Monday, June 24, 2013

The Hills are Alive...with the Sound of Music! - Berchtesgaden Land and Salzburg

My sister asked me last night if we ever sit still. HA!  Guess the answer to that is, "we don't" but that's also because we don't want to.  Every time we start to feel like the traveling is getting to be too much, we think of all the places we want to see and the excitement wells up inside all over again.  We love it. This past month has been especially adventurous with my mom being here, the arrival of Baby C, and Big R's parents coming for a visit.  For little r, this month has been one long and wild ride.  I mean, when you get to see things like this, how can you stay away?

Our latest adventure took us to Southern Germany into Berchtesgadener Land and over the hill into Austria to see Salzburg.  Except for one day, the weather for this trip was absolutely brilliant!  We stayed in Schönau am Königssee, which is a harbor town on the tip of a beautiful lake.  It's a stone's throw away from Berchtesgaden and Salzburg and everything in between, so I decided it would be a nice place to call home.  Our home was a sweet little hotel called Pension Berganemone, and it was comfortable and super affordable for the area during high tourist season.

We arrived at our hotel mid-afternoon and spent some time exploring the town, enjoying beer and snacks at one of the many friendly biergardens, and scoped out the adventures that lie ahead for our stay.  After a fantastically delicious German meal at the same biergarden and a good night's sleep at our cozy hotel, we woke up to rain and decided to spend the day at the Berchtesgaden salt mine and exploring Salzburg.

Delicious German meal leaves me with all smiles
The tour of the salt mine was a huge hit.  I've been fortunate enough to have been on a salt mine tour in this region in the past (including the same one!), but I forgot how fun the tour can be.  Before you enter the mine, we had to climb into jumpsuits. Little r was especially adorable in his, and I got a suit big enough so that Baby C could snuggle inside mine.  You take a train that you straddle deep into the mountain. Honestly, it's pretty spooky, particularly if you are a clausterphobe like I am.  They didn't allow cameras inside the mine, so you'll have to trust me on this one. Once you reach the station inside, you reach lower levels of the mine by riding wooden slides.  They are actually pretty steep, so it's a fun ride!  Little r thought he was in heaven and kept asking to go back.  

All suited up for a trip into the Salt mine!

Our train ride into the mountain...
Then it was time to head to Salzburg.  It's a beautiful city with a lot to see, but for some reason my attempts to truly enjoy Salzburg with Big R have been thwarted by one reason or another.  Although it was a Thursday morning, the parking garages close to the Altstadt were full, so we grabbed street parking and found ourselves limited by timed meters.  We finally found ourselves in the heart of the Old Town and made our way up to the fortress.

Picturesque street in Salzburg - we took the same picture in 2007

Water wheel powering the oldest bakery in Salzburg

The view from the top of the fortress

My tour guide

View of the fortress walls from the top

little r admiring the King's eye view from one of the rooms in the fortress

All this sightseeing tired someone out!

little r protecting the fortress by manning the cannon

Fortress view from downtown Salzburg

The day was exhausting where nothing seemed to go as planned and the weather was the pits (but no where near as bad as it was for us in Lisbon!), so we finished off the day exploring the sweet little town of Berchtesgaden after giving up on Salzburg. We found a random gem of a restaurant in town called Kurz a Curry.  Who knew that delicious Thai food could be found in the heart of the Alps?!

The next day was gorgeous and the activities were much more our speed.  The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and we spent the day out on Königssee (or King Lake) enjoying the views and hiking in the hills that inspired The Sound of Music.  Picking the best photographs to share from that day was an impossible task.  But here are some that hopefully capture the essence of the place.  We really could not have asked for more perfect weather.

Boat houses on Lake Königssee 

Ready for a day of exploring!

The water was as still as glass

little r taking it all in

beautiful Lake Königssee 

Keeping entertained on the long boat ride across the lake

more spectacular views

A perfect capture of the reflection in the lake

Stream on our hike up to Obersee

Another artful capture of beauty
Our loyal companions on this Alpine adventure! 

hiking up to Obersee - such a little man

Cooling off in the Obersee with Grandma
A summer trip to the Alps is never complete without some cow bell!
For the afternoon we visited Kehlsteinhaus (or Eagles Nest), which was a structure built for Hilter intended as a 50th birthday gift that he could use as a retreat and to host dignitaries. The road leading up to the Kehlsteinhaus is winding and narrow, and you reach the top of the structure by tunnel into the mountain and then riding up a 131 meter elevator shaft (apparently Hitler was afraid of heights).  The views from the top are magnificent when the weather cooperates.  When Big R and I visited in May of 2007, we could barely see five feet in front of us because the fog was so thick.  It was such a pleasant surprise to take in all the views on a pretty day.  The most amazing part was, there were huge snow banks still standing despite the temperatures being well over 20 degrees Celsius!  Little r thought that was pretty fantastic - playing in the snow when the weather is warm is a pretty awesome deal.

My photographer capturing that perfect shot
The bus ride up to the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagles' Nest) was CRAZY! 

Huge mound of snow still left behind the Kehlsteinhaus
(the bright orange jacket is little r playing kind of the mountain!)

View of the Kehlsteinhaus

We were so happy the weather cooperated and gave us such beautiful views!

Family portrait - we couldn't peel little r away from the snow!

Grandpa Pete is nuts! 

Again... gorgeous!

Enjoying a little apfelkuchen (apple cake) before heading back  down the mountain
The ride home the next day was quite an adventure in itself.  All of the excitement of the past month finally caught up with little r, so he was sick, exhausted, and quite frankly done with all of it.  A feisty little r means an awesome day for those in his company. We took a short detour to see Zell am See and drive the back roads home through Austria. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the greatest of ideas considering the state of our little one.  Luckily the weather was gorgeous again, which made an otherwise miserable drive quite pleasant - haha.

Zell am See

Parasailer's taking advantage of the gorgeous weather

Beautiful views on our drive home

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