Interlacken, day 14

This morning started around 8am, which is pretty late for me, so I was pleased! The hostel I’m staying at includes breakfast so I headed downstars to eat up. I was less than impressed with the offerings, but oh well. It got the job done. I have to say, one thing I’m looking forward to when I go home is getting back on a “regular” food schedule. I’ve missed my health morning meals and not carbs all the time!

Anyway, after getting organized I headed out in persuit of an adventure! I headed to a nearby park to do a high ropes course and zip lining! Now I’m pretty afraid of heights, but I try really hard to not let it get in the way of me having fun. This one was really pushing it, though. I was by myself, and this was going to be a REALLY difficult thing for me to do.

And guess what? I had SO MUCH FUN! I’m really, really proud of myself for going, and also knowing my limits. I started with a brief and helpful introduction to the course, and I’m happy I got there early. There weren’t a lot of peope there yet so I could take my time learning the system and getting comfortable. I started with the two lower courses, then moved on to the higher courses – up to 20 meters from the ground! There were HUGE zip lines – definately my favorite! Some of them were really, really long – I counted up to 12 seconds in my head during one of them. That’s a REALLY long rope that you’re staring at on a really high platform before you make the leap. There were eight courses in total, and I ended up going on 6 of them. I didn’t go on the really advanced ones – I was having a lot of fun and still really felt like I was challenging myself, so didn’t feel like I needed to force myself onto the more difficult ones. Plus, I was plenty tired from those courses! I did each of them quite a few times; in total I was there for almost 4 hours! I really loved that they gave you the instructions and then set you free – I appreciated being able to go at my own pace and repeat the courses as I wanted. I’m so proud of myself, and had SUCH a fun time doing this!

Buket list: zip lining in the Swiss apls – CHECK!

After that exhilerating morning I walked back to the hostel, and picked up a few groceries for the next few days along the way. Then I headed back out to rent a bike and take a nice ride on the lake. Again, I’m so glad I did! The weather was looking overcast, and even started raining for about 10 minutes there, but I persevered and enjoyed amazing views of the lake. I stopped quite a few times to take pictures because it was just too beautiful! Plus, I had a chocolate bar stashed in my bag 🙂 The water here is the most beautiful emerald color and just so clear and amazing. I rode right along the lake for about two hours, so the road was nice a flat, and very quiet! I did hang out with a few goats and cows for a while, though. They were wearing bells! It was so pituresque!

Finally, I headed back to the hostel to make some dinner and give my quads a rest. I think I’ll be sore tomorrow from all of the adventures today, but this was such a satisfying day! I really had a blast.

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Interlacken, day 14

Today started out in Bern – I woke up to a beautiful morning. The view out of my window was beautiful; I was on a high floor and could see so much of the old town waking up! Such a treat.

I woke up a it later than I anticipated (something is going on with my alarm, I think. It’s been unreliable on this trip­), ate a quick breakfast and packed up my things. I set out originally planning on taking a walk around town and then going to one of the large museums in Bern. It was really beautiful outside though, so I walked around for a while before heading over to the museum. Along the way, I stumbled upon Enstein’s apartment! I knew it was right near the hostel, but was pleasently surprised when I discovered it.

The museum focused on Enstien’s time in Bern – he lived there for two years with his first wife and it is now known as an “incubator period”. Much of the thinking and planning before his exceptionally productive year of five publications was done while he was in Bern. The museum featured his three-room apartment (I loved the living room!) and the upper floor of the same building had some really interesting information about his life. I loved learning a bit more about him – I didn’t realize he taught at so many different universities, or that he published some of his best work when he wasn’t associated with any university. Talk about internal motivation!

After enjoying the museum I decided that I didn’t want to go to the Swiss National Museum – the weather was too nice and I didn’t feel like I wanted to be inside for the amount of time that the ticket price necessitated. Instead I made the sort trip to the Bern rose garden, and I’m really happy that I did! There were stunning panoramic views of the old part of the city, and the flowers were beautiful! I’ve been really spoiled on this trip and have seen some very stunning rose gardens, and I have to say, this one wasn’t the absolute best one (who am I?! Judging rose gardens?!) but I still really enjoyed is. Particularly the view of the city!

Also a little excitement on the bus ride – there was a ticket check! Teddy and I were constantly wondering about how these cities get away without having regular ticket checks, so I was a little too excited to see the under-cover person checking the tickets. It added a bit of drama to the bus ride, that’s for sure!

