Archive for Road to Rome – Page 2

Road to Rome, Day 7 – Innsbruck and Salzburg

A week had passed since our European adventure began and we were back on the road heading for the next exciting country on the itinerary…Austria! After crossing the border, we passed through the Arlberg Tunnel, Austria’s longest road tunnel, to reach our first destination of the day, the majestic city of Innsbruck.

Known as the “Capital of the Alps”, Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol, Austria, and a world-class winter sports destination that hosted the Olympics Winter Games twice. The coach dropped us off in the middle of the city’s “Old Town”, and we were immediately stunned by Innsbruck’s unique beauty. Seeing the Baroque/Gothic architecture for the first time was like stepping into a fairy tale. Several colorful buildings lined the main street and the view of the Alps was breathtaking.

Strudel-Cafe KröllThere were several interesting boutiques and cafes and we followed our noses to a place called Strudel-Cafe Kröll. Here, we indulged in a delicious apple strudel and grabbed a “brezel” to munch on while walking. After a bit of shopping , we visited the Swarovski Kristallwelten store, where there are several beautiful Swarovski crystal sculptures on display. We then headed toward Innsbruck’s most famous landmark, the Goldenes Dachl, or “Golden Roof”.  The Golden Roof Innsbruck AustriaConstructed of 2,738 gold-plated copper tiles, the roof is displayed above a balcony once used by Emperor Maximillian I to observe events in the square. We stopped to watch a couple of interesting street performers in the same square before returning to the coach.

Salzburg Tour GuideWe arrived in Salzburg mid-afternoon and were greeted by our local tour guide, who was dressed in a traditional Austrian “dirndl”. She led us through the heart of Salzburg, which began with a visit to Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where the iconic “Do Re Mi” scene was filmed for the classic film “The Sound of Music”. The courtyard was packed with visitors but we managed to capture a few good shots of the grounds. Next, we crossed the Makartsteg Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the Salzach River, to reach the historic town center. The bridge is covered with hundreds of “love locks” from visitors all over the world and we had a nice view of Hohensalzburg Castle and Old Town Salzburg.

Next, we visited the birthplace of Salzburg’s most famous resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The building is now one of the most visited museums in the world and its bright yellow façade, like Mozart himself, stands apart from the adjacent buildings. A short walk later, we were in Residenzplatz (Residence Square), where we paused to admire the Residenzbrunnen (Residence Fountain), the largest Baroque fountain outside of Italy. If you’re a fan of The Sound of Music, you’ll remember Julie Andrews’ Maria singing “I Have Confidence” in Residenzplatz and splashing in the fountain.

Our guide gave us some free time to find lunch and by now, we were famished! We pretty much chose the first place we came across and lucked out with Burgerista. I ordered the Veggie burger and Jay chose a Route 66 burger. Both were amazing and we enjoyed dipping our steak fries in the variety of Burgerista sauces at our table. Burgerista Salzburg After lunch, we met up with the rest of our group at Mozartplatz (Mozart Square), where a bronze statue of Mozart stands in the center and serves as a memorial to the great composer. Several cafes border the square and a few scattered street vendors were selling art and other souvenirs.

Our hotel in Salzburg was the ARCOTEL Castellani Salzburg, which is located in the center of Salzburg. After settling in, we ordered a drink and sat in the garden terrace to unwind and reflect on another fascinating day. Check back soon to read about our visit to a historic landmark with a dark past and our arrival in Italy!

Innsbruck Austria Old Town

Annie & Taco Sing!

Check out this video of street performers Annie & Taco, taken in London’s Chinatown district last August!

Photo of the Week – Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus
Rome, Italy

Circus Maximus Rome Italy

 

Photo of the Week – Lonely Tree

A lonely tree resting on a hill along the Swiss countryside.

Lonely Tree in Switzerland

 

Road to Rome, Day 6 – Over the Mountain and Through the Woods

Our second day in Switzerland began with an early morning visit to beautiful Mount Stansehorn. Located in the canton of Nidwalden, the mountain peaks at 1898 meters (6227 feet) and we had the unique opportunity to ride to the top in the world’s first double-decker open top cable car!

Stansehorn Mountain

After arriving at Stans Railway station, we received priority boarding on the funicular cable car which brings you up the first leg of the mountain. From there, we boarded the CabriO, a marvel of modern technology offering a spectacular 360-degree view of the Swiss Alps. Small cottages lined the impeccably groomed landscape and our group took turns enjoying the view from the second level.  The experience was equally frightening and exhilarating!

Atop Mount Stansehorn sits Switzerland’s first revolving restaurant, Rondorama, which includes a buffet style café and a couple of banquet halls. We opted to eat our lunch on the “terrasse”, where most visitors were gathered to enjoy the beautiful day. Afterward, we checked out the small souvenir shop and then walked out to the circular observation deck overlooking the mountains. It was a bit foggy and windy, but we were able to get a few good pictures in between the cloudiness.

Cloudy View Stansehorn Mountain

Our next stop was the small farming town of Giswil, where we exchanged the coach for horse-drawn carriages and were whisked away through the Swiss countryside! Our guide Hans was delightful and shared stories about the local way of life. We visited the Roman Catholic Church of Giswil and ended the excursion at Hans’ lovely farm, where his wife Ermin had prepared a variety of tasty homemade drinks and cheese. She made a fruit platter especially for me, which I shared with our new friends while we chatted and enjoyed each other’s company. We loved this experience and the highlight of the afternoon was the baby horse that trotted alongside his mother pulling the carriage behind ours. Check out the adorable pics!

Wall of ChocolateOnce back in Lucerne, we spent the next couple hours shopping. Our first stop was Confiserie Bachmann, AKA “Chocolate World”, which is one of Switzerland’s premier chocolate shops. The main feature of the store is the “flowing chocolate wall”, which consists of 750 grams of cocoa extracts continuously flowing behind a counter of delicious truffles! After picking up some chocolates to take home, we stopped at a couple of the big watch shops and both picked up a Swatch watch, which was one of only a few brands in our price range.

La Bonne Cave Lucerne Switzerland

For dinner, we selected Jakob (La Bonne Cave), one of the several restaurants overlooking the Kapellbrücke Bridge. We were seated at a table along the water’s edge and enjoyed delicious Swiss pasta and a glass of wine while watching the sun set on another adventurous day in Europe. Check back soon to read about the next stop on the Road to Rome, beautiful Austria!

Stansehorn Mountain View