Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Salzburg, Austria

We have had plans to visit Salzburg, Austria to round out our 'Band of Brother's' fan tour for a very long while now, but every single time I've booked a hotel room and put it into my planner we have had to cancel.  Four different times we have had to cancel this trip!

Originally, we had tickets to Poland bought and paid for for Labor Day weekend, but nothing in the Army is certain, except that everything will change, so when work stuff came up for Eric we were forced to cancel another trip so that we could get a full refund before the deadline (I pouted a good day and half for that one!).  But, when that work stuff changed for the third time we were no longer able to get our seats back for Poland, so we took the change as an opportunity to go to Salzburg instead..... and crossed our fingers that maybe the Army wouldn't change their minds.

They didn't!!  So we high-tailed it out of town on a direct train to Austria!

Now, this is where I'll start to complain about the weather....  I had checked the forecast obsessively for two weeks before our trip to Salzburg (because if you're going to the Alps you want to be able to see them) and knew that it wasn't going to be good, but maaayybe would be wrong!   

They weren't.   

The forecast predicted rain...lots and lots of rain!  And they weren't kidding!  We had to take cover at the Kapitelplatz because of the downpour at one point!  But in between the spurts of downpour we made our way over to the Festungsbahn to take us up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.  You can see the Fortress in the distance above Salzburg in most of my pictures, it was so cool and so pretty, and we weren't going to let rain stop us from getting there!

No photography allowed inside the castle (per usual) but I was able to get a few pictures of the scenery and of Salzburg from an incredible view point.  We were surrounded by the Alps- mountains everywhere and as high as you can imagine!  Buuut... the rain clouds covered most of them- my eyes could see through the clouds but my camera couldn't.  
The rain made things tough... made it tough for us to enjoy being outside, made it tough to see the Alps, made it tough to take pictures, and made it tough to be in a good mood, but we promised to not let it ruin our weekend <---- this was the pep talk Eric had to give me since I was already in full pout mode.

Our first day in Salzburg was spent exploring the Old Town, riding the Festungsbahn up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and a pep talk.  But our second day was all about the Eagle's Nest, which would be the last part of our 'Band of Brothers' fan tour!  We had a tour booked for the afternoon so we had all morning to do what we wanted.  We decided to see Lake Konigsee- one of Germany's most pristine lakes!

Okay, so I needed another pep talk at this point because do you know what the rain does to my hair?!?!  And there is no possible way to look cute in a plastic poncho that adds 20 pounds to my already frumpy body!  I was so over the crappy weather!

We were surrounded by beautiful deep emerald green Alps in every direction.  This is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!  I am just sorry that my pictures don't do Lake Konigsee justice, I hope y'all will trust me on how incredibly beautiful it was!

After fighting the rain and fog we made our way to Berchtesgaden for the 'Eagle's Nest Historical' tour.  The guide, Christine, is an American who moved to Germany more than 25 years ago and now considers it her home.  First we were driven around to different areas of Obersalzburg and shown where the highest members of the Third Reich used to live.  All of their homes were bombed in the Ally air raid in 1945 and then bombed again in 1952 to destroy any ability for Neo Nazi's to use remaining structures as a shrine.  The men and their families that lived in this community, including Adolf Hitler, had built underground bunkers underneath their homes that could go anywhere within Obersalzburg.  Basically, Obersalzburg was turned into a compound- homes and land stolen from the people who lived there and then rebuilt from forced labor.  Our first stop was the Documentation Center which explains how an entire country could be persuaded (I'm not sure that's the right word?) to follow a man like Hitler to do some of the most evil things our world has ever seen.

This is the start of the bunkers (no photography allowed inside both the bunkers or the center)- they were intricate and the engineering that went into them seemed advanced for our time, not to mention for the 1930's!  The bunkers survived the Ally air raid in 1945 because of the type of rock they were built into, but were destroyed or sealed in 1952.  This bunker, and one other under a small privately owned hotel- but that one was sealed so you can go down there but it won't lead to anywhere- are the only bunkers left.  Both the Allied government and Germany/Austria's government were adamant about destroying them.
The bunkers were seriously impressive!  They had a sewage system, clean air system, generators, vats of diesel fuel, waterproofing, large cozy apartments, the ability to drive their car down there from an emergency escape on the side of a mountain that was completely invisible, and every modern convenience for that time built and ready to be used.  They proved how incredibly insane the men who built them were- I have no idea what those men thought they'd do... go into the bunkers forever?  What were they going to wait for?  The end of human kind? They were just going to brainwash their entire country and then disappear underground?  Did they think that the Ally military would never find them?  I don't get it.  