I made a quick stop back at the hostel to grab some food I had forgotten, and headed over to the train station. The timing was perfect, and I only had to wait about 10 minutes for the next train to Interlacken! After the quick 1-hour trip, I arrived in my next destination.

Interlacken is just stunning. I can see why it’s so famous – the town is between huge mountains and beautiful lakes. The train ride here was amazing, too! I arrived at the hostel and took a break for about an hour or so. It felt like a treat to be relaxing in the middle of the day, but I really needed it! Energy back, I headed out to explore the town.

Interlacken in quite small, and the focus here is really on outdoor adventures. There seems to be something for every type of outdoor entheusiast here! I watched parasailers land, and was actually SUPER tempted to sign up. At 170 CHF that’s a bit out of my price range, but I think I’d actually be ok with the height! That’s going on the list of fun things I’d really like to do when I get home.

I somehow got extremely lukcy and landed at just the right place at just the right time – a local restaurant puts on a “Chocolate Experince” tour eery day at 5pm! I arrived at 4:55 and immediately signed up. I initially thought the ticket price was a bit high, but OH MAN! So much free chocolate! And a voucher to use later on!

We learned a lot about how chocolate is harvested and processed, and then were able to try pure, white, milk and dark chocolate samples. After that we watched the master chocolate-er make “mountains” filled with caramel (I sampled two of those just to make sure I liked them)! Then he made an incredible chocolate shoe with a mold, and it came out so well! I was really impressed. I then sampled a chocolate-lemon thing, which I really enjoyed. That’s not a combo I see to often, so I was excited! After that we got to make chocolate pops – the chocolate man dipped the truffles in dark or milk chocolate (I chose dark), and then we could put toppings on them. I went with coconut, and the end result was amazing! Finally, I used my voucher that came with the ticket price to purchase a few treats to take home. All in all, a great chocolate experience!

To recover from my chocolate binging, I walked around the town a bit more but the weather wasn’t looking to great. I walked back to the hostel, acquired my dinner target, changed my clothes and planned out a few things for tomorrow, then headed back out. A restaurant right down the street from me got excellent reviews online for being a very traditional and lovely swiss restuarnat. I spotted fondue on the menu, so I knew where I was headed! I enjoyed a salad and cheese fondue – that’s certainly a “once in a great, great while” meal, oh man! It was incredibly delicious, and I was proud of myself for going to a relatively fancy restaurant all by myself. It was a bit awkward, but II didn’t want to miss out on the expeirence. I’m planning on having the rest of my meals be a bit more “low key”, so I decided to treat myself tonight. I’m glad I did!

The rest of my evening has been spent organizing and doing some laundry – nothing too crazy. More excitment is on the agenda for tomorrow, so for now – sleep!

Bern, day 13

Today I made the grand treck from Salzburg to Bern, Switzerland! I woke up at a very reasonable time (7:30!), had a quick breakfast and packed up my things. I chatted with my roommates for a bit before heading to the airport to find a train. Luckily the Salzburg – > Zurich route (starting in Vienna) is a pretty frequent one so I didn’t have to wait long for a train.

The trip went by fairly quickly – I entertained myself by getting a LOT of knitting done (yay!) and enjoying the incredible views. Much of the journey was directly through the alps and the views were stunning! We passed through villages nessled right into the mountains and crystal-clear streams of water flowing directly from the mountains. It was all so beautiful – just like I imagined!

The transfer in Zurich was a quick one, and I really had to hussle at the train station. All that training from my dad really paid off! The last leg passed qually as quickly, and soon I arrived in Bern!

Bern is really stunning. It’s a completely preserved medival town, and I feel like I’ve gone back in time. The hostel was a quick walk from the train station, and along the way I passed by yet another famous clock. I’ve lost count of how many of those that I’ve seen on this trip! This one had some music on the hour, which I was lucky enough to see on my way to the hostel. After I dropped off my things I headed out to ride up Gurten, a rail along the side of a mountain in the city. The views from the top were beautiful, and I really enjoyed the ride up! I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I expected. On the top I wandered around a bit, and really enjoyed the view. I opted to walk down rather than ride the train again, but I ende up feeling quite unsafe on the way down. The path was through woods, and I hadn’t expected it. There were very few people around, and I started to get a bit nervous. Luckily I made it down relatively quickly, and then resolved to stay in more populated areas for the rest of the evening!

