??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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The hills are alive with the Sound of Music

Armed with as much Google information as I could find and my own knowledge of this delightful musical we ventured  to Mirabell Garden in Salzburg and I began my own Sound of Music adventure. With a huge grin and light steps I entered the garden, the husband just walked at regular speed. He admired the beautiful floral gardens. I on the other hand, eyes widened with delight like a child seeing a Willy Wonka chocolate river, wanted to run everywhere to see it all at once. Yes, the gardens were beautiful. The colours of the flowers were like hundreds and thousands sprinkled all over a cake. This vision was only spoilt by a silver coated mime act and a clown busker. Cruel, because to get into the gardens I had to pass by both. I’m terrified of clowns and masks!

me running

Those of you who are Sound of Music fans will recognise this garden as featuring very much so in the song ‘Do- Re- Mi’ . So , lets start at the very beginning…

DO-RE

I ran to the Pegasus  fountain. “Photo please! ” I called out as I sang parts of the song while skipping around the fountain. Hardest part was waiting for others to disappear to get a shot of just me  so I settled for a at least having a photo.

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MI-FA

Off I hopped, up and down the steps, singing Do – Re -Mi. Having read many others’ experiences here suggesting to wait until the crowds passed so as to not look silly, I said ‘YOLO’ and belted out the song loud and clear while demanding more photos . At the time of posting, somehow the photos of me singing on the steps have just ‘disappeared’. Hmmmm, oh well a memory still etched hard forever in my brain and probably those of others who stared watching my show haha ( and lucky no video for YouTube haha)!

use steps notes

SO-LA

My next mission was to find the gnome section of the park. This park has no signage that I could find so we just had to keep wandering.I found it on an upper level. The gnomes stand around a circular pathway in the gnome garden. I tapped the head of the gnome with glasses…of course singing again… and knowing the Von Trapps had done this before me , my hands tapped where theirs once did.

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 TI

I sang too, as I skipped along the walkway covered in clinging vines forming a cool canopy.

skipping

That will bring us back to Do

Oh and we made a trip to the Residence Square to splash a horse in the fountain.

I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
Now here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?

P1030051The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hearsbrian ph 2453

Our guided  tour hour finally arrived (yes, I did a guided tour too!) and we were helped aboard by our own Austrian styled Maria and we were off!!

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First stop was the gazebo. As she spoke about its history I decided the best photos would be before the bus crowd encroached so I walked ahead and got my photos listening with one ear to her stories . I must admit I seemed to know them all from interactions with my friend Google and from having read the book STORY OF THE TRAPP FAMILY SINGERS by Maria Augusta Trapp. By the time The Husband arrived from the talk I was ready to sing and sing I did! I tried to tell him the lines of Rolf’s to sing but he wouldn’t, so I sang it all as I ran around the outside pretending to jump from seat to seat. A lot of the bus folk watched and I’m sure they were thinking how weird great my reenactment was.

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I am sixteen, going on seventeen. I know that I’m naive.
Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet, and willingly I believe.

use gazebo

Before hoping on the bus I hid behind a tree for a photo. This tree was one  the little Von Trapp children dangled from as their father drove to the house with the Baroness.

                        “Oh, it’s nothing – just some local urchins.”

tree

No, I wasn’t going to climb the tree as the Von Trapps had, my excuse… the bottom branches were out of reach :)
From there we did a drive – by of the convent ( scene areas not open to the public)  Nonnberg Abbey. P1030038

We zoomed past Fronburg Castle, the backdrop to where Maria sang at the gates before entering, where the Nazi flag was ripped down and the car was pushed through the gates in the dark as they planned to escape. When we zoomed past  the gates were wide open.

P1030021Next stop was then onto the residence as seen in the balcony pink lemonade scene  where the Baroness hints about marriage and where Maria and the children toppled from their boat. Not prepared to be authentic in the icy water ( which I tested by hand ) I still had a backdrop photo and a balcony zoom.

The Baroness:  : Not too sweet, not too sour.
Max: Just too, uh… pink. 

P1030027A.K.A     Leopoldskron Castle 

P1030035Where is the boat?

By now the weather turned cold – watched the external temperature indicated in the bus, drop from 23C to 15 and the heavens began dropping icy raindrops. We stopped for a photo opportunity looking over the lakes regions the ones seen in the movie introduction. They were beautiful. Yachts with white sails raced across the blue water top. This water, green of the countryside and light colours of the building stood in contrast against the backdrop of a black stormy sky.

