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6 Search Results for ""mirabell gardens""

  • Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Au Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Austria

    • From: LauraK
    • Description:

      Do, Re, Mi..... we just want to burst out in song when we stroll Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 785
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  • Sound of Music Fountain Sound of Music Fountain

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:
      Fountain featured in Sound of Music. Pegasus Fountain, Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg -- July 2008
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 1950
  • Sound of Music Steps Sound of Music Steps

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:
      Do Re Mi steps from Sound of Music. Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg -- July 2008
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 1320
  • Sound of Music Statues Sound of Music Statues

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:
      Statues in Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, July 2008
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 1078
  • Austria 2008 Austria 2008

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:

      This is a continuation of our trip to Switzerland. Read the first part of our trip by clicking the following link:


      July 5


      Sound of Music GazeboIn 1964, a little movie called the Sound of Music filmed a lot of its exterior shots in and around Salzburg. As a result of the movie’s worldwide success, numerous people have flocked to Salzburg and many different tours cater to those wanting a Sound of Music experience. Count us in this group. We took a half-day bus tour that highlighted many of the locations where scenes from the movie were filmed. First up—the gazebo where Liesl sang I am 16 going on 17 . It is now located on the grounds of Hellbrun Palace, a gift from the filmmakers to the City of Salzburg. The gazebo was built specifically for the movie. Also in the Hellbrun Palace area were the road and trees the children hung from and also Maria sang I Have Confidence .

      Sound of Music HouseWe then visited the Palace of Leopoldskon, which was used as the exterior of the house next to the lake—where Maria and the Captain danced at the ball, where the Countess drank pink lemonade, and where the children fell into the water trying to get out the boat. We saw the Nonneberg Abbey where Maria lived until going to serve as governess, and drove into the lake country to the town of Mondsee and Lake Mondsee where the church there was used to film the wedding scene. There were about 50 people on the bus (not all American mind you) singing along to the soundtrack as we traveled from site to site.

      Sound of Music ChurchOur tour guide also pointed out things related to the real Von Trapp story, such as the train station at Aigen where the family left to escape the Nazis. Although the movie has them hiking to Switzerland, they actually took the train to Italy. Also, Nonneberg Abbey was where the actual wedding took place, not at the church at Mondsee. All in all, a great tour, especially if you’re a fan of the musical.


      After the tour, most of us napped and then late in the day did our own self- St. Peter's Cemetery - Salzburgguided walking tour of the Old Town area. We visited several of the squares (also used in the movie) as well as the cemetery at St. Peter’s Church which was used as a model for the scene where the family hid in the cemetery. However, the cemetery used in the movie was actually a recreation on the Hollywood set, and not actually filmed in Salzburg. Bryan has wanted to hear some good organ music in one of the cathedrals and was able to hear some at St. Peter’s. Afterwards, it was dinner and back to the hotel after a very full day.


      July 6


      Sound of Music StatuesMona and I arose early this morning to walk through Mirabell Gardens to take pictures and enjoy the gardens prior to the crowds coming in. Fortunately, our hotel is directly across the street and we were able to get there before 8:00. Several SOM scenes were also filmed in the gardens including the fountains and steps used during Do Re Mi . It was nice to be able to take pictures of these sites without the crowds and having many people you don’t know in the picture.

      Sound of Music Steps

      Sound of Music Fountain





      At 10:00, Mona and I attended Mass at Salzburg’s Main Cathedral. The 10:00 mass is known for its music, and we were able to hear Franz Schubert’s Mass in G , with choir, organ, and orchestra. It was a glorious way to spend a Sunday morning. The music was wonderful and we participated as best we could although the entire service was in German. Mozart was once the organist at this cathedral, so its musical roots span several centuries. The musicians were great and the acoustics were fabulous. After the service we walked around the Old Town area and went in some of the shops and also visited the outdoor markets set up in the various squares. While we were at the cathedral, Mom and Pop listened to an outdoor brass band concert in Mirabell Gardens, with the musicians dressed in traditional Austrian clothing.


      We rested up some in the afternoon with plans to go back to Old Town about 4:30. About that time however, a thunderstorm blew through and the bottom dropped out of the sky. We waited about an hour for the rain to subside and then went over to Old Town. The weather seemed to have chased everyone away, so we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant we had seen earlier. After dinner, Mom and I went to hear a choir sing at one of the churches in Old Town while Mona and Pop went back to the hotel. It turns out it was a high school choir from the San Francisco area. They were pretty good and the church had nice acoustics that suited the group well. Their performance barely lasted 30 minutes, so Mom and I were back before 8:00. Tonight was our last night in Salzburg, so we needed to pack and get ready for the final leg of our trip—Vienna.


