I Lived The Sound Of Music!

 

The drive to Salzburg was another story . We left Vienna at 7am in a comfortable coach that was filled with tourists eager to experience the journey through the Salzkergammut Lake region of Austria dotted as they were with crystal clear blue lake with their drinkable water and parrot green rolling grass plains that were the foreground for gentle hills as well as taller mountains with some peaks still bearing witness to the winter that had just passed. Austria in every season has its own beauty largely due to the contrast in winter and summer temperatures. Winter landscape in the Austrian Alps is aweinspiring while summer is absolutely lovely!!


Our trip to this region would extend to several days as I had chosen to the major part of our holiday rejuvenating and pampering ourselves in this peaceful haven!
Bu it was Salzburg that we would make our home first and I was as excited as a child to witness the home of Mozart and Strauss as well as the Land of my favorite film The Sound of Music. I was annoyingly perked up in mood as I sang every word of the songs from the movie that they played on the coach driving there.
Our Knowledgeable guide kept up a stream of information about the Von Trapp family, the Hofburgs, the royal family of Salzburg and the life of Mozart and Strauss and it made for a very interesting and inspiring drive as I was transported into vintage era and bygone years in Europe.
The mood was set all the way and when we actually strutted down the streets in Salzburg marveling again at the quite imposing and old architectural of the city I had a skip in my step.

We first crossed over the Danube river which flowed under a bridge that connected the two shore of Salzburg . Lovers had locked their love on the grills of the railing and thrown away theikey, obviously hoping to attain eternal love in this manner, something that everyone craves for in this temporary world with its temporary commitments!!

 
Mirabel gardens where the children led by an impish Maria defied all norms and flitted through sing Do Re Mi, Mozart House still preserved with his original belongings , the lovely Old Town, the bridge where thousands of hopelessly romantic visitors had locked their love for keeps, the numerous churches like the infamous 13th century Don Quartier and its gorgeous interiors, the castles standing tall on top of craggy mountain tops with views to die for, the Abbey and Convent which was the location for Maria’s home before she began her tremulous journey with the Von Trapp family.
Austria is a wonder as many other European cities for those who love a holiday drenched in art and culture and history along with stunning locales and backdrops. My camera shutter had to gasp for breath as I clicked every corner , every alley, every facade, every angle relentlessly.


And so continued the next few days that showed us Salzburg and it’s surrounding and our days on the banks of numerous lakes in the Salzkergammut were steeped in wonder and peace and self indulgence, Apple strudels, shnitzels and noodles, goulash and what not were on every menu and I felt like a character in The Sound of Music experiencing my list of favourite things!!


We made day trips to surrounding counties and towns in a bid to leave nothing out and the towns we passed left a sigh in our hearts!! Bratislava, Budapest, Slovenia were a stones throw away but each city needs a lifetime to experience it to the fullest. What remained common was the quite charm and peace, and the pride evident in their history. The red sloping roofs sitting atop stone walls and encompassed by a bright green backdrop was a colour combination that has tinted my heart forever.

Czech Diaries 2…check!!!

 

 

So we drove on, Heading speedily toward the Czech Capital and on entering it initially it looked like any other modern town. I had almost expected to see a 12th century array of architecture from moment one but obviously like any other city, Prague or Praha as the locals refer to it , had progressed and huge branded showrooms stood on either side of the road, evidence of global presence in this European town.
We did all things touristy…began at the New Town Square with its hectivity and Mixed architectural buildings.

Our guided walking tour took us to the Old Town Square ,treading through typical cobblestone lanes which is something I love about Europe. Inspite of have progressed it has retained its old world charm and history and culture pour out from its ears.

Our knowledgeable guide prattled off a whole lot of interesting info , all of it of course I couldn’t absorb or retain. It I found it fascinating anyway and my fingers barely ever lost contact with the camera button.

The numerous beautiful churches of which some like the  Basilica of St Peters and  St Paul’s, church of Tynem  and St Vitus Cathedral etc are most popular landmarks. Imposing castles spew history and might , Town Halls and museums , bridges and arches..The Charles Bridge flanked on either side by stone and bronze statues, with its multitudes of artists busy rendering caricatures of highly pleased tourist clientele who giggled at the results quite happily was a merry sight. It was extremely crowded and it wasn’t even the peak tourist season yet!

The Astronomical Clock was not only gorgeous but mind boggling! Jantar Mantar’s European counterpart in function but not in style! . We happened to arrive just six mins before the noon hour when the clock strikes 12, led by a skeleton statue depicting death, pulling on the bell to announce the hour , followed by a dozen dancing figures that performed for us as the clock chimed! Every aspect of time related to the movements of the sun, moon, earth, zodiacs, days of the year, seasons etc are depicted on this one famous Prague landmark in the Old Town Hall. And it’s so
We would make our way through the Stoney lanes and the shops selling colorful souvenirs like wooden dolls etc. My fridge magnets had the be bought before we sat down and rested our aching feet. A shnitzel had to be sampled as did a candelini or something which was a very interestedly prepared baked cone made with flour and filled with chocolate and. Vanillas ice cream! Yum!!

