Gutentag! We are driving through the beautiful country of Austria right now, on one of our most jam packed days, as we try as cram as much as we can into the few meager days left on tour. Budapest was a beautiful city. The river cruise was gorgeous at night, and the food that accompanied it was delicious. We had goulash and paprika chicken, as well as a huge variety of other buffet salads an desserts. After the cruise, we went to an outdoor bar on the island, and later tried to go to a legendary 4 floor club, which failed due to the fact that none of us bring ID here. We attempted more, but eventually gave up and hung out at the hotel. The following day was May Day, which brought both positives an negatives to our single day in Budapest. We had our driving tour and walked around the castle and the landmarks of Buda, but the Pest side had many roads closed for the Formula 1 race car driver Jenson ____ to attempt to set a new record on the streets of Budapest that day. It was a blisteringly hot 32 degrees, and the crowds came out for the occasion. We heard racecar noises, but couldn’t really be bothered to fight the crowd and stand in the sun for a glimpse of the actual race. We wandered the streets, had lunch, but most stores were closed due to the occasion, unfortunately. We ended up walking a long way around, sat in the park with all of the racecar and festival activities in it, and took it easy. At this point, even some of the Aussies were hot. Our group decided ice cream was a need, and eventually stumbled into the air conditioned TGIFridays for ice cream sundaes and snacks. The crowds had died down a bit when we came back out, so we could actually make it down the street to the Basilica, where we were let in despite not being dressed church appropriately. It was gorgeous inside, like many of the churches I’ve seen on this trip… Haha. And had the hand of a former priest(?) that is preserved in a box that you can pay to watch light up. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in a park, awaiting our dinner plans. We found a nicer park later, and eventually joined the group for our spontaneous medieval dinner! We all sat at our big tables on big heavy chairs, drinking beer out of huge clay cups and eating soup in a bread bowl, as well as about 7 different kinds of meat with our hands, clad in bibs. There was some entertainment, of belt dancing, a sword fight of sorts, and a creepy fire eating guy, but not the jousting I was hoping for. Still a super fun night, eating giant turkey legs and acting like barbarians. We had an actual quiet night that night, however that didn’t mean an early bedtime… Yesterday we left early and drove to Austria! Austria is one of the countries I was most excited about, and so far it hasn’t let me down. We got to Vienna, had a city tour (it is absolutely gorgeous!), and walked to the main street to get delicious giant hot dogs. We spent the rest of the day shopping for our upcoming theme party, and I kind of wish I had spent the day doing something more. I need more than a couple days in this city, but that’s just another reason to come back, which I definitely plan on. We had a tour of a Schnapps factory that afternoon, where the hilarious owner gave us a brief rundown of how schnapps are made, how they classify, etc before setting us free on our free tastes to entice us to buy (which we all did, of course). We got the opportunity to try straight absinth (which tastes like what a building infested with pack rats smells like, to me), as well as various flavors of schnapps and liqueurs. After the tasting, we visited Schönbrunn summer palace, and head off to our optional dinner in the middle of the woods. The dinner was delicious, and they provided us with plenty of entertainment. Our bus ride home was similar to a party bus, we checked into our hostel, and everyone spent the night at the bar, weirding out other guests in true contiki fashion. Today we are driving to the Austrian village of Hoftgarten. We stopped at the Mautherhausen concentration camp, which was a very powerful and emotional experience. Walking through the same gates that prisoners did, down the sidewalks where they gave up their belongings, the showers, the gas showers, incinerators… It was awful to think of what happened in that camp, and of how one person can cause such a thing. The bus was silent as we left, and has only just started breaking. The bus has only been that somber twice now, once before ANZAC, and today. I’m glad Emma managed to squeeze the experience in for us, because it’s something that I know will stick with each of us for the rest of our lives. We’re almost at the town of the Sound of Music, and we have the Swarovski crystal world experience after that, before we arrive at the contiki gastof. The days are quickly disappearing, with only a week tomorrow left. None of us want it to end, and it seems like we still have do much left to do, it’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving this amazing group of people in a week.