A Day in Austria

Monday, August 3rd

Saturday night I rolled into the Salzburg Hbf train station, hopped off my train, grabbed a taxi, and headed to my hotel. I was on my own, no one to make sure I still had beside me, no one to ask if they knew what to do. Just me, myself, and I. And the three of us got to the hotel just fine on our own. After I got settled in, I went out to grab a bite to eat and then headed back to make my plans for the next day. I only had 24 hours to explore Salzburg, Austria and I was going to make the best of it. 
I had planned out to see the Mirabell Gardens and Palace in the morning, wander through the city a bit, and then grab a bite to eat. Now when I woke up it was pouring rain and showed no sign of letting up till about 3 pm and I couldn’t wait that long to go out and explore. Incase you didn’t know, there isn’t a thing I hate more then getting wet with my clothes on. I couldn’t tell you why, but I absolutely hate it. But for the sake of travel and exploration I braved the weather, grabbed my umbrella and off I went to see the city. 

I hopped on the bus across the street from the Motel One where I was staying. Bought a 24 hour pass for the buses and headed into the city. It was only a short ride before I was at my stop, I then had to walk another little ways before I got to the gardens but it wasn’t too bad of a walk surprisingly with the rain and all. After arriving at the gardens I came to the conclusion that my shoes were going to get soaking wet and that was just that. Lucky for me, my shoes were a pair of slip on-flats made by the brand, Crocs. I have a huge obsession with Crocs and when Mom said I couldn’t bring my new hot pink Crocs with me, I settled for a more stylish pair of slip ons. So even though they got soaked clear through I knew it wouldn’t hurt them any.

My good friend, Jacquelyn, told me I had to see the gardens from a top the steps looking out over the gardens and onto the Hohensalzburg Fortress. She was right, it was a spectacular view. Even in the rain and drizzle it was amazing. 

  The view and the painting from the steps.

After the gardens I ventured over to Salzburg’s version of Paris’s famous love lock bridge. There were far fewer locks on this bridge but the sentiment was still there. Many couples were huddled under umbrellas as they locked their own lock onto the bridge symbolizing that their love would last forever. On the other side of the bridge I stumbled upon a small market that lined the river. It was still early on, and I love markets so I had to walk through and see it. I didn’t buy anything but it was fun to see the different wood carvings, pottery, and jewelry they vendors were selling.

After this I kept walking and decided to look for a place to eat lunch since it was past noon. I could see the fortress off in the background so I wandered in that direction in the pursuit of lunch. I found a cute little Austrian restaurant on a street that looked to be their many shopping strip with shops and vendors lining the street. The restaurant also had an english menu so I knew I would at least have an idea of what I was getting. I decided on turkey strips on top of a mixed salad. It was actually really good, I even ate the green peppers which I’ve never been a fan of, but with the turkey they tasted great. They had an Austrian light wheat beer on their menu that wasn’t too pricey so I decided to give it a try. It tasted great with my lunch, but filled me up a little more then I would have preferred.

After lunch I wandered through the streets with all of the shops. I was in no hurry so I hopped in and out of shops that looked interesting. I found a cute little African shop that was selling anything from jewelry to clothing to perfume. The vendor was very sweet and had me try out two of his perfumes, which smelt great, but I couldn’t bring myself to getting them. I wanted Austrian things to bring home, not African. That will have to wait for a trip to Africa!

After a while of wandering I found the Saint Peter’s Cathedral and walked through the grounds there until I just happened to stumble upon the entrance for the Hohensalzburg Fortress tram ride up the side of the mountain. It was perfect timing so I went on in and headed up to the castle.

As many of you know I love castles, and everything royal. When my mother and I visited the Tower of London in the UK I though I was going to faint from being so excited. Looking back on that afternoon I probably looked like a little 13 year old girl as I gazed into the crown jewels’ cases instead of the 20 year old I am. But now like then, I didn’t care if I was too excited. So you can all now mentally picture me all hyped up to see the castle in the fortress. Once I got to the top I grabbed an audio guide and was lead through the castle from the beginning showing the fortress being built, to the old torture chamber, to the large spiral stair case that lead up to the best view in Salzburg. You could see for miles up on top of the castle, literally I could see till the next mountain began. The audio guide pointed out the Mirabell Gardens, many cathedrals and the Dome which is another tourist attraction in Salzburg. 

