I’m sitting and listening to Christmas music while I wait for supper… and for the Internet to get back up and running. Poor Tom, the IT guy, seems to be trying to fix it at least once a week. I hope when he’s away over Christmas that it will behave itself. It’s been a busy weekend. Tuesday, which was a free day for me due to class trips to various parts, I got myself to Ceske Budejovice. Thankfully, I managed to score a map from a rather grumpy looking woman at the information desk in the mall where the city bus station is.

I made my way to what I thought was the town square and entered what I thought was a church. The goodpani at the reception desk told me it was a school and we muddled around for a bit until she took me to see two teachers who didn’t speak English. Eventually two teenage girls came by and told me where to go to see a church. So I went, and found it locked but took a picture of an ancient looking side door which seemed to be decorated with Celtic knotwork. I realized that I was near the actual town square, so went there and bought a few postcards and made my way back to the mall. I felt a brimming affection for the town square, which looks so like Slovak town squares I have seen; for the smoky café where I had an espresso with milk; and even for the mall, which reminded me a little of Scotia Square with its low ceilings, out-dated and drab décor. Its prices were human and it was reassuring to find I could afford to buy the things that were on sale there.

By contrast, Linz, Austria, where the whole school went yesterday was very expensive. The buses parked in a lot near the river (I think it was the Danube) and we walked to the centre of town where a Christmas market is held. We kept going to a marvellous cathedral but by then some of us needed a toilet badly enough that we couldn’t enjoy it. Back to the outdoor Christmas market and the public toilet and first pay toilet I have used since arriving almost a month ago. The market was full of imports and rather commercial crafts. There were a lot of outdoor eateries and drinkeries which were likely more reasonable than the pizzeria where I went and sat in a booth by the window, drank some cappuccinos and had a plate of pasta. The meal with tip cost me 15 Euros which seems to me quite outrageous.

We piled into the buses in the mid afternoon and went to an Austrian mall, a slick, glittering affair with a Disney-like centre branching off into pricey clothing, book and accessory stores. I bought some chocolate and a package of cookies for our study group today, and a rather unsatisfactory supper of chicken nuggets and potato patties. I admit I chose badly but I needed a place to sit down and it was quick and one had to buy something in order to sit it seemed.

I was debating up until the last minute about whether or not to go to Linz. I knew it would be a shopping trip which didn’t interest me but I also knew I’d always be wondering if I’d missed something. My main worry was getting overtired since my weekends are usually laying low times, and today was an all-day Baha’i study group, so perhaps I should have rested yesterday. But it turned out ok and I am none the worse for wear, just rightfully tired.

Dinner was chicken schnitzel, if it’s ok to call it that. I am thoroughly wiped and am going soon to make myself a cup of tea; thankful for my bed and Polish choir music tonight.