Archive for July, 2009

Changed Plans and Crazy People

Friday, July 10th, 2009

img_4923After a pleasant night in a large room all to myself, I ate breakfast, checked out, and booked a tour to Eisriesenwelt ice caves, the largest known to man.  The desk clerk told me that the tour operator would meet me in the hotel lobby around 1:30.  I loitered for a bit with e-mail, called the Cheniers to confirm mine and Babette’s visit tomorrow night, then set out to explore the Festung Hohensalzburg (literally, high Salzburg fortress).  This iconic landmark looms high over the city, perched at the top of the rocky crag that sharply interrupts the old city.  If this were Athens, the Hohensalzburg would be the acropolis.  Lazy tourists can pay to take the funicular up to the castle’s entrance, but I enjoyed the walk up the steep, cobbled paths.  Surprising to me was the steep, dirt road that lay just inside the castle’s gates.  I was trying to picture soldiers and horses from the fortress’s medieval days coping with the steep path.  I imagine a few must have slipped and fallen.  I spent a couple of hours roaming the expansive area and the inner rooms and towers.  This is one of the largest, unspoiled fortresses from the medieval period surviving today.  The place had (more…)

Hiking the Lake District

Friday, July 10th, 2009
View across to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut

View across to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut

I awoke to cloudy skies, contrary to the weather prediction I checked last night.  As I made my way toward the main tourist office, I came across a large farmer’s market.  I purchased 2 chocolate croissants before making it to the Mirabellgarten.  I wandered more of the garden today, enjoying the well-manicured beauty.  I sat down on a park bench under the grove of linden trees to eat one of my croissants.  A steady rain began to come down, but the trees completely sheltered me and I enjoyed the ambient sound of rain as I finished my snack.  By the time I was ready to get up the rain had come to a stop, giving me freshly wet cobbled streets as I made my way to the Mozart Plaza.  I gathered some information from the tourist office and decided to spend the afternoon in the lake district, starting in St. Gilgen about 30 km away.  (more…)

3 A.M. in Salzburg, and All’s Well!

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Salzburg at Night

Salzburg at Night

So I ended up sleeping most of the way to Stuttgart, waking just enough to get off the train, wander out into the nearby street, and then find my way back to the train heading for Salzburg.  Once on this train, I more or less quickly fell back asleep until we had crossed into Austria.  Every now and then I’d come to just enough to see that we were still gliding by postcard-perfect landscapes, filled with green slopes, tidy houses tucked into stands of trees, inviting dirt roads winding through hedges, and corduroyed hillsides of terraced vineyards.

Salzburg was not the final stop on my train, so I wisely set my alarm for about 20 minutes before our scheduled arrival in Salzburg.  Not only did this prevent me from sleeping through my stop, but it also gave me the pleasure of taking in some even more stunning countryside, lit by the wonderful light of the last golden hour of sun and backed by rocky crags of the Austrian Alps.  Ironically, I disembarked one station too early, (more…)

First Class Living on the TGV

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Approaching Salzburg

Approaching Salzburg

So it seems that I can never get more than 6 hours of sleep, even while on vacation.  I finally shut things down last night just after 3, and was up before 9, packing things up and saying goodbye to the Augis.  Actually, Nathalie had already left for work earlier in the morning.  Valentin was still sleeping, so I tackled him in his sleep so he could say a bientot.  Antoine was up and ready to head to the country club for his golf program.  He was not very pleased with me for coming for such a short visit.  I gave a vapid promise that I might come again next year.  After all, I’ll need to come check out “la chambre de Ken” that should be complete by next summer.  This is what they are calling the guest suite in the new house.  We also talked about skiing in Morzine this coming winter.  They already (more…)

Smooth travels, Brief visits

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Relaxing in the Admiral's Club

Relaxing in the Admiral's Club

Well, our flight to Paris was comfortable and uneventful, two key virtues to covet on a trip.  Babette and I had the very first seats on the plane, enjoyed a gourmet 3-course dinner, and seats that extended and reclined to pretty much completely flat beds.  I enjoyed the most comfortable sleep I’ve ever had on a plane, even if it only lasted about 4 hours.

Our arrival, customs, and baggage claim were completed quickly, and Babette met up with one of her friends just outside the arrivals area.  The three of us enjoyed some small talk for a few minutes until Marc Augis showed up to bring me to Lamorlaye. (more…)