A Travellerspoint blog

Day 66, Salzburg

rain 17 °C

The breakfast this hostel offers in the mornings for free! is fantastic value. We paid 6 euros each for this same buffet in Berlin! We woke up still tired from the days before. We drank a few cups of coffee and relaxed. We planned what we’d do this grey day knowing the skies would open any minute. What we did not anticipate was a holiday Thursday, it was Corpus Christi.
St. Margaret's Chapel
We left the hostel with a list of things to see. We started wandering through old town and found ourselves starting at a new/old working waterwheel. A baker in the building’s basement had decided to have a waterwheel (re)installed. It actually generates the energy to grind the grain inside. It was installed in 2005. Very cool, I wish I had one. One right turn later and we were inside the graveyard of St. Peter’s. Here is thought to have been the site of a graveyard since around the year 700. It was left for abandonment in 1878 until 1930 when new burials were granted. Many of the tombstones we saw were from the last 30 or so years. The graveyard is the most beautiful I have ever seen. Flowers and plants decorate every tomb with a bounty of colour and texture. The most common flower we saw was the pansy, because it’s name means ‘thoughts’. If I must ever be buried please do this to my grave. (grow things on it) St. Margaret’s Chapel stands in the middle of the yard. On the front of the building in large numbers is inscribed ‘1491’ the year it was rebuilt.
We left the graveyard, where the scene in the Sound of Music the von Trapp’s are hiding behind tombstones was filmed and went into St. Peter’s Abbey. This is the oldest existing monastery in the German speaking countries (so Germany and Austria?) and was first started in 696. However, there has been remains found of walls dating back to the 5th century! It was a brilliant church and had the most interesting decorations, 18th century baroque style leaves and vines adorning the entire ceiling painted in a pale green on white walls. Gorgeous.
After this visit we peaked our heads in the Salzburg Cathedral, where mass was happening (1st clue!) We walked up a hill with panoramic views of the city and walked back down the other side. We ended up quite lost and very far out of the way. We found our way back using tunnels carved underneath a hill (a rock) to Universitatsplatz where we watched 5 young boys playing (very enthusiasticly) traditional folk music. There was dancing and clapping, the crowd was having a great time. We walked down Getreidgasse (the street with all the signs) and finally to lunch where we had delicious food and two Mozartkugel from the authentic Paul Furst (at 1 euro a piece!!) the only confectioner still making them by hand. Hopefully we save enough to share when we get home!
We cross the river in search of a grocery store to buy said Mozartkugel at a far better price. It was closed on a Thursday (2nd clue!) which alerted us to the fact that it must be a holiday. We stepped inside the next hotel we saw and asked. Indeed it was, later I figured out that Austria has 13 holidays in a year, 3 of which are in June this year! (There was a holiday when we were in Vienna too.) So annoying! Nevertheless, we found Mirabellgarten and sat down for a rest.
While we were sitting, a very large group of Indian men came through the courtyard following a female tour guide. A few of them broke off, one second I was watching two of them holding hands as they walked toward us and the next we were in a picture seated next to one of them. They had asked to take a picture and as I went to get up and take the camera they said no and to sit down, they wanted a picture with us! They snapped away and asked if we were Austrian. We aren’t really so we said no and they left for the next group of people they saw, who happened to be some Japanese or something. We laughed hard about that one, we expected cameras to come out and someone to say we were on candid camera! They did it to many people, I wonder if they thought it was as funny as we did?
The gardens were beautiful and later in the evening when we watched the Sound of Music we would recognize many features of the park throughout the movie. Just as we finished our tour it began to rain. Hard. We scurried back to our hostel as it was a bit of a walk away. We got there just in time, a torrential downpour was the order of the evening. We, unfortunately, stayed inside the hostel the remainder of the day, we are both made of sugar and don’t like getting soaking wet.

Posted by s-a 16:35 Archived in Austria Tagged salzburg Comments (5)

Day 65, Transit

storm 22 °C

We spent most of this day in transit. We got on a train at 1230 and off a train at 1950. 7 hours and 20 minutes on the train. It was a beautiful trip through the Slovenian countryside and the Austrian mountains. Salzburg gave us the cold shoulder when we showed up however; 40 minutes waiting for a bus, countless drunks at said bus stop and a massive rain/wind/thunder storm...all for us! We were nearly impaled by a flying sign in the wind and got a free room upgrade (private double!) Hopefully the weather improves!

