It's time to fly again...
I have hundreds of things running in my mind now because of various other reasons, stopping me from thinking about my trip. But everything aside, I have to enjoy the present moment which I have planned for a while now. I should focus on my vacation.. my first DIY vacation. This means a lot to me. May be when I come back, my mind becomes clear and I will be happy as ever. Took the uber to airport, checked in real quick and boarded the flight.
Reading the book "The Element" by Ken Robinson.. about finding your passion, hoping to find mine soon. As usual after 4 pages I dozed off.. the air hostess wakes me up for a midnight dinner or an early morning breakfast. I'm like the new born baby when I'm in a flight, wake up, eat, sleep and repeat. Chicken sausage and omelette in my meal.. when did I start loving the bland sausages? Liking the bland taste with some pepper salt sprinkled. A hot cup of black tea to digest the food that I'm eating at an odd time... soothing black teas! Somehow I've started to drink teas without milk or sugar once in a while. Now back to reading and sleeping for now.
5.10 am in Doha
Transit at Doha for the second time in my life and something is telling me that I'm gonna travel a lot through this way. The one thing I hate a little much is the waiting in line after the flight lands and to get out of it.. it really takes a long time.
Checked in and waiting for the boarding call. Doha airport is so sophisticated and improves the facilities every time I come here.. charging points everywhere, trains within the airport, all the luxury brands, and it's so busy like the London airport with 150 connecting flights. So many Indians working in this airport and I can hear Hindi everywhere.
We had some dirhams and wanted to spend it here, bought an acai berry fruit juice which was more than 300 bucks in INR. The more I travel the more I feel bad about earning in INR.. when will INR be accepted in all countries and when will its value appreciate!
Landed in Munich. The last 30 mins in the flight I was just admiring the views from my window.. the colours of fall, orange and yellow leaves on the trees, the countryside houses with red roof tops, green fields and what not! I'm just in awe and couldn't believe if it's a dream for me to be in Europe. Dream come true.. it's not like any other place I've visited so far, totally different from US of course, may be the opposite too. As soon as we landed, stamped on passports, picked up our baggages and started searching for the train station. Pretty quick.
Now starts the exciting part... everything is in German, even all the name boards and directions. Even if there is anything in English, it's half information. We somehow found where the trains are inside the airport terminal, found a ticket machine and tried getting our tickets to Salzburg as planned. We paid nearly 51 Euro and the machine spits the ticket and change. To our surprise, the ticket is completely in German and I'm sure there was no name of the train nor timing nor platform information. We used Google translate to just read that it was a day pass sort of a thing. Phew, there were two trains (S Bahn) and we were not sure which train to take.. panic attack to both of us, we were not able to read anything anywhere, not many people approachable for help, even if we try asking they don't know English. Then we asked a ticket collector inside a train showing our ticket. He said just get on one of the train and go to main Munich Hbf station and there you will get trains to Salzburg. So we hopped on to it and it took almost an hour to reach Hbf. I was worried if we had to pay again for the train since many said it's a day pass for Germany. But once we reached we clarified at the information centre and we could take the Salzburg train at 2.55 pm. It was a breather and we are still as per the plan. We ordered some food, had Doner box - famous chicken kebabs here, like the shawarma meat with fries and salad. Yummy! Most of the shops had burgers looking uber fresh with greens and cheese, large pizza slices, sausages, candied nuts, etc. Everything was approximately 3 to 5 Euros. Then came the next hunt for the restrooms in the main station. Finally found one underground and that's a pay and use. 70 cents for a person and everything is automated. I thought it was too expensive for a public toilet in a busy place.
Finally we boarded our Salzburg train and got our seats comfortably. Time to just relax and look out the window for another two hours. The first day cant get more exciting! Beautiful country side with cattle grazing fields, houses with patio gardens, people having a good time in outdoor restaurants, hot air balloons on top, people drinking beer in the trains, but still nobody is disturbing anyone else. Trains are so smooth and automated completely.
We reached the beautiful city of Salzburg. Took a bus from the hbf station to Mozartsteg. Then again a bus from there to Rainbahnstrasse. Then a minute of walking to our stay place. A very beautiful old house with 2 floors.. we stayed on the 2nd floor. We had a big living room with a beautiful view of the alps, a big bathroom, a small cozy bedroom, a shared kitchen and a balcony with a view. Amazing homely place with every possible thing you will need. I forgot to talk about the climate... it was so cold that I have to wear woollen scarf, gloves, closed shoes only, and a woollen cap. The only worry I had was why I carried my dresses and wedges.. my bags were heavy to carry around and that I did not bring many pull overs. We freshened up a bit and went out for dinner to a nearby restaurant. It was so cold outside while we stepped into the restaurant. Everything is vintage looking here.. old houses remodelled into restaurants. I guess this place is so family oriented, there are families celebrating birthday dinners, having a good time in the weekends, etc. Not many party places or party crowds here. We ordered the famous Schnitzel and some rice dish. Went back home and slept peacefully with no disturbances.
We got up at 7 to see the sunrise from our window, made some tea and enjoyed the view. We got ready and had breakfast with the readymade packets we brought, and came down to the bus stop. We visited the Mozartplatz - Mozart's Residence & Museum, then headed towards the beautiful Mirabell gardens. We had a nice stroll there and some nice pictures with a lot of trees in the fall colours.
