Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day two in Paris

This morning I had an almond square and a cafe au lait at the cafe by me. Good stuff. Then I headed over to Montparnasse metro station. I went up to the 56th floor of the Montparnasse tower and had a good view of Paris. It was fairly clear that morning so I had a pretty good view - it was a five minute wait rather than the hour or more at the Eiffel Tower. I'd definitely recommend going there rather than the Eiffel tower. From there I wandered over to the Montparnasse cemetery. Similar to New Orleans or rather New Orleans is similar to Paris...cities of the dead. There were some really strange tombstones but the most bizarre was of a couple in bed. Really. And before you think this being Paris and all what were they doing they were just laying there. It is still an active cemetery and there were about three burials going on while I was there. I guess it sounds bizarre to say you can enjoy a cemetery but I did. By this time my right foot (with the bunion and arthritic toe) was giving me major grief and I was in pain. I never know when this foot is going to act up on me. So I hobbled to a restaurant and had what they call a set meal - a price for certain items on the menu. I had a cheese omelette (was craving one), french fries and a salad with creme brulee for dessert. I decided it was time to go back to the room and rest so that I did. That evening I had a ticket for a ballet performance of Cinderella so wanted to be in good shape for that. After a rest and change I headed over to the Champs Elysees to see the Xmas lights. Very disappointing...just some red and blue round lights. Nothing like in 1999 or 2008. Oh well. Then I headed to the Bastille area where the theatre was and had a quick cheese and ham panini before the show began. It was wonderful - it was different as was set in pre-WWII New York. Two intermissions as well so it lasted about three hours. Very enjoyable and glad I did it.

Day three in Paris

Well guess I will talk about today then yesterday! I slept in a bit this morning which was good and after my shower I headed off to the local boulangerie - this time I had a cafe au lait and a suisse pain. oh my. we are talking pastry with bits of chocolate my my. Feeling fortified I headed off to the metro and the St Michel metro stop. From there I (sort of) did a walk from the book Simon loaned me - this was of the Latin Quarter. It is named this as it was very academic a few centuries back and the spoken word was Latin. Anyway it was very interesting - wandered down all sorts of narrow cobblestone streets and saw the house where the fellow who invented the guillitone lived...also saw the oldest cafe in the world - or so they say. But I wasn't dressed for the occasion so I carried on - one of the entrees was "cooked calf's head" just like it was done back in the 1600's. thanks. I have wanted to explore more of the left bank so am happy I did a bit of it anyway. I saw the Sorbonne - university of Paris and also wandered up to the Pantheon which was built as a church originally. Victor Hugo is buried here but I did not go in. I did not visit a museum at all as the lines were just too long - I guess I am too impatient. I would rather be out exploring and I have seen the museums before - I am sure the Mona Lisa still looks the same since I last saw her in 1999. I had lunch at a creperie - ham, cheese and mushroom - with a glass of wine. I asked for tap water and like the restaurant yesterday they bring it in a little jug. I love that. I went into a wonderful pateserrie with all sorts of sweets. I bought two tiny meringues - one was raspberry with chocolate filling and the other chocolate with chocolate filling - I saved them and just finished them with a cup of tea before I started this blog. Turns out they were giving out free ones so I had an apricot with cream inside there and then. Ooo la la is all I can say. You can buy them in packages but they would never make them home I am afraid! They are very fragile as well. I then took the metro over to Galeries LaFayette which is like Harrods - very high end. One thing - they don't charge for their loos like Harrods does! But the main reason I went was to see the Xmas tree and the galleries in the store which were beautiful. The window displays were cute too - the theme was a Rock and Roll Christmas. The store was packed so I got out of there as soon as possible. The next stop on the metro was near Isle St. Louis which is an island in the centre of Paris - in the middle of the Seine. I walked around for a couple of hours and enjoyed it thoroughly. I read a Patricia Cornwell novel set there and ever since I read it I have been wanting to see it. I treated myself to a double scoop of the famous Berthillon ice cream - cherry/plum and chocolate. Oh my. It was delicious. Very tiny scoops (trust me) but not a tiny price - sometimes you just have to treat yourself. The place was packed to the rafters - I would hate to see it in July! Speaking of which it was dull and drizzled at times all day -but it wasn't cold. I then took the metro back here - picked up a baguette with ham, cheese, egg etc in it for a bit later and some pastries for the morning. I am not sure what is open tomorrow so decided to have breakfast here for a change.
All being well I will head over to Montmartre for the New Years Eve fireworks - being as I haven't even been to Montmartre this trip and it's very close it should be interesting. It's on tomorrow's itinerary.
There is just so much to see in this city that four days is not enough unless you run around like a mad thing and I'd rather take things at a slower pace and enjoy. April in Paris someday perhaps?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Locked out!

