09.17.2019 80 °F
Some time ago, my good friend Chris who lives in London, asked if he got married in Poland would I come. I said "Of course"! I'm always ready for a new adventure and I would be honored to be a part of your special day. So while my friend was planning on getting married, I got busy marrying my plans to include some adventure with wedding time. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Sound of Music. So the first part of my trip was a "no brainer". I would be visiting Salzburg to do Sound of Music related tourism. During my research, I found Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron https://www.schloss-leopoldskron.com/en/.Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron's back garden served as the film set of the back of the Von Trapp Villa. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the hotel unless you are a guest, and rooms can be a bit pricey, so I only booked the hotel for one night (totally worth it!! The property is gorgeous!). Fun SOM fact, the rest of the villa scenes were replicated and filmed in Hollywood. BTW, the ENTIRE time I was in Austria the Sound of Music soundtrack played in my head on loop (talk about a full experience).
Why stop at staying at the "Sound Of Music Villa", when I can take a tour?! There are dozens of tours to choose from. I decided I wanted a more intimate tour so I chose Fraulein Maria's Bicycle Tour http://www.mariasbicycletours.com/. Our tour guide Elizabeth "Betty" really did her job! This was the highlight of my short time in Salzburg.
Sadly, I only had three days in Austria so I made good use of my time. On my second day, I took the first OBB train (6:00 a.m.) https://www.oebb.at/en/reiseplanung-services/im-zug/unsere-zuege.html from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, Bavaria Germany along with a ferry to hike to Lake Obersee. The ferry departs around 8:00 a.m. in the summer and the hike to the the lake and back takes about 1 1/2RT hours depending on your pace. There is a cute little restaurant at Lake Obersee where you can have a picnic and take in the spectacular views.
Arriving back in Berchtesgaden
more brats and beer. I'm beginning to really like this place!
Getting back to Salzburg from Bavaria was really easy. There is a bus that goes from Berchtesgaden to the main bus/train station and you can connect to a bus to Salzburg. The ride to Salzburg takes 45 minutes. Arriving back in Salzburg, I immediately booked the next train (which happened to be departing in 20 minutes) to a little town called Werfen which is approximately a 40 minute train ride from Salzburg (I know, i'm tired from just writing about it!). Werfen is home to the Sound Of Music Meadow where they sang Do-Re-Me (the Meadow where the opening scene and The Sound of Music song was sung was filmed on Mehlweg mountain near the town of Marktschellenberg in Bavaria. Mehlweg is located on private property and it is not possible to visit. Also note that the trees were imported just for filming so you won't find them there). The trail to the Sound of Music Meadow in Werfen is located near the Tourism office. There are plenty of signs that direct you to the trail. The hike up the mountain is about 45-50 minutes depending on your stamina. It is considered an easy trail but the altitude may be an issue for some.
On my last day in Austria, I visited the most charming village in the Austrian Alps called Hallstatt. Hallstatt can be reached from Salzburg by train and a ferry or by bus. The train to Hallstatt takes about 2 1/2 hours. It's better to go early so you can have time to enjoy the town before the bus loads of tourists arrive.
Beer & Schnitzel....breakfast of champions!
Hallstatt was the perfect location to catch a shared shuttle to Prague via Cesky Krumlov. I used CK Shuttle https://www.ckshuttle.cz/transports/transfer-from-cesky-krumlov-to-salzburg/?aw=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkMzB2pPW5AIVhMDICh1JNgDZEAAYASAAEgIG3fD_BwE for the 5 hour drive (with a few hours in Cesky Krumlov). If you are traveling with a group, it's probably easier to book a private shuttle.
I Love Cesky Krumlov! My first stop in the Czech Republic set the bar high. Cesky Krumlov is a quaint little town located approximately 2 1/2 hours from Prague. If you love charming medieval towns, this is for you.
really good sausages and a Czech beer.
I've been wanting to visit Prague for the longest time and I was not disappointed!!! Cobblestoned, windy streets, Trdelník cakes and the best darn pork knuckle I've ever had (I actually never had pork knuckle before, but it was AHMAZING!). I fell in love with Prague instantly. I didn't do any tours in Prague, I just wandered around and enjoy the city.
BTW, I couldn't escape wedding photos wherever I went.
And the food....the best! I enjoyed goulash and pork knuckle (which is now my favorite)
It's so hard to say goodbye!!!! Watching the sunrise over the Charles Bridge on my last day in Prague was truly magical...
The last leg of my adventure took me to Poland. I was sad to only have one afternoon to spend in Krakow so I didn't have time to visit Auschwitz. But it's on to the next adventure! I took FlixBus https://www.flixbus.com/to a town called Zakopane in the Tatra Mountain range to do some hiking. One of my favorite past times is spending time in nature.
Wroclaw or bust!!!
I was surprised by Wroclaw. It's a picturesque town with a ton of personality and really, really, good food! Most of my time in Wroclaw was dedicated to wedding activities but it was one town I would definitely return to.
I bet with all that traveling, you're wondering if I made it to the wedding?!! I did and so did they! Congratulations Chris & Pow!!!!
All in all, I have to say, this was one of my favorite adventures. I stepped outside my comfort zone by taking public transportation everywhere instead of tours. I cannot say every moment was comfortable. There were even times when tears were shed, but that's the thing about travel. Especially traveling solo, you are forced to rely on yourself, you increase your self confidence and you begin to discover who you are. One of my favorite travel quotes is:
“Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!”
Tips of getting around Austria, Prague and Poland:
1. Flixbus and the trains are your friends. Yes, it may sound complicated especially if you don't speak the language, but make sure to look at the route map and download apps like Flixbus, Maps.Me, Google Translate, a currency converter app, Uber and you should be fine.
2. Try and learn the basics of the language, especially how to ask for directions, and how much things cost. Hello, please and thank you also go a long way. Duolingo was my bestie for a few weeks before my trip.
3. Know your currency!!!! If you are traveling within multiple countries in Europe, try and get enough currency to hold you over. ATM's usually have a better exchange rate. Euros aren't widely accepted but can be easily converted. Also check the exchange rates to make sure you get the best possible rate.
4. In a lot of places, if you're into photography like me, it's better to go early or later to avoid the crowds.
5. Don't be flashy with your belongings. There are a lot of people who go home with a little less than what they came with because they weren't careful.
6. Bring your passport! I was shocked when I went to transfer trains to Germany and was met by a Polizei checking passports. Luckily, I had my passport handy.
7. Try the food! Immerse yourself in the culture. You're in that country for a reason so why not sample the cuisine, take it the culture, drink a local beer/wine, stay at a local hotel. Give back to the community.
8. Enjoy yourself! Don't be reliant of schedules. Leave some time to wander, you never know what you will find.
I am currently in the planning stages of my next adventure and am excited to see where the journey takes me.