Another trip to Colorado in the books! I flew out to Denver last month to visit my sister for four nights at high elevation and it was wonderful. My sister is moving this month and I knew this would probably be the last chance I had to hang out in snowy Colorado.

But…it wasn’t snowy at all in Denver. In fact, it was in the 70s! In February. My sister, niece, and I decided to take advantage of this oddity, so we drove out to Red Rocks for a short hike.

The weather did not disappoint, it was beautiful. Gisela was fussy because she skipped her nap, so we only made it a bit over 1 mile before heading back to the car.

I was Gisela’s carrier, and let me tell you…hiking with a 1-year old is hard! I consider it to be solid cross-training ūüėõ

I eventually passed this small chicka to my sister and conquered the remaining trail solo alongside them.

But it wasn’t the added weight that ended up killing me. It was actually the climb back up on 589591710945 stairs in the amphitheater! My sister and I both woke up the next morning with unbelievable soreness in our calves. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced from any sort of exercise. Stairs…I must add them into my workout routine.

We decided to drive to a local park afterwards, where I ran 2 quick miles and then played with my niece.

She’s so much fun to watch! A baby’s fascination with the world is truly a beautiful thing. May we all enjoy the smallest joys¬†like babies do.

And then it was time for lunch! My sister whipped up homemade taco bowls and we feasted like queens. I must recreated these at home because yes, they are as good as they look. Inside = chickpeas, ground beef, avocado, roasted onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

My sister’s husband’s brother and his wife flew into¬†town that evening and we ended the night chatting away before bed.

The next morning we loaded up two cars and drove to snowy Vail, where it was nearly 40 degrees colder! The change in scenery was surprisingly welcome, and the views did not disappoint.

We were staying in a nice lodge within the small city, and conveniently spent the afternoon exploring.

Vail is such a cute, quaint town with so much character. There were shops and restaurants everywhere, and the mountainous backdrop made the entire experience feel like a winter wonderland.

After a scrumptious lunch at the base of the mountain…

…we hopped onto the gondola and made our way to the top.

Those views though…

I know right?!?

Jaw-dropping, heart-stopping beauty.

We had an early wakeup call the following morning, so our day ended with pizza and a movie in our hotel. Our plan the following morning was simple: my sister and I would spend a luxurious amount of time eating breakfast and then hanging around the city and eventually going snowshoeing, while the remaining three would go skiing.

It was my first time snowshoeing and I loved it.

We spent an hour walking around the top of Vail Mountain, stopping occasionally to snap photos and take in the stunning views.

It was quite a workout!

And then our time in Vail came to an end and it was time to drive back to Denver for our final night together before I flew back to Chicago. Once again Colorado did not disappoint! I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’m sure I won’t be able to stay away for too long.

‚ô• Irina

Catching up? Check out my previous posts:
Vienna
Salzburg
Prague

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Below are some of my suggestions for those visiting Budapest. Skip forward to read about our adventures!

Lodging:
We booked a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in the heart of Budapest for $110 per night through AirBnB. The total came to $284 for two nights when including all fees (cleaning, service, extra person). Two nights total = $95 per person
* I suggest staying in the Inner City, which is a lovely and safe location located near the Danube River and Vaci street on the Pest side.

Restaurants:
–¬†Dunacorso¬†(pricey but has phenomenal food, reservations suggested)
Karpatia (traditional Hungarian cuisine with gypsy music)
New York Palace Cafe (a famously beautiful cafe, a great place to grab drinks & dessert)
Comme chez soi (Italian food, reservations needed)
Zeller Bistro (cozy atmosphere with great food)
Costes (Michelin star restaurant)
KonyvBar & Restaurant (decorated like a library and offers an ever-changing menu)
Faust Wine Cellar (wine tasting of Hungarian wines beneath the Buda Castle)
* We didn’t get to try most of these restaurants given the limited time, but the places listed above were highly recommended to us by others.

