A Visit From Some Very Special People & Our Trip to Salzburg

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“I have next week off because my mom and aunt are coming to visit me.” Jana gave me a look of happy surprise.  I was trying to focus during my Friday morning session, just hours before my family members were set to arrive, but it was hard.  Luckily, Jana just wanted to talk.  Our hour together ticked by slowly and I finally cut us off at 8:56.  “Well, that’s all for today!” I said, maybe too excitedly.  “Okay, well enjoy your week off and your time with your mother and aunt,” Jana said.  And I knew I would.

Jordan and I went to the airport around 11 to pick up the crew: his mom, my mom, and my aunt.  I was so nervous and excited to see them!  We had a wonderful reunion and then came back to our apartment and got settled.  The travelers weren’t too tired so we decided to walk around Prague a bit to see the Charles Bridge, Old Town, and New Town.  We had dinner at a restaurant at the top of Petrin Hill with an amazing view over the city and great food.

On Saturday, we woke up and went on a Walking Tour around Prague.  Jordan and I had done it before and learned a lot, so we thought it would be a good thing for the visitors to do.  Before the walking tour, we got fruit and chocolate parfaits 🙂

For dinner we went on a Vltava River Cruise… It was so great to see the city from the river.  They had a Czech band and a great variety of different Czech foods.

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Sunday, we went to the Prague Castle.  We spent almost the whole day exploring the ins and outs of the different castle rooms and just enjoying the sights.

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We called it a night early on Sunday, because we had to get up early to go to Salzburg the next morning!  I made some Eggplant parm for everyone and we relaxed playing some cards.

We got to Salzburg on Sunday around 4 in the afternoon.  We were all starving, so we when to our hotel restaurant for dinner.  They had a special “Sound of Music” menu that included a lamb appetizer, pancake noodles in beef broth, pork schnitzel, and apple strudel.  We were all stuffed, but loved experiencing the classic Austrian food.

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After dinner, we walked into Old Town Salzburg and explored a bit.  We loved seeing the active lifestyle of the locals, and walking along the beautiful river.

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The next morning, we were more than amazed at the lovely hotel breakfast that was included in the price of our room.  It was the best continental breakfast any of us had ever seen before.  There was any kind of breakfast food you could imagine! We filled up and got ready for our busy day of tours!

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First was the Sound of Music Tour in which we saw many of the different sights that were used in the filming of the movie.

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This was the back of the Von Trap House where the kids fell in the water when the captain came home.

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This was the path where Maria sang “Confidence.”

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Here is the gazebo from 16 going on 17.

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This is the church where Maria and the captain got married.  They made it look a lot bigger for the movie but we still thought it looked grandiose. Half way through the tour, we got a chance for a coffee break and we had one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.  I had the raspberry torte and it was clear they had taken so much care to make it.  Inside the crust was a layer of chocolate and inside the cream in the middle was even a bit of cake.  WOW!

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Our last stop of the tour was Mirabelle Gardens.

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After the Sound of Music tour, we went on a Salt Mines Tour that brought us to even different parts of the area.  We got to go through a real salt mine where we learned about the way they mine salt, and different facts about the mine.  We got to ride on a train through the mine, as well as slide down an amazingly fun slide!

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Our last day day in Salzburg, we went to the Fortress and then to the Salzburg zoo.

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That night, we went to a restaurant that had a huge outdoor courtyard and I got Krautflekerl: an Austrian dish made of noodles and cabbage (YUM), and we all went a little wild over the desserts getting a waffle and an egg soufflé to share.

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The next day, we had to head back to Prague already.  We got back in the early afternoon and I took my mom and aunt to see the school where I teach at and we took a trip to Tesco, the grocery store near my house. At night we went to a concert in one of the churches near my house.  It was a four part string quartet as well as an organ that played classical music and we all really enjoyed it!

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Friday we went to the Lennon Wall and then to feed some birds at the nearby park.  We even saw Peacocks! Afterwards, we went up in the Petrin Tower and got a great view of the city.  Afterwards, we hung out and got Trdlnik for a snack, and the ladies loved it!  We went to the nearby Restaurant and Design Shop for dinner and it had great food and a wonderful atmosphere. IMG_4250 IMG_4261

Saturday was our last day together.  We went to Vysehrad and enjoyed walking around the parameter of the park and seeing the beautiful views of the city.

IMG_4276 IMG_4287We were all so sad when our time together was up.  It was the most amazing time to see my family and even to get to go on a little trip with them!  I am so lucky to be so loved!

Roma

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To celebrate easter and our extra day off this weekend, Jordan and I went to Rome, Italy.  It being both of our first times in Italy, we were excited to try some pizza and have nice weather.  We soon found that Rome had much more to offer us than we might have thought.

We arrived on Friday and checked into our Air B&B flat.  We met the loving Italian woman who owned the flat as she welcomed us with an Italian Easter cake made of fluffy, flakey cake, lemon cream, and thick vanilla glaze.  She took about a half hour out of her day to get us acclimated with the flat as well as the city, showing us different spots on the map, outlining a walking tour we could take that day while the sun was shining.  Once we had our bearings, we jumped out the door into the daylight to explore.  We walked around and saw many of the major sights around the colosseum and the city center.  That night, we had some delicious pasta and pizza with red wine.  We were just starting to realize what a delight we were really in for.

On Saturday, we woke up and went to the Vatican which required an excrutiating 3 and a half hour wait, but in the end, we saw some amazing things.  The best including inscribed tablets, the Sistine Chapel, and a zoo filled with marble animals.  Jordan commented on how it seemed almost evil how many riches and art the Catholic church owned in the massive palace of the Vatican.IMG_3596IMG_3616IMG_3611

We left the Vatican to go to a 4pm walking tour.  The spitting rain was no deterrent to the hardcore tourists of Rome; our tour group started with 35 people.  We learned some interesting facts about the history of different buildings and statues that we saw throughout the city.  Starving after the tour, we headed to a less touristy part of town and stumbled upon a restaurant that served a buffet free with the purchase of one drink.  The mixed drinks we got were the best I’ve ever tasted, and the buffet was most enjoyable trying different bites of Italian food we never would have gotten to try from an ordinary restaurant.  After dinner, we stopped by a bakery on the same street and chose some random Italian cookies to take home and sample.

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On a rainy and dark Sunday we woke up to a blacked out room, surprised that a morning could be so lightless.  We needed to pursue an indoor endeavor due to the cold, pelting rain so we headed to the Maxxi Contemporary Art Museum.  The gallery had a main exhibit on art in wartime focusing on architecture.  The other areas had many large sculpture pieces.  The rain was dying down slightly as we left, heading for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.  Regardless of the rain, we had a lot of fun wandering through the ancient ruins in what we decided was the most scenic city park in the world.  We ended the day with homemade gelato.IMG_3643IMG_3657

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Monday we woke up early and went to the Colosseum right when it opened.  We learned a lot about how people enjoyed the Colosseum and the habits of people of the time.  The sun was peaking in through the rugged brick windows and the blue sky shown with fluffy white clouds.  We left the Colosseum and headed for the sea.  I wanted to see the Mediterranean while we were close, and the beach was right near the airport.  We had time to walk around and enjoy the sand between our toes.  The beach was a popular pass time for Italians on Monday due to the holiday, so we felt like locals.  It was beautiful.IMG_3766

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After experiencing Rome, we can’t wait to see more of Italy some day.  We both agreed Italy should be the food capital of the world, as we couldn’t get enough of the amazing foods, desserts, and beverages.  Now that our legs are sore and tired, we are left with some great memories and happy hearts thanks to the Eternal City.            IMG_3778