Europe – Part V

***Continued from previous post.

{October 17 – 11:45 am – Bruges, Belgium}
We got up around 8 o’ clock to pack up our things. My bags are getting pretty heavy. Ate breakfast in the hotel at 10 am, then checked out for eleven. Caught the #12 bus at Markt Square heading to the train station. Stood in line for 15 minutes to buy two tickets to Amsterdam (94€ total, put on VISA). Looks like an hour ride to Brussels Midi station and then another 3 hours from there to Amsterdam Centraal.

{October 17 – 3:15 pm – Rotterdam Train Station}
Train just pulled away from Rotterdam station. We should arrive in Amsterdam sometime after 4:15 pm. The ride to Brussels Midi station was fine. We got off the train and went looking for a restroom and something to eat for lunch – only twenty minutes until our next train. Cashiers at the fast-food restaurants there were really slow; finally just bought two slices of pepperoni pizza (8€) and ran for platform 7, only to realize we were at the wrong platform! The train tickets are confusing. Ran back downstairs, pulling our luggage, and realized we needed to be at platform 19 in the next couple minutes. Train already there but we managed to get on and find a seat before it left. So far the weather looks good.



{October 17 – 11:50 pm – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
At the train station we caught a tram heading toward Museumplein and got off there. Took awhile to find our way to Koninginneweg with my map printed from Google (didn’t have all the streets labeled). When we finally found our hotel we checked into the Park Plaza Vondelpark close to 5:30 pm. Unpacked. Around 7:30 pm we went down to the lobby to use the free wireless. Then headed out looking for dinner. We ended up walking all the way to Leidesplein where a whole bunch of restaurants are situated. Pretty crowded for a Sunday night. Decided on a Mexican restaurant, “Mathias”. I ordered an iced tea (carbonated, of course) and chicken enchiladas while Jordan had a Hoegaarden and a huge plate of nachos (27€, on VISA). Food was very good. We paid the bill at 9:18 pm and then proceeded to get lost on our way back to the hotel. We finally made it back, in the freezing cold, at almost midnight. My body feels terrible.



{October 18 – 11:30 am – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Woke up late so we’re just heading out to breakfast now. This hotel doesn’t include breakfast with the room rate and wireless internet is only available for free in the lobby. My throat is sore and nose is running. Pretty certain I’m catching a cold, after last night’s two hour adventure trying to find our hotel.

{October 18 – 6:45 pm – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Found a bakery just down the street and bought a sandwich to split and a blueberry muffin (5€). Good price to fill our tummies before lunch. We ate in the lobby while checking emails, etc. Then we walked up the road to Museumplein to the Van Gogh Museum. I purchased tickets before we’d left Canada so we didn’t have to wait in the long line, just walked right in. Looked at the paintings and checked out the exhibition downstairs. Nothing in the gift shop caught my eye. After we left the museum we started walking toward the Jordaan neighbourhood where Anne Frank House is located. Found a free city map at a tourist kiosk. It was quite a walk, a little chilly, but we were determined to use our feet rather than pay for trams. Lined up at Anne Frank House and waited about half an hour to get in (around 3:30 pm). I hadn’t purchased advance tickets because we didn’t know what day we’d do the house. The cost is 8.50€ per person. Very moving experience and incredible to see. The walls inside are covered in excerpts from “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and there are short videos to watch as you walk through. Hard to believe the Frank family, and the other people, lived in these little rooms. In the bookshop at the end of the tour I picked up some postcards, two of the softcover diaries (one for Stacey), another book about the Frank family, and “The Last 7 Months of Anne Frank” (51€, on VISA).



When we came outside it had started to rain lightly so we ran up the street and I found a shop called “Boathouse”. Spent 30€ on three pairs of wooden clogs, a picture frame, and keychain. By then the rain had stopped and we walked back down Prinsengracht. Stopped for dinner at “De Oude Wester”. Delicious hamburger, fries, and hot chocolate for myself, and beer, a Dutch dish of meat, potatoes, and cabbage for Jordan (27€). Raining yet again so we caught the #2 tram to the Emmastraat stop, then walked the last few minutes to the hotel. Asked at reception if the hotel can book a tour for us, but the man handed me a pamphlet and said I could call myself to book. I asked how much the phone call would cost and he said “not a lot”, whatever that means. Not very helpful.