And so our totally unemployed relaxed afternoon continued. We sat down on the cobblestone ground with many others like us to listen to a young band playing to a happy crowd who guzzled their beers down and cheered them along. Did I mention that apparently the Czechs are the largest beer consuming community in this part of the world and seeing the groups of people occupying the tables at the adorable road side cafes loaded with enormous pitchers of lager I could well believe it!!

The Variety of humans you encounter amuses you when you’re as unemployed as we were . Their personas,body language, behavior and looks can be a script for many a drama if you studied them for long enough. They sure come in all colors , shapes and sizes..some cheerful some grumpy.. some tall and well endowed , some pouring out of everywhere!! Some old and energetic , some old and amazingly still enthusiastic !! Some high on beer and life, some vacant and sad. We saw them all and passed time trying to attach a story to some of the most eye catching figures!!

And so our days were spent n similar lines until we were ready to go back to our temporary home at the end of everyday tired but happy! I had a big green tick on my list of to-do’s and a big grin on my face to match!

Czech Diaries 1…check!!!

 

 

It was the second leg of our Austrian journey as we drive out of Vienna along the beautiful highway that lead us out Of Vienna towards the Czech capital of Prague. I was as usual awestruck by the natural gift God has handed out to this country also. Oh my God!!!! We’re going to Prague!!!! Have mercy!! Hallelujah!! We are blessed!!

The countryside was wonderful with its gently rolling plains dotted with slanted roofs on picturesque houses that appeared sporadically unless we crossed a small town.

You may have gathered from my earlier conversations with you about my travels that I am a sucker for empty spaces, blue waters and sandy beaches, tall imposing mountainous stretches , serene and green surroundings, rolling fields of emptiness where the grass is king, grape vines cover stretches of ground as far as the eye can see, quaint little houses stand humbly Yet proudly in equally quaint little so called villages that finished before they started..nb pls compare with the villages back home..and of course CLEANLINESS above all.

I learnt from our very friendly and chatty guide who manouvered his Mercedes Benz minivan with 6 of us highly enthusiastic tourists on board, very skillfully, while updating us on the history and culture of Vienna and Austria in general, that popular Austrian wines are produced in this region.

Our Hungarian Guide , from the land of Goulash, named Baalaanj or something like that, was very fluent in English and his accent was easy for my husband to understand thankfully so the ride was fun and comfortable.

My husband in a bid to annoy me would keep joking about how there was dampness in the walls here too, pointed out every little bump and pothole however nonexistent they were , kept saying that we have trees and grass in India too so what are u so excited about but I refused to allow his pathetic jokes to dampen my spirits and kept my raptured face focused on the brilliant stuff whizzing by as we drove along!! I even stuck to my guns stubbornly about how even the clouds looked different here..an observation that was met with an obviously disbelieving smirk from my non-believer cynical other half!!
I gave up!!

There is no time I am as happy as when I am traversing a new country, new horizons , checking off another from my bucket list..errr the bucket of course is the size of the 1000 litre sintax tank sitting in agony on our roof back home.

Every little house , every little town I feel had a story as usual. It was quiet uncluttered..sometimes almost too quiet I felt! Were they happy with their simple lives, did they get bored and lonely..were they busy enough or struggling to find things to do? Sometimes there was nothing for miles around..only solitude.

Oh but how healthy was the weather. It rained that day and brought the temperature down and when it stopped , the cool breeze hitting our faces was so pleasant!! No pollution, no dust!! Our bodies almost protested against this fine treatment!! I think they were offended at not getting their daily dose of dust and smog ..the clean hands couldn’t recognize themselves and the unpedicured feet looked too pedicured!! The faces were white!! My foundation and concealer had been rendered unemployed!! The cosmetics in general were quite feeling ignored.. only the trusty eye liner and lipstick had something to contribute to the day! I think there was a political propaganda going on inside my toiletries bag!! Some talk of a surgical strike or coup amongst each other!! I played the farsighted and forceful decisive leader and saved the day by transferring the threatened objects to my back pack and carried them along on my travels! It might have removed them from harms way temporarily but unwittingly made more enemies for them cos the rest missed out on Hungary and Czech and Austrian adventures!! Sigh!! You just can’t please everyone! Or rather , everything!

Just a thought, It’s no wonder the BMW’s, Benz’s, Audi’s, Volkswagens and Skodas are so good looking!! Look at the climate in their home towns!!!

Oh dear, I seem to have veered off topic so back to the road.

The sun was shining again thank God cos I was worried about the photos that had to be taken in good weather! Yes, that’s Another thing I am obsessed about..Did I mention that I’m trigger happy?? I have to document my escapades and since my memory is not what it used to be (my kids will vouch for that!! ), The only way to do that now is to take at least 7000 photos on every trip..that’s a respectable amount!! 😇😇. Makes me feel like I’ve done a decent job!! So having the sun around helps.. at least the face doesn’t look as dismal as the rest of the body!! You can turn it up against the sun and hope it gets blessed as it’s captured before its exquisite backdrops!

So apparently Budweiser, Ivana Trump and the dollar from the Czech word Tahler are the three bonds Czech Republic shares with America.

My mind is obviously wandering too much so On that note I’m going to stop to take in a long breath of this fresh unpolluted Austrian Alpine air !!