Central Park in the Fall

I don't think I ever remember a Fall being so beautiful.  The colors on the trees in Central Park were really something else- every bright red, bright orange and bright yellow (my favorite!) shade were everywhere.  I loved my morning runs when everything was blanketed in a layer of fog and you could just make out the buildings amongst the colorful trees.  Gorgeous.  Brian took the girls to Central Park one Saturday morning while I was busy.  They had the best time playing soccer, running around and building fairy homes.

The bridges here are my favorite.  I love how they bow up and are so ornate.  Plus, the trees on either side! 

The girls made these cute fairy salads...tomatoes and lettuce in an acorn bowl!

We love living so close to Central Park and just heading over when we need some fresh air and space to run around. It seriously is so stunning in the Fall- you could spend all day walking around and taking it all in.  I love to go to the reservoir for the awesome view of downtown.

There is a market on 65th and Columbus (by our church) every weekend.  They sell all kinds of baked goods, farm fresh produce and our favorite apple cider donuts.  So yummy! We love where we live- so close to everything we need like school, the grocery store, and our church.  We hardly ever have to use the subways because most things are really convenient to get to (or can be had with the click of a button online!).  But, we love getting out and exploring new parts and seeing things in our neighborhood that we haven't discovered yet.  There's always something new to find in New York City and Fall is our favorite season so far!

Majorca, Spain pt 2

For the next couple of days, we skipped around all over Mallorca, trying a different beach every single day.  And, we still never found a beach we didn't like!  One particular day, the wind was really high, so the waves were HUGE and we spent some time jumping them and also getting thrown under by their crazy force- and our swimsuits were subsequently totally filled with sand.  Worth it. :)  

The picture above and below are from Cala des Moro on the southeastern side of Mallorca.  We came here on our last day and it was by far our favorite stop.  I mean, look at that water!  And the beach was flanked on both sides by huge rocky ridges with just a small sandbar (completely filled to the brim with people and their towels!) so the only path to get down from atop the ridge was a one-way super steep walk that you had to wait in line to use.  We made it, even found a spot, and got right in the warm, blue water.  If you look closely, you can see a pink circle float...that's me! 

We stayed and played for like 5 hours and loved every single second- we didn't bring any food with us and we were having so much fun that we didn't even notice how hungry we were!

20160808_MAJORCA-04_036_DSC_6772.jpg

Lots of sand castles for this sweet girl...she was really scared of the water unless she was in the float with me and had puddle jumpers firmly attached. ;)  We also had some pretty intense and funny games of monkey in the middle in the water with our soccer ball.

This beach was right around the next cove from the last one.  But, this was mainly for cliff jumping and snorkeling.  After we packed up and left Cala des Moro, we headed straight here to get some coveted jumping in before calling it a day.  You had to jump in on one side of the cove and swim clear to the other to reach the ridge where most people were jumping.  Kate, Taylor, Lauren and I went first while Brian stayed with Tessa.  Lauren was scared, so she hopped on my back and I paddled her over and then we all climbed on the rocks to the jump.  They always look SOOO much higher when you're standing on them looking down into the water.  It was about a 12 foot drop and made my stomach do flips.  I jumped first, followed by Kate and finally by a very nervous Taylor.  We had to encourage her, but she finally did it and was so proud of herself.  It was fun to watch.  Kate is seriously so brave and did the jump several more times with Brian after we finished.

Kate jumping off to the beautiful water below.  This was such a fun day, chalk full of amazing memories and made for some really exhausted kiddos and parents.

