A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: CeeZeeDeeBP

Frankfurt, and Berlin. Read on...

Bratwurst, Beer, Graffiti, Tattoos, Nazis, Communism, High Speed trains, kinderspielplatzes, and a whole lot of awesome.

sunny

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From Pula, we flew to Frankfurt. Frankfurt… Hahn. This little modifier after the place was an important piece of information we mistakenly overlooked. What it means is that you’re not flying to Frankfurt main airport, which has regular, fast train service into the city. Quite the contrary, this small airport, used only by Ryan Air and at 125 km west of the city center is closer to France than any major German city, and has only once hourly bus service into Frankfurt Main. We learned this mid-flight from the lady in front of us. We were at least somewhat relieved when she told us that the buses are scheduled to depart after the arrival of each flight.

We left Pula at 6 pm, arrived Frankfurt Hahn just after 8. With the baby, having to wait for the stroller, pack her into wrap, we ended up at the end of the customs line. By the time we got our baggage, through customs and to the bus stop… our bus had left. Next one leaves in an hour, I was told, at 9:45 pm. I also learned that the drive is just over two hours long. (Agh!). I saw two ladies standing outside a different coach, and with my hopes up approached the driver and asked when he leaves. In 20 minutes? Great! I asked if he goes directly into the city… he looked at me inquisitively, then one of the ladies said “This bus goes to Luxembourg”. Oh.

With a bottle of wine and a box of cookies from the only open kiosk for dinner, and Zadie wrapped in a sling asleep on me, the wait wasn’t too bad. Dan also got himself a couple tall cans of beer for the ride. The ride… the two and a half hour bus ride into Frankfurt. It started off well, Zadie fell asleep on me and stayed that way for a while. But by about an hour into it, we were getting antsy. Well past her 7 pm bedtime she woke up, disoriented and fussy. And there was no WC on board, so Dan quickly went from loving to hating the liter of beer he’d drank, and squirmed, legs crossed in twisted agony until we arrived at Frankfurt Main Station just after midnight. Luckily a pay toilet and our hotel were only a short walk away. Clink, whizz, zonk.

The next day was hot and sunny. Being a Sunday, the city of big business and banks was closed and quiet. A good time to visit it, we reckoned. We went for a morning walk along the river, had lunch in a beautiful square made all the more quaint by live accordion.

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I'd noticed people everywhere eating plates of something pale green with boiled eggs, so decided to give it a try. Dan kept things traditional... we managed to capture our order on video:

Frankfurt is the financial capital of Europe, as well as the HQ of the Eurozone. It only really developed after WWII, so it is a mostly young and modern city. There are some amazing commercial buildings here. Check it out:

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DBP almost hit the roof when he saw this... people just driving their quads through downtown Frankfurt. "Holy shit, and right next to a cop!'
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The afternoon was warm, and glowing. So were the people, and they were hanging out by the hundreds, maybe even thousands on the river bank, or on one of the river boats with terraces that lined the Main. We joined in...

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Frankfurt boomed after WWII, and became the banking and financial capital of Europe. As such, it doesn’t have much history nor a historic center, and it’s pretty light on culture. So, we were happy to board the train to Berlin on Monday morning.

It was a 5 hour ride, but went very well. Zadie made friends with the other people in our cabin, played with another baby on board, and we rolled into Berlin late afternoon. It was sunny, and hot. Busy. We had the best Doner Kebab of our lives right outside the Ostbahnhof, then walked the 2 kms to our flat. Luggage train in tow.

We’ve been in Berlin for 3 weeks now.

One word: awesome.

Our flat for the first two weeks was on Frankfurter Allee, the continuation of Karl Marx Allee, an expansive socialist boulevard built by the GDR in the late 1950’s. We were in one of what are called the GDR palaces, some 2000-odd spacious apartments built as part of East Germany’s post WWII reconstruction programme. They aren’t exactly palaces like those we saw in Vienna, but compared to the small and basic flats characteristic to socialist construction, these were luxurious. Weathered and worn looking now, (though many being refurbished), the facades of these massive buildings, decorated with shiny ceramic tile in “wedding cake style”, would have been just beautiful back in the day.

