Germany, Austria, Hungary & Switzerland.
If not now, when? I said to her…
Ever since I can remember, mum has been dreaming of a trip to Austria to run up and down the hills pretending she was Julie Andrews. Growing up at home with your family is one thing, but travelling together is a whole new ball game. Spending 24/7 with one person is challenging enough, however has the potential to be very special. The sound of music tour was a bucket list item for her, which soon became mine too having pretended I was Gretel my whole life (these days I’m more of a Louisa) and I knew it was up to me to share this experience with her.
From the get go booking with mum was easy, there wasn’t anything we disagreed on and planning our travels around Salzburg, 3 weeks and 4 countries later we were set. She left a lot of the arrangements in my hands which was fun to play travel agent but also a real learning curve!
After 3 weeks of solo but guided travel on Contiki & Topdeck, I flew to Munich to meet mum. It was very surreal for her the first few days, but Oktoberfest knocked that out of her! ‘A Melbourne show on steroids, with lots of beer’ she called it, and what an experience that was.
After finding our love for Radler’s (still not beer drinkers) and living on potatoes it was Austria time! We arrived at our hotel, bit out of the city but up on a hill (yes it was alive like the sound of muuusic) with a spectacular view of Salzburg.
We went for a big walk downhill to explore the city, not even thinking about the return up because after all we were on holidays and felt nothing more than carefree. It was quiet in town being a Sunday and the weather wasn’t exactly on our side, again not to our concern #carefree. I did finally cave and buy an umbrella which I had been resisting for over 3 weeks now. The trek back and up, was an interesting one… Let’s just say we were soaked, covered in mud and needed to finally do some washing after going well off the beaten track (fail #1 thanks to maps).
The day has finally arrived! My mum has had 6 kids and with a voice of an angel it was Julie Andrews time for her (I didn’t quite get the voice). We danced we sung and everyone looked at us and laughed but we didn’t have a care in the world! The happiness we shared together on this day was unforgettable. Visiting all the spots from the movie from the Gazebo to the Church and driving through the Bavarian mountains was incredible. We did develop a business idea of a ‘Die-hard fan’ tour option which would probably have been more suited to us.
Departing Salzburg was hard enough and luck didn’t particularly start in our favour. We missed our pre-booked train to Vienna (never did that again fail#2) but eventually got there. I had booked an apartment not even thinking about the time nor taking into consideration there is no reception for us to leave our bags. So we waited for a few hours in this dingy apartment ‘lobby’ which had some major renovations going on. I killed time by running up and down the stairs while mum did squats. Just when we thought I had made a huge mistake, we finally got into our apartment and it was more beautiful than ever! A FRIDGE! I hadn’t actually seen a working fridge in 4 weeks by this point so we went straight to the supermarket and bought cheese, yoghurt and wine! A bathroom where 2 people could actually fit comfortably was also a fabulous privilege. We had a night in on the wines even though we could not figure out how to find more than 1 channel on the TV or connect the wifi.
Next stop Budapest. We got off the train to be approached by a freelance taxi driver (we later read reviews to steer clear of those free-lancers, oops fail#3) and were fooled into getting ripped off on our fare. That was the least of our worries when we got to our destination and saw nothing remotely apartment looking in sight. We suddenly missed the dingy looking lobby of our Vienna home. I booked an AirBnb in a prime location for an amazing price that I was starting to think was too good to be true and maybe nonexistent. A few messages to the owner and eventually we found our way opening the right red door (how many red doors can there be you may ask? Quite a few). Once again we entered paradise, chandeliers in every room and wait for it… a washing machine! Also something I hadn’t seen in almost 5 weeks now. Fairy lights and all, we felt like we were sleeping in an Ikea display.
When researching I found a much recommended experience on TripAdvisor, ‘Suzy’s vegan dinner with a view’. I contacted her via email and booked in as a surprise for mum. We took a cab (finally a nice driver after a long search and mum trying to haggle fare quotes) from Buda to Pest to this tiny little studio apartment even the cab driver was a bit weary of. We entered Suzy’s home and it was one of the best experiences we could have imagined. First of all, a local home restaurant, brilliant idea. Secondly, watching the view with the lights of Budapest slowly coming on as the sun went down while enjoying a 3 course all vegan meal, spectacular. Lastly, having the company of my mother and Suzy, was an intimate experience I will never forget. We spoke about travel as she has a bug just as bad as mine and shared stories about our different cultures and all the people she has met and cooked for in her home.
Saving the best until last, it was time for Switzerland. In our final 8 days we stayed in 4 different locations, Luzern, Wengen, Bern & Zurich. I could go on forever about our perfect time with the Swiss but those 8 days deserve a blog of its own (coming soon). I will say there was nothing more rewarding than seeing my mums face, the look in her eyes as we reached the top of Europe and she bent down to touch the snow. This was followed by rolling up and then launching a snowball at me. Not even worrying about our lack of snow gear we sledded and tubed and laughed until we literally cried. We were speechless and had so many breathtaking moments together, I even got electrocuted (fail#4) on a fence trying to take a photo of sheep (in my defense as you can see they were sheep surrounded by beautiful mountains and waterfalls).
Travelling with mum I discovered so much about her that I don’t think I would have ever discovered any other way. It was nice to slow down after my fast paced solo tour, instead spending 3 nights in each city with my mother dearest. I learnt so much about my own family, our personality traits and how they have contributed to defining the person I am today. I may have been very sleep deprived for those weeks from excessive snoring on her end, but it was worth it. I may have asked her to retake photos at least 7 times before I was happy but she didn’t mind.
I am appreciating this time with mum more and more each day. She still comes to me with a happy sigh of disbelief to pinch me and share our memories, while she has watched the sound of music at least 4 times since we have been home.
An experience we will never forget for the rest of our lives.