On a quest to find some food I wandered around Bern quite a bit more. I even found the famous bears! They were delightful, and I have fun watching them for a while. Finally, in an act of despiration, I sucummed to Starbucks for dinner. I forgot yet again that everything really closes down here on Sundays. It did the job and I am now satiatied and back at the hostel for the evening to catch up on a few things before calling it an early night. Another good day!

Salzburg, day 12

Today started bright and early heading off to the Salzburg fortress! I was super glad that I got there early – the ride to the top had a HUGE line when I walked by later in the day! When I got to the top the views were STUNNING. Finally, some nice weather! It was raining on the walk to the tram up to the fortress, but luckily the sun emerged just as I arrived at the top!

After I admired the view I took the audio guide tour of the king’s quarters inside the fortress. It was much more simple than previous palaces I’ve visited, but it was a bit refreshing. The views from every turn were just incredible – it must have been such a treat to live there!

After exploring another museum of armor and more history of the fortress, I went to the small but fun marionette museum. It was unexpectedly fun! They had several vignettes with a few marionetts and they were very fun.

I enjoyed a quick lunch at the top of the fortress before heading down and catching a bus to Hellsbrun, which was one of my favorite things in Salzburg. This was the summer home of the folks living at the fortress, but more importantly, the home of the famous trick fountains! This was SO much fun! I had a blast in this “baroque water park” – it was full of hidden spouts, illusions and neat tricks. Everything was powered by water pressure and it was just so fun! I also thought it was hilarious that several people seamed ANGRY about getting wet. I guess I did have a rain coat on as a preventive measure, but still, it was so fun! These people getting angry just made me laugh on the inside even more. Ooops!

After the tour of the water fountains ended I explored the gardens a bit more (including a stop at the Sound of Music pavilion!), and then did an audio-guided tour of the inside of the palace. Again, it was beautiful! Much of the decor was more simple and reminiscent of a hunting lodge, but much of the artwork was very interesting. The palace was full of rare and exotic animals back in the day, and a lot of the art referenced that.

I hopped back on the bus and planned on heading out to a mountain to do a ride on a cable car. The second we drove up though, that was a big huge NOPE! There was no way I was going to go up that mountain on a car suspended from a thread up a HUGE valley. WHOA. I’ve been trying to push myself with the heights thing, but oh man. No WAY.

Instead, I headed back into the city and got ice cream! Much better. It was NUTELLA flavored. Why hasn’t that been a thing before now?!

After the delicious snack break, I took an ejoyable boat ride down the middle of the city. It was a nice way to see the skyline from a different perspective, and I learned quite a bit about the history of Salzburg. For example, it’s actually named after the nearby salt mines! They were extremely important to the economy to the city, hence the name. In fact, people who couldn’t swim were specifically hired to navigate the salt from the mines down the river to the city because it was thought that they would be more careful with the precious cargo. Needless to say, several people died in this way and there is still a day of rememberence for them.

On a lighter note, after the boat ride I hussled back to the hostel to change quickly and drop off some things. During this time I met some friendly people in my room – the first time that happened in a hostel! I headed back out to find some food, and then the best part of my day – back to the castle for a wonderful concernt! I took the furnecular back up to the top of the fortress, and this time the view was even better at sunset. WOW! In every direction the mountains at dusk, what a memorable view.

The conert was in the hall that music was orginally shared and the stage was illuminated with “candle” light. It was so magical! The programm was a bit all over the place, but the highlight for me was certainly the Bach piece they played (I didn’t get the program so it will take me a while to remember the piece…) and also the Mozart. It was such a treat to hear the music in a setting so similar to its original venue. The ensemble was small and intimate, and the sun set outside the fortress during the concert. What a memorable evening! That was certainly a hilight of the trip.

After the concert I enjoyed one final ride down the furnacular and headed home. After some final logistics and planning for the upcoming days, I headed to sleep. Another wonderful day in Salzburg!

Salzburg, day 11

I decided to start fresh today. I checked out of the “hostel” and decided to start Salzburg like yesterday didn’t ever happen. I headed over to my new hostel, dropped off my things, and headed out to explore the city.

First stop – Mirabell gardens! Unfortunately the rain was persisting, but I did manage to stop by on the way home later and it was nicer! The gardens were beautiful, and I felt just like I was in the Sound of Music. This city really revolves around that and Mozart – I feel like one of them was referenced on every corner. There was also a great Italian market/festival happening right outside the garden, and that was fun to wander through!