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The boulevard was at first called Stalin Allee, but was renamed to Karl Marx and Frankfurter Allée during de-stalination in the early 1960’s.

We were in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshain, and it was fabulous. Lots of parks, endless cafes and ethnic restaurants, a great burger joint, and multiple kinder cafes right outside our door or within a few short blocks.

Here we are enjoying lunch on Simon Dach Strasse, just around the corner form our flat. Zadie is trying on a helmet for the first time. She's ready for some action!

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Berlin is a huge city, and most Berliners bike. I think it might be the cyclist capital of Europe. Bike lanes everywhere. More people on bike than on the metro or in cars! So many parents’ bikes with baby seats in the back, or a front bucket for cargo or children.

When doing my research on renting a bike and baby trailer (which would have cost something around 300 Euros, or 450 CAD), I was super pleased to stumble upon Bike Surf Berlin. A small volunteer-run organization of bike enthusiasts that started here and exists in five cities now, whereby locals lend bikes to people visiting, based on donation. Graham hooked me up with a fantastic ride, what I called the “Green Machine”.

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After considering all our options for how to get Zadie around by bike (she’s not big enough yet for a child seat, the trailer is expensive and I don’t like the idea of her being so far behind me, out of my view), we decided to try her in the baby bjorn on DBP. As long as he doesn’t pedal, and uses his e-bike more like a scooter. I got her a helmet, and we were rolling! SO Great to be out on a family bike ride. We all do well on two wheels!

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And some rainy 'roo ridin'
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We caught some footage, made a montage... you get a bit of a guided tour down our boulevard as well (JK and Zipster this is for you):

We biked to the Tier Garten, which was about 16 km return. We rode along Uner den Linden, through the Brandenburg Gate, and circled by the Reichstag. It’ll be neat to tell Zadie that she’s been to these places when she learns about them in Social Studies in about 15 years. Our destination was actually the Zoo, but our little lady let us know when we were still 1 km away that was about as far as she wants to ride crouching squirrel on her daddy.

We visited the museum of the GDR’S secret police, the STASI.

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It is in the austere, cold building complex that used to be their headquarters. It is simple. It is raw. It is where some of the most powerful spies in the world used to work from or take their orders. The network of spies spread through out what was then East Germany, collecting information about anyone and everyone who said or did anything considered to be against the state. The interesting thing about this museum is that is was not created as a museum rather, it was the actual offices of the STASI, preserved as they were when the Berlin wall fell in 1989. Inside these offices, they had memoirs of spies and ‘spied upons’ to give an idea of how things worked back then. DBP was most interested in ‘High Tech’ equipment used to accomplish their missions. The classic spy camera, the hidden micro recorder, and the typical ‘computer’ of the day.

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Super fun to see it all but scary to realize that the primary mission of the STASI was to control or eliminate any people who had thoughts or dealings that opposed the ‘Socialist’ Regime. Scary to understand their reach to every corner of the country, and scary to learn how many lives were taken in the name of the DDR. Interestingly enough DDR stands for Deutsch Democratic Republic. There was nothing democratic about it.

Dan happened upon a great sunglasses store that specializes in some creative taxidermy. Love the antler coat rack with tray. Seriously!

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We've taken Zadie to a baby music, and a baby art class...

Video footage will be uploaded soon.

The recent history of Germany is fascinating and it is interesting to see how it has created the incredible culture of Berlin today. There is tolerance, there is personality, there is happiness.

That was part one... more to come. soon. (It's written, but we want to present it in digestible pieces :)

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 14:20 Archived in Germany Tagged berlin frankfurt hahn Comments (0)

Pula, Croatia

Not your standard vacation destination, this ancient seaside town on the tip of Istria is balmy with beautiful beaches, great food, and a laid-back vibe.

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Pula? Pula. Croatia. I had never heard of it, and chances are unless you’re from this part of the world, you haven’t either. Funny how we ended up coming here… Dan wanted to visit Croatia while in Europe because it’s the homeland of one of his childhood friends. We initially were going to go to Zadar, halfway down the coast, because Ryan Air had flights from there to Frankfurt for a reasonable price. But trains don’t run as frequently nor as far as in old-school Europe, and Zadie gets antsy after about 30 minutes in a carseat, so getting to Zadar proved more hassle than we wanted. We considered taking a boat down the coast, but eight hours on a catamaran with a teething baby didn’t appeal to us either. So when we learned that Ryan Air also flies out of Pula, which is only 200 km away from Ljubljana, we decided to go there.