Nightlife:
–¬†Szimpla Kert (the first and one of the most popular ruin bars in Budapest…it’s truly incredible)
–¬†Instant (another ruin bar with a rowdier, wilder crowd)
Club Studio (the 3rd largest club in the world!)
A38 (club on a ship on the Danube River)
Holdudvar (indoor & outdoor club, a bit outside of the city)
360 Bar (panoramic views of the city)
Gozsdu Sky Terrace (hip rooftop bar)
* The ruin bar¬†scene¬†in Budapest is one of the coolest nightlife experiences I’ve ever had! I would highly recommend¬†exploring this diverse and unique scene. There are hundreds of ruin bars scattered around Budapest, so you’re guaranteed to find some place you love!

Sightseeing:
Great Market Hall
Szechenyi Baths
–¬†Parliament Building
–¬†Great Synagogue
– Fisherman’s Bastion

–¬†Buda Castle & Castle Hill & Fisherman‚Äôs bastion (walking tour available)
– River cruise on the Danube River
– Explore Vaci street / Andrassy Ut street

РHero’s Square
– Chain Bridge promenade
– Gellert Hill (panoramic views of Budapest)
– Museum of Fine arts/ national museum
– City Woodland Park
* I suggest buying a pass for one of the hop-on/hop-off bus tours (Big Bus Tours costs $25 per person for 48 hrs.). Our passes came with a free ticket to a boat cruise on the Danube River, which was one of the highlights of our Budapest adventures.

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When we last left off, I mentioned how we slept for only 45 minutes before setting out to the airport. Taking the overnight train from Prague to Budapest is a popular option of travel, but we chose to fly due to the short amount of time we had in Budapest. The flight cost us $120 each and took only 1.5 hours. If only I wasn’t so sleep deprived!

Prior to visiting the city, I had no idea that Budapest was actually technically two cities – Buda and Pest. And both cities are huge. We ended up having only two short days in Budapest, which was unfortunate considering how much there was to see. We immediately set out to explore the city after checking into our lovely AirBnb.

Budapest

Budapest

We were situated a block away from Vaci street, which is considered to be one of the more upscale and popular streets in the city. It’s filled with fun shops and quaint restaurants.

Budapest

The architecture was very similar to what we saw in Vienna (duh, Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Budapest

We walked over to the Great Market Hall and immediately set out for the food stands.

Budapest

I was endlessly hungry during the entire trip, and I was the only one! My eating schedule did not coincide at all with my friends, which made things complicated because I was seriously always hungry and made everyone search for food every few hours. Runner problems?

Budapest

I knew I had to try traditional Hungary dishes, which happily reminded me of my favorite Russian meals. Think: sausages and cabbage, my favorites! Well, not sausage but cabbage for sure.

Budapest

After much deliberation, we decided to purchase tickets for a hop-on / hop-off bus which would allow us to travel around the city without trying to figure out the public transportation. The tickets cost us $25 per person and were good for 48 hours…the exact duration of our stay! We got to see some wonderful architecture while riding around the city, and no walking required.

Budapest

Budapest

We were clearly still zombies at this point, and our mission was simple: Szechenyi Baths. We wanted nothing more than to relax and reenergize in the naturally heated thermal baths of Budapest.

Budapest

It was chilly outside (low 60s), but the outdoor pools were all heated to varying degrees. Of course we chose the hottest one and floated around for a while before venturing inside to explore the 18 (!!!) thermal pools.

My suggestion for the baths: don’t buy tickets in advance (and pay an additional¬†fee)! We kept reading that this was necessary but we had no problems purchasing tickets at the door, which cost $17 per person. The only downside was that we couldn’t purchase a private changing cabin (slightly more expensive), but changing in front of others in the common locker rooms didn’t bother any of us. The daily tickets are good for the entire day, the changing rooms include lockers, and you can rent towels as needed.

Budapest

One of the best parts about the baths are the Saturday night parties that happen there! We sadly had to skip out on this because of other plans, but I’ve heard that they’re so much fun! Someday…

The baths were packed, and we didn’t end up soaking for too long before setting out back to our apartment to prep for the evening. We stopped into a restaurant along Vaci street, where we ended up hanging out for a while (leisurely meals, remember?).