I broke in my Salzburg card (highly reccomended – it worked out being SUCH a good deal for me) by heading to the DomQuartier. I explored the Residenzplatz with a audior guide tour, and was, yet again, wowed by the beauty of these places. How did they have so much money?! And ideas of how to decorate! It was just never-ending. They also had such beautiful clocks! Holy smokes! One had three faces with the date, time and astronomical information. This was super exciting to me.

After exploring the palace more, I heading out into the square and saw the main cathedral in the area – Salzburg Cathedral. The inside was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the organ! I also explored the nearby cemetary – perhaps one of the most beautiful that I’ve been in. All the paths were winding and there were big old trees and flowers; everything just felt so cozy. It was really beautiful. After exploring that area I headed to the oldest bakery in Salzburg. They still use a wood-fired oven! I got a small biscuit and it was super delisious. Perhaps I was biased because by this point I was very hungry, but either way, it was very enjoyable!

I explored the area a bit more, and made my way over to Mozart square to say hi to the Mozart statue. That kicked off a themed afternoon – Mozart, Mozart, Mozart!

As a side note, I do have to say I think Salzburg was the most difficult city to navigate. I had SUCH a difficult time finding these museums. Partially beause the signs were flat on the buildings, rather than hanging over the sidewalk, but regardless. It was difficult!

Anyways, first I headed to Mozart’s birthplace. This museum was quite large, and very interesting. There was a lot of great information about his family, and I really enjoyed learning about his talented sister, Narnnel. She was always overshadowed by her brother. The museum included lots of very interesting information about Mozart’s career and travels, and how he gained popularity. I did feel like it lacked music, though! There was only one place that you could hear any of his music! I think it would have helped the atmosphere a bit.

The second Mozart Museum, the Dancing Master’s House, had far more music, which I really appreciated! The house had an included audio guide, and went into much more depth than the previous museum. It was also less crowded, which made it a bit more enjoyable. I also thought the exhibit about knock-off Mozart portrits was very interesting. People tend to assume any child with a red coat in that period was Mozart, but very few actually are. Quite a few well-known images aren’t even him! Wild.

I really enjoyed both of these museums and it was so fun to be surrounded by the atmosphere that Mozart grew up with. I know it has changed, but much of the old town is intact, and it’s fun to walk around his old “stomping grounds”!

Always in search of a great view, I headed over to the Mönchsberg Lift. This brought me up to a wonderful senic view point with stunning views of the entire city. I walked around up here for quite a while enjoying the setting, particuarlly because the rain finally slowed down! I also popped into the Museum of Modern Art since I was right at the entrance, and the fee was included with the Salzburg card. This was a great reminder of why I don’t frequently go to modern art museums – I was doing ok with the sculpture things, but once we got into the sexual/violent realm I had to hussle through. Oh well, at least I tried!

On the walk home I again passed through the Mirabell Gardens and enjoyed the HUNDREDS of roses. I think on this trip I’ve seen more roses than in my entire life combined. They also had a huge mythology family tree displayed, and I liked looking at that. I think Teddy would have been particuarly interested in that.

I spent the evening having a bit of a panic about logistics for the remainder of the trip. Luckily I talked to my mom online and she helped me get back on track. Things still aren’t completely sorted, but I’m heading the right direction. Time to not worry about that and enjoy tomorrow!

Munich, day 10

Not a lot to say about today. It was a difficult day.

Teddy and I decided to have a quiet morning rather than him hustling off to the Deuches Museum and we relaxed for a bit in our room. We took a brief walk around Miriamplatz and then I met up with my tour around 11. We said bye here, and I’m sad I won’t have my travel buddy any more!

I joined a tour to go to Dachau, a concentration camp memorial sight right outside of Munich. Retrospectively I’m very glad I did it with a tour – I think it would have been difficult to face alone. In addition, figuring out the transportation was a bit difficult by myself, but was all taken care of with the tour.

Visiting a concentration camp was about as difficult as I expected it to be. The information our guide presented was very interesting, thoughtful and sensitive. The memorial site was very beautiful, just extremely sad. It’s the sort of thing that makes you feel bad about being human.

The tour ended a bit later than anticipated, so I missed the train I had planned on taking, and caught a later one. There was a problem with my ticket though, so I ended up having to pay more while on the train. When I arrived in Salzburg it was still raining, and I had to make the 30ish minute walk to the hostel in the rain. Not fun. When I arrived, the “dorm” was hardly that – no lockers, and the room was barely large enough for a double bed, nevermind four twins. There weren’t even 4 towel hooks! There were two girls already in the room, and they never left. I spent the evening on the floor in the hall trying to plan my time in Salzburg. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best way to end that evening. I went to bed feeling sad and lonely. I’m hoping the rest of Salzburg will be better.

