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Oahu Hawaii

Been running a touch behind in posting, but like they say better late than never.

March 2019 Spring Break was another grand adventure. This time we made it to Hawaii, Oahu to be precise. Now for being a scuba diver Hawaii should be high on my bucket list but to be honest it is not. Not sure why but Hawaii was never that appealing to me. Flying in and seeing the lush green landscape beneath me my interest peeked so went into this adventure with an open mind. I didn’t realize how big Honolulu, from the air it looked massive and we hit the ground looks did not deceive us.

first sight

First up was my granddaughter and my scuba trip with Island Divers Hawaii. Great group of instructors that got us geared up and ready to go. There were around 8 that was in our group and what a group it was, had a ball talking about our other scuba adventures and where we have been on vacations. The weather and the ocean were picture perfect. I had some trouble clearing my sinuses so my experience was cut short. My granddaughter, on the other hand, had an experience for a lifetime; Sea Turtles abound along with a small octopus that thrilled everyone.

Scuba diving

The Adventure continued with some Island excursions to Byodo-In Temple, Diamond Head, Manoa Falls, and Waimea Valley. Byodo-In Temple was a trip into the past. It’s located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. When we first drove in and parked and see a few feral cats, these are cats you probably do not want to pet…They are wild and kinda shady looking. The bridge to another time and place…WOW. Love bridges the shear architecture and beauty they can poses and the possibilities that lay beyond them. In this case, it takes you to a time in the past and a place far away. If anyone has a pond in their yard you will appreciate these, the Koa fish were mega millions it seems and huge. We have a water garden with regular goldfish which look minute compared to these Koa. As soon as you pull into the parking lot you will see a very impressive building, cross the bridge and it becomes more amazing. Now even though this is not a practicing Buddhist temple for GODS SAKE adhere to the signs. The temple has signs posted that state if you go into it to take your shoes off. You would not believe how any stupid brain dead morons went into the temple with their shoes on…Aaaaaaaa.

Byodo-In Temple

Get some comfy hiking boots, we’re on our way to Diamond Head. Depending on when you go will depend on how crowded the trails are. We planned unwisely, this place was packed like an Amazon warehouse. If you don’t go with a guide you will need to know to take a boatload of water. Our guide informed us many times and yet on our way down we had a gentleman get sick of Dehydration. When you pull into the parking lot the first thing that hits you is Holy crap this place is hot and in the middle of now where take water. As I mentioned the trail was crowded, everyone is after the same thing so take it easy and be polite, your experience will be that much more enjoyable. The history behind this place starts hundreds of thousands of years ago. With nature taking the first steps in creating this amazing place man’s first step on the land was thousands of years later. There are many and cram-packed sightseeing points along the way to the top. Take advantage of these to rest and take in the majestic views. On the way up we had a decision to make…take the stairs (OH so many stairs) or stay on the trail…trail it is. Atop the end of the trail, there is a piece of the dark history that is before your eyes. This concrete structure was part of the US defense during World War II. So on the way down we divided and conquered the trek down. Some of us stayed on the trail while others descended the stair.

Diamond Head

If you’re a fan of Jurassic Park movies you’re in luck, Manoa Falls is where some of the films were made. The further you go back on the trials it feels like a trip into the past. Very beautiful and mind-blowing. You’ll need good hiking shoes for this trek as well as balance. Balance is a good thing, especially when your down trying to get the perfect picture while bobbing and weaving on wet rocks…GOT IT perfect. A little wet we set off into the jungle. Our Fit Bits enjoyed the hike as well…nailed it. Like most places when we travel we draw a crowd, hahaha. Popular vacation destinations do this. At the falls was no exception, which is odd. The trail heading in was not crowded, in fact, we have seen very few people.

Manoa Falls

What an amazing place, Waimea Valley trails, reconstructed huts and waterfalls. It’s perfect for a lazy afternoon of roaming in a relaxing and cool environment. There are many trails that all lead to the fall and water hole. Among these trails, you will find many reconstructed huts and history plaques. Take your time and just enjoy your time there.

Waimea Valley

 

Vienna Austria

Our trip to Vienna took us on a scenic odyssey through the country side. The Danube River is still a vibrant transportation route and tourist sight seeing exploration destination. The small villages, towns and medieval castles that dot the landscape are a trip to the past.

Vienna, what can you say about your first impression arriving on the tour bus. The sights we seen as we made a quick tour around the city before arriving at our hotel. The 18th, 19th, and 20th century buildings standing side by side giving the viewer a scene of the past and present in one eye full. They contrast each other in a way that makes looking at them magical, the human perseverance shines through.

While the art group feasted on the masters of the arts the choir inspired the crowds that gathered at the cathedrals they sang at. St. Stephens was an impressive one as was all the cathedrals we were invited to.

St. Stephen’s
St. Peter’s

Footsteps all around Vienna was a full on group experience. I’m not sure how many brats were eaten but I do know we put a healthy dent in the cities inventory. There was quite a few of us that had type of tracker on us and the consensus was we put on 22 miles in one day. The experience as invigorating as it was I would have loved to stay longer and see more of the city as well as the rest of Austria, time constraints going with a group. Still had an incredible time with all and would do it again in a heartbeat. The art group had a visual experience going to many of the museums throughout the city.


Albertina and Belvedere art gallery and museum
Walking tour around Vienna

Exploring Austria

After our exhilarating adventures in Salzburg and some of our day trips to surrounding areas, we popped off to Vienna. Some of the countryside we visited had a musical history to go with it. The Sound of Music was a theme that the Kelly Walsh Choir used to set up some tours. One stop gave us some background on what made Salzburg the city and powerhouse it was. Salzburg translates to Salt Castle so we went to a salt mine on the out skirts of Hallein. The Hallein Salt mines was one of the major exports of salt. Religion was very important to the miners, so on top the hill overlooking the mine you will find a church. Unfortunately, we did not have time to walk up the hill and tour the church. Upon entering the visitors center there is a short safety clip and talk, after that everyone gets to wear a fancy new suit before entering the mine, what a hilarious time that was. The history of the mine and how mining has changed over time is quit something. The ingenious ways salt has been extracted gives you a since of pride in the ingenuity that the people of the past possess.

Group A

Another of our stops was at Melk Abby. Melk Abbey’s Baroque style abbey was built between 1702 and 1736. While we were there, an ongoing restoration project was in full swing. I asked one of the restoration experts about the work being done and was told some place on the outside of the building they perform work to preserve the building. When we first walked into the inner court there was a strange structure in the center, later we found out that during the winter the fountain outside is covered up to keep it out of the elements.

Group B

Parts of the Abbey were not accessible due to ongoing schooling. You cannot have cameras in certain areas as well. The beauty of the architect inside and out was breath taking. It is a marvel to see all these towns and know that when they were built they were done with brute strength from the people that lived there.

 

This next place if you’re a music buff you will recognize the name…Mondsee. Ya that’s right it is one of the places where the Sound of Music was filmed. This little town, village….need to look up the difference. Whichever it is this place looks like it came out of a post card. The weather was misty and the fog hung over the mountains and lake like a blanket veiling the surroundings. After touring the Church, we walked down to the green space that was nestled along the bank of the lake and through the shear veil that covered the waters you could just make out the rest of the town that surrounds the lake.

 

 

Group C

Had to add the close up of the door, these doors are massive and the ornate handles and locks are something else. Through are out our travels I have found this to be true. I have a thing for the arts of all sorts and this and many others you will see in coming posts. The workman ship show how much pride the Blacksmiths had with their craft. Last place we visited was Schloss Hellbrunn, which also was in The Sound of Music. It was more of a pit stop, as we did not tour the Manor House. The grounds were massive and the gates…you guessed it was ornate and very impressive.

Group 2

 

Exploring Salzburg

As our journey unfolds, we find ourselves at an Art museum “Museum der Moderne Salzburg”. I found the inside of the building to be a little unblemished. There is a restaurant in the museum that leads to a patio area just outside. Walk up some stairs and you find yourself on the out skirts of a wooded city park walk way. Follow the path to your left and a wonderful medieval portcullis that is inviting you back in time awaits. Through the portcullis you’ll find a keep as well as part of the wall that extends around the city.

Group 1

In Salzburg’s history it was a walled city, looking over the side of one of the walls you can see the old wall and some of its keeps off in the distance as well as some spectacular views. This is where I was, at one of the keeps. The walls and keeps kept the city protected.

Group 2

At one spot along the wall if you look straight down a perplexing sight can be seen, something that made my mind wonder back (it does not take much at times) to a time when the city was built. A shear rock face straight down to the floor of the old city. Is this the stones they used when building the city and walls.

Salzburg_Burberwehr Fortification_0116A

Across from the Burgerwehr Fortification, you can see Salzburg Castle (Hohensalzburg Fortress) once home of the archbishops of the area. The vantage point at which the castle sites gives you a view of the city and surroundings that you cannot get anywhere else.

Group 3

Hohensalzburg Fortress also known as Salzburg Castle sits atop a small hill (small compared to the majestic Austrian Alps) called Festungsberg. We were told by our very knowledgeable guide that the hill has been occupied since Rome times. The Castle as we see it today started out in 1077 and over the centuries became the focal point of the city that surrounds it and draws thousands of visitors a year.