To help you get your bearings, it's the red star on this map:
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The train from Ljubljana to Pula was cancelled and they were rerouting people on a bus to the border, at which point passengers would board a regional train, and have to stop over once again so we said forget it, and rented a mini mini van. Good thing Dan and I are good at tetris, our stuff barely fit! (not pictured here, the stroller and baby bag rode in the passenger seat).
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Pula. Green, lush, and ancient. And when I say ancient, I mean it. Evidence of human (or homo erectus) habitation in the region dates from as far back as one million years ago. They’ve found artifacts in the region from the Neolithic period, the Bronze Age, and statues remain from when it was conquered and inhabited by the Greeks. In the first century AD the Romans arrived and claimed it as theirs. It became an important Roman port, and between 27 and 68 AD they built the Pula Arena, an impressive amphitheater.

Here it is, most of it still standing, and formidably impressive. I can only imagine what it was like back in the day!
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A couple shots of the gladiator’s smallest spectator:
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Here’s DBP and is eBrompton rocking out in front of the Temple of Augustus, built in 40 BC:
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The town was fortified with a wall, and ten gates, two of which still stand. This one presides over a lovely square in the pedestrian zone - we had lunch on a patio just behind it to the left.
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Venetians took over Pula from the 14th century until the 18th, when following Napoleon’s defeat it entered the hands of the Hapsburgs. Many of the buildings built in this time are still around, but unlike Vienna they have not been maintained. (No kidding - a brutal dictatorship, war, and poverty will do that. ). But the run down buildings have their charm, and in their crumbling state, rather match the ruins from antiquity.

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Wikipedia says “known for it’s mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature”; I’d agree. And I’d add, for it’s bountiful fig and olive trees, and fruit vines. Every house on our street had either grape or kiwi vines (or both) over their driveway. And there were fig and olive trees everywhere. The branches of the fig trees were weighed down with fruit, but alas, it will be another week or two until they are ripe enough to eat. My mouth waters at the thought of their sweet, soft, juicy crunchy flesh. If only I’d known, we could have planned to come a bit later! Just kidding.. sort of. They make a lot of olive oil and wine locally, and both are amazingly delicious. In fact, the olive oil we enjoyed while here is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted… not sure what we were eating before, but this stuff, fresh, local, authentic, is heavenly. Wildflowers abound. And there are garden plots all over the place… and consistently, an older man and or woman tilling the soil. Here’s a view from our flat:
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We spent a lot of time on our roof top patio, reading, relaxing and watching sailboats in the marina below.
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And at the beach...

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We also enjoyed some vibrant sunsets, where hues of orange and purple filled the western sky over the Adriatic sea, as we sipped home made wine bought from the landlords for 3 Euros a liter.
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Zadie had her own room in our awesome upstairs suite. We converted the king sized bed into her play zone. And play she did!
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We visited Fazana, a quaint and colourful fishing village 10 km up the coast. Had a most amazing meal of fresh caught (same day!) black bream, served grilled and partitioned at the table. A soft, succulent fish, we shared some with Zadie. She loved it! Here are a couple pics from Fazana:

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An update from the baby development front: Zadie has started talking. A LOT. Like “nanananan” and “dadaadadad” and “mamamamama” all the time. It’s so neat to hear her voice, and while the words don’t mean much, we can tell from her tone that she's excited about something.

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She also seems to really love dogs. She gets very animated, flaps all limbs and makes intense sounds when she sees them. She befriended this German couple's dog Roxy:
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She's also a mini cowgirl in training, getting good at riding on our shoulders. This was her first time up... think she likes it?
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DBP took a day and drove 300 km Zagreb where he met with all the king pins of the Croatia Ebike Scene.

I managed pack in 4 meetings in one day and rode my folding ebike between each of them. It was awesome seeing the city at 30 km per hour with the wind whistling through my folding bike helmet. As good luck would have it, I got meet the inventor of the Cromotor, a super powerful ebike motor, the Greyborg bike frame, a kick-ass DH ebike frame, and the GreyP (half electic motorcycle/ half DH mtn bike).