Vienna, day 6

Another early start to a day! We hustled over to the train station and caught an early train to our next destination – Vienna! After a bit of a bump finding our hostel, we finally made it and got settled into our room. It’s easy to forget how different Sunday’s in Europe are! Everything was closed when we arrived so it was a bit of a challenge finding a map…oops!

Once we put our bags down, we headed out to find the Hapsburg Castle. That wasn’t too difficult since the vast majority of Vienna center is comprised of the estate! Along the way, though, we did pass he Mozart theater!

We purchased our tickets and jumped right into the museums. We started with the Imperial Silver Collection and boy was that amazing! The amount of silver the dynasty accrued was mind-boggling. It was so much fun too look at it all, and we ejoyed the audio guide commentary to focus our attention.

Next up were the Imperial Apartments, and again – incredible! I loved gawking at the pure wealth on display in these rooms. The stoves were particularly impressive! We saw the room where Mozart performed for the queen, and where JFK met with his Russian counterpart. A lot of the spaces reminded me of Versailles – just incredible!

Next up was the Sisi museum – the space was dedicated to mysterious and romanticized women. She was fiercely independent, extremely conscious of her looks and figure, and traveled frequently to get away of the scrutiny of court life. She also was stabbed which lead to her early death. She is quite well-known in Austria today, but apparently there is quite a bit of false information floating around about her, so this exhibition sought to clarify details of her life. I really enjoyed learning more about her, and the Hapsburg dynasty!

At this point Teddy and I were ready for a snack break so we headed into a nearby cafe. They had what can only be described as the most wonderful pastry of all time. Like oh my gosh it was SO GOOD. It was a waffle cone dipped in chocolate, filled with strawberry mouse, fresh strawberries, slivered almonds and sponge cake at the bottom to prevent everything from falling out. It was basically heaven. WOW. Teddy and I shared this, but let’s just say it caused a few fights regarding bit sizes. It was amazing! I think Teddy is already on a quest to find the recipe. I’m game!

After our rejuvenating snack we headed to the Royal Treasury. Another interesting place filled with more jewels I even knew existed! Highlights of this museum included the Hungarian national crown and seeing much of the regalia used for previous kings. It was so neat to see different crests and symbols, and such incredible craftsmanship.

Our last Hapsburg stop of the day was at the collection of historical instruments! Perhaps the most exciting museum, ever! (I’m a big early music fan so that’s not sarcasm there 🙂 ). WOW. What amazing instruments we saw! I bee-lined to the reorders and early winds, but eventually made my way over to see pianos used by Mozart and Haydn, along with some beautiful plucked instruments and brass horns. If we had more time here it would have been great to do the audio tour of this section, but I still have a blast looking at the winds. Just what I was hoping for!! Nerdy Mary was VERY happy!

We headed back outside and enjoyed several of the monuments and statues in the square before finding the rose garden. This was absolutely breathtaking! I have never seen so many roses in my entire life! I couldn’t get over how beautiful this was. We could not have gotten more lucky with the timing of our visit – SO MANY ROSES. We lingered in this garden for so long smelling all of the flowers and enjoying the amazing atmosphere. That some really something special!

Next up was a ride on the tram that circled the historical part of the city. It was a great way to sit down for a while! Plus we saw so many of the historic buildings that we hadn’t seen yet during our walk around the palace area. I loved seeing the Opera House, and the main square of the city! It was so much fun to walk through and just feel the history and music! So many incredible works of art were made in that space – boggles my mind just to think about it.

Teddy and I found a small place to eat dinner and then headed on to our evening activity – the symphony! Words can’t describe how excited I was for this concert, and it lived up to all of my expectations! The space was so beautiful, and hearing symphonic music in Vienna – nothing get’s better than that. The program was varied and interesting, the space was incredible and the music just washed over me. I adored it! We were sitting in the absolute last row, and still enjoyed every second of it. That is an evening I’ll always remember!

On our way back from the symphony Teddy and I took a small detour through a nearby park to see the statues of famous composers. It was a perfect evening out, and we had a lovely time looking at Strauss all in gold. We finally made it back home and quickly feel asleep. It was a memorable day!