Monday, April 28, 2014

Celebration Trip Part III

After leaving our mountain retreat, we headed east toward Austria, stopping for a bit in Lucerne, Switzerland and some pretty stops along the way.

 Chapel bridge in Lucerne was my favorite:

I mean, it is the entire giant spanning bridge behind us in the picture below us, but garnished from one end to the other on both sides with the most gorgeous flower boxes EVER.  So beautiful!

Lucerne was definitely picturesque right along the river. 

And of all the times I'd noticed how interesting all the painting right on the walls of homes and buildings was, this definitely had the largest, and often strangest collection of them.  

And I could hardly handle McDonald's - um hello dessert on actual plates with silverware???

Then it was on to Salzburg, Austria, home of The Sound of Music.  Here is the abbey sitting perched on the hill from the true story of Maria von Trapp.  

Yes, we even did a full Sound of Music tour and I have to say we actually did love it. It was also fun getting to hear the details about the real people, all of Maria's input that went into the movie and where the family ended up.

The place they used as the Von Trapp home in the movie (from the backside):

I could totally picture the scene with the kids swinging from the trees in the lane here when the Captain drove back in town....

And ahhh, the famous gazebo...


The church they were married in....

Although check out the outside of it - more chevrons!

The cutest little town where the chapel was - 

The gardens where a lot of the "Do Re Mi" song was performed:

And then we stopped for lunch.  Is this not like the most picturesque lunch spot EVER?  

So a funny story about this day.  When we were at the gazebo, my eye was caught by a couple that appeared to be on a private Sound of Music tour.  My first thought was, wow, that is a really attractive couple.  And she has nice legs and really cute hair.  :) And then I thought it seemed odd that they would be the type to have a private Sound of Music tour.  Young, good looking, and he looked really sporty and athletic.  But whatever.  Well, when we stopped for lunch, I went inside and down the stairs to use the bathroom.  As I came up, I noticed that couple sitting at a table inside, just on the other side of the glass from where we would have been sitting outside on the deck.  I took a look again, meandered over to look at the giant strudel sitting on the counter, and then tried to unnoticeably glance over at the table again.  And then it hit me - that looks like Carrie Underwood.  And doesn't her husband look kind of like that guy?  Hmm.... When I got back in the car, I tried to google to see if there was any mention or tweet of some sort giving a hint at where Carrie Underwood might be.  But as I googled I hit on a sentence that read: Carrie Underwood is currently prepping for her role as Maria in the live tv version of The Sound of Music.  No way!!!  Of course it was her - and that's why this couple was taking this private tour getting all the scoop on the Sound of Music!  And I had run into her twice!  I can't believe I didn't take any pictures!

While we were in the area, we also stopped for a legitimately Alpine alpine slide, as in right up in the real Alps!  I loved how this kind whisked you up the mountain backwards on your sled.


And then came yet another anxiety-ridden part of the trip for me - the ride we took up to Hitler's Eagle's Nest.  It was just switchbacks right next to the cliff the whole way up to the tippy top of this mountain in a giant bus that I swear was going to fall off the edge.  I could understand why they said Hitler only went up there a handful of times even though his mistress had it built for him and the road paved just to get there - apparently he had issues with heights as well.

It did have amazing views though, and it was really crazy to be in all the same exact places Hitler had been.  It had this crazy underground tunnel you had to go through to get in to get to an elevator to take you up to where the house was up on top.

Old newspaper clippings showing Hitler up there and the inside as it was then.

And it was pretty crazy to see the 1938 on the fireplace and the names of soldiers etched into it from the Allies who had raided and occupied the place during the war. 

It was very interesting, slightly creepy, terrifying for me (the ride up), and one of the highlights for Ryan.

But for heaven's sake - someone tell me what on earth this sign means?!  Witches this way?  You can either take a ferry or a broom to reach this destination?? This way to the haunted cruise line? And why must every sign in these countries end with fahrt??

Well, whatever the case, it meant Ryan could finally dip his toes into some of that crisp Alpine water.  For some reason he just had that craving every time we saw a lake on our trip.  I finally humored him.  :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Celebration Trip Continued

We wanted to attempt to scale some of the Swiss Alps again, and since the forecast was looking more in our favor this time, we headed back through the Interlaken valley towards our previous retreat.

The skies even seemed to part just in time for our arrival.

So we headed back up the crazy cable car box suspended on a string thousands of feet up into our car-less mountain retreat in Murren. 

Waking up with the sunrise in our cozy little mountain hotel room:

HOORAY!  A gorgeous crisp and cloudless morning with the most vivid colors and perfect for taking a ride up another cable car, the Schilthorn to the Piz Gloria - a revolving restaurant with the 10,000 ft breakfast buffet with 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps. (Also famous and heavily commercialized for a James Bond movie filmed there.)

The big peaks - Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau (washed out by the morning sunlight. Translated, meaning the Monk in the middle keeping the Ogre from the Young Maiden).

It was pretty cool to see how fast the clouds could start to move in up there.

And mmm, on to breakfast.  Can I say how much I love the Swiss breakfasts?  Buffets full of Nutella and croissants, juices, fruit, cheese, salmon, ham, and I'm not sure what else.  I didn't make it too much further than the Nutella. And really, they're probably not intended for Americans like us who don't just nibble on a few items but instead fill up plate after plate.  Definitely gained 5 lbs just from free breakfasts.

But those clouds moved in so much so that by the time we were halfway through breakfast they were totally rolling in and even the next cable car or two up after us got none of the stunning views of the peaks that we had got being on that first ride up and they pretty much just got this:

So when it was time to go back down, here we were about to get into a cable car with nothing in sight but an abyss of white making me feel like I was going to plummet to a cloud-filled death.

Lucky for us we had gotten up there on the first ride up! And at least as we went back down the cable car we got out of the cloud cover.  That morning was DEFINITELY a highlight of our trip.

Then we started noticing all the paragliders (see the tiny red dot below?) and base jumpers.  We thought, this is nuts, people really base jump from here?  That has to be deathly.  Sure enough, when Ryan looked it up there has been like 30 people die in the last 10 or 20 years base jumping there.  Why are people still doing it????

We stopped back at our hotel for a last farewell (notice the views from our breakfast table every morning!) and final views of the three big peaks from our room.


Then we wandered around Murren a little while because man, can you imagine any place more inviting and serene to live than a charming little village in the mountains with no cars, fresh air and just away from everything??


Ahhh, such a dreamy place!