Leaving Romania is always one of the happiest experiences I have, but it can never equal the power of the depression I have every time I come back. When you leave, you're happy because you know you're going to see nice places, meet nice people, eat great food without feeling very guilty and, for some of us, shop... Yep, guilty, I discovered I was a girl... Shopping can although be replaced with window "licking and drooling", but... there must be shops!
Finally, the border appears and we all feel that there's still hope. Like Vlad says, it's like stepping into a parallel universe, even the omnipresent dust seems to just freeze on the separation line, refusing to lay on Western territory.
We went to bed after our walk to gain enough strength to be able to face other shocking situations like the one mentioned above, especially because the following day we were heading towards Austria.
The next 813 km to Kaprun, our Austrian destination, were not so bad, especially because most of them were on the motorway. From Salzburg, we chose a road that cuts through this little bit of Germany with a very funny history. At least, it's what I've been told, couldn't find any information on this on the Internet. Apparently, this Austrian guy who owned that piece of land lost it over a card game one night... It's a beautiful area anyway, with a road going through the woods, where everyone drives peacefully, not going over the speed limit... That is only if you're not Romanian, own a dark green Dacia Logan with a Bucharest license plate, you're hurrying like an idiot towards Zell-am-See, you're by-passing every Austrian car, not caring if there's another car coming from the opposite way and that you don't have time enough to go in front of the car you're by-passing, so you're nearly forcing the poor guy coming from the other direction to go out of the way! Jeez, I really wished I had a gun to go after that bastard! And we're wondering why foreigners don't like us... I know why: we have no manners, no education, we respect no rules and nobody.
We lost the imbecile in Zell-am-See just when we thought we were maybe "lucky" enough to have him as a neighbour. It would've been dreamy, what can I say. We saw Kaprun in the distance and relaxed, we were there...
In Kaprun, we stayed at the Dorfchalets which are owned by this incredibly nice Irish couple, Sandra and Alistair Robinson. We felt incredibly welcome there and I really want to go back someday. Alistair welcomed us with his warm Irish accent that I totally adored. Very funny guy.
That night we had dinner at the Guggenbichl, which is a restaurant owned by a family called Nindl. I was looking forward to going there after the stories told by Vlad, descriptions of food and alcohol wild consumptions. Haha! It was a lot smaller than I could've ever imagined it. Very cosy and... private. The food was interesting, I loved this thing made of noodles and onions and loads of cheese, everything cooked in the oven for a while. Finger-licking, really!
The next morning I woke up to find that Vlad and Mihaela had gone out on their bikes. Since they are so addicted to biking, having thousands of kilometers of bicycle runways was like finding heaven for the two. I grabbed my camera and went for a little walk, trying not to lose myself. Here is what I found:
From the waterfall, we travelled towards Kaprun, but stopped to take the Kitzbühel Alps Panorama Lift and see the beautiful view. It was kinda cold up there, but the sight was unbelievable. The clouds looked crazy and so did the glacial lake. We saw some very funny long-haired cows. Their noses were curled. And one of them had a baby.
From there we moved to a cafe where I had my first ice cream for the day. I think it was the first one anyway... But who knows... I really love ice cream in general, but the 0ne I ate in Austria and later in France was yummy as hell! So I kinda finished the national strategic ice cream reserves of both countries. *blush* This, of course, showed later on my scale which hysterically yelled at me: "the second person is kindly asked to step down!!!!!". Back on track now though...
So... Zell-am-See... From the cafe we managed to lose ourselves in some shops, but we finally got to the shore of the lake. Ohhhhh, such a nice view... And because the weather was great, it just enhanced the wonderful sight. You may see for yourselves:
In the center of Zell-am-See, it's very difficult to find a parking place, unless you choose the underground parking. Vlad insisted in not doing that, so we thought we were really lucky when a car was just leaving a place in front of us. We parked, looked around for a meter. There was nothing to indicate that you had to pay for the parking so we went away. When we came back, we found a fine stuck to the window, of course. We also managed to find the meter... Since there was a small construction ongoing, there was this container blocking the view to it. Also, it was hidden in a corner... It did seem a bit strange to me that only our car and the one of the German beside ours had a fine... No Austrian car had one... Hmmm... We went and paid, don't think that because there are no regulations between our states regarding this, we just ignored it.
This is where something happened and I really have no idea what... I am looking at the pictures date and from 18 August they jump directly to 20 August... I have no idea what I did on 19 August... Hmmm... I might've been abducted by aliens or something... Or maybe... it just rained and we went shopping. That must've been it.
Anyway, on 20 August, we decided to go to Kitzbühel. The weather was not too nice there and it was pretty cold. I liked it though because it is colourful and clean. I saw the most wonderful Miu Miu shoes in a shop and left a trail of saliva on the window. I kept googling for them, but didn't find them. I found a similar pair, so click here. Imagine them with dark green instead of blue and purple and black. At least I think those were all the colours. I'm not good at remembering details, I just know they were really fine! God, I think I'm turning into Carrie Bradshaw... Won't go into more details, but I kinda have reasons to believe that I'm getting shoe-addicted. :(
I also remember that I had a very interesting ice cream there. Even though it was kinda cold, everything was worth it. The ice cream was shaped as spaghetti and it had a lot of goodies in it. Yum-yum!
