Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Austrian Walk About Part VII

My Austrian walk about has come to an end but not without some fond memories not mentioned in previous parts. The first being that I survived the walk about only because I slowed down considerably the last couple of days, didn't participate in any bicycle riding and took a nap in the afternoon.

I'm not sure how I didn't end up in the hospital at some point because of some accident with bicyclists, cars or buses. I had the feeling that pedestrians were at the bottom of the food chain in Salzburg. There were strict rules about where people could walk and God forbid they didn't abide. Wherever you went the sidewalks were divided into two lanes: one for cyclists and of course the other for pedestrians. You couldn't miss which lane you were required to be in as they were painted with icons every twenty-five feet. Now if you should be walking and accidentally stray into a cyclist's lane, one of two things might happen. The cyclist might ring their little tricycle bell and yell (of course I wouldn't understand what they were saying but could imagine) or the cyclist could leave their tire marks as tattoos on your body. I survived the cyclists' attacks.

Then there were near misses with the automobiles and buses at lighted intersections. I quickly learned that intersections also had very strict rules. As here in the States there are marked crosswalks in which cars are required to stop, however it doesn't seem to apply to cyclists. They'll still run you over. At any rate pedestrians must wait for the appropriate light prior to crossing. In case you have visual problems the green icon light has a bell similar to the start of a horse race. The first time I heard it, I truly felt like we were off on a race.

While waiting to cross it should be noted that you don't want to stand too close to the corners as buses try to cut the corners as close as they can. That means you could lose some toes or even a foot. Worse yet you may end up with bus tire track tattoos. The picture below was taken at a very safe distance from the advancing bus. I should mention that they were double buses.

Once you managed to make it to the city we seemed to always use the pedestrian only street. It was loaded with tiny shops perfect as tourists' traps.

On one of the last days of our walk about we were somewhere near this area when we came across an eatery serving sea food. What do you think about these window dressings? Make you want to go in?

Or how about this takeout?

I noticed my Blog on the 4th of July didn't mention that Heiko and Lalith helped us to celebrate just a little. No there weren't any fireworks but the hotel was preparing a barbecue. As we left for our trek to the hospital we noticed Lalith using a hair dryer to flame the coals in a large grill. With that I began joking with them saying we were very honored that they would throw a barbecue for us. At this point we were quickly informed that it wasn't for us but for a group of women journalists and TV news personalities. However Heiko quickly retrieved a small American flag and put it up.

As you've seen from previous pictures the garden area is a very nice place to dine. During the winter however not so nice. There is a very nice dining area inside along with two larger rooms to accommodate party groups. I found the smaller dining area for guests to be very nice.

Directly across from this area was the lounge section where I truly enjoyed spending my time.

Well, my niece, nephew and I packed up and proceeded to check out. The register desk is located on the second floor. It was right down the hallway from my room.

I think the most intriguing thing about the hotel were the number of rooms and their various locations. Even though we were there for such a long period, I still didn't see all the rooms.

We caught a taxi and headed off for the return trip to Munich. It was a beautiful ride. I still can't get over all the open farm land and forests with various villages strewn throughout. The train actually stops at the airport like many of the cities here in the U.S. From the train station in Munich we traveled by taxi once more to the Holiday Inn Express hotel located within ten minutes of the airport. That ride was the ONLY time I got ripped off while in Europe.

I was informed while in Austria transactions were completed based on honesty. Furthermore tips were not excessive and should be about 10% but no more. I couldn't help it, I left American tips. Anyhow the German taxi driver didn't give me the correct change and I was in such a hurry that I even gave him a tip - not even 10%. I was happy about that after I realized I had been cheated.

Initially my niece had strongly suggested that we eat at the airport as she indicated that the hotel was out in the middle of nowhere. I nixed the idea in hopes of exploration by the hotel for a local eatery. She was kind and respectful to her elder and agreed. My nephew was neutral. You need this background information because as we checked into our rooms I quickly glanced around for at least a dining room. My niece was correct it appeared as though we were out in the middle of nowhere and the dining area was not really inviting.

While my niece was in the middle of taking care of the transaction I inquired about the hotel's dining room. With that the receptionist suggested that we take a walk down closer to town as there were two eating spots that she felt we would enjoy. I gave a sigh of relief because I was really feeling bad about not taking my niece's suggestion of eating at the airport.