      July 7

      Today we rented a car to drive from Salzburg to Vienna so we could make some stops and see the Wachau Valley, a very scenic stretch along the Danube River. Mona and I went to pick up the car (actually a VW Touran—more like a minivan than a car) at 7:30 so we could get an early start to our day. Mona has been leery about driving in Austria because she said all of the road signs would be in German and we wouldn’t necessarily understand them. I told her it would be fine and not to worry. Guess who was right? J

      After driving back to the hotel to pick up Mom and Pop and load the luggage, we were off to our first stop—Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Certainly not a cheery place to visit, we nevertheless felt it was an important stop in our trip, especially since we were so close. We were not familiar with this particular camp which we will try to describe, but there is a good amount of info at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauthausen_concentration_camp

      Mauthausen StepsMauthausen was a labor camp situated at a quarry. Essentially, those imprisoned here were worked to death. To say conditions were brutal would be an understatement. There are 186 steps from the bottom of the quarry to the top. It was referred to as the March of Death as prisoners carried the stone from the bottom to the top. I walked down to the bottom and back to the top, counting each step along the way. I cannot begin to imagine the lives lived and lost here. During our visit, it was cool, gray, and rainy—a gloomy day to visit a gloomy place. May God have Mercy on all of us.


      We left Mauthausen and drove to the town of Melk, located directly on the Danube. Since leaving Salzburg, we’ve been cruising along the A1 Autobahn. The autobahn, usually without speed limit, has been fun to drive. With the exception of speed limits, it has seemed no different than driving our interstates. The fastest I drove was 150 km/h, which is a little less than 95 mph, and I was still being passed.

      Melk AbbeyMelk is known for its tremendous baroque abbey that sits on a bluff with a commanding view of the river, town, and surrounding countryside. It is an active Benedictine monastery that also operates a school. We toured the abbey, marveling at the ornate architecture, ending our tour in the chapel. This chapel was gilded Inside Melk Abbey Chapelin gold from top to bottom. A choir from America was rehearsing for a concert. We heard them sing This is My Father’s World , glorious sound with marvelous acoustics. Compared to where we had just been, it was an interesting juxtaposition of sights and sounds, and uplifted our spirits as we continued our journey.



      For the final leg of our driving adventure, we left the autobahn and drove Route 3 along the Danube to the town of Krems. This is the Wachau Valley and is definitely wine country. With the Danube on our right and numerous orchards and vineyards on our left, it was a very scenic drive, with the occasional small town dotting the landscape. Although it was still overcast with the occasional sprinkle, it was still a very enjoyable drive. We ran into one traffic snarl along the way, and followed some locals by detouring through a village whose streets allowed for two-way traffic, but were hardly bigger than the width of a single vehicle. If we hadn’t been following a local, I’m not sure we could have navigated around properly. However, it was a tremendous time saver and we continued to Vienna.

      Route 3 eventually became the A22 Autobahn and we were deposited right into the central city of Vienna. We had printed directions to the rental car center and were doing our best to follow them. It was located on the Ringstrasse or ring road around central Vienna, however the names continually change. We found the ring and were able to get over two lanes of wall-to-wall traffic in a single block in order to get to the access road next to the ring and turn the car in 2 minutes before they closed at 6:00 pm. Bryan was spectacular as the driver, and Mona’s worries were unfounded. J After that, it was a taxi to the K+K Palais Hotel on Rudolfplatz, our home for the final three nights of our trip.

      Today was a day of sharp contrasts, but one that we enjoyed tremendously. We are looking forward to exploring Vienna in the time we have left.




      July 8

      Our hotel in Vienna is the best one we have stayed in—it has air conditioning and is the only one with free internet access in the room. All of the hotels we’ve been in have been nice and in excellent locations, but didn’t give you internet. We expected no air conditioning as the climate is such that everyone leaves their windows open and uses fans. We did not expect to be charged by the hour for internet usage. The Austrotel in Salzburg had a free internet station we could use, but no internet in the room. The Austrotel’s computer has a German keyboard with extra keys for the umlauts and keys in different places. I only updated one day from there because the typing was chaotic. That’s why it’s sometimes been a challenge updating this blog. I’ve been typing in Word and cutting and pasting onto the ‘net, which is why the font size keeps changing. I’ll try to clean up the formatting when we get home.

