By Shelly Watkins
HALSTEAD – John and Nancy Back have worked with the ICES student exchange program for many years. The ICES group does what it can to thank the hosts and this year they hosted a trip to Slovakia.
The Backs left on April 23 for Slovakia and returned May 1.
The couple flew to Vienna where they were met by one of their many host sons, Thomas Dado. As they were walking to the car, another host son, Tommy Tennery, surprised them. Both boys attended Halstead High School on the exchange program during the 2009-10 school year and lived with the Backs.
They took them to stay at the Junior Hotel in Bratislava where Thomas worked. There they enjoyed a free room, but not much downtime as Thomas kept the couple on their toes, first sweeping them away to see the newest releases in European cars.
“He took us on a tour of the city of Bratislava. He took us to his favorite place, which was a market; it had a great bakery in it,” said John Back. “That is one thing the kids always comment on when they come to the states, the food tastes so different. Their breads they make are very hearty with seeds and a thicker crust.”
The couple then moved to the Falkensteiner hotel in Bratislava where the ICES group had sponsored their stay.
They left early in the morning and went on a boat tour with 200 other people and floated up the Danube River, where they saw many castles. Once they reached Vienna they floated into a loch. The boat was raised up and the group walked off the boat for a day tour of Vienna.
While in Vienna, the Backs toured many castles, gardens, and an old church. They dined in a Nordic restaurant where they ate fresh fish. Once they made their way back to the boat, they found out the boat was broken down so they had to take a bus back to Bratislava.