Österreich; Part 2 of 3 Spring Break 2013

Our German adventure had come to an end, leaving me with one thing: I must go back and explore more of this amazing country!

INNSBRUCK:

It was the morning of February 25 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY TWIN COUSINS! ) and Alison, Allie and I headed for the main train station to board a train that would take us to the great country of Österreich (in English, Austria). Would of never really considered or known about Innsbruck if it wasn´t for my friend Carter sending me “The Euro Bible” that his friends from UGA made while studying in Innsbruck.

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Train station waiting for our bus to Hall

The train ride was phenomenal as we made our way from flat land to high elevations as each wheel on the train turned we worked our way up in altitude surrounded by 1000´s of feet of white mountains. 2 hours later we had arrived in Innsbruck; one of the most majestic places I have ever seen. While the sun was beating on my face as I looked at snow-covered mountains on each side of me, I knew the next 2 days would be pure bliss. Innsbruck is located in the Tyrol region of Austria in the heart of the Tyrolean alps. Austria has nothing to do with the land down under and they speak German.. not Austrian.

Our hill!

Our sledding hill!

We were staying with our friend Erwin in a town a few kilometers outside of Innsbruck, Hall in Tyrol. Within our first minutes of arriving Erwin asked if we wanted to go sledging, or sledding. I have never been sledding in my 20 years of existence so my answer was an immediate yes! His friend Jules came over with 3 plastic, circular “sleds” and we walked around to find the perfect hill… and we did! We joined two little kids and made our way up and down the hill for close to an hour. I felt like a child again, the snow really makes one forgot about everything else and truly enjoy what is happening at the present moment, a therapy of some sorts. 

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After we wore our selves out sledding we were shown the “beach” of Hall in Tyrol. Although it did not fit my classifications as a beach, it was breathtaking! Millions of unique rocks by side a rambling river with a snowy Alp back drop is definitely something I can get used to.

Instead of eating out at some pricey restaurant we prepared a traditional Austrian meal that is very typical to this region, KäseSpätzle. The most similar thing I can relate spätzle to is Gnocchi, and käse means cheese in German. So a German/Austrian mac n´cheese would be an appropriate description.

ingredients for KäseSpätzle:

  • 1 small onion
  • 250g of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 liter of water
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g of cheese (we used a mix of white, swiss and gouda)
  • 1 more onion to prepare onion rings as a topping for the spätzle.

From this point you have to make the dough balls which is spätzle, prepare your onions, cut the cheese and make your onion rings. It is safe to assume you are reading this on the computer so you probably have access to Google. If you wish to make this, which I highly recommend you do, search “recipe for KäseSpätzle” and voilà your recipe awaits. I´d love to write it out here but I am approaching my final days of school so have a bit of homework to catch up on. If you decide to make it, please comment here and let me know what you thought! I absolutely loved it, and its low ingredients cost. We finished our dinner off with “Austrian desert,” schnapps!

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Prost!

The day next our goal was to get on that mountain! Since it was winter and the mountain was completely covered in knee-high snow,hiking up there was impossible with our lack of gear. After visiting gummy bear world, eating some amazing Italian pizza (since it’s just the next country over) and loading up on some beer for the mountain we took flight on the Nordkettenbahn (aka gondola) and made our way up to the highest point possible, over 7600 feet, which is called the Hafelekar. We took in the scenery of an endless sea of snowy mountains in every direction, never in my life have I seen this many mountains!

Chairs at the Seegrube (second highest point) were nice!

Chairs at the Seegrube (second highest point) were nice! My amazing travel companions Alison and Allie.

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My small friend Allie

My small friend Allie

On top of the alps!photo by Allie I :)

On top of the alps!
photo by Allie I 🙂

At this point Allie and I decided to trek a little farther than the Hafelekar since we had the shoes for it, why not? No joke, snow was up to our knees and it felt great! To see no human civilization. Just you and nature. It was a refreshing feeling, especially since we had been on such a schedule during the trip catching buses, trains and planes being away from it all on the mountain was amazing!

Sunsetting by the cable car station

Sunsetting by the cable car station

Later that night we went to a bar Moustache and had some white Russians, I must have been spoiled in Vail because these glasses seemed infant sized, but then I realized that´s how most white Russians should be… I guess just not at Garf´s where the glasses were what I now realize is abnormally big for W.R. Anyway, After Moustache closed we wandered downstairs and found ourselves at a club called Aftershave. I really enjoyed the clever naming of the pair. Since Innsbruck has an extremely large student population the club was pretty packed for reggae night on a Tuesday. We proceeded to make our rounds in Innsbruck with our amazing tour guide Erwin before catching our 5 am train to Vienna.