Oh I forgot the exciting bit yesterday. Came back here and could not get in the door and Simon was not home. There were three keys and Simon said I just needed one but no I needed two so was trying both but could not get in. I was a little upset to put it mildly. Well after about 20 minutes a woman came from downstairs and I asked (more like begged) her to try the door for me and she got me in. I could have kissed her I was that grateful....when Simon got back I told him and he showed me how to use it but I still wasn't getting it. The second lock was tricky so in the end we swapped keys and doors (there are two doors with two separate set of keys - both doors lead to the same place the only bad part is if someone is having a bath I can't get out as I have to go through the bathroom!!!!) and now I can get in. Oh and if that wasn't bad enough yesterday morning I couldn't even get out of the apartment building....I had to knock on a door where I heard loud talking so the lady came out and showed me. You had to hit a button on the wall...well like I would know that....yikes.
It certainly is a unique place....
Well I am coming to the end of my second full day in Paris. I arrived here on Wednesday evening. Thursday I headed out early and had a pain au chocolate and cafe au lait at an open air cafe type place - not the best and won't do that again but it was close and I was hungry and dying for a coffee. I got a three day pass for the metro - four day ones weren't available so will get a day pass for Sunday. Off I went - I like the Paris metro - not as much as London and way more than New York which is the most horrific one I've ever been on...confusing and dirty. Anyway first stop was St. Michel where I walked around the area a bit until a walking tour started at St Michel square at 11 a.m. However the group was huge and I could not hear the guide plus people were talking. I thought 'screw this' and took off on my own. I walked along the Seine and then crossed over to the Jardin des Tuileries and on to Concord Square where there is a permanent ferris wheel. It also marks the spot where many were beheaded including Marie Antoinette. I then walked down the Champs Elysees where the Xmas market was still in full swing - I walked by but did not look too closely - I think I have overdosed on Christmas markets! I stopped and had a nutella (a chocolate/hazelnut spread for those who are unfortunate enough not to know) crepe and ended up wearing most of it on my face and my jacket. Sigh....thank goodness I had some moist wipes with me. Then I wandered on and saw the new Marks and Spencers so flew in. I walked by and saw the Prawn and Mayonnaise sandwiches but said no Laurie you can have one on Monday. I tell you though if there hadn't been a line up for the till I might have grabbed one. Sick I know....I walked down to get photos of the Arch de Triumphe. Then I got the metro over to the Eiffel Tower. Did not go up as the line was way too long but took enough pictures. I was walking over to the park behind it and realized I had been pulling my small camera out of my pocket and oops no metro pass....I had meant to put it back in my wallet as a pocket is a silly place to put a tiny ticket when you are reaching in all the time. Well can you believe there it was laying on the ground. Thank goodness or that would have been 21 Euro down the drain. I then walked over to Rue Cler which is a street with all sorts of open air shops like a market - I stayed in a hotel on that street in 1999. Back on the metro and back to this area where I had a quiche in a boulangerie. It was okay - guess I had my hopes up too high....back here as I was really tired from not much sleep the night before. Sadie came in and slept on my sofa while I did my internet thing. I wore ear plugs and took a herbal sleeping remedy so the elephants upstairs did not keep me awake. I don't know what they do up there but it's loud. This apartment has charming wooden floors but they are old and they creak and basically no sound proofing.