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Our tour then took us to the abbey where Maria married the Captain. I must admit I always wondered why her wedding march was “How do you solve a problem like Maria” seems a little cruel . Or, did it mean pass on a problem to solve it, in this case pass her on to the Captain? The rain was bucketing down now, little gullies ran through the gravelled walkways. The abbey was closed to the public, not sure if because of the rain or if it’s a regular thing, so I looked from afar and did what any sensible person would- headed for a cafe to sit out the storm. This was an hour stop so there was plenty of time.brian ph 2486
Had a delicious hot chocolate and an apple strudel smothered in vanilla sauce ( custard).  I tried to get whipped cream on the side but with no luck.

brian ph 2492

 

We raced back to the bus. By now our umbrellas were purely decorative as the wind whipped the rain from all directions. On the drive from the lakes and homeward bound  the  CD soundtrack was played and with the exception of Maria and myself the bus was silent – but we made up for it :)

 This day was  a highlight of my trip. So glad we did the gardens early because at the end of the tour it was very wet to visit.

If you get the chance I’d thoroughly recommend the tour conducted by Salzburg Sightseeing Tours. It was run on time, the coach was clean and the hostess was informative and captivating.

And, so I leave you with…

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu

 

 


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Time to go ….Tim and Ally

Well the Travelling Mcs are now in Austria just the two of us now, as the kidults returned home on Monday.
We were only in Frankfurt as a transit point transit really , a connection for flights and trains. We did venture into the old city of Frankfurt for a day though and got caught up – literally – in the European iron man championships. I say literally because I slinked through a barrier ( I wanted to get across to the river and there was nowhere close by) and was ambling along the pathway with plastic cup debris lining the edges, when I heard this man ringing a cowbell…yes a cowbell !!! warning me off the track…as a herd of cyclists whizzed past me at speed. Turns out this is why my family hadn’t followed my lead of slinking lol. We eventually escaped the madness. How unlucky for them I thought, in a city where the average summer temp is 24C they score a day of 31C.
We drifted down the River Main on a boat trip for 100 minutes , in terms of view the 50 minute trip would have been a better option. We sat up on the top deck for the first half of the journey then headed down stairs for food to consume for the next leg of 50 minutes.
We trudged in the heat along un sheltered pathways then, in the hope of catching the Appleveiss tram, a tourist tram that goes around the city and the fare includes a ‘refreshing’ ( that word caught our eyes on this hot day )glass of apple juice or apple wine and a pastry – what’s not to like? Unfortunately after waiting for about 30 minutes we discovered the tram wasn’t running by this day due to the iron man competition :( We weren’t the only disappointed people at the tram drop.
Ate a huge lunch/dinner then headed back to the hotel so the kids could pack for their flight.
Airports are emotional places…exciting for many who are off on adventures, scary for some who are going somewhere for maybe a less than nice reason or frightened of flying, sad for those seeing love ones off on their journey wherever that be too and exciting for those ready to go home from an adventure. We fell into the lags two categories. The kidults were excited to be going home, to see partners and pets they had missed for three weeks and to get back into their regular lives. Travelling is wonderful but there really is no place like home. Of course I fell into the second last category. I had tears watching my kidults as they waved goodbye having passed through customs and then heading off to their flight gate. They are confident seasoned travellers having made many trips overseas both together and with their friends. For me it’s the first time the tables have been turned and it’s me in the foreign country while they are home in Australia. I know I will miss having them on this last leg of the trip. We all had a wonderful three weeks full of laughs and adventures.
Anyway my sadness was short lived as I boarded the train at Frankfurt to Salzburg.Sound of Music land here I come!

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Giving thanks for elasticated waistbands

Or 3 days in Salzburg -though in all fairness this is just the tip of the iceberg…and I have enjoyed every mouthful. A continent that knows how to give a decent portion of cream and sauces!!

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Arrivederci Italy

Leaving Italy behind our adventure took us across the Austrian border then into Germany heading to Munich. The scenery was beautiful in a different way to that of Italy. Old style buildings of three storeys high gave way to chalet style homes. The water and fairly flat topography wax replaced with huge alps and as we approached closer to Munich they become snow capped. Window boxes of pretty coloured flowers still adorned the windows and balconies as they had in Italy.

