A Travellerspoint blog

Grunau im Almtal- Salzburg

Currently kicking out in the Wombats Hostel in Munich, we arrived yesterday and last night had a few beers to wish Hester bon voyage, so it's a slow start this morning which is fine when the weather is that wonderful mix of mist and incessant light rain. So the sights can wait. As a homage to the fantastic Irish pub we were at a few nights back in Salzburg, I'm listening to The Pogues- Dirty Old Town..........might go to Ireland, just throwing bombshells out there now ;) Sorry sister in law, I have held up your comment whilst I mull things over. I may well reach Cambridge a bit early to have that frozen Gin and discuss all things future based.

So I might just ramble on a little disjointed about some stuff that's been going down of recent times. Again, chasing RWC matches around Europe is very fun. I arrived around 3:30 yesterday in not so sunny Munich and spent an hour looking for an Irish pub, seems the rainbow doesn't touch down in this area, so had to settle for watching it at the hostel. What a game, I almost chewed my left arm of in nervousness, thankfully it was a sweet win.

I left Salzburg that morning. It was not without a minor detour. Having been told that there was an 1103 train to Fesslaising or somesuch town, at 1045 I decided to board a train that appeared to have a final destination in that locale, alas this was the wrong train. But, this is how you need to roll, I started chatting to two other backpackers, from England, who had done the same thing. We had all stuffed up. So it was back to Salzburg, and having now missed the 1103 mysterious train, had to wait till 1303 for the next connection. It seemed the platform and train info didn't come up until 10mins prior to the train departing. Trust me, this is really unusual. Anyway, we got it right a few hours later. We were joined by about 200 other passengers, it was a very busy train across the Austrian- German border. Both in Vienna and Salzburg the train station has been home to quite a large police presence and quasi-military personnel, or maybe just Customs officials. Hard to tell because I'm not familiar with Austrian state apparatus. Anyway, also there are large tents set up outside, with Red Cross staff and associated humanitarian aid workers. At various times large groups of refugees would be escorted around the station to certain platforms by police officers. It was all very orderly and I can only assume that it was mayhem a few weeks ago.

I had a good yarn to Rhianna and John from England during our almost four hour commute. Good conversation, they had been travelling from Budapest, West and eventually down through to Barcelona then back home again all on trains. Speaking of good conversation, Emma and I located a pretty sweet Irish pub in Salzburg where we watched the All Blacks beat France. By some bizarre sequence of events, a couple who lived in Queensland but were originally from Dunedin also rolled in. They were followed by a mother with her teenage daughter who also were originally from Dunedin. So we had a bit of crew of vocal supporters for the game. I thought the old couple were a little too vocal, they had a very different take of the refugee situation and a rather dim view of the 'animals' who found their way into Europe. I had to cut away outside for a breather when the old dude yelled at the TV/ French and said something like 'we don't forget The Rainbow Warrior, bloody French'. But that's cool. I suppose. Not what I would bring up, but I was only 4 when that all happened.

Another interesting individual we met, was in the sleepy hamlet of Grunau. This was a tiny place in the Austrian mountains about halfway between Vienna and Salzburg. I caught a train to a place called Wells and then transferred onto a single carriage train that took about an hour picking its way down the valley, dropping of school children along the way. I was met by the guesthouse owners son, Sebastian, who must have been 17 or 18. A really cool kid. He loaded my pack in his boot, next to the sub-woofer, and turned on some metal as we drove the 10 minutes out of 'town' to the house. We talked about his car, drifting, snowboarding, metal and how excited he was to see his girlfriend in Germany soon. He also demonstrated how poor the grip on his tyres was. It was a sweet ride.

There was however a sinister side to Grunau. Its name was Olaf, from Sweden. A really odd character who just did very creepy, unsociable, disgusting things constantly. He had driven from somewhere and, when he needed to relieve himself, instead of pulling over on the side of the autobahn or waiting for a WC, just pissed himself in his car and kept driving. Constantly asked, seemingly only of the girls, if they wanted lifts into town or wanted to go to Prague with him. I mean this was beyond just been friendly. Because he had a shovel and a tarp in his car boot. Seriously. You read about these kinds of people. Shit was weird.