Taylor was begging us to put a room tour of our hotel up on the blog because they loved it so much.  It was pretty amazing- and set a bar for hotels that probably won't ever be reached again in our family, which I am totally okay with. ;)  

On Sunday morning, we woke up early so we could make it to the tiny LDS branch in Manacor for their meetings.  There were a total of 12 people, besides us, in attendance.  I'm pretty sure there's the same spirit in every sacrament meeting, but when the meeting is tiny, you just get it in greater abundance.  This was a pretty special experience for us.  It was fast Sunday, so that meant a testimony meeting for almost the entirety of the block, and when there are only 18 people there, chances are pretty high that you will get an opportunity to go and bear your testimony.  There was a senior couple and 4 missionaries in attendance as well (that puts the local members at a total of 6).  The Bishop was the most humble, sweet man that seemed to be genuinely grateful that we took the time to come and welcomed us so warmly.  Kate, Taylor and Brian (in Spanish!) all bore their testimonies and it was so touching to witness. After the closing, we talked with the senior couple for a few minutes- they were assigned to that branch for their entire mission and we were the first Americans they had seen during their service, so they were so happy to see us- they said it was like a little taste of home, which they had been missing.  Most of the tourists here are German and English, so it was really rare for an American family to be visiting.  The whole meeting was so special and something we will remember forever.  I'm so grateful for this church that you can literally find ANYwhere in the world and instantly feel connected and welcomed no matter what, even on a tiny island.

After church we did a little more exploring around the area and walked along these gorgeous cliffs for some even more gorgeous views and spotted some more cliff jumpers, which we loved watching for a bit.

20160807_MAJORCA-03_137_DSC_6676.jpg

After exploring this tiny beach town, we met up with one of Brian's friends from a startup based in Berlin.  He happened to be in Mallorca at the same time as us!  We met at a beautiful villa owned by a friend of his, and sat and talked for a couple of hours.  It was really fun to get to know him and learn more about his company.  Brian was able to fly out to Berlin a couple of weeks later to work with him for a week before heading out on our next adventure to come (stay tuned)!

Mallorca has left a huge impression on us- it was a magical vacation that we will not ever forget.  And, after a long English winter and cooler summer, we were desperate for some warm sun on our faces and Mallorca delivered in a big way.  We loved it!!

Majorca, Spain pt 1

We had planned and bought train tickets for a trip to the Scottish Highlands as our last vacation during our time in London.  We thought we would hire a camper and "glamp" all over the Scottish countryside so we could see and get out as much as possible. However, the week before we left, we still had not found a camper and there were zero available hotels in the areas we wanted to visit.  Add to this the fact that the weather for that week was characteristically Scottish...lots of rain and cloudy skies.  So, we hopped online and looked for the best deals to the polar opposite of Scotland- a warm, sunny beach vacation!  Enter Mallorca...we found great last-minute deals to this tiny island off of the west coast of Spain.  Tickets booked...now lets find a hotel, right?  Not as easy as we had hoped, we spent hours scouring the internet for any availability with no luck.  A few days before our flights, we came across a brand new hotel that had just opened a couple of months prior and they had space.  It was a little out of our price range, but we decided to just go with it because we 1. needed a place to sleep and 2. go big or go home!  Our drive from the Palma airport was so nice- the island had an old Italian feel to me, with its old stone homes and colorful shutters on big pieces of land.  Plus, the hills were studded with old castles along our route- so beautiful!

We stayed in Canyamel, on the eastern side of Mallorca, about a 10 minute drive from the closest beach.  The hotel was incredible and they gave us some awesome upgrades because the place was empty.  We had two big rooms with our own private backyards and patios that overlooked the gorgeous grounds as well as the valley flanked by beautiful mountains all around.  The sunsets from our backdoor were something else.  Our first day was spent on this beautiful beach called Cala Mesquida, about a 20 minute drive from our hotel.  The sand was really nice, but the water was incredible- clear, turquoise and warm- my 3 favorites!  There weren't waves here, so we just relaxed and played a ton.  We swam clear to the rocks on the far side (pictured above) and explored the coves and sea life there as well.  After a few solid hours of ultimate beach relaxation, we headed back to the hotel to swim in the pool there (and rinse the sand off of us!).  That was pretty much our routine for the entire week.  

Brian and the older girls explored the rocks above the water and built stone towers.  Not a bad idea and not a bad backdrop.

While we relaxed at the hotel, Brian drove to this other beach about an hour away.  That water!  Who knew the Mediterranean was so perfect?!

Day two found us at a different beach also about an hour away that we'd heard good things about  The weather today was pretty windy, so the water was a bit more choppy, which provided some pretty entertaining waves for the girls to jump through.  Kate even found a place to do some cliff jumping here.  

