Sunday, May 6, 2012

{a few side trips along the way}

oberndorf & steinbach-am-attersee
what's in oberndorf, austria you might ask? don't worry, i had the same question. 
this building is what brought us to oberndorf. 
this special little chapel is called the "silent night chapel." this is where the hymn "silent night" was first performed. we had the cutest little tour guides (and old man and woman who ran the chapel and museum) tell us the history of how this place came to be.

we sat inside this tiny chapel and listened to the the history. as our tour guide finished his words, our directors asked if we could sing the hymn in german. he agreed and they handed out the words to all of us. remember how i'm on this program with a bunch of music majors? well, the song was phenomenal. it was the most beautiful i've ever heard it sung as we all split into parts. our tour guide listened intently as tears filled his eyes, and couldn't help but burst into song on the last chorus. we were all overcome with the spirit of this sacred song and the aura of the building only added to this amazing experience. the man expressed his gratitude to us for singing so beautifully, telling us it was the most beautiful he'd ever heard it sung. he was left speechless, and so were we. 

the altar inside 

after the tour, we spent a little time exploring outside. we were informed that right across the river was germany! it was so cool to see a different country, just a few feet away from us.

well, we didn't just stop at taking a picture in front of it. i'd wanted to go to germany since i'd been here, and wasn't going to have the opportunity. until now! see that bridge on the right? that's right, we sprinted over there and raced across the bridge, thrilled that we got to go spend a minute or two in germany! 

this trip has proven that dreams really do come true.

after our memorable time in oberndorf, we hopped back on the bus and headed for gustav mahler's composing hut in steinbach-am-attersee.

it was nestled on the shore of an isolated lake full of crystal-clear water as far as the eye can see. 

me.aly.alexa.paige&her cutest dirndl!

the water was so clear, they said it was safe enough to drink. 
well, i wasn't going to pass this experience up!

easy, easssyyyy!

i'm ok! 

here goes nothing..


i think i just swallowed a bug.

let me try this just one more time..

i'm alive!!!

mauthausen is a large group of nazi concentration camps located in upper austria. as our bus approached this solemn monument, it was incased in a cloudy gloom that surrounding this somber place. we were all given audioguides and were on our own to explore the grounds of mauthausen. i didn't have a jacket and the cold air quickly cut to my body, but i found it impossible to complain as the lady on the recording informed me how the nazi's would strip the new prisoners of everything they owned and made them stand outside for sometimes days at a time, even in the dead of winter.

those are the gates the prisoners were led through when they were forced into the camp. it was the only way in, and the only way out, heavily guarded by soldiers at all times. the dirt road was the place for role call which was held multiple times a day, depending on the officer in charge. the two green buildings on the side are the only housing units left in the camp.

the austrian people had erected many monument to honor the people who lost their lives in this camp.

this is the place prisoners would often escape to when they were actually able to make it this far out of the camp. the barbed wire is a monument, for me, signifying the impossibility of freedom no matter how hard they tried.

this was one of the most sobering spots on the tour. here jewish prisoners were forced to carry heavy loads up the stairs. the malnourished prisoners would often buckle under the weight of the object they were carrying, and fall down the stairs at the expense of their lives and others who they came in contact with. nazi solider's also forced jews to push other jews off the cliff edge in the lake, resulting in their death.

despite the awful things that were done in this terrible concentration camp, i came to know it as a place of reverence and respect to those who lost their lives here. i was deeply touched by each memorial placed here as a sign of respect to the jewish victims of the holocaust. 

melk? milk? malk?
yeah, don't worry. it bothered me too!
every time someone said melk, i wanted to say, "it's pronounced milk!!!" and then i realized they were talking about the city. melk was, of course, so pretty! it's said to be the most scenic place to visit if you want to see an abbey. and that we did!

you can see the melk abbey behind us!
(hint: it's yellow)

we got to tour the inside of the abbey. it had a bit of a modern twist to it, and we were informed that the monks intended it to be that way so tourists would be assured that melk abbey is still in operation.

since a monk's life is dedicated to studying, this abbey had one of the most immaculate of book collections i'd ever seen!
our tour guide told us that if we wanted to read every book in this library we'd have to speak 50 different languages, and live to be over 130 years old.

 stairs from the library into the cathedral.

the cathedral!!
the most baroque piece of architecture you'll ever see in your life!
it was incredible.

melk was a perfect use of our last few hours together as a group, and a beautifully unique way to end our two week excursion.

wellp, by the end of this excursion my toms had take their last step. they had had enough of me and they made it quite evident. my host mom helga saw me wearing these and threatened to come to canada, bribe me there, and beat me with them if i took them back to the states with me.
may they rest in peace.

