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Diary of A Wanderer: Germany and Austria

Sitting down to pen my thoughts on Germany did seem a tad bit difficult – simply because the country is so breathtakingly beautiful, I wasn’t sure if I could do justice with a mere blog…

The famous Cologne cathedral

Where do I start …cliched…but true…my love affair with the country started with the famous ‘Sound of Music’ movie; the rolling hills, the tolling bells, the medieval castles which painted a romantic picture; the cathedrals, the endless travel books that I had read –  about the picture perfect villages and the magical forests – and the little phrases that I picked up along the way – Auf Weirdesen et al –  so when a chance came  along for me to experience Germany as part of the German Travel Mart in Colongne –

The city of contrasts - old and new city of Salzburg

I knew it was trip of a lifetime – because from the moment I stepped foot into the country, I knew the travel books hadn’t done justice – simply because as a Wanderer, you have to live the place – see the history come alive, waltz through the fairy tale castles, smile back at the charming people and experience the underlying thread of romanticism humming a tune to the lovers… a flavor which unfolds to every traveler who comes into the country.

Leopold palace in salzburg - sound of music location


Well, luckily, for us lot – when you are a Wanderer, we follow a pretty simple thumb rule  – pack your bags and explore the offbeat. Experience the myriad layers the country has to offer and that’s exactly what I did in my sojourn.

St. Peter's church in Munich

 Freiburg, Salzburg and Munich  was on my agenda after my series of meetings at Colonge…I had to experience the city of Mozart – had to relive my Sound of Music fantasy…had to discover the city of contrasts…and along the way, discover the little towns and the cities – which I now say are stunningly pretty, friendly, traditional, easily accessible, simple to discover, and literally oozing with character. The seduction’s easily explained.

 My worry at that point – I was in love with the country…and how was I going to pack my bags and head out back home?
As I headed into Cologne, I discovered ‘serenity’ – I was staying in Mondial am Dom which was a nice little boutique hotel which had  the fantastic view of the Cologne Cathedral which is one of the UNESCO world heritage center. Having my first cuppa tea with the breathtaking view of the Cathedral is a treat to the senses…
In Freiburg, come evenings, I would be welcomed by warm smiles from the locals who still sit together on long benches, and I realized it is so easy to make new friends. Yes, language is a barrier …but we managed.

I ended up learning a few quotable quotes…thanks to the wonderful locals.

And at the end of it all, I learnt the recipe for a perfect evening – meet up with friends, add to the mix a selection of regional dishes, one or two drinks and some music!

Germans love food and it is a meat eating country – and I’ve gorged on the yummiest steaks – without a second thought to the calories – (it’s vacation and a girl’s entitled to good living) and the desserts  are decadent delights…the cheesecake in Germany, Apfelstrudel and Mozart Chocolates in Salzburg are divine and I couldn’t do justice with mere words…if you enjoy sinful decadent delights,  then you simply need to pack your bags and head out to sample these delicious delights.

But I realized, along the way, being a vegetarian is not a good option in Germany. Simply because, the choices are limited.

The ‘off’  flavor to my journey – I had packed in my woollies thinking the temperature would hit a chilly point  – but little did I realize, the glorious Indian summer would follow me into Germany. Seemingly, Mumbai’s hot summer had decided to pay a visit to Germany…so here I was, lugging my woollie laden bags around and wishing the temperature would hit a near freezing point…

The open air cafes opposite Hellbrunn palace

Salzburg was next on my agenda – with its Alpine scenery and Italianate Baroque architecture, the city is a delight even without its lovely sounds. Besides the regular touristy sojourn, on my agenda was a boat cruise to Hellbrunn in Austria  – and the vista was truly captivating – the magnificent backdrop of the City of Mozart left me feeling complete.  As a traveler, there comes a time when ‘you know this is the ‘moment for you’…and for me, it was probably in the city of Mozart – with its history and surreal beauty.

 

The Trick fountain @ Salzburg

And on the fun bit – the Trick fountains was a real blast.  To be honest, I thought much fun can fountains be? My best advice to all who go: Leave the Dolce and Gabbana at home and bring your sense of humor. Put on a jacket if you’re really worried about getting wet (you won’t get SOAKED…unless you want to that is) and protect your camera.

My day ended with the Mozart Dinner Concert in Salzburg – the baroque room that it is held in is beautiful. It was an experience to hear the lilting music played before and between courses of the meal. A small ensemble of instruments and the singers who were full of personality did add to the drama. Loved every bit of it.

A whole new chapter in my travel diary.

Bear in mind the wine is very expensive so you might want to share with someone else.

It was early to hit the bed…the music was still in the air, lovers walking along the way, Wanderers like me…drinking in the beauty of the place

Ahhh…Salzburg!!!