There are my girls jumping waves above.

The gorgeous town of Santanyi was a pit stop on more than one occasion, given that it was situated right between several of the most stunning beaches.  Plus, it was a great place to stop and eat...we had some of the best crepes I've ever eaten right here in the town square.  We even went back a few days later to enjoy them again, but the cafe was closed. :(

I spy some sunburned backs.  We were really diligent with applying sunscreen, but our kids fair skin combined with too many hours in the sun made it difficult to avoid.  

Below is the hotel we stayed at.  Our rooms were right at the top of the hill here and the pools, below, were so nice!  

We loved staying at such a gorgeous place and seeing so much of this fantastic island. (Part II coming next)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

It might be because I'm writing this post AFTER we have moved from London, but looking at these pictures and remembering our time in Amsterdam is making me feel all sorts of happy and sad.  Happy that we got to visit such a gorgeous and unique place, and sad that I can't just jump on a train and go there.  Either way, Amsterdam was a slow start and then by the end of our few days there, we absolutely loved this amazing place.  One of my favorite things about each European city we got to visit was the architecture that was unique to each place, and these Amsterdam homes and buildings sort of blew my mind with their design.  Plus, the fact that they were all built on a canal with a pretty interesting history just added to their appeal.  See below for some awesome evidence.

With 60 miles of canals, 90 islands and 1,200 bridges, there are endless things to see and do.  After riding the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then hopping on a Thalys train to Amsterdam, we then walked to our hotel (everything in the city is easy walking, or even easier public transit).  We spent most of our time in the most popular canals, the Prinsengracht (where our hotel was), Herengracht, and Keizersgracht because these areas were so gorgeous. Lined with cafes, coffee shops, and cute shops and, of course, lots of houseboats, motor boats, homes, and thousands of bikes chained to the bridges, the canals provide unending eye candy.  We also spent a considerable amount of time letting the kids play at the local playgrounds while we relaxed.  The weather was gorgeous, so whatever we ended up doing, we did it outside! 

We spent most of Saturday, our first full day, walking along the canals and exploring as much as possible.  We snuck a few good meals in too, that is if stroopwafels constitute a meal? :)  We walked into a Tulip museum followed by a cheese museum, where we all tried some pizza flavored cheese (there were tons of flavors!).  Brian and I let the girls play for hours while we planned out our next couple of days here.

Pictured above: The Famous "I amsterdam" sign in front of the Rijks Museum.  

On Sunday, we were able to find a meetinghouse for our church right in Amsterdam (well, about a 15 minute drive away) and really loved the meeting.  As always, we loved hearing everything in Dutch, while occasionally tuning into the translation headphones.  After church, we had to scramble back to the city center to catch a boat tour- which I cannot recommend highly enough.  We loved it.  It was 2 hours long, and even though we were all moving on empty stomachs, it was interesting enough to make us forget about our missed lunch.  We were able to see so much of the canals from this new vantage point, and the gorgeous weather didn't hurt either. We learned some really interesting tidbits, like how the Dutch used to be taxed according to how many windows or steps they had on their home, so in order to exhibit wealth, many homes were outfitted with many more windows and an abundance of steps leading up to them.  Crazy! 

From our boat ride, we literally had to RUN to get to our scheduled bike tour.  But, a trip to Amsterdam isn't complete until you've ridden bikes there and that wasn't going to happen without some local knowledge and supervision, so off we went!  We saw a lot of the same things that we had just been to on our boat ride, so we tried our best to enjoy just riding around in this gorgeous place (and ignore our seriously rumbling tummies!).  Our kids were such troopers to go this long without food- I don't think we even ate anything until 7 PM that day.  And, we were all so much nicer after we ate.  ;)

Because the weather was so nice, there were TONS of boats out this day.  

On our last day, Brian really wanted to take the girls to see one of his favorite painters and paintings, "The Night Watch" by Rembrandt, which was in the Rijks Museum.  The Rijks is pretty amazing...its gorgeous interior and thoughtful planning were obvious, especially when it came to their famous works.  Each one was accompanied by big information sheets that pointed out significant facts about the art, which I loved to read.  The girls totally loved learning about Rembrandt's famous and massive painting (below) and each said that this was their favorite part of the day.

