Sunday, April 14, 2013

Smith Family European Vacation--Days 5 and 6: Salzburg and a Road Trip

Fountain near the Dom in Salzburg.

On Thursday, we got up fairly early and headed out to Salzburg, Austria.  It was about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive from where we were staying in Germany.  At least half of the drive was spent on two-lane highways.  You could go at least 60 mph on all of them, but the real problem was that if you got behind a truck, you were hosed.  Unlike in the States where trucks or other slow-moving vehicles are required to pull over if a certain number of cars build up behind them, in Germany there would be a row of 15-20 cars behind a truck going half the speed limit.  A car or two would speed up and pass when it was (somewhat) safe to do so, and periodically the single lane would expand to two and let fast-moving cars pass through.  Overall, however, it was a rather frustrating section of the drive.

Germans seriously have the best looking woodpiles I've ever seen.  Somehow they cut each piece to exactly the same length, and then split them to exactly the same width, and then stack them perfectly.
We arrived in Salzburg all in one piece and found parking in a parking garage that was literally tunneled out of the mountain.  The boys dubbed it the "bat cave."  We walked to the Salzburg Dom.  It is another lovely church.

I have to admit that much of Salzburg for me was about looking for Sound of Music sites.  Initially, I was planning to do our own Sound of Music tour.  However, about five minutes after we got there, it started to rain.  The forecast had predicted it would be warm with a slight chance of rain so we dressed accordingly.  Instead, it was cold and very rainy.  I have decided that I am a fair-weather tourist.  If I get wet and cold, I get a little bit cranky.  Aaron would probably chivalrously deny it, but it is sadly true.

After the Dom, we went into a restaurant and had a delicious lunch.  It was nice to dry out and warm up a little.  Goulash and potato dumplings for me.  The little kids had pesto pasta, which they loved.  We tried the Apfel Strudel again, and I didn't like it as well as the stuff we had the day before, largely because they included raisins.  I am not a fan of cooked raisins.  Plus, they served it with a smallish scoop of ice cream, and it was much better with the custard sauce.  On the up side, a picture on the wall attested to the fact that Rick Steves had been there. So that must mean that we have fabulous taste in restaurants.

A door in Salzburg.  Catholic families write on their doors with chalk to mark Epiphany.  It says:" 20*C+M+B*13".  It is the year, with the CMB in the middle, which stands for the Latin phrase that means "Christ bless this home."
After that, we walked through the Getreidegasse and did some shopping.  Aaron bought Sawyer some "handsome clothes" (Sawyer's words) at H&M.  We also bought Lucy a cute boiled wool jacket, which she immediately started prancing around in.  Heaven help us with a little girl who is so aware of her own charms.

Strangely, the store where we bought it (full of traditional Bavarian/Austrian clothes like lederhosen and dirndls) gave us a bag with a picture of Pamela Anderson in a "sexy dirndl" on it.  It was sort of hilariously incongruent.

Red Bull was apparently created in Austria, so they have a whole store devoted to Red Bull merchandise.  Not their finest contribution, in my opinion.
Sweet fashions in Red Bull world.
Lovely display in a shop window.
Sawyer showing off his treat from the bakery.
After shopping, we took the tram up the hill to Salzburg Castle.  The views from the hill were spectacular, including a few Sound of Music sites, such as the manor on the lake where the "backyard" scenes were filmed, and the cemetery where the Von Trapp family hid from the Nazis.  We could see all across the valley and down into the city below.

With all of that, some of the best views were actually a little closer to hand.  I love my sweet and crazy kids.  Some of them held still long enough for me to take some pictures.

Speaking of crazy, I'm pretty sure that Sawyer and Lukas consider all castles (and city streets, for that matter) their own personal par cour courses.  They've both had some near misses (and many a disapproving look from the natives) as they heedlessly careen down city streets.  We are trying to keep them in check without completely killing their joy.  It's a delicate balance.
Sophie and Brendan in the cemetery where part of the "Sound of Music" was filmed.
We then went back to the Bat Cave and got our car.  The screen on the machine that took our parking ticket as we excited said "Gute Fahrt!", which means, "Have a good drive!"  I read it out loud, and we all got the giggles.  Being cold makes me a little loopy :).

We were all glad to get back "home" and relax.

Incidentally, it was really fun to be able to hang out with Aaron's parents.  They are such nice people that they willingly spent four days with our crazy group and even acted like they were enjoying themselves.  We are lucky to have them!

The kids with their grandparents.
Friday morning, we got up and hit the deck running to pack up our car and leave the house clean and tidy.  In case you were wondering, this is what it looks like when a family of 8 goes to Europe for two weeks:

The back of our van packed to the rafters.
I took a few pictures of the house before we left.  It was a great place to stay.

Our front door.
Our kids had a great time on the swings during our stay.
Our landlady's home, with attached barn around the corner.
The drive itself was fairly uneventful, other than some crazy weather.  It definitely felt looooong to all of us.  It took nearly 11 hours for us to drive from Southern Germany to Paris.  Refer to the description above concerning two-lane highways to understand in part why it took so long.  That is a pretty long time to be in one car with six children.  Suffice it to say, these were some oft-heard phrases:
  • "Knock it off!"
  • "You're being a jerk!!"
  • "I need to go to the bathroom."
  • "Give my (insert favorite object) back!  Now!"
  • "When are we stopping to eat?"
  • (sobbing) "Three more hours?  I thought you said it was only an hour and a half!"
You get the idea.  Family car trips, without our usual DVD player, are not for the faint-hearted.  Aaron and I kept our cool most of the time, which is about the best we can possibly hope for.

We stopped at IKEA near Strasbourg for lunch because we knew it would be cheap and that we would be able to find something that everyone would like.  Plus, with any luck, we figured we'd be able to eat some of this:

Kidding, kidding.  IKEA was an inspired choice--everyone was happy, and they had some really good things that IKEA in America doesn't.  Most notably, they serve vegetables with the mashed potatoes as a matter of course (carrots in this yummy creamy sauce and zucchini).  They also had some delicious desserts that we don't get in the states, like chocolate eclairs.

We meant to stop in Strasbourg and walk around the city center, but realized that we were running late to meet the property manager for our apartment in Paris, so we just stopped for lunch and drove on through.  Hopefully we'll be able to hit it on the way back.

We were very happy to arrive in one piece, unpack a little in our cute apartment and fall into bed, exhausted.

Bon voyage!

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