To Tourist, or Not To Tourist

Me and Mom Guiness

My mom is in town…and we are seeing the sights. Based on the introductory photo you might think we’re only seeing the inside of bars, but it’s been a whole lot more than that.

When someone that you care about immensely, like say, your mother, comes to visit you while you are living on the opposite side of the world, you want to make it a spectacular trip. I live in the center of Europe. There are lots of things to do, places to see, and ways to travel. Multiply this by unseasonably warm and sunny weather, and the possibilities are endless. After numerous sleepless nights (this is an exageration) I finalized the itinerary.

Ansbach. A couple of trips on the Army post. Munich. Salzburg. Prague.

Unfortunately this was only half the battle. More important than the where you go is what you do and how you do it. Despite the nasty connotations and nay-sayers, when planning trips for my mother and I, I decided to go Tourist Style. We could avoid all the crowds, expensive eating and drinking, glitz, glamour, buses, and souveniers, but where’s the fun in that?

OktoberfestFor example. If you’re going to be near Munich during Oktoberfest, go to Oktoberfest. Don’t pass it up to visit the Art museum and Indian restaurant. Put on your Lederhosen, borrow a Dirndl for mom, step in some horse piss, get a big beer, a pretzel, and a couple of Leberkäse, and soak up the hundred and twenty year old tradition.

Pumpkin LionLuckily for us the previous example turned out to be a great success and fun was had by all. We recouperated for one day and headed to the Pumpkin Festival in Ludwigsburg for the next. At the festival we enjoyed all the delights that can be prepared completely out of squash; sculptures, informative displays, lunch, dessert, and sparkling wine…all in the backdrop of a Brother’s Grimm Fairytale forrest with some accoustic guitar on the side.

We gave ourselves another day after the pumpkin festival to recoup. One can have fun, but one can not have too much fun, too many days in a row. Somehow this fun-having turns itself into work. And driving in traffic. And that’s bad.

So, fully rejuvenated we headed to Salzburg, Austria, for two days. Austria is beautiful. There is no denying it. There is more blue, green, gold, and chocolate in the landscape than one could possibly consume. I love the Alps. It was a top priority (for me) for my mother to experience them. There are a million and one ways to skin the Alps. And Salzburg. But here’s how we did it.

SalzburgWe indulged in a little meandering up the river, over the bridges, and through the old town streets; snapping photos, throwing coins at street musicians, and falling prey to the first postcard stands we came across.

We dined 18th Century style, in the oldest restaurant in Europe, the Baroque Hall of St. Peter’s. Dinner was accompanied by a wonderful concert of the highlights of Mozart’s oeuvre by musicians in period costumes. The dinner may not have been our favorite, but it was well made-up for by wonderful singers and beautiful violins in a romantic setting.

We did The Sound of Music Tour.

AustriaMost people cringe at the thought of the previous statement. But, how could we not? Thanks to Bob our tour was in a tiny van (not a tour bus), with only three other tourists, and the most informative tour guide I have encountered to date. We saw the sights of the scenes in the movie. But beyond this, the tour brought us to special places, and locations, that we would not have been aware of and seen otherwise. We enjoyed delicious homemade desserts and tea in a traditional guesthouse overlooking the mountains and Lake Fuschl. The tour also gave us a glimpse of Hellbrunn Palace; which was a gorgeous park with gardens and fountains. As I have described it so plainly, you are probably wondering why I would even think to mention it. But there was something terribly charming about the grounds at Hellbrunn. It seemed special. We wished we had a whole day to waste there. Unfortunately we had a schedule and the tour must go on. Luckily, the tour had other fulfilling highlights…more lakes, countryside, and churches in delightfully sleepy towns.

Mirabell GardensOnce the main event had ended (the main event being the sound of music tour) we headed back into downtown Salzburg for one more peak. We found some interesting sculptures in the Mirabell gardens, and grazed by the castle. We finished our Salzburg trip by paying homage to its greatest enterprise… (I stake this claim lightly) Red Bull. We saw the corporate headquarters. We visited the souvenier shop. And we ate lunch at its newest sister-project. The Afro Café.

Afro Cafe Salzburg

I hope you have enjoyed this quick synopsis of Kathy & Sarah Do Europe…Part 1.

Still ahead. Prague.