{the hills really were alive}

well, our time in italy was up, but i didn't really care because guess where we were headed next?
home of the rolling hills, and julie andrews/christopher plummer! (well at least while they were filming the sound of music!) 

we took a bus from italy and drove through the alps on our way to salzburg. it was beautiful! there villages nestled in the hills and whimsical lakes along the way.

and finally, we made it to salzburg! we got there sunday afternoon and spent the day getting settled into our cutest hotel and watching the sunday sessions of general conference. 

the next monday started off with a DELICIOUS breakfast provided by the hotel. quite possible the best breakfast i've ever had. all you can eat european bread, jam, yogurt, juice, and pastries is, well, heavenly.
then, guess what was on our docket for the day?
this is what i'd been living for for the past 3 months, and excited is an extreme understatement. 
our tour guide picked us up in a bus, and the sound of music soundtrack began over the speakers.
life. was. complete. 
we kicked off the tour with nothing less than the pavillion where rolf and liesl share there first kiss and georg and maria confess their love to each other!
i may or may not have cried of excitement... i'll let you decide.

"i am sixteen going on seventeen, innocent as a rose..."

"somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of good."

"i have confidence in sushine! i have confidence in rain!"

remember when maria is on her way to the von trapp's house? we were on the same bus company as her, just 40 years later! this is the road where she sings i have confidence! and also the road where captain von trapp brings the baroness to salzburg and sees his kids hanging on the trees! 

the castle

on our way through the alps to other filming sites

does this look familiar? it's the house where they tip over in the canoe when they come home to captain von trapp and the baroness! 

the convent where the real maria was a nun.

the church where maria and georg get married in the movie! 
the city of salzburg wouldn't allow them to use the chapel where they were really married, so they had to use one about a half an hour away from the city. 

the outside of the church

coolest tour bus in the WORLD 

mirabell gardens

the "tunnel" where maria and the von trapp children ride their bikes while singing do re mi!

the sound of music museum 
"how do you solve a problem like mariaaaaaa"

i've wanted to do this my whole life, and it finally happened.

after we go tour fix of sound of music (and by we i mean everyone else but me, i could have gone all day!) we stopped at the food market and got some fresh fruits, vegetables, and pretzels and sat in the grass, eating in the sunshine. then we decided to climb the mountain up to the castle! we got half way and were blown away by the astonish view of the city. so we spend a good half an hour snapping some candid shots...

... and some not so candid shots!
needless to say, we had a good time and made lots of memories.
i think that's what i will miss the most.
being in some of the most amazing places in the world, with some of the most amazing people in the world, and making memories that couldn't be made any other way. 
i mean, we made complete idiots of ourselves trying to take a picture, and it's something i'll never forget.
i'll miss this. 

ah paige. i love you!

we finally made it up to the castle and into the courtyard.
i came across this unicorn!
we cuddled for a sec, and it made me feel a little better and temporarily filled the hole in my heart and longing for my sweet carl.

we spent a couple of hours there looking over the mystical city of salzburg. around 7, all the bells to the chapels went off and we got to listen to the music cascading through the city and bouncing of the hills. 
first day was a success, and we returned to our hotel more than ready for a good nights rest.

today we went to kontrapunkte chamber music concert at mozarteum. there was a lot of beautiful music! but it was really warm in there and traveling was catching up with me, so i may or may not have dozed off a few times. oops. 

we did something i wouldn't have been able to sleep through even if i tried.
we took this cable car to the top of untersberg! (it's the mountain that borders austria and germany.) 

