day OFF!  Our day to journey to the Alps to learn how to make apple strudel, dance authentic Austrian dances and end with a medieval style dinner. It was packed full with events.
Now, normally on the bus there is either light chit-chatter or people sleeping with their headphones on. Today however, everyone was bright eyed and bushy tailed. Cameras were passed from one another across the aisle of the bus to make sure that all the magnificent sights were captured on film – not that the pictures did them any justice.

 I’ll be frank with you; on the way up the mountain, at least three times I thought I was going to die. The bus was so large, the dirt road was very narrow and the incline and turns on the road were very steep. Thank Goodness we made it to our first stop safe and sound, an old village known for it church/school and their apple strudel. 

We were all gathered into an assembly hall where these two older women introduced themselves and explained the agenda. After all was said and done, they were ready to begin instructing the group, however, they needed a volunteer to be the bakers assistant and who do you think was all over that? That’s right me! 

I was all about expanding my horizons and at least attempting to look the part of a domesticated young woman.  (Note: I cook for myself those Betty Crocker’s Complete meals and I dabble at the grill. This is the extent of my culinary skills!)

Anyways, after the old ladies poked fun at me and my skills for a bit, they asked for more people in my group to join us at the front. My job was to knead the dough and get it soft and pliable. 

The next step was to stretch the dough out as far as it could go, to the point where the sides were dangling off the side of the table.  Though it seemed fragile due to its thinness, the dough was able to expand but not tear quite easily. Once we finished flattening and spreading out the dough, we placed the “apple straddle mix” (whatever the internal contents may be) on top of the dough, wrapped it up like huge massive burrito and set it into the oven to bake.
I survived!  And Erica, the old lady who continuously gave me a hard time, kindly bestowed upon me her apron as my graduation gift/most improved award!
Next thing I knew we were back on the bus and headed up higher on the mountain. We took a hike to see what the farms were like up in the area along with seeing my first ever water powered flour mill. 

I was thoroughly impressed with how these people managed to get by and be productive with their limited resources. 

The view was breath taking and I couldn’t believe how cold, crisp and fresh the air and natural spring water was. The Austrians pride themselves on their mountain water because it is so clean and pure that one can drink it straight out of any stream creek or pond. 

After the hike we went into a cleaned out old barn filled with long picnic tables and ate “frika,” which is like scrambled eggs but better!! Oh my goodness we couldn’t get enough of them. I believe my group of fours girls went through six pans of eggs! 

Following lunch, we learned the steps to a few traditional Austrian folk dances. This was a riot. Just imagine and visualize this if you can; tall, lanky basketball boys, who move well on the court, struggled to master these basic steps. The girls out numbered the boys, so there were girls dancing with girls and the best part was the music was played by an old-old-old Austrian man and his accordion! Yes accordion!

Because we were having some much fun, the time passed to quickly and before we knew it, it was time to get back on to the bus and head toward Strasburg for our medieval meal!

There was a medieval festival going on earlier that day down in Strasburg and only a few people remained in the large square all dressed up, playing the old instruments and selling different garments and jewelry of old. 

When we first entered the castle dinning hall, the boys had to sit before the women, and we had to tie the boys’ napkins around their necks for them!  Good thing this was just for show or else I would not have been some compliant ;-) 

Once we were all seated, the girls were given leafy vines to place around our heads like fallen halos, while the boy received these colorful medieval hats that resembled over sized berets. We were severed chicken legs and baked potatoes. Yum yum and for dessert it was... oh you guessed it, apple straddle! 

Throughout dinner they provided us with little skits of entertainment. I wish I could describe it to you but there really are no words. But I can tell you that the finale was phenomenal. A man came out and began spitting and breathing fire! I had never seen that live before in my life.

It was funny, because it was hard for me to enjoy it fully because the entire time I kept thinking how dangerous it was and how I could help if something would go terribly wrong; it must be the future doctor or mother in me!
Well that is all I have to report for today, tomorrow we go to Slovenia and we get to sight see and play more volleyball!

~ Mackenzie Angner ~