{October 18 – 9:00 pm – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Very chilled after our excursions so after washing up some underwear with liquid Tide, I felt like getting a hot tea or chocolate. We bundled up again and walked for 15 minutes trying to find a place that sold hot beverages to go. That was a bust, nothing really available in this end of the city. Ended up buying bottled water, juice, and a Snickers bar. Now that I really want a take-away hot tea, I have noticed that no one seems to be out carrying coffee cups. Maybe people just don’t do that here? I feel like crap. Why must I be sick in Holland? I have wanted to come here all my life and I am miserable.



{October 19 – 10:20 am – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Woke up with my throat still dry and sore, nose running, sneezing, etc. Lymph node to the left of my throat feels tender. Don’t have any cold pills left, as I gave them to Jordan when he was sick in Belgium. Already showered and waiting for Jordan so we can grab some breakfast somewhere.

{October 19 – 10:30 pm – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Walked down the main drag from our hotel toward the Rijksmuseum. There’s a park and a strip of souvenir shops, and a huge “I AMSTERDAM” display that people are climbing on. Stopped for a hot sugar waffle, an apple turnover, and a cappuccino. Then we made our way to the “Tickets & Tours” information booth near the Marriott Hotel. We booked a countryside tour of Volendam and Marken for 74€ (on VISA). From there we hopped on the #1 tram to Centraal Station and then went to the “Tickets & Tours” building to exchange our tickets for passes. At 12:45 pm we boarded a big bus and left the city through the tunnel under the harbour. Passed the “sleeping village” of Monnickandam, called this because there is a housing shortage in Amsterdam; people will work in Amsterdam and commute to the village to eat and sleep.



Our first stop was in the former fishing village of Marken, where the bus dropped us off. It’s started to pour and my umbrella is sorta broken, but Jordan’s managed to fix it for now. The guild led us on a walk through the village, pointing out all the green houses, and she explained that the water used to be salty but after the dike was created it gradually turned to fresh water. We walked to the ferry that would take us over to Volendam. While we waited for the ferry, we were allowed to go into the souvenir shop (I bought a magnet). At 2 pm we hopped on the boat for the half hour ride across the water. At Volendam we were given until 4:20 pm to do whatever we wanted to. Jordan and I strolled through the village, enjoying the beautiful day now that the rain had stopped. We ate fried cod pieces with lemon and tartar sauce and fries for lunch. I tried some Dutch pancakes called poffertjes while Jordan had an ice cream cone. At another store I purchased a pink bag with “Amsterdam” all over it, a couple magnets, and a postcard for 19€ (on VISA, as I’m short on cash now). At 4:30 our group walked over to the Volendam Museum (boring), then we boarded our bus and drove to the cheese factory! We were introduced to Iwan, who showed us how Dutch cheese is made. He wore wooden clogs with Nike symbols painted on them which Jordan thought were cool. Joking around, Iwan gave me a piece of cheese as he was demonstrating the slicer, and asked me if I was married. I laughed, said “yes”, and Iwan pretended to look embarrassed and replied, “Oh is that your husband behind you? So sorry!” We tasted a whole bunch of flavoured cheeses and they all tasted amazing. After that we walked over to the clog shop across the parking lot for a short demonstration. At 5:45 pm we drove to the windmill village of Zaanse Schans. The windmills there aren’t active anymore but the people who live in them must maintain them. Our group was given time to walk around for a half hour, taking photos. We were back in Amsterdam by 7 pm.



The bus dropped us off at Centraal Station. Walked to Leidesplein and ate dinner at “Mai Thai”. I love Thai food! Spent 34€ on iced tea, Sprite, Heineken, spring rolls, a huge bowl of rice, sweet n’ sour chicken, and a spicy coconut dish. After eating all that delicious food, we walked back to our hotel (about 15-20 minute walk). I think I need to find some cold medication tomorrow. I’m exhausted!