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The same guy, Zvonimir is working on the world fastest electric car as well. He claims to have the best job in the world. Sounds pretty sweet to me too. When we met, he was wearing a skull and crossbones shirt and we sipped beers and ate the most amazing pizza I have ever eaten.

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I also had a very interesting ride in a Croatian Limousine. Check out this video.

Hillarious. We had a blast. Vladimir and Marko were extremely hospitable, instantly friends and I think we will also do some business together.

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Of note, I met one of the largest Croatians in sweat pants I have ever seen: Kresimir from Bioplanet bikes and he let me test ride his dual suspension e machine.

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I rode it hard and hung it up wet. In fact, I broke the chain and had to scoot it back to the café where we met. He wasn’t concerned so it was all good. Once the meeting was over, I heard a rumbling up above and there were 2 fighter jets doing laps around the city…. This place is fast paced.

I ended up riding over 40 km on my ebike, 600 km in my car and had a great day in Zagreb.

Now onto Frankfurt and Berlin….. Zadie met a new friend on the plane and they had a great time entertaining each other. She is a real social baby and likes to get the party started just like her mom and dad.

Thanks for reading, and sharing our adventures with us!

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 06:40 Archived in Croatia Tagged croatia pula istria fazana Comments (0)

Slovenia –Europe’s little-known gem

From vibrant green rolling hills to the craggy snow-capped peaks of the Alps, from medieval towns and castles to rivers and dragons, Slovenia is rich in beauty, history and intrigue.

all seasons in one day 18 °C

From Austria, we continued south by train to Ljubjana, the capital of Slovenia. I (Chloé) had been before, briefly, in 2001, and remember loving it, charmed by its bridges, riverside cafes and bars, and picturesque hilltop castle that presides over the quaint old town. Traveling with a baby you don’t cover near as much ground as alone or just adults, so we planned five days there.

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Slovenia – it’s not a country that gets much coverage in tourist magazines nor is widely talked about in travel circles. But it’s a fascinating place! Briefly, it has been inhabited for over 2000 years. First by the Celts, then the Romans, and invaded during the Barbarian incursions, sought after because it's a key route around the Alps from Italy to south eastern Europe. Around 500 AD the southern Slavs (ancestors of modern day Slovenes) moved in. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire for almost 1000 years, then around 1400 came under the Hapsburg rule. It remained part of the Hapsburg empire until it fell at the end of WWI, at which time most of it joined the Republic of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which became Yugoslavia.

Here's where it is in Europe:
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Most of us remember the almost decade long war in the 1990's during the break-up of Yugoslavia; Slovenia was the first country to claim independence from a country made up of a variety of peoples increasingly dominated by Serbian leadership. Their separation was quick and fairly quiet, and in 1991 they became independent Slovenia. In 2004 they joined NATO and in 2007 joined the EU. Because war didn’t ravage the country the same way it did many other parts of former Yugoslavia, ancient castles, chapels, towns, tunnels, bridges and the baroque city center of Ljubljana are largely preserved. And the mix of history and architecture makes it a fascinating place to visit.

Anyway, back to us. The train ride there was awesome. It took six hours, but was wonderfully scenic; the low alpine area of southeastern Austria and northwestern Slovenia is lush. It is a landscape of rolling hills in all shades of green, fruit trees and wild flowers in bloom, spotted with old villages and contoured by sparkling blue rivers. We had a train compartment to ourselves, Zadie napped and played. The dining car, with picture-windows on both sides, comfortable seating and top notch service and food was a highlight.

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We are not travelling light (see photo below of Dan with four of our six bags), so were pleased that our apartment in Ljubjana was only a short walk from the station.

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The apartment itself was tiny – only 46 meters squared, so less than half our space in Vienna. There wasn’t room for Zadie’s crib in our bedroom, but with a tight squeeze it did fit in the bathroom, so that became her nursery. Not ideal, not much ventilation, but dark and quiet. We’re used now to making do with what we have.