VIENNA:

Welcome to Vienna

Welcome to Vienna

St Stephen’s Cathedral lit up at night!

Properly known as Wien, the capital and largest city in Österreich (Austria) is where we made our way the morning of February 27th. Since our final destination was Prague, the most logical way to arrive in Prague from Innsbruck was by bus from Vienna, so we stopped here for a day. We walked around a lot and saw the famous St Stephen’s Cathedral, palace, and theatre. The city looks completely different during the day and night so it´s definitely worth it to see both! I wasn´t really there long enough but it was a great place to pass through, I´d love to come back with more time! We had amazing käse-bratwurst; bratwurst filled with cheese,while watching kids ice skate (and fall) in front of the winter exhibit near the theatre. At night we had amazing Greek food, a lot of people from all over the world make Vienna their home so there is certainly food for everyone’s pallet here. Use-it is an amazing map we found in Prague and after I looked on-line I found one for Vienna (after my trip) so I would highly recommend anyone heading to Vienna to go ahead and Use-it! HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

The next morning we would board a double decker bus and arrive in the magical land they call Prague…

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Deutschland; Part 1 of 3 Spring Break 2013

Be on the look out for this guy in Munich

Be on the look out for this guy in Munich

The two words – Spring Break usually put immediate thoughts of bikinis, booze and beach into one’s mind. After last years epic road trip to Colorado, the idea of staying put on one beach and boozing for 7 days had vanished far from my head. So as spring break rolled around this year I had NO IDEA what to do. The opinions were endless but finally my roommate Alison and I decided on 3 countries, 4 cities within 9 days. Our first stop was München, Deutschland (Munich, Germany) we arrived in the city on the 22nd of February and headed strait for the famous biergartenHofbräuhaus. Since it was snowing and in the midst of winter the actual “garden” part was closed (which we didn’t realize until our last night in Germany) I highly recommend visiting Germany in the summer if you can for the beauty of drinking out doors! One of my best friends, Allie, is studying in Firenze, Italia (Florence, Italy) and would be meeting up with Alison and I at the Hofbräuhaus to travel with us for the next 8 days! As we waited we drank Liter beers, probably the best dark or in German “dunkel” beer I have ever had in my life! Since this place gets pretty packed, a man by the name of Jörg asked if he could sit with us, sure why not? At first he helped us translate the menu and most importantly taught us the German way to say “cheers” and that is “Prost!”Image We discovered that he was in Munich getting a patent for a prosthetic shoulder he created! We chatted for hours while listening to the horns and yodeling of a German band in the Hofbräuhaus dressed in very traditional German attire. It was really amazing to watch, as these men were pounding their huge beer and devouring bratwurst they would play music mid snack and let out an extremely loud “YAHOOOO.” For dinner I had Saftiges Bierkutschergulasch, Beef goulash with pork dumplings! It was so juicy and flavorful, very typical to the Bavarian region of Germany. Alison ordered bratwurst and sauerkraut, I had only eaten bratwurst once during a rain delay at a String Cheese Incident concert in Colorado and had been craving more ever since. Her meal was amazing as well, from this point on I knew I was in for a treat being able to eat in Germany for the next 3 days! Jörg had to leave to catch his train back home to Rhine Valley, at this point, we realized Allie should have been at our meeting point already! Since none of us have German phones all we could do was wait..and wait.. and wait. And finally she arrived! I had not seen her smiling face since December so seeing her in Germany was crazy! I gave her the biggest hug and we were off into the snowy city center of Munich, Germany. Since we are all Florida girls the snow was unreal and it was snowing the entire time we were in Munich. Snowballs and drawing funny pictures on cars with the snow is what a majority of our time there consisted of, haha. f412e9be-714a-41af-9af6-3a751f176db8_zps7e3b7231Later that night we went to club “Pacha” and saw a band we have liked for a while GoldfishWARNING:If you ever find your self at Pacha avoid the 10 euro drinks at the bar. Anyway, seeing this group was amazing, the group consists of 2 guys, Dominic Peters and David Poole, from South Africa who “Live DJ” which basically means not only are they producing awesome beats for people to really dance to, they incorporate this with instruments. Piano, Saxophone, Flute and a very interesting Bass were all incorporated in the Munich show.

Another reason to love Munich is the 24 hour metro! This saved us a ton on cabs and really allowed us to see more of the city since we didn’t have to worry about costly cab fee’s.

People were still biking everywhere despite the cold!

People were still biking everywhere despite the cold!