      Schonbrunn PalaceThis morning we took a half-day tour of the city and a tour of the Schönbrunn Palace. We were on a double-decker coach bus where the tour was both in French and English. I thought our guide did a great job switching between the languages. We rode on the second floor which afforded us good views of the sights. Schönbrunn Palace was the summer home of the Hapsburgs, rulers for hundreds of years of the Austrian empire. Its grandeur is often compared to that of the Palace of Versailles in France, and now having seen both, I Privy Garden at Schonbrunn Palaceunderstand the comparison. We only saw a very small portion, but the opulence was very apparent. Schönbrunn also has extensive grounds to explore with several different areas of manicured gardens. The amount of money needed for upkeep must be astronomical, but judging from the crowds, I suspect they make a lot of it in ticket sales.


      Parliament Building -- ViennaAfter the tour, the bus took us back to the Opera House which is located about halfway around the Ringstrasse. We decided to walk the western half back towards the hotel and take in some of the sights we saw on our tour more up close and personal. Besides the Opera House, we saw Hofburg Palace, Parliament, Mozart StatueRathaus (City Hall), and the University among other sites. We also saw the memorial statues for Mozart and Goethe. We stuck our head in McDonald’s to check the Big Mac Economic Index. Austria is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. A Big Mac Combo costs €5.19, which is roughly $8.15, certainly cheaper than the $11.30 in Switzerland, but still quite a bit more than the U.S.

      After resting during the afternoon, we walked to Stephansdom (St. Stephan’s Cathedral), the pride of Vienna and a national symbol of Austria. We looked around inside, but opted not to take a tour as it was quite crowded. The square around Stephansdom is a Vienna Skylinefocal point of shopping, street performers, and general people watching. We strolled down Grabenstrasse, a main pedestrian shopping area and stumbled upon St. Peter’s Church. A boy’s choir from South Africa was beginning a concert just as we arrived so we decided to stick our heads in for a minute before heading to dinner. Instead, we found ourselves staying for the entire performance as they sang both classical music and a selection of songs from their native country complete with drums, pan flutes, and other native instruments. It was an excellent performance. Vienna is world-renowned for its classical music scene, and just by wandering, we were able to enjoy a fabulous concert.



      July 9

      Strauss Statue in ViennaIt’s hard to believe today is our last day here. Mona and I are doing our own thing today as are Mom & Pop. Mona and I got off to a leisurely start and didn’t leave the hotel until almost 10:00. We decided to go down to the park on the eastern side of the Ringstrasse and explore and specifically get a picture of the gilded statue of Johann Strauss. Of course, we ended up running into Mom and Pop at the park—Pop sitting on a bench reading the paper and Mom off exploring. After leaving the park, we ventured to the Segway store to see about renting them to see the city. Fortunately for me, we could. J


      Tooling around on the Segway was a lot of fun as you can tell from the pictures. We only rented them for an hour, but it was definitely a great way to get around and not spend so much time walking.

      Bryan Segway Segway in Vienna Mona Segway






      After turning in the Segways, we walked the streets, exploring the shops and soaking up the Viennese atmosphere. We took a nap break in the middle of the afternoon and then headed back out later. Mona and I had dinner at a café near the Stephansdom and planned on taking in an organ concert at St. Peter’s church, but instead of being at 8:00 pm like last night, it was held at 3:00 pm. Oh well….

      Our final bit of sightseeing took us to Judenplatz, or the Jewish Square. There is a memorial there recognizing the lives lost to Christian persecution in the 1400s and 1500s. We then went back to the hotel to finish packing and get ready for a long day of travel tomorrow. We’re up at 4:00 am (Yikes!) in order to catch our 7:00 am flight home.

      July 10

      Today we headed home. The taxi picked us up at the hotel at 4:30 to take us to the airport. The hotel packed us a bag lunch since we would not be there for breakfast—very nice of them to do that. We flew Austrian Airlines from Vienna to London Heathrow. In London, we switched to American Airlines for the final leg back to the US. Doug picked us up at the airport, and after dropping him off and visiting the grandkids, we left and got home around 7:00 pm (1:00 am in Vienna, so almost 24 hours of traveling).

