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27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS

27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS

Nov 18th, 2014, 01:59 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS

BAVARIA, AUSTRIA, ITALY, SWITZERLAND, ending in PARIS
August 20-September 18, 2014

BACKGROUND:
For several years we’ve been wanting to do a driving trip to explore parts of the Alps during a season when we’d have good chances for favorable weather. We are a couple of warm-weather-loving Midwesterners, who had visited a few of these areas on previous trips, and had inclement weather. Although late summer wouldn’t ordinarily be our choice for traveling, since that is a warm weather season at home, we decided that this was the year to pursue our journey through the Alps
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We’d been saving our Delta FF miles, and this spring were feeling fortunate to be able to cash them in for a desirable itinerary: Cincinnati through Atlanta to Munich, and returning from Munich, with a 3-day stopover in Paris, and then a non-stop flight back home
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Following are some of the background steps in our planning which we detailed for three reasons. First, we want an account for ourselves of the process and time required to plan such a trip. Secondly, since we began getting input from friends on Fodors early on, and wanted to share how their ideas helped the process. And, finally, for those planning an independent driving trip, we hoped that sharing some of the experience might prove beneficial.

Since flights had been booked, we researched car rentals, and with some information from Fodorites, decided to go with Auto Europe, based in Maine. Our car in Munich would be through Europcar, VW Golf or comparable model. That seemed adequate for our needs.
With our flights lined up, and car booked, we began the preliminary work of mapping our travel route. Lots of time was spent perusing guidebooks, combing through new and older TRs from Fodorites, and map study. The task seemed awesome and, at times, overwhelming! Much more challenging than signing up with a tour, but much more rewarding! We knew from some experience in the past that it’s a step-by-step process.
Narrowing down our areas of travel proved to be a challenge. Even with 27 days in the Alps, we really had to tighten our itinerary, passing up some desirable sights, with a promise to re-visit them at a later date
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We purchased maps of each country, and relied upon Google, Michelin, Bing etc. for printing maps getting us from Point A to Point B along our journey, being careful to limit our travel distances. We didn’t want to rely solely on technology as we feared that “connectivity” and “reception” might be spotty.

Our finalized driving “loop” included Munich to Berchtesgaden, Salzburg and some towns in western Austria. Then the Dolomites in Italy, followed by Switzerland: a bit of the Engadine, Locarno, Brig (to access Zermatt, weather-permitting), the Berner Oberland, and completing our loop back to Munich via a detour to Montreux and Lucerne. From Munich we would fly to Paris for three nights and from Paris non-stop home.

With our itinerary fairly well-established, we began the researching of hotels, planning length of stays, etc., This was begun a few months before travel, interrupted at times with a couple of shorter trips in the US and some local events. We attempted to book most hotels in a mid-price range, but did splurge a bit in a few locations. We made a few of our bookings directly with the hotels, but found using “booking.com” to be a convenient and satisfactory option. In fact, when we wanted to make a couple of changes of dates, they handled it very efficiently and promptly for us
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With flights, car, itinerary, and hotels locked in, we began the organization of stuff to take. In planning to pack, our goal was having enough clothes/shoes for differing kinds of weather and occasions, but no more than needed. We knew that we’d need rain-proof jackets and layers. And toiletries, OTC meds, practical items like scissors, etc. etc. for 30 “living-out -of-luggage” days. CHOICES! CHOICES! CHOICES!

Then there were issues with Sim cards for our unlocked Vodafone, DACH+maps to research, purchase, and download into GPS. Also, money decisions: getting EUR’s to start with, bank ATM card hassles, etc. We tried to get “Chip and Pin” credit cards, but apparently US companies haven’t as yet gone with the “Pin”. So with chip only, we knew we would have to patronize only “attended” fuel stations.

Then other details: bills, paying and pre-paying; lawn-cutting and gardening needs, and arranging for cuts & watering while gone, itineraries and contact info for family, etc. And, naturally, right before leaving, Murphy’s law is in effect: a problem with water from R/O water filter raised its nasty head, and needed attention.

At times, we questioned our decision to do a trip of this length. The news that central Europe had been having a chilly, rainy summer had us hoping that this would subside before our arrival. We would be leaving home with beautiful, sunny weather and our garden in its glory. But with all the plans in place, we chose to focus on the positives and had confidence that we would have a wonderful trip!

A final comment about our TR: We habitually mark or annotate things at home as “TK” (DH) and “MK” (DW), our initials, so we kept those designations in our journal. We made notes on our Surface as we traveled, thinking that the daily details of a month could easily escape us. Each evening, we’d work together to make plans for the following day: study the maps, get the pertinent ones ready, plug addresses into the GPS, get tech stuff plugged in, and organize clothes. Either one of us would write some notes on the Surface. So two writing styles are interwoven. This TR is a tweaking and expansion of those notes
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So. . .here we go! We hope that some of you will come along for the journey.


WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY AUGUST 20 and 21, 2014:
DEPARTURE DAY/ARRIVAL IN MUNICH

The airport shuttle was in our driveway at 8:30AM sharp; a good feeling using a home-airport service. As is our habit, we planned for an early arrival at the airport. The driver handled our two medium-sized luggages, dropping them off at the Sky Cap desk. We were off to security with just our small roll-aboards (Costco purchases; $29.99). Security went smoothly, so we had plenty of time for coffee and a bite to eat before our flight to Atlanta, where we would catch our to flight to Munich, Germany.

So far, this day was such a huge contrast from our busy, overwhelmed, daily preparations that had gone on for weeks, but more so during the final week, where a couple of unexpected events popped up. After a smooth flight to Atlanta, we had time to enjoy a light lunch before boarding our flight to Munich.

ON TIME! ALL BOARDED! SET TO GO! Then an hour and half delay on the tarmac, due to lightning and rainstorms in the area, resulting in a long line of jets awaiting take-off. Then 9+ more hours of flying (probably 11+ hours in the 767 counting the hour early boarding). Sleeping is a tough thing to accomplish. Fortunately, we did not have a full plane and we each able have an empty seat next to us. Even with eye masks and a dark plane…it’s tough to be sitting mostly fully upright with poor back support (lumbar, ugh!). But not to feel too sorry for ourselves, we thought about folks from Australia, NZ, and Asia, and elsewhere whose flights are much longer than ours.

Upon landing in Munich, we were impressed with the very modern, large airport. Quite a bit of walking from de-planing to baggage. All went well. Then on to car rental. We passed several restaurants, and were surprised to see people having beer with their meals so early in the morning. Maybe it’s just the enthusiasm for tasting that good German beer? We experienced our first airport conveyor belt with a downhill pitch. Hang on to your luggage!

Eurocar went smoothly; a silver Opel hatchback. ($836.72 pre-paid). Regular gas, no diesels available. In fact, the agent said that the Opel was the only available car in our category. OK with us. We were given directions to the car park, the keys, and a parking spot number for the car.

Our plan was for TK to be the driver, and MK have the role of navigator. (We decided that it wasn’t worth the daily charge for a second driver.)