So after dropping our gear off in the room we set out for food. We weren't really interested in an Italian restaurant the receptionist suggested. Rather we were in search of the Bavarian restaurant she suggested. As we walked along we passed two Bavarian restaurants that didn't impress us at all. Then we came to the Italian restaurant.

We voted no and kept on walking. After all we were still on a walk about.

Suddenly we knew we had found the restaurant.

It was so welcoming. We took a seat at a table and awaited the waitress to take our drink order and provide us with a menu. Ok, so at times your mind is running normal and other times you think "What was I thinking?". This was one of those times. The menu was of course all in German. Fortunately the waitress spoke very good English and translated.

We ordered up beers.

There is nothing like real German beer.

We ordered our dinners and waited sipping our beers and chit chatting about our adventures; the prospects of my brother returning home in a shorter period of time than 3-4 weeks; and how to keep my anxiety level down while traveling. I am really a bad traveler.

The restaurant was filling up so our dinners took some time. Meanwhile at the table next to us a foursome of Americans sat down. The waitress had handed them the menus. It was obvious that we too were from the States so they inquired whether there were any English menus. I assured them that the waitress spoke very good English and would help them select. The group sounded as though they had a very nice vacation coming up. They were to meet up with a larger group and take a cruise on the Danube River with several port of calls.

Mine came first and as always I awaited the arrival of the others before indulging.

Not bad. It's Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes. The entry came with a very nice salad.

My niece order a pork with mushrooms served in a sauce while my nephew ordered pork with bacon and cheese atop also served in a sauce. The bacon actually looked like a very thinly sliced piece of ham.

The dinner sat in front of me for quite some time. We believe my nephew's dinner arrived approximately 8 minutes later. Now I've already been sitting quite some time awaiting the waitress for our orders and now this additional time. Yep, you got it. Another beer please!

My mouth was watering and I actually think I may have been drooling. I noticed my nephew suffering the same symptoms as we waited patiently for my niece's dinner to come. We guessed that was about another 8 minutes. Upon it's arrival we dug in.

My niece made a quick kill of her warm dinner while my nephew and I thoroughly enjoyed ours. We sat for a bit more taking pictures.

We paid our bill said good-bye to our restaurant and headed back to the hotel.

So if you are ever staying near the Munich airport and want a good place to catch a meal - here's the place.

On our way we passed this gigantic weather vane. My picture doesn't do it justice.

We had a good night at the hotel

It was very clean. Our room was small but nice. When we entered I attempted to put on some lights only to find that the electricity didn't work. After several attempts my nephew remembered something he had seen elsewhere. Here you have to insert your room key in a slot to run the electricity. Guess that helps keep the cost down - how about that America?

The only problem with that cost saving idea is that even the air conditioning runs with the card. So the next morning when I was making my early morning run for coffee, I had to take the card leaving my niece and nephew to suffer the warming effect without air conditioning. With the guilt of their probable suffering, I quickly drank two cups and took the third one back to the room.

I like problem solving. The problem? Both of my hands were full so while I held the coffee in one hand and used the second to unlock the door, I found that the door automatically closed. Somehow I couldn't unlock and get into a position to get in the room. Ah, nothing like sneakers. I simply slid one sneaker off my foot. Did I say simply? Of course it wasn't simple. It took so much force that I spilled at least two sips of coffee. I finally managed to get inside, re-insert the card and not wake the kids up.

The hotel arranged for a shuttle to take us back to the airport where we once again were subjected to the indignity of going through security. Little did I know at the time that things were going to become a bit more involved.

Prior to security we had to exit with our passports. The problem we encountered here was that when we entered Europe my nephew's passport was never stamped. Now that he wanted to exit there was a problem. We were able to quickly resolve it and he passed through but it still wasn't stamped. Keep this in mind for when we enter the States.

We approached the US Airways area where our boarding passes were once again examined and told to proceed to another area. In this area representatives of the airline reviewed our passports and questioned our business while in the countries. We managed to get my nephew through again and stickers were placed on the backs of our passports. I'm not done yet.