      It was an incredible trip. We were very blessed with good weather, good health, and no travel hassles. Being able to actually see the Matterhorn and Jungfrau with such glorious clear skies is not a given. Mom and Pop had a great time and are likely already scheming about where they want to go to next. We enjoy traveling, so I’m sure we’ll do something again with them soon. Our thanks to Mary Lou at Royal Travel Center who helped us put this trip together.

      Here are some final pictures from our trip. Enjoy!


      Mom Sledding 1 Mom Sledding 2 Mom Sledding 3

      Mom sledding at the Jungfrau .



      Lucerne Lion 2 Inside the Ice Palace




    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 4988
  • Switzerland 2008 Switzerland 2008

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:

      Mom & Pop at Ayers RockAlps, Here We Come!

      Our last big trip was 2006--Pop's dream vacation to Australia and New Zealand. We celebrated his 70th birthday watching penguins and cruising Milford Sound. Now it's Mom's turn. We leave for Switzerland and Austria on Tuesday. Our first stop is Lucerne. We hope to update our trip occasionally from the road. Check back and see the progress!

      June 24

      We've finished packing and getting ready to go to the airport. Mom & Pop have finished their coffee and we're ready to load the car for our 2 hour drive to the airport. I've been to Geneva & Lucerne--15 years ago--and am looking forward to a return visit, but this will be the first time for Mona, Mom, & Pop. Time to go so we have plenty of time to get through the TSA lines.

      June 25

      We arrive in Zurich on-time at 7:30 AM even though both of our flights experieced delays. After the mandatory stop at the ATM, we hopped on a train and headed for the city. The Swiss are excellent at public transportation. The train station is in the bottom of the airport and connections are extremely easy. We walked down the main shopping district--the Bahnhoffstrasse--and window shopped at Prada, Tiffany's, etc. We took a two hour city tour by bus in order to familiarize ourselves for our return in a week--not the best tour we've ever done, but good enough to see where we want to spend some time when we come back. After our tour, we took the train to Lucerne for our first two nights.

      Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, June 2008We paid to have our luggage sent all the way to the Lucerne train station, so we wouldn't have to claim at Zurich airport and keep up with on the trains. Definitely the way to go--once you check in at the airport, it is tagged and handled all the way--kudos to the Swiss!! Mona and I walked around town exploring the old fortifications and climbed two of the towers along the remaining wall, while Mom & Pop rested in the room. After a delicious dinner of Alplergronen (think a hearty mac & cheese), we returned to the room to crash, as our bodies lacked sufficient sleep and we hope to quickly adjust to the new time zone. The picture at left is of the Chapel Bridge, a wooden bridge across the River Reuss, dating to the 14th century. The stone octagonal tower predates the bridge by a century.

      June 26

      Lucerne at NightThe Euro2008 Football Championship—soccer to us Yanks—is taking place while we are here. After crashing at 8:30 last night, we were awakened about 11:00 to lots of screaming and horn honking after Germany defeated Turkey. I was able to go back to sleep about 12:30, but Mona was up until 2:30. We awoke a little after 8:00 and met Mom and Pop for breakfast. The Hotel des Alpes is right on the river in Old Town and we ate outside overlooking the river. A great way to start our day. This hotel is in a perfect location and we would definitely recommend it to others.

      We did our own self-guided walking tour of the Old Town section, seeing the Chapel Bridge, Jesuit Church, Spreurbrucke (another historic wooden bridge), and several of the squares around the City. After an afternoon nap, the four of us ate dinner on the outside terrace on the roof of the Manor Department Store. They have a great cafeteria that is popular with the locals. The meal was very good and much more reasonably priced than a lot of the restaurants we saw.

      It’s been very overcast today with a few sprinkles here and there which have prevented us from seeing Mount Pilatus or taking the cog rail to the top. After dinner, Mom, Mona, and I went to see the Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument). It is a spectacular lion carved into a sheer face of rock—33 feet long and 20 feet tall. It’s located in a small park, and we were able to enjoy it all to ourselves. We understand it is rare to have the park to ourselves, but we went about 8:30 after dinner and it was beautiful. It is memorial to the Swiss soldiers that died defending the French king during the French revolution. I understand why people say it is a “must see” while in Lucerne. It’s noble, majestic, and heart-breaking at the same time.

