Monday, June 20, 2011

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

Lisa, Bettina and I
Two of my really good friends that I have made here, Lisa and Bettina, are from Austria.  They only had one exam so they left early on June 6th.  Since they were already home I was able to go and visit them! I left on Monday afternoon, and took a bus for 13 hours across southern Germany to Linz, Austria.  I arrive about five in the morning and Bettina was there to pick me up.  I wasn't able to get much sleep on the bus because it was really uncomfortable, so we went back to her place and slept for three hours.  Then we got up and ready and took the tram into the the city of Linz. (Bettina lives in a suburb just outside the city while Lisa lives in the city).  We meet Lisa and they showed me around the city.  We were able to take a tram up one of the mountains and got a good view of the city. Then we went and ate at a small restaurant called Walkers which has really good burgers.  We meet up with Bettina's mom and grandma and went to the OK Hohen Rausch.2 which was kind of like a museum thing for water.  They had these cool picture boards which you pulled out and they were of a body of water and then it made the sound of the water. They also had this area where a lot of mist came out and then it was hard to see anything more than two feet away from you. It also had this long walk way above the building which you could walk around and see the city.  After we went and had coffee, went back to Bettina's house and ordered pizza and watched Gossip Girl. 
Linz, Austria
The next day we got up early and drove to Salzburg which was about an hour and fifteen away. The drive there was beautiful; there are mountains everywhere.  Salzburg was a really nice city and did remind me of the Sound of Music.  Apparently there is even a tour that will take to places from the movie.  We got a small lunch from the market, I had some sort of bratwurst with cheese in it that is typical from there and it was pretty good.There was a castle on top of this really big hill that we hiked to the top to get a good view of the city.   We got to the top and then found out you had to pay to go further so we didn't.  We were able to hike around some more of the hills/mountains. We had a really really nice sunny and hot day; it was about 90 degrees.  After all the hiking we had a dessert break and I had chocolate milk with ice cream.  On our way home we stopped and saw this small lake in Mondsee that was surrounded by mountains.  It was so nice to sit with our feet in the water and just enjoy the scenery.  We were all really tired from all the walking around we did that day.  We just went back to Bettina's house; here mom made a greek salad with rolls and it was very good.  Later one of Bettina's friends came over and we just sat outside talking.
my Austrian dish-Käsespätzle
We had originally planned on going to Vienna (Wein in German) on Thursday but we decided not to because to do Vienna properly you really need more time. So instead, we went to Hallstatt which is a small but very scenic town and Bettina's sister goes to school there. We walked all around the town and then had lunch at this cafe right on the water.  I tried a typical Austrian dish, Käsespätzle, that was kind of like macaroni and cheese. But they weren't really noodles,  I don't know how to describe them. It was interesting; it wasn't bad but it wasn't amazing either. Next we went up the mountain.  We had seen pictures of this cave that looked so amazing and we wanted to go see it.  We bought tickets and you had to ride in this little car that took you up the mountain.  It was only 8 degrees Celsius in the cave so they made us wear these heavier jackets and pants. The tour was fun and there was even these slides we went on to get down to the lower parts of the cave. The caves were salt caves which are very important to the area.  Then they told us the tour was over and we were confused because we thought we were going to see these big blocks of salt.  It turns out we were at the wrong tour than we wanted; what we saw pictures of was the ice cave. It was kind of disappointing because the ice cave looked really cool but the salt mine was still fun.  Then we went to the restaurant on the top of the mountain and had dessert and enjoyed the view. I had this really good chocolate cake with I think an apricot jam filling. We finally went back down the mountain, did some souvenir shopping and went back home.  Bettina's dad had made supper on the grill of potatoes, garlic bread and weinersnitchel which was really good. Then we just tried to pack up and get things ready for the next day and watched some Friends.
Hallstatt Lake

View of Hallstatt from the top
      Friday morning we got up bright and early at 5:00am and were on the road about six headed back to Arnhem.  We made a few stops along the way to McDonalds and a gas station. It was hard to stay awake because I was still kind of tried from the long week and getting up early but I had to stay awake for Bettina. Unfortunately I couldn't help her drive because most people here have stick shift cars which I don't know how to drive. After about nine hours of driving we made it back to Arnhem!!
      I think out of all the places that I have visited while I was here, Austria was the prettiest place (Ireland is a close second).  It was just amazing seeing all the mountains everywhere and the lakes.  It was so hard to capture the beauty in my pictures.  I took so many pictures it was really hard to decide which ones to put on here! I hope to go back to Austria to visit them again and to see Vienna.
Hallstatt houses in the mountain
Ready for the salt caves!

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