Beautiful Bamberg and farewell to Germany

On Tuesday the 27th Claudia's friend Matthias came for the day. After breakfast we headed off to Bamberg which is about a 25 minute drive from Heiligenstadt. Bamberg is a little jewel of a city - about 70,000 people. Lots of history and beautiful buildings. We visited two churches at the beginning of our visit - one very ornate Roman Catholic one and another more simplistic Lutheran one. Then along some narrow little roads - more like alleys really and over to Venice of the North. I have to laugh as it seems a lot of cities have Little Venice or some variation of it. I think it would be prettier in the summer but it was interesting. From there we walked into the shopping area and got a good look at the beautiful old Rathaus - town hall. I much prefer the German name though as it's so true. Well that is insulting rats actually. :) I will try to post a picture of it - complete with a plaster leg sticking out one side! I have been there in the 80's in the summer but that didn't stop me taking winter pictures of it! We had a nice lunch - I had pork schnitzel with noodles - these are a few of my favourite things, when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad....oops wrong town, sorry! After lunch we headed over to the cathedral which was beautiful - Matthias bought me a detailed leaflet so was able to walk around and learn about everything. I admire the faith that built that church - or was it something else? Whatever I just don't get it....Hmmm....don't get me started on religion please. I just don't think Jesus had all these showy buildings in mind when he was out there doing his religion is treat everyone the way you want to be treated (with kindness) and that's it. As the Dali Lama says "my religion is kindness".

Of course what should we do after the visit then go for coffee and cake. And what did I have? Well black forest cake needless to say and the best I've ever had. We then headed out of town to the Seehof Palace. We didn't visit inside as it was closed but we walked around outside. It would be spectacular in the summer.

Back "home" for bread, sausages and cheese and stollen for dessert. My last evening in Germany....

The next morning Claudia and Erna drove me to Forcheim to catch the train to Paris. Sad to say goodbye to such good friends. I am so fortunate to have friends around the world - this penpal habit I've had since my teens has opened up the world to me and penpals have become good friends.

Luckily changing trains was smooth in most places with escalators or no climbing required - yay. The ICE (intercity express) trains were awesome - very clean and fast. At one point while waiting for the loo it showed that it was going 313 km an hour! The loos started out nice but my last visit was rather disturbing - let's just say there was fluid on the walls and leave it at that. Ick.

Arrived into Paris ten minutes late and was able to get the metro after waiting in line to get a ticket for a while - luckily it was on the same line number 4 from Gare d'est but I had a little trouble finding the place but finally did. Simon was there to greet me. Simon is taking care of Margot's dog Sadie. He is a true Parisian - his parents are Japanese and they moved to Paris to go to school and Simon was born here. Very helpful young man.

Margot, who owns the flat is in India at present. She is an American who has lived in Europe since the 80's.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Relaxing days over Christmas in Germany

After the day in Nuremburg we had a day at home. We decorated the tree - well I handed things to Claudia or her mom. The tree was crooked though and at one point we heard a crash and sure enough it had collapsed. So after sort of stabilizing it we gave it a wide berth everytime we went into the lounge. Claudia's mom - let's call her Erna as that's her name! - Erna fixed schnitzel with boiled potatoes and beans (both veggies from their garden). It was delish. They always have their big meal at noon. Breakfast is rolls with cheese and different kinds of sausage spread. Supper is the same only bread instead of rolls. Claudia is an anglofile so has loads of British comedies and mysteries so every evening we would go to her lounge in the house (the top floor is basically hers) and drink wine with a big plate of home baked goodies in front of us....

On the 23rd of December we headed off again on the train. Claudia had gotten two six euro tickets for us to use - six euros for two people to go anywhere within a certain radius. So off we went to Weisenberg. It was a pretty little town - we walked by the town wall and saw the sights. Luckily it didn't rain while we were there. We had lunch at a restaurant and I had Laberkasse which says it has cheese in it but that's a lie - what it basically is is fried bologna with a fried egg on top! And this had salad on the side. It was quite good. We stopped at a grocery store so Claudia could buy some wine for a friend we would be visiting and she said are you going to buy chocolate so I did....:) We then took the train a couple of stops and Claudia's friend Renate picked us up and took us back to her house for coffee and cake. She is married to an American (he is now retired from the military)so of course her English was excellent. Bob said I was the first Canadian he had ever met. Anyway it was a great visit and their house is lovely. Back to Heiligenstadt where we had our usual supper. Another evening of wine and DVD's! Heiligenstadt is a very tiny village of 1500 so not a wild nightlife!!!

