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!

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

I semi-decided today that I’m not entirely a fan of Labor Day, simply because the pools close and someone set a rule that we can no longer wear white clothing and accessories. (Thankfully someone created “winter white” which is obviously appropriate.)  Otherwise, I can’t really complain about the holiday. Who doesn’t love a good three day weekend? And it leads directly into my favorite season – FALL!

Like last year, Dave and I went to his mom and sister’s house near New Hope, Pennsylvania for a nice relaxing weekend away from this town. We stopped on the way out to see a house in Northeast DC, and made pretty good time, arriving around 10:30 p.m. I was beat, so basically went straight to bed. It’s so quiet there that you can hear the crickets chirping through the window. Or maybe, it was the crazy cicadas humming. Regardless, it’s very soothing.

Saturday morning we went for a stroll and a jog along the Delaware River, one of Dave’s favorite things to do on trips home. Personally I love to see the different creatures along the way and look at the beautiful houses that line the banks.

My Aggies started the season that day at 1p.m. ET, so we sidled up at a local tavern and cheered them on. During half-time we made our way home with a stop at the grocery store to pick up various goodies to grill for dinner. After the hot wings, steamers, meatloaf sandwich, fries and beer … I requested all veggies! (Confession: we made it back to the house and turned on the second half of the game, but I may or may not have passed out for the rest of it. What?! You would too if you had eaten that much!)

Sunday we took a long walk through the neighborhood with Daisy, then we lounged a bit to prepare for the shopping. Everywhere you go in that area, you are bound to find a good country store, antiques boutique, Christmas-all-year-round market or even a witch craft shop! We made our way to the center called Peddler’s Village, which has my favorite little French store, a great cookware shop and a wine tasting room, among many other great vendors. At Christmastime it is packed and fully lighted like a winter wonderland! This was my first time in the “off-season” and it did not disappoint. If you know anything about my Francophilia and really the reason I started this blog, you’d understand why I wanted everything at the French shop, but decided it best to wait until we get settled somewhere. We bought some strawberry-rhubarb preserves at Grandpa Hick’s and a bottle of wine from the Chaddsford Winery tasting room before stopping for a pint and a bowl of soup from Hart’s Tavern.

Then a great surprise happened! Dave informed me of the outlet mall across the street. Naturally I wanted to just “see what shops they had” before insisting that we stop for the Nine West outlet. I am truly in need of a shoe makeover because I’ve been terrible about replacing the worn out pairs. Luckily they were still open and I left with a new pair of black work pumps and a fun pair of red patent leather peep toe heels.

Sunday night we had a delicious gourmet meal at the historic Stockton Inn, circa 1710. I cleaned my plate of pecan-crusted scallops and red pepper Israeli couscous. Please note that was after a house salad and warm bread with butter, but before the fruit cobbler with ice cream. The walls inside our dining room had beautiful rural murals painted, and we could all just imagine how the antique fireplace would roar in the cold winter months. After a bit of research, I discovered that the Mural Dining Rooms (an official and fitting name!) are the original living quarters for the families that managed the ferry to cross the Delaware throughout the 1700’s. #TheMoreYouKnow

Not wanting the weekend to end, we decided that we’d take Monday morning and early afternoon for a nice long drive to be followed by a lunch at one of Dave’s high school haunts, Dilly’s. Mother Nature had alternate plans for us. Her plans were more along the lines of torrential downpour, closed roads and detours that led us to an unpaved path. Luckily Dave got us all home safely – shortly after the tire pressure warning lit up his dashboard. We spent some time checking each tire and eventually filling them all with more air, which thankfully worked! At that point we weren’t going back out, so we had some homemade sandwiches, fruit and chips with an intermission of flooding in the basement. (Yay, home life!) It was enough excitement for one day, so we decided to get on the road.

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#laborday #drive #clouds #sunshine

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Instead of sitting in the monster traffic of I-95, we decided to make our way through Pennsylvania Dutch country, hitting up towns like Blue Ball, Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand. (No, I did not make those names up. See proof below.) Both routes would take about the same amount of time – five hours – but going this way enabled us to stop at the roadside stands for fresh produce and a fun shopping center called Kitchen Kettle Village.

It was everything I was hoping for and more! My dreams came true with fresh cheese, baked goods and creamy ice cream! We bought three different cheeses – habanero, horseradish and a hickory smoked cheddar – along with a loaf of white bread. And since no visit to Pennsylvania Dutch Country would be complete without a shoo-fly pie, I snagged one of those too. (Note: I had never tried it before, and can’t say that I will ever have it again.) Dave got a cinnamon-sugar pretzel and I was happy with a cookies and cream single scoop waffle cone.

What did you do for Labor Day? Hope you were able to enjoy the long weekend!

#INSTApril

As of today April is halfway over, and I have yet to post! Sorry… it’s been quite busy, so I will catch you up through my #instaphotos.

My dear friend from college, Madison, came for a weekend visit and brought beautiful weather. We met up with some friends for a going away party Friday night, and then later met Dave for dinner at Cava – one of my favorite restaurants.

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meet and greet. @presenza #latergram #TGIF

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We spent the next day touring the Newseum. I’ve been there for a couple of events, but never spent time in the exhibits and it was fascinating. My cousin “Pretty Boy Floyd” had his gun on display in the FBI exhibit. Madison and I pretended that we were separated by the Berlin wall.

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Gangsta.

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Saturday evening we attended “Drink the District,” which was a great excuse to drink a lot of wine – who doesn’t love that!?

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rosé. making a #comeback #winetime

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#drinkthedistrict with @presenza #latergram

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Sunday we strolled along the Tidal Basin to see Cherry Blossoms and the memorials that line the water. It was my first time at the recently opened Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. I was moved by his quotes etched in the surrounding walls, much like at the FDR Memorial.

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#IHaveADream

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This past Friday night, Dave and I had a date night at my favorite wine bar in the area. They are reasonably priced, and have really high quality wines, not to mention the best sandwich ever – the Buffaloaf. I love Screwtop Wine Bar!

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Back at my fave #winebar with my fave guy.

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Saturday was beautiful! And Dave needed a distraction from studying, so we went on a bike ride. DC has a great bike rental service called Capital Bikeshare, and this past Saturday broke the record for bikes rented – 11,368! I feel so proud to be part of setting that record! After our ride, we treated ourselves to wine, beer and cheese at Northside Social. (I ate most all of the cheese!)

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Cheese! Yum. #dcspring

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Yesterday morning I treated my roommate Crystal to a belated birthday brunch at The Chesapeake Room. I had french toast and it was delicious! Immediately following brunch, I proceeded to nap on the couch!

For over a year, Dave has been studying and taking lessons for his instrument flight rating exam with the FAA. He took the exam yesterday and passed with flying colors, no pun intended! Last night we obviously had to celebrate with Mexican food, so chose the nearby Uncle Julio’s :)