      Lucerne Lion Monument

      Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

      June 27

      Today was a travel day as we departed Lucerne and took the train to Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland—the heart of the Swiss Alps. Before leaving Lucerne, we toured the Swiss Transportation Museum—comparable to our Smithsonian but on a slightly smaller scale. I liked the train section the best, as it showed the ingenuity of how the Swiss adapted their train network to navigate the mountainous terrain.

      We rode the Golden Pass line which has panoramic train cars for viewing the scenery. We stopped in the town of Brienz which is billed as a center of Swiss woodcarving. Brienz is at one end of Lake Brienzersee and Interlaken is at the other end. We looked at some of the shops and then Mona and I found a giant chessboard on the edge of the lake and played a quick match before meeting Mom & Pop back at the Train Station.

      Our hotel in Interlaken is the Hotel Du Nord, right on the main street about a 10 minute walk from the train station. We’ll be here for five nights and take day trips to the surrounding areas. We had dinner at a restaurant across the street, where a local brass band played while we ate. Now it’s off to bed so we can get an early start on our day tomorrow.

      June 28

      Jungfrau ViewsWe’re up early this morning to catch an 8:00 train to go high into the Alps—our destination: Jungfraujoch—the “Top of Europe” where we arrive at the highest train station in Europe at over 11,000 feet. The weather is spectacular—clear blue skies and views as far as the eye can see. We are treated to great views of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch peaks. At this altitude, the peaks are still snow-capped and we have to don extra clothing, but it’s Ice Palace at Jungfrauall worth it. We understand that there is frequently rain and/or cloud cover so we could not have asked for better weather. There are several vantage points to admire the views and take pictures and we saw them all. We also visited the Ice Palace where there were several sculptures carved into the ice and went sledding on snow discs.

      Jungfrau from the Wengen-Lauterbrunnen TrailThe trip to the Jungfrau required two changes of trains at Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg and took 2½ hours to reach the top. On the way down we stopped in the town of Wengen (roughly half-way between LB & KS) which sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley with great views of the peaks. There are no cars in Wengen—the only way to reach it is by train, foot, or cable car. On the Trail at WengenAfter taking in the town for a bit, Mona and I put Mom and Pop on the train back to Interlaken and we hiked down the mountain from Wengen into Lauterbrunnen. The trail was quite steep, but we were treated to spectacular views and a variety of trail types, including portions that went right through families’ yards or farms.

      Glacier at Top of JungfrauWe caught the train in Lauterbrunnen back to Interlaken and arrived about 6:30, had dinner with the folks, and turned in early. Tomorrow we are planning to go to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn—the weather forecast is very promising and we are hoping for a repeat of today.


      June 29

      Deja vu—up early to catch the 8:00 train, this time to Zermatt. Once again, we have clear blue sky with nary a cloud in sight. Like yesterday, our trip to Zermatt requires two changes of train—one in Spiez and the other in Visp. The total travel time was a little over two hours and we arrive in Zermatt about 10:15. Zermatt is at the south of Switzerland near its border with Italy. Like Wengen, Zermatt is car-free although there are little electric “mini trucks” that cart hotel guests and luggage from the train station to their hotel. The weather is glorious, mild temps and clear blue sky. We can see the Matterhorn from the town, but we decide to go up to Rothorn, a neighboring peak to get the quintessential Matterhorn view.

      Pop at Matterhorn June 2008You reach Rothorn via funicular then gondola and finally a cable car. We were not disappointed! We soaked up the views and atmosphere with very few people (and of course took lots of pictures). We met a couple from England who stayed in Zermatt a week last year and never saw the Matterhorn because of the weather, so we know today was a special treat. On the way down, we stopped at each intermediate point for a quick look around and had lunch at a restaurant located at the point where you change from gondola to funicular for the final leg down the mountain. I ate apfel streudel mit vanillasauce out on the terrace with gorgeous views of the Matterhorn. Mom ate the same, but Mona opted for ice cream with hers. Vanilla sauce is a thick cream sauce served warm—certainly not to be confused with ice cream, but a nice flavor to complement the streudel.

      Matterhorn After strolling through the streets of Zermatt and catching a glimpse of some type of professional tennis tournament, we took the train back to Interlaken, arriving about 6:00. We left glorious weather to return to rain in Interlaken. We cannot see the Jungfrau, so we know what a special two days we have had weather-wise. Tomorrow we plan on visiting Bern, the capital of Switzerland. He hope for more great weather, but regardless we’ve been blessed so far.