Christmas Eve day dawned and after breakfast I headed out for a walk. They have created paved biking/hiking paths out of disused railway lines that go on for kilometres. It's wonderful. It drizzled the whole time I walked but I did about 7 km and then back to dry off and a hot cup of tea. We had bratwurst and warm potato salad for lunch - yum! We attended the 4 pm Christmas Eve service at Claudia and Erna's Lutheran church which is beautiful. Even though I didn't understand a word that was said it was nice - they did a skit which was different and then it ended with the lights off and only candles while we all sang Silent Night. f(which was written in Austria!) It was spine tingling and then walking back through the village with the Christmas lights it was truly magical.
Back to a supper of home made pizza rolls then opening up gifts by the tree. (we put them by the tree - not under it in case it toppled again!!) Erna and Claudia seemed pleased with the gifts I brought them. Erna gave me home made socks as well as lots of chocolate and Claudia gave me a lovely small wooden Christmas decoration of carollers singing. It is light and small - perfect! Oh and a package of chocolate truffles and a huge honking chocolate bar.
We then watched a Christmas special that was truly international with songs popular in North America as well.
Christmas Eve is the big celebration in Germany with gifts, etc. and Chrsitmas Day is the day to eat. And eat we did!! Claudia and Erna went to church in the morning but I stayed in and caught up with my travel journal, etc. - the poor church would collapse for sure if I turned up it is I've been to church twice this year - haven't done that it years!! Lunch was roast duck, red cabbage and dumplings. It was good. And I was good getting through all that cabbage...Claudia and I walked around the village and area for over an hour later that afternoon. Then back for coffee and cake followed by supper a couple of hours after that - my pants feel tight just writing about it....
Boxing Day which is just called Second Christmas Day in Germany....we had the usual breakfast followed by chicken curry for lunch. Then Claudia and I set out on the bike path and according to the sign post walked 5.5 out and back but Claudia said it was more like 7 km each way - she has measured it and they are wrong. Well whatever it was a good walk. Claudia ended up with blisters and was sore but I felt great which made me feel good as guess I am in not too bad of shape which is a good thing with that race coming up Feb. 5th.
My knees have been bothering me though on stairs and that house is full of stairs. In fact the shower room is in the basement and the stairs are a going up and down to my room then down to the loo on the main floor....ouch. The first couple of days there I was a wreck from walking those steps up to the fortress in Salzburg. I can do hills too - give me some aleve and point me onto a walking path with hills or without and I am fine but if there are stairs it's gonna be ugly...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Come a little closer my little heater or oh Internet - I Think I Love You! (to quote the Partridge Family)

River and bridge in Nuremburg - despite being a large city the downtown area is very fairytale

Sitting in the flat in Paris. No central heating - just a heater. The owner is in India - it is very different but I like it. Oh well I won't be here much. And my room-mate Simon is a young man in his twenties for all those who are dying to know....:) How sick is this...I am on the internet and haven't even unpacked yet. I did make a cup of tea and I think another one is coming up soon....8 days without internet...oh my. Don't think I have gone that long without it in quite some time. (the internet that is, get your minds out of the gutter! )

Germany was lots of fun and I don't want to know my current weight...unreal. Every three hours it seemed there was more food going into my body....I am sure when I leave the room my ass leaves ten minutes later....I have to get back into normal mode (not that that is much better) or I will need two seats on the aircraft coming back. Claudia's mom is a terrific cook. Did I say I didn't like German food? Liar - home cooked that is...Although must admit I don't think I want to look another sausage in the face for a while. I LOVE the bratwurst but think I od'd on it. Luckily I did quite a bit of walking but I still don't think I broke even. Came to Paris with half my body weight in chocolate stashed in my suitcase I am sure. Lots of chocolate given to me as gifts - and myself two family size (well actually they are Laurie eat in one sitting size) Milka bars and two chocolate Santas before I knew I was getting a whole shit load for Xmas. The gallant men of Paris took pity on me and helped me with my luggage on the metro stairs.