Posted by s-a 15:40 Archived in Austria Tagged salzburg Comments (3)

Day 64, Zagreb

sunny 30 °C

We awoke in our beautiful wooded retreat to the promise of breakfast. We sat down at 0830 with two other couples, oddly enough both from BC. We ate slow indulging in talks of the riots and our travels future and past. We packed our bags and met two of the girls (hi Sarah and oh! I forgot her name!) at the bus stop where we waited with ANOTHER Canadian couple for our bus to Zagreb. We hopped on our bus and shut our eyes, stomachs churning. By God’s grace we made it to Zagreb (with our breakfast) 2.5 hours later.

We ate half of a lunch neither of us were up for and headed back to out room. Along the way found ourselves in the middle of a conversation a girl was having (yes, a one sided conversation.) We tried to help her as much as possible and sent her on her way after we brought her to her hostel. We spent the afternoon doing laundry and totally relaxing, holed up in our room away from the heat.

As the evening wore on we decided to get dinner. It consisted of another Zagreb steak sandwich for Shane and a funny salad with corn and pickles for me. We each drank a beer on a patio overlooking a statue of a guy on a horse before heading home. All in all Zagreb has provided us with a comfy bed on which to relax and not do a whole lot. And it felt great, we needed the break, now we are all geared up for Salzburg!

Posted by s-a 15:32 Archived in Croatia Tagged zagreb Comments (2)

Day 63, Plitvice National Park

Guest blog by Captain Awesome

sunny 25 °C

Ok, so today is the day I’ve been looking forward to the whole time. Plitvice National Park Day! Plitvice is this crazy magical Croatian National Park. If you’re really interested you can look up details about when it became a national park, blah, blah, ect. But the main thing to know is it is awesome and if you ever go to Croatia and don’t come here you are a fool.
So today started out with a lovely 6:45AM alarm. I would just like to say that since being on this trip I have come to truly appreciate waking up sans alarm and every time I hear one I wake up thinking I am in for a day at the salt mines (read ‘hotel’). After calming myself down, I got dressed and at Alyssa’s request (read ‘command’) I packed the rest of my stuff and we went to eat our requisite(and CHEAP:)!!!) breakfast of crappy muesli cereal(sometimes things are cheap for a reason), strange European milk, and instant coffee. What’s that you say? Instant coffee? Isn’t that a crime against humanity? I know right. But here in Europe countries that still haven’t developed the drip coffee machine (ALL OF THEM!) either drink espresso, which is good but only if you are a midget or drinking a latte, or this ghastly instant “coffee” garbage. Buuuuuuut, an entire jar that makes like 50 cups is only about 3euro and I would rather spend the 7euro I would spend on espressos every morning, on beer every day anytime after 12pm (read ’10am’). Sorry about that.
Anyway, after breakfast we scuttled(that’s right scuttled) out the door and onto a tram to get to the bus station (called ‘autobussini’ or something in Croatian) to catch the bus to PLITVICE! After boarding our chariot I was sent to procure foodstuffs. So I bought two ‘bureks’ which are these delicious pastries filled with spinach or “meat”. I also bought this amazing orange Schweppes beverage that tastes, no lie, like an
orange cremesicle. Do you remember those from your childhood? I do. And now they are available in drink form. But only in Croatia. Another quick aside here. Shweppes has cornered the market in delicious beverages all throughout Europe. Every country we have been to so far has offered up some new, delicious citrusy Schweppes concoction. So I wonder, why is the only thing we can get in Canada from these guys, Ginger Ale and Tonic or Soda Water. Get with it Schweppes!
Right, bus! So there was a guy simultaneously snoring and kicking my seat pretty much the whole ride, it was hotter then you could ever believe, and Alyssa and I were both feeling motion sick, due to the crazy Croatian bus driver bombing down the twisting road at around 150km/h. Not to mention we had read online that you have to tell them when you want to stop. This part was actually a little bit exaggerated, as the bus driver’s assistant actually let us know where to get off. So about 3 hours and 2 gallons of sweat later we got off the bus, at the right stop, and walked to our nearby accommodations. The host let us know that our rooms weren’t ready yet, but that we could leave our things in our room. He told us some info about the park and pointed us in the right direction. Off we went.
First stop was the local store to purchase water and an ice cream bar. Next, PLITVICE TIME! Woooooohooo! Just saying, I was excited. After buying tickets we walked down a path towards the “Electric Ferry Boat”. A stunningly green-blue like spread out before us as we reached the dock. The first of many. One of the first things that struck me was the insane amount of fish to be found in this, and all of the lakes. These trout have been able to thrive and exist in such huge numbers, due to the fact that you can’t fish there. It was a pretty crazy sight to look down into crystal clear water and see the fish so thick that you could probably just reach down and pick one up. I imagine people feed them constantly, so they aren’t really people shy.
A one minute ferry ride and we were at a section of the park where you walk around a series of lakes. I think there are about 17 lakes of various sizes throughout the park. We saw many of them and they were all beautiful. Words can’t really describe the wonders of this park, and pictures can hardly do justice to the amazing nature everywhere you look. The water is all crystal clear, azure blue, and full of fish and ducks. There are many trees which have fallen into the water over time, causing the bottom of many of the lakes to look like strange underwater forests. Waterfalls abound, and Croatia’s biggest waterfall can be found at this park. And all throughout the park are manmade wooden paths, always slightly above ground or water, allowing you to be as close as you could to the natural environment without ever really disturbing it.
We spent about 6 hours exploring the park before hunger and weariness began to take hold. A rest and a forgettable meal at the park’s self-service restaurant(read ‘cafeteria’), and a quick stop at the store for a few cheap beers and it was back to the room for us. Now showers, a little blogging, a few beers, maybe some chips, a good nights sleep, then back to Zagreb for more cheap beer and even cheaper sandwiches.