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The countryside.          20140705-183658.jpg

 

Aboard the train – dining room

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Border crossing  Italy to Austria      20140705-183736.jpg

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Arriving at the hotel we had the most simplest of dinners…SUBWAY. We didn’t arrive until close on 8:30pm so by the time we had settled into the hotel none of us felt like dressing for dinner, let alone sitting in a restaurant. Besides, eating subway sandwiches at our hotel gave us the chance for a bit of a relax and early night, something we have had few of in our travels ( time to sleep when we get home!)
Thursday we did a girls / boys split. Brian and Tim headed to Allianz Arena while Ally and I headed into town. We visited the Jewish Museum , the National Munich Museum and watched the Glockenspiel clock display it’s dancing story at midday. With the rain bucketing down, not an umbrella between us ( it was slightly overcast when we had headed off early in the morning) and very infrequent awnings on buildings we began to realise while we had strolled slowly we had in fact covered a very large distance from our hotel. We laughed all the way back to the hotel as the rain got heavier and arrived back as drowned rats and began sorting through online restaurant menus to pick our evening’s dining.

City wall

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20140705-184015.jpg  Glockenspiel Clock on the new town hall at Munich

Seems the fare here enjoys a lot of offal, calf heads and pork in large knuckles- with the exception of Brian, even white sausages were beginning to spook us.
We found a restaurant ( we like to try the local fare within reason) and had the best night. Without googling we ate white sausages, frankfurts, veal rissoles, sauerkraut and mashed potato for Tim and I , vegetarian rissoles for Ally and a huge meat platter for Brian, followed by amazing desserts of apricot strudel and cream puffs ( my amount of cream too!! ) . The beers the boys had were litre steins. The meals here are huge – and I’m not that each to stump :)

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20140705-184206.jpg Sausages

Pork knuckle , chicken and dumpling.        20140705-184222.jpg

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Vegetarian

In my excitement to eat dessert I must have forgotten to take photos hahaha


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Pisa – town of a leaning tower

Today the heavens opened on us. We left Florence in brilliant sunshine using the local train line to Pisa. At a Florence,as in Rome and Napoli , the gypsies sell their knowledge of how to work the ticket machine to unsuspecting tourists…but that’s not me :) The ticket machines in fact are easy to use offering instructions in several languages but to be honest the way the gypsies work you would think at first they are help staff from the railway .

We headed off on a train not dissimilar to this of the interurban style we are used to travelling in to a Sydney. The trip was about 30 minutes into the one hour trip when really dark clouds appeared. Then a sprinkle of dots splattered the window, then a torrential downpour. The seat in front of us had a broken window and the rain poured in, luckily the windows on this train have curtains so they became a rain block. Just before we arrived at Pisa a gypsy girl boarded the train and handed everyone a card telling us she was poor and needed money to help because her brothers were sick. A few minutes later she returned to collect the printout and or cash donation. In my case it was the printout only.

With it still raining at Pisa we raced to catch the Hop on Hop Off bus to see around the town.
We got off at the iconic tower. I felt compelled to take some of the traditional styled photos , along with all the tourists doing the same. We’d ignored the raindrops and got a bit wet. This seemed to help my very bad , in need of help hair. (I got on the plane in Sydney bound for Italy and on arrival my hair was fully dried out and in bad condition – I dread the trip home. I fear I will need to have all my hair cut off and I’m scared !! ) .
Here is my artistic display of that iconic tower :)

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Varied Views of Venice

Another train trip this time to Venice. We are becoming very savvy on the trains now. They trip is a chance to see the scenery and home style changes and to have a rest from running.
Just before pulling into Santa Lucia train station – yes I sang the song to the dismay of my family ( and possibly some other passengers hahaha) we travelled along the long bridge into the canal city. As we exited the station the hum of water traffic filled my ears and ghee vision of boats and ferries whisking along excited me. We’d quickly picked up our travel passes and head for a vaperetto , a ferry like transport used in the canals. The Venizia pass was the cheapest way to use the ferries as we were in Venice for 3 days.

