Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm almost in Paris. Sad it's my last city but excited to be in the city of lights. Perfect timing too; we'll be getting there around 9pm. Mini-phone post!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Right now I'm waiting for the bus to come take me to Munich. Salzburg was fun. The first day I went on a Sound of Music tour which was a bit overpriced but alright. I was pretty tired and super hungry so I think I was a bit grumpy.

Yesterday we went to the worlds largest ice cave, Eisriesenwelt. It was quite a hike up to the top (20 minutest to the cable car, 20 minutes up to the caves) but the views were beautiful. We couldn't take any pictures in the caves so I can't share any of those but the hike was worth it.

Last night when we got back we went out to a bier garten and had some food and beer. The food was pretty expensive but I had a good time and didn't feel guilty for eating some fries and beer cause of the long hike. Today my legs are really sore but it was worth it. I'm a little bummed to be leaving everyone on Busabout tomorrow and also not looking forward to the 12 hour bus ride from Munich to Paris.

Now onto a bunch of photos!



Palace used for taping for the Sound of Music. It was used for the backyard and water scenes for the house.


I kinda think Julie Andrews looks like a man here


Gazebo used in the Sound of Music




Entrance to Eisriesenwelt

The Alps! View from the hike up to the ice caves






And finally, in Salzberg at night! I took this when I was a little bit tipsy so I'm happy for how well it turned out since the shutter had to be open for a few seconds.


Friday, May 28, 2010


Yesterday the hostel owner called up his friend to see if he would bring us to the Lake nearby and he offered to do it for 30 euros total, which came to about 5 each. It was totally worth it and my butt is glad we got a ride instead of riding the 42km round trip!

I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. There are many more on my flickr account so feel free to click on one to navigate and see the rest! It was so nice to breathe the clean air in and be walking around in such a pretty area.





Me doing a dorky yoga tree pose. (my balance is awful)





The amazingly clear stream!


don't you wish you were here?


It'll be hard to leave in a couple hours! Yesterday after the lake we went horseback riding. I didn't get any pictures of that cause it was raining a little bit but it was a ton of fun. I had a horse that was awfully hungry and whenever I would correct her to stop eating and keep moving she would get pissed and break off into a run. Sometimes she'd listen when I tried to stop her but for the most part I was a vulnerable human holding on for dear life. Haha

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Change of plans

Today I woke up around 6:30am, showered, packed and got on the bus to head to Salzburg... although I didn't quite make it there. We stopped first in Gruenau, Austria as busabout had added a stop this year. I fell in love on the way in. I could see the snow topped mountains in the distance slowly getting closer and decided if that was where we were going I was going to figure out how to stay there. The hostel is called the treehouse and they cook home cooked meals for breakfast and dinner. For busabout they cooked us hungry travelers a yummy lunch of chicken, pasta and veggies for 5 euros. I asked Charlie the bus guide for the day about staying here and she said it would be no problem to change my schedule if they had room, and they did! Only 7 of us are staying here so it's a nice change to a busy, crowded hostel.

Tomorrow we're going horse back riding which I'm excited about. It's only 11 euros for a few hours so it's totally worth it. The sun is starting to come out now so I think I might go walk around in the woods and explore after getting a little bit of work in. There is a stream that runs out back and all of the windows and doors are open right now and there is this lovely breeze coming in. The water is crystal clear and it's seriously so peaceful here. Even though I've been on my own a bit the past week or so it's different when you're in a city vs in a really nice tiny town (of like 1200 people or less). The hostel is about 3 km out of the town so we're pretty much in the middle of nowhere :)

I'll be going to Salzburg next. I got lucky and got the last bed for Friday and Saturday. I do have to switch rooms but that's okay. After that I'll be in Munich for only 1 night. I'll be missing Neuschwainstein but after seeing so many castles and churches it's okay. I can go back some other time and I'd rather spend my last week in nice places feeling a bit more well rested before I come back to Portland than rushed. So Sunday and Monday will be a bit hectic as I'm traveling for 5 hours Sunday to Munich then too many to think about (12 at least) to Paris. I'll be there for 2 nights and 2 full days and then Wednesday night I take a train back to Frankfurt, spend the night in the airport and fly back home the following morning. My days are numbered!

Time to relax a bit more and check out Gruenau. Here is a picture I found online since I haven't had a chance to take any yet.

I'm sure you can see why I stayed!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A few random things..