But hey.... whenever the zombie apocalypse starts, that's where I'll be going!  

Next we went to the Eagle's Nest- the vacation home of Adolf Hitler that was almost never used by Adolf Hitler.  

Okay, so to prove my point about how frustrating the weather was, my friend Melissa is letting me borrow her pictures from her family's visit to the same exact place in early August.  I so badly wanted y'all to see what we saw and to help y'all understand why I was being a brat about the rain.... this is the whole reason why I blog- to share our experiences- and our experience was frustrating because of the weather.  I can't sugar coat that.  And not only to share our experiences, but this blog is to help Eric, Isabelle, and I to remember our time here and I want to remember being completely annoyed about the weather.  Good or bad, I want to remember it all!

Just scroll down to see how magnificent the view truly is and why I was so annoyed!

Now scroll back up and compare...  Now can you see why I was so frustrated with the weather?!  The Alps are magnificent!  So beautiful!  So impossible to describe!  In person they don't even look real, they are that incredible!  And I was beyond bummed that I couldn't show you that. 

Alright, so enough with the weather, you get it, and even though it was crappy, we were still in the Alps!  We were still at the Eagle's Nest!  And even though my camera couldn't see past the clouds, our eyes could.  So with all of my pouting and ugly poncho aside, we still had a great day!  

This is the terrace that you see on Band of Brothers. 

The actual name of the Eagle's Nest is 'Kehlsteinhaus'- the Eagle's Nest came from a French ambassador who was quoted as saying that the Kehlsteinhaus reminded him of an eagle's nest.  It is now a restaurant.  And since it was pouring outside we decided to sit inside and have a beer.  

Since we felt a sense of accomplishment after four cancelled trips to Salzburg and finally seeing the last stop that the 'Band of Brothers' made, we concentrated the rest of our trip on the Sound of Music!  Have you seen the movie??  It's a classic!  If I could pick a singing voice, Julie Andrews' voice would be my first pick!  She reminds me of my grandma, even though my grandma didn't sing, but for some reason she reminds me of her.
Anywho... First up, a 3-course Sound of Music dinner theater!

Our dinner was romantic, the food was great, and the show was awesome!  The 2 women and 2 men performers sang songs from the Sound of Music, Mozart, and traditional Austrian folk songs- their voices were incredible!!  It was so much fun!

I promised Eric that I wouldn't tell y'all that one of the singers brought him up on stage to dance!  She taught him how to dance an Austrian folk dance- he said it was "so embarrassing and this better not end up on your blog!"  But the audience loved it!  Yes, I sure did get pictures (but I couldn't capture the 98 shades of red his face got), and you bet I'm going to remind of this when he tells me he can't dance, and ummm duh... of course it is going on my blog because he was ADORABLE! 

The next morning our tour guide picked us up from our hotel and off we went to visit the scenes from the movie!  And I breathed a sigh of relief because the weather wasn't terrible!  ....For most of the morning, anyway.

All of the lake terrace scenes were filmed at the palace across from the lake behind me.

 The romantic gazebo!  This is where Liesl sings "16 going on 17."

This where the scene where the Von Trapp children are pushing their car in the darkness away from their home to escape the Nazi's. 

The outside of the cathedral where Maria and the Captain were married in the movie....

....But in real life they did not get married here, they got married at the Nonnberg Abbey. 

It's not in the movie but our tour guide stopped to let us ride down a toboggan chute!  Isabelle was thrilled!  Eric doesn't like any kind of amusement ride (he's a party pooper) and Isabelle didn't want to go alone, so just like the bumper boats in Copenhagen, I went with her.

I was just kidding!  The toboggan didn't go very fast and Isabelle was in excellent control!

Since apfel strudel (apple strudel) is one of Maria's "favorite things" our next stop was a cafe famous for their strudel which also happened to have the best scenery we had seen our entire trip!!  Surprisingly, I paid less attention to the strudel thanks to those mountains!  Maybe that's the secret to losing weight....The Alps!?

For the last stop on the Sound of Music tour, and for our last few hours in Austria, we were dropped off at Mirabell Gardens where most of the song 'Do Re Mi' was filmed!

This is the front of the Mirabell Palace- it is only open for concerts but the garden is open daily.

And it was by that time that the rain had started back up again {grumble, grumble, pout}.  Honestly, the weather did suck, but it wasn't so sucky that our trip was ruined.  We saw everything we wanted to, and we had a blast!  And at the end of the day, that's all that matters!  But, if anyone wants to come visit us and would like to go to the Austrian Alps, we would LOVE to go back!!

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