When I was a little girl Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid was by far my favorite princess. She got to live in the ocean, craved adventure, had funny animal friends, and loved to sing! That’s my kind of princess!
Skip forward about 10 years or so and suddenly my favorite princess has competition with Disney’s Rapunzel in Tangled. She too has a great animal companion, loves to sing, and is handy with a frying pan, but most importantly craves adventure beyond the window in her tower.
Now you might be asking yourself “Why is this princess nonsense important?” Well, I realized what a big impression these two princesses made on me as I was flying home from Austria listening to The Little Mermaid soundtrack looking out at the sunset over Germany. Both Rapunzel and Ariel simply wanted to see more of the world, gain new perspectives and understandings, meet new people and live out their dreams.
I have always had this same sense of adventure in me, always wanting to go out there try new things, see new places, meet new people, sing new songs (yes I break out into song every so often just like a Disney princess. No shame! You should see me Vacuum. It’s like Mrs. Doubtfire meets Disney Princess)
Anyways, getting back to this “Go live your dream” business. I had wanted to see the Swiss Alps and Austria for so long! And this past Easter that dream came true in a trip that truly only God himself could have made so perfect.
During my time in Austria I got to live a little bit like a local and a tourist at the same time, experiencing local cafés, walking through pastures, and seeing the sights. I was awestruck by the beauty of the mountains. So different from the peaks in Colorado. The Austrian Alps are jagged, incredibly steep, and meet green grassy valleys at their base.
The village in Reutte, Austria had homes that were really modernized barns from when the village was primarily a farming village. Everything was so quiet and peaceful, we did not have to walk far to have great stargazing. The living room window looked up at some ancient ruins while the kitchen window had a view of the Alps.
Innsbruck, Austria captured my mind in a completely different way. The mountains surround the capital of Tirol mountains are practically straight up! I cannot decide if the view from the streets of the old town or the view from the top of the Olympic ski jump was better. Honestly, so long as those mountains were in sight, I was content to gaze and take it all in.
The buildings in old town Innsbruck also fascinated me. They are so different from anything I’ve seen. Tall and colorful, old and ornate, the detailing just fabulous and the stone streets friendly quaint atmosphere.
The buildings in Salzburg, Austria were even more charming! They had an added element of old-fashioned mystery with their little tunnels in between the old houses-turned-stores. The tunnels would either lead you to a different narrow street, or to an inner courtyard that might be home to more stores, or in one case, our favorite café! You never knew what you would find and I loved that added adventure. My travel buddy probably got tired of my constant “Ooo lets go down this alley!” mentality.
Salzburg’s old town was unique in more than that way however, because it was filled with massive old churches all with their own distinctive style and impressive domes. We were there on Good Friday or else I am sure we would have heard amazing bells from their towers! My favorite view was not looking up at these giants, no the best view of Salzburg was from up on the hill in the age-old fortress!
Exploring Hohensalzburg Castle brought out the little kid and little nerd in me once more. Curiously imagining what it would have looked like during its hay-day, with servants bustling about, horse drawn carriages, men working the cannons…What secrets were told here? What love stories unfolded? Where there are people there is drama, what was life like here?…
On the opposite side of the fortress you could look down at the house and lake from the Sound of Music. But the greatest disappointment was the clouds blocking the view of the mountains that the Von Trapp family ran off into.
Another one of my favorite experiences in Salzburg was the hipster café we ate dinner at on Good Friday. You try to find good food that is gluten, dairy, and meat free in a town that loves bread and sausage. We stumbled upon this gem of a restaurant walking back from the old town in the rain (One of my “lets walk down this alley” adventures is what led us to this!). By the end of our meal the place was full of well-dressed, late 20-somethin’s looking for a good time on a Friday night.
Easter in Austria was not my typical wake-up-go-to-church-eat-brunch-play-street-hockey kind of Easter. The day was spent hiking up to the ancient Ruins in Reutte and praising God for the views of the Austrian Alps. Oh and walking across a Guinness Book of World Records bridge. My fear of heights made this a…laughable experience. Nervous laughter mostly.