  My Austrian treat after the castle. 

After the audio guide tour I walked through the rest of the castle and fortress just to see what else there was. It was a fun way to spent a good chunk of my afternoon. After this I headed back down the mountain to go back through the shops and another market so I could get some souvenirs. Along the way I found a little shop where an artist was selling his paintings. I found one of his that was a water colored painting of the view a top the steps in the Mirabell Gardens looking onto the Hohensalzburg Fortress where I had stood earlier that morning taking in the amazing view. I knew it was the one so I bought my painting and headed back out to the markets to continue shopping. 

  A 1,000€ Austrian stein.. But no worries, they ship anywhere in the world. 

At a small market I got an Austrian pretzel that had bacon and cheese baked on top of it. It was absolutely amazing, better then any pretzel I’ve had back in the states! The brez-strind was a treat I would go back to get again and again. As I ate my pretzel I kept walking through the streets when I found a christmas ornament shop. They had a huge space filled with hand crafted ornaments like painted glass balls, painted eggs, and wheat ornaments. I bought a couple ornaments to take home with me. It was one of the things I was hoping to find while in Salzburg. 

  A Christmas lovers paradise. 

I then headed back to the hotel, I had been walking around all day and was tired of carrying around the bags with me. So I found the bus stop where my bus would be stopping and waited for a little bit till it got there. I grabbed some dinner to take back with me to the hotel and was in for the night. I wanted to start planning out my travels for Munich, Germany and I wanted to head to bed early since I was going to be up early training to Munich. Salzburg had treated me well and I’m glad it was my stop for Austria. I had traveled to my first city by myself and enjoyed it fully. I know a lot of people don’t think a 20 year old country kid from Indiana could travel Europe on their own, but I did. It was great being on my own and I would it again in a heart beat.

-Updates-

I am now on a train heading to Munich, Germany to meet up with my new friend Kelly Blake. I met Kelly through the Purpan program and we became close through our month at the University. She didn’t have any plans after her travels to Prague so I told her to come to Munich with me, and that’s what she did! I’m excited to travel Germany with her. My family has a lot of German heritage in it from my father’s side and its really surreal to be in the country that we came from. I know this will be an amazing three days to remember.

I then will be flying from Munich to London Thursday evening to stay the night before heading out Friday morning for the states. My good friend, Sam, connected me with one of her travel friends who lives in London, Amy. Amy had actually been to my house last fall to see the pumpkins and ride a tractor with my dad for the first time. Being from London she had never experienced that. I was at Purdue at the time so I didn’t get to meet Amy, but I’m glad that things have worked out so I’ll be able to get a drink with her Thursday night before traveling back home. It really is amazing to see the connections you can make while traveling abroad. 

I know that none of this would be possible without Christ. My faith has grown so much throughout these past three months and I owe it all to God. He has kept me safe and happy; providing me with enriching experiences and showing me the beauty He has created around the world. I leaned on Him a lot this summer for strength when I was feeling lost or uncertain and I was always reassured that I was in the right place. Last year, a year ago today, I was baptized and openly committed my life to Christ in front of my family and congregation. The past year has been amazing. I would never have thought that I would be here, in Europe by myself, last year at this time. God has a funny way of doing things, but I can truly be thankful for all He has done through my life in one short year. August 3rd, 2014 is my rebirth through Christ and is a day I will never forget.

God Bless,

–Bre

“Affording” to Travel

Saturday August 1st,

I was recently asked by a friend back home; “Where did you get the money to travel the world all summer?!” This is a funny question to me. For her I broke it down to three parts of travel, and one main point. The first two weeks I traveled with my mom and she paid for our expenses. It was an amazing experience to travel through London, Paris, and Marseille with my mom and I would highly suggest it to any mother-daugther duo. It strengthened our bond, and pushed us far out of our comfort zones.