On our last day, Brian really wanted to take the girls to see one of his favorite painters and paintings, "The Night Watch" by Rembrandt, which was in the Rijks Museum.  The Rijks is pretty amazing...its gorgeous interior and thoughtful planning were obvious, especially when it came to their famous works.  Each one was accompanied by big information sheets that pointed out significant facts about the art, which I loved to read.  The girls totally loved learning about Rembrandt's famous and massive painting (below) and each said that this was their favorite part of the day.

Our friends from London, the Larsons, recommended we stop and get their favorite cookies while we were in Amsterdam.  And I'm never one to turn down a cookie...so we made sure that we made it over to Van Stapele Koekmakerij- which was pretty much the cutest and most fancy cookie shop I've ever seen- and ordered up enough to make up for the lack of food the day before.  Tessa thoroughly enjoyed hers, as you can see...

I don't know if I'll ever get over how gorgeous these homes are.  The best part was at night when the owners would turn on their lights and you could see right into their stunning living spaces.  In an effort to symbolize how tolerant and open their city is, most homeowners don't have window treatments, so that you can see right inside at night.  Seriously gorgeous stuff.  

Lauren is obsessed with gymnastics lately.  She wants to move to Ohio so she can train at the same gym that Gabby Douglas trains at. There are not a lot of moments when she's not jumping around or doing flips all over the place.  

We did a lot of this...people and boat watching.  

Kate and I were able to get away one night and see the Anne Frank Museum as well.  During WWII, Anne, her family, and 4 other people hid in rooms at the rear of this canal house in a secret annex, to avoid Nazi persecution.  The home, which was built in 1635, was able to escape demolition due to the brave story of Anne Frank and her famous diary.  Its a sacred place and an incredibly touching museum that perfectly tells the tale of the courage of Anne, her family, and the people who hid them.  Definitely a must-see.

Amsterdam was full of so many good things- it was a totally unique city and we loved that we were able to see it!

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is not only the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria, but it has hosted TWO winter Olympic games- 1964 and 1976.  It was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel in Pertisau, so we made our way there one day to get some more hiking in.  And, oh man, was it gorgeous!  The Nordkettenbahn (cable car) whisks you waaaay above the tree line to the top of the Karwendel mountain range. You can see Austria, Germany and Italy from this high perch, as well as mountains stretching so far that you can only imagine where they actually end.

This is several pictures that Brian patched together to provide a panoramic viewpoint from the very top.  Doesn't get any better than this.

We started out on a sort of treacherous hike with a trail inching along the edge of the mountain that in some parts must have been only 15 centimeters wide (it was labeled an "easy hike", but it most certainly was not).  Tessa was scared she was going to fall off the mountain even though I had a firm grip on her hand the entire way...it was a little deceiving because the clouds were low that day and hung about 10 feet below our trail, so it looked like you'd be falling into a cloudy mountain abyss.  We lasted for about 10 minutes and then turned around after we spotted a dead mountain goat that had clearly lost its footing high above us.  

Panaroma Seegrube...labeled "easy", but not so much.

After we bailed on the last hike, we tried another route where we could intentionally pass by some snow patches for the girls to kick around in.  Because snow in July is way more fun than snow in the winter! ;)

After that short hike, we took one more cable car to the tippy top of this grand place.  Once there, we watched these para-gliders literally run and jump off the mountain 10 feet from us- equal parts terrifying and awesome! Talk about an adrenaline pump.

We could only watch and be jealous...one day.

This was the incredible scene from the topmost point.  I'm telling you- I could have spent all day soaking in this place.  

Right behind us was a total sheer drop-off...my stomach was doing flips.  Moments like this make me so grateful that I have some of the most cautious kids around.

