Our trip to Washington DC was pretty uneventful. It was pretty disappointing when I got there and Dan and Lindsey's family wasn't there to meet us. The only way I could leave all of you to get on the plane was to tell myself it was just a trip to see them and then over to see Johnny and Becca. However, as we were riding the shuttle over to the next terminal, two people asked us about where we were going on our mission since they saw our missionary tags. This got us both excited as they shared with us some of their missionary stories and the courage to go forth.
Our plane to Vienna was the Austrian Airlines. It prepared us a little for the European language and culture. I don't think that I have ever gotten on a plane and heard a waltz playing. It was a ten hour flight but they spoiled us all the way with snacks, dinner, movies, breakfast and constant attention. When we arrived, another couple going to Armenian met us. We took the train into the city to see the historic points of interest. We were trying to figure out the subway ticket machine when a young woman saw our missionary tags and helped us. She even took us to exactly where we should go since there was construction. The buildings were so beautiful that they almost took your breath away. We also went to an art museum for Dad (James can appreciate that). It was in the largest castle I have ever seen with grounds that had fountains and bushes the size of 3 football fields. We took the train back to the airport. Did I happen to mention on this excellent adventure that it was super cold outside and that we did lots of walking to prepare us for Armenian? They have a McDonalds in the airport, but this is very European. We had an Austrian dessert, which was to die for, with fresh strawberries, cake and lots of very creamy whipping cream. It was served on a glass plate, with a cloth napkin and glass of water. It even sold shrimp and steak. At this airport, you go through security at the gate that you are leaving from. There is a 17 pound limit for carry-ons. Thanks to dad's excellent engineering, we just divided our carryon in half with the extra bag he packed. We had dinner on the plane and slept so that we could adjust to the time change.
We were met at the airport by President and sister Carter with carnations for Sister Arye and I. We jammed all of our stuff into a huge van like the one we had when you were kids. I have decided since I have gotten here that the motto is Shove with Love as you squeeze into transportation cars and vans. The roads were pretty dark and bare as we took the 30 minute drive to the mission home. Dad said it reminded him a lot of Russia. There are bars on all the first floor buildings and apartments. The serious crime rate is extremely low but stealing is a real problem. The attitude is that "I knew you would want me to have it so I didn't bother to ask." Even the mission van is in a locked gated area next to the home. I told my sweetheart, "We are not in Cache Valley anymore" like Dorothy told Toto when she said "Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore".
The other couple took a nap but Elder Griffiths and I decided to explore where we were at after breakfast. Most of the buildings are made of cement or cinderblock so they look a lot alike. Most all of the signs on the buildings are Armenian and a few of them are lite up with lights at night. Most of the roads are two lane and outside of town some are not in very good conditions due to holes in the road. One apartment will have a side walk and the next one has dirt or crumpled sidewalk. As we walked down the street we saw lots of clothes hanging out to dry on the sides of buildings that are usually 3 or 4 stories high. It is cold outside but they tell me that the air and wind dry them. The we passed on our walk looked like little 7/11 stores only not as nice or big. People here shop quite often so a little store close due to public transportation is a better plan.
We walked across the bridge to a park and you could tell that when it is warm outside it is full of families with their children playing on the playground and having picnics. Everyone we passed was bundled up in warm clothes and were looking at us. I gave them my best smile but got no smiles back. When I asked my sweetheart about this, he said that we are all dressed up with our missionary clothes and they think that we are rich Americans and not too sure if we are safe people. In Armenian, everyone brings their trash to dumpsters on the street. I will never take our trash man for granted again. When we got back, we had an Armenian meal. It was flat bread which is wonderful and is the size of a platter. You would think that it would get stale after a day or so but it doesn’t. The internet is starting to act goofy so I am going to send this since it is not saved.