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D7190 GSE to GSE 1910

a travel blog by GSE7190-1910

Follow the GSE Team from Rotary District 7190 New York, USA as they travel to District 1910 Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzgovina. Rotary District 7190 is sending a team of young professionals abroad to Central Europe to learn about work and life in a different culture. This year’s team has been sponsored by the Sharon Springs, Middleburgh, Wilton, Colonie-Guilderland, & Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Rotary clubs of District 7190.

Since 1965, Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program has provided inspiring vocational, educational, and cultural experiences to more than 32,000 men and women. Rotary districts in different countries are paired to send and receive professional study groups of four to six non-Rotarian team members and one Rotarian team leader to travel for four to six weeks, staying in the homes of Rotarians when possible.

Learn more about Rotary GSE at http://www.rotary.org/RIdocuments/en_pdf/gse_faq.pdf

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Friday 2, May On our way . . .

Albany, United States

Here we are, departure day has finally arrived and we are ready to go. Hopefully we will all make it through security with our bags . . . so many gifts, so little weight allowed! Feelings of excitement, anticipation, nervousness all rolled into one.
Whew . . .everyone's checked luggage made it under the weight limit! Next, on to the security line and good bye to family and friends who came to wish us well . . . Okay, so Kim DID have to go through about 3 times, but YES we all made it through, bags cleared the scrutiny and we are on our way to the gate . . . a final good bye wave to the kids as they look down from the overlook . . . up up and away to the adventure of our lives . . .we expect.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 2, 2008 from Albany, United States
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Saturday May 3 – Arrival Day

Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria

Including the time change and overall airtime, the trip took a total of 18 hours. After arriving in Vienna, gathering our luggage, and making our way through customs we were met at the airport by two Rotarians and then into a VW van for a 2 hour trip to Waidhofen, via the Autobahn. Waidhofen is a medieval town and you can still see remains of the fortress wall that once surrounded it. In 1997 the town celebrated its 1,000 year anniversary! The area has a very small-town atmosphere, but the population is about 12,000. One notable feature of Waidhofen is the 25-30 kilometer forest that surrounds the city. Centuries ago the leader of Vienna decided that a forest should surround the city in order to maintain fresh air in Vienna. They also have several wind turbines for generating electricity. Saturdays are weekly market day, a tradition that dates back for centuries. The farmers outside of town bring in their goods; produce, live chickens and pigs, to be sold at the market on the Upper Main Street.
On the evening of our arrival we were invited to attend a concert of a Young opera singer that grew up in Waidhofen, at Kristallsaal. In 2010, he will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. After the performance we met up with some Rotarians for dinner. The concert and dinner took place in a castle, last owned by the Rothschild family around 100 years ago. It is now owned by a museum and is a community cultural center where artists exhibit their musical and artistic talents.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 3, 2008 from Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria
from the travel blog: D7190 GSE to GSE 1910
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Sunday, May 4 A stroll about Waidhofen

Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria

We enjoyed breakfast with our host families before meeting for brunch at Schlosshotel. Today we took a walking tour of the town with Rotarian Peter, an eye surgeon, who lives and works in Waidhofen. Peter was born in Ethiopia to Austrian parents and grew up near an American military base so he speaks very good English! We also visited a local blacksmith who has returned to the traditional way of working with iron. This area of Austria is known as the "Iron working" area because it was the center of the iron trade for centuries.
Our day continued taking us up into the hills to see a real alpine log flume, where lumberjacks would send the logs down the river in order to make charcoal to burn for the blacksmith's fires. We hiked through the Mendling Valley and saw breathtaking snow covered mountains that seemed to go up into heaven!

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 4, 2008 from Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria
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Monday & Tuesday May 5 & 6 Vocational Days & Rotary

Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria

We all went seperate directions to visit locations of professional interest.
More details about each of our days later, but we are all learning new and interesting things about our individual vocations.
Tuesday night was our first meeting and presentation with the Waidhofen Rotary Club at Restaurant Hochkogel.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 6, 2008 from Waidhofen an der Ybbs, Austria
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Wednesday, May 7 Travel day to Schladming

Schladming, Austria

Today is a travel day, as we leave Waidhoffen and travel, via our VW bus to Schladming. On our 2 hour journey we crossed over the Enns River with Werner was our driver and guide. Werner grew up under the Hitler regime during World War II and had hiked up and skied most every mountain we passed, his stories were engaging. As we drove we were all in awe . . . words simply cannot describe the vistas of the Austrian Alps that surrounded us. The evening of our arrival we were hosted a traditional evening by Rotarians to a at Hotel Alte Post.

