Yesterday we went on a day trip to Mariazell, a shrine/ church up in the Austrian mountains. Story in extended body. To get there we first had to take an inter-city train that left from Hutledorf (a train station on the border of Wien) at 7:45 am (waking up at 5:15 am, and getting to the station by 7:30 am) to the town of St. Poulton, a 40 minute train ride. That train was super-crowded and we weren’t able to sit all together in the same compartment. Once we arrived at the St. Poulton train station we had just 5 minutes to make our connection to the Mariazellerbahn (a small mountain-climbing train). That train was not nearly as comfortable as the inter-city train. The trip on the Mariazellerbahn took approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. It slowly climbed up from St. Poulton into the high mountain range and snaked it’s way around and though mountains. We had a whole half-car compartment to ourselves and tried to get as comfortable as possible. The view from the train was spectacular, we could see all the way down the drop-off mountain sides and way across the area to the peaks on the other side. We counted the tunnels that the train went though and it went though exactly 19 tunnels, some were short, and some were quite long. Finally at about 11:05 am we arrived at Mariazell, the little town atop the mountain where the old shrine and church are. After taking the scenic path from the train station to the center of the town we decided to scout out a place to have some lunch. We found a restaurant that had a few tables outside and each got a little (or a lot) to eat. While we ate we looked around at the area, noting that it was being cleaned up and redone for it’s own 850th anniversary (and for the pope’s upcoming visit on September 8th). When we finished eating we took a look at the church. Inside the church was quite beautiful and we all enjoyed being inside such an important place. After we left the church we took a look at the stands that were selling stuff all around the center of Mariazell. A little bit after that we started heading back towards the train station. Once we got back to the train station we had close to 20 minutes of time before our train left for St. Poulton. On the journey back down the mountain we had a whole compartment to ourselves yet again. Most of us tried to sleep though the ride down, but not many of us succeeded in actually getting any sleep. We had to get off the Mariazellerbahn two stops before St. Poulton due to track repairs, so we finished our journey to St. Poulton on a bus. By the time we arrived at the St. Poulton train station we noticed that our scheduled departure for Wien was late arriving and so we (along with others) had to crowd onto an inter-city train. None of us had any place that we could sit, so we had to stand in the hallway of the train. By the time we arrived at Hutledorf it was 6:30 pm (or later, I can’t remember the exact time). We ended up getting back home in between 7:00 and 8:00 pm.