Euroadventure 2014: Roundup Edition

The trip home seemed much longer than the trip there, probably because there is less excitement about returning home than there is when embarking on a new adventure. We also had a five hour layover in Berlin Tegel, which is now one of my least favorite airports. Rather than having a main security check point that leads you to the terminal and gates, the terminal is outside the secure area and each gate has its own security line. I think it’s pretty inefficient since our flight alone had about 20 security officers and, as a traveler with a long sit time between flights, it was also very inconvenient because you can’t just relax since you’re worrying about getting through security. I probably also disliked it because we were selected for random screening and I was extremely uncomfortable with the process of a full body pat down in front of all the passengers on our flight, followed by another behind-the-curtain pat down and baggage check. The officer asked me in English if I spoke German and English or just English. Even though I told her just English, she spoke only in German for the rest of the screening and did not switch back to English until after I was cleared to go. I’m all for security, but appreciate a little common courtesy!

During our wait, we walked around the airport and sat for drinks and lunch at a cafe. I treated myself to a strawberry dessert because vacation! Once we made it through security and boarded our flight, we ate again. And then before landing we ate again. It felt like all we were doing was eating! On the drive from New York to PA, we even stopped at Taco Bell. While I was sad the trip was over, we made so many great memories and I was really happy to see the pups!

Since it took me approximately 4 years months to get all our Euroadventure posts together, I decided to do a roundup below of the entire series. We covered a lot of ground in 10 days and I have already had requests for travel tips, so hopefully this helps make it all a little easier to find based on your destination or interests. Continue reading

Euroadventure 2014: An Alpine #RoadTrip and Last Day in Austria

We woke up in Salzburg feeling a little “under the weather” after bar hopping the night before, but did our best to rally and forge ahead. After checking out of the hotel, we walked around town searching souvenir shops, browsing the open markets and touring Mozart’s birthplace. The museum covered much of his early life and the progression of his talent over three floors of exhibits, but unfortunately photos were not allowed.

Leaving Salzburg, we drove back toward Vienna through the Lake District and continued toward the picturesque Hallstatt, known for salt production. The UNESCO World Heritage site is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, dating back to BC. Unfortunately for us, it was raining, but the village was still adorable and worth the added drive time back to Vienna. We walked around, ate lunch and did a bit of souvenir shopping.

^^Lake District drive^^

After we made it back to Vienna and returned the car, we found an Italian restaurant to have dinner – something that did not involve sausage or potatoes! From dinner we walked to Stephansplatz for dessert. I had my heart set on tasting some of the regional favorites, so we picked a sidewalk cafe that had the two I most wanted to try, Apfelstrudel and Kaiserschmarrn. The first is as it sounds, apple strudel, and the second is basically pancake bites with a jam or fruit sauce. Even though I am quite positive these were not the best in town, they did the trick!

The next morning we packed up our bags, checked out of our room and then left the luggage with the front desk so we could see a couple more sights before catching a train to Budapest. We walked through the Hofburg Imperial Apartments, Silver Collection and Sisi Museum, but again, we were not allowed to take pictures. The silver collection was extensive and seemed never ending. The apartments were set as they were when Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth lived in them with separate bedrooms, many various salons and the Empress’ dressing and exercise room. A museum to Elisabeth (Sisi) was part of the tour and the exhibits displayed her belongings from gloves to dresses, poetry and many other items. She was well-loved yet very troubled throughout her adult life. The tour was lengthy and toward the end I was just quickly moving through the rooms without fully listening to the audio-guide. I highly recommend going if you are in Vienna, but be prepared for information overload.

We had a little bit of time left and Dave wanted to see the Imperial Crypt, which houses generation after generation of Habsburg coffins. I almost didn’t go in just because I felt indifferent about it, but then the crypt keeper decided he had a crush on me (and a couple other young women in line) and let me in for free. Wandering around the tombs underground was a slightly eerie feeling, but it was interesting to see the coffin designs range from very plain and simple to extravagant and very ornate. On the way out, as my new friend hugged me tightly, I thought he might never let me go and hoped he would at least make sure I had a nice tomb!

Finally we went to Cafe Sacher for the famous sacher torte, a chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam, thick chocolate ice cream and whipped cream. Some people find it to be dry, but I thought it was quite good!

We were in and out pretty quickly so that we could pick up our bags and head to the train station. Trains to Budapest run about every two hours, and we arrived just about the time one was supposed to leave. Luckily it was delayed, so we were able to purchase tickets for that train instead of waiting two hours for the next. We even had time to grab a schnitzel sandwich and eat it on the platform!