We did the Christmas market in Nuremberg on Wednesday the 21st which was fun. Had some hot gluhwein (mulled wine) and Nurnberg sausages (little ones) in a bun. If you want you can keep the mug from the gluhwein otherwise you return it as you pay a 2 euro deposit so I have two more mugs as could not resist. (did resist one...)Lots of stalls selling everything but the kitchen sink. It was magical with the lights and a choir singing. We looked around Nuremberg a bit as well - Claudia used to live there so have been there a few times since the 80's. There was a misty rain pretty well the whole time. In fact I did not see the sun the whole time I was in Germany but it's winter and it beats snow. We walked up to the castle and had a nice view - in the rain. I like Nuremberg - always have. It had the shit bombed out of it in the war so many of the city centre buildings are new and designed to fit in with the rest of the older buildings that were built pre-war and way way before. Earlier in the afternoon we met Ulla, one of Claudia's friends for cake and coffee - I had Sacre torte which was chocolate cake with strawberry jam in it. Oh my.....I really can't say much more. It was a great day. Of course back to Claudia's where tea and cookies were waiting - along with my evening ritual of a glass (or two) of wine! I will do this one day at a time as just too much to do all at once.

Oh Internet I really really missed you.....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Double the posts

My home in Salzburg
Typical booth at Xmas market
You'll recognize this if you've seen the Sound of Music
Part of fortress
Shopping pedestrian street

Just because I can....I knew I was an internet addict....oh man how am I going to survive 8 days without it. I love having the whole world at my fingertips and being as so many of my friends live in other cities & countries I can connect with them daily. And let's not mention access to so much...oh internet I do love you....

The weather here hasn't been the best but when you travel in December you have to expect these things. This afternoon was good. I was dressed for the weather so was fine. My photo count is well over 500 so far. Lots of gray skies but oh I said before I do like this city. It has about 150,000 people.

The Christmas markets are fun and it is all quite magical. The snow just adds to the ambience.

I am debating whether to bus it or taxi it to the train station tomorrow morning. I have a bus pass but it means changing busses downtown not to mention hauling Eddie on and off the bus and like me, he seems to be getting heavier on this trip. But a taxi would cost about 20 Euros - I know as I took one here. I guess I will see how I feel in the morning - if my knees feel like they do right now it will be a taxi.

I'm online!

Yay the wifi is working....I am afraid to breathe too hard in case it goes off line. Yee haw. One last kick at the can before I go cold turkey. It is nice to be able to sit in my room and type.

Anyway fab snowed again overnight and started out gray - blue sky eventually which was nice.

I took the bus to town and visited a few places I hadn't been yet like the Green market, Salzburg Cathedral (closed for renovations anyway - or it appeared to be), looked in a few shops then was a real piggie and went to a Cafe that is really old and Mozart actually went to...had coffee and some kuchen (cake) - something I really needed. Oh well. It was on my list of things to do and I knew that at 10:30 it would not be crowded. Enjoyed myself. Lots of character and black suited waiters - not your local Timmy's that's for sure. And not the prices either but it was great as a treat and to be honest I didn't think 3.50 Euros was bad for a delicious piece of cake.

This was what I saw when I stepped out of the coffee shop...gotta love it!
I then visited the Advent Xmas market again...this time it was not crowded so I stopped and looked at each booth. I got myself a couple of bags of tea....just what I need....and of course everyone who comes for tea just wants the ordinary stuff not any of my wonderful stash. Oh well I will enjoy it!! The snow was falling again and it was all quite romantic...not...well if you live in a place that doesn't have snow I guess it would be. Salzburg is such an awesome little city - I love it and will definitely come back. I am loving the winter experience and the Christmas atmosphere is unbelieveable. And to top it off you've got horses and carriages clip clopping along....fantastic. I picked up a couple of pretzels for the train trip tomorrow as the lady on the trip over said Salzburg is known for their pretzels. Germany has them too but anyway thought I'd try...