Munich, capital of Bavaria, brought my first experience at a Beer Hall or  Hofbrauhaus.  It was also the first time that I had ever seen a liter of beer, and so of course I had to order one. And drinking a litre of beer in one go is no mean feat! 

The famous beer mug @ Augustine Beur - they serve in litres

But it was an experience…a definite must for everyone who believes in ‘sampling and savoring every experience that comes along in your Wandering ways! 

 In between discovering the friendly faces, missing a few hop on hop off buses,  I got an opportunity to see the bells of the Glockenspiel chime. Seemingly, the bells only chime three times a day and mini robot dolls pop out to perform two pieces for the spectators below. The first is a traditional wedding piece, the second a dance once used to ward off the plague.

The mad rush of my city awaited me…but the tolling bells and the rolling hills sang their song to me. I was going back to my world where the ‘grind’ awaited me…but I knew the warm smiles, the beer, the music…had woven itself so well into me…that I just had to go back yet again to relive the magic…

And it was, at that moment, I knew my sojourn with the country wasn’t over…in fact, it was just beginning….


About Salzburg Hellbrunn Castle:

In 1612, only a few months after ascending the throne, Salzburg’s Prince Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems commissioned a country residence to be built at the foot of the well-watered Hellbrunn Mountain. Within a relatively short period of time an architectural masterpiece was created just south of the city that remains one of the most magnificent Renaissance buildings north of the Alps:  the Lustschloss (“pleasure palace”) of Hellbrunn with its spacious park and its unique Wasserspiele (trick fountains).  Hidden in the shade of bushes and trees or jetting out from unexpected hiding places – the world-famous Wasserspiele have been the main attraction at Hellbrunn for almost 400 years.


About Dina

Dina Menon is our Executive- Sales and Client Servicing for MICE. A hotel management graduate from IHM Mumbai, she loves to network with people. And give her the world map and she is already planning her next sojourn even before her bags are unpacked. Discovering the history and learning all about the local flavor comes naturally to her. She loves her Wandering ways and her hobbies include listening to music, watching movies and partying till wee hours in the morning.

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Welcome to The Wanderers Blog!


Seek inspiration for your next trip by tracking the Wanderers on the go!

This blog belongs to all the Wanderers who are on the move, who like to share their travel stories with the world, interesting information about the destination they are exploring, travel tips, must-do activities.. anything that they’d love to share during the trip..

* Post about their travel stories, tips and favourites.
* Experiences of their stay arrangements at fabulous hotels
* Their absolute recommended must-do activities?
* Best eating joints, mouth-watering restaurants that one shouldn’t miss?
* Favourite place to get shopping fixes?
* Celebrity they spotted during the trip?
* Best travel picture/ video that captures their “Magic Moment”
All this or any general story about their trip experience that would help others rediscover familiar places or learn more about unusual offbeat destinations.  Take a few minutes to lose yourself, be informed and inspired!

Follow the comments below as our clients reply with their holiday experiences across the globe!

Keep Wandering!

The Wanderers




A Wanderer story – Around Europe

We would like to share the experience of one of our clients, Rishiraj Singh who has just returned from his holiday around Europe and couldn’t stop raving about the experience he has had.  Here he gives us a detailed account of his journey…

Starting off the tour to the Arctic Circle !!!


Commenced the long jpurney to Helsinki via Franfurt… Slept throughout the plane journey to Frankfurt, only to get soaked in football fever in Germany. Kind of a festival atmosphere at the airport. Ventured out in the 7 hour stopover with Kiran, my wife. Met a Brazilian named Euginia in the subway train to Frankfurt city central. The helpful localite took us to the old city as against her plans to show us around. What a sweet way to start the soujorn !! enjoyed the tranquility of the atmosphere there in, feasting on a fantastic pork pizza and strawberry cake along the way only to end up having yummy pasta on the onward flight to HELSINKI. And now its 11:30 pm here and we can still see daylight and scores of youngsters soaking in the atmosphere. Sitting in a pub called Teerenpeli wherein the Jack Daniels and amazing scenes have helped get over the jet lag!! Not to forget the picturesque Hotel Helka where we are staying … DAY 2 will take us to Rovaniemi.

A Colourful day in HELSINKI …


Helsinki had a lot of surprise in store for us. Instead of booking city tours, we set off on our own for a walk around to the main places in the city. All the key locations were nearby, the market, the station, STOCKMANN- the departmental store for bargain lookers like us and the main attarction – The Senate Square + the Lutheran Cathedral. With green and white decorating the beautiful monument, the Square bore a very lively look. The entire youth brigade with balloons, had descended in thousands on what was a parade. Crossdressers as airhostesses, decorated canines, even a few nude chicks, varied hairstyles, bavarian girls… The coulours were endless and to back it up was live music. A localite called Oulen briefed us on the significance of the party atmosphere. Headed further to the Orthodoxan Cathedral and then to the Esplanade market, studded with souvenirs. Bought some tasty fresh strawberries and even witnessed a Finn wedding. A long walk for 4 hrs and we had seen the heart of the city. Made our way on foot to the station in the evening to head for the Arctic Circle. A cute twin cabin and a cozy bed. Santa here we come…

Rovaniemi – high up in Lapland !!!