We took two days to visit Ljubljana. It’s really a vibrant town; cafes, restos, bars and ice cream parlours with outdoor terraces everywhere, literally EVERYWHERE. At least three per side of a block. There is a huge pedestrian only zone in the center of the old town, on both sides of the river, with talented buskers playing live music, market stalls and hundreds of patios filled with people taking it easy.

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All the while charming, Ljubljana also shows the wear of strife and time, with many buildings outside the core bein rundown, graffitti on most vertical surfaces, and a fairly prominent punk vibe. Here's Dan in front of a train at the railway station, and Chloé walking through a side street.

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The town is centered around the Ljubljana river with numerous bridges crossing throughout the pedestrian zone. Probably the most renown and definitely the most interesting is the dragon bridge…. the dragons shown below at night.

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We went up to the old castle, and Zadie had her second funicular ride of her life:

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The castle is super neat; inside of the old walls, around towers and dungeon cells they have built ramparts and platforms so you can visit the different levels. Here are Dan and Zadie inside the castle wallks, then Dan looking through an arrowslit at the countryside below.

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We had lunch at one of two restaurants in the castle, while we waited out a thunderstorm. The bolts of lightening, menacing dark grey clouds and sheets of pounding rain sure made for an intense castle experience! The fortress was built in the 14th century by the Hapsburgs to defend against Turquish invasions. Through the 1700s to 1900s it was used as a military hospital, an arsenal, then a jail from 1900 on. It remained a jail until the 1960’s! Well, not exactly a jail from WWII on, it actually housed ostracized citizens of Ljubljana who lived there in squalor. In the 1970’s it was renovated, and today is the open museum with viewing tower that we visited, two restaurants, as well as a site for special events and weddings. Man, I thought. If only we lived here. Dan and I could get married in a castle! Seaside in Sooke is next best though ;)

We decided that five days was more than enough time to see Ljubljana, so rented a car and took off on a two day road trip through Slovenia’s Julian Alps. We went old-school, with notes on where to go jotted down by our waitress at the castle and a paper map, our overnight gear but no hotel reservation.

IT was a SPECTACULAR drive. Here’s the route we took on Google Earth.

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Up an over a mountain pass to a micro ski resort: Bohinja:

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And the craziest switchbackiest road we have ever driven... Zadle loved it.... in her dreams.

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And some photos of the foothills…

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The Alps lived up to their reputation. Slovenia's Alps are not as well known as their Austrian, French, and Italian counterparts but they are equally as impressive. Our drive started in lush green valleys, twisting and winding along the Soca river up to almost 2000M. Along the way we passed through numerous villages where the highway was no more than one car wide with homes on nestled on each side. With the goal of adventuring, we picked a sub alpine lake to visit, not knowning what the road would hold. We ventured forth onto what was the most twisty, winding, switch-backy road we had ever driven. We found a small ski town (small being the key word here) where we grabbed lunch on a patio before the rain came. Since the town was at the end of the road, we went back up and over the twisty, winding, switch-backy road we had ever driven and connected on the road north to Boveč which follows the azure blue Soca river. At this point, it was us, river rafters and motor bikers…. City slickers stayed behind.

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As Zadie signaled that she wanted to stop for the night, we came across the beautiful Penzion Boka, nestled along the river surrounded by mountains. What a gem: great staff, a 9 euro 4 course meal, and breakfast included. We thought it couldn’t get any better until we woke up with the sun shining in and snow capped peaks all around. One word: Amazing!

This is the view from our bedroom:
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And Dan on our patio in the morning:
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We have seen a lot of awesome mountains but there is something special about these mountains. They are just so steep. From the valley floor they rise straight up into the sky and so does this road….. after thirty 180 degree switchbacks, we arrived as the summit of the pass to find people ski touring the spring snow and enjoying the last that winter has to offer. The only way I can describe the road is combine the Duffy lake road, the Hurley, and Rogers pass into one highway and make it just wide enough for 2 small hatchbacks to fit. What an experience! It was so calming to be back in the mountains, it was re energizing, and it has inspired us to plan a winter trip here sometime in the future.

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From the rugged narrow, cobblestone and broken asphalt road through the alpine, we continued down into the valley onto a proper highway and made our way to Bled…. This town was designed for post cards! Lakeside castle atop a craggy rock that juts up out of the forest on the shoreline, an island in the middle of the lake with a picturesque church sitting in the middle, gondolas, gelato and lots of green space. We enjoyed lunch with a view, then returned to Ljubljana for our last night there.