Posted by s-a 08:05 Archived in Croatia Tagged park national plitvice Comments (6)

Day 62, Zagreb

rain 17 °C

We did pretty much nothing this day and it felt fantastic! We woke up late and put a load of laundry in the machine (for free!) almost right away. We had our crappy cereal and instant coffee for breakfast and spent the morning on our extremely comfy bed, waiting for the machine to stop. At 1200, two hours after we put it in it was still washing and we started looking for the Croatian word for spin. The machine had about 20 different options for washing and none of them made sense! I started turning the dial and eventually found the spin cycle. When it was finished we hung our still pretty wet clothes outside to dry.
As soon as we could we headed out. We started with looking for tram tickets, which seems to be a national sport here in Zagreb (yes i realize Zagreb is not a nation,) they are never for sale where they should be. We walked three kilometers before we found some and then realized that I had forgot my camera in the room. We took the tram back, picked it up and started over again. Eventually we made it to the bus station and bought our tickets for the next morning. While we were there the scent of delicious food wafted up our noses and we ate our first slice of borek. Super delicious, definitely trying to make it when I get home.
We headed to the botanical gardens we’d read about, which were very small and somewhat disappointing. We walked to the city center, which wasn’t all that far, Zagreb is very small. We had coffee (me) and beer (Shane) in one of the numerous cafes filling the squares, watching the sleepy town saunter by us. On our way back we stopped at a grocery store. Not any grocery store however, the most similar store to a walmart we’ve seen thus far. We bought some new wash clothes (getting hung up on the fact they charged us 4.5 kunas instead of the advertised 3.5 kunas, a difference of 15 eurocents! (which only matters when you see it!) Thank goodness we did buy them however, our washcloths from home were two months old and smelling like mold!
As soon as we got home we skyped our dads to wish them a happy fathers day, which was a wonderful way to spend two hours. We went to a sandwich stand and had awesome sandwiches. Shane’s was called a Zagreb steak which is a pork cutlet stuffed with cheese and ham, breaded and fried. They stuck it on a bun and loaded it with ‘tartar’ sauce, which is actually mayonnaise, wine and garlic. AWESOME! We ended the night with a beer on a patio, on a sidewalk, on a busy road. And to top off our wonderful evening we were serenaded with the sounds of two teenagers making out hardcore right beside us on the tram...for ten whole minutes.

Posted by s-a 07:48 Archived in Croatia Tagged zagreb Comments (4)

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