A Travellerspoint blog

37 To Venice

Via The Eagles Nest in Germany and a bit of Sound of Music History First

sunny
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THEN TO VENICE
28TH SEPT.
Only 1 night in Salzburg but so worthwhile. An early start..7am as we wanted to get to our next stop early. Local guide again ..Gabby a lovely older woman with a great sense of humour. A fresh misty morning and first stop was the Garden Gazebo from Sound of Music-famous for the I am 16 Going on 17 song. Some pics for all here and a posed one for us....kissing of course!!
Then next stop early just over the German border before the crowds arrived, was at Obersalzberg above the town in the trees where the Nazi Party had their Headquarters. Such a beautiful place hard to imagine that such atrocities were planned here. Nothing left of the buildings as it was blasted to bits by bombs from the British as soon as Hitler capitulated and the Nazi's fled.
However, up a very windy road from here we travelled to Hitler's Eagles Nest perched high on a mountain point overlooking the whole area. This personal hideaway for Hitler was a surprise gift to him from the Nazi Party for his 50th birthday and was completed in 1938. It was organised by Bormann, Hitler’s right hand man and was an amazing feat. First they had to build the road up to the point where no more road could go, then a 40 mtr long tunnel to a vertical shaft was built. An ornate brass lined and with mirrors elevator takes you up to the cliff top perched stone building. It is just amazing and well worth a visit if you are ever here. An engineering marvel. Now it has historical photos etc and is more of a museum. The cafe there with sun umbrella's certainly gives it a feel of nothing like it was intended for. Public use I mean. We bought a book so we can have a copy of this history and read it at leisure. Too much to remember otherwise.
Oh the view!! Would love to see it in the snow.

Continued on towards Venice through beautiful scenery, through the Tuaern Mt’s, to the Corinthian Lake District, over the border into Italy and on to Venice. We are were staying in Old Venice right near St Mark's Square, which meant water Taxi's for our luggage and for us. Each Taxi only took about 12-14 so we needed three to get us there. A lovely historic Hotel right in the heart of Venice our room overlooking the narrow cobbled street and the little shops right opposite our room, and just to the right the very cute bridge over the canal that linked our Hotel to St Mark's Sq. We could sit in the Hotel lounge and look straight out at all the Gondolas loading people for rides. Spectacular.....and it was soon out turn. 3 to 4 people to each Gondola. We had Kevin and Donna from USA with us, a great couple and lots of fun. One group of our single lady travellers even got serenaded around to Opera singing and Accordion accompaniment. Lots of pics and laughs and ''oh look at that’s later we got back to our rooms. Only one complaint....our Gondolier was a cute young guy but spent almost the whole time on his cell ph. instead of telling us about the place. We don't think ne could speak much English, but still some of the others in our group got great commentaries.
After dinner we boarded water taxi's again for night tour of the Grand Canal and the lights. Past lots of old Palaces and Churches, under famous bridges and back to our base. Finished the evening with a free concert and drinks at St Mark's Square. People everywhere enjoying the place, and plenty to look at in this beautiful shop lined Square with a wonderful Basilica at one end, complete with slightly leaning tower. Man, what a long and varied day......but wonderful.

Posted by RuthWinmill 12:44 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

36 Lucerne to Salzburg

Via Innsbruck and a Swarovski Crystal visit

sunny
View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

ON TO SALZBERG AUSTRIA.
Sept 27th
A lovely drive to Innsbruck through the Alberg Tunnel 9kms long, through tall Mts. Stopped for look at the Golden Roof of the Imperial Palace and a tour through the Original 1st Swarovski Crystal shop. Just amazing the things they have made with the cut lead crystal and made a purchase or two here. Ralph was impressed here too. Lunch and on coach again travelling g through the Wilder Kaiser Mt’s to Austria and Salzburg.
Had a local guide here for a walking tour of the Mirabel Gardens in front of the Cathedral. Lovely with statues around here too. This is the Sound Of Music town so saw where lots of it was filmed. Were told that Julie Andrews was in town too as part of a documentary that is being filmed for the 50th anniversary of the movie.
Guided through narrow streets with old buildings with much history and saw Mozart's birthplace. Pictures of him even on the local chocolates.
Checked into our Hotel and then on board Coach for trip into the countryside to a local organic farm. We checked out their animals in the barn.....cows-about 20, 1 pig, piglets, 2 calves, 2 goats two ducks and a donkey. All happy to have visitors it seemed. The cows all happily eating and with their bells on. They are milked where they are....the mobile milking cups brought to each one. We sampled Elderflower cordial, apple juice and other homemade goodies. Bergie the wife, showed us around and told us of their work and life here. It is a life of loving what they do. They have won loads of medals for their Emmental cheeses. She speaks very good English and obviously enjoys people. Her husband does the cooking and speaks very little English. We had a wonderful evening of delicious home cooked organic meat, salads and veg and dessert of course. With their own made apple wine and Elderflower cordial it was the best meal we had so far. Drove back to hotel all singing ‘The Lonely Goat Herd’. Such fun! Would have loved another night here, but it was our only one overnighter.

