…and, I’m back. Actually, I’ve been back for nearly a month, but I’ve been basking in the post-vacation glow. That feeling of relaxation and peace that only two weeks in Europe can bring. Don’t know the feeling? I highly suggest using this itinerary for a trip of a lifetime.
Rather than mashing two weeks, 2,000+ miles, 6 countries, a thousand photos into one post–I will be breaking it down by location.
First up: Austria!
Cities visited: Vienna, Hallstatt & Salzburg
Weather: Cool temps (50-60 degrees) & rain
Since I arrived in Vienna around 1pm on Sunday, June 10th–I was a bit tired from the 15+ hours of travel. We picked up our rental car, turned on the BEST GPS SYSTEM EVER (thanks to our uncle who let us borrow his), and I successfully navigated the crazy fast driving of Austria to downtown Vienna. A quick rest at the hotel, and then we were off to explore the Botanical Gardens of the University of Vienna and the Belvedere. I’m grateful Erica had spent some time in Vienna before I arrived, so she could navigate the metro quite easily. We hopped on and made our way to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which is simply stunning. The photos speak for themselves. Walking/running back to our hotel in the rain…we settled in & enjoyed the comfiest bed of our entire trip.
Monday, June 11th- Still raining, we began our drive to Hallstatt, Austria. In Hallstatt we enjoyed taking the funicular up the mountain to the salt mines (didn’t tour–just there for the views) and enjoyed lunch at Balthazaar. My first taste of kasespaetzle and radler…and I was hooked.
From Hallstatt we headed towards Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, which is right across the border in Germany. Thank goodness for our GPS, which navigated us on single lane switchback backroads with 60 mph speed limits. And 60 mph is being conservative. Everyone goes MUCH faster than the posted speed limit. The views were incredible, and the rain let up, clouds lifted and we were gifted with blue skies. One of the funniest moments of the entire trip happened during this drive…
Once up to the Eagle’s Nest, we enjoyed more breathtaking views of the Alps.
From here, we made our way to Hotel Sallerhof, which was a recommendation of our uncle who has travelled here often. And what a great recommendation it was! On the outskirts of Salzburg, about 25 min by bus, 5 min by car–we enjoyed the quaint, more residential feel to this hotel. We walked to Gasthof Racklwirt, a farm to table restaurant, and I had my first shnitzel. YUM!
Tuesday, June 12th — An early morning in Salzburg packed full of sights! We started out with the Sound of Music Tour, which was definitely worth the walking tour/bus tour/trip out to the Lake District and the ‘surprise’ trip to go tobogganing down a hillside.
After our Sound of Music tour, we did some shopping around Salzburg. Bought a watercolor painting, jewelry, Christmas eggs…and surprisingly, the eggs were the most expensive purchase!
The weather was holding out for most of the day, but as we began our walk to the Stiegl brewery, the downpour came. All we could do was run and laugh at how absolutely soaked we were. The brewery tour was worth it, for the simple fact that you get free samples at the end and a free gift.
We had to hurry back to the hotel to get ready for a surprise…I purchased tickets to Mozart’s Dinner, as I knew my sister Erica would LOVE to see this performance. And not-so-secretly, I loved it too! Another memorable event of the trip was making our way to the dinner at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Our GPS decided to navigate us right up to the abbey, instead of the parking area. So…here we are…in pouring rain, in dresses, in a one lane alley, at a locked gate…and might I add, on cobblestone roads with a 12% grade. Yeah…and driving manual. Needless to say, it was tense and stressful, and I somehow navigated us backwards DOWN the hill and only knocked over two garbage cans in the process. (For some reference of how narrow the road/alley was…you would not be able to open the car door in this alley. The mirrors would hit the side wall. That tight. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic.) Eventually, we made it all the way down…and found the parking lot (in the underground tunnel). We made it to the dinner with time to spare, and enjoyed chatting with the Swiss and Michigan families are our table. The music, atmosphere (candlelit dinner) and oldest restaurant in Austria made it so worth it.
Next up…the day we drove through 5 countries in one day