Thursday, August 7, 2014

Salzburg, Austria

Theeeeeeeeeeee hiiiiiiills are aliiiiiiiiiive, with the sound of muuuuuuusssssiiiiicccccccc!! 


Welcome to Salzburg, Austria! 

Known for two things really: the birthplace of Mozart (wooo......), and the backdrop for the Sound of Music movie.

Any hardcore Sound of Music fans out there??? I wish I could say I am one, but I've only seen the movie a handful of times. I'm not gonna lie, before this trip, I didn't even know where the movie took place. But after a bit of research (okay one Google search) I discovered that the Sound of Music tour was THE thing to do while in Salzburg, and I am all about doing 'THE' things so I said ya why not and bought my ticket. When I arrived in Salzburg my mama also told me that the Sound of Music was my grandparents' favourite movie. I thought that was so sweet!! So part of me did the tour for them. 

The tour was actually SUPER enjoyable! I'm sure I wasn't enjoying it as much as all of the hardcore fans out there but it was nice to see the "real" Austria and some of the famous scenes in the movie. I actually kinda prepared by watching the movie the night before at our hostel, the Yoho, which plays the movie daily. 

But for me, the best part of the tour was the tour guide (HE WAS SO FUNNY, like legit hilarious I awkward laughed at his jokes by myself the whole time hehe) and THE BUS!!! Check out this bad boy!!!!  


I love this bus. 



The tour took us to a few different spots, the first was the lake and the house where the backyard shots were taken (they used two different houses in the movie, one for the front of the house and one for the back! WhoOOoAaA trippy). 


The gazebo where they sang "Sixteen going on Seventeen". 


Then we headed up into the mountains. 


Into a small town called Mondsee, to check out the church where Maria and the Baron got married. 



Where they gave us a bit of free time to wander around and try some apple strudel (it's an Austrian thang, you gotta!). 

I had mine with half ice cream half warm vanilla sauce. 

Tasted better than it looks!


Overall, the tour was cute but I wasn't blown away. 

The only building you get up close and personal with is the church, and churches are lame. 

I'm glad I did it, everyone was so friendly and the sing-a-long bit on the bus was fun, but my friends did a "Lakes and Mountains" tour that looked way more up my alley that I should have done instead. Ya live and ya learn. 

The next day, we checked out the Mirabell Gardens, which ALSO happens to be Sound of Music related! It's where they filmed parts of the 'Do-Re-Mi' song. COULD NOT get that shit out of my head the entire time we were there. 





Manicured gardens are pretty but I like the wild parts the best.











And of course, more love locks!!! (Can someone plz just do a love lock with me so I can stop being so horny for them). 





We wandered around the Old Town, did some shopping, and checked out the market. 

One thing you'll see EVERYWHERE in Salzburg are these Mozart balls. 

Honestly, I still don't get it. 

They're these chocolate balls created by a Salzburg confectioner in 1890, named after Mozart. 

They somehow got famous, and the rest is history. 

I don't know why this is so hard for me to wrap my head around, but it is. 

HOW does a chocolate ball get so famous?? WHY is it named after Mozart?? WHY does no one else find this so confusing!! 

Anyway, I had a few. They were alright. 










We also went to St. Peter's Cemetery and Catacombs, the oldest Christian graveyard in Salzburg dating back to 1627. 

It's kiiind of weird to call a cemetery beautiful, but it was! So green and lush. There's something peaceful about really really old cemeteries that I've always really really liked. If my future home was beside a really really old cemetery, I wouldn't be against it.




Salzburg is also famous for Hohensalzburg Castle, a fortress that sits a top a mountain overlooking the city. 

It's one of the largest medieval castles in Europe! We took a lift up to the top and wandered around for a couple hours. 

The inside has all been converted into a museum type thing. There's different exhibits, like a torture chamber, some more old stuff, and a super creepy puppet room that still haunts me to this day.

But the real reason we went up there, was for the views. I've realized that in almost every city there's a tall thing you need to climb to see "the views". Well, this was it!







After all of the sightseeing and tours, I have to say my favourite part of Salzburg was the Augustiner Beer Hall, for obvious reasons. 

There's a little bit of a hike involved, about 10-15 mins uphill from the Old Town, but it is soooo worth it.