Rovaniemi was full of nature which one could come across only in Lapland. Luckily we were there when the Jutajaiset fiestival was on and it was actually the last day – 4th July. A Folklore Festical with World Music… so we had Finnish, Europeans, Africans and Asians amongst the performaers.
Post a quiet soothing walk across the Ounaskaki river which passes through Rovaniemi overlooked by the Ounasvaara peak, we crossed the CANDLE BRIDGE to reach the venue for the festical. Luckily the finale of the evening – a Finnish Band Piirpauke was left and we decided to go for it. Had a kick-ass pizza at Valde – Mari, studded with reindeer meat and then were witness to amongst the best music for a long time. With Ghanians joining the impromptu Jugalbandi with Piirpauke, it just proved one point – music builds relations very strongly. The music still rings in my years. The same day we visited ARKTIKUM – an encyclopedia on the Arctic Circle – quite an experiential tour.
The next 2 days were a wildlife toast, the Ranua Wildlife park which had the polar bears, musk ox, brown bears, wolverines and the snowy owl (finally saw a park without lion, tigers and elephants) and the Reindeer Park Safari which was the actual place where we crossed 66.32 latitude – THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.
The reindeers were against our assumptions extremly noble guys, clean and furry and even WHITE – one in 1000 is white and we saw 2.
But the cheery on the cake was the husky dog Safari, ferocious looking cute canines. The customey visit to the Santa Claus village filled in the itinerary. With Lapland done the definition of Finland was complete – a large forest with a 1000 beautiful lakes and rivers and a few inhabitants. A truly different experience…

Fascinating Tallinn – Estonia !!


The last day in Helsinki was an extensive tour of the city by foot, and studded with loads of shopping – KARLFAZER chocolates are a must and designers clothes if the pocket helps the same. The clothes are bizarre and beautiful at the same time – prove the fact that Helsinki the the WORLD DESIGN CAPITAL. A visit to Soumenlinna – an adjoining Sea Fortress and sipping on coffee at the beautiful cafes therein relaxed us before the coming hectic schedule.
The next day was Tallinn – Estonia and undoubtedly the most picturesque city which we would have ever seen. Surprising to find how beautifully an Old Town has been maintained – complete with Cathedrals, Mosques, passages and culture. Felt a part of History at St. Catherine’s Passage, tried my hand at archery and roamed a lot at the marketplace which was complete with localities in traditional costumes selling traditional wares. Made a pretty sight. Had a stage wherein performances, recitals, fashion shows (dressed up as Russian Czars) rounded up the beauty.
Tallinn made the trip complete. Finished off the first leg of Europe – Finland and Estonia in the traditional Finnish SAUNA – a must do for every tourist in Finland. Relaxing and Unique!!!

Unplanned trip surprises us – SALZBURG …


After a good fulfilling tour of Finland, Munich was a little bit tiring esp as the flight was at 6.55 am. Sort of trudged our way to the hotel and then rested till afternoon. The restlessness of not touring took us over as well as the eagerness to see SALZBURG in AUSTRIA as was recommended by a good friend.
Unplanned, spontaneous and exciting – left the hotel at 3.25 pm, got tickets from Hauptbahnhof at 3.38 and caught the 3.42 train to Salzburg to see something which could match Talinn in all its grandeur. Salzburg Old Town” (Altstadt) with its world famous baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps and made a picturesque location with its green domes and the castle in the background.
It is the place where “Sound of Music” was shot, the art and culture inclination was visible in every aspect – the Mozarts, the Cathedrals, Riverbanks et all. Saw the Panoramic view of the city from atop the Museum of Modern Art.
On the way back we caught with a Somali student and an Egyptian national in the train and imagine what connected us and got us talking – SHAHRUKH KHAN. They would literally know each and every movie of his with the release year – believe that he connects to their emotions !!!

Atop Germany – Zugspitze !!


10th of July was atop the highest peak in Germany – Zugspitze – laden with snow and giving a great view of 4 countries surrounding it. Was a perfect goodbye to a fantastic tour of Europe.
The evening saw us catch Germany in its fullest as the 3rd place play-off of the FIFA WOrld cup – Germany v Uruguay was on … roaming around Marienplatz we saw all cafes jumping for joy at each goal. A German victory it was to get the entire town on the streets, in cafes, in front of screens. The lit and lively city saw with street performers as well rounded off a long holiday !!! Too many must dos on a tour like this and too diverse a holiday to match …………