Sunday, December 29, 2013

Europe 2012 day 10 & 11: Part 1: Salzburg, Austria - Sound of Music Tour

The next morning (Sept. 13, 2012) we took a train from Munich to Salzburg - Sound of Music city!

Mirabelle Gardens - scene from Sound Of Music

Our EuroPasses got us into our first class and it was a very comfy ride - and fast!  It took about 1.5 hours to get from Munich to Salzburg.  The train was actually going from Munich to Budapest, we just got off midway at the Salzburg stop.

Our train

Our first day there, Sept. 13 - it was raining!  With the rain we decided to skip the sightseeing for the day and just hang out in some cafes (bad news, they were all smoky!  Austrians are known for smoking - a lot :/ ) and hung out at the hotel watching Game Of Thrones.  We had been so busy it was actually nice to have a day where we were forced to just relax and hang out.  By dinner time the rain had stopped so we grabbed some food and then did a little night sightseeing.

The next day, (Sept. 14, 2012) was a BIG day - the Sound of Music tour!!  And we woke up to beautiful weather!  I was so happy!

Our guide, Jurgen, picked us up and a few other couples and we first made our way around the old town and then out to the first major stop, the house where the canoe flipping over lake scene and the backyard scenes were filmed. None of the interior was used for the movie but the back of the house is very recognizable.

the back of the house and where the canoe scene was filmed

Next up was a ground-level view of the Nonnburg abbey where the real Maria was a novitiate. The abbey itself is halfway up the fortress mountain (we'd see it up close the next day on our own) but from the ground you can easily see the red spire and the clock.

The stop after that was Hellbrunn castle where the white "I am 16 going on 17" gazebo is!  Eeeeekkkkk!!!  It was later moved to this location and is a very popular tourist stop!

Additionally, outside of the castle is the bus stop where Maria gets off and skips down the lane - the "I am confidence" lane.  Obviously I skipped down the lane and sang.  No shame or embarrassment on my end!

mid-skip, just like Maria

After the castle, it was a long drive (set to the movie soundtrack - yes, I sang!) through rolling hills out to another lake town, St. Gilgen. Apparently this was "the second lake shown in the helicopter flyover at the beginning of the film". On the way there we stopped at a luge and we partook in a pair slide - lots of fun!

panorama of the lake - click to enlarge

In town, we stopped at a restaurant known for its homemade cakes and pastries, as well as at the big yellow church where Maria and the captain get married.

Sound of Music wedding scene

The interior of the church


Jurgen drove us back to Salzburg and dropped us off at the final stop, the Mirabel gardens. I definitely didn't miss the chance to do a little marching pose around the fountain with the horse statue at the center.

Dancing on the fountains just like in the movie

Such an amazing day for this die-hard Sound of Music fan!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Wishing you a blessed Christmas and beautiful 2014!

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Europe 2012 day 9: Munich - Dachau and BMW Museum

The next day of our trip (Sept. 12, 2012) was our last one in Germany.

Dinner at the Hofbrauhaus

The weather was a little drizzly, it matched the mood of where we started out our day, at the Dachau Concentration Camp.  We knew it would be a sad sight, but really felt strongly about going there.

Walking into the camp, you walk through the same iron gate the prisoners walked through with  "Arbeit Macht Frei" on it - which sadly means "work makes you free." 

Our first stop was the well laid out and educational museum. I didn't know that Dachau was the first real concentration camp, was open for the entire history of the Nazi party all the way through the war, and served as the model and "school" for all other camps. At the center of the museum is a 22 minute film (very emotional) that puts together a lot of old footage and photos of the camp. At the end of the museum you reach the part where they talk about the liberation of the camp by the American soldiers.

The rest of the site is just open to walk around - a prison area with interrogation rooms, cells, crematorium the living quarters. We ended our time there with and a short walk around a peaceful little garden path that featured a few small memorial sites all for various religions.

hard to read - but it says in Hebrew and English - "Do Not Forget"

All in all, we were there for almost 4 hours, it was emotionally exhausting but definitely a good and powerful sight to see.  

Afterwards we went back into the city, grabbed some food and then lightened up the day with a trip to the BMW Museum!   

BMW-Welt is a free-admission exhibition hall and luxury sales floor. I was admiring the Rolls-Royces!

I knew Nick would really enjoy the BMW Museum and I didn't have high expectations - but it was actually really cool!  We were inside for two hours and there is a lot to see. Consumer cars, race cars, motorcycles, engines of all types (including airplane),  company history, branding and advertising, art (including the very cool moving sculpture, the metal balls suspended from wires that move up and down), and on and on. 

Standing next to a James Bond car

After the BMW Museum we headed out into the city for one last visit - to the famous Hofbrauhaus. We entered the noisy hall and it was packed with people. We gave ourselves a nice little tour of the place, and it's just how you'd imagine it: stout wooden tables, barmaids in traditional dress, the oompah band on a little stage in the middle, and liter mugs everywhere. We both preferred the Augustiner beer garden from a few days before - but its such a famous place I am glad we went! 

hanging out with the oompha band

prost!  our last day in Germany

 Next stop: Salzburg, Austria

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Europe 2012 day 8: Munich

The next day of our trip (Sept. 11, 2012) we had a pretty low key day exploring the rest of Munich.

The beers of Germany

We walked to Marienplatz and then to the Viktualienmarkt - even though we had breakfast at the hotel we wanted to try the traditional breakfast/brunch of Weisswurst sausage.

So, at about 10:30 AM, we were sitting down with sausages, a pretzel and a beer - when in Germany!

No orange juice here, just beer!

 After the food, we decided to finish our Rick Steves walking tour seeing the sights of the city.

The Theatinerkirche
Wandering around the English Gardens, there is a tunnel where the Eisbach waterway flows north from underneath Prinzregentenstrasse - the way the channel is constructed creates a big standing wave right by the tunnel, and wetsuit-clad surfers stand in line on the riverbank waiting for their turn to weave back and forth on top of it. Urban surfing!

After a little bit of lost wandering and asking a local, we found the Chinese Tower beer garden. With roughly 6000 seats, it's a sight to behold, and it was a little bit more tourist-friendly than the Augustiner garden (more English here and there), although it still seemed to be mostly populated by locals. Another tasty lunch!

lunch of champions
The rest of the evening way a low-key one of walking around, enjoying the sites and of course eating more food!


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