Budapest

Of course I ordered a traditional Hungarian dish that featured chicken paprika, sour cream, and potatoes. It was scrumptious and showcased the famous Hungarian paprika perfectly. Dessert was also a necessity, and we chose a popular Hungarian cake, Dobostorta (a type of spongecake topped with caramelized sugar).

Budapest

Our hop-on / hop-off bus tickets included a free boat cruise along the Danube River, and we decided to take advantage of it for an evening trip.

Budapest

Budapest twinkled like a gem all around us, but the Parliament building left us in awe. I seriously could not stop photographing it.

Budapest

It was so grand, so elegant and extravagant yet formal. It’s truly one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen in my life. I took about 34952110 photos of it, but I think two is enough for this post.

Budapest

And then it was time to enjoy the Budapest nightlife! Budapest is all about the ruin bar scene, which is so unique and fun that it deserves an explanation. Basically, abandoned industrial warehouses were converted into unique bars, each decorated differently. And they are huge!

Szimpla Kert

Everyone suggested we first go to Szimpla Kert, and it did not disappoint. Each room featured mismatched furniture, decorated walls, and weird artwork that all added character to the bar. The vibe was eccentric, trippy, and lively, and the place was packed with a wonderful mix of people. I loved it.

Szimpla Kert

But sleep deprivation though…the struggle was oh so real. I honestly forgot how poorly I deal with such extreme lack of sleep. I normally function well on minimal sleep, but the combo of being sick (yup, I was still super sick in Budapest, but at least my voice returned) and barely sleeping for multiple days in a row really got to me. I basically had a mini breakdown and begged my friends to leave. But then I composed myself and we made our way to another ruin bar called Instant, where we stayed until morning.¬†Yes, I struggled and didn’t have much fun because my body was basically shutting down. But I did my best because we only had two nights in Budapest.

Budapest

Needless to say, the next morning was brutal. We still had so much to see, so we set out towards the majestic Parliament building.

Budapest

It’s still stunning, even in the daytime!

Budapest

We made our way to the Danube River and were greeted with some lovely views of the Buda side of the city.

Budapest

I spy the Buda side!

Budapest

We had yet to visit the Buda side, and time was quickly running out, so we ran (ok, walked very quickly) to the Chain Bridge to cross over.

Budapest

Ah bridges, how I love them! I’m convinced I need to live near water, if only for the cool bridges. Once a civil engineer, always a civil engineer?

Budapest

(Buda side of the city)

It was fun to realize that, with one step, I could be standing on the Pest side and, with another step, I would be on the Buda side!

Budapest

(Pest side of the city)

We eventually made it over the bridge and took a tram up to Buda castle.

Budapest

Hello Budapest!

Budapest

Budapest

I clearly love sky-high panoramic views, it gives such a stunning perspective on an entire city.

Budapest

Budapest

We spent some time exploring Buda castle:

Budapest

(Yes, that’s a bride and groom strolling along the castle grounds. Magical!)

Budapest

And then it was time to call it quits and return back to our apartment.

Budapest

We still had to pack and prep for the evening, which featured one of my favorite meals of the entire trip!

Budapest

(Ignore the silly man in the background and pay attention to the pretty city background instead!)

We had reservations at Dunacorso, a well-known restaurant boasting magnificent views of the Danube River.

Dunacorso

Since it was our last meal in Europe, we went all-out and ordered so much food. Plus two bottles of wine…

Dunacorso

It was such a relaxing evening, but it wasn’t over yet! Our flight back to the states was at 6AM, meaning we had to leave to the airport around 3AM. You know where I’m going with this… We decided to go out with a bang¬†and pull an all-nighter. I was past my zombie phase at this point and mustered all my energy to enjoy a few hours at¬†Szimpla Kert¬†again. We returned to our apartment, grabbed our suitcases, and went to the airport. Our trip was officially over ūüôĀ Luckily, I had no one sitting next to me on the long flight back to Chicago, so I passed out for six glorious hours.

