Saturday, October 29, 2011

The hills are alive with the Sound of Music

Gardens from The Sound of Music
We only had one night here which is a bummer because it is such a wonderful, quaint little town. We arrive in Salzburg and are greeted by our local city guide. She shows us the city or Mozart’s birthplace and his old home along with some scenes from The Sounds of Music we have some free time to do some shopping and I found this wonderful Christmas store that I had to get something from and I picked up some more art from a street artist (which I was doing in every city). We had some more time to just look around and had a drink at a café before it was time to head to the hotel. The hotel had a WONDERFUL view of the palace up on the hill. But the staff wasn’t that great, oh well, what were we going to do about it. 

Mozart's family home
The next morning we went to see one of Hitler’s Eagle nests. We had to wake up really early before the fog rolled in but we made it. It is crazy to be where someone that caused so much history once stood. The views were breath taking, such a beautiful place in this world. Once we got back to meet the rest of the group that didn’t go on the excursion we had some time to get some food and relax before our bus had to leave. So I went to a grocery store close by to find some Ziploc bags to put the wine I was bringing home in. I knew if I could find ‘Ziploc’ I would be okay (nice to have universal brand)! I did find some and I grabbed some snacks for the road and we were off! Back to Munich we go. 
view from the Eagles Nest

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wien, Austria (Vienna)

We arrive in Vienna, the classical musical capital! We get settled into our hotel and turns out we have a corner room which meant 2 of the “walls” were ceiling to floor windows! We had view of the heart of the new city. Our hotel was right next to a park and in walking distance off all the shopping :D When we get there it is dinner time so we head to this very fun restaurant to have so good fun, entertainment, and homemade peach schnapps! After dinner we are back at the hotel, get ready for bed and watch some BBC soap operas (the only thing in English around these parts).

{Schönbrunn Palace from the back yard}

The next day we are off to the Schönbrunn Palace! (This was one of our excursions) The palace is a 1,400 room estate that was a summer home for the Habsburg monarchs. Maria Theresa of Austria was the only female ruler of the Habsburg’s and the last. She reigned for 40 years and had 16 children! Some of which were: Queen Marie Antoinette of France, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, Duchess Maria Amalia of Parma and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold. She was known as the Mother of Europe since so many of her heirs became royalty is other countries. They say the reason why she had so many children is because she truly loved her husband, Francis Stephen, and they had more than just their arranged marriage.  After our trip to the palace we had our guided walk through the imperial city. We saw the Imperial Boulevards and the State Opera and a walk through the oldest part of the city and where we saw some Roman ruins and the place where the Lipizzaner Stallions are trained! (My dad took me to see them when they came to the US!) And we also saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral and finished up with a trip down to the Crypt where the Royal Family rests. After that we had some free time and we went to Ashley’s must go to spot, Swarovski. Man did she enjoy that! After that we went window shopping and found some souvenirs for our family before we headed on a hunt for this shop I saw with the cutest sweater dresses in the window! We finally found it! We go inside and I ask the store clerk if they have any more like the one on the manikin. She said that was her only one because it was handmade and she wanted me to try it on. I asked her how much it was (did want to get in over my head here if it was handmade) and she said it was only 50€!!! What a deal! It looked great and Ashley got it for me as a bridesmaid gift. I also got another short sleeved sweater. Then we headed back up the road for dinner (pizza, yum!) and then back to the hotel for some R&R.

The next morning we are off to Salzburg, the home of The Sound of Music. We first make a stop in Krems to catch a ferry to enjoy the Danube Valley. While on the cruse we see a beautiful monastery in Melk and nearby Melk is the remains of an old castle where King Richard the Lion Hearted was held prisoner, pretty cool!

Gardens at Schönbrunn

the beautiful church on the Danube

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buda and Pest become one to make Budapest!


Budapest was originally two cities divided by the River Danube; Buda, the hilly side (I remember that by hills = Buda belly, haha) and Pest, the flat side. We came in on the Buda side and went over the river to our hotel on the Pest side. That night we had an excursion, a night dinner river cruise on the Danube! It was amazing! They had such good food and it was so neat to see the city by night! We saw the bridges, Fishermen’s Bastion and Parliament all lit up and it was so pretty! Then we went back to the hotel to get some rest before tomorrow’s adventure!

The next day was jammed packed with stuff! We met with our local city guide and she was so wonderful! We really liked her! And she took us to the great Synagogue and walked us through Old Buda to the Fisherman’s Bastion where we got a bird’s eye view of the Danube, Pest and Parliament. What was so crazy about this city is that not a lot of repairs had been made since WWII (keep in mind the Communists had only been out of this area for about 10yrs). A lot of the buildings on the main roads had their facades redone but not the other three sides of the buildings. Then we had some free time and Ashley and I went to the “prettiest” McDonalds ever (so our tour director said) and walked the streets; she needed an extra bag and I wanted to get some ‘Bulls Blood’ red wine for my husband. Then we went to this nice little local restaurant and had more of that yummy Budapest food! They had some gypsy music there so that made the night fun too! The next morning as we headed out of Budapest we stopped at the Gundel and had a wonderfully delicious chocolate pastry!  

{Fisherman's Bastion}

{Treats from the Gundel}

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