Brian was drooling over the mountain bike courses below ... next time :)

 

This was down the street from our hotel in Pertisau.  One of the things we loved about Austria is that the locals dress in the traditional lederhosen to do their hiking.  There are shops selling the outerwear all over the place.  This cute guy was just headed up on a hike and was decked out from the waist up.  On the last morning in our hotel, it was a gorgeous, sunny, clear morning and we all sat at breakfast looking out the massive windows framing the gorgeous mountains right outside.  Sad to leave Austria, but excited about our next stop at the dreamy Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Germany (that's a mouthful!)...

Once again, the drive from Pertisau to Hohenschwangau was other-worldly.  But, driving up on this place was literally, out of a storybook.  There was a drizzle going on, with low clouds that wrapped around the rugged hills where Neuschwanstein stands.  And right across from it, was the golden-colored Hohenschwangau Castle on another hill.  Breathtaking gorgeousness.  I cannot even begin to do this place justice.  Definitely one of the most stunning sights I've ever seen.

Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle, and you can definitely see the similarity.  We couldn't get tickets inside, as it was sold out.  But, walking around the grounds was enough for us.  Instead of taking a horse-drawn carriage up the 20-minute hill to get to the castle, we opted to walk (don't give us too much credit- the line for the carriage ride was huge!).  

With a place this gorgeous, its always going to draw a ton of crowds.  Lots of people pushing through, both to get into the castle grounds as well as stay dry.  The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive Ludwig II in the 19th century, but was opened to the paying public immediately after his death is 1886.  Since then, more than 61 million people have visited, more than 1.3 per year, and as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.  Yep, sounds about right. 

After walking the castle grounds, we headed up the hill further for a panoramic view and all of a sudden, the skies opened up and we took cover under this tree for a good 15 minutes.  After getting pretty soaked, we just decided to embrace it, and we kept going to the top.  

And, this is why we kept on going.  For this view.  I cannot believe places this beautiful exist in real life (that sentence should be the theme for this entire trip).  That castle in the distance is the Hohenschwangau.

Brian passed under a barbed wire fence and trudged through some pretty gnarly stuff in the pouring rain to get this shot.  He said it was worth it, and I have to agree.  We seriously loved Bavaria.  Our next stop was Munich for just a few hours, where we walked all around the city and tried to hit the big sights.  We got another good nights sleep and then headed out of Germany, all the way back to London. This trip is definitely at the top of our favorite places.

Hallstat and Pertisau

All hail Hallstat!  Wow...this place is special.  A gorgeous lake, surrounded by alpine mountains, trimmed with perfect chalets and people on boats.  It was like a dream.  After parking our car and grabbing some lunch from the grocery store, we walked along the edge of the lake for about a mile until we found the perfect place for a picnic.

20160629_HALLSTAT-AUSTRIA_059_DSC_4030.jpg

Yes, this place exists in real life.  This was where we picnic'd...between the swings and the water, the girls could have played there all day.  

This is the famous picturesque Evangelical Church of Hallstatt.  We ate our lunch right there in the garden along the lake.  On a side note: the Chinese loved this place so much that in 2012, they built a full-scale replica of the entire town in Huizhou, Guangdong province.  

We decided to rent one of these awesome electric boats and ride around for an hour.  To our girls utter delight, we even let them drive as long as they wanted.  It was their favorite part of the entire day and I have to agree- it was magic.  Lots of pictures below to document the occasion, because pictures speak louder than words on this one.

After leaving, we drove through parts of northern Austria and Germany (the Bavarian region of Tirol) to get to our next destination.  I would like to have a moment of silence dedicated to this drive because it was the single most gorgeous drive I have ever been on...words, pictures, nothing could do this justice.  The mountains went on forever, the churches with their huge steeples accented on the mountains were so so so stunning.  It was my favorite part of our whole trip.

 

After grabbing dinner, some time at the park and finding our hotel in Pertisau, we settled in for the night on Lake Achensee in the Austrian Alps.  The mountains are definitely our family's happy place.  We woke up the next morning and took the Rofanbahn cable car to the top of the mountain.  It was a beautiful, but slightly overcast day, so we set out for a hike right after disembarking.  Not 5 minutes in, it started to pour rain!  We hurried back to a little cabin cafe and dried off while sipping hot chocolate.