In Cesky Krumlov there was apparently some sketchy stuff going down. The hostel offered a rafting pub crawl that basically started at noon, they shoved you off in the water with booze and let you loose for 6 hours. I guess there are bars on the way that you can stop at but without a guide I can't imagine how anyone would know where to stop.

So, like every other place on this trip there were a group of people that decided to go on this pub crawl. I'm not sure how they do it. These people seriously hop from one town in Europe to the next drunk and spend most of their trip pissed or recovering. When I showed up at the hostel the next morning (i was staying elsewhere) I saw a girl with this huge eye patch, a guy with his arm in a sling and about 10 really hung over people. Our bus broke down on the way out of town and the guide told us we could go back to Cesky for a few hours til it got fixed and a huge grown erupted from the back of the bus. "Fuck Cesky!" I heard. Of course I was even more curious about the drama so I asked another girl on the bus.

Turns out they got wasted, "commandeered" a boat (their words) and trespassed on private property. 3 of the guys got arrested and ended up in jail. The guy with the broken arm fell at one point and broke it up near his elbow. I don't think he went to the hospital until Vienna. The girl with the eye patch had remarked to her boyfriend that she wanted to go home and he picked her up, slung her on his shoulder and promptly dropped her head first into the ground. She had to have a bunch of stitches and her face was all slashed up. Awesome. Apparently the hostel owner had to go to the police station and the hospital to pay bail and hospital bills since no one had enough $ on them to cover it. They all paid him the next morning.

This is one example for why I'm pretty glad I'm not staying in the recommended hostels at most of the places. The people on the tour that want to party usually stay there and getting mixed up in some of that mess would not be very awesome. I guess drama is everywhere! I understand doing stupid stuff when you're drunk but stealing a boat? c'mon that's shitty.

In my own unfun news I received a call from my landlord at 4am my time telling me that my bike lock was cut and someone stole my bike off my stoop. I've filed a police report, downloaded Skype to call some local bike shops and am scouring craigslist but I'm not too hopeful. When I get back I'll check around my neighborhood in the hopes that someone started to ride it and decided to ditch it. *fingers crossed* The number of bike thefts in Portland is so high - it's a real bummer when someone decides it would be real nice to CUT through a bike lock and steal someones bike. Since I've lived in this apartment I've had my car broken into, rock gear stolen and now a bike. What I really need is to get paid a little bit more so I can afford a new apartment with a little more space and pay my student loans and other bills. Having a 1 bdrm place again would be really awesome. I would love to have a backyard to shape into a cute garden too but I'll take a little more space first! My kitties would love it too.

Speaking of which Don sent me a cute picture of them all sleeping on his bed. They were all sleeping in exactly the same spots that they sleep when they are on my bed. Maybe it's a bit strange that I find that so endearing but I think it's pretty adorable that they all have their little "spots" that make them feel comfortable. I'm so thankful that he's taken such great care of the little ones. I miss their fuzzyness!

Despite the drama and the setbacks I'm having a great time and would love to stay longer. The thought of being back at work during normal work hours in a little over a week makes me feel a bit anxious. I don't thrive on working 9-5. A little non-traditional lifestyle and career would be really nice! Tomorrow I head to Salzburg! Vienna was nice but I was a bit sunburnt today so I only walked around for a few hours. Everything is really expensive here. The cost of things seems amplified even more because I've spent the past two weeks in Berlin, Dresden and the Czech Republic. I keep thinking about Dresden actually. The people, food and atmosphere was really great. It felt small but had a lot of the big city perks. I also got the green vibe from all the compost, recycling and the farm in the middle of a street block. It has its eccentricities and also a very beautiful old town. I think it was the most like Portland except with a much richer history. I sure miss that tasty Indian food.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grape Grazing in the Austrian Countryside

Today a bunch of us went on a grape gazing wine bike tour in the country. Besides my lingering migraine I really had a great time. The weather was perfect (mid-70's) and sunny. A group of about 10 Aussie girls from the busabout trip and I (the lone American) bonded and hung out which was nice for me since I haven't really spent too much time with other girls on this trip. We started at the hostel in Vienna and Adam, our tour guide, took us on the train to the Wachau region in Austria. My head was pounding and the 50 minute train ride there made me feel a bit sick but as soon as we were out and about I felt so much better.

We went into Comrades a local family winery and tasted 3 types of white wines.