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Arriving at our apartment the lift was very odd. You needed to press the button in until the lift arrived then when inside you gad to hold the button in until you arrived at your floor which was the third floor. The life was one about the size of a regular shower just enough room for one with a bag squeezed in. As I took off I realised the lift ( apart from the floor and the back wall with the button ) was glass all around so if I looked away from the back wall I look straight down yo the bottom…argghhh – I held on tight.
We checked in , looked at our canal view from our room then I noticed we had only 4 beds and I’d booked the larger room for €35 a night extra! Went to the receptionist and she said they had given us this room because I’d asked if the building was the one with the lift ( one of their apartment blocks didn’t have a lift). She neglected to say the return email said the 5 person room I’d booked and paid for was in this building. Funnily they didn’t tell me they were putting me in a cheaper room ( €105 over 3nights extra I had paid in effect). To add insult to injury the air conditioning didn’t work nor did the fridge. When I mentioned this to the next receptionist ( change of shift) the man told us it was because the cleaner had forgotten to leave a card in had door slot- sounded reasonable as that’s the method in lots of hotels. We put the card in at around 6:30 pm . By 9:30 pm the room was still a sauna and the fridge still not working. The new duty manager checked and said both were broken and as the restaurant next to our room was cold perhaps we could sleep with our door open!! I didn’t like this option. By 1 am I needed to sleep (I’d been sitting in the closed restaurant until then so I was cool) and the family was hot in the room I opened the windows. This let in a cool breeze, mosquitoes that ate us alive and partying voices as people returned home.
Up again at 5 am and no duty manager around I waited until close to 7 am and demanded the new duty manager move us into the room we had booked and paid for and I wanted a refund of the extra money I had paid for the larger room but had been denied. She said the air condition worked slow and I’d opened the windows negating the cool. I asked if 7 hours was the usual time for cooling and she told me it was a slow worker. She said the fridge wasn’t broken . It wasn’t actually a fridge ( it was a bar fridge) and so the tepid cans were how it worked. She said they would move us but she would have to speak to the owned about recompense. The owner spoke with strong hand gestures, fast words, loud voice and all in Italian ( spoke no English apparently). Reminded me of my Italian family growing up ( except they did it in English lol) .
Eventually he agreed to give the refund of the difference for the nigh and a meager € 5 for the inconvenience. They also made out they were going us a favour but I expressed to them they were in fact fulfilling an obligation of a booking we had made and paid with them.
When we arrived into the new room funnily , the air con worked and the fridge was cold. Then an employee had to come up to separate the double bed into twin beds and re sheet them. Ally and I were in the room and had the windows open watching the canal below ANC the impressive lightning happening. He asked if we would mind him closing the windows for us. We thought he was referring yo the coming storm. No , he then looked at us both and spoke with a condescending tone and said ” We wouldn’t want your room to be hot again would we!” How rude hahaha. I couldn’t imagine a hotel carrying on so. Later we read on trip advisor posts written in the last few days that others had been treated in the same way we had.
But this one example of poor hospitality didn’t stop us enjoying the fun of a Venice.
Rialto Bridge – luckily it wasn’t still being cleaned :)

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Bridge of Sighs

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And from inside

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I walked to the top level and underground to the prison in Doge’s Palace YOLO

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David here, David there, David is EVERYWHERE

No trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to David.
While we saw the original in the Galleria dell’Accademia we also saw him everywhere in a Florence. It was the equivalent of a “Where’s Wally” where like on the tv show you had a minute to find Wally. We found David in small size, large size and even on aprons and shorts :)
While I was not intending to, once I saw the silly photos being made in the Accademia I too couldn’t resist.
The real David

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and from a different angle -the ceiling was beautiful in Accademia

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Apparel

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Around the town

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And a bit silly :)

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Firenze – Florence

20140629-224113.jpgWe headed off from Sorrento at around lunch time , back to Napoli for a train to Rome. We were to stay just overnight until our train to Florence the next morning. The hotel I picked here lived up to the not so fantastic reviews but it was clean and right on the station which was important.
An extra night in Rome gave us the chance to see the Colosseum by night. We arrived there after an early dinner ( anything before 8 pm seems early by local standards we find) at around 9pm to watch the twilight sky change hues as it approached darkness. The orange glow lights that illuminate this ancient relic add to the awe. Of course the regular hawkers of scarves, plastic toys that stretch , laser lights and wooden and bead jewellery meandered through the crowds.

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Our morning train to Florence was uneventful. Being in first class we made full use of the free newspapers ( learning to read italian is easier than speaking it I find) , coffee, juice and biscuits. The fast trains are really easy to use , travel smooth , are clean and you get to see the scenery as you travel. I’m now glad I chose this option instead of domestic flights.
On arrival we taxied it to our next hotel, although not far from the train station ( a bit over a km) we were dragging bags. We stayed at a beautiful apartment that looked bigger and better than the online photos ( and experience tells me this is rarely the case).

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After dropping our bags and marveling at our home for the next few days we set off to explore Firenze. I don’t understand why we call this place Florence rather than its real name.
We did a ‘Jersey Shore Walking Tour ‘ that we made up ourselves based on places my daughter knew they had been. We saw the hotel they stayed at while filming and 2 restaurants they frequented. We booked one for the next night as if would be Ally’s birthday.