The coziest little cabin where we waited out the weather.

All of the sudden the rain cleared, the clouds parted and we set back on our way.  We heard those lovely alpine cows ringing their bells, which I love so much. I wasn't sure if I'd ever get a chance to hear them again after our trip to Switzerland, so when I heard them again, I was so excited.

We hiked to the top of the nearest mountain, where there is an iron "eagle's nest" that provides a stunning view of all of the surrounding mountains, which stretch as far as the eye can see.

This trip cemented the idea that one day our family needs to live in the mountains!! Being out in nature, especially in the mountains, does something good for your soul.  Everyone just got along- we all laughed, sang, and cheered each other on during our hike (the same thing, unfortunately, does not happen when we are closer to sea level).

These views.  I just can't get enough of them.

This is the Eagle's Nest, where a friendly crow kept landing right by us.  So cool.  

On our way back down, we passed a big group of men sweating, panting and struggling with this hike.  It definitely wasn't easy, but it made me so proud of how awesome my girls were getting up to the top.  Tessa practically hopped up the mountain!

We came across this little clearing full of huge boulders- like a rock garden- and the girls loved climbing and hiding on them.

We are still working on the timing and facial expressions of our jumping pictures...haha!  I love it.

Pertisau was a last-minute decision for us to stay at and we are so glad we found it.  It was gorgeous and perfect for a short stay.

Salzburg & the Sound of Music

Day Two of Salzburg took us to the beautiful and huge Hohensalzburg Castle, which sits atop the Festungsberg hill.  We walked from our home through the gorgeous market streets to the 2 minute funicular that takes you directly to the entrance of the Fortress.  

This is the view right where you enter the castle.  You can see for miles in every direction and of course, it was so beautiful. We spent the first bit of our time just walking along the walls to see every viewpoint.  This place is just gorgeous!

Inside the grounds of the castle and the girls found something right away to climb and play on.  

This is the backside view and this is me, catching up on my walking tour, a la Rick Steves.

The inside of Hohensalzburg was really awesome too...I loved the whitewashed walls with real timber accents in every room.  It was cozy and just what I would love to have my dream house look like!

After the castle tour, we needed to fill our bellies!  We settled on a cute cafe nestled into a courtyard and ordered some traditional Weiner Schnitzel with potatoes.  And, we loved it...the kids loved it...we ordered seconds!  How could you not love anything deep fried?!  We topped this off with some delicious apple strudel and fresh whipped cream.  Mmmm.

Next, we set off for our Fraulein Maria Bike Tour! It began back at the Mirabell Gardens, where our guide asked our less-than-enthusiastic group to re-enact the Do-Re-Mi sequence on the steps from the movie.  Needless to say, we did it, but it wasn't pretty! 

Each of the bikes had this flip-page book of scenes from the movie that we would go to on our tour.  It was really cool to see everything in person, and to hear the history of it all, as well as some of the de-bunking of the sets, story and real-life characters.  Hollywood took a lot of license with the story, but it worked!

Behind us is the government building that had the Nazi flag draped across it during the movie.  Taylor absolutely loved this tour- more than anyone else- and has been obsessed with getting back to biking as soon as we make it back to the States (because kids biking in London isn't a smart idea if you want to stay alive)

Family picture at Mirabell (right after we "tried" to sing Do-Re-Mi)

This is the church that Maria and Captain von Trapp were married in the movie.  Its also the actual place they got married in real life.  We couldn't go in because it was closed for the day.

We biked up a massive hill to get to this point.  We've done several bike tours in Europe- Brian and I always have either Lauren or Tessa on tandem with us.  We are really thankful that no major disasters happened (despite being verbally accosted in Paris by a local!), but it is no joke pulling yourself, a bike, and a large child up a huuuuge hill!  I was thankful and very sweaty when we reached the top.

You can see the Hohensalzburg Fortress above, center right.  This house, besides being totally gorgeous, was used as the back of the von Trapp home during filming.  A different house was used for the front.

No complaints about this beautiful place...except for the time that Kate got so distracted with looking at it, that she went off the road and fell into some stinging nettle...ouch!!