Schladming is a small city of about 20,000 people and again it is a community where most of the families know each other well. It is a traditional Austrian community and we saw that they still maintain much of their traditional dress. Schladming is a skiing community. They host the World Cup Slalom skiing competition and about 50,0000 people are here during that time. They have farmer's market each Friday. This is also... I visited the market today Kim got a chance to visit one of these markets with the 83 year old mother of Dr. George Fritsch and bought a bottle of oil typical for this area made from the seed of a pumpkin-like squash.
They have an active Rotary club of 35 members with one or two additional members each year.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 7, 2008 from Schladming, Austria
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Thursday, May 8 Vocational visits and a Roman Ages Quarry

Kleinsolk, Austria

This morning we break out for vocational visits. Paul and Jennifer spend the morning with Dr. W. Erhart; Scott visits Landesschülerheim, with Wolfgang Veith while Kim and Amanda visit their guide Dr. Georg Fritsch’s physical therapy practice.
In the afternoon we group back together and head up into the mountains to tour Sölker Marmor“, Kleinsölk - one of the oldest marble quarries in the world!! Our guide, Rotary President Matthias Scheffer.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 8, 2008 from Kleinsolk, Austria
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Saturday May 10 Touring Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria

Today, our host Rotary club arranged for a tour of the city of Salzburg, about 1 hour northeast of Schladming. A city indigenous to many salt mines and featuring strong Italian influence due to its trade history. The City, settled in 696 was formerly governed by Arch-Bishops. As each reigning Bishop changed they ordered a new church built, as a way to leave their own individual legacy, this small city of 150,000 features 109 churches. As you walk through the beautiful squares you are sure to hear bells ringing from anywhere around this city. For movie buffs this city is familiar as it is the city in The Sound of Music was filmed, which by the way, most Austrians have never seen the movie. For music aficionados the city’s fame is that of being the birthplace of Mozart.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 10, 2008 from Salzburg, Austria
from the travel blog: D7190 GSE to GSE 1910
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Sunday, May 11 A trip to the Top of the World

Schladming, Austria

A free day for us so we are all off to the top of the world – on today’s agenda is a visit to the Glacier, Dachstein, about a 20 minute drive from Schladming to the cable car station. Let’s just say . . .WOW !! We rode a cable car up the mountain and I cannot even begin to describe it . . .simply breathtaking. The temperature was about 20F. Cold, but Bright and very sunny and yes some of us did get sunburn.
Also on top of the Glacier is an "Ice Palace" - a bit pricey but how can you pass going through an Ice Palace atop a Glacier. Well, it was defientely a tourist oriented attraction but it did have some cool sclptures(pardon the pun) there were a lot characters from the movie Ice Age. It's all an experience.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 11, 2008 from Schladming, Austria
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Monday, May 12 Travel day to Čatež, Slovenia

Catez, Slovenia

Today is an Austrian National holiday - this date marks the last time Austria was occupied after World War II. The day celebrates when Austria officially became an independent country like our Independence Day.
Auf Wiedersehen to Austria and our generous hosts. Another chapter begins . . .

We board our bus and travel about 4 hours to our next stay, Čatež, Trebnje, Slovenia. Of what we know, Čatež is a small resort town of about 500 residents. We arrived and will spend our first evening in a hotel, where we will also have out meals. Tonight we will attend a Rotary meeting and give our presentation as well as get our itinerary for our stay in Slovenia.

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 12, 2008 from Catez, Slovenia
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Tuesday, May 13

Catez, Slovenia

Čatež is a roadside village on a hill at the foot of the 544 m high Zaplaz, northwest of Trebnje. On the north side is a narrow valley of the Dušica stream, while Čateška gora is opposite. There is an expansive view of the surrounding area from Čatež and an even better one from Zaplaz. to learn more visit www.Slovenia.info/en
We had a wonderful time at the Rotary meeting and have received our itinerary, which appears a bit more full than in Austria - it appears we will e seeing a good portion of this small country.
Kim is already at a host family, while others stayed in the hotel last night, but will be heading to host families tonight.
Tomorrow we head to Ljubljana and the island of Bled

permalink written by  GSE7190-1910 on May 13, 2008 from Catez, Slovenia
from the travel blog: D7190 GSE to GSE 1910
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The Group Study Exchange (GSE) program of
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for young business and professional men and women between the ages of 25 and 40 in the initial years of their professional life. The program provides...

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