Ashley updates us on a recent trip to Salzburg!
Last weekend was one of the best on my exchange. I, with another exchange student and her counselor, went on a weekend long trip to Salzburg. 
It was there that I stayed the night in the authentically Austrian, five star, Sacher hotel. 
Although we were hesitant to leave the plush comfort of our hotel room, we still had sight seeing to do. We visited the Hohensalzburg hotel, the House of Nature (similar to Telus world of science) all before going to what is called a Krampuslauf.
In case you have never heard of Krampus, he is a goat headed demon enlisted by St. Nicolas to whip bad children and/or wrap them in chains to drag them to hell. A little harsher than coal in a stocking.
To celebrate Krampus, many Austrian cities have parades of people dressed as Krampus run down the streets through the gathering crowds. All the while these Krampuses brandish sticks and whips to hit people. I didn't get hit, because although I insisted I wasn't scared, coming face to face with a demon (even if only on costume) is terrifying and requires immediate running away.
I also got the chance to have mass in the Salzburg cathedral and eat caviar for the first time.
As for this week I went to visit the Christmarkets at Schönbrunn Palace, did babysitting for a Rotarian's children who don't speak English, went to an Indie concert that was under the subway line, and tried baking traditional Austrian cookies. 
Today I am switching host families. So this weekend has been busy packing the small mountain of things I have collected during my time here. (Living in the second district means I'm close to all of the shopping locations.)
It has been six weeks with this family, but during our short time together I have been able to visit my host mom's parent's (host grandparent's) hotel to sample local cuisine in southern Austria, visit Graz, the birthplace of my grandparents, as well as learn what it is really like living with a baby! 
My host sister is only one year old but she always finds a way to break into my room and spend time with me. (Or try to chew on something.) It is sad for me to think that after today there I will no longer be waiting for her in my room to give her a hug. I often think about of the amazing connections that only a short time creates.
Next week I on my to do list is ice skating, despite the barely freezing weather. There is also a gathering of Rotary exchange students in Salzburg this weekend, where we have to finally say goodbye to the Austrians and New Zealanders who have been here since January. A reminder that our own exchanges are almost half over.
Until next week!