As we arrived in the area of car pick-up, there were no personnel around. We had our first experience with “non-attended” service. Just find the car. . .no matter that the signs and instruction manual were in German. ..figure it out, and exit the garage. So far, so good.

Now the fun began! We didn’t think the adage “Expect the unexpected!” would apply so soon. Frustration exiting the parking garage because the “pass” given to us would not activate the gate. We noticed another guy having the same problem. Still no personnel in sight. Round and round and round we went! The inside of a parking garage wasn’t quite the scenery we were hoping to enjoy! What to do?

Just as we were wracking our brains to come up with a plan (like park the car; one of us wait, the other try to find a way to return to the floor of the car rental desk). . .an additional try luckily triggered the gate.

Garmin, aka “Gilda” would not/could not find the satellite. But we had our trusty map, so we were on our way to our destination for the first night, the Marriott in Freising. We found Freising, a small city about fifteen minutes away, with no problem. However, the directions from the Marriott website to their hotel weren’t accurate. We circled around the downtown area of this little town; made a couple of stops to ask locals. No one had heard of the Marriott or the street named on the map. Finally, at a restaurant stop which, conveniently, had a restroom, a lady gave us directions (without street names), and hope rebounded. Just then, wonderful Greta came alive, found the satellite, and quickly we were at the Marriott Munich Hotel.

Our room was not quite ready, so we ate a not-so-tasty lunch at their outdoor restaurant. We revved up the Surface, and after a short time, we could check-in. At the front desk, we purchased an S-Bahn ticket (21 euros), valid for one day. which would get us to Marienplatz and back via train S-1.

We were grateful to have a partly sunny day for our trip into downtown Munich. During our forty-minute ride, it was interesting to observe that the terrain was flat, with mostly farmland dotted with clusters of houses. It didn’t appear much different than some areas of the US Midwest.

The station in downtown couldn’t be any more convenient to Marienplatz. As expected, the walking street outside the station and the whole area around Marienplatz was filled with tourists. But this venture proved to be a good thing to do when stricken with “jet lag”. We milled around the square for a while, had our first German beer at the RATHAUS KANTENE (self-serve), and were present on the square at 5 PM when the little statues of the Glockenspiel rotate for five minutes telling the story of the city’s history. Interesting that in the entrance to the Rathaus beneath the Glockenspiel, was a concrete plaque with several city names, among them our city “Cincinnati”. Upon reading the inscription, we learned that these were the cities which have a “Hofbrauhaus”.

Following the “Glockenspiel” show, we had our first German dinner at the outdoor RESTAURANT CAFE AM MARIENPLATZ on the square: a tasty 9 EUR weisswurst and sauerkraut dinner with another beer. Our waiter was a fun guy, and we enjoyed our meal amidst the tourist buzz
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To walk off our dinners, we strolled around the square and surrounding streets, admiring the church and other buildings, making our way to the HOFBRAUHAUS, known to be the largest beer garden in the world. It is said to date back to 1589. The story goes that Wilhelm V, the emperor at the time, did not like the beer which was brewed in nearby towns, so he began the project of building this brewery to serve the Royal Residence. Over the years, many famous people, like Mozart, and more recently JFK, Gorbachov, GW Bush, and other world leaders, visited the Hofbrauhaus. There were also the infamous, like Hitler, who used the Hofbrauhaus for political events and for declaring policies.

Upon entering the packed hall, it was evident that there was little room at the tables among the jovial visitors, enjoying their steins of beer and good food. We stayed only long enough to hear the band for a few minutes. Since we had visited the Hofbrauhaus on a former trip, we felt no need to add to the crowd
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We returned to Marienplatz where a four-piece chamber music group had begun to entertain. Quite a different vibe than the Hofbrauhaus! Conveniently, we found a seat at a café right on the square. . .a great place for dessert, and enjoyed listening to the music, while observing the world of tourists of every size, manner of dress and language pass by. We were aware of the many other things to be experienced in Munich, but this trip our main goal was to focus on the Alps.

Before heading back to the station to catch the train for our return to the Marriott, we picked up some pastries for the morning. Once inside the station, we recall the hassle of finding the proper side of the train track. Also, of not sitting in a train car that was toward the rear, as part of the train would separate and go to the airport…gads. Thankfully, we were aware of this separation of the train cars to Freising and the Airport, thanks to Dukey1 and Cowboy1968, who early on provided good info to us. But even with this awareness, finding the correct train presented our first possible travel dilemma. After seeing a train marked only “Airport”, we decided to wait for one more train on that line, and fortunately, it did list “Freising”.

Soon we were on our way back to the Marriott.
Home via a 10 EUR taxi from the Freising Train Station. It’s about 10:15 when we reach our room. Time to organize our luggage for day-to-day travel, and get a good night’s sleep, something almost assured in the comfort of those Marriott beds.

Friday, August 22, 2014: OFF TO BERCHTESGADEN

Up around 8AM; we enjoyed the Marienplatz pastries with coffee right in the comfort of our room. TK made a couple of trips to the garage with the luggage while MK checked out. We were on our way to the mountains.

In preparing for our trip, we had looked up the German “rules of the road”, which helped our confidence as we approached our first day of driving on the highways. We felt good that the trucks all stayed in the right lane, and abided by their lower speed limit. Speed limits for other lanes were clearly posted in neon signs. As we traveled east, we were thrilled to see the mountains appearing in the distance.

We had our first experience with a “rastplatz” or rest area. We needed to purchase a vignette for driving on Austrian highways. We were “out of luck” at a previous fuel station stop. Perhaps it was too far from Austria?

MK went inside the restroom and realized that they were not free. There were turnstiles requiring 1.70 EUR to activate. Luckily, TK had coins. Following the restroom experience, we headed to the convenience store to purchase the vignette, and cappuccinos. We didn’t realize that our ticket from the restroom had a small credit toward store purchases. More new learning
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As we traveled another stretch on the Autobahn, TK began to feel sleepy, so we looked for a lunch stop in a small town, Rosenheim, which others have described as a nice stop-off en route to Berchtesgaden. Rosenheim is a charming place. It’s our first experience with parking: learning the meaning of the signs “P1”, “P2”, and automatic pay machines. “Park-cheiner”, we learn, means you pre-pay and put the receipt on your dash. More new learning!

We found a garage which was convenient to a walkway leading to a little platz area. Here we were attracted to the outdoor deck of a restaurant WIRSTHAUS ZUM JOHANN AUER. The owner Tony (Anton) and his wife, who waitressed us, were delightful. The daily special, Rindsgulasch and Knodel (dumpling), suited TK more than MK who shared her knodel with TK. Both of us had a refreshing beer. MK later ordered a side salad; very fresh.