Anyway, Grunau was a wonderful place for a few days of R and R. It was constantly misty/raining, but still beautiful. After this, it was onto Salzburg. Emma and I are getting really good at walking around cities, seeing all the 'sights' without really using maps and just smashing it all out in a few hours. Today we kicked around Munich. Again, seen pretty much all the big tourist places without really aiming too and often just stumbled onto amazing places.. Tomorrow will head to the crazy castle. Salzburg seemed to be a very rich persons playground. It was a place where money certainly flowed. I also ate a lot of dough. Mostly in the shape and form of giant pretzels. Delicious. So too was the pork knuckle we had today. Although it seemed more like a hip bone. But I could be wrong, pigs may have giant knuckles, just never noticed them because I was always busy thinking how nice their ribs taste.

Anyways, might kick off to bed.

Actually, big shout out to Emma's mum. Don't worry about the fact Emma takes a long time to heal from 'ouchies',in my humble opinion it is no cause for alarm.

So some photos. One of these is of someone getting ready to throw a rock at me.Time keeps ticking along. Also, will be in London by the end of this week.
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Posted by kidd1200 13:12 Archived in Austria Comments (2)

Český Krumlov- Vienna

Having arrived in the quaint Medieval town of Český Krumlov, I was deposited in the main bus terminal, or what really was a collection of bus shelters in a park. This was totally fine as the walk to the brilliant Hostel Krumlov House was a mere 800m. Somehow I managed to miss the road it was on, which considering the town consisted of only about 3 1/2 roads, was a bit of a rookie move on my part. Error rectified I was checked into my villa. What a sweet little abode, with the choice of three beds, a kitchenette, with a duelling canopy of vines outside my door, it was a blissful arrival. Furthermore, the light was hitting that sweet spot just before dusk when, with a clear sky, it seems to set alight the botanical foliage in a fierce display of spectral wonder. We headed out for a stroll around the town, which was a very small place and did about 3 laps of the entire area. Really, it was a postcard moment around every corner. As it is Autumn, the trees were in a magnificent state. It was even more impressive than the endless Birch trees in Siberia. The town has a fairly strong flowing river running through the centre of town, which is spread across both sides of the steep valley. There is a pretty amazing castle built along one side of the valley, with the river forming a natural defence. It did appear as if it was in a prime position strategically, which is probably no coincidence.

So as the sun set and the temperature started to drop to zero, we headed out to grab some food. For the life of me I can't remember where we ate, but I'm sure it was delicious?! The next day was a slow start as we cooked up bacon and eggs from the local co-op and made the most of the facilities on over. It's always a joy beyond belief when after travelling for so long you actually get a chance to prepare your own food. Job done, we had a day of circumnavigating the entire town at least another 20 times and I took close to a million photos, which I havn't really done so far. We pretty much had the entire town to ourselves, except for the residents of Beijing who had decided to turn up with their ever present umbrellas in some kind of flash mob. Luckily it was the low season, as apparently this town doubles during summer from 20,000 to around 40,000. On an unrelated note, strangely there were some brown bears in a small enclosure under one of the entrances to the castle. This must be a remanent of the ruling family, as the emblem of the town and a lot of coats-of-arms had bears as the motif.

As this day was the night of New Zealand v. unlucky team we sussed out a awesome place to watch the game. Gorillas Rock Bar was the place, and as we had worded up the ageing rock owner as soon as the bar opened we had control of the remote. Luckily, as having set up camp a few hours prior to kick off, the joint rapidly filled to bursting point with assorted locals all in need of their early week drinks and hard rock fix. We drank a lot. It was cheap. In fact, it was pretty awesome all up. Especially when a really wasted guy rocked out massively in both air-guitar and air-drum. He was ace.

So this was pretty much Cesky. A beautiful place to visit for a few days, especially when the leaves are changing. Next stop was Vienna. The trip was pretty uneventful except for when getting dropped off at my 'hostel', the shuttlebus driver scrapped a parked car. I gave him a small tip, so hopefully he wasn't out of pocket too much. My digs were essentially in a semi illegal bording house in an apartment block. The kind of place you read about when there is a fire and all the inhabitants die because of poor emergency procedures. But the owner was nice, having ascertained my surname was Kidd preceded to call me Mr. Peter Pan. A few times I felt like I was working for her as well because she kept leaving when other guests were due to arrive and would ask me to let them in and give them keys. She also had a clarinet lesson in the kitchen/ living/ common area. I think she also ran a laundry service as there seemed to be a crap load of washing in disproportunate quantity to the four people staying there. She was lovely though. Vienna was a little bit of a ride off, as we arrived on Sunday when absolutely nothing was open.