We enjoyed two types of Austrian Easter Lamb, a bread one that was cute and sweet, and one that was mm-mmm delicious! Sorry lamby.
Easter Monday is also a thing in most of Europe, to which I think the U.S. sincerely needs to adopt. You get to celebrate and spend time with family on Sunday and Monday! We spent Easter Monday back in Innsbruck and I spent my day with the sweetest 8 year old, who stole my heart more than the mountains had! She spoke mostly German and I spoke mostly English, but we really communicated through silly faces and running around like airplanes and dinosaurs…#nevergrowup
I wanted her to feel as included as possible, so she was my ultimate selfie buddy.
After Easter we took a day trip to Munich, Germany to visit the grand Deutsches Museum. There were so many different exhibits with old technology we would not see in the U.S. simply because it never existed here!
Then there was the Neuschwanstein Castle that is made famous in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and is the inspiration for the Beauty and the Beast castle. Again, we just do not see this kind of work in the U.S.! The man who built the castle was a little insane and unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside, but the best room was the gold thrown room with Jesus sitting on a rainbow…cheesy much? Oh! And the castle had the ultimate man cave! It was a hall built to look just like a rock cave, almost like a mine.
Our last day in beautiful Innsbruck we enjoyed watching glass art be made by our hosts friend, Suzi. Suzi makes delightful jewelry, wine glasses, little figurines, and more, all out of glass. She made me a little glass piggy and offered both my friend and I a piece of jewelry. I felt like a kid at a candy store looking at all the colorful beads. You can order from her at www.brennero.at I highly recommend her art if you are in need of a wedding present or unique birthday gift!
Finally, there was Switzerland…less than 48 hours in one of the most expensive countries on earth. $13 for two tall Starbucks drinks. Yikes! We stayed in a friend’s apartment in the heart of Zurich. Zurich felt like a dirty, smoke filled, pornographized version of New York City, with the old fashioned style of European architecture. Some views were quite nice, but walking around felt like a rat race and all the nicely dressed people sitting in the bars looking down on us peasant tourists. Ok so maybe that is a bit overdramatic, but you get my point. I much prefer the peacefulness of Reutte. I am turning into a small town girl more than I thought!
Luzern, Switzerland was an entirely different experience from Zurich. We arrived early in the morning, before the onslaught of tourists. The quiet, sleepy old town was a good change of pace from Zurich, but still not as quaint as the beautiful old towns of Austria.
Luzern is home to the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrücke, that was built in 1333. It might not seem like anything special, but I had been wanting to this particular bridge for so long! Pinterest boards dedicated to Switzerland so I could one day see this bridge. I fully admit to doing a happy dance in public when the bridge came into view…my travel buddy can attest this.
And so our time in Austria, Germany and Switzerland came to an end. My friend boarded a train back to Florence, Italy, I hopped on a plane to Munich where I sat for 7 hours. Luckily it is a very nice airport with free Wi-Fi and free coffee stations. In all I did not mind my layover.
One of the little details of the trip that still stands out to me is how God brought things full circle in the end. Day one of the trip when I was boarding my plane from Frankfurt to Munich I walked by all the well-dressed businessmen and women in the 1st class and thought to myself “One day I will be one of those people, dressed nicely and off to change the world”….little did I know. As I scanned my ticket to board my flight home from Munich to Gothenburg the machine paused and then printed a new ticket stating I had been assigned a new seat, 3A. Business class. Instead of sitting in the far back, row 25, I was suddenly going to be sitting right up front. It was almost like God had a little inside joke with me and I had missed the punch line the first time. “You are out there changing the world…” He whispered and immediately this bible verse came to mind:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12
I pray I can live up to the standards of that bible verse and continue to live out my life as a grand adventure with Christ.
And if living like a dreaming Disney princess and a princess of Christ was not enough inspiration, I turn to one of my favorite female role models Eleanor Roosevelt.
Until next time, go live your dream!
Dream Big. Live Courageously! And Thrive!!