29 May 2015


Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon


Crazy sleep patterns since arriving in Alpenland. I'm certainly getting plenty of rest, but by 5:00am I'm ready to meet the world. That's the beauty of staying in a hotel-like environment, along with daily maid service and fresh towels--the lobby is always open. And, well-lit for reading.

I brought all four of these books (@1000 pages each) in my carry-on. I know! That's what the Kindle app is all about. I just love holding a book, and didn't want all my reading "eggs" in the iPad Mini basket.

The clouds hung so low over the mountains yesterday and there was a feeling of rain all day, along with actual showers. Around lunchtime we were headed from Werfen to Zell am See, driving into masses of dark grey clouds when we realized that walking lakeside was not in the cards. Those clouds wouldn't be lifting soon and we'd best wait for a brighter day for enjoying that beautiful spot.

via: urbanghostsmedia.com

We'd spent the morning at the Hohenwerfen castle in Werfen--taking the lift up to the top, enjoying a display of falconry, touring the castle, and reveling in the breathtaking views. And, mostly keeping dry.

Today we're heading to Salzburg. Revisiting the streets familiar from two previous visits, planning on visiting a few sights, but mostly set on enjoying another day in beautiful Austria.

Mondsee, Austria

Basilica St. Michael, Mondsee, Austria 

LG and Marielle at Basilica St. Michael in 2009

We decided to first bypass Salzburg--north and a bit east to Mondsee. JA, LG and I had visited on our Sound of Music Tour in 2009 and I remembered the beautiful church which was the site of Maria and Captain von Trapp's wedding in the movie--Basilica St. Michael. A simply gorgeous church, and a beautiful historic center at Mondsee.

A lovely day in Mirabelle Gardens. Many tour groups are enjoying Salzburg today, but it's not as crowded as during past visits. We people watch in Residenz Platz near the Dom, eventually finding a cafe for Sacher Torte and Appelstrudel with warmed Creme Anglaise (vanilla sauce).

Schloss Helbrun 2009

The Sound of Music tour 2009.
Across from villa used for terrace scenes in TSOM

As we drive out of the city we pass the entrance to the Schloss Helbrun, where the gazebo from TSOM now resides.

We'd planned to enjoy some of the fresh asparagus offerings from the hotel's Paugner Stube, but it's unexpectedly closed this evening. So, we find a very walkable and charming pub--Platzl--for dinner.

CA enjoys the salmon fettuccine, while I order the mixed grill which includes steak, pork tenderloin, chicken, and a sausage! Also, mixed vegetables and, as usual, pomme frites. I make a valiant effort, but that's a LOT of meat.

25 May 2015

Sankt Johann im Pongau

CA and my separate departure itineraries came together at the airport in Munich without a hitch. Figuring out the GPS in our rental car was and is the greater challenge. We were more than relieved that the entire road trip between Munich and St. Johann im Pongau was in daylight hours.

Our hotel is in the village center, which is always something we appreciate as we can explore on foot, and there are many cafes and restaurants in close proximity.

Cafe Bauer, Sankt Johann I'm Pongau

Austrians seem very in touch with their cultural past.
In every town, folk clothing is available for purchase.

After walking about, finding an ATM and a perfect cafe for breakfast, we spent our first full day in the Austrian Alps exploring areas that JL and I had visited in 2009--with DMs family. We chose the circuitous and mountainous Route 164 toward Maria Alm--this is the same mountain road JL and I had attempted to traverse in the middle of the night in the tiny Citroen. Certainly, the scariest driving I've ever experienced as the road was totally unfamiliar, narrow and steep, with a rushing mountain stream on our left. The small car just didn't have enough power to cart two grandmas with heavy luggage.

I wasn't able to pinpoint the exact geography of the 2009 debacle, but driving the route in daylight with CA caused me to again whisper prayers of gratitude. It still amazes us that throughout that horrible, defeating experience we were kept completely safe.

Maria Alm; May 24, 2015

LG and MK in May 2009

Marielle and LG; 2009

Turns out that Monday is a Catholic holiday in Austria, so all shops and businesses are closed, except for a few cafes, restaurants, and gas stations. We've a beautiful 60° spring day, and while a great deal of our site-seeing is from a car, Austrians are out in great numbers hiking, biking, para-sailing... We stop just beyond Saalfelden to explore a cable car set-up that transports bikers and their bikes to the top of a mountain. They then mount their bikes and point them downslope for what is obviously a fast and thrilling (and muddy) descent.

We drive to the other St. Johann--this one Sankt Johann im Tirol. While not deserted, because of the holiday the Zentrum is quiet today with a few families and tourists sprinkled about. We find a promising restaurant for an leisurely lunch, sitting outside in the beautiful square. We both opt for the Schnitzel--how can we not? We're in Austria.

Lovely mixed salad that accompanied my schnitzel.

The return trip along the same mountain road is punctuated by many fast motorcycles,
 thrilling to the curves and switchbacks. If they'd just keep to their side of this narrow route!

I'd describe the remainder of our first day and evening, but instead must confess that I succumbed to the god of jet-lag and managed to mostly sleep from mid-afternoon until 5:00am today. Hopefully, I'm all caught up and ready for a full week of the gorgeous Austrian Alps.

18 May 2015

At the Beach; Officially Summer

The Fun Kids, Cincinnati group, got a break from school and a taste of summer as we all headed for a beach vacation--Ocean Beach Club at Virginia Beach. This is our third trip together to OCB--LC's first trip was in-uetro but still, he was there!

We breakfasted at Pocahontas a few times; a tradition and it's just across Atlantic Avenue from OCB.

Tons of pool-time.

And, we chased waves both on Virginia Beach and at nearby Croatan Beach, a family favorite.

A new discovery this week is the 10th Floor Terrace with a huge fire pit--just next-door at Oceanaire and accessible to OCB guests. A great place to hangout when the sun goes down and the temperatures dip a bit.