***Continued in next post.

Europe – Part IV

***Continued from previous post.

{October 14 – 12:00 pm – Munich Airport}
Got up extra early this morning to shower and we were down in the lobby to check out by 7 am. Jordan grabbed a croissant to go and we walked to the bus stop for the #2 heading toward the train station. Once there we boarded the train to Munich OST at 7:51 am. At Munich OST station (which we almost missed), we transferred to the S-Bahn #8 that goes directly to the airport. Checked in with Lufthansa and passed through security. At 11 am we sat down for lunch in the airport. For 21€ we had water, mango juice, cheese and ham on toast (for me), and eggs with ham and croissant (for Jordan). We have a half hour before we need to be at our gate to board the plane to Brussels, Belgium!



{October 14 – 3:25 pm – Brussels, Belgium}
Short flight from Munich to Brussels on a little plane. We were confused where to go for baggage claim; once we finally made it, our bags were just coming out so it was perfect timing. Bought our train tickets for 16.20€ each – this is a train to Brussels North station and then a transfer to another train heading to Bruges (Brugge). Once at the North station, we realized our ticket doesn’t state what platform the next train will be at so that was also confusing. I found a map that listed all the train destinations and the times and we finally figured out that we needed to be on the train with end destination of Knokke / Blankenburge. Now we’re on that train, on our way to Bruges.

{October 14 – 9:15 pm – Bruges, Belgium}
Jordan and I arrived to a drizzly, grey Bruges. It wasn’t cold, exactly, but the rain chilled our hands. We boarded a bus at the train station (a difficult feat with our small suitcases and other bags) and ended up getting off at the wrong stop. We really had no idea where we were going so we got off the bus and started back-tracking to Markt Square. Finally, after wandering around in circles, miserable, tired, and cold, an older gentleman told us how to get to our hotel. We are staying at the Hans Memling Hotel on Kuiperstraat and we kept coming really close to the street and then somehow getting off-track. What a nice man to help us tourists! During check-in we were told that our room was near the street on which some construction is taking place and that it would be noisy; however, the lady offered us the studio “triple” room for the same price since it would be much quieter. That made is quite happy! We dropped off our luggage and explored the little studio: on the bottom floor is a tiny room with toilet and sink, another room with tub/shower, a wardrobe, and a desk; and up the steep, winding staircase is the bedroom with one queen bed and one twin (like a loft).



Went out looking for dinner, armed with a map from the hotel. Once again, we walked quite a distance, sometimes seemingly in circles, before deciding on a restaurant. Ended up at “De Gouden Kroes”, which was not crowded at all and very warm inside. I ordered iced tea with a ham and cheese omelet; Jordan ordered the Flemish stew and a couple beers. The food was perfect and just what we needed after a long day of traveling. The iced tea I ordered ended up being carbonated, which surprized me at first, but then I decided that I really like it! For dessert we had a Belgian waffle with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Our bill came to 40€, our most expensive meal so far in Europe. After eating, we roamed the streets and found ‘t Zand Square (maybe a ten minute walk from our hotel). Right in the middle of the square is a giant floating inflatable naked man! Weird. Admired the fountains and took a few pictures with Jordan and the naked lady sculptures in the fountain. Getting very dark by now. More walking and we popped into a chocolate shop for some chocolates (what else?) and stroopwafels. We ended the evening with a scoop of ice cream before heading back to our studio room. There will be lots more to see tomorrow! I hope the weather improves because I’m already sick of rain.

{October 15 – 8:10 am – Bruges, Belgium}
Quick entry before we head out: A few weeks before leaving for this trip, I booked us on the full-day “Triple Treat” tour with Quasimodo Tours. Totally recommend this company, they are great! The tour cost 120€ for both of us. Unfortunately, Jordan has the beginnings of a cold but he says he’ll be fine for the day.