In fact it was great, as the next day we did a wine tasting/ ride day trip along the Danube. It was a full day and the weather briefly cleared so we had the only day of clear, sunniness in the three days we were in Vienna. It felt great to get out amongst the country side, leisurely cycling alongside the river, through vineyards and apple orchards. Really great. Learn't a fair bit about this important wine producing region in Vienna. I promptly forgot most of it after tasting the strongly alcoholic apricot schnapps that is an Austrian specialty. I think I also had some at PPE, or something similar. we also had Sturm, which is only available at this stage of the wine harvest/ production cycle. It is still fermenting grape juice from the first press. Mmmmmm, tasted like lightly sparkling grape juice. Only has an alcohol content of <5%. Fantastic.

Currently writing this on my way to Grunau im Amtal, which is a small village in the mountains on the way to Salzburg. Should be a nice escape from the big city's which are starting to get a little annoying. There are only so many churches and museums you can go to before getting a little jaded. The churches in St. Petersburg will be very hard to top in my opinion. But that's cool.

Side note, the station at Vienna had both free wifi for regular passengers as well as specifically for refugees and an online refugee information site.

It is also time to respond to some comments.

To the Cambridge clan, glad to hear that the important orders of business have been sorted out. I'm getting excited to see the little rambunctious J and stop constantly moving and just have some chill out time with her! I may also head to Wales prior to Iceland, depending on the finalists in the RWC. It has been great travelling whilst it has been on, as when I did my solo stint in 2006 the soccer world cup was on and it gives an alternative activity to look forward to. Sorting out optimal viewing conditions is also, sometimes, a bit of a mission. Travelling around with, and as an honoury Kiwi is good because eventually we may have to have an epic night where my true colours come out. Considering I may move to Wellington, this is not as simple decision as one would think?!

Yes, it may be time when I actually do something challenging in my life for once instead of just thinking about it.

Mum, sorry about that really brief phone call, but was great to hear a familiar voice. I think you'll have a fantastic time over here. And now that I've been for a cycle for the first time in about 10years, may join you on some adventures down the Cam, perchance.

Also, things I have lost so far; an SD card with photos of my time in Amsterdam and my laundry bag so now just using a plastic bag which smells like death.

I was going to respond to some other comments, but I might look out the window for a bit :)

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Posted by kidd1200 07:47 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prog Power Europe- Prague

From Metal to Medieval

Having met up the Norwegians, it was a mass rednezvous at Schipol to join the exodus to Eindhoven then on to Venlo and finally Baarlo. The cup truly over floweth during these 4-5 days at Prog Power. It started flowing on the train trip from Amsterdam and was only punctuated by sleeping, breakfast and, well not much else. The exodus was a bit of a baptism into the family that is the ProgPower audience. The hilarious personalities were evident right from the start and they didn't let up all weekend. Thankfully there were a few other first timers, who more than likely will return again much like everyone else does.

Castle de Brock was a pretty impressive place to stay, complete with a moat, peacocks, giant courtyard, magical fairies who would clean up all the empty beer cans every night and thankfully free wifi. As Shani had said, this was a much better place to experience a range of amazing, at times cheap, staggeringly broad variety of alcohol from all over Europe than Oktoberfest. There were people from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Dubai, England, Ireland, France, Columbia by way of Canada and a small number of Australians. All the Europeans bought their best drinks from their delightful countries. So quite the experience and that's just the alcohol side of things. Everyone was super friendly and went out of their way to make the newbies feel welcome. Truly a top festival that felt like hanging out with family. Which for me was literally true.

Music I hear you ask, yes there was quite a bit of it actually. I was exposed to some fresh sounds which is always a good thing. Definitely will be listening to Until Rain, Myrath and especially Exeens...........so the education was worth it. I also missed a lot of the bands, as I wanted to continue watching the Rugby. Pretty sure no one really held it against me, because for some people the festival was just as much of a social event as anything else. I most definitely would want to go again, and as an opportunity to see a small town in the Netherlands glad I didn't pass it up. A lot more could be said about it, but sometimes it's best to keep certain experiences to yourself!

