Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Austrian Walk About Part I

I had two goals this summer: lose weight and enjoy my vacation from work. Generally when I have over indulged and added lots and lots of fat to my framework, I can cut back on food and walk it off. As for vacation it couldn't come fast enough and I had many "do nothing" plans. However, what fun would life be if it just went along as we planned it? I mean an Austrian Walk About was not in my plans.

My brother and his wife had been planning for most of last year to do a European vacation. My sister-in-law invests a great deal of time researching and planning for active vacations on a shoestring. My brother, to put it as gentle as I can, is a miser. It is extremely difficult to separate him from his money. We tease him all the time. Now he'll never live down his most recent incident.

They were expecting to be gone from the middle of June to early July. My brother, prior to leaving, was really after me to make plans for some vacation. Initially we were going to go on a cruise but decided not to do it this year. He really wanted hubby and I to take a break from caring for my mother. For those who don't know, my mother has been living with us since last August. She has dementia and requires home health care providers during the day.

Anyhow, I was into my first week of summer vacation walking routinely and cutting back on calories when my miserly brother decided to have a massive heart attack just prior to paying his bill at a very nice restaurant in Salzburg. We received an e-mail from my niece, who had just arrived there to take part in their vacation, sharing this unwelcome news. I remember starting to read it and thinking "what is she saying?". Once hubby finished reading it to me, there was only one thing to do: hop on a plane and go!

Within twenty-four hours my niece, nephew and I were off on a seventeen hour trip to Austria. Hubby quickly got my computer set up for communications. My daughter hauled me off to Verizon to get a Droid with global whatever. My poor nephew had to fly from Texas to LA to get his passport then on to Philly. I think he managed to get some sleep prior to boarding a plane for Paris, Munich, and on to Salzburg via train. My poor niece spent the time before our flights updating her passport to her married name. Meanwhile on the front lines my sister-in-law and niece were trying to cope with the life and death situation at hand in a foreign country. The language barrier, customs and financial issues that presented only added to their immediate anxiety levels. On the plus side though Salzburg is probably one of the best places to handle such a situation.

Naturally as you spend idle time on the plane traveling your mind is all over the place and you're trying to find something to occupy it. My idle time was spent looking out the window of the plane.

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

Then France came into view.

After a three hour lay over, being patted down and having to check the carry-on, we were off to Munich. Once in Munich it was to be a simple train ride to Salzburg. Just to let you know traveling is not my thing. I like point to point. Obviously this wasn't going to my liking.

We found the local train at the airport and managed to make it to the central train station where upon my Bank America card didn't work to purchase the tickets. Back up credit cards are a good thing. The credit card issue in itself is an entirely different story. Maybe some day I'll feel like talking about that.

With train tickets in hand we were off to find our train. I am sure if we were on a reality show no one would have been able to control their laughter. We looked like tiny ants let loose in a bunch of sugar; scrambling around without purpose. Of course everything was in German - and silly me I thought English was the universal language. With the assistance of a security guard we were pointed in the right direction.

At least Denise was still smiling. That's our train in the background. We grabbed some drinks and finger food to sustain us. On the train though they came through with a drink cart and yes my nephew and I indulged in a beer. It truly hit the spot and relaxation was merely a sip away.

We arrived in a timely fashion and caught a cab to our hotel, Hauswartenberg. It certainly is unconventional, traditional and quaint.

The two windows with the flowers are where my sister-in-law and kids stayed. This was an outside garden dining area.

We didn't spend too much time there as we wanted to see my brother before the end of visiting hours. He looked pretty bad but was at least sitting up and talking. However, after seeing his kids he perked right up.

If nothing else he had a great view.

Yes, you are seeing correctly - cows.

We learned more of the details over a delicious dinner at the hotel. As I mentioned before my brother, his wife and daughter had completed a their dinner and were awaiting the check when the heart attack struck. If it hadn't been for a local doctor having dinner at the same restaurant at the same time and willing to step up, my brother would not be here today. In addition here in Salzburg a doctor accompanies the ambulance to a scene. It just so happened that the head of the ER was that doctor. If not for both of them I could not have written this Blog with levity. I shall go into more detail about medical practices here verses U.S.A. later.

I retired to my room after dinner. It was really cool - literally. Merely keeping the windows (no screens) opened cools the room nicely.

That is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in when traveling.

The shower presents a bit of a challenge. It's rather small and one of the doors is off it's hinges but manageable.

The hotel is really more of a bed and breakfast. The facility is over 300 years old. Each of the rooms is different. There is an option of eating within the lounge, dining area or outside in the garden area. I should clarify that breakfast is only served within the lounge.

Breakfast consists of cereal, fruits, bread, cheese, ham and of course coffee, tea and orange juice.

Day two found me off on a mission that led me into the heart of Salzburg. Where my Austrian Walk About was about to begin.

For now have a Firecrackin Good Day!

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