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Loving Life as a Foreign Service Family – Current Parallel 6° 27' North- Lagos, Nigeria

Salzburg Austria 2018

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Our magical trip continued across the Austrian border and into the beautiful Alps. We were so excited to spend time with family.

The snowy mountains were calling. We stopped the car and every jumped out to walk around a beautiful lake. We didn’t even realize we were 10 minutes from our AirBnB

This was the field behind our AirBnB. Beautiful, I was so excited to snow shoe.

 

Can you get more adorable! This was a great little house with four bedrooms and plenty of beds. It had an attached garage that was sometimes used as a barn. It was just perfect. It was located in Gaisau, about a 45 minute drive away from Salzburg. Gaisau is essentially what you imagine when you think of an alpine village.

 

First thing the kids wanted to build a snowman. In honor of their home, they figured he deserved a Nigerian name. Our Air B and B hosts lived in a smaller house on the property. They didn’t speak any English but the adorable elderly man was excited to bring the kids corks and carrots to complete the snowman.

 

We took the train into Salzburg. Such a charming city. It was a awe inspiring, crisp, clean day.  The light was so perfect as we walked along the River Salzach toward the castle we were about to tour.  It looked like a postcard!

Hohensalzburg Castle was quite the experience. We rode a tram up the big hill and enjoyed the view of Salzburg. However, the castle wasn’t great. They did an audio tour where they herded you from room to room and physically locking you into the rooms while you listened. You couldn’t move ahead or go back. It was very claustrophobic and only mildly interesting and I enjoy castles usually. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Salzburg Christmas Market was in full swing and we enjoyed it to its fullest.

Can you smell the candied almonds?

 

The pretzels were pretty amazing and we ate them most days for a snack. The kids especially loved the variety available from this vendor. Chocolate dipped, doughnut, cheese and more.

Grandad John was super excited to take the kids skiing in the Alps. Unfortunately on the planned ski day he was ill. So Ben, the kids, Jo and Clint went on their own. After a history of two separate broken bone incidents occurred while skiing Kathy was not interested, I am still babying a torn muscle from 9 months ago and truthfully dislike being cold and wet, and Harrison’s Ehlers Danlos-Syndrome and accompanying hyperflexability meant we got to have a fun day on our own. Unfortunately by the time they got up to the slope, ski school had already left so they had to pay for private lessons which was far more expensive and not nearly as much fun. One problem with skiing in the Alps is that “Bunny Hills” are not as much of a thing. So the instructor would have the boys side walk up the bottom of the hill a few hundred meters then ski down. On repeat. Over and over. Roger and Oliver were not impressed. Especially Roger who had been looking forward to this day for years. He also had to ski instead of snowboard as he had hoped. Check out those views thought!!! After a while of some amazing runs with his sister, Ben rescued Roger and took him down some bigger runs. Dannica did one run, realized she didn’t remember how to ski as much as she thought she did and didn’t love it and spent the rest of the day in the lodge. Over all they all ended the day happy and excited to live in Europe near more skiing. I find it sad we never took them in Utah. $$$$

Those left at home had a mystical day snowshoeing. I will be honest, I don’t love the cold. I far from love it, I tend to loathe it, but I LOVE SNOWSHOEING. Hiking in soft quiet snow. Bliss. Snowshoeing in the Alps. Extra bliss.

 

The next day we visited the reason Salzburg had its name. Hallein Salt Mine. Salt has been mined in this area for about 2500 years.  Outside the mine was a celtic village, with various life size exhibits about how the celts who discovered salt in this area lived.

 

After exploring the village, we continued on for our tour of the mine.

They provided us with these protective clothes to keep us clean and a little warmer in the underground mine.  Tres chic, don’t you think?

We first rode a small electric train down a tunnel, and then got off and walked with our guide.  After a short while, we crossed underground from Austria into Germany.  Apparently as part of the agreement that fixed the border between the two, Austria was granted the mining rights to continue with the existing mine.

An exhibit of the sources of light used by miners from the days of the celts, through the middle ages and to the modern day.

Next we slid down these wooden slides, which was apparently also how miners got down into the mine quickly. Too bad the flash washed out this photo so much. They were steep slides!

The mining process since the 1400s or so was to excavate large rooms, then flood them and let the water leech the salt from the surrounding walls.  Once it had absorbed as much salt as it could, the water would be pumped out and evaporated.  This process could be repeated many times in each room.  The instrument above was a place for samples of water to be tested for salinity.  Apparently it can reach a maximum salinity of 27% before no more salt can be absorbed.  Harrison and Ben tasted the water, and confirm it was VERY salty.

They had one room that was still partially flooded, creating an underground lake that we rode across on a boat.  There were beautiful lights on the walls around us.

This was an extant wooden pipe and brine measuring tank from the 14th century!

We went to another Christmas market at Frohnburg Palace, which fans of The Sound of Music will recognize as the location which was used as the home of the Von Trapp family.  It was gorgeous!

More roasted candied nuts. They were so good!

It was just a few days before Dannica’s birthday, and she of course took the opportunity to sing that she was 15 going on 16 here at the gazebo.

In addition to what we would consider traditional Christmas decor, there were Krumpuses all over the place at several of the markets, including among the fountains on the grounds of Frohnburg Palace.

We had agreed with our family that this trip we were all taking together was our primary gift, and that we would only give each other small things we could find at Christmas markets. It was really fun trying to find things that each person would like, and avoiding them seeing you find said things they would like.

We spent about 5 days in the Salzburg area, and as you can see from this post, we did a wide variety of activities while there.  It was really nice having that long to really settle in to the area and get a feel for all of its flavors.  As we drove around to the various attractions, google maps often sent us on beautiful one lane roads through the woods-which made things exciting when we encountered cars coming the other way on the same road!

One afternoon/evening we drove into Salzburg proper and most of the group went to see a Motzart performance.  Ben and the youngest two boys opted to take another turn through the Christmas market and check out a toy store (we weren’t sure of the boys’ attention spans for the concert).

I really enjoyed our chamber concert. So intimate with authentic instruments. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

From there we all met up and walked over to a hole in the wall vietnamese restaurant.  For the most part we took turns shopping and cooked all our meals at the AirBnBs, but we did go out a couple of times.

MMMM pho!! Our family filled the entire restaurant it was so small. We ended up splitting and joining other diners. I love meeting new people. I shared a table for a while with an couple of Indonesian women. They were traveling through and ultimately were visiting the US. They happened to be from the same city Dannica’s close friend is currently living in. They were told they had to visit this restaurant by a friend it was so good. We just happened upon it but were not disappointed.

 

The Castle view as seen walking the streets from below.

Our last day in the Salsburg area we took a drive through the countryside and saw Lake Konigsee.

Ok, this is a horse in a house. Many of the old houses here have stalls built in on the first level of a home. A throwback to older times where this served a dual purpose of keeping the animals warm while also providing warmth to the family. Driving down a road I noticed this horse saying hello from his cozy house, glass windows and all.

 

Dannica started her birthday opening small gifts in Salzburg then a quick pack up and onward to Vienna we went.

Salzburg…love love love I would recommend it completely.

 

 

 

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