Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Explanation please

I’ve never seen speed limit signage for military vehicles. Mind you, there was no military base in sight in this part of Luxembourg. Must be around somewhere.

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It’s good to know that speed limits will be strictly enforced….we want no joy riding in army tanks, now…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just liked it...

This is one of my most favorite photos we’ve taken recently - "hats off" to the Budman, as he indeeds gets the photo credit. Sometimes the simplest photos are the best; just one of many fields of sunflowers we saw during our recent trip to Luxembourg.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

I must be “postally” challenged

It really should not be this confusing! I’m a smart gal, or so I like to think…at least of average critical thinking and problemsolving skills. Three university degrees. Have lived in multiple foreign countries now. So, one would assume that after 1 year, 4 months, a 17 days of living in Germany, I would have mastered the German postal service.

Short answer: I clearly haven’t.

Every time I venture into my local neighborhood Deutsche Post office to mail a letter…a post card…a package, the process is different, not to mention the price. I try to be prepared and have my letters properly addressed and German package shipping forms all completed BEFORE I get to the window. No one likes to wait behind the lady that is filling out her forms.

Example #1: Sadly, every time I proudly present my package to the postal worker, it is pointed out that I have incorrectly addressed the box. “Put outgoing addresses in the center of the package.” Next time I visit, it’s “No, don’t put outgoing addresses in the center of the package; put them towards the right hand bottom corner”. Then, comes the fact that I NEVER has completed the right packing slip/form. I even ask the worker before leaving each time, “For future reference which form do I need to complete for this type of package?” This way, I will be prepared next time. They even provide me with blank copies of the form to take home, fill out, and bring back upon my next visit. Invariably, I am then told by another postal worker upon my next visit, that the wrong form was once again used…the form that a postal employee found perfectly acceptable the last time.

Example #2: The prices of letters and cards are based on weight and size. So, there is no way one can put the correct amount of airmail potage before getting to the post office. Weight of the letter – now, that is something I can understand, but the size of the letter is a new twist on an old theme. OK, I can be flexible. Still, the same stationary envelope (with one sheet of paper in it) has now been priced at least three different ways. What gives?

Example #3: And yes, I have been chastised on many occasions because I have not put the little “AIRMAIL” stamp on the letter or card. Yet, during my last visit, I was told this was not required.

Example #4: Why has Deutsche Post not adopted the “peel and stick” stamp? Come on, the days of licking stamps should be long gone now.

Example #5: Sometimes I am required to fill out a customs form when mailing a small package or a box to the US. Sometimes, it is not required. It appears to have less to do with the size of the box, the weight of the item, the destination, or the actual content inside the box and more to do with the whim of the current worker processing my items. And no, there is nothing written down, no step-action tables, no flow charts, no government brochures that describe the required steps. At this point, I’d take something, anything, even if it was in German.

On the plus side, the post office is open till 6:30 on the weekdays…a far cry from the US postal service hours.

Still, I am convinced I am going to master this simple task, which will probably be two weeks before I end up moving to the next destination. Isn’t that always the way it works? So, I guess I still have time yet to figure this out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chateaux Central

Besides the obvious WWII battles and history in the Ardennes region, this area is "castle-central". Or, as they are referred here...."chateax". We visited several picturesque small towns enroute back the D'dorf as well as a number of chateux.

Borschscheid - really only in ruins today; yes, we were once again faced with a torrential downpour just as we began to walk about.

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Clervaux - prettiest little town we visited, with several intersting if no odd little museums. Biggest bust of them all - a museum devoted to tabletop replicas of Luxembourg chateaux. Boring! Yes, something akin to visiting the walnut bowl factory, the snake farm, or the giant ball of twine (she writes with a smile on her face).

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Lux-Ardennes BY 0806 060 real castles in sight, but a pretty little village. This town is supposedly noted for the "hordes of German tourists that come across the border for shopping", but exactly for what type of shopping was a mystery to us.

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Friday, August 25, 2006


Last weekend, we made a quick weekend trip to the Ardennes region of Luxembourg (of the Battle of the Bulge Fame). Highlight of the trip was a visit to the castle in Vianden. In keeping with our streak, the torrential downpours started just as we arrived at the castle.

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Buddy thought this piece of chain-link armor just might fit.

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View of the city of Vianden from the castle.

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Every medieval castle kitchen needs a flat screen TV.

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Another view of the castle.

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Vianden at night.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Creature comforts

European hotels are quaint and charming, but I do miss:

* a good thick towel
* wash cloths that are provided by the hotel
* a firm mattress - chiropractors could make a killing in Europe
* pillows that are as flat as board
* an occasionally, a good scrambled eggs/bacon or pancake breakfast

Yep, those are missing in the picturesque countryside and romantic villages throughout Europe. Sure, I've adjusted to the no flat sheet, dim lighting and bathrooms the size of storage closets. A girl can't give up all her creature comforts, though.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A last look

A last look at Salzburg…can you tell we liked this place?

Budman and Hachie Gal with the city and river in the background.

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Budman and Hachie Gal in Residence Square.

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Hachie Gal in the courtyard of Hohensalzburg Fortress.

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Budman in the Golden Room in the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Little known facts

I’d seen the movie, Amadeus. I had passable knowledge of the life of Mozart. Yet, a visit to Salzburg did remind me of a few things I had never known or forgotten.

* Mozart was born in Salzburg; he died in Vienna of a bacterial infection at the age of 35.
* Mozart’s first original compositions were composed at the age of 4.
* Mozart was a prolific composer, composing well over 600 pieces in his short lifetime.