As we were finishing our meal, Tony came to our table and seemed eager to share his knowledge of English and the US. He described his visits to New York and Las Vegas and shared pictures taken with Siegfried (Tony’s friend from the area) and Roy. The tragic incident with the tiger during their Las Vegas Show caused Roy to lose most of his physical well-being. Roy told family and friends that he is no longer Roy, but his real name Uber, which was his given name growing up. Tony had pictures of himself with Pope John Paul II, who is from Bavaria, and other famous people. All of these were displayed in an inside hallway. He enjoyed telling stories about these experiences and a lot about the history of the Tyrol area.

Our interaction with Tony proved to be a highlight of the day so far. Our conversation lasted so long that we determined that we did not have time to do justice to the Herrenchiemsee Palace of Mad Ludwig in nearby Prien. Oh well! Maybe next trip!

Onward to Berchtesgaden by way of Prien, where we find the signage is sparse and the ability to go places with a map and Garmin is challenging. We consumed some time with wrong turns onto minor highways, which, on the positive side, led us through some charming towns set in beautiful mountain scenery. There are always stops for cappuccino. In one town, we saw a large white billboard or banner with our last name in gold letters. Too bad we didn’t snap a picture!

After our leisurely drive on the scenic back highways, it was getting to be later in the afternoon, so we settled on taking the Autobahn to the highway turnoff toward Berchtesgaden. We were awed by the surrounding mountains! We were initially alerted to the beauty of this area by the Fodorite pja1. We would discover that Berchtesgaden, tucked against the sheer wall of the Bavarian Alps, was surrounded on three sides by Austria.

Since it’s approaching 5PM, we decide that we best take care of hotel check-in. Our Hotel Krone is high up on the mountainside of Berchtesgaden, an area called Nonntal. Given its location on a narrow, steep road requiring a sharp hairpin turn, we were pleasantly surprised that Gilda could find it! With its position, the Hotel Krone has a great view of the town of Berchtesgaden. In fact, that was our reason for choosing it, and we weren’t disappointed
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The hotel décor is typical Tyrolean style, with light pine wood and carved trim. Quaint and clean and pleasant. Our room has a corner niche with a bench and table, convenient for organizing maps and making use of their Wi-Fi. The bed is very low, actually two single beds pushed together, designed with a shallow frame and narrow mattress. Each side has a single duvet. Another new experience for us. We think Hotel Krone will probably take the prize for the smallest bathroom of our travels. The door opening was less than 2 ft. But all the fixtures were new. Our coordination skills will be tested! Since the room has a small balcony, and a pretty view, we know it will be fine for us. We were glad that we had booked three nights in this surprisingly beautiful area
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We used our couple hours of daylight to take in the gorgeous mountain surroundings. Wow! Just walking the property of Hotel Krone, plus the surrounding streets, gave us a wide view in several directions. We overlooked the valley of Berchtesgaden town, the salt mine, and the impressive mountains surrounding. This area was much more beautiful than we had anticipated and we were only into the first day of our trip!

We learned that the Berchtesgaden area forms a National Park with numerous alpine lakes and is dominated by the third highest peak in Germany, Mt. Watzman, which is the highest rock face in the Alps. Mt. Watzmann faces Hitler’s Kelsteinhaus, all in view from our hotel. So much to take in, but the sun was fast fading. It was getting to be dinnertime.

At dark, we drove down the mountain road to the city center and found a great beer garden, BrauStuberl. The oom-pa-pa band was a bit loud for our taste; but the locals were thoroughly their Friday evening, and the dance floor was packed. Luckily, there were several rooms where we could enjoy a meal with the music as a backdrop. Our Romanian waiter was very pleasant and offered to snap a picture of us. He said that he was living in Berchtesgaden because he could not find work in Romania. The weisswurst, sauerkraut and potatoes meal for 8.60 EUR was excellent. Back up the hill to Hotel Krone by 10:30, the last guests to return.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 KELSTEINHAUS and the
DOKUMENTATION MUSEUM

Up about 8AM and off to continental breakfast, included with room fare. Average, low key breakfast, not fancy, but satisfactory. The atmosphere is stiff; we seem to be the only Americans. We later learned that the lady taking care of the breakfast is the owner’s wife, and that she speaks very little English.

So today our plan was to make the trip to Adolph Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus (or Eagle’s Nest). The skies were overcast, and we had hopes that it would clear a bit later in the morning. Our Surface did fire up, so we used the time after breakfast to double-check our credit card and bank balances, and look up some local info. And hope for a clearing in the skies.

As the morning wore on, it seemed evident that we were in for an overcast, rainy day. We initially came to Berchtesgaden wanting to learn more about the life and activities of Hitler. If our goal had been only a beautiful, mountaintop view, we would, no doubt, have changed our plans for visiting Kelsteinhaus. But given our interest, we decided to just go ahead with the trip.

We bought tickets at the Kasse for the twenty-minute bus ride to the top of Kelstein. This was all very organized in that your ticket indicated the number of your bus. For us, Bus #4, leaving at 11:50. Only enough tickets were sold so that all passengers were seated. As we had assumed, it would be rainy and cloudy the whole day…@$#!

The road up the mountain is impressive, rising 2275 ft. with only one switchback. It is said that 3000 men, German, Swiss, and Italian, worked day and night, winter and summer, blasting five tunnels, at times carrying heavy boulders on their backs to reach places where machinery could not go, to make the deadline of Hitler’s 50th birthday. Kelsteinhaus was to be a birthday present for him from some of his party leaders.

As we arrived at the end of the bus ride in a hard driving rain, we were glad that we had purchased good rain gear. As we departed the bus, we were informed that we had to declare our time to descend the mountain and have our ticket stamped. Given the rainy conditions, we decided to give ourselves 1 ½ hours.

To begin the approach to the Kelsteinhaus, there is first a long walk through a dimly-lit dark tunnel lined with rough marble sides. It is said that Hitler was driven through this tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, the line forms for the gold-plated elevator ride to the top at 6000 ft. We probably waited about twenty minutes for the elevator.

The Kehlsteinhaus has thick granite walls and heavy beamed ceilings. Upon entering, the first room is a smallish, paneled dining room with the original sideboard. Apparently, Hitler used a long dining table, which is no longer there, to host a few banquets. This room is now a restaurant. Through this room, and down a few steps, is a large room which was used for conferences, and a few parties. This room had the red marble fireplace given to Hitler by Mussolini, but none of the other original furnishings. Now the room felt like a large beer hall. In the corner to the left of the fireplace, there were counters of Kehlsteinhaus memorabilia for sale. The former sunporch area is now a hallway of pictures of the construction process back in the 30’s. This area would be a gorgeous viewing location but for the foggy weather. Standing outside on the large patio, hoping for a break in the clouds, we did get a feeling for why this location was chosen by the Nazi leaders.

We had a beer and pretzels in the large hall, and bought a book illustrating the outrageous tactics and cruelties created by Hitler. Later, when driven back down the mountain, we bought a DVD about the construction of road and the Kelsteinhaus, along with a German-made beer stein. Had it been a clear day, the view would have been amazing into Austria. We could only imagine!

