Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Central Europe 2011 Part III, Austria

After our stopover in Czesky Budjrovich, we continued on and crossed the border into Austria, and stopped off in Salzburg.  Not the highest place on our list, we only planned one full day in Salzburg, but it turned out to be our FAVORITE place!  We talk dreams of moving there to have babies and live a small perfect life.  We rented bikes, bought picnic goods and spent the day riding around and tracking down all the sights from The Sound of Music, and fulfilling the fantasies of the 7-year-old girl inside of me, singing the songs and dancing around. We had nice weather for the first time, and loved every minute of the day.

An Alpen in her natural habitat 

Maria's Church! At her Abbey! Nonnburg Abbey 

The FRONT Von Trapp mansion, can you believe they used two different ones, a front view and a back view??  We picnicked across the lake looking at the back view, where the kids fall in the water in their play clothes! 

the 16 going on 17 gazebo, and below, is Andy indulging me in my 7 year-old girl fantasy of being Liesl when she dances around with Rolf, leaping from one bench to the next!

Seriously. Favorite Day.

The next morning we got up, rented a car, and drove to Vienna.  It was an amazing drive, the Austria I'd been longing for -- huge Alps, expanses of lush green grass, and those hunky brown and white cows with big bells on!  We packed our left-over picnic food, bought a map, and hit the autobahn! We made two significant stops along the way, in the tiniest ever town of Hallstatt in Salzkammergut, and to take a gondola ride and hike a mountain top.  Hallstatt is built on this teeny tiny bit of land between a huge mountain and a beautiful lake, not even room for roads, so everything is quite literally on top of each other.  It's charming like crazy, full of incredible views on all sides, and home to the Kirche und Beinhaus, which is the Bone House church.  No space to live, and no space to die, they didn't have room to bury their dead, so instead, they placed the cleaned, dried out, and decorated skulls and femurs in a chapel, a bone house. The year of death was painted on the skulls and they go back to the 1800's.

Onward to Vienna, but not without finding a gondola to an alpen summit!  We took a ride up two gondolas to the top of this crazy mountain, and hiked out to a view point where there were all these paragliders, and "relaxation couches" where we ate our little lunch, and watched people jump off the side of the mountain and sail over the lakes and valleys below. Dream life. We continued the trail to another overlook, and tried these five "fingers" -- little planks that extend over the cliff and give you five different thrills, before we had to head back and catch the last ride down the mountain or be stuck there overnight!

 Andy and our rental:  a Ford Fiesta

Last stop, Vienna!  Where, we didn't take many photos it seems.  Which might be because I left the plug converter in the room in Prague, and we ran out of camera battery and were unable to charge it... but I can't remember.
Vienna: we discovered that the same operation that we rented bikes from in Salzburg, was in Vienna, where we were already set up! You pop your credit card in a machine, enter your password information, and it unlocks a bike for you to rent by the hour, seriously, why is this not in San Francisco (and for a euro an hour!)??   So we tried to see Vienna on bike, but got lost, and had an unsuccessful day.  We made it out to the Danube, and saw a much more real-life side of Vienna then we maybe needed to, but we capped off the night with our favorite dinner treat:  a sausage served "hot dog" style, meaning they take a long roll, like a sour dough roll, cut the top off and make a little hole and stick it on a spike. Then in the hole that the spike makes, they pump in mustard, and then shove in your sausage!  It's all perfectly contained in the bread, and is all the sausagey perfection I could ask for. YUM!

The next day, we had tickets to see the Lipizzaners at the Spanish Riding School.  They only had performances on Saturdays, which we weren't there for, but they sell tickets to their morning practices on some weekdays.  Oh MAN, soo great!  Word of caution, the arena is indoors, and if you're allergic to horses, like me, it's pure misery.  You're not allowed to take pictures, and I obeyed.  We then toured the Hoffberg's palace, Schlas Schonnbrunn, and got wine on the canal in the Palace Urania.

Schonnbrunn Palace

ein Sachertorte und zwei cappuccino

And then we flew forever, got delayed on the runway for four hours and missed our connection in Boston and got a wonderful nights sleep at a hotel courtesy of the airline, before giving up our seats the next morning and getting a $700 voucher! And then we're home. Whew! Can you believe it?

No comments: