Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coffee at Florian's

We met a great family that lives down the street and around the corner from our apartment in Burghausen.  This is Christa, Thomas and Florian Meisinger. They have lived in and around Burghausen all their lives.  Billy and Florian work together at Wacker...he's a great guy with a great set of parents...and a younger sister. They were kind enough to invite us over for Sunday afternoon coffee on January 8th. (I'm behind on my blogging!) We were able to see their beautiful Christmas decorations before they took them down...they were putting them away the next day. Their home was lovely, warm and inviting. Yes, Christa and Thomas are Florian's parents..but they look too young!
Christa said she had learned how to make this beautiful Black Forrest Cake from her mother! It looked like it was professionally made and was SO delicious.  The slices on the left are a poppy seed torte that had a very different sort of flavor.  Billy and I both loved it.  They also had an out-of-this-world coffee machine that made the BEST cup of cappuccino.

The conversation was so much fun.  There were lots of smiles and laughs and we really did some damage to the cake.  A bottle of natural Austrian wine was brought out at the last and Thomas said it was something he often picked up in Austria at a place the vinyard delivers directly to. Maybe I can find out where...it was wonderful!
We are hoping to see them again soon.  Maybe we can cook them a dinner of chicken and dumplings, garlic mashed potatoes, fried okra and banana pudding at our place sometime soon to give them a taste of Tennessee cooking!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Year's Day Trip to Salzburg

We drove to Salzburg on New Year's Day and the drive was spectacular.  The view of the Alps on the way in was beautiful

The drive is only about an hour or so and is no problem when you have a GPS system in the car. I have a certain address I plug in and it takes me directly to a parking garage that is carved into a mountain. From there, we usually walk anywhere in the city we want to go.

It is mostly farm land and rolling hills along the way

When we got to Salzburg, there was a chamber orchestra playing in Mozart Platz in this covered stage that was set up.  The outdoor vendors were still selling bratwurst with bread and French fries...yum!  The streets were still littered somewhat with New Year's Eve remnants of fireworks, papers and broken glass.  It looked like a good time was definitely had!

New Year's Eve in Burghausen

 New Year's Eve in Germany is called Sylvester.
Every other year or so the city of Burghausen has an official fireworks show and this year was not the year for it...but we couldn't tell...the average person can buy professional grade fireworks here so there was plenty of beautiful pyrotechnics to be seen from the castle view at midnight
It was raining and foggy when we reached the end of the 1 mile castle walk around 11:30
This is the profile of Kimberly (an American with our group) as she watched the fireworks across the horizon and in the city below

Billy and I don't think it's New Year's without funny hats and things that glow, so we had gone to the Euro store (Dollar Store in America!) and gotten cowboy hats and glow sticks.  We also found these great glow cups. No one else looked as silly as we did, so we shared our glow sticks with people we met on the way to spread the silliness around some. It was cold, so Billy also wore his Carhart ear covering with his hat.

It was only about 37-38 degrees or so

You could barely make out the church steeple below when the lighting was just right. It was a fun and beautiful night and definitely didn't feel like anything I'd ever experienced back in Tennessee

We stood at the castle wall for about an hour and looked down below at the lights and the explosions in the air until about 12:30 or so.  Afterwards, it was a nice ride home on our bicycles from the city area ...and it was into the wee hours of the morning when all the firecrackers and rockets were silent.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas in Vienna - Part 6 - The Trip Home

There's so much more I could write about of what we saw and did in Vienna ...but I think I'll close with these pics from the trip home. These are from the train station in Vienna that was still festive looking even though it was the 28th
The "Rail Jet" is a fast train that makes few stops
I love the snazzy red color of these trains!
We arrived early as we were determined not to miss it THIS time
We were on the platform early with our luggage
Here's the conductor coming down to check our tickets. I was ready...
I had misplaced our tickets once during the first half of our trip and had to search through my bags for a few seconds. I had seen Billy turn pale, sweat bullets and practically keel over - I didn't want a repeat of that

The first job when we got back home was to take a walk in a wintery mix of snow, rain and icy stuff to take our glass to the recycling station.
It was a "back to reality" moment. LOL

Christmas in Vienna - Part 5 - The Naschmarkt

The Naschmarkt in Vienna is 1.5 kilometers of amazing fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, clothing, teas, liquors, breads, nuts and spices.
The market has existed since the 1500's and had many restaurants and eateries. It was mid-morning and rather cool when we got there. After the sights and smells made us crazy starved, we stopped at a cafe with a few tables right off the main walkway.
Billy and I opted for a late breakfast of cheeses, breads, butter, coffee, eggs, fruit juice and champagne.
It was only a short walk to the U-bahn underground through the Stadtpark
and a couple of stops up.

Those were our two stools on the left.  It was a perfect place to watch people do their shopping and was definitely an highlight of our trip.

Christmas in Vienna (4) - Palaces, Museums, Public Buildings and One Last Christmas Market!

Vienna was a beautiful city to spend Christmas in...so romantic and dream-like
Here I am in front of the beautiful St. Peter's Church where we attended a service on Christmas Day.  It is very beautiful inside as well and is right in the heart of the Altstadt of Vienna. It was constructed between 1702-1732. It is thought to be the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna and was where Charlemagne was thought to have founded a larger church in the year 792
The Vienna Rathaus in the day.
...and with lots of sparkle at night
Our last Christmas market for the year was at Maria Theresa's Schönbrunn Palace. Since the German speaking world tends to celebrate Christmas on 2 days instead of 1, we were able to see this on the 26th! Billy was totally shopped out and was only interested in listening to the brass band play carols.

I could have definitely gone for more of these wonderful wooden ornaments for my tree in Chattanooga next year.

 What a beautiful place this is... and it was amazingly well-kept.  There was a large renovation project going on and we had a wonderful tour guide that gave us SO much more information than you are used to getting on most tours.
This structure is called "Gloriette" and houses a cafe. Our feet were worn completely out, so we didn't make the trip to have a coffee there. This is at the back of the palace and it is what you see
from the balcony in the previous picture.

We got this perfect view of Vienna from
The Upper Belvedere Museum.
It was lit
as if it were a movie set
The view of Vienna makes in obvious why the site was chosen for this palace.

I was able to see some wonderful art pieces here and Billy seemed to really enjoy it too.  I had grown up seeing Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" and I couldn't believe that I was actually getting to see it!

There were several museums I wanted to see here, but there was only so much time!

Christmas in Vienna - Part 3 -Cafes

Wow! There was a CHATTANOOGA Cafe! I was walking along at the old town center and glanced up...and stopped dead in my tracks. I asked Billy, "Look there...Is that what I think it is?" The sign was hard to photograph, but I got some interior shots. The owner of the cafe had supposedly lived in Chattanooga and the restaurant was devoted to Glenn Miller and the Chattanooga Choo Choo theme. The interior upstairs was decorated to resemble a train car.  It reminded me of the train cars at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel and Restaurant in our hometown where you can sleep in old train cars and the restaurants are reconditioned diner cars.
This restaurant had evidently been in business for many, many years in Vienna and had been a popular music venue.
Vienna is known for its coffee cafe culture.  The coffee is delicious and the enviroment is very relaxed, inviting people to stay and chat and read for as long as they like.
The cakes, tortes and desserts were SO yummy and really not quite as sweet as they are in the USA.
The specialty Billy and I enjoyed was a chocolate cake dessert called Sachertorte. There was also a special milky coffee called Melange that was available everywhere

This was a very old cafe that was near the city hall.  We had a light meal here. As in most Viennese cafes, dogs are very welcome.  We really loved this little guy.  The owner tried to keep him at her feet, but he kept peeking out! My large standard poodle, Ludwig (Wiggie) would LOVE to follow me into restaurants! He IS able to be with us at some Chattanooga restaurants that have outdoor seating. Seeing these dogs makes me really miss my poodle-boy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas in Vienna - Part 2

Vienna was beautiful!
This was our hotel.  The Radisson Blu Vienna located on the "Ringstrasse." That is the street that is placed where the city walls once stood and it circles the heart of the old city. It was central to everything we wanted to see....we walked or occasionally rode the U-bahn easily everywhere we wanted to go from this point.
 All the streets were decorated for the holidays and literally glittered.
 We saw a music concert with a chamber orchestra, singers and dancers.  These are put on for the tourists in some of the historic music halls in Vienna. They sell the tickets around the famous St.Stephen's Dom in the old town.  The salesmen (usually college students) wear historic garb and try to get the attention of the gawking tourists as they first arrive. It worked on us... The concert was very nice. The bottom picture is taken during intermission from the balcony of this music hall. (Johann Strauss played here) 
And here is the statue of Johann Strauss that stands in the Stadtpark (City Park) directly across from our hotel. It was a beautiful park and had a couple of very nice playgrounds for children.
Everything was so clean and pristine!
There are lines that go over many of the streets for the electric trains to travel on. I loved how these trains were so quiet and didn't have the diesel smell!  They were great. In areas of Chattanooga, they have perserved the tracks our electric trolleys once ran on.  After riding the Viennese electric trains, I wished they had perserved the whole system for us to use these days.