This region was well known for it's dry white wines like Reislings and Grüner Veltliners. Normally I really don't like white wine but I will admit it seemed to taste better than any white I've had. I'm sure the scenery helped a bit but I wouldn't have minded buying a bottle for later if I knew I didn't have to carry it around on my back.


Next we left and went to go pick up our bikes down the road. It felt so good to be out of the city and in the middle of the country. I think a few of us remarked at just how quiet it was.



It was nice to see mountains again too! In the distance we could see the Dürnstein ruins which was the main seat of the Kueringer family in the 12th century. It stands high on the rocks above the Danube. Richard the Lionhearted was held imprisoned in this castle as well. Later we were told we would have the chance to climb up to the top and while it was a brutal hike it would be well worth it for the views.


We biked along for about 10 miles or so on really nice bike paths alongside the Danube. Everyone was out riding today because the weather was so lovely. By then it was about 2pm or so and we were all thinking of the promised BBQ for lunch. It was 7 euros and a ton of food! I didn't take any pictures of the actual food because I think I was too hungry by then but we had pork sausages, sausage with cheese in it and wrapped in bacon - it was amazing, steaks, beet salad (!!), salad, potato salad, corn, bread, and cake. I couldn't eat the steak and loaded up on the beets but bacon wrapped cheese sausage is the bomb. Oh yeah, and we had some wine too.

(For some reason if you're viewing this on my blog page it cut the picture off usually with me on the side - click on them for larger!)


The view was gorgeous.


After we had our fill of food we got back on the bikes and headed back to the first town with the ruins. In the town of Dürnstein there were shops with handmade jams, schnapps, and chocolates that we could all sample. I armed myself with some water got myself ready for the 20 minute hike up to the ruins.


Adam was right it was pretty hardcore but it was pretty perfect for working off what I ate for lunch. From the top there were some amazing views of the scenery, the town and the Danube.




My hair is a wreck here and I'm sweaty and gross but hey look, I had friends to take my pictures, haha.


Here are a few pictures of the ruins



Before we headed back down we took one last break sitting on the edge just checking out the town. The church was painted in pretty blues and golds.


The walk down was easy and I ended up buying some jam, a chocolate bar, some peppermint oil for my temples and some handmade hair repair cream that I can't wait to use after I write this blog. My hair has been pretty fried from drying it using a straight iron or blow dryer if one is available on this trip. When I get back I need to get it trimmed.

On the train ride back Adam brought probably 6 or 7 bottles of wine in his bag. At this point my head was hurting too much to drink anymore but everyone seemed to have a good time and the pours were much more generous than before. I left to go back to rest a bit so I feel better before exploring Vienna tomorrow. I heard they are screening the opera in front of the opera house for free tomorrow afternoon so I plan to check that out. I'm really glad I went on this trip because it got me out of the city for the day and was pretty great exercise. I feel pretty good right now but no more bacon wrapped cheese sausage, bitte!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cesky Krumlov, the cute little town from your fairytale books

I keep writing about past things and I know I have a bit of catch up to do but just know that I'm really enjoying my trip! I will stick a few catch up pieces here and there in the mix but really what I think most people want to hear about it what I'm doing right now. I'll go back to Prague later - the city deserves a proper entry! It can be overwhelming because when I think about what I want to write about I usually have tons of pictures that I want to post with it. Uploading, editing and posting those takes time. I'm glad I'm able to work but it does take up a lot of my "free time".

Right now I'm in Cesky Krumlov, a small town a few hours South of Prague in Bohemia. It's very much like a mini-Prague. The streets are all cobblestone and the road is narrow. You have to have a special permit to drive here so cars are rare to see. There is really only one main road that leads to the City Center and I haven't made it there yet because I was rightfully exhausted when I arrived. My last day in Prague was filled with an amazing person I met! (more on that later though!)

I found a really inexpensive pension here which is pretty much a B&B that serves you breakfast to your room. I woke up today with this huge vegetarian breakfast!

My yummy breakfast

They gave you a choice of what you wanted for breakfast so I had requested no meat because I just can't keep eating it. It feels really unhealthy to eat as much meat as Europeans do. The breakfast was huge! 2 mini-baguette breads (they are extremely popular here and only 2.5 czk koruna's, which is about 12 cents a piece), a glass of orange juice, green tea, 3 types of cheese (edam, munster and an impostor Brie), jam, butter, yogurt and a banana. Yum!

