Monday, January 04, 2010
The Europe trip
Ok.... so I failed.... miserably!
I promised all I would keep this blog up-to-date with the latest happenings of our trip and I left you in the lurch!
Firstly it wasn't as easy as it seems to find some internet locations, secondly, when we did have internet connection, with 4 other people wanting to use the same computer, and limited time before we head out on our next adventure, a 2 second update on FB was FAR easier than writing an essay..... and I am sure you are all aware of how much I can chat and write!!
I think it goes without saying that eventually.... yes, we did leave London and got to head off on our round-a-bout Europe trip, so I will try and wrap it all up as much as I can in one blog for you all to sit and read ;-)
Getting up at the break of dawn after my last post, we arrived at Gatwick airport ready and raring to go. All seemed to be going to plan, the airport was open for one, the planes were delayed but going. A few hair-raising moments where all the screen said was 'please wait for more info' and some gruelling hours sitting in those remarkably uncomfortable airport seats while listening to the 'Gatwick x Factor' (think karaoke at the airport) with some great singers and some.... not so great... we FINALLY were able to board the plane and jet-set off to Salzburg.
We arrived to a land of white. In a world, Salzburg is spectacular. Right up my alley with lovely mountain views and a nice country feel. Very 'Austrian' atmosphere. Our apartment was covered with white, and seeing as the temperature the previous day was -12degC (despite the fact the weather was currently +15deg C) we were still relatively confident we were going to get our white christmas.
The Salzburg Altstadt (Old town) is really lovely. With the backdrop of the fortress and Christmas markets to wonder around, soak up the atmosphere and practice our German (not to mention the challenge of trying to order something authentic yet having not idea *exactly* what it is!). There was a lot to see in Salzburg. The Untersberg Mountain/ cable car which is to give some spectacular views of Salzburg was great, although we HAD to go up on the only cloudy day where we couldn't see a thing! The Sound of Music tour, where we got to see where they filmed all of those famous scenes. I have to say our tour guide on this one really made it all.. She was fantastic and made the trip really enjoyable. The funny thing is that we later found out after the trip (thanks to my wonderful detective skills!) that we actually were staying NEXT too the actual Von Trapp house.... hows that for ironic :p. The fortress was also magnificent, giving you spectacular views of Salzburg itself. Another highlight, which we didn't get to enjoy fully were the Mozart Museums explaining more about his life while in Salzburg.
Now here's a cheeky conundrum for you. We initially chose Salzburg as a destination place because of the lovely views and that it was pretty much destined to be freezing cold and heaps of snow. I mean, where else would you go for a lovely white Christmas as a bunch of Australians who will never get to experience such a thing at home... Why is it then, that each day we were in Salzburg, they days got warmer and warmer, the snow melted more and more... so that when we awoke on Christmas day, there was scarcely a drop of snow to be found!!
No matter we said, we shall head up to the ski villages for surely there will be snow there... We can go for a Christmas sleigh ride and enjoy the sights, the village and have a lovely christmas lunch. So we book our tickets on Christmas eve to head up to Schladminng for perhaps some taboganning and some snow fun.
Imagine our surprise when we get there and not only is there NO snow, but the only snow on the slopes is FAKE snow!!! I kid you not, when I went up to Buller earlier this year, we had BETTER snow!!! Now when would that ever happen!!! So with not much to do at this ski resort, we head down for a lovely lunch. Continue with the irony that when we were driving away from Schladminng, yup you guessed it, it was snowing a gale.... thanks..... one day late!
Still.. we were able to enjoy our snow moments in London (where it seldom snows), we were able to *see* lots of snow, and we still had an enjoyable Christmas! Just.... not exactly the way we planned.
Onwards now from Salzburg, to a 2hr train ride to Munich for our next stop. Munich we were to spend only 1 day as a quick stop over before heading on to Paris, our next destination. Munich was a pleasant surprise. Unsure what exactly we would find here (other than beer halls!) all of us found that this charming place exceeded all of our expectations with what the city had to offer. In the morning, we went on a rather.... informative Third Reich Tour which told us about the beginnings of Adolf Hitler and WW2. You can't really say it's enjoyable, but it certainly was interesting and informative to have this little piece of history told. I'm certainly glad we went. None were more surprised than our parents, who upon travelling to Munich 20 years ago found that there was very little information they could find about the war or about the concentration camps etc, whereas now they are all very open about it. In the afternoon we explored the city and all of it's haunts.
I have to say though the highlight of Munich was in fact the beer halls. The first night we of course went to 'Hofbrauhous' the most popular of all beer halls. To paint a picture, this place is like.... a mess hall or a massive cafeteria. There is no waiting around for tables, it's grab-it-where-you-can, sit with who you can!!! The food was ok, the beer fantastic, while my brother, continued with his age-old challenge of trying to get me drunk. I must say that after 1L of beer (a stein in Germany is the 'normal' size of beer and is 1L) and feeling none the worse for wear, he was a wee bit impressed thinking that his conservative sister 'doesn't really drink all that much ;-)'.
Enjoying our experience so much at the Hofbrauhous, we decided to visit another beer hall for our final night in Munich, but instead, going for a more 'local' feel. We certainly succeeded, finding a Beerhall a little out of the way, but certainly filled with locals, good beer and great food. It was great getting recommendations from our neighbours about what was 'good food' there and also trying the local cuisine. Consuming just as much beer for a second night in a row, I think it's safe to say that I might be a converted woman.... might be.....
So Munich got a definite tick on our list of places to go, and we head off in the early hours of the morning, for our 6hr train ride to Paris.
Looks like it's almost time to head out again though, so I might continue with our Parisian adventure at another time.... so until then....