I wandered around St. Peters cemetery again - very different with graves in cages - Sound of Music at the end when they are hiding from the Nazis....that's where it was shot. Then I was goign to take the cable car up to Hohensalburg Fortress but the line was unreal and we were in one line and the machine wasn't working so we had to transfer lines and get at the back. I said forget this so ended climbing steps up to the fortress. Interesting at times as it was icy from the snow. But got there in the end, I had been up to the top on Friday but did not go in but this time

I took the audio tour which was interesting. They are only done every thirty minutes and I was lucky and got there right when they were leaving. Loads of stairs...oh mama....after walking up all those stairs then I get more. Should have doubled up on the Aleve this morning!!! I then walked around a bit then decided to walk the kilometer over to the Musuem of Modern, not to go in (I hate modern art) but they have an elevator that you can take down through the rock. The walk was lovely except at one point when I started sliding around on a hill and could not take a step for fear of sliding backwards back down and some guys were walking behind me so one grabbed ahold of me and pushed me from behind until we got up the hill. :)
This was the view from the museum after my walk...not bad eh?

I then had a leg of pork or some part of the animal with dumplings. I felt being as it was my last evening in Austria I should have some of their food again but I wish I had the goulash again. Must admit though I am not a big fan of German/Austrian food - the dumplings were good though. It seems the only veggie on offer is cabbage which I do have a problem with...the only way I will eat it is if it is curried and made by me or in cabbage rolls and those I am picky about. I can see my first meal in Paris will be a package of raw veggies as I do eat a lot at home. Anyway the restaurant was okay but made the mistake of sitting next to a couple who were eating each other's faces off instead of their meal - get a room for god's sake!

Back here where I am totally exhausted - lucky I have the internet to keep me awake. Lots of activity for one day - well my knees are not liking it but it's amazing what you can do. My netbook was not plugged in and it said limited time and it's amazing how quickly I got down under this desk to plug it in sore knees or not. (I was not quiet or polite about it though)

Day at the Lakes

Yesterday I went out to the Lake District to visit the tiny village of St Gilgen for their Christmas market. I loved it. What an enchanting little town and the market just made it even more special. There were boat trips over to St. Wolfgang but it was a little too cold for me - also cable cars up the mountain but too cloudy.....I enjoyed wandering around the town. I visited the birthplace of Mozart's mother which was small but interesting. I bought myself a new Mozart CD and the lady in the shop gave me a pretty homemade arrangement with pine cones, ribbons, etc. So sweet of her. I will give it to Claudia and her mom. The town has paintings on the buildings and it is a charmer. I had some hot spiced punch and of course got another souvenir seems there is no choice - you buy the drink you get the mug. This one I will keep but the other one I will be leaving behind as no way do I have room in Eddie to haul more stuff. Well I do have room - just don't want the weight! When I got back I took the bus out to Hellbrun Palace to go to the Xmas market there. Awesome. As Walter (owner ofthe B & B here) told me it is the nicest and it is by far. I resisted buying anything. Yesterday was a street food day and had bratwurst, a bun and sauerkraut - I don't like sauerkraut but thought I should try it here. Mistake. It did not agree with me and my stomach was upset for the rest of the day.
Today I plan to go up to the fortress to explore it and then walk the path over to the Musuem of Modern Art and take the elevator down.
Tomorrow I head off to Germany and will be off line until th 28th of December at least.
I hope the wifi works out in Paris better than it has here as I enjoy writing but this is just too rushed to enjoy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The hills are alive...

Yesterday was my Sound of Music day. I went on a morning tour of the Sound of Music locales as of course the outside scenes in the movie were filmed here. It was a different view to be sure with the was a wet morning but none the less was still fun. The bus was full of a united nations of SOM fans! We saw the gazebo where Rolf and Lisl danced (they had to lock it due to women jumping from bench to bench which resulted in an 80 year old breaking her hip!),
Gazebo where Lisl and Rolf danced - this is the tour guide.

the back view of the Captains home, the outside view of the Captains home (all interiors were filmed in Hollywood), we went to the small town of Mondsee to see the church where Maria and the Captain were married and had an hour to wander around the town. It was great fun. I would take it again - in better weather....
Church where the Captain & Maria were married.