I was so dead at this point. Dead. Exhaustion does not even begin to cover the extent to which I was drained. This trip was the most eventful and tiring vacation of my life, but I wouldn’t change anything about it! There is something so special and unforgettable about traveling with your closest friends. Everyone is different and we all learned the importance of compromise and understanding. We grew closer over the course of three cities and ten days, and I cannot wait for round two (hopefully) next year!

‚ô• Irina

Catching up? Check out my previous posts:
Vienna
Salzburg

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Below are some of my suggestions for those visiting Prague. Skip forward to read about our adventures!

Lodging:
We booked a one-bedroom apartment (Eliska Old Town Apartments) in Prague 1 for $112 per night. Three nights total = $112 per person
* I suggest staying in Prague 1, which is in the heart of Prague and includes Old Town Square. Although Prague 1 is considered very touristy, our street was incredibly quiet and we loved our location.

Restaurants:
Terasa u Zlate Studne (incredibly pricey but offers an unforgettable view of Prague)
La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise (Michelin star restaurant for those wanting to be fancy)
Cafe Imperial (beautiful atmosphere)
Etnosvet (vegetarian restaurant)
Restaurant Stoleti (traditional Czech food perfectly prepared)
Terasa U Prince (a tasty restaurant in the heart of Old Town Square)
Strahov Monastic Brewery (fresh beer brewed by monks, oh and hot wine too)
Black Angels Bar (speakeasy vibe in a cave¬†–¬†awesome cocktails)
Hemingway Bar (well-known cocktail bar in Prague with great drinks and lovely people)
Be Bop Lobby Bar (fun bar with good drinks)
L’Fleur Bar (a hidden gem in Old Town)

Nightlife:
–¬†Agharta¬†(jazz club)
–¬†Jazz Republic¬†(jazz club)
Retro Music Hall (good mix of locals and tourists with electro-house music – *the* place to go on Wednesdays)
Karlovy Lazne (the largest music club in Central Europe – we skipped out because it wasn’t our scene)
Duplex (rooftop)
Club Roxy (one of the oldest and most well-known clubs, electro-house-techno music)
U Sudu (hidden and cave-themed…different rooms with different music & a good place to pregame)
Double Trouble (a good place to start the night)
Chapeau Rouge (located in Old Town Square)
Naplavka Riverbank (turns into a Czech version of a beach party at night – apparently awesome in the warm months)
* The Prague nightlife is unbelievable! There are tons of clubs with all varieties of music, so you can pick and choose with ease. Whether you’re interested in a more upscale lounge atmosphere or a grimy dance club with deafening bass to freely dance the night away, Prague will have the perfect spot for you.

Sightseeing:
– Charles Bridge
– Old Town Square
– Wenceslas Square
РVyshrad Monument
–¬†Petrin Hill (quite a climb but worth it)

– Petrin Tower (at the top of Petrin Hill – offers incredible views of Prague)
– Mala Strana (awesome neighborhood filled with shops and restaurants)
– Astronomical Clock
– Daliborka Tower (famous prison)
– St. George‚Äôs Basilica (Prague’s oldest surviving church)
–¬†Prague Castle and¬†
Old Royal Palace
– John Lennon Wall (the coolest graffiti ever)
–¬†
Boat ride along the Vltava River
* I suggest taking a free walking tour (not fully free because you tip the tour guide at the end). It runs hourly and lasts about 2.5 hours. A great option if you want to learn more about the history behind the many iconic places in Prague.

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One of the wonderful aspects of Europe is the ease with which you can travel around each country. We took a train from Prague to Vienna. Four hours and $55 later we arrived in what quickly came to be my favorite city. Ever.

Prague

I’ve always heard that Prague is beyond beautiful, but it’s difficult to truly understand the extent of its beauty without visiting and seeing it for yourself. We stayed in Praha 1 (Prague 1), which was smack-dab in the center of everything but still quaint and quiet. Our apartment had a living room, bedroom, and kitchen. Oh and we each had our own bed.