{October 15 – 6:05 pm – Bruges, Belgium}
What we learned today: It’s Brugge, not Bruges! The guide was very adamant about that, but I’m sticking with “Bruges” for this journal. Jordan and I walked to Park Hotel at ‘t Zand Square to meet the van for 9:15 am. Very small group, only 6 of us! Philippe, our guide, was very amiable and knew all sorts of historical facts. First we drove out to the moated Castle Tillegem. There are two black swans living in the moat. The castle is now used as offices. (So far it hasn’t started raining, but the sky is grey and it definitely feels like it will later.) We walked around to the back of the castle and took some photos. Next we clambered back into the warm van and headed out into the Flemish countryside to Chateau Loppem. After hearing some history about the building, our group explored inside the chateau. Around 12:45 pm we came to the town of Lissewege where we saw some Belgian Blue cows. Learned that these cows usually give birth through Caesarian section because the calves are too large. In Lissewege we had lunch at a restaurant (after viewing the tithe-barn in the backyard) at a farm. Inside, we were served ham, lettuce, and cheese sandwiches (yum!) and one free beverage; everyone had beer except me. I drank the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever had the privilege to sample! It was so creamy and tasted just like a chocolate bar, but not too sweet, either. The Belgians know their chocolate! For dessert we each had a crispy waffle with icing sugar and whipped cream – what a treat! I’m in love with waffles!



After lunch, Philippe drove us back to Bruges to “Roose’s Chocolate World” on Havenstraat. He gave us a demonstration on how the praline chocolates are made. Then we tasted some samples and were given some time to look around the shop. I bought a bar of milk chocolate, one of dark, and a package of thin wafer chocolates for 8.50€ to bring home. The next part of the tour brought us to the town of Damme (north-east of Bruges) around 3:15 pm. We parked by a canal with a beautiful old windmill in the background and walked to the town’s city hall. Philippe told us about the history of Damme and then we walked some more, admiring the houses and scenery, and finally stopping at the Church of Damme to inspect the cemetery. (At some point during the tour we also saw bunkers from WWII but I can’t remember where.) And to end the day, we went to a pub for beer-tasting and sampled four different kinds of beer. I tried them all but of course didn’t like any of them, not being a fan. The Kriek Max tasted like alcoholic cherry blasters.



{October 15 – 11:30 pm – Bruges, Belgium}
Walked around looking for a place to eat dinner around 8:30 pm after watching a movie back at the hotel. I ended up falling asleep and woke up starving. Of course, when we went outside it was pouring rain! Found a restaurant called “Brasserie Strijdershuis” and decided to give it a try. Food was expensive but tasty and the meal cost 40€. I had chicken breast with mushroom sauce, fries, salad, and iced tea (carbonated!); Jordan ordered rabbit in cranberry sauce, beer. Waiter was not helpful when we asked for explanations of some of the meals, nor was he friendly, and he seemed to avoid our table. I had to actually go up to the bar and ask for the bill after we finished our meal; we sat there for a good twenty minutes trying to catch his attention, but no luck. Good thing the food was delicious! Still pouring when we left…



{October 16 – 10:30 am – Bruges, Belgium}
Slept in this morning; we really were exhausted. Jordan’s still not feeling well. Don’t have any crazy plans for the day. Another rainy day; the weather really sucks right now, it’s hard to enjoy ourselves when we’re constantly wet and cold every time we leave the hotel.

{October 16 – 3:30 pm – Bruges, Belgium}
The streets were packed today, probably because it’s Saturday. Rained off and on throughout the day, good thing I have my purple umbrella. Ended up at ‘t Zand Square this morning and bought some danishes for later. Vendors are set up in the Square today. Jordan found a really warm, nice hoodie for 25€ (made in France, not China). I found some stroopwafels for 1€ a pack. Also bought ten Christmas cards for 3€. Did lots of browsing, but it was too cold to stay out for long. Walked some more and found HEMA department store – 2 sets of earbuds (8.50€ each), salty licorice (1.60€), spekulaas cookies (1.95€), warm gloves for Jordan (7.75€). On our way out the door I spotted a “Best of Krezip” CD, how could I resist for 8.95€? Popped into a couple souvenir shops and bought some postcards, magnets, and a little ceramic figurine of a boy and girl kissing (typical Belgian touristy stuff). Had lunch at a panini restaurant: two cheese, tomato, chicken, pesto, pineapple paninis, an iced tea, and Sprite for 15€. Oh my goodness, it was tasty! Took lots of photos during our trek around town. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at “Dumon” to get some chocolate wafers (7€) and truffles (2€ for four). Ahhh, I only have 15€ cash left, need to find an ATM!



