Europe – Driving across Austria, Melk Abbey, and some Salzburg

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An amazing day.  We began in Vienna, packing up and making our way via public transportation to the car rental store.  It was still hot and we had all our luggage.  Now my family knows why I said pack light.  We made it…reservation waiting.  Now on to the next adventure…driving a stick shift in a foreign country

Michael was worried as it had been 18 years since he’s driven a standard.  As it turns out…he was right to worry.  The car has reverse in the position of 1st, but obtained by pushing the stick down.  Not knowing that, he was trying to find 1st in the next spot over…which was 3rd.  So he floored it and sputtered and tortured the poor transmission as he drove across Vienna.  We of course missed the exit off the roundabout to get on the autobahn so we then had to cut across a couple miles of Vienna suburbs to get to the next entrance.  But he eventually figured it out and it was smooth sailing after that.

An hour west of Vienna we stopped at Melk Abbey.  Founded in 1089 and with a baroque cathedral built in 1702, it is one of the world’s greatest monastic sites.  Wow!  The library with medieval manuscripts and the frescoes painted everywhere and the architecture and statues were all amazing.  But the abbey church itself was extraordinary.  We all agreed it was more beautiful and impressive than the three cathedrals we had seen in Vienna…even St. Peters church which was also filled with the marble, frescoes, and gold leaf of the baroque style.  And, as we totally missed the English tour by a couple hours we had the place to ourselves.

We also ate at the Abbey.  More schnitzel, some goulash, and a cheese plate.  The cheese plate had a smoked moldy cheese that was absolutely disgusting.  We all bravely tried it, and could not get the old smelly sock/rubber taste out of our mouths.

On to Salzburg.  The entire drive across Austria (which was a total of only 3.5 hours) was breathtaking.  Lush green rolling hills dotted with stands of trees and little houses and villages.  Eventually the Alps appeared in the distance and the trees grow thicker.  We made it through Salzburg to our guest house.  It is a bed and breakfast sitting on the outskirts of town with green meadows and mountains out our balcony.

We walked down the street a short distance and found a restaurant.  We sat at a table waiting for the kitchen to open next to another American family (only Americans would show up at a restaurant before 6…Europeans eat dinner around 8!).  We chatted and ate for a couple hours.  Hailey had Sacher Torte and Nathan had a cheese streudal.  Happy kids.  It was raining off and on but no one cared because finally it was not hot!  It was in the 50s that night, I could see the Alps from my bed, and hear the birds singing.  (:

“The purpose to life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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