Of course last night I went to see The Sound of Music musical that is playing here in Salzburg - for the first time in 30 plus years. The last time people walked out when mention of the Nazis came up as it is still a sensitive subject here in Austria. (as it is in Germany) The stage play is different from the movie with a couple of extra songs and more emphasis on the war/Nazis. I absolutely loved it of course. It was performed in Germany but at the end the whole cast came out and sang The Sound of Music and So Long Farewell in English as as salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein. A lovely evening!!!

All in all a great day despite the crazy weather. I had hoped to dine at the oldest restaurant in town however I was seated then soundly ignored by the snooty waiters so I left. I had a wonderful dinner of beef goulash and a huge dumpling in a wonderful place in the New town which was close to the theatre. I then wandered along and had apple strudel at a coffee shop - coffee shops are much more formal than the Starbucks, Tim Hortons at home. Coffee here is strong and does not come extra large or double double!!!

Today it looks like the sun will come out. I slept in a bit later. I think the Lake District is calling me today however I will probably only visit one place rather than the three I had planned. First stop however is at ATM!!!

I am typing this at my breakfast table - I must get a picture of the table groaning with all the food - meat, cheese, bread, cake, fruit juice, jams, fruit and then there's the other table holding all kinds of cereal and yogurt. Very good. I would definitely stay here again.

Wifi is still off in my room but works here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Exploring Salzburg

Busy day yesterday with visiting Mozart's birthplace and his apartments as well as visiting the Salzburg musuem, taking the cable car up to the fortress. Salzburg is a wonderful city and I have fallen in love with it. And I swear Disney could not do a better job with the whole Christmas thing - amazing! I am so glad I am seeing it at this time of year. I'll be back in warmer weather to see another side of it.

A thrill for me was visiting the place Mozart was born and grew up. Even saw a piano he composed on. Wow. Can you tell he is one of my favourite composers - second only to Mr. McCartney. Both buildings were recreated to be like the time he would have lived there so that was very interesting. Copies of letters he wrote to his mother and sister...just a great insight into his life. After visiting the house he lived in before he moved to Vienna I walked over to Mirabell Gardens where some outdoor bits of the Sound of Music was filmed. (where they are running around a fountain, etc.) There I visited the Baroque museum which was a bit boring but included on the Salzburg card so why not. By this time it was drizzling again so a good respite from the rain. The Salzburg museum was interesting in some ways- I hadn't realized that Salzburg was founded by archbishops of the RC church. Oh well I won't hold that against it!!! It was full of religious stuff so that was boring to me - I am glad it was included in the pass and I didn't actually have to pay for it. The most outstanding thing about the museum to me were the sliding glass doors to the bathroom! But I was determined - when you are on the road you take advantage of pampering your bottom with nice toilets. It took me a while to figure out how to get in there! It is a very new museum. Downstairs was the Panorama museum with a Sound of Music display - now you're talking. I did enjoy that. There is an ice rink in front of the museum - Mozartplatz. (statue of Mozart as well) is the name of the square. The entrance to the Christmas market starts there too . I walked through and browsed a bit and got bratwurst and a bun. Sehr gut!

Advent market with St. Peters Archabbey in the background.

St Peters cemetery - where the Von Trapps hid from the Nazis in the movie. (though not in real life)
I took the cable car up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and walked around but did not go inside the buildings as did not have time. A beautiful view over Salzburg on one side and to the mountains on the other. It is the largest preserved fortress in Europe. I knew it was a good view and with rain/sleet predicted for the weekend I thought I had better get up there and see the view in case there was no other opportunity.
View from the fortress towards Salzburg
At 4 p.m. I attended the Advent concert in St. Peters Archabbey. Somehow I had thought it would be right in the church but it was in a room. Anyway the music was lovely - there were two sopranos, a violinist and a pianist. Simple but perfect.