Prague

After unpacking and grabbing a leisurely lunch at a local cafe, we walked over to Old Town Square.

Prague

My oh my, the beauty!

Prague

Prague

Everywhere we looked left us in awe.

Prague

Oh and the bubbles…how I loved the bubbles.

Prague

So magical

Prague

We finally peeled ourselves away from the center and made our way to Charles Bridge…

Prague

…and were in awe once again

Prague

Seriously, Prague was basically sensory overload in the best way possible.

Prague

How can such a tiny little city¬†have so much charm? It’s simply perfect.

We strolled around Mala Strana, a lively area located in Prague 1 but across the river from Old Town.

Prague

Our destination was Petrin Hill, which promised epic views of Prague. So we began our ascent and made it to the top about 30 minutes (and much struggle) later.

Prague

It quickly became apparent that the climb was completely worth it, although we still had to climb Petrin Tower.

Prague

We reached Petrin Tower, paid the admissions fee (about $3), and started a second (shorter) ascent to the top.

Prague

And then, we saw this:

Prague

And the rest is history.

Prague

Prague

I truly fell in love with Prague at that moment.

Prague

I think I’m officially ready to move here. I feel it in my bones, much like the way I felt about NYC when I first visited. Sigh…

Prague

We spent quite a while at the top, and eventually dragged ourselves away to catch the sunset over the Vltava River.

Prague

The Charles Bridge is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever seen. In fact, the entire city of Prague is incredibly romantic and the perfect place to fall in love ( // end of sappy romance).

Prague

We walked back to our apartment and got ready for an evening out on the town. Our first stop was dinner at a phenomenal restaurant, Stoleti, which featured traditional Czech food. I ordered the duck leg with potato dumplings and sauerkraut, and basically inhaled the entire thing.

Prague

Czech food is quite similar to Russian food, which is exactly why I loved it so much. They even had my favorite cake, medovnik, on the menu!

Prague

I must remind you all that I was still quite sick at this time, but I was determined to¬†not allow my dreaded cold to ruin the trip. It wasn’t much of an issue until the evenings, when I would suddenly get an obnoxious cough, likely because of the colder temps and exhaustion from walking around for hours at a time. My sleep deprivation was also quickly catching up to me, and was about to get even worse…we basically didn’t sleep in Prague. Like, at all.

After the restaurant, we walked a few blocks to¬†Hemingway Bar, an incredible cocktail lounge with some of the best drinks I’ve ever tasted. Please, if you’re ever visiting Prague you must go here. It’s a well-known¬†hotspot and definitely lives up to the hype.

Prague

The best part was the price – these upscale “pricey” drinks were the equivalent of about $10, a bargain when considering fancy drinks in NYC and Chicago cost upwards of $15!

Prague

We hung out at Hemingway Bar for a while and sampled their menu before hopping into a cab and making our way to Karlovy Lazne. It was a Tuesday and the club was nearly empty, so we attempted another nightlife hotspot at the Naplavka Riverbank. The area was dark and abandoned and honestly kind of creepy, most likely because it was both a Tuesday and cold outside, but we finally managed to find the club that one of our waitresses recommended: Captain Morgan. It was literally a boat on the river! It was also pretty empty but we ended up staying there and dancing the night away with a new group of friends we randomly met.

The next morning was rough. My sleep deprivation was catching up to me and my throat pain / congestion / sickness was refusing to improve. But alas, life goes on. One of my friends had a last-minute work emergency and she had to spend a few hours working. My other friend and I decided to walk over to Old Town Square for a lazy breakfast.

Prague

Prague

We even picked up a tasty snack:

Prague

Fried potatoes for the win!

A few hours later we regrouped and embarked on a ~3 hour free walking tour of Old Town. I highly recommend this for people interested in learning about the history of the city! I finally got to nerd out with the Astronomical Clock, which is apparently rated as one of the most overrated attractions in all of Europe?

Prague

It was cool regardless.

After the tour we walked over to Wenceslas Square and did some souvenir shopping. A classic dessert was required to keep our energy levels up, obviously.