Even though the weather did not cooperate, the experience gave us a reality base for understanding the lengths to which Hitler and his party men went to build a secretive and protected haven. Later, in the Dokumentation Museum, we would learn how the Nazi Party had, one by one, forced the people from their homes in Obersalzburg, so that they could establish their own homes in this protected area.

We found it interesting to learn even though Eva Braun spent a lot of time at Kelsteinhaus, Hitler visited fewer than twenty times. Apparently, he was claustrophobic and feared heights. He spent most of his time at his home, Berghof, located in the woods along the Obersalzburg Road. He had had the original home reconstructed into a presidential palace. After Berlin, the Berghof served as the secondary headquarters for the Nazi Party. This home was finally demolished. Only a rock wall and the underground bunkers remain.

There are so many other fascinating facts about the area and Kelsteinhaus, Eva Braun, and the activities at this location which could consume hours of study.

After returning to the bus depot, it was past time for lunch. We enjoyed a “special of the day” lunch at the BERGESTAURANT AT KELSTEIN. The delicious meatloaf and great potatoes were complemented by the beer and a dessert of apple strudel. A much larger meal than usual for us, but so tasty!

Next stop was the Dokumentation Museum, located just down the hill from the restaurant. We had only two hours, as it closed at 5PM. Had we known the volume of displays, we would have planned for a much longer time. The English audio was invaluable, as all the exhibits were in German. The experience was sad and depressing, yet so revealing of the drive of the Nazis to make the Aryan race superior and get rid of (kill) those Jews, Gypsies, Polish, etc. etc. and others whom he considered not able to contribute to his great plan, (like elderly, disabled, etc.) After euthanizing many, letters were sent to the families with a false cause of death. Only much later did they find out the true fate of their loved ones.

The gradual rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Political Party was detailed; the annihilation of all opposition by fear of punishment, including the concentration camps. Jews were blamed for all the problems of the time. Intelligent and ruthless leaders were appointed for control of the various divisions of the Socialist Party. On display was a huge flow chart of Party personnel, all part of Hitler’s plan to exert control throughout the whole country. The fate of these leaders was also detailed. Many of them committed suicide or fled.
There were videos of older people describing the horrors they or their families endured, and actual letters from the Nazis that individuals had saved and subsequently shared.

There were old movies showing the frenzy that Hitler could whip up among the crowds; as one historian said, their use of religious symbolism to “raise the emotions but minimize the intellect.” Through his personal photographer, and his handlers, Hitler was promoted as paternalistic and a friend of children, as well as the powerful political leader that should be worshipped.

This museum was chilling and left a deep impression upon us! We were glad that we went, but now it was time to concentrate on more uplifting things.

Since the time is still early (5:30), we decided to drive a couple miles south of Berchtesgaden to Konigssee, a crystal- clear alpine lake, described as Germany’s deepest. It’s about 8 miles long and very narrow, flanked on each side by vertical rock walls. The calmness of the silky lake waters would be appreciated in contrast to the experiences of the day!

We had read about the small electric boats for rent at Konigssee, and the large electric boats for tours of the lake. But with the still overcast skies, we knew either of those would have to wait until tomorrow.

After figuring out the parking pay system, with help from a local who could read the German sign, we took the long paved walkway to the lake. This path was lined with restaurants and shops. We stopped by one shop where MK bought two scarves (needed to keep comfortable in this chilly, damp weather). We had a great discussion about traveling with the owners, a German couple, who own the shop and close it for four months to travel Hawaii, Bali, New Zealand, Australia, etc.

We milled around the lake’s edge and the boat dock area, and had a beer at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the lake, where blankets were provided for comfort. (In Germany, the beer tastes good at any temp!) As we wandered back to the car, via the long row of shops, we were attracted to the restaurant of the HOTEL KONIGSSEE, which had candle-lit tables and seemed a welcome respite from the chilly weather.

We were seated next to a couple from the Netherlands. Very recently, an airliner was shot down over Ukraine, with many Netherland citizens on board. We discussed the seriousness of this situation, and even though they spoke only limited English, it was enough (with effort) to have a pleasant exchange. After a satisfying dinner, we returned to Hotel Krone, hoping for a better weather day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 KONIGSSEE DAY

Up around 7:30, dressed, and then the average continental breakfast. Rainy and cloudy again this AM, but we remain hopeful. Jorg, the owner, assures us, with his limited English, that in a couple of hours we should see the sun.

We decided to return to Konigssee, hoping that a boat tour would be possible. Again, parking is awkward because of our ignorance of German and uncertainty regarding the rules. TK assumed that he could pay the same amount as he had the last two days. Wrong! We returned to a 30 EUR fine! But on the bright side, the sun did come out for much of the day.

As we walked down the path to the lake, we stopped by a little café for some warm coffee cake and cappuccinos. “Cash only.” This energized us for the boat ride; 16.90 EUR each for a 55 minute ride up and back. The sign at the ticket window indicated “English commentary”, but when we heard no English on the trip, and asked the guide, he brusquely let us know that he didn’t speak English. So we just enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. About mid-point on the ride, the boat stopped and a guy with a trumpet played some measures and the sound echoed back from the rock walls. Very interesting!

We got off half-way at St. Bartholoma’s church, (now a souvenir/restaurant area), once a monastery and the site of a hunting lodge for the Bavarian royal family. With pretzels in hand, we took in the long views of the smooth waters, looked inside the old church, and walked around the grounds where the east face of Mt. Watzman is impressive!

Next, we boarded another boat to the terminus of the lake, Salat, and took time out for a beer as we stared at more dramatic scenery. It’s difficult to describe the surrounding beauty of the long, narrow lake ensconced in moutains. Just to the side of the café was a crude shrine of the crucified Christ, decorated with artificial flowers. We began to observe these shrines or crucifixes all over the Tyrol area, even in public businesses.

The boat ride back to the dock was so relaxing that we were almost lulled to sleep as we reached the end. Earlier in the day, we had discussed taking the cablecar to Mt. Jenner to enjoy the mountaintop view. But, by now, the clouds were appearing, so we decided a ride up to Mt. Jenner wasn’t going to happen. Next visit, perhaps!

We hadn’t had lunch, and needed another fix of Bavarian food…this time at the SEEHAUS RESTAURANT, located along the walkway. TK ordered a pork roast and “house made” dumpling with another bier; Mk had 2 weisswurst with a pretzel & salad. We shared the tasty meals. Again “Cash Only”…gads! We could have, maybe should have, planned our cash/credit cards differently.

Back to the car and that damn parking ticket!!! Since it is early, 5:30 ish, we decided to visit the Intercontinental Hotel which we had spotted yesterday on our bus ride to Keltsteinhaus. It is an attractive structure and has a wonderful setting. The hotel doorman invited us in. We had a nice chat with one of the cooks at the Stube Restaurant who filled us in about their opening in ’06. When we commented that, as yet, we had met no Americans, he said that Americans usually visit for one day, and just go up to Kelsteinhaus ; maybe visit Konigssee, and leave. He suggested that we could pay our ticket at the police station, and gave us directions.