As we continued to our next designated area we noticed that food kiosks were becoming fewer and fewer but, hey, there's always more down the terminals. Not!

We reached what we thought was the final security check. This security was the typical one found at most airports. I have to say it was one of the easier security checks. We didn't have to take our shoes off or suffer from a pat down. Upon passing through we saw yet another check in area but it appeared as though once you were in there, you couldn't get out. Also there was a real nice food stand right at the entrance.

My nephew and I bought one final beer and my niece being good got a soda. They also had these great pretzels. So we were loaded up and ready to go into the final area to board our plane. Not to be.

Turns out you can't take beer past that point. Ok, so we sat down and enjoyed our snacks. While indulging and being on the verge of finishing a large crowd of people began exiting the area in which we were to go. My nephew looked up at the board and here they had switched gates. The new one being a hop, skip and jump to our right. The crowd grew and grew, not really going anywhere. We looked over and what should we see but yet another security check.

I was exhausted before we began. Once again our boarding passes and passports were examined. We were placed in a large seating area and basically not allowed to leave. Although when nature called they let me out. Rumor had it that they were in a high security level. We think the plane was just late.

We sat and the boarding time passed. Then the scheduled time to leave passed. Everyone was quickly becoming annoyed by the delays and lack of information. After about an hour and a half we were informed that we were to be bussed out to the plane. Yeah, just what a lousy traveler like me wants to hear.

At long last we were herded into the buses and transported to the plane. When I say the plane was not handicapped accessible, take me seriously. We literally climbed steps to enter the big, big plane. In comparison to the plane we flew over to Europe this one was awful. We had no leg room or elbow room; the video didn't work ( I slept most of the time anyway); and the flight was a bit over 8 hours (of course that had nothing to do with the plane).

When I finally lost complete feeling in my legs and butt, I knew we had to be close to home. We were. We landed, passed through customs with that slight problem of my nephew's unstamped passport and headed home. I had gone through customs first explaining why we had left and returned and how my nephew's passport was never stamped. The custom's officer was very nice sharing concern and well wishes for a speedy recovery for their father to both my niece and nephew.

Hubby was standing right outside customs and happy to see us back.

Although the reason for the trip was extremely stressful, I have very good memories of the medical professionals that saved my brother's life; the hotel in which we stayed; and of course my walk about - No Kangaroos!

An Austrian Walk About Part I
An Austrian Walk About Part II
An Austrian Walk About Part III
An Austrian Walk About Part IV
An Austrian Walk About Part V
An Austrian Walk About Part VI

Have a Firecrackin Great Day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Austrian Walk About Part VI

I hate it when I wake up like someone threw cold water on me but that's exactly what happened this morning. Since my bed is facing the window my first recollection was that it was light out and I had had a good night's sleep. Then I started wondering if I had gone totally deaf as there wasn't a sound from anywhere. The birds weren't chirping, there was no noise from within my room and there was nothing coming from outside my door. So I got up and ran the tap water.

It was so nice to hear the water running but where were the birds chirping? On top of that initial shock I noticed it was 5:40 am. As of right now I've had my coffee and a banana. The birds have returned to chirping outside my window and it appears that the day will have more sun than clouds. Things are definitely looking up in all directions.

Yesterday my brother was moved from the more intensive care floor to a regular ward. We can now visit more than a total of four hours a day. That's good from the point that hiking all over Salzburg takes a toll on the old fat body. Yesterday we cooled it and took a taxi to the mall. I needed to get a back pack. I think the price of the bag took more of a toll on me than the walking.

In addition my fabulous hubby and one of my daughters took my mother to the orthopedic doctor to have her hand and wrist evaluated for possible surgery. The good news is that the breaks don't require surgery. The continued bad news is that my mother is driving everyone nuts. They are counting the days until my return. Speaking of which, we shall be exiting Salzburg on Friday to spend the night in Munich. Our flight is very early Saturday morning and I being a very bad traveler do not want excess anxiety by leaving Salzburg at a ridiculous early hour to catch a plane in Munich.

I can't express how grateful I am to my daughters, son and especially my husband for banding together and taking such good care of my mother while I am over here. You know I must have really married a great guy when you consider the fact that he has tolerated me for over thirty-nine years and is taking care of his ninety-one year old mother-in-law who suffers from dementia and a broken hand. I love you dear!