So after nursing a very sore head back to Amsterdam, I checked back into the hostel I was staying at and went to pick up my laundry. I had deposited said bag of smelliness at the laundry about 5 days beforehand, intending to pick it up the next morning before heading to Baarlo. This was not to be and despite returning all this time later, with no receipt the Indian laundry wallah managed to find it and kindly gave it back. So now I was back in action. Strangely Dan and Sarah had arrived that night so miraculously managed to walk into them seconds after my phone turned too cactus at our poorly organised meeting point. Quite lucky. We swapped some stories and grabbed a meal. I had what could be described as an interesting walk home, having gotten vaguely lost. At night every single canal looks the same. But I made it back. The next morning I made a snap decision to head to Prague, as the thought of kicking around Amsterdam solo style for another day seemed a bit beyond my abilities. So a quick flight to Prague it was.

This was also another step in the ongoing series of 'how many cities in Europe can I meet up with Emma in". I was also eager to head back East as the cheapness was a drawcard. Prague, a pretty sweet place. I do prefer Krakow at this stage as it Is a little smaller and the quality of graffiti is definitely at a more advanced level. Prague seemed to have a lot more tagging as opposed to your bigger mural/ wall pieces. But hey, I'm cool with that having no skills myself. It is quite the historical town, with a very interesting history. The Czech's also appear to be proud of their history and some important players throughout European history have been from Prague. Kafka for instance. Well, some bigger players to do with the Roman Catholic Church such as the Huseites and the early Protestant movements that pre-dated Luther. Some beautiful old buildings, one of the oldest University's, Mozart premiered here as well. Good stuff. If you can remember it!

Good beer as well. We did head out to Kutna Hora, which was the old silver mining city back in the olden days. It is also home to the Bone Chapel, which is a chapel with a lot of human bones decorating it. Bizarre. Kinda cool, not as creepy as the Kuntzkamer Museum in St. Petersburg. The town itself was well worth the visit, giving us a taste of our next destination. The smallish Medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, about 3 hours south of Prague. I'm pretty excited about this place and not just because I have a deluxe villa with ensuite, kitchenette and presumably a bed.

Writing this on that bus trip, just tried to upload a video from the Trans Siberian leg of the train trip, but because I added some sick audio track to it got removed. Stupid IP.

Can't we all just share everything?

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Posted by kidd1200 04:18 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

Krakow-Amsterdam

Having arrived in Krakow following a rather circuitous route over the sky's of Germany, I was eager to touch base with 2/3rd of the New Zealand crew. Thanks to some information from Bengt, supplied last night, I now know why New Zealand is called what it is. My digs in Krakow were smack in the Old Town, just alongside the Jewish Quarter. A very small area that had a Bar/Café density about 700 times that of Melbourne. Coffee also had enough strength to stand up by itself, something that Russian coffee appeared unable to do. So straight away I could tell that this was a place I would like.

Met up with Dan and Sarah, remarkably easily thanks to some clear directions and a well placed Mexican Restaurant. Which we hit. Nice one. Followed it up with a cheeky drink at a Cuban bar, which turned into a sly cigar and later, stimulating Mojito's. Our company expanded to include a couple of dudes from Stockholm. So, we lingered on until the wee hours.

That lingering made the next morning a bit of a slow start, but hey, why rush. Meandering our way around town was made easier with coffee and a vague direction that turned out to be quiet clear. Schindler's Factory. Krakow's WW2 history hit us in the face. Enough words have been written about those times, so I cannot attempt to add any pertinent description.

Again, reminded of the fact that European History is seeped in blood. Scenes in the photos, despite been in black and white, could have been taken yesterday. I hope we learn something, sometime and just chill out and get along.

Hitting up some massive burgers sated our spirits somewhat. They took another battering the day after when Auschwitz and Birkenau was our destination. Again, no words.

Not everyone is in agreement that these should be open for visiting. I'm not going to argue either way. For mine, glad I saw it. Will never again. Nor will I ever forget those sights.

It was a big day, then Dan and Sarah left, leaving me as a solo traveller for a day. So I hit up the other side of Krakow round the old medieval castle, Wawel Castle. Man did I hit the jackpot. Dan and Sarah if you read this, it was rad! Didn't have a huge amount of time so limited myself to the Armoury and Dragon's Den exhibits. The crown armoury housed armour and weapons from 15-18th Century. I mean this was totally of the charts. If Blair Sist was here he would have had conniptions. Weapons included swords, double handed swords, Hussar lances, pikes, hunting rifles, cannons, daggers, sabres; all from the Polish armies and others. Lots of Armour as well. Turns out that the extras from Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks were all from here, and after been summoned by Angela are now back in their rightful resting place.