En route to Hotel Krone, we decided to let the GPS lead us to the police station and show us the way back to our hotel. Well done Gilda! The police station was not in the town center, as we would have expected, so we were happy to discover a back road and alternate route back to our hotel. Very beautiful scenery! We did pause long enough to have an ice cream, just making it before they closed the shop. Back “home” by 8:30 or so…need to pack and be on our way to Salzburg tomorrow morning . . . after our attempt to pay our fine.
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 18th, 2014, 04:54 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Great report so far. Lucky you gong away for such an extended time.
kenav is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 06:40 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,255
Thanks for jumping on board, Kenav. Yes, we feel lucky to have had the opportunity for such a long trip.
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Looking forward to more, especially the dinner in Paris with that dazzling couple from Southern California. Great report. I'm sure this will spur us on to another Germany, Austria, Switzerland trip in the future.

maitaitom is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 11:56 AM
  #5  
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Maitaitom, great to hear from you! Yes, we thought seriously about disregarding chronological order in our TR to recount the story of that gastronomic event in Paris with the dashing couple from Southern California. We may find an opportunity to sneak in a preview of that delightful occasion. All kidding aside, we really enjoyed meeting you guys.

Stay tuned!
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 06:23 PM
  #6  
 
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You know I am waiting for the Paris part!!! I certainly can appreciate the historical significance and horror of the Hitler part---tough part of a vacation. (Reading The Paris Architect now--incredibly sad and horrifying.
denisea is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 06:55 PM
  #7  
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Hi denisea, so happy you've jumped on our TR thread. As noted above, we really had a fun dinner with Maitaitom and Tracy in Paris.

You're, no doubt, getting more and more excited about your Xmas trip. And we're excited for you! (We'll have to look up "The Paris Architect.")

Hope you stay aboard!
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 08:10 PM
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Woo-hoo, I've been waiting for this report!

<<<<>>>

Yeah, I'll be dealing with that myself in a few weeks. Already dreading the flights!

<>>

You haven't lived until you've had beer for breakfast. We used to fly overnight from pork and alcohol-free Kuwait to Frankfurt - we'd immediately make a beeline to the nearest café for a pork and beer fix. And I don't even like beer all that much.

I'm looking forward to the next installment.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 05:53 AM
  #9  
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Welcome aboard, Melnq8. Sounds like we missed out on something not trying beer with breakfast. Next time!
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 06:59 AM
  #10  
 
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Hmmmm....I think pork & beer for breakfast are in my immediate future. We have an early, long layover in the Frankfurt airport coming back from our Paris trip (leaving in 2 days!)

Tomarkot, enjoying your report so far - I love the Alps theme, very unique. And thanks for bringing back memories of Marienplatz. I forced my college friends to go there for a bit of "culture" while in Munich for an Oktoberfest weekend. I somehow timed it perfectly as we immediately saw the Glockenspiel show, enjoyed it, and then promptly went back to the beer halls (what can I say? I was 22. ;-))
YankyGal is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 09:30 AM
  #11  
 
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Tomarkot, this trip sounds great, and similar to the trips I'd like to do in a few years as time and finances allow. Intesting about the cook saying that most Americans just visit for the day in the Konigsee area. So often Americans are on a rush on their trips I think.
A couple or ironies about the Munich/Upper Bavaria Nazi connection. While the Nazi Party started in the Munich region in the beginning of the Weimar Republic, it was actually weaker electorally in Munich by the early 1930's than it was in most of Germany. This was because the Catholic vote in Bavaria stayed loyal to the Bavarian Peoples Party, the local affiliate of the Catholic Centre Party.
I would guess that in the Garmish area the Nazis were nowhere near the strongest party either as that was probably a stronghold of the Bavarian Peoples Party as well.
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Nov 20th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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We are heading from Cincinnati to the Dolomites next summer. Looking forward to reading about your travels!
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Nov 20th, 2014, 02:59 PM
  #13  
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YankyGal, thanks for your comments. We did have our share of that good German beer. We'll have to try it with pork sausage.
Have a wonderful time in Paris, our fave city!


Robincal, we are interested in learning about the Nazi Party, and there is so much we don't know. What you described about the Bavarian vote is really interesting. Thanks for the info.
If one can ignore the heinous actions which were planned in Berchtesgaden, the area has outstanding beauty. Being relatively close to Munich and Salzburg makes it possible to visit again.


Digbydog, we think you will love the Dolomites! The mountains in that area have a unique character. Good luck planning!
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Nov 20th, 2014, 07:58 PM
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Monday, August 25, 2014 FROM OOM-PA-PA BAVARIA
TO CLASSICAL SALZBURG

Our same routine, but up at 6:30; packed a bit more; plain breakfast; hotel check out (318.60 EUR; a good price for three nights). Jorg, the Hotel Krone owner, also reinforced that we could pay the parking ticket at the police station and showed us on the map where it was. (Of course, we already knew from our “dry run” last night).

A mass of traffic slowed us down; surprised that this little city could generate so much traffic. The police station was well-fortified and we waited behind one other guy, who seemed to have lengthy business. When our turn came, the police officer at the desk told us emphatically that we could not pay at the police station but had to pay at the bank listed on the ticket. OK! We get it!

We set Gilda to take us the alternative, very scenic backroad to by-pass traffic on our way to Salzburg. It was a beautiful, clear day, and driving on this backroad, Watzman and Kelsteinhaus were in perfect view. Incredible! We stopped several times along the way and had a last opportunity for some great pictures.

Gilda did a fine job getting us out of Berchtesgaden and on our way to Salzburg. We had one glitch on the 19 km. drive on 305…Gilda got mixed up and directed us to make a turn. So we stopped at a bakery, used the restroom, bought a snack and cappuccino and easily got ourselves back on track en route to Austria.

It was an easy drive along a nice highway. Before entering Salzburg proper, we decided to get gas, and had our first experience of “unattended” pumps, requiring a “chip and pin” card. It wasn’t a wasted stop, however. It had entertainment value. Fueling up at that place was a motorcycle couple with outfits to outdo Dolly Parton’s described “Coat of Many Colors”. Among their many colors was metallic silver. Certainly, unique among bikers!

Across the street was an “attended” BP station, so we had our first fill-up and saved about 15 EUR per gallon. Awareness: tank is on passenger side; correct gas is the green-colored 95 nozzle; pay inside after you fill-up. Gas tank was just less than half; paid 45 EUR…Wow! But the saying goes “Tank up in Austria” where gas is cheaper than in Germany, and for sure, than in Switzerland.

Thanks again to Gilda, the arrival at the HOTEL MOZART was smooth. The hotel lobby was very welcoming with a vase of tall white gladiolas. The owner greeted us, helped with our luggage, and parked our car in the small private lot behind the hotel. We were glad to get one of the few spots available (15 EUR per day); very convenient, where we had access to our car for getting jackets, etc. Very shortly, the owner’s wife appeared, and showed us the breakfast room and the sitting room. We were happy to get checked into our spacious corner room, newly-updated with attractive decor, and a view toward the mountains.