You'll walk through an unassuming door, soon rewarded by a beautiful staircase that leads down to what looks like a small market with various vendors selling cafeteria style food, meats, bread, and cheeses. After grabbing some food, you'll enter the actual beer hall itself, booming with voices and laughter, filled with locals and tourists alike. Long, wooden tables fill the dark ambient room as light softly enters from the huge curved windows. But what you really came here for, is the beer! Grab a huge ceramic stein, rinse it off in an old-fashioned fountain (not sure why ya do this, but ya do!). Buy a ticket from the cashier and present it to the people pouring the beer from giant, wooden barrels. Then sit down with your bratwurst & beer, relax, and enjoy! 






From Mozart, to musicals, to beer drinking heaven.

Pretty much sums up Salzburg to me!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pretty Pretty Prague

Everybody loves Prague! 

"So, where are you headed next?" -  standard question asked by every traveller ya meet.

"Prague!!!!" - me. 

"I love Prague!" - every traveller ya meet!

"Why???" - me. 

.............. and I never got an answer. NO ONE could tell me what was so great about Prague. But ERRBODY loved it! THE SUSPENSE WAS KILLING ME. 



SO let me tell you why I loved Prague: it's just sooooooooooo darn pretty!!!!









We stayed at Hostel Tyn, which was a perfect location, just a short walk away from the Old Town Square. But... I don't know if I would go back. Our room was nice but there wasn't really a bar or any kind of common area, there weren't enough bathrooms and MY FOOD GOT STOLEN FROM THE KITCHEN :( :( :( in the grand scheme of life not a big deal and I know it's not the hostel's fault but it still made me sad. Backpackers shouldn't steal from backpackers!! 










There's something about Prague that's hard to describe. 

Now I get why all of those people couldn't put their fingers on it for me. 

There's just a vibe, u kno?? 

It reminded me of a more jazzed up Krakow. Same pretty colours, same gothic architecture, but bigger, brighter, cleaner, a little more upbeat and alive! 

In a maze of cobblestone streets and courtyards, it's easy for the aimless wanderer to roam about Prague for hours. There's endless museums, cathedrals, shops, caf├ęs, and art to admire. 

Most notably, there's a ton of modern art placed all over town, which I thought was so hip and happening!! Prague you hipster. Like this piece, "In Utero", by David Cerny. 



Prague has a great nightlife (DO THE PUBCRAWL!) and THE BEST BEER IN THE WORLD. 

We tried this stuff called "Tank beer", I'VE NEVER TASTED ANYTHING SO PHRESH!

From my understanding, most beer is pasteurized, a process that entails sterilizing the beer at a high temperature in order to kill any bacteria that may be present. Unfortunately, this can result in the odd bottle having a flat taste and nasty flavour. Tank beer on the other hand, is unpasteurized, and is pressed out of giant tanks right in the bar via an air compressor. The result... so light so crisp so fresh! 



In terms of the "sights" to see, there's the Charles Bridge, a famous 14th century bridge kinda swarmed with tourists (go early in the morning or late in the evening!). 









The John Lennon Wall, which was smaller than anticipated but still worth the visit (good for a colourful Instagram or 2)!





Some love locks leading up to the Lennon Wall (not really a "sight" I just really like love locks hehe). 




The Old Town Square. In the square, there's an astronomical clock that puts on a little show every hour. Apparently it's one of the most overrated tourist attractions in Europe, but WHATEVER.  Ya it's underwhelming but you're there and it takes a minute so yaaa might as well! 



While you're in the square, take a breather after the clock show and grab some traditional Czech sweet bread, called Trdelnik! 







In addition to the Old Town free walking tour, we also did the castle walking tour. 









The castle tour cost a bit of extra money, but we learned fun facts!! 

Like:

1. How the Czech president is usually drunk. Apparently he isn't very well liked!! 

2. Czech people actually aren't religious at all (most of their cathedrals have been converted to museums or are used for shows because no one goes to them anymore, the Czech are tolerant and indifferent towards religion which I thought was so cool!)

And 3. Our tour guide took us to a neat little spot where we were able to try beer brewed by monks. How bad ass is that! 


We also went to the ballet! A "mini" version of Swan Lake. 



And hit up one of many beer gardens to catch a World Cup game. 


I could have easily spent another day or two in Prague. There's just something about it... 

I'm still not sure if I've figured it out!! I'm not sure if I ever will.

But a rolling stone gathers no moss. 

Smell ya later, Prague!