As one wanders through the streets of Salzburg, Mozart is still alive and well. Makes me wonder what he would think today of all the attention.

Statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Small detour though Mondsee…this was Mozart’s mother’s home.

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Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg.

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Street musicians were everywhere…and usually, they are playing pieces by Mozart.

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Mozart's family home and residence where he lived until the age of 17.

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St. Sebastian Church and Cemetery. Mozart’s wife, and father are buried here. Interestingly, Mozart was buried in St. Marxer's Cemetery in Vienna in an unmarked grave.

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The 5000th hit to the blog. Thanks for all the interest.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Eagle’s Nest

Being a history buff, I was really looking forward to visiting the area known as the Eagle’s Nest in the German city of Berchtesgaden. Berchtesgaden is just about 30 minutes over the Austrian border in Germany.

This is the site of the former complex of meeting rooms army facilities, as well as the weekend house Adolph Hitler. Today, nothing remains of this vast complex, except the one building where Hitler conducted conferences, as the rest of the facilities were bombed and utterly destroyed by the Allies during WWII.

Besides the sense of history that goes along with this spot, there are usually some great vistas of the Bavarian Alps. Sadly on the day of our tour, rain and fog rolled in and much of our viewing was obstructed. Supposedly on a clear day, one can see Salzburg, Austria from the Eagle’s Nest.

The Eagle’s Nest.

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Buddy and Holly take a break at the Eagle’s Nest…in the restaurant located in the former Third Reich Conference Rooms.

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Buddy and Holly at the Eagle's Nest...on a very windy and rainy day.

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View from the Eagle's Nest.

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We also made a slight detour for lunch in the charming Bavarian town of Berchtestgaden.

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Finally, a drive past the Konigsee in the Bavarian Alps.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

The hills are alive...

DISCLAIMER: Similar to Entertainment Weekly magazine’s “plot spoiler” warnings (to warn readers of a plot outcome before the film or TV episode is aired), don’t read this if you don't want to the know the “behind the scenes” stories of the SoM. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining your happy memories of this movie.

We took THE tour on Sunday. Although it was raining, it did not deter busloads of other film-buffs like ourselves from visiting all the sights from The Sound of Music film. This tour is big business! Multiple tour companies run this tour twice daily, so there is no shortage of opportunities to see the gazebo where Rolf and Leisel met for their secret rendezvous or the church where Maria and the Baron were married.

An important fact that we were already aware of but apparently was new info for some of our fellow tourists. The Sound of Music film is loosely based on the lives of Maria von Trapp and the Trapp family, with much liberty being taken with the events in the story along with many of the on-location locales used in the filming.

First, if you remember at the start of the film, there is no way that Maria climbed down the Untersberg (the 1850 meter high mountain where Maria twirled around and sang “the hills are alive…”) and ran back to the abbey in less than 5 minutes because she was late for prayers. If that had been the case, we’d have been better off signing her up for an Olympic team.

Secondly, as you may recall, the von Trapps climbed over the Alps at the end of the movie, leaving Austria for Switzerland in order to escape the Nazis. Well, if the family had really followed this route in reality, they would have hiked right over into Germany, which was obviously not what they were wanting to do. The truth is that the von Trapps did escape Salzburg, but they did so by train.

There were several other little “white lies” in the film, but I suppose I shouldn’t really spoil it for you hard-core Sound of Music addicts. I can tell you that our bus tour not only visited many of the scenes filmed in the actual film, but we were treated with a re-play of the SoM film soundtrack…and yes, people actually sang along.

So, without further ado….I give you The Sound of Music tour….

Leopoldskron of the scenes of the Baron's house in the SoM. This was actually the backside of the von Trapp house…not the front of the house nor the interiors of this house were used. This was the view that showed the lake where the children fell out of the boat.

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PS: We did see the actual house that was used for the front exterior shots of the Baron’s house, but sadly it is private property and therefore we could not stop and take photos. Somehow, the owners are tired of the all the bus tours past their home...can't imgaine why? Also, all the interior shots of buildings were filmed on Hollywood sound stages.

Some of the shots from the von Trapp home were also filmed at Hellbrun Palace.

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How do you solve a problem like Maria? You marry her off…St. Michael's Church in Mondsee, site of the marriage of Maria and Baron von Trapp in the movie. In reality, there were married in a church in Salzburg.

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I wish I had more interior church photos to share, but the church was under MAJOR renovation. Yes, the trend is alive and well for finding at least one site on a Hachie Gal trip under major renovation.

Mirabell Gardens was the site of many of the scenes from the Do-Re-Mi song. The Budman and I in these lovely gardens.

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Maria and the children danced with these statues.

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The Pegasus Fountain where the children danced around with Maria.

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Next, Maria and children running and singing under the vine covered trellis.

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The garden stairs where the children danced and sang at the end of Do-Re-Mi.

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St. Sebastian - some of the scenes of the abbey were filmed here.

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Sadly, we did not get to see Nonnberg Abbey up close, nor tour it; this is the abbey where Maria was a postulate.

During her "confidence song", Maria walks through the arches, through the square, and splashes in the fountain enroute to the von Trapp house.

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Hachie Gal walks the same route Maria travelled as she left the abbey for the von Trapps house at the start of the movie.

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The Budman and I are definitely no longer “sixteen, going on seventeen”…

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The Mozart footbridge (far left) that Maria and the children ran across dressed in their curtain clothes enroute to a picnic.

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