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We had dinner at Cafe Duomo a restaurant they frequented that night. Luckily the football was finished just as we arrived so we got a table easily.


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Destination Amalfi

Frances: Do traffic lights mean anything around here?
Marcello: Yeah, sure. Green Light – avanti! avanti!, yellow light – decoration.
Frances: And what about red light?
Marcello: Just a suggestion.
Quote : Under the Tuscan Sun

I think this quote sums up all of Italy but thought it appropriate to use on my Destination Amalfi post .

The sun was already blazing down on us as we were picked up for our Amalfi Cost day trip. I had chosen to use a company called Amalfi Coast Destination. I’d googled lots of reviews on many sites and in the blogging community and if what they had to say was true ( and there were too many to be made up I thought) we were in for a great day. Let me tell you now that was just as it turned out to be…and those that know me are aware I have a bad personality trait of over planning and expect everyone to live up to my preconceived plans. I’m not good on ‘winging it’. Our driver, Roberto, gave a continual historical guide as we drove. He must get a sore throat after each day’s drive. But, he was informative and charming and importantly knowledgable. I’m guessing he was ‘knowledgable’ as he told us some things I’d already learnt from googling prior to my holiday so I’m assuming the other things were right based on this. :) We headed off in air conditioned comfort of a Mercedes 8 seater van, leaving Sorrento behind as we began the winding road towards Amalfi.

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Our first formal stop was Positano. I say formal because Roberto had stopped for photo opportunities and to share information. It was here in Positano that some scenes in ‘Under the Tuscan sun’ were shot hence the early quotes relevance :) it had an old world charm about the town with walkways draped in flowered vines , cobblestone pathways and what TOUR DE STEPS italian trip would be complete without a steep walkway haha. The family headed down to the beach for a swim but I preferred ambling through the small stores each filled with a variety of tourist trap memorabilia or expensive clothing and accessories ( perfect for the ambience of this town) . When we arrived we were suggested to keep our visit to one hour so we could see the maximum in our day. Our hour raced too quickly and before we knew it we were back in the van , sipping cool water brought along by Roberto heading further up the coastline.

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We passed through Praiano and stopped at the Emerald Grotto. Having missed the Blue Grotto at Capri I was eager to see inside this one. I had read while researching my trip that some suggest this is even more beautiful than the Blue a Grotto but I can’t make a comparison. We rode an elevator down to the water. From here we joined a short queue to enter the grotto. We rode in small boats holding about 20 people around the grotto observing the stalagmites and stalactites. The water was illuminated from natural light below apparently and looked beautiful in the still water and when the oarsman splashed purposely across the top of the water it danced magically as if fairies draped in iridescent emerald gowns were performing for an audience. I’m so glad  we visited this.

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We drove through Amalfi ( which we visited later) before arriving at Ravello. Ravello is perched high up in the hill and was reached by a narrow windy road passing through lemon and olive groves that featured on terraced mountains. Must be interesting harvesting the crops and bringing them to the top of the mountains. Although we knew lunch was to be in an hour or so we still squeezed in a gelato using the excuse ( like we need one haha) that it was a hot day and the gelato would help rehydrate us . The little alley ways led along paths of stores with lots of ceramics and of course limoncello ( at this point I think we are getting dangerously close to our duty free component of alcohol as Brian has developed an obsession for buying it everywhere in bottles of varied shapes and sizes :)

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Our next stop was Amalfi. It is surrounded by dramatic cliffs with hotels and businesses carved into the cliff face. We wandered into the town centre and saw the Duomo di Sant Andrea Apostolo. At the top of the stairs was a newly married bride and her groom. We then perused the shops and headed to the waterfront. We overlooked the beach with it’s brightly coloured deck chairs and umbrellas and looked back again the cliff faces and the windy road still visible from our spot.

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With rumbling tummies we headed back to the van to head for lunch. I will dedicate a post of its own to this deserving story :)
Surviving lunch we were back on the road on our way back to Sorrento. This time we travelled the inland road displaying a different type of beauty of green mountains and towns of Tuscan styled homes ( of course ) . Back at Sorrento it was time to rest before dinner.
If you are ever looking to day trip The Amalfi coast this is definitely the way to go. I remembered when we started Roberto the tour’s motto is “Come as guests, leave as friends” and he certainly excelled in achieving this . This post is my own thoughts only, I paid for my tour and received nothing to write this. It is not an advertisement just a reflection of a wonderful day.

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