Saturday we made our way to another biergarten (again we didn’t realize the concept of the biergarten’s and that they were closed outside in winter) Augustiner Keller, which is highly recommend by the people I met in Munich as the best beer in the city, the food was amazing too! We had quite the feast here, which included, Jun Schweinebraten – roast pork with dark beef gravy, potato dumplings and red cabbage (sauerkraut is made with cabbage also); Gesottener Tafelspitz mit bratkartoffeln und spinat – boiled beef, pan-fried potatoes and spinach and for desert apfelkücherl in zimt – zucker und vanillesoße which is basically fried apple fritters with vanilla ice cream coated with cinnamon and sugar, needless to say that was gone in about 5 seconds between the 3 of us!

The next day we set out for some sight-seeing, first stop the painfully depressing Dachau concentration camp. The sky was extremely grey, highly appropriate for visiting the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany. It was very interesting to be able to close your eyes and transport yourself to the times when people were fed an eighth of a loaf of bread a day while we were standing in the cremation rooms. This was not by any means a fun place to enjoy Munich, but we felt it was very necessary to come here and witness a piece of history. There were times walking around the camps when I was cold in my scarf, gloves, boots, and coat; than I was quickly reminded that the holocaust victims here had none of that, probably not even shoes and were trekking through this bitter cold.

Pinakothek der Moderne

Since it was a sunday, every museum in Germany was only 1 Euro (1.30 USD) we boarded the bus, then the tram (yet again MORE amazing public transportation in Munich) and headed to the art district of the city. We had enough time to hit Pinakothek der Moderne (the bigger of the two) and Museum Brandhorst where we would see works by Picasso, Dali (both who I have seen their musuems in their hometowns in Spain; Malaga and Figueras) a new found favorite of mine; Caroll Dunham, and many other artist, all of the works were so varied and original I could have been at these musuems for hours! I felt really privigled to be exploring these gallerys with my best friend, studio art/art history major Allie, because she had some info to drop along the way!

Caroll Dunham  Wild Grain 1983/84

Caroll Dunham
Wild Grain 1983/84

Can you find my roomie?

Can you find my roomie?

After the museums we made our way to the humongous Englischer Garten, German for “English Garden”, it looked like a setting straight out of a Hollywood Christmas movie, nothing but white as far as the eye can see. White covered trees, roofs, grass, and ice… yes, snow-covered ice; I can think of safer things. As we were walking across what we thought was a huge snow-covered field and I was running full speed toward the pond 524855_4710315271659_2107996810_nwhere all the ducks were is when we realized we were actually on the pond. Some snow sifted and we saw rock hard ice, once again being Florida girls this is something totally foreign to us. Maybe even more foreign than being in a country where the native tongue isn’t English. We began to take pictures and laughing about how cool it was to be walking on water. We saw a little patch of trees, at the time we thought this was a forest that would get us off the lake, but no, an island. Anyway, we walked toward this “forest” and then ccccc-rrr-a-cccc-kkk and the ice under my boots just broke, I had no choice but to hop to the island that we were basically on the edge of. At this point the sun was setting as each second passed and I felt trapped, for the first time in my life I felt 100% helpless. I didn’t know whether to scream, cry or laugh… I was in a real pickle. I decided the first thing to do was dig into the area I was standing on to make sure I was in

Translation --> "Do not enter the ice surface live danger, forbidden"

Translation –> “Do not enter the ice surface live danger, forbidden”

fact on land and not continuing to tread on thin ice, I was relived to find out I was on land,but that still did not change the fact that I needed to get back to the larger mass of land where I came from, no way I could stay on that “island” much longer. I made my first move off of the island… cccc-rrr-a-cc-kk that dreadful sound of ice crunching under your feet made my skin crawl once more. This time I had learned to test it with one foot so I was still safe, but still trapped. I knew what I had to do and that was follow the foot steps we previously made on the thicker ice. I don’t really know how I did it but I took a very extended step towards those foots prints and I was off. This was by far the sketchiest walk I have ever taken, even though 15 minutes prior I was running on this path. I made it! I reached safe land; heart racing and hands shaking. Rookie Florida move to say the least.

We had worked up quite an appetite after that incident and luckily stumbled onto what would be an extremely pleasant surprise, Shanai Indian restaurant. There is actually a rapidly growing Indian community in Munich, with almost 4,000 Indian people in the city (as of 2012/02). The next morning we boarded a train for what would be a beautiful ride to Innsbruck, Austria…

Frozen water in the fountain

Frozen water in the fountain

If I can leave you with anything when heading to Germany is eat new foods, if it’s cold make sure you’ve got some water proof/weather proof shoes and gloves you can play in snow with, watch out for those frozen lakes and mingle amungst the locals! … but I think these tips can go for just about anywhere 🙂

PROST!