All and all everything is coming together including my successful descent from the fortress via hiking down the mountain. I believe I have enough photographs to make a very nice DVD for my brother upon his return to the States early next week. Everyone should learn from his experience to one: take out traveler's insurance and second: be sure you are in shape prior to riding a bicycle 18 plus miles and walking excessively in mountainous terrain. Don't start your exercise program while you are supposed to be vacationing.

I should take my own advice but technically I wasn't on vacation and I had started a walking program at home. However the walking at home was nothing like the walking required here in Salzburg which you have seen in prior Blogs and will again see as we descended the mountain.

I followed behind once more as my nieces, nephew and sister-in-law led the way. After all they knew the path and all I had to do was keep them in view.

Oh, yeah! Downhill! Looks easy doesn't it? Well, it wasn't because it required use of some muscles that were relaxing while going uphill but were now called upon to do their thing. This is a picture halfway down. Here's the picture from looking up the incline.

This would have been perfect to slide down.

We officially exited the fortress and now came face to face with the mountain. We weren't the only ones taking the path. There were school age kids having a ton of fun sliding down the loosened dirt and others who were definitely in better shape then me moving up and down the path. I guess the proprietors knew that some of us old folks needed more than just a railing to move down the various inclines.

Wake up leg muscles!

I'm glad my pictures are in order otherwise the next one looks like it should be before all these. However, it doesn't

I'll bet you are thinking that wasn't so bad and that we are down on the streets again - NOT!

But we had made some progress. We continued on the above passage way until at last we reached the midway point.

Ah, a nice short break. Did I mention that the weather was nice and luckily the temperature was reasonable.

We were still making progress but the path didn't get any easier. It just went on and on and on and on... Eventually the path led into this walkway with a railing. It was a bit easier to walk along here and the view was absolutely magnificent.

Along the way there were scenic areas. This photo of my nieces gives you an idea of how far up we still were.

My nephew and sister-in-law had moved on.

We hiked along some more and eventually came to the hostel which my nephew and niece had selected the previous day for us to have lunch. Now this is how bad I really am. Even when we stopped here to eat I did not realize or recognize the building. Here's a clue.

Yep, that building way up there that I thought might be some rich person's home with a very nice view. It did have a very nice view and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. My beer was very welcomed as well.

It felt very nice to be eye level with the top of the structures, which were mostly churches at this point. It was evident that we had traveled a very long way and we still had a ways to go.

After a leisurely lunch we were up and moving once more. The hour was quickly approaching in which we could visit my brother at the hospital. He was thoroughly enjoying our stories of each adventure taken.

I don't know if I want to say the path got any easier but the view continued to be awesome.

Eventually we were ground level and walking became easier along the river. I'm not saying that my feet didn't hurt and I that my legs weren't aching.

We walked along the river until we could cut over to the hospital. Upon arriving we found my brother tired but happy to see us. We shared briefly our adventure. I told him I thought his family was trying to make me his roommate. He only smiled because it hurts him to much to laugh.

I'm glad I made the trip to be with my brother. As with many siblings we have had our ups and downs but they have never over ridden our strong bond as brother and sister. I think of him daily lying in a foreign hospital unable to understand the language or customs and medical theories. To add to his anxiety he has never had surgery or been in a hospital. Finally, as we all know men, are big babies when it comes to being ill.

I am compelled to add that the hospital has made every effort to provide my brother with English speaking nurses and doctors. The doctors have personally seen to his care, visiting and talking to him every day. The nurses have not only been outstanding waiting on my brother hand and foot but they have been very kind to the family as well. By the way they all are very pretty and my brother has been hitting on all of them in a kind manner.

By the time my nephew, niece and I leave he should be up and moving about. The hospital allows the patients to go out in the courtyard and sit. We know he is improving daily as he is anxious to go home. I don't know why because I hear the temperatures are in the nineties and there has been no rain.

