The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Guest Wanderers Head to Salzburg – Part I of II

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on May 21, 2010

Hi Hungry Wanderers’ fans – I’m Nate. I sometimes blog over at www.theblogstalker.com, but I haven’t been doing much of that lately. My wife Kate and I just got back from a trip to Prague and Salzburg, and the hungry wanderers asked if we’d do a guest post here. Happy to do so, and honored to be their first guest posters.

The Trip: Three days in Prague, Czech Republic and then two days in Salzburg, Austria – with a day of travel on each side. A short trip for such a long distance from home, but vacation days are in short supply, as we travel quite a bit to visit family, go to weddings, and do lots of domestic trips.

Why The Trip: Couple of reasons. Kate and I both turned 30 a month or so ago, so this was a good present to one another. Also, I travel quite a bit for work and have been picking up frequent flyer miles faster than George Clooney in Up in the Air. Every six months or so I have to burn through some of them with some ‘fun’ travel to keep from getting jaded and bitter about all of the time I spend away from home. I know, kind of odd to reward myself with MORE travel, but it makes sense in my head.

Why We Chose Those Places: It was sort of an impulse buy. We’ve been to several other places in Europe (Switzerland, Ireland, UK, The Netherlands, France) but wanted to push ourselves a bit. I’ve only heard positive things about Prague from my friends who have been there, and Kate had a couple of friends

Cliff Notes on Prague: Make no mistake, Prague feels like Eastern Europe. Not a whole lot of English spoken there. Amazing architecture and history for sure and it shouldn’t be missed for that alone. Also some great day trips outside of the city that don’t feel touristy at all. Overall It feels very James Bond (or Jason Borne, for the younger readers). The kind of city where you expect some fashionably dressed woman of Russian decent to be chasing after a spy with a fancy gun with a silencer on it. At least that’s where my mind went during the tours of thousand year old churches. Also, there’s a pretty good reason that there aren’t Czech restaurants popping up everywhere around the world. The food was cheap, but not good. The beer was cheap and very good. Had we stayed longer in Prague, I likely would’ve gotten more comfortable with the people, etc. I’d say it’s a good place to visit for a history or architecture buff, or the kind of person who likes an adventure. If you’re looking for an ‘Epcot – World Showcase’ type vacation with friendly, English-speaking people, this ain’t the place for you.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, I figured I’d give a ‘day in the life’ post – chronicling our activities for one of our full days in Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is a small city in Western?Austria – at the base of the Alps. Since I’m incapable of being succinct, I’ll break it up into two posts, with the other going up tomorrow.

A Day in the Life – Part I

6:30 AM – The day starts pretty early for me. I like to wake up an hour or so before Kate to have a little ‘me time’ when we go on vacation. Vacationing with your spouse is great, but I’ve also found that if you spend an hour or so apart during the day, you’re less likely to get into stupid arguments during the trip. So I wake up early and head to the hotel lobby.

We stayed at the Sheraton in Salzburg. I’m usually not a fan of staying at big, American hotels when I go to Europe, but this one had good reviews, and was conveniently located. Started with about 15 minutes of email checking. I have a pretty flexible job, but need to stay a little connected, just to check in and make sure nothing has blown up. Fortunately, no major disasters at the office.

6:45 AM – Hit the streets of Salzburg for a run. Running is an awesome way to get acclimated to a new city, and if it’s a tourist destination, you can usually see the sights during an early morning run before the rest of the tourists wake up. It also helps make up for some of the dietary sins of a vacation (more on that later). I try to set realistic exercise goals on vacation. I know I’m not going to be able to run 10 miles a day on vacation, but try to map out the days when I’ll run. This trip I wanted to run 3 days, at least 3 miles each time. My three miles started in the Mirabell Gardens, which are amazing.

Mirabell 1I also ran across the bridge to Old Town Salzburg and ran along the Salzach River. I found Salzburg to be a running-friendly city – lots of paths through parks and along the water.

bridge picI also use my morning runs to scope out where we’re going to go later in the day. I ran by this café which I thought would be a good breakfast stop

Breakfast Cafe PicAnd found the bus station where our tours would leave later in the morning. Sorry about the photo quality on those three. Only take the iPhone on runs, as the DSLR would be tough to run with.

8:00 – Back at the hotel for showers and getting ready to start our day. Kate enjoyed her extra hour and a half of sleep.

8:30 Headed out for breakfast. Unfortunately, I don’t know any German, so when the door to the café said Samstag Geschlossen, I didn’t know that this meant it wouldn’t be open today (a Saturday). Doh! This meant we had to improvise, and we had a 9:30 bus to catch. So we ended up eating random food at some kind of convenience store/bakery hybrid. Here are our eats

breakfast food pic9:30 – Met our tour bus for the Original Sound of Music Tour. Had you told me eight years ago (in between keg stands) that I would one day be taking a guided ‘Sound of Music’ tour with a bunch of retirees, I likely would’ve laughed at you. Before getting on the bus, we did a little milking.

milking pic10:30 – We made several stops around Salzburg, looking at the sights from The Sound of Music, including these places

gazeboHere’s the famous gazebo where something happened in the movie.

lake picAnd I guess this place was in the movie too.

As you can tell, I haven’t seen The Sound of Music in about 20 years. Kate had heard good things about the tour, and honestly, it was great, even if you aren’t a fan. We went with Panorama Tours and they were great. We had a great guide who kept it interesting and had great timing, without being cheesy.

11:30 – Some of the filming was in the city, but much of it was done in the villages outside the city, so we took the bus out into the country, and got to see some cool stuff like this:

countryside pic12:30 – We ended up in the town of Moonsee for lunch. Our guide recommended this café.

lunch cafe pic

Nate lunch picI went with the Ham + Cheese Toast and a bowl of chicken noodle soup

strudel picAnd then we split this apple strudel, which was just about the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten.

Church Pic 1

Church Pic 2After lunch, we visited the church where Frauline Maria and the Captain got married.

1:30 – The tour ends and we’re back in downtown Salzburg, after a short drive on the Autobahn.

So two big thumbs up for the Sound of Music Tour. It lasted 4 hours, and was a great way to see the city and surrounding area. We were never really ‘guided tour’ kind of wanderers in the past, but adding this little bit of structure to the trip was nice – it allowed me to shut off my brain for most of the day and have someone else handle the driving and logistics.

Stay tuned for Part II, which I’ll post tomorrow.

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