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One other thing: Zadie's front two teeth have come through. Nice to finally visualize why she's been drooling like a waterfall, and a bit crankier than usual.
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Next stop, Pula Croatia. Tip of the Istria. Stay tuned...

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 03:34 Archived in Slovenia Tagged alps slovenia julian Comments (2)

Salzburg, Strasserhof, Schnitzel and a waltz

From Mozart's birth town to a ranch without animals and more schnitzel than one can fathom, Austria continues to treat us well.

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A week ago, with only 6 days left in Austria, we made a last-minute decision to go to Salzburg for a day. We’d entertained the idea before, in fact rather wanted to spend a weekend there, but time passed quickly and we didn’t work it into our plans. We were going to forgo it altogether, until I (Chloé) watched the first twenty minutes of the Sound of Music. The green rolling hills, medieval fortress, quaint baroque town on the riverside, nestled into the lush surrounding valley cast a spell on me ... or was it Julie Andrews' voice? Whichever, I quickly decided it was somewhere we oughtn't to miss.

We took a morning train and arrived just before midday. It was hot and sunny, a perfect afternoon to walk leisurely through the narrow old streets, enjoy live music in the expansive squares while taking in Salzburg’s majestic beauty.

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Zadie had her first funicular ride, which we took up to Hohensalzburgerhof (the high Salzburg castle). The fortress is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, and it is almost a thousand years old! It was built in 1077 and looks right out of a fairy tale… but it's totally real life. We enjoyed a bite to eat and drink on a patio at the top, as the sun set on the green fields and snow capped mountains around and beyond.

Here's the fortress seen from the city:
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And the view from the top:
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The next day we boarded the morning train to Wels, where we were picked up by our friends Tina and Isabelle and driven across undulating yellow fields bright with canola flower in full bloom. Our destination was Strasserhof, something of a Ranch without the animals, where we joined in Tina’s grandmother’s life-partner’s 60th birthday celebrations. Isabelle is a very good friend who I met in high school in Switzerland; she now lives in Vienna.

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Dan was excited to watch a hot air balloon take off:
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How do Austrians celebrate? With beer, schnitzel, potatoes, accordion and song, and more schnitzel. Seriously, schnitzel three ways, on potatoes three ways. That was lunch. And it when we grew hungry again, for dinner out came more … schnitzel.

Here is a picture of one of six trays of breaded pork cutlets brought to table:
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And Tina enjoying it three ways (regular, almandine, and kurbis = pumpkin seed), with roasted potatoes, fries and potato salad:
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Half the guests were dressed in traditional Drindle and Trachte, gingham shirts with vest, lederhosen and a jacket for men, and white lace blouses under a tight-bodiced dress with apron for ladies. That was pretty neat, but the highlights were the people and the music. Tina’s relatives brought out the accordion and songbook, and we all sang “Yipee ya ya yippee yippee yay… yippee ya ya yippee yippee yay” and other such traditional chants together.

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Can we talk about the transportation system here for a moment? Dan and I are just blown away by it's speed and efficiency. Sure I know it's Europe and of course I remember it was amazing from last time. But after being back in Canada for ten years I'd forgotten how good it is. And it's another one of those things, the older I get, the more I... you know. Anyway, the UBahn (subways) that cris-cross the city will take you anywhere in minutes. But even better was the train we took to Salzburg (from the train station it took us only 9 minutes to get to from our house)... it flew along the tracks at 200 km an hour! Sure there are fast trains lots of other places, but they like to make it known. Here it was no big deal. There was a children's section with room for them to play on the floor (or us to set up our baby crib), and the dining car serves delicious fresh food, excellent coffees, beer and wine at school cafeteria cost.

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Back in Vienna, on Monday night we took a waltz lesson with Daniel and Theresa at the prestigious Elmayer Tanzschule. We learned the basics for the Viennese waltz If you haven’t seen it, check out the link – it’s fast and graceful, and the dancers look like birds in rapid flight. We did well with the basic steps, when the music was slowed down to about one tenth normal speed. Quarter turns were ok, but when we progressed to half turns spinning in circle down a line, and Strauss was cranked to full speed, we looked more like flapping chickens than soaring birds. Our goal is to waltz for the first dance at our wedding. We’ve committed two hours a week to practice, and with fourteen weeks to go, I have hope.