Posted by RuthWinmill 12:34 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

35 Burgundy to Lucerne

Great Scenery

sunny
View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

ON TO LUCERNE
SEPT 25TH.
Enjoyed travelling through the French countryside, through Burgundy and after crossing the Jura Mts we crossed into Switzerland at Basel and arrived in Lucerne late afternoon. But not before the Swiss Watch talk about where to buy and what deals and where to avoid.......went on way too long. Enjoyed seeing the Swiss style houses as we got close to Lucerne and the different hills. Stopped at the Lion Monument carved into the cliff. Very moving but so beautifully done.....depicting a agony of the lion in death from a spear. There was a man in traditional clothing playing/blowing an Alpenhorn which was about 4mtrs long here also. It sounded lovely and a bit like a cornet....clear and not overly loud.
Then aboard a ferry boat for evening lake cruise with local beers and wine plus nibbles. Saw composer Wagner's home on an island and gorgeous lakeside houses and mountains. No snow on them apart from the very high peaks. Mt Pilatus in cloud, hopefully clear for our visit in the morn. Saw a statue of Jesus(like the one in Rio) standing on a rock on the lake edge, very nice and I had one of those 'I've seen this before' moments. The accent of the boat driver made it sound like it was "cheeses on a Rock" which cracked up some with a warped sense of humour so they laughed till they almost cried. NO DISRESPECT INTENDED!
Dinner was a Local Dine Around from a choice of 4 Restaurants. Ralph enjoyed his, I had fish but it was way tooo salty even for me and I like salty as opposed to sweet. Would have liked to do the Fondu one but a bit far for Ralph to walk with the sore foot.

Sept 26th Lucerne still
Coach ride along Lake shore to a small village. Absolutely gorgeous......most houses with apple and other fruit trees still with the fruit on them.....they pick them as needed for juice and making apple wine, not to mention Strudel. A cool clear morning with a little mist on the hills. We all spread ourselves between 3 horse-drawn carriages .... 2 horses pulling each. Through the local forest, and meadows around the village. Just beautiful seeing the people about their business. Were supposed to stop at an old Church on the way around but there was a funeral happening for a local old 90+ lady. I sat up the front with Emily and the old local 'driver'. He was so lovely and what a sense of humour! Then we pulled up at one of the farmhouses (at least 600 years old) and had morning tea......homemade cheeses, apple juice, apple wine, schnapps, cakes and slices and tea or coffee. So delicious and a special outing. Very enjoyable and memorable.....even saw the cows wearing bells......they do to this day. The hills look all manicured and lush green interspersed with pines and alpine furs or aspens. Looks like they are mown each day. Apparently they do mow aboit 4-6 crops of hay or silage grass per year. Whatever they do it looks stunning.
Back on coach to journey up Mt Pilatus, 7000ft, named after Pontius Pilate, to its summit by Cog-wheel train. An amazing piece of engineering, the train and the track. Several tunnels and a gradient of 48deg in some places, making it the steepest in Europe. Through alpine meadows, pine forests and up into high alpine rock where there was only Gentians growing and a bit of grassy creeper. Champagne and nibbles on arrival and oh the view. Ralph and I climbed to the summit to a trig station similar to the ones in New Zealand. Looked out towards the snow-capped Eiger and the Jungfrau. Wonderful to be able to look way back down into the valley at Lucerne/Luzern and across to these alps. (These Mountains were the height above sea level that we were in Sth America - amazing that we were even higher, and without oxygen tanks) Tried to imagine all of them including Pilatus with their full coats of winter snow. But all with a beauty of their own now. Some idea of how Hilary must have felt surveying the view around Everest. Wow......
After returning to Lucerne from Mt Pilatus, we had a nap then explored the town. Beautiful around the Lake edge, nestled beautiful streets. All the famous watch brand shops....kept away from those....looked at the chocolate shops though and brought some with hazelnuts and without the fancy packaging....very yum. Friday evening so sat near the lake and people watched as we nibbled chocolate. A great atmosphere and kept reminding ourselves we were really in Switzerland. Walked back to our Hotel via the 1600yr old covered Chapel Bridge. Red and pink geraniums in boxes each side if it for the full length, sooooo pretty.

