Austria, Germany & going crazy for the sun

Trip Start Jan 22, 2013
Trip End Jun 03, 2013

Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Monday, March 4, 2013

When I left you last, we were heading towards Vienna, Austria. Conveniently, my body decided that one cold in five weeks was not fun enough, why not go for a second? And in that case, why not give Steve a second cold as well? Sharing is caring, after all. Determined not to let a cold get me down, we powered through Vienna on our first day, seeing lots of great sights, only to spend the next day completely in the hostel bed. Not having a lot of luck with the old immune system but I guess the minus temperatures and power walking through Europe trying to see everything as quickly as possible is not really working. And probably eating out a lot too (definitely haven't gone for the old 2+5 lately). So we decided that now we have seen eight countries in five weeks (!) it's probably time to see things a bit slower (after we see the things we have pre-booked, which will be in about a week).

Anyway, getting back to Vienna - it is an absolutely gorgeous city. Over-the-top architecture, ornate trimmings, gold statues against white buildings, manicured gardens....Very stunning. I suspect it will look even more lovely once the snow melts and we can see the beautiful green lawns and gardens. Because we didn't get to see everything we wanted to due to being sick, we're going to come back here later to really enjoy it. We did, however, get to see many of the major buildings here, as well as the Sigmund Freud museum (very interesting), the Naschmarket (giant olives and delicious cheeses) and Haus der Musik (a fabulous music museum).

We had already booked our trip to Salzburg, so even though we wanted to stay in Vienna, we headed off to Salzburg, the home of the Sound of Music! We stayed in this great hostel where they show the Sound of Music movie every night (no joke). Salzburg is really beautiful as well, just like a postcard - beautiful architecture surrounded by snow-capped mountains and picturesque scenery. It's got a much smaller town feel but of course it is a tourist haven, although luckily for us, being winter there were less people around. Good tourists that we are, we of course booked the overpriced Sound of Music bus tour which was really lots of fun. We had hoped to do it ourselves to save money, but seeing the distances between the sights, we were glad that the laziness had kicked in and we paid for the tour. We got taken out to the mountains where the movie was filmed, where we saw gorgeous lakes and huge snow-capped mountains with adorable little houses everywhere, and we also got to see the church where they got married, the little glass house where Leisel and Rolf sing "Sixteen going on seventeen", the tree lined street where the kids are in their curtain clothing, and so on. It was completely touristy and daggy but lots of fun especially if you love the movie! Even if not, the scenery was stunning and worth the trip. We also indulged in some more apfel strudel (I hate to imagine how much strudel and beer weight I have put on since the start of this trip. Starvation diet once I get home/run out of money, methinks).

The next day we headed back to Germany, to Munich. Munich is a beautiful city, much better looking than Berlin, because after the war they rebuilt Munich pretty much exactly the same as it had been before. I love Germany. I think my blood runs German. I just love the place. I'm not sure what it is about it, I just feel at home there. The Germans are amazing in their innovativeness, their transport system, the FOOD (I was wrong about my earlier comments about German cuisine, I love it now), and they are just so ahead of the times. We visited Deutches Museum (the main one, and the transport one). The Germans really do know how to do a good museum. The Deutches Museum was probably the best I have been to, and detailed the achievements of the Germans (the positive ones of course!) I was just so impressed with their history of innovation, and also the very exciting things they are coming up with, moving into the future. Their problem solving approach and clever ideas about renewable energy, transport systems, reduction of pollution and carbon dioxide and many other things were fascinating. Actually, I think it may be a Europe thing - they just seem so forward thinking with their smart cars, car sharing, public transport systems, green energy (we've seen heaps of wind farms), education system etc etc. Most Germans you meet can speak German and English proficiently and I daresay their education system is much better than ours (that's just a guess, I have no research on this). Their playgrounds seem to allow kids to take more risks (great for building resilience) and you see more kids out and about on public transport unaccompanied by adults. I really love the culture here, but then again, I have to remember that you see things differently as a traveler (grass is always greener, etc etc, yeah, yeah I know...)

In Munich, we went on a walking tour of the place, climbed to the top of Peterskirche (St Peters Church) where we got a fabulous birds eye view of the city, visited Deutches museums, went to a beer hall, went out clubbing to Kultfabrik (no joke, it was like an Ekka of nightclubs - 25 clubs in grounds like an amusement park - pretty fun!), visited the English Garden where we saw people "surfing" in the freezing cold man made river (check out the photos!), and went to Schloss Nympehnburg, beautiful old palace grounds. We did plan to go inside and look at the jewels in the museum, but as it turned out, WE SAW THE SUN! Yes, I know that this seems strange to those of you back in Brisbane, but we have been seriously sun-deprived for the last five weeks. Since that one day when we arrived in London and saw sunshine, I could probably count on both hands the times we have probably seen small glimpses of the sun for short amounts of time. But yesterday - Sunday, no less - an amazing, glorious thing happened. The sun came out! It was amazing. It was like Christmas. It seemed like all of Munich came out to see if it was real, and then, realising that it was, headed out to the Schloss Nympheburg park to lap up the rays (still trudging through snow, with their winter jackets and scarves on). You should have seen it! There were people reclining on park benches, with their faces up to the sun, eyes closed, blissful looks on their faces. People ate brattwurst sausages and drank beers outside in the park, taking off their beanies in the first time in months. Children were eating ice-creams, like it was the middle of summer. It actually felt like Boxing Day at the beach in Queensland, only we were sitting in a snow-covered park, with our winter woolies on, lapping up the sunshine. It was amazing. They say that the sun can make you a bit mad, and I think with melatonin levels being so low in Germany lately (it's been the greyest winter in 40 years apparently), that's only cause for even more madness. I don't know how it affected anyone else, but when I got back to our room, I couldn't stop laughing. I think even though my blood runs German, my body/mental health needs the Queensland sunshine desperately! Crazy even after only five weeks of sun deprivation!

Well that's about all I've got for now. Sorry to the music lovers that I don't have a lot to report from Vienna, the classical music capital of the world. I hope next time I get to go to the opera and (fingers crossed very hard) get to see the Vienna Boys' choir. Sadly, I won't get to see the Vienna Philharmonic live because subscription tickets for this orchestra having a waiting time of THIRTEEN YEARS. Isn't that crazy? So different to Brisbane where a classical concert is usually at best a sea of white heads and a few uni music students. (& a whole bunch of empty seats).

I'll love you and leave you now - heading north again up to Santa territory - going to Helsinki (via Copenhagen) to catch a boat into St Petersburg. I hope the temperature stays in the positives.

See you soon all! Aufwierdersehn!
Lots of love

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