      June 30

      Bern FountainFor the third day in a row, we are out early to catch the 8:00 train, this time to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Bern is less than an hour away by train, so we are there before 9:00 to begin our visit. The old town area of Bern dates to the 1400’s and is extremely well-preserved. All the buildings are stone as construction with wood was banned after a big fire in 1405. We took our own Bern Old Townself-guided walking tour of the Old Town area. Mona and I split up from Mom and Pop and each did our own thing. Mona and I went to the Bear Pits to see the brown bears on display. Bern’s original name was Bärn, named after the German word for bear—bär. The bear is featured prominently on the city’s coat of arms and is a beloved symbol of the city.

      Zytglogge Clock in BerlinBern is quite a charming place, especially for a national capital. Less than 200,000 people live here. Probably the coolest thing we saw while we were there was the Zytglogge Clock Tower. The tower was part of Bern’s original city wall. The clock was constructed in the tower between 1527 and 1530. It is completely mechanical and must be “wound” once per day by winding the five 200 kilogram weights 90 meters high into the tower. The clock features an astronomical clock face that tells the time of day, day of the week, Zytglogge Clock Up Closemonth, date of the month, phase of the moon, and astrological sign. It also has a rooster that crows, a jester that rings bells, and a carousel that twirls as part of the chiming of each hour. We took a tour and were able to climb to the top of the tower and see all of the inner workings. It was fascinating to see how all of the parts worked and hard to believe that such an intricate system was designed and built 500 years ago! Just viewing the clock from the street isn’t but so impressive—you must take the tour to have a full appreciation.

      Bryan Taking Pictures in WengenUnfortunately for Bryan, it was one mishap after another. For all of you close friends and family reading this, ask him about his misadventures involving a guide book, a camera lens cap, and the seat on a train. Trying to write about it doesn’t do it justice. To cap it all off, we ended up on the wrong train on the way back to Interlaken and were half-way to France before we caught our mistake and had to double back. Fortunately, our rail pass is for unlimited travel so it didn’t cost us anything.

      One final note for all you sports fans: Spain 1 - Germany 0. Spain wins the Euro football championship for the first time in over 40 years. Until tomorrow. . . .

      July 1

      Unterseen BridgeToday was laundry day as we’re about half-way through our trip. We found a self-service laundry across the river from Interlaken in Unterseen. Unterseen is adjacent to Interlaken across the Aare River and its name also translates into “between the lakes.” The washing machines are smaller than ours so Mona and I had to divide our stuff into two loads. It cost us the equivalent of $10 USD to wash and dry a single load of clothes. Glad we’re only doing that one time.

      Mountain View from Murren TrainEverything in Switzerland is much more expensive than the US. Switzerland retains the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its unit of currency and not the Euro. The current exchange rate is about 1:1 so something that is 10 CHF is roughly $10.00. To give you a frame of reference using the Big Mac Economic Index, a Big Mac combo at McDonalds in Switzerland will cost you 11.30 CHF or about $11.30 which is twice what it would cost in the US. We’ve been eating big breakfasts which are included with our hotel room and eating granola bars we bought with us for lunch, so dinner is the only meal we are buying. Even so, it’s hard to find a meal that is less than $20 per person.

      Mona in Edelweiss -- Murren SwitzerlandWe spent the morning doing laundry. In the afternoon, we left Mom and Pop to fend for themselves and Mona and I took the train to the Town of Murren, on the opposite side of the valley from Wengen. Like Wengen, it sits on the edge of a cliff high on the mountain. Murren was included in our rail pass so we didn’t Wengenpay any extra even though a portion of the trip was on a cable car. The final leg on the train went right along the mountain edge which provided for spectacular views. We hiked all around the town and were planning to hike to the neighboring town of Gimmelwald but a thunderstorm began to roll in and we went back to Interlaken. We managed to avoid any additional rain back in town and spent the remainder of the evening strolling the shops and packing. Tonight’s the last night in Interlaken. Tomorrow we take the train back to Zurich where we will spend our final two nights in Switzerland.