The owners, Arthur and Bettina, spoke excellent English, and gave us a good orientation to Salzburg. They gave us a coupon for a free beer at the Stiegl Keller Restaurant, and described its beautiful view. So we kept that in mind for dinner.

We’re still plagued with that German parking ticket! The couple read the instructions on the ticket and told us that we could pay it at any bank; that there was one nearby on the walking street that leads to the old city where we were headed. The bank was closed from 12:30 to 2 PM (1 ½ hour lunch breaks in Austria!). No problem. We made use of the time to have our first Austrian lunch.

A block down from the Hotel Mozart is the walking street, Linzer Gasse. A nice sidewalk patio at ALTER FUCHS(Fox), serving typical Austrian dishes, was perfect for some grilled weiner schnitzel and salad; beer for TK & rotwein for MK, a welcome change for her from beer. Since our bill was over their 20 EUR minimum, we could pay with a Visa credit card. After our very leisurely lunch, with our front row for people watching, we enjoyed checking out some of the shops along this pedestrian street.

A little past 2 PM, we stopped in the bank to pay the fine. The young woman teller was very helpful. She read the German instructions and filled out a form for us to sign. For a small fee, the money would be transferred to the proper German bank. Since we had been dealing with more businesses which did not accept credit cards, we withdrew 400 EUR.

Now it was time to discover more of Salzburg, the fourth largest city in Austria, and on the northern boundary of the Alps. And it was a great day for our exploration! Salzburg is a city of many churches, palaces, and gardens, surrounded by alpine scenery to its south and more gentle rolling terrain on the north.

We followed the walking street, crossed a busy road, and over the Salzach River via the Staats-brucke, pausing a few times to take in the scenery. With the picture-perfect day, Salzburg looked beautiful in all directions. We felt very fortunate to have this great day. Salzburg was one of those places we really wanted to re-visit, as we had had pouring rain on a former trip.

On the other side of the bridge was the “Altstadt” or Old Town, renowned for its baroque architecture. Within a couple of minutes, we were on one of the oldest and most important shopping streets, Getreidegasse, where Mozart’s birth house is located. The buildings, partly from the period of the 13th-16th centuries, have charming interior courtyards and passageways decorated with columns. We did some window shopping in the multitude of places selling jewelry, antiques, fine art, the latest fashions, leather goods. . .just about anything one might want. The elegant and intricate guild signs are still there on the restaurants and shops.

With an eye for a cappuccino stop, we spotted an open “plaza”. And even in Old Town Salzburg. . .a Starbucks! The entrance to the platz was extremely crowded. While sitting at an outside table with the trademark green umbrellas, we realized that the crowds were all gathered in front of Mozart’s birthplace house, now a museum. Our seat was facing the museum. By the time we finished our cappuccinos, the tour groups had thinned out, so we decided to pay the combined entrance fee to the museum here and the more complete museum located in the home where the Mozart later moved. We would visit the second museum as part of our day tomorrow.

We enjoyed the Mozart Museum, learning about his childhood, and the strong influence of his father, Leopold, a well-respected musician in Europe. The Mozart family was considered well-to-do. There was a display of pictures and documents of the family, and personal letters they had exchanged, showing their affection for one another. We especially enjoyed seeing the pint-size instruments which Mozart used as a very young child.

Mozart was born in 1756 and lived only until the age of 35. But in that short life time, he is remembered as one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. At a very young age, he became competent on the keyboard and violin. He composed works from the age of five; was sought after throughout Europe to perform for kings and queens. At seventeen, he was appointed court musician in Salzburg. It’s difficult to realize that in Mozart’s short life, he composed over 600 works: symphonic, chamber, operatic and choral.

Following our museum visit, we walked over to the Dom/Cathedral. The spires of this cathedral dominate the city’s landscape. The original cathedral dates back to 767! However, through destruction by wars and fires, it has been rebuilt and reconstructed a number of times. Over time, it has evolved from a Romanesque to a Baroque structure. Apparently, Mozart composed many sacred works in this cathedral. We spent some time taking in the beauty of the inside, impressive with its cool white. The cathedral holds over 10,000 people, giving some indication of its size. After our visit, we were told that the baptismal font was the location of Mozart’s baptism.

Salzburg is known to be a city of churches. As we continued our walk through the Old Town, we passed a few others, making only brief stops in each. It was August, and the Music Festival of Salzburg was in full force. As we crossed through a large open platz, we saw the Small and Large Festival Halls, and the horse drawn carriages awaiting customers. It was too early for the evening performances.

We continued onward toward St.Peter’s Church, notable for its three aisles and sixteen graduated altars which lead to the main altar.

St.Peter’s Cemetery is recognized as one of the oldest cemeteries in the world. It is well-known for the important people that are buried there, among them the composer Haydn, Mozart’s sister Nannerl, and famous artists, scholars, and merchants. When we reached the cemetery, we had been walking for quite a while, so we spent only a short amount of time there.

We were tempted to give up our search for STIEGL KELLER, and try our luck at getting seated at St. Peter’s Stiftskeller, a restaurant supposedly dating back to 807. But that would entail a walk down the hill and no assurance of a seat. We had walked through the platz by St. Peter’s Stiftskeller before visiting St. Peter’s Church and Cemetery, and had observed quite a crowd gathered outside. We, especially MK, were getting weary after walking for so long, including uphill on cobblestones. Only a short way now to Stiegl Keller!

The STIEGL KELLER was up one more cobblestone hill, built into the mountain at the base of the funicular to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We continued our trek, and finding the entrance, were surprised to encounter quite a few more steps up to the restaurant. We were getting our day’s workout! But, as advertised, when reaching the top floor, we were treated to a spectacular view over the domes and spires of Salzburg.

Since the weather was so delightful, there were quite a few people enjoying the outdoor beer garden. The tables with the best views were occupied, so we moved inside where we found a perfect window seat overlooking the city. At this point, the complementary Steigl beer was extra refreshing, even if the food was only mediocre. The surroundings made up for it. What a spectacular spot!

We enjoyed a discussion with the 20-year-old waiter who described how all young Austrian men are required to serve six months of military duty. Service with hospital duty or another charity would require nine months. After that, they could pursue college which was less expensive with their social form of government (about 600 EUR per semester). So he will go to Vienna to study economics in college next year.

Leaving the Stiegl Keller, the downhill walk on cobblestones was much easier. And we now knew, for tomorrow evening’s dinner and concert, the location of the funicular to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. A happy find on the way down the hill was the little shop of artist Yong Chen. We immediately liked his beautiful watercolors of Salzburg, so we purchased one on the spot, after assuring ourselves that it would fit in our luggage. Later, we were happy that we had bought the painting, as the following evening the shop was closed.

Now off for our last venture...a free filming of an opera shown on a large screen each evening at 8PM in the Kapital Platz behind the Dom/Cathedral, sponsored by Siemens Corp. We’re ordinarily not big opera fans, but this outdoor viewing seemed like something interesting to do for the evening. Unfortunately, this particular evening it featured “Electra”, not especially appealing to us.