{October 16 – 9:30 pm – Bruges, Belgium}
I fell asleep once we got back to our studio and Jordan ended up watching a movie while I napped. When I woke up at 5:30 (after sleeping two hours), we watched “The Score” on the Netbook. Then went on a search for dinner. Found an ATM on the way and took out 350€, the last of my travel money which needs to get us through Amsterdam as well. Food here has been ridiculously expensive. Finally we found a fast-food place serving double cheeseburgers with medium fries for 9.50€ (per meal). Going to bed soon. I’ll pack in the morning, I don’t have the energy to do it now. Check out is at 11 am tomorrow.

***Continued in next post.

Europe – Part III

***Continued from previous post.

{October 12 – 8:20 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Another long, productive day. We haven’t spent much time in our little hotel room; too busy exploring! This morning I got up at 7 am to get ready. Ate breakfast a little after 8 o’ clock. After food, I purchased for each of us a 24 hour “Salzburg Card” (50€ total). This is a great card for the price – free bus rides and entry to a whole bunch of attractions in the city. This is a great website with lots of information about the city and the “Salzburg Card”. So, we walked down Linzer-Gasse, crossed the bridge to Old Town (Altstadt), and waited for the #25 bus in front of the police station. It came at 10:20 am. The #25 bus goes to the Untersberg cable car in Grödig / St. Leonhard and even though the bus ride is outside of the city, we were still allowed to get on for free when we flashed the “Card”. We reached our destination sometime after 11 am if I recall correctly. Inside the station we showed our cards and were given tickets for the cable car. We waited for the next car and climbed in with a huge group of people – it was quite packed! I’m afraid of heights, so I was apprehensive about going up the mountain, but there was no way I could go to Salzburg and not go to the top of the Untersberg! Luckily it was really foggy so I didn’t see much of the ascent. Jordan took pictures for me. Once we reached the top at 1776 m in altitude and went outside to the trails, I noticed it was much warmer than down at ground level.



We walked up the trail to the first peak marked with a huge cross and took some photos. Then we decided to walk the trail to the next peak, which was quite a hike! Probably took us a good 30-45 minutes to get there. I got so warm I removed my light jacket, and I had to constantly stop to drink water and catch my breath due to the altitude. But it was a wonderful walk and I’m so glad we did it. Around noon we climbed back down the trails to the station and hopped on the cable car for the next descent. At the main station we bought apple & cheese danishes for a snack. What a morning!



Our next stop on the #25 bus (free with the cards) was Schloss Hellbrunn. We got off at the right spot and walked down the long road to the palace grounds. Remembered this place from the “Sound of Music” tour from the other day, although this time we can explore on our own and spend as much time here as we want. First stop: souvenir shop! I bought a “Sound of Music” book, a book about Hellbrunn Palace, a postcard, and an Austria flag patch for 26€. Then we went into the palace and picked up two English audio-guides for the self-guided tour. I found the audio-guides were a little boring; I enjoyed just walking around and inspecting the rooms without it. Next we found the booth for getting tickets to the Trick Fountains show (included with the “Salzburg Card”). The next show was at 2:20 pm so we had a bit of a wait. The Trick Fountains were pretty cool. Had to keep my camera tucked away when I wasn’t using it so that it wouldn’t get wet. First we were led to see the stone table and seats that were the brainchild of Markus Sittikus. He got a kick out of his guests being sprayed in the bum by water jets when they were sitting down to dinner! The guide led us through the grottoes to see the statues, etc. As we walked through many of us got a little wet from the hidden water-jets spurting water at us – usually when we were stepping through a doorway or some other inopportune moment! The mechanical theatre was cool, too. It was fun, though, and worth the 40 minute stroll.