Prague

Prague

Trdelnik is a traditional dessert in Prague, and one that I absolutely could not wait to try.

Prague

The dough is wrapped around a stick and baked over an open flame until crispy. It is then topped with sugar and filled with ice cream or Nutella.

Prague

In our case, we wanted both! Ice cream + Nutella = heaven

We then made our way across the river once again…

Prague

…towards the Petrin Castle

Prague

And we were once again greeted with breathtaking views of the city and its colorful rooftops.

Prague

Prague

We eventually made it to the Strahov Monastic Brewery, which serves fresh beer brewed by monks! None of us are beer drinkers, so we ordered one mug to sample (because when in Prague!) alongside some hot wine to warm ourselves.

Prague

Fun fact: Prague consumes more beer per capita than anywhere else in the world! I really wish I enjoyed beer because apparently it’s quite delicious in Prague.

Gelato was a necessity on our way back home:

Prague

We opted for dinner at Terasa U Prince (not the terrace but the one at street level), followed by drinks at Black Angels Bar, located in the same hotel. This speakeasy is basically decorated like a cave, filled with tunnels, and boasts some deliciously unique cocktails.

Prague

I was obviously drained at this point, but the city never sleeps for anyone! We had heard that¬†Retro Music Hall¬†was the place to be on Wednesdays, so that’s where we headed late in the night.

Prague

Umm…I don’t think I’ve danced that¬†hard in years! I loved the music, the crowds, the atmosphere. Sometimes a girl just needs to dance dance dance until the wee hours of the morning. Of course we stayed until closing, and we were all dead the next morning. But we had things to do and sights to see, and it was our last day in Prague! So we made our way across the river¬†yet again, but this time by way of a different bridge. We soon found ourselves in a lovely part of the city, where we couldn’t resist grabbing some hot wine while enjoying the sights and sounds.

Prague

I also found the perfect art for my apartment. It’s made from vegetables!

Prague

My mission for the day was the John Lennon wall:

Prague

Prague

It was just as awesome as I expected it to be!

Prague

Prague

Yup, we’re badasses

Later, we each picked up a dinner of our choice, and I decided to get adventurous and try out the ham I kept seeing everyone eating on the streets.

Prague

I’m not sure where the miscommunication happened, but somehow I found myself with enough ham to feed a family of 5. I ate about 1/5 of what I purchased (for $18 booooo)¬†and felt horrible about having to throw the rest away. At least it was delicious?

We were all completely and utterly exhausted come evening, and we had zero plans to go out. But then some new friends invited us out, and of course we couldn’t resist! We stopped by¬†L’Fleur Bar, a true hidden gem lounge that was located right by our apartment.

Prague

One of the best parts of traveling is meeting new people, which is exactly what happened! A few hours later we finally made our way to¬†Chapeau Rouge¬†to meet our other new friends. We stayed there for less than an hour because it was past 2AM…and we had a 7AM flight to Budapest! I know I know, shame on us, but Prague is just way too much fun. This was the night we “slept” for only 45 minutes before having to go to the airport like zombies.

Up next: Budapest! But first, I must profess my love to Prague one last time. I truly fell in love with the city and its people. It’s a well-preserved city filled with charm and oozing with happiness. To me, it’s the perfect balance of Eastern European roots (both the architecture and the Czech language remind me of Russia) and Western European modernism & attitude.¬†I can easily envision myself living in Prague, and my heart aches for the city. Maybe someday…

‚ô• Irina

Check out my recap of our travels around Vienna, Austria!

‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ

Below are some of my suggestions for those visiting Salzburg, despite the fact that I only spent a few hours there.