Then we went for the lakes and mountains trip, to see the beautiful Salzkammergut district, lake Wolfgangsee, etc. Salzburg has more than 76 lakes. The lakes were beautiful with drinking water quality, the mountains were amazing with pretty houses and balconies decorated with flowers, healthy cows grazing the fields on their own, learnt about the lunch bell on top of the houses, totally a scenic trip in the countryside. We took a boat ride in the Wolfgangsee and the views surrounding the lake were so awesome with houses built on the lakefront. No words to explain... it's like the beautiful village of Halstatt. Then returned back to the city, on the way we saw Mondsee lake, Arnold's castle and his private lake supposedly.
Got up a little early to go see the old city of Salzburg today. Had breakfast with some noodles and cakes which we bought.. took a bus ride to the old city (al stadt). We had a peaceful stroll across the busiest shopping street in Salzburg, Gatredegasse. It was lined up with the best luxurious and Porsche brands for clothing, bags, footwear, jewellery, and souvenir shops decorated with Mozart toys. We grabbed a cup of coffee and burger to taste the local McDonald outlet. Another thing I forgot to mention is that wifi is almost free everywhere, but washrooms are paid. Washrooms are called as WC. Lookout for that!
We strolled across the famous old street Gold Gasse and saw the famous restaurant with the same name. We entered the Dom quarter (New Reseidenz), the majestic St.Peter's church, museum and palace... really magnificent! I learnt about the baroque and gothic styles of architecture, the tours are very informative with the English audio guides and easy to follow and do it on your own. You will become so independent if you stay in Europe for a while..!
Then we took the winch/ cable car to the top of the Hohensalsburg fort, to get a glimpse of the beautiful Salzburg city view from the top and a panoramic view. We went around the fort's museum and spent some time taking pictures of the panoramic views.. there is a beautiful restaurant setup on top to have candle light dinners with the panoramic view of the city. If you are planning to propose your girlfriend, please take her to such places with romantic views! She wouldn't say no!
We had the famous Cafe Tomaselli in our to do list. It is right in the centre of the old city.. a 400 year old traditional cafe serving coffees, beer, and quick grabs with newspapers to read, You can spend hours together in a cafe and nobody will shoo you off.. with free wifi I can only imagine how we would stay in coffee shops forever.. jokes apart I haven't seen Austrians using phones much here.. they spend time talking to real people though they have free charging points everywhere and wifi. And also another thing is here all cafes and supermarkets serve liquor or beer, even the McDonalds. Austria is the second most beer drinking country in the world. First is Czech Republic!
We then took a bus to Mirabell, to join our tour bus to Bavarian alps. I was very excited to see the the beautiful snow covered alps.. our guide was smart old man called Walter, he spoke about Salzburg and famous sight seeing through out our trip.. and he had a great sense of humour. We passed through the salt mines, and got down at the Konigsee lake ("king's lake"). It was indeed the most beautiful lake with clear water in drinking quality. The view is breathtaking with ducks swimming and full of life.. we did a short hike on the mountain to see the other side of the lake. Amazing! If we had time, we would have taken the 2 hour boat ride.. such a beauty! We bought a handmade wooden platter souvenir from a wood crafter there, then had a Nutella crepe freshly made in a street shop and got back to the bus. Then we crossed the Austria border into Germany to see the Berchtesgaden. We went around the place, saw some best coffee shops in the world, stunning view of the alps and much more.. the bus dropped us back in Salzburg. We had dinner in the same restaurant near our stay, great food I must say! So comforting for the tired souls like us. Had a good night's sleep to start our final day in Salzburg fresh.
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We both got up very early today, may be at 4.30 because we were sleeping early everyday here. We slept at 8-8.30 in the night and got up as early as 5 or 6, it felt so good to be early risers. We laid out the map and decided which ones to visit today since it was our last day in Salzburg. We decided to visit the Untersberg, Hellbrunn and Steigl brewery. It was a rainy day and I was worried if Untersberg cable car was operating and will we get a good view to the city and mountains. I was wishing to see some snow, since it will be my first time seeing snow. Thankfully the rain stopped, when we took the cable car ride to the Untersberg mountain top (1800m high cable car). It was a really amazing ride to the top, many first experiences for me. We got down and hiked a bit to the peak and got some fabulous views of the Alps.. snowy peaks.. I could feel like I'm in Switzerland already. It was damn freezing cold, our hands and face was freezing. I wanted to hike a bit more to the next mountain top to see the snow.. all these peaks were covered in snow yesterday and got washed off by today's rains. But Sandy felt very cold and decided to wait inside for me. I hiked alone to find some snow.. and sure I did, I touched the ice for the first time and it was an exciting hike alone in freezing weather. Then I will not forget the hot chocolate I had in the restaurant on top.. I came to know that my nose becomes so pink if it's freezing cold.
Then we came down by cable car and went to Hellbrunn palace.. it was a cute trip and tour around the palace and the trick fountains most importantly. A beautiful getaway palace in the outskirts of the city. Then we headed back to the city, quickly grabbed some lunch and took a bus to the Steigl Brewelt, the Famous Austrian beer brewery. We had a chance to see the brewing process of beer, it was very informative and interesting. Beer is made from 3 main ingredients- pure spring water, malt from barley and hops. Yeast is added then to ferment. We saw the different types of barley giving the colour and taste of beer - black and coffee flavoured barley, brown and caramel flavour, white barley, brown and tasted like wheat. We had a good evening at their restaurant and came back to our stay in Salzburg. We packed our bags and kept things ready to check out from Salzburg the next day morning.
We checked out of our beautiful bnb house which was amidst the valleys with a view, and quickly accessible to the city. Already missing Salzburg and the house! We headed to our next destination - Vienna! The train travel was more than two hours, and we spent the time trying to learn some German. I translated an Apfelstreudl recipe from German to English and noted it down for me to try back at home.