After that little adventure, Jordan decided to wander down a path that looked like it went into the woods, but actually led us to the Folklore Museum on the grounds. Free entry with our cards. Neat to poke around in there for a bit. Left there and found ourselves near the Salzburg Zoo so we used our cards for free tickets and had a great time exploring the zoo. The animals are so close and easy to spot for the most part. Took lots of photos, of course. The highlight of the zoo, however, was definitely when I came around the corner of the lemur pen and suddenly about four or five lemurs started jumping over and running around the path in front of me – way cool! For a light snack we ate some delicious French fries at the buffet. In the souvenir shop I purchased a miniature snow leopard stuffed animal for my sister (2.60€). We spent a long time at the zoo but finally returned to the palace grounds to take some pictures in front of the “Sound of Music” gazebo (no crowds this time). Then back to the bus stop to catch the #25 back to town around 5:30 pm. Transferred at the bus terminal to the #3 and got off in Old Town. We walked over to the elevator that takes you to the top of the Mönchsberg at the “Museum of Moderne” and got tickets to go up because they were included in the cards. (We discovered the elevator after our trek up the mountain on that first day.) However, once we reached the top we were told that the museum was closed for a special event so back down we went – good thing we didn’t pay for the tickets!



Found a “McCafe” while looking for dinner. Bought a caramel macchiato for myself and a slice of chocolate cake for the husband. Kept walking and stopped at “Spaghetti & Co” around 7:30 pm for dinner. We always have a difficult time deciding on restaurants, even here in Canada. By now I am starving! Jordan ordered Hawaiian pizza and beer, and I had the carbonara pasta with ham and bacon. Our dinner only cost 16€! And finally, back to the hotel after that amazing meal. So tired!



{October 13 – 4:30 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
We tried for another early day but we’re still so tired that we slept past 8 am. After eating breakfast at the buffet, we headed out into the grey, foggy streets through town to the funicular (cable railway) for Hohensalzburg Fortress. If we’d had time to go to the fortress yesterday, it would have been included in our “Salzburg Card”. Use of the funicular cost 10.50€ each. Once in the fortress we explored the grounds, checked out the panorama views, even though it was cold. Definitely the worst day for weather, our first yucky Europe day. We walked into the fortress and inspected the state rooms, etc. Signed up for audio-guide tour of the inner rooms to see things like the torture chamber, which was actually used to hold convicted prisoners. All in all, we spent a couple hours at the fortress and then took the cable railway back down in the afternoon.



Next we ended up at St. Peter’s Cemetery & Catacombs. For 1€ each we were allowed to walk up the steep stone steps into the catacombs and explore. It wasn’t that interesting. The view from the windows on the way up is pretty nice, though. After finishing there, I bought a yummy pretzel for a snack (2.50€). Went looking for lunch and by 3 pm we finally found a place that looked alright, “Il Centro”, an Italian restaurant. Very cozy inside, great to warm up the hands. I ordered black tea, Jordan had a beer. For food I had tortellini in a creamy tomato sauce with mushrooms, ham, and salami (divine), while Jordan ate a bowl of vegetable soup and pizza bread, all for 20€. I’m quite pleased with the cost of food here in Salzburg. Back at the hotel to drop off the days purchases (water, snacks, etc). Shortly we’ll need to catch a bus to the train station to buy our tickets for tomorrow’s journey to Munich Airport.

{October 13 – 7:15 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Went out around 5 pm to catch the #2 bus to train station. Purchased our tickets to Munich Airport (66€ for both of us) and caught the next bus going to Altstadt. Found a toy store and decided to check it out. Bought a Disney Princesses sticker book for Jeena (9€) and a small notebook for myself. Then to the grocery store for Sprite and some Lindt chocolate. Next, we found the store “Interio” and I bought a whole bunch of small glass Christmas ornaments in my colour scheme (dark purple, red, and silver) all for 34€. Time to head back to the hotel to make sure everything is packed!

***Continued in next post.

Europe – Part II

***Continued from previous post.

{October 9 – 11:30 am – Düsseldorf, Germany}
We are on the Air Berlin flight heading to Salzburg, Austria at the moment. This morning I woke up at 5:15 am to shower and make sure our luggage was ready. Cereal for breakfast. Tyler drove Jordan and I to the train station in Geilenkirchen to catch the 7:37 am train to Düsseldorf Airport. Our train was a double-decker and we sat up top. At the hauptbahnhof in Düsseldorf, we transferred to another train going to the terminal. Finally we reached the airport just after 9 am and checked ourselves in. Both of us set off the alarm going through security, which is funny since I wore the same outfit I’d had on going through Toronto security and nothing happened. Once our flight was announced, we boarded a bus which took us onto the tarmac to the plane. On the plane we were given a snack but I just had water and ate my Nutri-Grain bar because I didn’t like the apple biscuits that were served.