Hubby just wants to know if he'll be strong enough to once more take my mother to the hair dresser's on Thursdays - :)

An Austrian Walk About Part I
An Austrian Walk About Part II
An Austrian Walk About Part III
An Austrian Walk About Part IV
An Austrian Walk About Part V

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

An Austrian Walk About Part V

Other then missing my husband, kids and mother, I miss not having my coffee first thing when I wake up. The breakfast doesn't start until 6:00 am and as those of you who know me, I like to get up early. Here however there is no air conditioning thus you sleep with your screen-less windows opened. This enhances the 4:30 am bird concert which is initiated by this one particular bird. I haven't been able to locate it's position yet, but if I do... While being away even 4:30 am is a bit early - since I can't get my coffee.

The early call yesterday by the chorus of birds gave me ample opportunity to shower and be ready for the 6:00 am opening of breakfast. I was ready! As the greatly anticipated hour approached I thought I'd be nice and give them an additional agonizing fifteen minutes. However when that minute hand hit the three, I was out the door. Although I wanted to run, I managed to control myself and quietly pass through the halls and closed off sections. I tip-toed down the steps so the rest of the patrons could continue with their sleep. I rounded the last few steps with my mouth watering because of the excitement of my first sip of coffee for the day. As I came off the last step and came face to face with the entrance, I found the bread and bagel delivery box sitting in front of a big locked wooden door. No one was there! It wasn't open yet! How could this be?

I know those of you out there who require coffee in the morning can empathize with how I felt. I slowly turned and climbed the stairs back to my room to wait once more for my morning cup of joe. Now here it is 6:15 am this day and I 'm hoping for better luck because I'm coming back to tell you about our adventures from yesterday.

I'm one happy Blogger! Coffee was ready and I have managed to secure a cup right next to me. So back to our Austrian Walk About.

The rain was gone. There were some clouds but it appeared as though the sun was going to burn them off. Therefore it was a go to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. As I mentioned in my previous Blog my niece and nephew had followed a path that pretty much took them up the mountain to the fortress. We agreed to take the car up and come down via their path.

We hiked from our hotel into town towards this steep ride. When I was a kid I could climb trees without the height having an effect on me. As I've gotten older I have found that I have great difficulty with height. Therefore my anxiety level was quickly maxing out.

Passengers stand in the car as it ascends or descends. When we boarded to go up we entered the very back car so we could watch below. Fortunately there were steps that separated landings within the car. Therefore I didn't stand I sat down on the step with a bird's eye view of what was behind us.

Midway up.

Almost there.

We're there. The doors opened onto a very steep staircase. Now I know I'm getting old but I felt like a really old lady tentatively making my way across the step to grab hold of the railing. I made it though and believe me I was glad we were walking down. That is until we started walking down but that's later.

That's the midway point from the top. I have a picture from down there too.

Once within the fortress the scenery was breath taking.

The Alps.

These images were from the first level of the fortress. We then climbed more steps to enter the fortress itself which appears to have been a miniature city within the walls.

The view from the landing.

We separated after that. I wandered around within the confines finding many areas to take pictures of the magnificent scenery.

Have to have canons if it's a fortress.

The fortress is now a tourist attraction with places to eat and of course a souvenir store. The tours are free to go up into the square tower. I thought about going but the line was long and I didn't know how long it was. Therefore I continued to explore.

I happened into this room displaying recent excavations which is actually a cemetery. At the time of the visit I noted what graves were identified but being old and not writing it down and of course not having a brochure - I don't know now who is there.

Like any well built fortress high above a city, this one had archways leading out into observation areas.

I moved on from this location to another that overlooked the market area we had visited the previous day. I believe in my Blog that I described this particular square as a game square. It was where we saw the real life chess game and the guy sitting suspended in air. Today something different. Some guy was standing on this gigantic gold ball.

I had to use my telephoto lens to get this picture from way up where we were.

Strolling to another corner I decided to take one last picture of this restaurant nestled in the corner of the fortress. It looked very nice and of course had a very nice view.

We all finally met up and it was time to descend the mountain. The kids, during their path exploration, had located a place to eat lunch. It too sat at the edge of the mountain with a beautiful view.

An Austrian Walk About Part VI - The Descent!

An Austrian Walk About Part I
An Austrian Walk About Part II
An Austrian Walk About Part III
An Austrian Walk About Part IV

For now have a Firecrackin Great Day!!