it was a pretty rickety ride the way up, which i found absolutely thrilling! 

some people thought otherwise. (aka alexa lynn collett.) 
but we made it safely, all in one piece.
atop the alps!

toms: beginning 

me&paige enjoying the fresh alps snow on our hike to the top.

toms: middle.

there were ups and downs the whole hike to the peak, so we without traction on our shows resorted to running down in order to not slip. it worked quite effectively, and i enjoyed myself a little too much.

we made it to the peak of untersberg!!
it was quite an expedition! it seems it would be freezing temperature, but we somehow managed to sweat profusely as we hiked the steep incline. i think i even got sunburned.

the view was incredible.
at the peak

well, after we all made it to the top, we spend a good amount of time taking picture perfect photos and enjoying the scenery. our cable car driver informed us the last car left at 5, and we needed to be at least 10 minutes early if we didn't want to spend the night up here. when our photo ops reached a max, we looked down at our clock and realized we had 10 minutes to make to the cable car! we knew there was no way we'd made it down the steep, slippery slope if we cautiously embarked to the station with our no traction shoes. wellp, desperate times call for desperate measures. yep, you guessed it! we 'skiied' the way down! (bucket list: skiing in the alps. check!)

triumphant trio, UNITE! 
we made it to the station with plenty of time to spare, and a few minutes to soak our feet in some sunshine before we went home.

toms: end
moral of the story: don't where toms to climb the snowy alps.

the next day, me and alexa went to the salzburg zoo!

"we're going to the zoo, zoo zoo. how about you, you, you? you can come too, too, too. we're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!"

the dead goat.
(just kidding, he was really dead.)


staring contest with the emu.
i won.

you eyein' me, hopscotch? 

if i was an animal, and i had to choose a zoo to live in, it would definitely be this one.
look at this cute little monkey just shimmying down the rope in front of the beautiful mountain!

the camel who felt so inclined to pose for my picture!
we're best friends now.

petting the goat.


alright guys, brace yourselves for what's coming next. it was in this moment that i felt this zoo was especially made for me. 
there was a llama petting zoo.
i was singing praising on high and excited out of my mind.

ooohhooo! the little baby llama was so cute!
i named him hector. 

a little too close for comfort, but i didn't mind.

what's his name?? kuzzcooooooooooooooo

after an enjoyable afternoon at the zoo, me and alexa went to hellbrunn palace and enjoyed some fanta in the courtyard, toured the palace, and waited anxiously for our tour of the wasserspiele "trick fountains."
we got a little nervous when we saw people coming out soaked, but we got a few tips to stand in only dry spots and don't go in the grotto. 

exhibit a: the king loved to play tricks on his guests. so, he built this outdoor dining table where each seat had a hole in it, except for the mischievous king himself.. now, the custom was that no one stood up from the table if the king was sitting. so, during an enthralling bit of conversation, the king would flip a switch and water would squirt out the seats and directly up the persons bottom! the king didn't have any water squirting up his bottom and remained sitting and therefore, his guests did the same.
i think this is where the 'enema' originated.

i got sucked into the grotto we weren't supposed to go into, but i outsmarted our tour guide and hid in the dry corner until he left and i knew he couldn't get me wet! this is me running out, terrified. 
alos, i am the only white person in this picture.

this tricky little fellow seemed innocent enough, until he sprayed me right in the face when i walked by!
sneaky, sneaky.

after a few good laughs in the trick fountains, we took the long way home and walked back into town. we walked down the road where julie andrews sings "i have confidence" and came across the house they used to film the front of the von trapps house when maria first comes to their home. 

the scenery was beautiful and the walk was done in good company.

we met up with some friends and grabbed some dinner.
afterwards, me and alexa were on the hunt for something extra special:

#1- chamomile tea.

#2- the renowned kaiserschmarnn .
well worth the hunt, and a perfect way to finish off our days in salzburg.

just when i thought things couldn't get better, we stopped by a near by dirndl  store and i found the dress of my dreams.

i mean, i couldn't leave austria with out one!
especially one from salzburg.