Group 4

Group 5

Our tour guide gave us a since of what it would been like living back at the height of Salzburg Castle. It would have been a lively, terrifying, and hard living place to be. There are hundreds of rooms in the Castle but very few are open to the public for touring. There are some that can be rented out for special occasions but it would be awesome to see some of those rooms setup, as they would have been used back in the day. This comes with a cost, which the organization that is responsible for the up keep of the Castle could not cover. They are preserving the rooms and its contents for future possibilities.

 

I cannot wait until I came back to visit this beautiful, historical, location and the wonderful people that helped make this my first of many trips to Europe a great experience.

Salzburg

Salzburg

Upon arriving in Salzburg we were on a tight schedule, the Choir had a recital in the Salzburg Cathedral that evening. The Hostel we stayed at is a local business that had all the charm one would expect. The rooms were small but very inviting and comfortable. After unpacking and getting organized, that term is used loosely; we gathered up front and walked through the old town to the Cathedral. The little bit I saw told me we were in for an incredible adventure.

The town of Salzburg has been around for hundreds of years and the history in the architect shows the many layers that have built it up. As we approached the Cathedral the impressive view of the courtyard, statue, and structure made one wonder how the people from the past could make such magnificent and timely works of art. Once inside your mouth drops open with AHH as you forget to breathe. The artwork in all forms is nothing your imagination was ready for and this will be the norm throughout the other

 

 

As the Choir enchanted their audiences at each venue the art group, later known as the art nerds were able to venture forth and discover the Old Town (Altstadt) and this is where my adventure bug kicked in. I kind of miss placed the art nerds and went down one narrow street after another looking to see what was around the next corner. You would be amazed at what hides in plain sight waiting to be discovered. Who would have guessed you would find a statue like this in a courtyard of a jeweler or a plaque of unknown origin. The treasures I found only opened my imagination as to why and who built these marvels. A ships wheel hidden behind a locked gate would tell a story of the history of the Salzach River.

 

Looking around the next corner I come upon a staircase that leads to who knows where. At this point, I found the Art nerds and we ascend the stairs to find what lurks at the top. Before we get to the top we find another mystery, a gated doorway…. What treasures and stories are hidden behind this gate, but first need to find what is at the top of the stairs.

Continuing on we made it to the top. My first impression was where are we and what is this place. Seeing some elder women with flowers I asked and was rewarded with “it is an old cemetery and church”. We were welcomed to look around the grounds, and what grounds they were. The old headstones are of those of past Priests and important people of bygone times.

 

Outside the walls was one of the most captivating sites I had seen since I was there. To look over the town and it’s surrounding from this vantage point makes you what to say YES I am home, never going to leave.

 

 

 

 

Austria

In March of 2018, I had the honor of going to Austria with my Granddaughter. Some of the art students were invited to go with the Kelly Walsh Choir on their American Celebration of Music sponsored by Music Celebration International tour https://musiccelebrations.com/. I have been dreaming of a European trip for as long as I can remember and Austria is as good a place to start. We left DIA and headed to the land beyond, Munich Germany. I’ve been on some long flights before and the food that is served is nothing to write home about. This flight was on a plane above anything I could have imagined. The food was outstanding in my opinion.

When we flew over Munich and landed it was like coming home. You know the feeling you get after a long journey and you’re on the home stretch, relief. Now anyone that flies these long distance knows the first thing you’re looking forward to doing is to stretch your legs. You’re in luck….this airport has your back.

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While we were waiting for the buses to pick us up and transport us on our journey to Salzburg we waited at the front of the airport.  I wasn’t looking to grab anything before getting on the tour bus, however, the smell from the bakery was Heaven on Earth and yes it was at the front doors where the buses were picking us up. This is almost cruel in such a delicious way.Munich airport_2723

After loading our luggage and getting settled in we were to have a tour of Munich however with our plane getting out of Denver late we were unable to do this. Very very sad, I was looking forward to seeing this rebuilt time capsule of a city. The trip from Munich to Salzburg we were transported through time. The small villages we passed was like looking through an hourglass to the past.  I would have liked to stop and every one of them to get an up close and personal view, maybe next time. Upon arriving at our first destination we were greater with a view that inspires dreams of old, Salzburg Castle.

Dillon Ice Castle

The Ice Castle is found in a small mountain community in Colorado outside Denver about 70 miles. This is the second year for the Ice Castle and with the turn out that we were a part of I think it will be returning for many more years. According to their website, it took them three months and 25,000 million pounds of ice (WOW). It is an amazing place, take as long as you like to explore all the ice caves, slides, and tunnels.

https://icecastles.com/dillon/