The sun barely peeked out however it was calm and quite warm. I went into a shop to buy a bottle of water on the way to the bus and when I came out there were gale force winds. It was quite scary actually and came up so suddenly. A lady at the bus stop told me we never get winds like this here! I got back here safely though.

Here's hoping the weather changes for the better. I am enjoying Salzburg but must come in warmer weather.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gut Morgan von Salzburg

Left: This is the spread I had every morning - on the other table was yogurt and cereal...

Yes here I am. I did not know the wifi code until this morning...forgot to ask. Due to upcoming inclement weather many people have cancelled so I am in the main house with wifi. Lovely place and wonderful breakfast buffet.

The flight over here was good - was lucky enough to sit beside a gal who was originally from Salzburg. She came to Canada as a small child and goes back every she was able to give me tips on the city. One lowlight of the trip was accidentally fondling the fellow behind me's shoe clad foot...more on that later. It can only happen to me...

Train trip from Munich here was okay except that my bladder was ready to blow and there didn't seem to be anywhere for me to go to let it blow. Plus if there was there didn't seem to be anyone I could ask to watch my stuff.

Speaking of stuff...Eddie (my suitcase has been named for Eddie Windass from Coronation St as he is a pain in the ass too) has been a pain. Oh well once I hit Germany I will lose a bit of the weight and I realize I've got some English coins in there that weigh a bloody ton so might move them to my purse for the next travel day.

I was so exhausted when I got here I got a taxi after grabbing a croissant (forgive me...a Mozart croissant...not that it tasted much different) and made the new travelers mistake of going to bed at 4:30 p.m. but I just could not keep my eyes open any longer. Of course I was awake at 8:3 then again at midnight. I was cursing myself that I did not ask for the wifi code (which turned out to be self explanatory if I had had half a brain and been awake) so I could have blogged and facebooked the night away.

Anyway time to go exploring - I bought a Salzburg card yesterday so plan to explore Mozart's birthplace and home as well as as much as I can do before attending an advent concert at 4 p.m.

More later!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Free wifi at Toronto airport

You gotta love it. Flight out here was good and watched "Cotagion" on the plane. I love those individual screens. Had the yummiest salad - spinach salad with all sorts of veggies, orange poppy seed dressing with grilled fat shrimp on top. I am being good and drinking lots of water. I feel like a packhorse already as my suitcase was 35 pounds...yikes. The Air Canada check in person said oh you are allowed 50 lbs....not the point...blame it on Xmas gifts and heavy winter clothing and two pairs of shoes. (normally I take two pairs - one on my feet and one in my suitcase...not two in the suitcase like today - but I just can't go to the ballet in Paris in running shoes or hiking boots...I am no fashion queen, not even a princess or a lady in waiting - but even I draw the line at that)

Loads of people in here so I have no illusions that my flight to Munich will be packed to the rafters. Oh well I have an aisle seat so am free to drink water to my heart's content and not worry about disturbing anyone.

Off to Facebook!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tomorrow, tomorrow...I love you're only a sleep away!

Oops wrong musical....anyway I leave tomorrow for Europe - Salzburg is the first port of call and I will be seeing The Sound of Music on Saturday evening. That morning I will be taking The Sound of Music tour so what a day that will be!!! I am sure I will love Salzburg - what is not to love - a city nestled in the mountains, the home of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music movie.

My internet access there will be spotty - I guess it is available in the main building where I will have my breakfast. I am staying in the farmhouse - economy room - cheap as always. Here is where I will be staying:

It looks delightful and apparently is right by a mountain - it is outside of Salzburg but the price was right and I like the idea of being away from the town for something different. The fact they have a sweet little doggie appeals as well.

click on low price room and that's me.

I am all checked in, packed and raring to go. My suitcase seems to get heavier every trip - guess that's one of the signs of old age.... I wish I was one of those people who could go carry on but not for a one month stay and not with Christmas gifts. That's my excuse and I am sticking to it!

A bit of bliss in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

While I enjoyed my tour of Sri Lanka I also found it exhausting.  It was nothing against the tour - it hit all the spots I wanted to see an...