In one of my earlier posts I had mentioned how we friends always plan trips and more often than not they remain just that, plans.
But like my friend Suman observed rightly, these plans turn into reality only when they are discussed outside of our homes, the ideal setting being a pub or a restaurant 🙂
In fact this trip was conceived in Toit, one of Bangalore’s popular pubs!
When you have well travelled friends and only one week to spare, Austria seemed ideal and none of us had been there before! Once the dates were in place (we went late September of 2011), a flurry of activities followed – we decided where we wanted to go (Vienna 3 days, Salzburg 2 days, Innsbruck 2 days) and what we wanted to see, as some attractions like the Spanish Riding School and the Sound of Music tour needed prior bookings. We booked our flights, made hotel reservations and applied for our visas. We were joined by Kanchan from London who is the 4th of this quartet.
Other than hitting the usual spots in Vienna (the Hofburg palace, the Schonbrunn Palace, Stephansondom, The Spanish Riding School, Hundertwasserhaus, etc) we visited a heuriger, attended an oktoberfest-like event in the Prater called ‘Wiener Wiesn’; which was in fact the first edition of that event, got a view of the city from Cobenzl, tasted and quite liked sturm, and yes, we even managed to fall into the tourist trap of buying tickets to a fake opera! Did you know that there is an old and a new Danube? A channel was built as a flood relief measure and the Viennese now have a narrow but long recreational space. We saw so much more of Vienna than we would have otherwise, thanks to a local friend Werner and his then girlfriend. (They are still together and took the step of tying the knot last year). We walked and trammed so much that each one of us received a ‘certificate of appreciation’ from Werner for our accomplishment 🙂
A very picturesque train journey took us from Vienna to Salzburg. Besides visiting Hohensalzburg Castle and Fortress, the trip had to include the Sound of Music tour. Ok…I thought singing the songs in the bus was a bit tacky, but the good part is they take you to almost all the spots where the movie was shot. It is still one of my favourite movies 🙂 Of all things that has stayed with me is the street performers in the narrow lanes of the old city, lovely music.
In Innsbruck, we had decided to skip the Swarovski Crystal World. But we visited the Swarovski store in the town. Even though the light and shine blinded us, we picked up some lovely stuff for our little girls back home 🙂
Sangita is an avid reader and has been that way since childhood. One of her favourite childhood book series is The Chalet School, about a school located in Austria’s Tyrol region, in a fictional town called ‘Breisau’ on the banks of a fictional lake called ‘Tegernsee’. Both the town and the lake in the books bear an uncanny resemblance to Pertisau and Achensee which are located close to Innsbruck. While it is not on the trail of the regular tourist, it does seem to be on the todo list of fans of the book series 🙂 The cute little town, the emerald green waters of the Achensee, and the Alps – it was pure magic!
Unlike my recent trip to Mangalore with S&S, Sangita had Kanchan for company to try out the local Austrian cuisine while Suman and I ate enough baked potato and sour cream to last us a few lifetimes 😉
It was our first girls-only trip! We planned it all on our own without leaning or relying on any tour company. I remember coming back home and attending a family wedding where I became a celebrity of sorts 😉
We have never giggled and laughed as much as we did on this trip. I was going through the pictures and realised – those were paper maps/digital camera days and using googlemaps/smartphones was still not exactly the norm 🙂 Suman has managed to take a few selfies of herself with a digital camera 🙂 Her set of pictures clearly indicates her artistic bent of mind – a pretty flower here, a cute house there, a lovely signage here, she has captured it all! And there are so many pictures where we are laughing so wholeheartedly that it appears like we spent 3.5 days of the 7 days only laughing….What a trip it was!!! I just asked these girls what they remembered about this trip and believe it or not, the same things have been etched in our memories – all the walking and sight seeing in Vienna, sturm/chilli beer at a microbrewery, visiting a heuriger, Pertisau, all the laughter, Suman’s selfies – not sharing these as Suman is scared they ‘will go viral for stupidity’ 🙂 :-), the ‘scam opera’ as Sangita called it and in the end of all this chatter, we felt the need to hangout together again on a trip like this…..
Similar habits and levels of cleanliness (very important when you share a hotel room), similar interests, and most importantly respect for time – without these in place any trip can turn into a nightmare and friends become fiends. Must say I have been very lucky that way.
While we have had our share of outings in various combinations, all four of us have not been able to go on a trip together again. We hope to break the jinx soon. So cross your fingers for us please!
Pics: courtesy Sangita and Sumanya