Friday, October 23, 2009


Yesterday we took a little road trip to Salzburg which is about an hour away from where we're staying. It's a pretty easy drive, although finding our way once we reached the city was a bit tricky due to alot of road construction. But we did eventually make it to the big public parking garage we'd been told was very convenient to the Old Town. And it was! It's a huge underground structure that Andre thought must once have been a bunker and we came out right in the middle of the Old Town, next to the Salzburg Festival Hall, which was featured in The Sound of Music when the Von Trapp family sang on the stage before they escaped. So cool! We couldn't go in but it was pretty impressive seeing the's a really formidable building and had been converted from a stables!

Just one street over was the Salzburg Cathedral or Dom. We spent quite a bit of time there. It's an incredible place and you can now go down into the crypt where there are still open places for Archbishops to be buried!

View of the Dom, with the Devil Statue, protected for winter, in front of it

Inside the Dom

The Dom's main organ (there were four more smaller ones too!)

The dome inside the cathedral

Next we took a little rail car up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress which was built in the 1100's when the Archbishop needed political protection. It is an enormous structure, and looks like it's own little town inside. We learned a lot about its really fascinating history and enjoyed the stunning views of Salzburg and surrounding areas that can be seen from the Castle.

The Castle from the town

View of the hills from up on the Castle

View of Salzburg from the Castle

Side of the castle

Dolls in the little Marionette Museum in the castle

Castle courtyard

The Castle Chapel

Andre on the Castle wall

We then ventured along one of the cobblestone roads directly below the Castle and after a 5 minute walk came to Nonnberg Abbey, featured in The Sound of Music.

Entrance to Nonnberg Abbey

Nonnberg Abbey Garden

After exploring more of the Old Town and the market area where all the posh shops are, we had tea at a cafe near Mozart's birthplace, appropriately named:

Cafe Mozart

Market/Shopping District of the Old Town

Random man dressed up as a monk!

We had a really fun day, exploring some of the town and although we didn't see nearly all there is to see, since we decided to focus on the Old Town, we felt like we got a good feel for beauty and history of Salzburg and the landscape around it. The rain held off right up until we left at around 6 pm and Andre did very well driving home in the dark!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Austria Day 2: Glacier and exploring

Today, after a really late start (we were up half the night on Atlanta time!), we drove up into the valley of Ramsau, opposite Schladming, and then on up the very steep mountain behind the valley, called the Dachstein, to see the glacier at the top.

Village of Ramsau we passed on our way up the mountain

Horses in their winter coats

After a rather hair raising drive (the roads are very narrow here!), we parked the car and took the cable car up to the top of the mountain. My fear of heights is definitely still there, but it was such an amazing and memorable experience. We rode up with some of the Polish cross country ski team, who were practicing up on the glacier. And the weather up there was perfect, pretty warm considering and no wind at all.

On our way up in the cable car

View from the top

The Dachstein Glacier, covered in snow

Me, clinging to the hand rail for dear life!


View down to Schladming, where we're staying


A house perched on the edge of the mountain, we saw on our way down in the cable car

After some stops at several souvenir shops, we decided to explore the mountain behind our hotel, while the light was still good. We drove through a little village called Untertal and then took the road through the Obertal valley. Where the road ended we came upon this very quaint mountain hut (looks like it may be used as a hiking stop in the summer). Everywhere we looked are just gorgeous views and scenery:

View up the Obertal Valley


The main hut

During our drive we stopped and socialized with this little family of ponies

Andre feeding the pony some bread

Farm in the valley

Village of Untertal we passed through

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Posting from Austria!

Well, here we are in Europe...we can't believe it and are having a wonderful time experiencing everything. We left Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. We had a pretty good flight to Zurich, only 8 hours and got through customs with no problems...Andre got his stamp in his passport which he loved! We stopped for some coffee at the airport and then picked up our rental car. Andre did a fabulous job with the driving and is really good at a stick shift! We managed to navigate most of the way successfully with only one or two minor detours :)

Andre and our car at Zurich airport

The Swiss Alps

Almost as soon as we left Zurich, we were driving through the Alps, mostly in valleys between the mountains. Everything is very green in the valleys still and then suddenly at a certain point there's the snow line, usually just above the villages

Coming up to the Austrian border...we didn't even have to stop!

Here's a rather bad shot of the countryside. We drove from Zurich, across the border into Austria, through Innsbruck and then on to Mittersill. We stopped there to have a look at Schloss Mittersill, which is the castle that is now owned by a Christian organization, sort of like La Bri but focused on the arts, business, music etc. They host conferences and anyone can stay there. My boss is on the board, so I know some of what goes on there and have occasionally been in contact with people at the castle, and we thought it would be fun to stop by, as it was almost exactly on our way. And we're so glad we did! It was definitely worth it. The castle is 1000 years old and was built to protect trade routes between Austria and Italy. It has quite a history of persecuting Christians, so it's really amazing that it's now used for Christian work exclusively! As the lady who showed us around said, "If only the walls could talk!"

The courtyard of the Schloss.

The view of the town of Mittersill from the Schloss

The side of the castle, all original and in tact

The dungeon. Ironically it's directly below the chapel!

From there we drove further across to the town of Schladming where we're staying until Saturday. It's gorgeous and so picturesque! We arrived at about 6:30 pm (I'm not sure what took us so long; maybe it was all the bathroom breaks I had to take!!). We were exhausted and after nice hot baths we slept soundly all night.

It's pretty cold, about -2 by the evenings but we had lovely weather today, very sunny. Our apartment is very comfortable has lots of room.

View from our room

After breakfast at a bakery in the town, we stopped by a shop to get some groceries. One of the highlights of the day for me was finding this machine filled with oranges at the top, where you could press a handle and squeeze your own OJ into a bottle! How cool is that!

The OJ machine

This evening we took a drive up onto the mountain directly behind us, and watched the sunset. Tomorrow we're taking the gondola up the mountain opposite us to see a glacier. Thursday is supposed to be rainy so we'll probably drive up to Salzburg then.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This weekend

I stole some photos from Nessa's blog, as we were not very good with our camera this weekend during the family doings. We've had a great time with Grampa and Aunty Marie who have been in the States (mostly with Mum and Dad in Peoria) for 5 weeks. They were all in Atlanta with us this past weekend and left last night to go back to the UK (Aunty Marie will live in Wales with her son and Grampa will stay in Wales with his sister until after Christmas when he'll return to Cape Town, SA).

We loved being with them and even got to celebrate Aunty Marie's 60th b'day, my 30th and Rachel's 25th, all of which were in the first week of October. Here are a few photos:

The three birthday girls

In other news, my brother Stephen and his wife Rachel have just bought a house!! It's really close by to where they already live in Sandy Springs and is a great buy for them. So exciting!! Here's a photo of some of the family outside the house when we visited it on Sunday afternoon:

Sean, Michaela, Gramps, Aunty Marie and Ness

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Bump and birthday dress

Here are a few photos for those who are curious about my baby bump (which is coming along nicely at 19 weeks!). Andre bought me this dress for my birthday and since it fits really well, despite not being a maternity dress, I was able to wear it on Saturday to a wedding (Congrats Mark and Erin!):

And here's happy Andre!