We biked along the prettiest roads with mountain views on either side to see the house they used for it's front.  

My best Maria impersonation involved clicking my heels in excitement!

And then each of the kids taking turns trying to do the same.  I love them so much.  

Tada!  This is the front of the von Trapp home used for "The Sound of Music".  Its now used as dormitories for a university.  However, the real von Trapp home is not close to this and is much smaller in size (they weren't nearly wealthy as the movie portrayed them). Its now used as a bed and breakfast.

The gazebo seen in the film was moved to the most beautiful park, Hellbrunn Gardens.  We could have spent hours exploring this gorgeous place.  

Next up: Tirol and the gorgeous Austrian Alps!

Salzburg, Austria

We decided to take a train- our favorite mode of transportation- from Vienna to Salzburg, where we would spend the next two days.  I love watching the scenery through the windows as we zoom by, being able to walk around, eat yummy snacks (ie chocolate), play card games, and even read a good book.  So nice.  

It took us a bit to find our apartment once we got to Salzburg.  Real life moment: we stayed in the literal worst part of the city.  Suffice it to say, it was NOT a touristy area.  The apartment was really dirty and the shower kept turning from scalding hot to freezing cold every other second (lots of screaming/crying from the kids during their showers).  All in perspective though, we LOVED Salzburg- its hard to describe in words what a gorgeous place this is.  

Its hard to separate "The Sound of Music" from the identity of Salzburg.  The iconic movie was filmed here and its full of familiar places because of it.  Let's begin with Mirabell Gardens, above, where the von Trapp family and Maria sang "Do Re Mi" while bouncing up the steps.  The gardens are beautiful and spill you out just on the other side of the Salzach River, where the Old Town lies.  We picked up some topfenstrudel and a brezel (yes, thats a bread pretzel and its amazing) for a quick snack and kept going across the river.

This is the massive and famous baroque Residenz Fountain, where Maria sang "I've Got Confidence".  And, if you look really closely, you can see the famous statue of Mozart in the background.

The churches in Austria are my favorite.  The designs of the outside are almost too beautiful to take in, beginning with the Salzburg Cathedral (below).  This was one of the first Italian Baroque buildings north of the Alps.  The church was built to remind visitors that Salzburg was the "Rome of the North" and was consecrated in 1628- although you'd never know it was that old since it is pristine.

We literally could not take our eyes off the ornate decor on the inside.  Definitely one of the prettiest interiors of churches we've seen.

The golden orb of the Kapitelplatz lies under the imposing eye of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, one of Europe's largest intact medieval fortresses (we'll get to it in the next post).

No square in Salzburg is complete without an old horse bath (above).  I love the willow trees flanking this one- so beautiful!  We walked ALL over this stunning city, admiring the charming architecture, perfect blue skies, cobblestone streets as well as the delicious smells wafting from the plethora of local bakeries .  We finished our walking tour on the Getreidegasse (where Mozart's birthplace stands) and talked ourselves into the cheapest (1 Euro/scoop!) and most delicious gelato for our first course of dinner. ;)  

St. Peter's Church (above and below) is the birthplace of Christianity in Salzburg and is also incredibly gorgeous on the inside.  It's neighboring restaurant, which shares its namesake, is said to be the oldest restaurant in Europe due to the fact that Charlemagne reportedly ate there in 803 AD. 

Do you see what I mean with their churches?!?!  I love them.  And the way they sit next to the mountains...I couldn't get enough. These are taken from a hill sitting beside the famous Festival Hall where Captain von Trapp sang "Edelweiss".  

Another horse bath...this one is also in a scene from "The Sound of Music" and sits on the Monchsberg cliff face.

I love all of the signs for the shops along the street (this is the Getreidegasse) and its filled with the most charming arcades too.

20160628_SALZBURG-AUSTRIA_006.jpg

Our kids are such troopers...days on end spent in European cities isn't the most exciting for little kids.  They are the best at finding the fun in everything and having pretty good attitudes, for the most part.

Next up: Our Sound of Music Bike Tour and the Hohensalzburg Fortress!  Salzburg definitely deserves two posts.