      July 2

      Jungfrau Interlaken ViewThis morning we said goodbye to Interlaken after 5 wonderful days and boarded a train for Zurich. We stopped in Brienz and caught a bus to visit Ballenberg – the Swiss Open Air Museum for Rural Culture. This museum is located on about 160 acres and contains around 100 rural houses, farm buildings, etc., from all regions of Switzerland. These structures date as early as the 1500s and were dismantled and reassembled in their original state. They also had demonstration crops and various period farm implements, and some houses had furnished interiors to give you a sense of what life was like hundreds of years ago. Admission was free with our rail pass.

      It was very interesting to see the various styles of architecture and building construction from the different regions within Switzerland. I was amazed at how much Pop knew about the various plants, tools, and equipment, but since he grew up on a farm, I shouldn’t have been surprised. We left early afternoon to finish our journey to Zurich, changing trains in Lucerne, and arriving in Zurich about 5:00 PM. We are staying at the Hotel Montana near the train station and Swiss National Museum for two nights. After dinner and claiming our luggage at the train station, we called it a night as we needed to catch up on sleep for tomorrow.

      July 3

      Goat at HeidilandToday was a surprise day for Mom and Pop as we didn’t tell them in advance what we would be doing (although Mona did spill “some” of the beans a couple of days ago). First up was a visit to Maienfeld and the land of Heidi . Heidi was one of Mom’s favorite books as a child, and Maienfeld was the inspiration for the setting of the story as it was a favorite holiday spot of the author’s. We took the train to Maienfeld (about 1.5 hours from Zurich) and Country Lane at Maienfeldthen hiked about45 minutes through the town and up the mountain past fields of grapevines to the Heidiland House and Museum—a re-creation of the setting from the book. Although there wasn’t much to see at Heidiland, we enjoyed the scenery very much and Mom had a great time reminiscing about the story. Maienfeld is a quaint town with narrow streets that is still very much an active farming community. The farming appears to be mostly vineyards, and we saw lots of tractors rumbling through town.

      Liechtenstein Parliament BuildingAfter our visit to Heidiland, we took the train back to Sargans (all of 7 minutes) and caught a bus for part two of our surprise adventure—a visit to Liechtenstein. Sargans is a Swiss town on the border and we caught the Liechtenstein bus to Vaduz, its capital. Liechtenstein only has about 34,000 people living there—smaller than the county we live in. Mom and Pop can now add another country to the list of places they have been. We strolled the town and saw the Parliament Building and Castle where the prince and his wife live. I also bought a canceled stamp commemorating the Euro2008 Football Championships. Our guidebook says that philatelists covet stamps from Liechtenstein.

      GrossmunsterWe returned to Zurich about 5:00 and were greeted with rain. We had dinner at the Manora restaurant and returned to the hotel to rest up for the evening. Our best bets for dinner (variety and price) have been the restaurants within the department stores—Manora is in the Manor Department Store. Tomorrow we will sightsee a little more in the morning before boarding a train for the 6 hour ride to Salzburg. Switzerland has been fabulous and we look forward to more exciting adventures in Austria. Internet connections have been sketchy, so until then….

      July 4

      Zurich SkylineHappy Independence Day! Today we leave for Austria. Mona and I were up early to do a final walking tour of the city. We walked along the Limatt River and took pictures of the skyline. We visited the Lindenhof which is a city park overlooking the river with great views ot the Grössmunster Church. We had the place to ourselves as it was only about 8:00 and the city had not yet awakened. We found another giant chessboard, but decided against playing a match.

      St. Peter's Steeple ZurichWe visited St. Peter' Church which has the largest clockface in Europe on it's tower. We then crossed the river and visited the Grössmunster and saw a 14th century statue of Charlemagne in the crypt of the church. We made our way back through Niederdorf, an old area with narrow cobblestone streets and lots of shopping and restaurants, though none were open. Although Zurich was not as quaint as the other cities we visited, we felt like we got a good feel for the city. We met back up with Mom and Pop--Mona and Mom checked out the shopping beneath the rail station and Pop stuck his head in the Swiss National Museum while I watched the luggage and updated this blog.

      We left Zurich at 1:30 for the 6 hour train ride to Salzburg. We are staying at the Austrotel Hotel about a 15 minute walk from the train station. We're across the street from Mirabell Gardens, where certain scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed. Tomorrow, we are taking our half-day Sound of Music bus tour of various sites. Mom is giddy with anticipation. Tomorrow's entry will likely be all about our tour. Stay tuned!


      Our blog is beginning to exceed the space allowed. Click on the link below to continue reading about our adventures in Austria.





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