We hesitatingly approached a classy-looking white tent, set with white cloths, red napkins, and candles on the tables. The tent was positioned behind the many rows of outdoor chairs. Perhaps because there were so many empty seats in the place, we were welcomed to have desserts and cappuccinos.

Since we had decided against staying for the opera showing, we adroitly walked around the side of the outdoor seating, and out of view of the opera watchers. We were able to observe the fountain and sculpture in the platz. At this point, we were looking for a taxi, but none seemed to be around.

It was dark, the streets were mostly deserted, and our street map was difficult to read. We needed to find our bridge, the Staats-brucke, over the River Salzach, to our walking street, Linzer Gasse. We had covered quite a bit of territory today, and the walk back to Hotel Mozart seemed extremely long. Luckily, we found the right bridge! Back by 9:30 or so. An attendant at the reception was there to welcome us.

We really like our beautifully-appointed corner room at the Hotel Mozart, a great place to get refreshed for tomorrow. We can hardly believe that this was our first day in Salzburg; we experienced so much. And the weather was perfect! We feel very contented.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014 ANOTHER SALZBURG DAY

Up around 7:30; nice breakfast; attractive table settings and buffet arrangement. European cold cut meal, but included were brie and prosciutto. Fresh coffee cake was an added dimension. Great coffee!

Today we’re off to Mirabell Gardens(used in filming “Sound of Music”)and the 2nd Mozart Museum. It had rained overnight, so we wore our raincoats and brought an umbrella for good luck.

We had made an online booking of a dinner and concert at the Hohensalzburg Fortress before we left home. That would be the highlight of our day. The hotel desk attendant advised us that taxis might be hard to come by in the evening because of the Music Festival goers. So, before leaving for the day’s activities, we arranged for a taxi to the funicular for 5:15PM, so that we would arrive early enough to take in the views from the fortress, and be ready for the 6:30 meal, and the 8:30 concert.

Mirabell Gardens, an easy walk from our hotel, had seemingly thousands of colorful flowers; predominantly pink begonias and yellow marigolds. Additionally, there were sculptures and fountains throughout. The Gardens were artistically-designed and well-groomed. The Mirabell Palace looked beautiful, with the stunning gardens as a foreground. It was easy to see how this would have been a perfect setting for a scene in "The Sound of Music".

As we leisurely made our way through Mirabell Gardens, a background of harp music filled the air. The musician was Matthias Irschik, a Czech, who told us that he has studied the Celtic harp in different European locations, including Edinburgh, Scotland. After hearing the soft beautiful music he played, we bought his CD for 10 EUR.

On our way to the Mozart Museum, we stopped for cappuccinos and a bakery goodie, as we are wont to do. We spoke with an friendly British couple who were traveling with a group. We discussed their travels with a tour vs.our independent travel. They said they wished that they were on their own. It was an enjoyable encounter.

The Mozart Museum, on the site of the Mozart’s second home, was very interesting. With an audio guide, we learned many more details about this genius and his family. While proceeding through the rooms, Mozart’s music was played as descriptions were given regarding the background. Again, the influence of Léopold, Amadeus’ father, was emphasized.

Museum activity gets tiring, as the standing gets long, and the strain to understand and comprehend so much info is fatiguing. It was 2:15 or so, and time to eat lunch, before heading back to Hotel Mozart. Next door to the museum was the CLASSIC CAFÉ where MK had a salad with chicken and TK had goulash and a dumpling; again, we shared them. Good old Stiegl beer for TK and rotwein for MK (28 EUR).

After that satisfying lunch, as we returned to the hotel by way of Mirabell Gardens, we encountered a couple of musicians. But we didn't have time to stop and listen as we now needed to get back to the hotel to dress for the dinner and concert this evening. Also, we would try to organize a few things for our travel to Hallstatt tomorrow.

The taxi was ready just before the requested 5:15 time…about 9 EUR to and 10 EUR back from the funicular to the Festung Hohensalzburg.

Before our trip, we had purchased the tickets for the evening through Classictic.com. The total price of 144 EUR for two included the funicular ride roundtrip, the candlelight dinner, the concert, a glass of champagne at the beginning of the meal, plus wine at the concert intermission. We knew that the Salzburg Music Festival was on, and wanted to have tickets to a musical event assured.

The Festung Hohensalzburg, location for the dinner and concert, dates from 1077. It is the biggest fortification in Europe and thought by many to be the most beautiful. Over the many years, it is substantially unaltered. The interior is richly decorated with intricate carvings and ornamental paintings in the Golden Hall. The Prince’s Chamber contains the most splendid rooms.

We were very fortunate in that the sky had cleared and the late day sun cast a soft light on the surrounding mountains, as well on the city. The whole scene was gorgeous. We spent time enjoying the view from several locations.

Near 6:30, we were invited into the PANORAMA RESTAURANT and shown to our candlelit table, which appeared to be the best in the house, with a mountain view in the distance and overlooking parts of the city below us. Once seated, and enjoying our wine, we were quite content to take in the view, which was so outstanding.

However, soon it was time for the meal to be served-a beautiful presentation of three courses consisting of a creamy knoblauch soup, two veal chops perfectly prepared, veggies just right, and four small potatoes fried to perfection, The dessert was large and tasty; cheesecake with vanilla sauce, chocolate torte, and ice cream covered with berries. We did pay an extra 20 EUR for beer and wine at the meal, but it was well worth it.

Now on to the concert hall, which would provide our workout for the day! Quite a climb-140 steps to the top floor venue where we had seats in the 2nd row. As we approached one set of steps, then another, and another, and another, many people were making remarks like: “Where is the top?“

The four-piece ensemble, plus a pianist soloist, were excellent! The concert lasted almost two hours, with a fifteen minute break, just long enough to have our complementary glass of wine.

As we left the concert hall, there was a light drizzle. The bottom sets of steps, which were outside, made the walk down a bit difficult. The cobblestone hill was slippery. Our attempt to call a cab proved unsuccessful because we didn’t have the phone-dialing in Salzburg fine-tuned. After negotiating the cobblestone hill, past the area of the outdoor screen showing another opera, we thankfully saw taxis.

On the drive back to the hotel, the taxi driver gave us a lesson in phone usage; he explained that two zeros replace a “+” sign (use either 00 or +)something peculiar about the Salzburg code. We made a test call to his mobile phone.

Interesting that when the driver asked us where we were from in the US, and we responded “Ohio”, he said that he knew of it; that he had once been in love with a girl from Ohio who was studying in Salzburg. The taxi ride back to the hotel was a welcome ending to a delightful evening.

Back by 10:45. Great day! We judged that the meal tonight would be the best of our trip; that is, until we would meet Maitaitom and Tracy in Paris!