 

 Momma & I in Marseille, France at the end of our trip.  

The second part of my travels this summer was the two month portion of my study abroad and internship where everything was covered by the cost of my summer tuition which I paid in May. I received a great scholarship that nearly cut the cost of my summer studies in half through Purdue University. Every trip I took during those two months was paid for by the University here in France. 

  

Then there is the last two weeks of my travels where I am going to Greece, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany before flying out of London. This part I am paying on my own, out of my savings with some help from my parents. But here’s the most important part of this whole thing; in all honesty I’m probably going to be plum broke by the time I graduate college, but aren’t all college students these days? If I would have waited to when I could “afford” to travel Europe I would be in my thirties, most likely married with children. And at that point I wouldn’t spend the money on traveling, it would have gone into savings. So to answer my friend’s question on “where did I get the money” I didn’t. I just made it work, and so far it has. If you’re someone reading this blog and wanting to travel then my best advice is to make it happen. If you wait till you can afford it, you’ll never do it. And with that being said, I couldn’t afford not to take this trip.

  

What I have gained in the past three months is something you can’t put a dollar sign around. The experiences, memories, and friendships aren’t something money can buy. You can’t pay for this kind of independence and self confidence I now have. And at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done money is paper and plastic. It’s materialistic and has no real value to it. Whereas the life lessons I’ve gained while in Europe have a lot of very real value that will last me a lifetime.

  

Now sure money makes things easy, but its pretty easy to find the cheapest train ticket around and ride it to your next adventure. So if you are like me, wanting to see and experience more and your a college student, look into your university’s study abroad programs. They are affordable, get you out of the states, and put you in a place to make the experience anything you want it to be. So step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, see new sunsets, and learn to really live your life. 

  Sunset in Toulouse, France 

-Bre 

Switzerland Travel

Saturday August 1st,
Geneva, Switzerland
The past three days I have been staying at Hotel de Geneve in downtown Geneva, Switzerland with my good friend, Morgan Gutwein, whom I have been traveling with for this past week. The first day we arrived to 75 degree weather with a drizzling rain, which is a far cry from the 99 degree, humid weather of Athens, Greece. It was a nice change of pace and very relaxing. As we exited the airport we walked to the connected train station to take a 6 minute, 3 Franc train into central Geneva. This was such a great save considering a taxi would have costed us 50 Franc! At the central station we only had about a 7 minute walk with our luggage to our hotel. 

  Morgan & I on our first night in Geneva.

After we had got all checked in and settled into the cozy little old styled room we would call our home for the next three days we headed to the Plaine de Plainpalais. This is a town square where they hold local flea markets. Since it was almost 4pm when we got to the market, most things were put away and vendors were packing up. We both wanted to see the market in full swing, but with the time and the rain it just wasn’t in the cards for us. So we headed back to the hotel to plan out our next two days in Geneva. 

On Thursday we decided to head to a local market in the morning to get some groceries to save money on food for the next two days. Eating out is extremely expensive in Geneva. Then we wandered around different parts of Geneva for a couple hours. I truly think the best way to discover a city is to just let yourself get lost in it, and experience the wonders it has to offer. So we did just that for a couple hours, then took a train to the Palais de Nations, also known as the United Nations. Before we took a tour through the United Nations we visited the Broken Chair monument which Geneva has become famous for. The monument is for all of those who have lost their lives due to land mines. It is positioned directly in front of the UN building so it was easy to see both in the same afternoon. 

  

After that we walked around to the side of the UN gated area to enter through the visitor entrance. We went through security, told an officer my information, got an official name badge with a horrible photo of me on it, and then we were on our way to another building to find our tour group leader and the rest of the group whom we would be seeing the UN with. It was a quick walk and we were on our way to visit three main conference centers. The first was a new one called Room 20 where a lot of large UN meetings are held. The second was the old League of Nations Conference room, also known as the Peace Room because so many conflicts are send to this room to be resolved. One for example was the seize fire act between North and South Korea, the room is key because it has two doors on either side of the room so both parties can enter at the same time. The last room we saw was the Assembly Hall where all of the major meetings of the masses are held. Throughout the tour I learned a lot about the UN and it’s many functions. It was certainly a great stop for Morgan and I to take while in Geneva. 