Anyways, today I am going to walk around and explore the town and the castle. There are only about 14,000 residents here so it's very small. The town is essentially nestled in a pocket of the Vltava River (the same one in Prague) so it's very cozy and friendly. Last night I walked down the street to find the vegetarian restaurant and took a few pictures. Here is a view of the street:

Narrow Streets

Most of the town looks like this. I came to the bridge and took a few pictures of the river and part of the castle.

Cesky Krumlov

A view to the main part of the town (where I'm heading today):

A view of river and castle:

Cesky Krumlov

Next to Prague, Cesky has the biggest Castle in the Czech Republic. Pretty much so far that I've seen there is a town, some places to stay, restaurants, a few shops a beautiful river and a castle.

I found a yummy vegetarian restaurant and stopped in to get a bite to eat, read and relax. The menu was really awesome and inexpensive. 200 koruna's = $10 USD. Most of the food there was much less.

Laibon, vegetarian restaurant menu

They had seats by the river both covered and uncovered and I chose to sit here, with this pretty view.

View from Laibon in Cesky Krumlov

After living in a city it's so peaceful and nice to just sit by a river and watch the time go by. The sun came out at one point and I snapped this gorgeous view of the castle (on left). Did I mention where I was sitting I could see a full view of the castle and hear the clock chime? It felt pretty romantic.

Cesky Krumlov Castle!

The owner was really, really nice. We chatted about Portland, Montreal, Cesky Krumlov and tourism (which he loves as it's not too many people really, only in summer months), the book I was reading, food, and Upstate New York. He had heard that the Czech Landscape is similar to upstate NY and I had to agree, it really is for the most part. There aren't any huge mountains but compared to the Cascades no mountains really seem huge to me anymore. The countryside here has a lot of cute villages, lakes and rolling hills.

These are some pictures I took on the way into Prague:

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

Czech Countryside

It is very similar to upstate NY. Maybe that is why I feel really comfortable here.

After my roasted veggie chili he brought me a complimentary pot of tea. I asked for the bill after that as I had already been there about 1 1/2 hours and read a good 100 pages in my new book but he instead brought me a nice hot glass of mead and we chatted some more. He started to get busy as people came in and after the mead he brought me a glass of hot mulled wine. And then another. It was really sweet and I couldn't tell if maybe he was just really nice or slightly interested. He told me he really enjoyed talking to me and apologized that he was so busy. Around 9:45 and my 3rd glass of wine I thanked him again and told him I had to leave to get to bed. I had told him the night before I hadn't slept much. He added up the bill and it was 158 koruna's. That's like $6. He wouldn't take any tip or extra $ and told me everything was a gift. He wished me well and I stumbled back through the safe quiet streets to my room and fell asleep. What a night! I would like to go back because the food was excellent but I am worried he will think I am coming back for free drinks. I do know that he wanted to keep talking to me and it was great talking to someone who knew so much about the world.

There are many people I run into on this trip that stereotype America and haven't heard of Oregon. I understand why we have the stereotype but it's upsetting sometimes which is why I usually tell people I'm from Portland, Oregon... except about 70% of the people I run into look at me funny until I tell them United States. I suppose I don't know all of the countries in the world but I know of many and could probably place them in a fairly accurate spot on the map. 50 states is a lot though. Everyone knows New York but that has another stereotype attached so I don't say I'm from there either. Hell, I don't know where I'm really from. I've spent the longest in New York but this year is my 6th in Oregon so it's catching up.

I only have a day here and it's already 12:30 (where did the time go??) so I'm going to head out and explore the town and the castle. So far everyone I've met is really friendly and in some ways this town reminds me of Saranac Lake. Sometimes I miss living in a small town and other times I am really glad I don't know everyone where I live. It's sure great to go back and visit though.

And finally I'd like to comment on the weather. So far I've gotten really lucky with rain. There's only been a couple rainy days on my trip and those have already been the days I had planned to take it easy. I hope mentioning this isn't bad luck! The restaurant owner, David, told me that they hadn't had sun in weeks and last night when the sun shone through and the sky was a beautiful blue everyone was in awe. Today it's about 62F and it's sunny! I've been monitoring the weather in Vienna too because Monday I planned to go on a grape gazing tour. It's a day long trip for 49 euros and you bike through the Vienna countryside, drink wine and then have a nice BBQ by the river. Sounds amazing. The weather has been nasty in Vienna but this coming Monday? It is projected to be 74 and sunny. The gods are smiling down on me! :)