Need to pack for Hallstatt tomorrow, via lakes in the Salzkammergut. Meantime, we look forward to another restful night in our comfortable room, with the satisfying feeling of having had a wonderful time in Salzburg.
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 09:37 PM
  #15  
 
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Salzburg sounds wonderful. I would say I am disappointed that you frequented a Starbucks in Salzburg, but you well that Chaz woulda been right there with you (so who am I kidding)?

Nice teaser for your "date" with MTTom and Tracy!
denisea is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 07:07 AM
  #16  
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We think that you and Chaz would like Salzburg! One thing we neglected to check out, though, was the Starbucks near our Hotel Mozart! There must be one on Linzer Gasse!!!
We left Salzburg with similar feelings to our Paris departures; there is so much more to experience. Of course, Salzburg is small when compared to Paris. But it is, nonetheless, a beautiful city. Paris still remains our fave!
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 09:02 PM
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ANOTHER DAY OF ADVENTURE:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 SALZKAMMERGUT/HALLSTATT

Same routine: 6:45 AM up; final packing for Hallstatt which means limited amounts of everything to fit into a roll-aboard for a one-night stay. After a final breakfast at Hotel Mozart, check-outEUR 330)

We really liked Hotel Mozart: the location right near the walking street to the old city, and in another direction to Mirabell Gardens and the Mozart Museum, our corner large room with its attractive furnishings and décor, and the owners, Arthur and Bettina, who were very hospitable. We appreciated their gift of a Mozart CD. The favorable weather enabled us to explore the beautiful city, and as we left, we felt that there is a lot more to see on a future visit.

The morning was rainy. Weather sometimes dictates our travel and activity decisions. With the rainy day, we adjusted our plans and chose to have a brief exploration of the lake towns in the Salzkammergut, en route to Hallstatt. We were hoping for a clearing, and if so, would head more immediately to Hallstatt.

Upon leaving Hotel Mozart, we found A-1 to Mondsee, thanks to Gilda. After driving just shy of thirty minutes, we spotted a “Tourist Information” near the edge of town. Sarah, the girl at the desk, was helpful with her maps and information about the Salzkammergut.

Sarah discussed the Austrians’ seeming lack of interest in the movie “Sound of Music”, the prevalence of the Catholic religion, and the conservative values which prevailed in the country. She expressed that many people in Austria view “The Sound of Music” as a nice film, but that since it’s not on TV, there is not enough interest to search for it. She believes that the settings being different than the actual locations , contributed to the lack of interest. Also, some Austrians feel that there were many heroes who left Austria rather than succumb to Hitler; Trapp was only one.

As we drove into Mondsee, the rain intensified. In addition, it was windy! As we walked up to the town, we paused under a café’s covered porch to get out of the driving, blowing rain. At this point, we really appreciated the hoods on our rainjackets! Once into the city center, we stopped in a little café for our mid-morning croissant and cappuccinos.

From the café, it’s only a short walk to St. Michael’s Church, used for the filming of the wedding scene in “The Sound of Music". With its heavy Baroque style, the one very impressive feature is the high staircase which leads to the altar. We’ve never known a church to have such a high stairs!

Following our visit to the “kirche” as the locals refer to it, we walked a bit in the town. The buildings were very colorfully painted, with many flower boxes displayed. The rain had lessened to a drizzle. But with the heavy overcast, there was no motivation to visit the lake, so we continue our trek to St. Gilgen, the home of Mozart’s mother.

Again, the rain picked up. It was after 2 PM, and there were few choices for lunch in the town center of St. Gilgen. We chose NANNERL’S CAFÉ (named for Mozart’s talented sister), not realizing that there was a very limited menu with only one waiter. Our lunch was two foot-long wieners which were attached to one another and measured about 12-15” and about 1/2” in diameter. TK mistakenly took a mouthful of horse radish and needed to clear his palate with beer! We’d read that St. Gilgen is popular as a resort area, but with the rainy, chilly weather, its appeal could only be imagined.

Had the day been sunny, we would have gone more immediately to Hallstatt. But with the continuing rain, we took our time. Since we hadn’t planned for a stop in Bad Ischl, we weren’t aware that it is the town where Franz Josef I and his wife Elizabeth, nicknamed Sissi, had a villa and where they spent sixty summers. The Kaiser Villa is a popular place to visit. Of real historical significance was the signing of the edict of the declaration of World War I in 1914.

Bad Ischl is a very picturesque town set in a mountain valley with a river running through it. In addition to the Kaiser Villa, it has a popular museum, and is known as a spa resort. We walked along the river promenade, stopped at an apothecary, a shop where MK picked up another scarf, and then a bakerei for a chocolate croissant and a small coffee.
Although there were things to be explored in Bad Ischl, the rain had stopped, so we were now eager to move on to our destination for the day; namely, the village of Hallstatt.

This whole area of the Salzkammergut has rich salt resources which has given it historical importance and shaped its economy. In fact, salt is called “white gold” by some. Several towns have tours of their salt mines as tourist attractions. Hallstatt is known to have the oldest salt mine.

The clearing weather made the drive from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt very beautiful. As we approached Hallstatt, with its long tunnel through the mountain, we knew to look for Parking Lot #1. From there, we would be driven with their shuttle to our hotel, as no visitor cars are permitted in the 7000-year-old village.

Immediately after entering the parking lot, as described, a shuttle was immediately there to meet us. We grabbed our little roll-aboard and a backpack and were off to the SEEHOTEL GRUNER BAUM. It is late afternoon, and Johann, at the reception, efficiently checked us into room 210 which faces the main square and has a balcony. Great room! Classy décor and amenities, including luxury bedding!

We still had some hours of daylight to enjoy the village. The day-trippers were gone, so the town was very quiet. We walked along the water and checked out the views. Stunning! Hallstatt’s crystal clear lake is surrounded by the Alps.

We strolled down the narrow main street, and a couple little side alleys, doing a bit of window shopping, before finding the BRAUGASTHOF RESTAURANT, a recommendation of Johann. There we discovered a warm, inviting atmosphere with a comfortable amount of diners. Again, we must pay cash for our tasty split meal of pork, spaetzle (Austrian noodles), and veggies along with a small salad, plus beer & wine. (36 EUR)

Arriving back at the hotel following a leisurely walk through the quiet streets, we were welcomed by the strains of the Austrian jazz artist Harri Stojka. Apparently, he is a big name at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He was performing in the lounge, and we enjoyed several numbers before heading up to our comfortable room. We were glad that we would have a good part of the day tomorrow to enjoy more of Hallstatt.
tomarkot is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 06:38 AM
  #18  
 
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Starbucks is everywhere. It's the McDonald's of coffee.
kenav is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 11:53 AM
  #19  
 
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Great stuff. I went to Hallstatt only because I once saw it on a calendar page (pre Google). It did not disappoint. Do they still have the skulls? Have a great Thanksgiving, and the 2016 parade awaits.

maitaitom is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 06:56 PM
  #20  
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More of Hallstatt to continue. Yes, the skulls are still there!

We wish you guys a "Happy Thanksgiving"! And we're hoping to work that 2016 parade into our holiday schedule!
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