Germany, Austria & Oktoberfest


What a week! We’ve just returned from one of those trips that was so restful and relaxing that it makes it seem that we’ve been away for much longer than a week. G and I headed to Hallstatt first, to celebrate our 6th anniversary by an idyllic Austrian traffic-free lakeside Village.


We toured the local salt mine (used for salt since prehistoric times), roamed about the picturesque lake district (Attersee was our favorite crystaline lake), boated about the local Hallstatter lake, toured The Bone Chapel (they ran out of space in the cemetery so they removed the bones, painted them and buried more people) AND experienced our first ice-free luge (or Rodelbahn in German).


They’re like go karts with a track that curves down the mountainsides using the momentum from the incline to propel instead of fuel. Some are in a stainless steel “luge” tube, others are on a track. But you can go FAST and we’re addicted… too much fun.


Next, we were off to Austria’s Reutte, near the famed Fussen in Germany — home to Mad Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein castle (one of the models used to inspire Disney World’s Cinderella’s Castle). Along the way, we stopped in the small town of Hall and the famous ski town of Innsbruck. While we met wet weather, we still made it out to the impressive castle (and the more homey, liveable Hohenschwangau castle castle across the way belonging to his father Maximillian) and to many of the regions towns. While in Fussen, G & I also shopped for our lederhosen and dirndl for Oktoberfest.


Then, up the sunflower lined, but rainy Romantic Road, ending in Dinkelsbuhl and Rothenburg. Their beautiful lanes are straight out of fairytales… no wonder they’re so popular with the touring crowds. We “walked the wall”, took a night tour with the “night watchman”, shopped for a Christmas ornament, found a beautiful painting and had lattes, as usual. We stayed in a modest, but adorable guest house in Rothenburg.


Along our trip, we stayed in Zimmers (small guest houses run by individuals with 2-6 rooms to rent) — except in Dinkelsbuhl and Munich. Zimmers are SO affordable at ~€35-55 per night. A great deal as compared to the pricier hotels, and generally very clean and enjoyable. Zimmers also include breakfast in their prices…in some cases delivered to your room…a nice perk.


And finally to Munich to meet up with Friends at Oktoberfest. I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect with Oktoberfest, we didn’t have tent reservations (they’re hard to get) and it was raining so the outside tables were not ideal. But, luckily the rain stopped and we were able to score an outdoor table and later a friend invited us in to share his indoor table. What an unbelievable experience. Guys in their lederhosen, girls in their dirndls and liters of beer, pretzels and chickens (cooked) everywhere. Lots of singing, live music, banners hanging from the ceiling… amazing. Then, we decided it would be wise to ride the outdoor carnival fair rides… the crazy upside down swirly ones… and scampered to the wine tent for a bit of champagne just before midnight (to celebrate our friend Lottie’s 27th birthday).


Then, we were blessed with GORGEOUS weather and wandered about town with a leisurely lunch and afternoon in Munich on Saturday and then headed back out to Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, the crowds were much bigger (it was Italian day) and it was impossible to get tables inside or out, but we managed to eventually score an outdoor table with a few fun Bavarians who taught us the words to their chants and songs (The trick is for the guys to disappear and the girls to find their way into a table. Then, the guys come back and stand to the side and wait for the other guys at the table to leave).


One of our tablemates was wearing his grandad’s lederhosen, etc… and apparently the feathers in their hats are collectable and rare. We learned a lot… and it was fun to be just about the only sober ones and to see the crazy antics of those around us. Wow! Then, we headed to Salzburg on Sunday — making our way back towards Linz for our flight out on Monday.


We were able to see Salzburg’s castle fortress (which was hidden by the fog in December), ride Austria’s tallest, longest mountain luge and the see surrounding mountainsides (also hidden by fog in December). We had an amazing last night of appetizers and good wine at Carpe Diem (amazing place, a bit overpriced, but great atmosphere with fresh flowers lots of dark wood, and a fun front porch).


And on Monday, we ventured out to Hitler’s Eagles’ Nest. A mountaintop perch from which he could see the surrounding lands in both Austria and Germany. There’s a panorama in our photo album… amazing view. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to picnic and truly enjoy the views (allow at least 1/2 to 3/4 of a day including travel to and from Salzburg)… we had to make our way to Linz for our flight out. We arrived back in London last night to darkness and rain… ahhh… how we miss our travels on the sunny continent :).

Click here to see additional photos from our trip… if you’re interested in knowing where each was taken, just click on it. A caption is included within the more in-depth description.

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