Spring break!

Category: Ships Log
 

September 2017

For our spring break this year, we escaped to Austria and the Czech Republic to visit our families.

 

We spent a wonderful couple weeks catching up with Chris's family, my parents, my Czech family, and the beautiful Austrian Alps. We started in Austria, visiting with Chris’s friends in Vienna and his family in Graz.  Chris’s brother, Sigi, opened up a new pub/restaurant since our last visit and we spent several fun evenings there and were happily spoiled by Sigi’s wonderful cooking. We also visited the alpine foothills briefly to see Grisu, Chris’s sister Sabine’s horse.  

 

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A view of downtown Graz from the highest point in town, the Schlossberg.

 

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The clocktower on top of the Schlossberg, one of only two towers left from the castle that used to stand on top of this hill.

 

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Chris's brother Sigi's new pub/restaurant, Herr Sigfried.

 

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Both of our families hung out in Sigi's pub most evenings while we were in Graz - it's a fabulous place and if you ever visit Graz, we highly recommend it! :) Left to right: Dani, Sigi, Sabine, my dad, Chris, Chris's stepdad, me, and my mom.

 

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Sabine with her beautiful horse, Grisu.

 

Next, my parents joined us in Graz, and along with Chris's mom, we all embarked on a road trip to Slovenia and the town of Piran. Piran is a lovely seaside town on the tiny section of the Adriatic Sea belonging to Slovenia. The town has changed hands many times in its long history, belonging to the Republic of Venice, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, and Yugoslavia before becoming part of Slovenia in 1991. The architecture is heavily influenced by the Venetians, and some tour sites advertise it as a little Venice (without the canals).

 

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The town of Piran - it is on a small peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea. 

 

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The marina and main square of Piran.

 

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Nightime view of a a little square full of less touristy restaurants that was close to the house we were staying in.

 

We also explored one of the large cave systems in Slovenia, the Skocjan caves. This cave system houses Europe’s largest underground gorge and is a UNESCO world heritage site.  

 

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Leaving the first cave, which we were unfortunately not allowed to take pics in.

 

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Group shot of the intrepid spelunkers.

 

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View of a smaller section of the underground gorge.

 

Then it was on to the Czech Republic, to visit my aunt and uncle and cousins.  We got to visit my aunt’s bed and breakfast in Horicky (where we were married) and then spent a couple days in Prague.

 

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Back at Capkuv Statek in Horicky, my aunt's farm/bed & breakfast.

 

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My aunt produces most of the food for her B&B from the farm - milk, cheese, butter, eggs, meat and even grows wheat which she gets milled into flour for the bread she makes. Here she is showing off some of her homemade blue cheese.

 

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We visited the medieval castle Hrad Kost on our way to Prague.

 

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Doing the tourist walk across Charles Bridge. It was a bit rainy, but still beautiful.

 

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It was so cold (despite it technically still being summer) we needed to get some hot mulled wine to warm ourselves up. Luckily they seem to sell it year round in the touristy areas now! :)

 

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A panoramic view of Staromeske Nameste (Old Town Square).

 

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Before we left the Czech Republic, we made a stop in the picturesque town of Cesky Krumlov since neither of us had been there before. Here is a view of the castle in Cesky Krumlov.

 

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A view of Cesky Krumlov from the castle. Although incredibly touristy, it is very beautiful.

 

Finally, to squeeze the most out of our trip, Chris and I drove to the Alps to spend our last couple days in the mountains. We had organized to climb the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner at 3798 m (12,460 ft). It would be a two-day trek – our first day we would climb to a hut at 3450 m (11,320 ft) where we would meet our mountaineering guide and spend the night. Then the second day we would summit with the guide, and hike back down. Chris and I had been training for the last several months, hiking up the steepest mountains we could within a 2 hour drive of Brisbane. Unfortunately, we only had three days total for the mountains, and as luck would have it, the first rain/snow of the season arrived during our time there. Although there was some clear weather in the mornings, each afternoon the clouds would move in and the upper elevations would be shrouded in white-out blizzard conditions.  The guide cancelled our trip and it sounded like even the hut closed down. We made the best of the situation and stayed in Heligenblut, an alpine village about a 20 min drive from the starting point for the Grossglockner climb. Despite the rainy weather, we took advantage of the sun in the mornings and managed to do a great hike and to catch a glimpse of the Grossglockner between the clouds. We will have to save the climb for our next trip!

 

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We stopped briefly in Salzburg on our way to the Alps.

 

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Driving over the mountain pass. Much of the pass was in almost white-out conditions, but at the top we had a break in the clouds and could finally see some of the mountains. 

 

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The lovely views in Heligenblut in the morning before the clouds arrive.

 

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Our view of the Heligenblut valley as we hiked into the mountains.

 

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Slowly we approached treeline. The vistas were gorgeous and reminded me of the Sound of Music.

 

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By the time we reached the end of our hike at the mountain pass, it was already snowing. 

 

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We spent our final day walking around the Pasterze Glacier (on the right) with views of the Grossglockner (the mountain we were supposed to have climbed). The Grossglockner is the pointy mountain towards the right. We got this pic in the morning before the clouds moved in.

 

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We also got to spend some time with the native wildlife - the alpine marmot.

 

It was a wonderful spring break and went by much too quickly!

 

 

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