Dan decided to at once leave a bit of himself behind and take something of Vienna with him, so went to a salon and got a stylish Euro hair cut. Check it out:
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Yesterday we packed up, had a delicious and very enjoyable dinner with our dear friends Teresa and Daniel, and caught the train out of town this morning. With baby gear (crib, high chair, bouncy chair, jolly jumper) we are not packing light, so we were immensely relieved and appreciative when Teresa and Daniel offered to bring half our luggage to the UBahn, and Teresa accompanied us all the way to the station!

Good times with Teresa and Daniel - Zadie took a real liking to both of them... and their cats!:

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It’s best to leave wanting they say, and so we are. Our stay in Vienna was fabulous, flawless really. It felt like home, and we could have stayed much longer. But with Ljubljana, Pula, Venice and Berlin in chapters to come, we are excited to turn the page in our adventure book.

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 11:11 Archived in Austria Tagged salzburg schnitzel waltz hohensalzburghof Comments (0)

Electric Bikes, Museums and BBQ... yes BBQ in Vienna

never a dull moment

The last time we were in Vienna we walked everywhere and the city seemed huge.... looking back we didn't cover very much ground. This trip I have an electric bike and I have seen a completely different side of the city. There are bike lanes everywhere and even bike traffic signals. It's a two wheelers paradise.
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The main purpose of my ebike is not for sight seeing but I am doing business development for Grin Technologies, a Vancouver based E-bike component manufacture. Each day I set out to find new potential customers and to date my trip has been fruitful with some positive connections with a company called Elektrobiker who manufacture ebikes right here in Vienna. But enough about work..... this is supposed to be a vacation, and that it is. Chloe scored us the most amazing location in the center of the city literally blocks from all of the craziest museums. A couple of days ago we stumbled across an the coolest collection of armor from 1400-1800. Jousting outfits, knight's full kit with horse's armor as well. Unreal! Check it out:
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And even a suit for Zadie when she can finally stand:
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The inside of the museum, again spacious, made of beautiful marble arches and columns, decorated with paintings. This palace cum museum was built for Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne at the turn of the century, the one whose assassination in Sarejevo triggered WWI.
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This week we visited an amusement park called the Pratter, no admission fee so we were free to roam the grounds. I can only imagine what it looked like at night...
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The huge ferris wheel is over 100 years old and the cars were the size of school buses. We didn't have a chance to ride it because Zadie was requesting that we take her home but it was a cool ride none the less.
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The best thing about this place wasn't the rides but the fact that it was totally dialed in for kids. Check out this restaurant where we has a coffee. They has a 'Quiet Snuggle' spot where we laid Zadie down and she could stretch out and roll around, one of her favorite pass times these days. IMG_4142.jpg

Along with serving great coffees and beers, they also sold baby food... baby food and beer, together at last. Only in Europe. IMG_4133.jpg
Contrast this with an experience we had in Victoria where the server asked us to leave a pub at lunch time because we had a 3 week old baby with us. All we wanted was a sandwich. Things are good here in Vienna. It's our kind of place.

On Easter, some friends invited us over to their house along the Danube for lunch. It turned out they were treating us to BBQ, something of a rarity here in Austria. The dude Anes is a master on the grill, serving 5 different types of meat, vegetables, and potatoes. My favorite was the whole rainbow trout. We were definitely impressed.
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Today we want to Lainzer Tiergarten, a huge park that used to be the imperial hunting grounds for the Hapsburgs. It was a super sunny day and we trekked through the woods, birds all around. We even saw a family of wild boar rooting around in the woods.

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Chloe was at home among the massive trees.
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And I liked seeing how big of a city Vienna is.
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Next up, heading to Salzburg for the weekend, Austrian nine-pin bowling with some 60-70 year olds for a birthday party in Wels, then back to Vienna for a couple more days before we head to Ljubljiana, Slovenia. The adventure continues.

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 11:47 Archived in Austria Tagged museums beer ebikes Comments (0)

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