Tuesday, we went on our first sight-seeing tour to Maria Taferl, a Marian shrine, and Melk, a famous monastery. I started my day in the Mensa (cafeteria) with what I thought was a bowl of vanilla yogurt. I found out that it's actually non-flavored yogurt...completely unsweetened. It kind of tasted like sour cream. Next time I go to breakfast, I'll stick with the pink yogurt: I'm pretty sure it's strawberry. I can only hope.
After breakfast, we all climbed aboard three red buses for the excursion. Maria Taferl is a lovely shrine atop a hill. The spot used to be a site of pagan worship, and when the country was Christianized, the people set up a crucifix on a tree there. One day, a pagan man attempted to chop the tree down and ended up chopping up his own leg. He pleaded to the Lady to save him, and she did. So, a beautiful church was built in her honor.
After Maria Taferl, we drove to the village of Melk to see its famous monastery. This monastery is enormous. Thirty Benedictine monks live, pray, work, and teach there. The monastery also houses a school, called a Gymnasium, which is attended by nine hundred school children from nearby villages. We attended Mass in the gorgeous, Baroque-style church, and then toured the monastery, which houses priceless treasures, and an incredible library. It sort of reminded me of the library in Beauty and the Beast, only it was ten times better, and it's real. The oldest book there was over eleven hundred years old.
I fell asleep on the bus ride home, despite Ian's best attempts to keep me awake. All in all, my first sight-seeing trip was incredible, and is the first of many to come.