Posted by RuthWinmill 12:26 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

34 Road To Rome

Insight Coach Tour

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TUESDAY 23RD... Road to Rome.
Dragged our cases to leaving hotel and arrived at 6am. Very nice receptionist there told us to help ourselves to breakfast as we were too early to dine at our Hotel. Looked at the other dinners and wondered which of them would be on our tour......most of them!!!!
Arrived St Pancras Stn just before 7am, they hadn't even opened yet. Got tickets and luggage sorted and checked in then waited for departure at 9.30am on the Eurostar.
Didn't see much in the Chunnel....no fish overhead.
Noticed the change in buildings i.e. house styles, and a bit in the countryside. Still rolling country like in UK but the villages looked quite different. Arrived Paris and quite a walk to our coach as our Tour Director insisted we call it.....It is not a bus, it's a coach!!!
Tour by our Hotel and then dropped off next to the Arc de Triomphe where 12 avenues all meet and the traffic takes pot luck it seemed. Gazed down the lovely tree lined Champs Elysees, stood under the Arc, tried to get some service at a cafe - not much luck. Had an hour to look around before our Hotel drop. Wow, so here we were in Paris!
Modern Hotel close to the Arc, had a nice Welcome Dinner close to Hotel, then off for boat ride up the Seine with Bateaux Mouches ferries for night light cruise past castles and historical buildings like Notre Dame. Watched the sunset with the Eiffel Tower silhouetted beautifully. And the light show it provided us at 9pm....gorgeous and some great pics. Bus look around after that, past the Arc again, lovely at night as was the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde. Even saw the real Paris Opera House ....home of the Phantom ......well the one in London had a so called Phantom and the Paris Opera House has the lake underneath, so the two combined to create the story. Quite late to be after early start and up for breakfast at 6am in the morn. Tired and ready for bed.
PARIS 24TH Sept.
After early brekky, off with local guide for around city tour in daylight of the sights we had seen the evening before, including the Cathedral where Napoleon is buried. Then to Eiffel Tower and up to Level 2. Had been warned by guide of pick-pockets and how they operated.......encountered them as soon as we got off the bus....I mean COACH!!!!
They were working in gangs and were like students with clipboards, asking if we spoke English. Eiffel Tower very cool and what a view. Took heaps of pics.....a shame I can't share them on here. On Facebook OK!!
Getting to know some of our group so that's good too. Booked add-on tour of The Louvre.....yes took pic of Mona Lisa, and the other famous stuff like Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory and Michelangelo’s unfinished works done when he was in his 80s. Then went through Notre Dame, very cool too. Stood on the plaque outside where all the distances in France are measured from. We like the architecture here, and that the buildings are all the same height.
Back to Hotel, most of others going to Moulin Rouge. We dined in a lovely little French Restaurant we found not far from Hotel. Rained heavily while we dined but was clear for a pleasant stroll back to our Hotel Le Meridien Etoile. A very nice evening.....and way less than the €157 each for the Moulin Rouge.

Posted by RuthWinmill 12:23 Archived in France Comments (0)

33 Short Trip to London

Short stay too.

sunny
View Ruth & Ralph's Round the World Trip 2014 on RuthWinmill's travel map.

SHORT STOP IN LONDON
Monday 22nd Sept.
A good train trip to Euston Stn and then Taxi to Hotel in Victoria Park. Nice to see London again and all the Monopoly Streets. Hotel very close to our leaving Hotel for Road to Rome the next morn, so did a recce walk to suss it out. Met our Tour Director Brian and learnt we we to be there by 6.15am at latest.
Headed then for miles to the London Eye via Westminster, Big Ben and Parliament and the Thames. So good to see these again. Found what we were looking for one of our Grandson's and then long trek back via South Bank. Took some nice pics with the sun setting behind Parliament. Ralph with sore foot.....a bit of gout since bloods got imbalanced after Montezuma in Mexico. No alcohol either!!!!!!
Dined at a Pub on the corner near our Hotel....Winston Churchill used to dine there regularly too
Set alarm for 5am and off to sleep.

Posted by RuthWinmill 12:20 Archived in England Comments (0)

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