{October 9 – 3:10 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
After disembarking from the plane and finding our luggage, we hopped on Bus #2 heading toward downtown. We got off at Wolf-Dietrich-Strasse (as advised by someone on Trip Advisor) and with the help of a map printed off Google, we managed to find the Goldenes Theaterhotel (in New Town). The bus ride cost 2.10€ each. Checked in and collected some brochures, and came up to our room. Probably going to book a couple Panarama tours through the hotel for the next couple days. We’re going to head out in a few minutes to explore the city on foot and hopefully find some dinner.



{October 9 – 10:15 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Our afternoon consisted of a LOT of walking. We never stopped after leaving the hotel. First we walked down Linzer-Gasse, looking at all the shops. Popped into a stationary store and bought a pop-up baby card for Michelle (3.50€). Then we veered off the main road under an archway and found ourselves going up a very steep street that has a magnificent view of the city and the Salzach River. There’s a church of some kind at the top, and a Mozart statue, and other Christian statues in niches on the way up. I think the building is Kapuzinerkloster on Kapuzinerberg. After taking pictures, we made our way back down to the bottom of the Kapuziner mountain and crossed over to the Altstadt (Old Town) on one of the pedestrian bridges. Found a grocery store and bought some rolls, cheese, fresh slices of ham, a bottle of water, and two juices for under 10€. We ate this yummy lunch down by the Salzach on the grass, on the New Town side, with Hohensalzburg Fortress slightly to our left. Beautiful!



After lunch we wandered back across the bridge to Altstadt. I don’t know how we did it, but we managed to find ourselves on the Mönchsberg (another mountain across from Kapuzinerberg). We walked past churches and a big fancy hotel, and through trails in the woods, not really knowing where we were. Saw a sign showing the kilometers to the fortress’s funicular (cable railway). Found the “Museum of Moderne”. We wandered so far into the evening that we ended up 300 metres from the funicular site. Finally we turned around, not having a clue where we were, stopped for a beer at a little shack selling snacks (by now it’s dark and cold), and then returned to ground level after another long walk. On the way back to our hotel we ate pizza at “Saboron”. We ordered a large pizza to split and black tea. The waitress must not have liked the idea of us splitting the food because she gave us one plate, one fork, one knife, and a single napkin! I used tissue from my purse to wipe my hands. lol The pizza was delicious, though, for 14€. Back to the hotel to write this entry and then bed.



{October 10 – 10:45 am – Salzburg, Austria}
Our wake-up call didn’t happen this morning so we woke up at 9:30 am. That meant we had to rush to get ready and go down for breakfast (closes at 10:30 am). We’d also planned to book a full-day tour, but without the wake-up call we were too late. Instead we’ve bought tickets to go on Panarama’s “Sound of Music” tour this afternoon at 2 pm. The tickets are 37€ per person. I’m pretty excited! Jordan and I both love this movie and are looking forward to seeing the locations where the movie was filmed. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be up early enough for a full-day tour. So, breakfast was alright: lots of breads, rolls, croissants, fruit, yogurt, cereal, milk, cheeses, tea, coffee, etc. I found the grapefruit juice too bitter. Breakfast and wireless internet is included in the room price.



{October 10 – 8:00 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Back at the hotel for the evening. This morning after breakfast we walked to Mirabel Gardens for a stroll through the grounds. Stopped at a few souvenir shops along the way. I picked up a couple postcards and a cloth Salzburg bag for 12€. Mirabel Gardens is free to enter and the flowers were absolutely beautiful! What beautiful weather for October! After our walk, we returned to the hotel to drop off my shopping and have a snack (leftover apfelstrudel from yesterday). Went down to the lobby at 1:45 pm to catch the Panarama shuttle. Time for “Sound of Music”! At St-Ändra Kirche we boarded a tour bus and drove through the city. The guide pointed out different areas that were in the movie. We stopped to take pictures of Leopoldskron, which was used as the back of the Von Trapp villa (canoe scene, etc). Also stopped at Schloss Hellbrunn to visit the gazebo from the film. Next we drove out to Mondsee in the Lake District (Salzkammergut) where we had an hour of free time to eat, view the cathedral that Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married in in the movie, and drink in the lovely scenery. Spent most of the hour trying to find a bathroom! Before boarding the bus to go back to Salzburg, we bought some truffles. Returned for 6 pm to St-Ändra Kirche.



