Sunday, February 3, 2013

Austria

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For our second to last trip we spent five days in Austria.  We took an evening flight out of Frankfurt and arrived in Vienna late.  Our pension had offered a pick-up, but we took some time to find him.  He provided a cute little narration on our way to the pension over a kind of unnecessary microphone in the van.


We had the complimentary breakfast in the morning before we started out on the Rick Steves walking tour of the city.  Next we toured the palace and began to finally put together all the Habsburg family history that you hear pieces about all over Europe.  We had what turned out to be a very cold picnic in the nearby park with the statue of Mozart before checking out the very ornate tombs of the royals.  We also checked out the Austrian National Library which looked a good bit like the Long Room from our time in Dublin.  Eventually we found a fun cafe to hang out in for a while that had some fabulous goulash, a new favorite of Brice's.  On such a cold day it was perfect.

The next day we toured the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) and saw some fantastic evidence against in-breeding (Charles II of Spain--wow).  There was a nice little cafe in the museum so we stopped to try a piece of the famed Sachertorte, a somewhat dry chocolate cake.  We wanted to get tickets to see the Nutcracker that night so we headed over to the area near the opera house.  And then we were in another cafe, the original home of Sachertorte.  Hanging out in cafes is pretty much what you're supposed to do in Vienna so this was okay.  We got in line for the Nutcracker standing room tickets on time and had no trouble getting in.  Standing in the standing room section was a different story.  There were probably three times as many people in the this small section as was intended when it was designed with steps to stand on and rails to lean against.  There was a lot of pushing and so many languages going on but we held our own and stuck it out through the whole show.  It certainly was fun to see the famed ballet live and in Vienna and we loved hearing the classic songs we recognized from many Christmas commercials.  Afterwards, since we never did have dinner, we had some delicious pizza and bratwurst at a stand near our pension.


The next day was rainy so we spent more time in cafes (one with wonderful live piano music) and had a cheese plate and coffees and hot chocolates.  We toured the church and climbed the tower.  The church had a really interesting tile roof.  We more or less decided that Vienna is a good place to just stroll around and hang out in cafes, but if you want a lot of stuff to do, there isn't a whole lot and what is there is a tad expensive.  Glad we went, but not sure we'd do it again.

That afternoon we headed out to Salzburg by train.  We'd seen that it was supposed to snow and it was indeed by the time we got there.  It was a nice ride though my husband made friends with an little boy around 8 or 9 who had never seen an iPod touch and Brice didn't get it back the rest of the trip.  Pretty funny, and interesting to see how the two communicated since Brice's German was so minimal and the kid spoke no English.  I guess video games are an international language :-)

We made our way through the swiftly falling snow to our hostel (not a really far walk, but in the cold, dark, and snow it seemed like it!) and checked in.  It was still relatively early so we went to the movie room to watch the Sound of Music.  (Many hostels in Salzburg play the movie 'round the clock.)  My husband was hesitant at first, but he mostly enjoyed it and ended up saying it was a good refresher to help him enjoy the tour more the next day.

The time was changing that night so we were really concerned about getting up in time for our Sound of Music tour but we thought we had it figured out by setting the iPod time to manual instead of automatic.  It turned out this was not successful (I still have no figured out why this didn't work the same way it would with a traditional clock) and it wasn't until we had taken our time getting ready and got downstairs for breakfast that we realized we had overslept.  After being really upset for less than a minute, the tour guide walked in the front door and said she had been waiting (about 45 minutes) just in case.  We were so relieved and went out with her to the van.  Then we realized why she'd waited--the tour was just us and one other girl who only spoke Japanese and maybe 10 English words.  So off we went for the tour.

We got to see the road Maria skips along at the beginning (and skip along it) and the building used as the house, the lake, the gazebo (I am sixteen going on seventeen!) and the real house.  Our tour also included a trip to Hallstatt, a town my husband had wanted to visit and we thought might be too difficult on our own.  This town used to be reachable only by boat.  The tour guide dropped us off and gave us an hour or so to go off on our own.  I cannot tell you how incredibly cold it was that day and it was still snowing most of the time.  It was beautiful, but it was a little painful to be outside.  We did some exploring the unique town and visited a church with a yard like the one that inspired the hiding in the cemetary in the movie.  There was also an ossuary (a place with the bones of people who have died instead of the whole body) which was cool, but we had also seen the ossuary near Prague a couple of months before.
 
We returned to the van and went on to a restaurant overlooking a lake for our lunch.  It was a great view and just so nice with all the snow.  The schnitzel was supposed to be really good there so Brice decided on that and I decided to be brave and have the fish caught fresh that day from the lake.  Well, this was one of those fish brought to you absolutely whole.  It was a little different for me but I dealt with it, though I did envy the schnitzel a bit.  We started making our way back to Salzburg and our last stops outside of the city were the line of trees the children are playing in and the church where they got married.  The church looks nowhere near the same anymore but it was fun to know I was walking where Julie Andrews walked.  The trees were also all replaced and the road isn't there like in the movie so I didn't even take a picture.

Getting back into Salzburg our guide took us to the garden where there were scenes during the "Do, a deer" song (on the steps and such).  Since it was still snowing we decided we'd spend some time there the next day and the guide brought us back to the hostel.  We figured out what we wanted to do for dinner and headed over to a beer hall.  It was a huge old place with a lot of character.  There were individually run windows to buy food and the beer hall itself sold only beer.  You just grabbed a stein off the shelf, rinsed it in some water and got it filled.  Very interesting.  We split half a chicken and some fries and had some beer.  After we left we decided to explore the hillside above the town in the snow.  It was such a beautiful sight to see the town covered in snow and all lit up.  We both couldn't get over how pretty everything was in snow.  Everything looked like a Christmas card.  When we came back down we walked around the town a bit as well before heading back for the night.

In the morning we stopped in a bakery shop in a market for some breakfast and then did the Rick Steves walking tour of the town.  This took us by Mozart's birth house, where he lived, his statue, the church where Mozart attended (and also what the church in the movie was supposed to be) and a few other interesting spots.  We hiked up to the castle but decided not to go in and came back down and found the abbey.  The real abbey where the real Maria went to live.  The chapel on the premsises was the one where the real von Trapps married.  So cool.

Back down in the main part of town we stopped in some shops looking for a hedgehog ornament (I had been looking for months) and finally found one.  Then we had the coldest picnic yet in front of the Mozart statue.  Wanting to warm up for a bit, we found a cafe for some hot chocolate for a little break before heading out again.  We hiked up the opposite hillside from the one the night before and enjoyed more gorgeous views.  I still hadn't found any napkin rings and we didn't have much time to get back to the hostel and get to our bus to the airport.  But we quickly dashed into a store and were luck enough to find a set of two felt flower napkin rings.  Such a relief--the end of my collection.


For me, this was the last "new" place to visit since I had already been to Berlin, our last trip.  It felt a little bittersweet to realize that those napkin rings symbolized the end, but how could I feel disappointed--we couldn't have done more!

1 comment:

  1. This post was so awesome for so many reasons. What fun you guys must've had!!! Those pictures are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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