It was time to leave, but Amsterdam awaited. So I went. Found my hostel and met up with Shani and Bengt. Awesome and a bit surreal to meet up with them here. We had a nice drop of beer. This festival is going to be great. Tonight I and Emma from the Siberian leg will join them at Weird Al Yankovic concert. Nuts.

Managed to get to the Van Gough Museum today. Even better, they were also showing a Munch exhibition to showcase their similar styles and mutual influences. Very cool. Saw some big ticket pictures in person. Sometimes life is just way to sweet. Just need to avoid getting hit by a bicycle. To be honest, I'm a little afraid of them. Walking rules.

Dropped some big mullah on clothes today. Forgot I don't have much room.

My bag now resembles an Amsterdam canal house, it's all about the height!

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Posted by kidd1200 06:42 Comments (3)

St. Petersburg

An End and a Beginning

St. Petersburg.

Finally some happy people cruising the streets. After a somewhat disappointing host in Moscow, the spirits around the gang had been hit hard. Some frays in the rich tapestry that had been woven showed some signs of unravelling, which is inevitable when nine people are living and moving and snoring in close proximity to each other for 21 odd days.

But Moscow still had some incredible sights. Red Square, Kremlin, were obvious big ticket numbers and of course our old friend St. Basil's. I was a bit disappointed that Russia's patron saint of herbs, St. Dill, did not have an impressive edifice in his honour. However, his permeating fragrant flavour was celebrated liberally in daily life, so who is the real winner?

After hitting the pavement hard, it was a final overnight train to St. Petersburg. For mine, this is where it's at in Russia. Canals, Hermitage, Church of the Saviour on Blood, St. Isaacs. The vibe was a little more chilled as well, whilst still predominately expressionless mannequins devoid of emotion was the default Russian way, the locals would engage with you a bit more here. Some also appeared happy to be at work. Some brilliant primo bohemian joints were to be found as well. Perhaps it was the heads up from our local lass that helped. A little bit of the Brunswick/Fitzroy vibe was welcome at this stage. We had hit upon a good run of food as well. After Emma and I demolished some ribs and burgers with craft beer in Moscow, I was happy to eat at an equally sweet burger joint close to our digs. The local drops were a little less watered down as well.

A big night was had on our penultimate night as a Family unit. We hit upon a sports bar, after a final spot of herding cats, we managed to seat ourselves and the drinks began. 3.5L of beer for about AU$18 seemed like a reasonable deal. So too were cheap shots. A round of Absinthe was had. Food orders place, and for once everyone's meal was delivered under 3 hours. The method of food delivery appeared to be whenever the chef decided he/she wanted to cook it, not when it was ordered and certainly not all the meals on a single table at the same time. But that's just the way.

The Hermitage is nuts. The prevailing joke is it takes 3 years to see everything. that didn't stop us cracking it open in 1.5hrs though. Apparently there is a Rembrandt or some such other famous painting that is a major drawcard. Some of the team were a bit disappointed to find out that it had been replaced by 70,000 people taking photos of themselves in front of it. Which also seemed to be the correct response when seeing newlyweds having their photos taken, why would you take a photo of someone else's wedding. Emma and I tried to appear in as many of these photos as possible. Not the actual wedding photos. Emma also spotted some people filming the virtual tour inside Saviour of the Blood. Whilst all around them there was a surprisingly realistic actual physical representation of the actual Church, complete with all of the space-time continuum and having the distinct advantage of been reality. Whoever invented people should have tried to make them a little less idiotic.

Now I find myself kicking back at the airport awaiting my flight to Munich. The first change in my plans is underway. At one stage on the tour, Dan and Sarah suggested joining them in Krakow. So I am. Having watched 2 games of the RWC huddled around my laptop, scoring a pair of All Blacks shorty shorts, it seems us Kiwis better stick together. By a strange twist of fate, Sarah and Dan left the day earlier and Sarah dropped her necklace under her bed. Thanks to a quick message, I was able to find it and now can deliver it in person. Flight to Munich turns into a flight to Frankfurt, then onto Krakow. Should be cool. Then it's Amsterdam bound on the 29th, a catch up with Emma from the tour and then time to pay homage to the gods of Metal.

The rain has started to fall in St. Petersburg this morning. Luckily it has been a pretty good run, not too cold and clear sunny days. Looks like the Divine Canopy may be required once more. We only passed through a small patch of snow somewhere between Siberia and the Urals. Perhaps I will see it again?

Farewell Russia, I may miss your Birch trees eventually.

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Posted by kidd1200 22:16 Archived in Russia Comments (3)

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