Our departure from Slovenia was via train – definitely one of my favorite ways to travel. You get to see so much more of a country than 30,000 feet in the air in a rocketing cylinder. For this leg, our convoy through the Alps took us to Austria. Target… Salzburg. The city is cut in half by the Salzach River, with the Old City on one side and the New City on the other (shocking revelation, I know). The orientation walk lead us through the city, including the shopping district and the main drag. And it is yet another city with a castle. In Europe. Unique. However, I do believe US cities should invest in castles! Fantastic tourist attractions.
The downside to some tours would be that they don’t spend much time in some places. We were only in Salzburg for a day before moving on to Vienna.
Vienna was not what either of us were expecting. The capital city of Austria, it is the country’s most populous city, which was very apparent the moment we arrived. After boarding the subway, the tube ferried us into the city center, which was far more New York-esk than I was imagining. High priced stores lined the street, and don’t forget the Starbuck’s on every corner. Parks were thrown in the mix, and streets were insanely busy. Many praise the metropolis, but it just felt like another US city to us.
We stayed in a hostel-type hotel outside of the city that left a lot to be desired. By far the smallest hotel room I think I have ever stayed in, the bed took up almost the entirety of the space, and was wrenched between three of the four walls. We had to step out of the way of the door in order to close it. My non-walk in closet was larger than the confined “suite”. And quieter.
We did see a musical while in Vienna. Rather than the musical provoking conversation, the building sparked much of the discussion. Not your typical theater, this one was decorated with cardboard cutouts. Unusual in and of itself, but these peculiar designs adorning the ceiling were of cherubs stabbing people, some naked some clothed. It was… bizarre. The ceiling decorations distracted us from the musical, since I cannot for the life of me, recall what the damned play was about.
Our favorite eating establishment quickly became Mariahilferbräu (do not ask me how in hell to pronounce that), and our magnificent waitress, Daniela. Daniela brought us enormous steins of beer and giant pretzels on more than one occasion… she was always friendly and the food was always good. And carb-filled.
Adina, our G Adventures guide, urged us all onto a bus bound for a detour to Germany. The trip entailed taking a bus through the mountains, enroute to the destination in Berchtesgaden, Germany. We passed Hitler’s vacation home perched atop a mountain, known as the Eagle’s Nest – which was disliked by the Nazi due to his fear of heights – before arriving at our destination. We were touring a salt mine, and the oldest active salt mine in Germany. This entailed hopping in a cart and railing through the various caves.
After the brief tour, we headed for a small town for munchies. While I do not recall what pub we popped in to, I do know it was punctuated by beer and pretzels (thankful for photos… Gasthof Goldener Bar). What tasty brews and twisted dough it was! Since we consumed delicious lagers in the country, my table mates and I debated on whether or not that counted as a country visit to Germany. What else does one do in Germany other than drink beer? Therefore, I have concluded that it counts as a country visited since we did, in fact, partake in a foamy inebriant.
Auf Weidersehen, Austria with a side of Germany! Onward to Hungary.