Saturday, November 13, 2010

October, Munich and Hallstadt!

October was generally pretty awesome!

The first weekend in the month I took the train down to Munich to visit my old college roommate Meghan, and her boyfriend Stefan, and to attend the last weekend of Oktoberfest. We went to Oktoberfest last year and had a great time, but not being able to drink makes it not quite as enjoyable. I was looking forward to the food though, and hoped to go on a ride or two.

We ended up joining another old college friend who was in town for work and went to the fair Thursday night, the night I got into town. We didn't go to the same tent as last year, and the food was not nearly as good, which was a disappointment. The tent band was pretty awesome though, and we had fun catching up. I didn't get to go on any rides, and would have rather gone to bed afterward, but instead we went to another bar for a while. What a long day! I did get some cool pictures though!
Inside the tent:
Meghan trying to drink beer backwards
The swings!

The rest of the weekend was great. Friday Meghan and I slept in and had a relaxing day. We took a walk with the dog and ate at a great local soup place for lunch. I had carrot-ginger soup with coconut milk, which was fantastic, and perfect for my somewhat-woozy pregnant self. We hung around the house until dinner, when we went to a local pub and she had the best Schnitzel I've ever had! Muenchner-style Schnitzel is coated in mustard and horseradish before frying, so it has tons of extra flavor, and the bacon and onion potatoes were amazing as well. My dish was not nearly so good, but she had tons to share so it was ok.

Saturday we had planned to hike up to a Huete (mountain lodge) and stay the night, but apparently it was the last weekend most of them are open, and being a gorgeous weekend they were already all full. We decided to do a day hike instead and hopefully catch an early dinner on top of the mountain, but unfortunately the end of the trail was too steep for the dog, and it was starting to get dark, so we didn't make it to the top. We still had a great hike with some great views!

This was a cow pasture 2/3 of the way up the mountain. The bottom part was all forest, then it turns to pasture then to rock. Weird to think of cows up this high!

You can see the Huete we were headed for but didn't make it to. It would have been about another hour around the side of the mountain.

View from the other side of the mountain:

The sun came out on our way back down

We stopped in Tegernsee, a GORGEOUS little lakeside resort town for dinner, and ate at the local brewery which had amazing food! So probably a better dinner than we would have had on top of the mountain anyway. We also got to sit outside and enjoy the night air and the lovely setting.

The brewery

Sunday, my last day there, we were joined by two of Meghan and Stefan's friends and visited a pretty collection of small lakes surrounded by forest and pasture. There are walking paths and campgrounds around the lakes, and it was quite busy, but we still had a great time and had a lovely picnic at the side of one of the bigger lakes. It was a stunning Indian Summer day and it was great to spend it outside!

I returned Monday. Overall a great trip, and I'm so glad I got to spend so much of it outside! We really don't do enough hiking etc at home.

When J came back a few weeks later we were able to take out postponed trip to Salzburg and Hallstatt, Austria!

Salzburg is about 6 hours south of us by car, but it was a beautiful day for a drive and went by really quickly. The scenery once you get near the alps is worth the drive alone! Since we had rescheduled this trip from September we were hoping the good weather would hold and it wouldn't be too cold. There was snow on the mountains, but the fall leaves were still on the trees in the valleys and it stayed in the 50's for most of our trip (and didn't rain!) so we were happy.

We stopped in Salzburg for lunch and tried the local favorite sausage, Bosna, which is a slightly spicy sausage traditionally served with onions, mustard and parsley on a roll with "spice" powder. Cheap and delicious!
Here's J eating his, standing on one of the more famous AltStadt shopping streets in Salzburg, with very expensive clothing and jewelry. Even the McDonalds has a fancy hanging sign!

Flower and farmer's market in the Old Town

We didn't stay in Salzburg long, as we wanted to get to Hallstatt before dark. Hallstatt is an ancient salt-mining town on a narrow lake, very typical for the Salzkammergut region, but famous for it's salt mine that you can tour, and it's picture-postcard quality.
Here's the view from our hotel on the other side of the lake from the town of Hallstatt.

We liked our hotel, but it was very quiet because it was the very end of the season. It was SeeHotel am Hallstattersee, and has its own pool and lakeside with a swimming area, so it'd be great to go in the summer. I think all rooms have a view of the lake, for half the price of staying IN Hallstatt. You would need a car though because the little towns are quite spread out.
The first day we took a cable car up a nearby mountain and visited a cave that has ice in it year round!
Here's J outside the cave, then some shots from inside. Sorry they kinda suck, it's hard to take pictures in caves! They would turn out the lights in the section we just went through to conserve energy.

After the ice cave we took the goldola further up the mountain and hiked out to the "Five Fingers" which is an observation platform with a fantastic view. It was quite nice weather on top, surprisingly, and I took off my jacket and scarf to walk around. Unfortunately we realized when we came back down that my scarf had decided it wanted to stay on top of the mountain :( We would have had to pay again to go get it, so I will have to make another some time.
We rode up with some paragliders, and it was cool to see them sail down the mountain!

We were planning on grabbing some lunch in Hallstatt then doing the salt mine tour that afternoon, but J wasn't feeling well so we took a rest until dinner, then went to a great restaurant/hostel, Gruener Baum, in Hallstatt that specializes in local fish. The lake itself is so clear you can see probably 20 ft down! We ordered the local trout, which was lightly seasoned and grilled to perfection, with tomato soup, and had apple strudel for dessert. It was lovely. The restaurant has live ivy that grows in through the windows and fish heads on the outside wall:

The next day J was still not feeling well, so we had a lazy morning and went into town for lunch/supper.
I love the houses built into the side of the mountain"
We ate at a cafe on this square. I had a really good broccoli-cheese strudel with a salad, and one of the best desserts I've ever had!
Cheese and strawberry dumplings. They're like cheesecake meets the best homemade jelly doughnut you can imagine. OMG.
Strawberry Dumplings

We did not get to do the salt mine, but Hallstatt would be a great place to go with kids (there was a really cool playground at the lakeside too!) so maybe eventually we'll get back there when the Sea Monkey is old enough to enjoy it.

We unfortunately did nothing for Halloween this year, just sat at home and carved pumpkins, but at least the tree outside my window looked festive!

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