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Walking With Fire 2005: Nov. 22-27, Austria
Europe: Part II

Entries from this trip:
A quick overview of the entire trip
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4
Entry 5 | Entry 6

"Reading Departure Signs in Some Big Airport, Wondering Why We Ever Go Home"

This review only really covers the important things, so not everything is covered in this one, because some things are simply unimportant. All pictures can be clicked on for larger versions (and please do click, because you won't get much out of just looking at the little 200 x200 pics)!

11/21-22/05: Flight to Salzberg and the First Night and Day

I have, I admit, a number of good things to say about StyrianSpirit Airlines (aka SalzbergSpirit Air). We'll get to problems later, but let's just talk about the good things for now.

To start with, I was greeted by what was certainly the hottest stewardess I've ever had on a flight. Getting onto the plane, I glanced into the cockpit, and I found that the pilot was an incredibly hot blonde. Looking toward the back of the plane, another hot stewardess waited to show us our seats. We settled in and I watched with some interest as the stewardess at the front showed us how to buckle our safety belts and what to do if we crashed.

Heck, even the uniforms they wore seemed tailor-made for me: green skirts! While looking for the Styrian Airlines logo (see right) I stumbled across couple of pictures of stewardesses in uniform [pic 1, pic 2]. I have my suspicions why the airline does so well.

They also have the coolest (and possibly strangest) corporate logo I've ever seen on an airline, a sort of mixture between a panther, a dragon, and a displacer beast. I resolved to ask about this logo.

We were brought a very nice snack (some sort of cheese sandwich), and the flight was smooth. We landed a bit early in Salzberg.

As we prepared to disembark, we walked to the front of the plane. Standing there was the first stewardess, a large box of golden delicious apples. I asked her what the StyrianSpirit logo was, and she said, "I don't know. Dragon? Serpent? Panther? I don't know."

I figured I could ask next time I flew them, as I would certainly be flying them again to get home.

We grabbed our luggage and I went for a walk to see if I couldn't find Duke, who I knew would be meeting us at the airport. I made it all the way through the airport and was back to where I started in about 3 minutes (including walking through the outside pickup area), when I saw him coming up the hallway. I remember feeling surprised at how smoothly this was all going. I mean, ten people from three different countries and only a couple of us having coming from the same cities or traveling together, and yet here was Duke, waiting for us, 4,000 miles from home.

We got our bags into the back of the van and swung out from the airport and headed to the house Mazi and Duke had rented for the week.

That night, I wrote a bit in my journal:

Nov. 21, 2005

I feel tested sometimes. Wants, desires, fears, and all manner of other things tease me. They fly into my mind. They come at me from all angles.

When I woke up the next morning, I took a look out the window before going into Salzberg with Duke, Mazi, and Raa-Raa to pick up Monika. What I saw took my breath away:

View from my bedroom window 1 | View from my bedroom window 2

What I wouldn't give to wake up to that every single day. But, I'll take what I can get and say, "Yeah, I woke up to that for a week." Honestly, this trip gave me the best window on the world in a very long time.

Mazi and Duke really go all out when it comes to these gatherings, and this morning I began exploring the wonderful gifts they'd left in our rooms. There was some chocolate (mine didn't make it home), towels for us to use, some massage oil on my night stand, and (the best part of all) a portable altar for each person to use and then take home. I opened mine up and laughed at the creativity of it all. Here are some pictures of it set up:

The shrine from an angle | The shrine from head on
The box with the cockroaches will be described shortly

Anyway, we got into Salzberg and met Monika at the gate, where she and Raa-Raa were introduced, and it was love at first sight. No joke. What can I say, though: good luck to Raa-Raa. I've never seen a kid so suddenly infatuated.

We got back to the house where I took a nap, and while I was out, Meghan went with Duke to pick up the rest of the crew. They didn't get back until the time that everyone had put on their pajamas (you have to find some way to get a three-year-old to put on his pj's), at which point we found out that Joe might just be in Vienna, not Salzberg.

11/23/05: Second Day: Workshops and Praying for Mended Boots

Well, after a crazy night of trying to figure out how to get ahold of Joe, we got up the next morning for some breakfast and to start out on doing things. Because most people were still pretty lagged, we spent the day in.

We began with some wishful thinking about climbing some of those mountains after a leisurely breakfast and some cursing at my blown-out boots, and moved into our first workshop. The workshop was about (Vedic) Spirits of the Home, and dealt in creating a small home for the house spirits.

Creating Spirit Houses | My Spirit House on Right
Spirits of the Home Workshop
L to R in left picture: Craig, Jessie, Monika

We painted and built our houses, and talked a lot about the spirits of our areas and how the Vedas tell people to honour them.

The houses ended up looking quite good, and mine now sits on my shelf.

We had a light lunch, and moved onto a second workshop, where Duke talked about the Vedic influences in Japan, and talked some about the experience that he, Mazi and their son had while walking their pilgrimage in Japan.

Unfortunately, Mazi took a splinter in the foot, so I jumped to help out with the dinner preparations, and missed most of the presentation. But dinner, let me tell you, was good. I even managed to boil water.

Following dinner, we watched The Sound of Music, as we were prepared to go into Salzberg the next day, and it was remarkable how much watching that movie and the subsequent tour helped educate us about the history of the area. I had never seen Sound of Music until that night, and didn't actually know much about the history of the area. I've always found it interesting how Hollywood twists history in the name of money, and it was fun to get to see it first hand.

After we finished The Sound of Music, it was off to bed, as we were pretty beat.

Next Update:

11/24/05: Third Day: Salzberg

Entries from this trip:
A quick overview of the entire trip
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4
Entry 5 | Entry 6



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