The guide suggested we walk through Mirabel Gardens again and told us where to find the pegasus fountain, the “Do-Rei-Mi” steps, etc before he said goodbye. Jordan and I decided to take another walk through and realized we had missed an entire section earlier that day! We found the pegasus fountain, took pictures on the steps from the “Do-Rei-Mi” scene, walked through the arbor. Magical! It was getting late and a bit chilly so Jordan and I decided to walk back to Old Town to find something for dinner. We ended up buying chicken shawarma sandwiches from a vendor and brought them back to the hotel to eat. That sandwich was the best I have ever eaten! Time to relax and watch “Burn After Reading” on our Netbook.



{October 11 – 6:30 pm – Salzburg, Austria}
Started the day early with a 6 am wake-up call. I hopped in the shower and we were down to breakfast by 7:45 am. After eating quickly, we booked the full-day Panarama “Bavarian Mountains / Hitler’s Eagles’s Nest / Salt Mines” tour. We were picked up at the hotel at 8:20 am by the shuttle and brought to St-Ändra Kirche where the tour bus was waiting. The tour cost 180€ for both of us.



First we drove out of Salzburg to the Obersalzburg mountain area. Beautiful scenery and mountain views along the way. Because we were on a special combination tour, first the bus had to drop some people off at the salt mines before continuing on to Berchtesgaden, Germany across the border. Up, up some crazy hills and finally we reached the base of the “Eagle’s Nest” where we had to switch to a special bus that would take us on switchback roads the rest of the way up to Hitler’s teahouse. Once we reached the top, we walked down a long dark tunnel to the original brass elevator. A bunch of us all squished inside. There was a sign that I accidentally took a picture of before getting inside; I think it meant I wasn’t supposed to take photos of or in the elevator. The ascent took 45 seconds. Inside the teahouse, or Kehlsteinhaus, that was given to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday, our group was shown a brief video, as well as the fireplace from 1938. Then we were given just over an hour to wander around the mountain. Jordan and I went outside and it was very cold but the sun was bright. I realized that I had left my mittens on the tour bus! We could see Hohensalzburg Fortress from our vantage point – that was amazing! We took quite a few photos of the breath-taking landscape and then met back at the elevator for the 11 o’ clock descent. By noon we were in the picturesque town of Berchtesgaden. Jordan and I spent the hour of free-time eating lunch (cheeseburger and fries in a cone) and poking into a few souvenir shops.



Next stop, our turn for the salt mines. Only three of us got off the bus for this part of the combination tour. We introduced ourselves to Hussein, a friendly young man from Bahrain, and we stuck together for the rest of the tour. We dressed in large overalls (mine were absolutely huge) and waited around for the next underground tour at 1:30 pm. Hopped on the underground train, started the audio guides, and away we went! Even with fluorescent lights on the walls, it was still pretty dark. Flash photography is not allowed (although some people still used flash). At the end of the track, we could either go down the walkway or slide down the original slides that the workers used back in the day. Jordan decided to slide, while I just walked down. We were shown all sorts of equipment, there were little videos to watch along the way, and we even got onto a boat and slid across the salt lake – it glittered and sparkled and was really neat to see. Came across a second slide and I went down with Jordan; it’s very quick but takes your breath away! At the end we were given miniature shakers of salt from the mine.



Back to the tour bus for 3 o’ clock. Drove to Königssee, just south of Berchtesgaden, which is the cleanest lake in Germany. A bit of a hike from where the bus parked to the lake itself, but it was worth it. The weather was just perfect. We had 45 minutes to explore and most of us walked all the way to the look-out point and then back, all the while chatting with the tour guide who was very knowledgeable and friendly. He took good care of those of us who were doing the combo tour so that we wouldn’t get off the bus at the wrong time. After this enjoyable but exhausting day, we returned to Salzburg for 6 pm. Now I’m starving – leftover pizza for dinner. We watched “Bangkok Dangerous” on the Netbook before falling asleep.

***Continued in next post.