Sightseeing:
– Mozart’s house
Sound of Music tour ($48 per person)
– Mirabell Palace & Gardens
– Salzburg Altstadt
– Salzburg Fortress
– Old Market Square (Alter Markt)
– Mondsee

‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ‚ÄĒ

We had scheduled 4 days in Austria and we all loved the idea of taking a day trip to Salzburg, a city¬†about 2.5 hours outside of Vienna by train. Getting there was so simple – we booked a high-speed train to Salzburg at 8AM for $58 roundtrip. The train ride was incredibly comfortable – we had wifi, cozy seats, and silence (the trains in Europe are seriously so quiet) – and I slept for most of the trip. And the best part was that our tickets were valid for any train time we wanted, so we could’ve hopped onto any of the trains that ran¬†to and from Salzburg hourly.

We arrived to a cold, dreary day but were determined to make the most of the seven hours we had.

Salzburg

After a simple breakfast and lots of coffee, we strolled around the city and awed at the beauty surrounding us.

Salzburg

Salzburg

Of course Salzburg had its own love lock bridge, beautifully spanning the Salzach River:

Salzburg

Salzburg

We also made sure to stop by the birthplace of the one and only Mozart.

Salzburg

At some point in my life I developed a deep appreciation for classical music, so seeing the home of one of the most famous composers in the world was truly incredible.

Salzburg

For those who don’t know, Salzburg is where the Sound of Music was filmed.¬†Given our short time in the city, we opted to explore the most famous locations via the Sound of Music tour. It was a wonderful decision and one I would highly recommend to those similarly pressed on time.

Salzburg

The tour took us to many of the locations where the movie was filmed, and our awesome tour guide also took the time to explain the history behind many of the buildings we drove past. Our first stop was one of the locations used for the Von Trapp family home.

Salzburg

Look familiar?

Salzburg

Fun fact: this location was only used for the backyard scenes of the Von Trapp home. Remember that scene where the kids and Maria fell off the boat? Yup that was filmed here. But the actual exterior of the house was filmed at another location because the producers felt that this home was too large and extravagant.

We hopped back onto the bus and drove to the location where Maria walks to the Von Trapp home for the first time while singing “I Have Confidence.”

Salzburg

Another fun fact: the veranda where Liesel (the oldest daughter) dances and sings with her boy was actually specifically built for the movie and placed in the backyard of the home pictured above. It was eventually moved because people (i.e. fans of the movie) kept sneaking onto the private property to take photos.

Salzburg

And here it is now!

Salzburg

Unfortunately, it was closed for business because a few years ago a woman was trying to recreate that famous jumping scene…and fell haha.

We snapped a few photos in the garden…

Salzburg

…before getting back on the bus, this time with¬†some champagne in hand!

Salzburg

And then we drove to the best part of the entire tour – the hills! Yes, those hills that Maria sang were alive with the sound of music.

I think we all collectively oohed and aahed when the bus stopped and we walked out to this view:

Salzburg

The photos don’t even do it justice, such beauty cannot be properly captured.

Salzburg

We were told that the water here was so pure that you could literally walk up and drink from it without any concerns. In fact, the water in all of Austria, Vienna including, was delicious.

Salzburg

But the incredibleness didn’t end there! We were then taken to a small town in the mountains, Mondsee.

Mondsee

Mondsee

So much charm, so.much.charm.

Mondsee

There was some festival happening and everyone was dressed traditionally. The streets were crowded with food and souvenir vendors. I knew I had to try the cheese bread the moment I saw it.

Mondsee

I mean…melty cheese, toasted bread, and paprika

Mondsee

I basically died and went to heaven

Mondsee

We only had about 45 minutes to stroll around the tiny town center, but managed to sneak in a quick trip to a local ice cream parlor at the end.

Salzburg

You guys, this ice cream. Words cannot describe how phenomenal it was. It was easily one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had in my life. I immediately knew that it was freshly made with what was probably the freshest, highest quality milk and cream ever.

Our final stop on the tour were the gardens where the “Do Re Mi” scene was filmed.

Salzburg

Salzburg

Pretty, right?

Salzburg

I even got a boyfriend there!

Salzburg

But it was a short-lived romance because we had to part ways.

And then our trip to Salzburg came to an end. I definitely wish that we spent a night there, perhaps at a hotel in the mountains, but at least we were able to see much of the city on the tour!

‚ô• Irina