Back to 20 August now, sorry for the disruption! We headed back to Zell-am-See in the afternoon because there was a city celebration and we were interested in eating "stelze" (meaning pig shin) and "ribs". Since these are pretty hard to cook, especially the stelze, the restaurants don't usually have them on their menus. But because of the festival, the restaurants were having white plastic tents in front of them, with barbecues and tables, and very tasty stuff was being cooked. Vlad and myself settled for the stelze, while Mihaela had ribs. I don't know why, but my portion was a lot smaller than Vlad's... Hmm...
21 August 2008 was dedicated to Salzburg. It was a wonderful sunny day, would've been a waste to stay inside. We hopped in the car and off we went. We parked near the Mozart Square and then started walking. I loved the streets! In our way, we stopped to see the Cathedral, a magnificent masterpiece. We continued to walk and after having something to eat, we went to see the Mirabell Palace and its beautiful gardens.
The extraordinary location is called Die Sigmund-Thun-Klamm. I don't know if I could ever describe it in words, because it's absolutely unreal. Therefore, I'm just going to let the pictures talk...
When reaching the waterfall, the road is leaving the wooden stair path and continues through the woods. The wood hides the Klamm See, the lake with the most incredible colour I have ever seen. Everything is amazing and you're trying to photograph it the best you can. The way the lake mirrors its surroundings is magical. Sometimes, like we did, you meet lamas on the way. So cute! Afterwards, you can sit on this terrace and have a good white beer, like me. :)
The next day, our last in Kaprun, was not that nice from the weather's point of view. It poured all day long and it was cold. We went shopping though, without grumpy Vlad, we left him home. Heehee! In the evening, before leaving, Alistair came over for us to pay for the accommodation and he brought some Guinness and Baileys and told us the story of his life. Ah, adorable guy, I tell ya! He then invited us over to his beautiful house and we continued to share stories. I enjoyed that evening a lot.
The evening was spent again at Cristina and Jean Marc's house, planning for the next day trip to Grasse. People who read or saw "Perfume: the story of a murderer" will know this city as related to perfumes. It is indeed known as the world's perfume capital because a lot of aromas for either cosmetics or food are made here. The best thing to do if you're interested in perfumes (not only for wearing them, but for knowing about how they're made) is to go to the Fragonard Museum. The entrance is free and you can visit the historic factory too. Don't think that they are generous for the free entrance, you will definitely end up buying at least one perfume after the tour ends. I got Eau du Bohneur... *blush* Maybe it brings some bonheur to my way when I wear it... I'll keep you posted! :)
The city of Grasse itself is not particularly impressive... or so it seemed to me. It's not bad, but... I confess I expected more, maybe that was my mistake. I met a very very lazy cat and a very cute dog on my way. Our trip passed through Nice, where we 'pique-nique'ed on the stony beach, watching the planes taking off from the airport every 30 seconds or so.
The next day was reserved for Marseille and Bouillabaisse... I think that Vlad had waited for this day with an enthusiasm that cannot be met too frequently. :) Marseille will always remind me of the days when I was touring France with the choir. As always and everywhere, the kids in a group that has the same hobby do not always have the same background. Therefore, while some were spending mummy and daddy's money, the others would just look. Of course, most of the ones looking were also the ones not cool, myself included. When we went to Marseille, some of the kids embarked on a boat and went to visit Château d'If. You can imagine that being the place in which the Count of Monte Cristo had been locked was very interesting to us, the kids. We couldn't really make the difference back then that he was just the character of Alexander Dumas' imagination.
I didn't get to visit it this time either. Money was of course not the problem, just the lack of the same kind of interest as 14 years ago and the plans of seeing something more interesting. We met Cristina, her mum and Ionut in the port and we embarked on a little tourist train that took us to Notre Dame de la Garde. This is a very nice and tall cathedral, placed on a hill, overlooking the Old Port, Château d'If included. The view is fantastic and what you find inside the cathedral is a bit overwhelming. It is full of mosaics, a bit of a strange combination between different styles. The statue of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus that is placed on the top of the church can look quite magical on a sunny day, giving you the impression that it has an aura.
The next day we unfortunately had to start the journey back home... It had been nice, but since all good things come to an end, our holiday was over and huge work loads were waiting for us back at the office. I could get a taste of what was waiting back for us the moment we were heading towards the Italian border and my phone rang off. It was an Italian guy I work with (very nice fellow, by the way!) who seemed a bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be back to work for another couple of days. What gave him away? His reaction, and I quote: "F&%k!" Hahaha, lovely guy! He is!!! :) (And he likes Uniball pens...)