  The United Nations in Geneva. 

Later that evening Morgan and I walked along a local Carnival that Geneva was hosting. It ran along both sides of the lake, but we only visited one side of it for the night. It was fun to see the differences in the rides and food, and then see the similarities. Then we walked out on a rock path along the pier to watch the sunset over the Alps.

  Lake Geneva at sunset. 

The next day, Friday, Morgan and I went on a run along the major river running off of Lake Geneva. It was a wooded trail path that provided a challenging run with spectacular views of the river and surroundings. Then we had lunch at the hotel and got ready to head to the other side of Lake Geneva. We had heard from friends and reviews that paddle boating on Lake Geneva is great so we decided to give it a try. We found the rental company pretty easily, rented our paddle boat and off we went. Lake Geneva is one of only three natural lakes to have blue water. And it was truly a gorgeous blue, green that was super clear. We could see down quite a ways has we paddled out of the cove and into the main part of the lake. We might have been the only paddle boat out as far as we were but we were up for the challenge, well except when a steamer tried to run over us, but I would just call that a minor glitch. After the waves that followed the steamer we had smooth sailing, literally. 

  

All in all it was a great afternoon spent on Lake Geneva just relaxing a paddling along. After we got out though, let me tell you, it was not as smooth. I think when I first stood up and hopped out of the boat my knees almost gave out beneath me. We had been paddling around for about 3 hours and with the trail run on top of that, my legs were shot. It was an interesting walk back trying to venture through the carnival on this side of the lake with wobbly knees. 

At the carnival we walked around for bit. We saw a couple painters that we stopped and looked at their art. I hadn’t found a painting for Switzerland yet so we were on the prowl for the next great thing. Lucky me, we stumbled across one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. A man was sitting on a stool, paint spread out in front of him and he was finger painting on glass; adding the finest of details with a paint brush. It was double pained glass that gave the paintings a 3D effect since he painted on two surfaces that were stacked on top of one another. The one I choose was a super cute and colorful painting of the Jet d’Eau, which is the largest fountain in Europe and on Lake Geneva. It was a great piece to add to my collection. 

  

After our adventures at the carnival we ate dinner and went back to the hotel at a decent hour since we were both exhausted and I had an early train the next morning. Geneva was an amazing city in Switzerland that I would return to in a heart beat. It doesn’t have a ton of touristy things to do, but I just loved experiencing the city. If it wasn’t such an expensive country I could have seen myself living off of Lake Geneva. The atmosphere is great and the views are incredible. One day I want to come back and go skiing in the Swiss Alps.

  Traveling the world, but always remembering where it all began. 

-Travels-

I am now on a train heading to Salzburg, Austria. It is an 8 hour train ride along the country side with one change in Zurich before continuing on. I am officially on my own. Morgan dropped me off at the train station, gave me a hug and said see you in three weeks. She is heading back to Paris, France to catch her flight home, and I’m continuing my Euro Trip solo. I met a young woman, Ursella, who is from Austria and was switching to the same train as me in Zurich so we stuck together until her stop which was about two hours before mine. She had lived all over the world the past 11 years and was now returning home for a job and to be close to family. When I told her I was from Indiana she said that her ex-boyfriend lived in Illinois and completed his undergrad at a school in Indiana. As it turned out he is a Purdue Alum. and she had visited Purdue several times. It never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it is.  

But this small world philosophy of mine is not really what the world is; which I’ve come to see here in Europe with how different everything is in comparison to Indiana. Most people are probably scared for me to travel through Europe on my own, but I’m honestly not scared. Hopping on and off trains, checking in and out of random hotels, and conquering the newest city’s metro have become second nature to me. And up next is the lovely city of Salzburg, Austria. I love this and the freedom it gives me. If I could have a hundred summers just like this one I would, and it would never get old. 

-Bre