I promised myself that I wouldn’t travel anywhere this year as I had to save money, but I just couldn’t resist it!!! It really was so hard not to travel when there were so many opened doors (cheap transports, free time, beautiful places, etc etc). So, a few weeks ago — during Easter holiday — my 4 friends and I went for yet-another-road-trip. I went for a road trip last year to Luxembourg, Strasbourg (north of France), and Heidelberg (Germany) for two days during one weekend, relying on one female driver. And for this year’s trip, we decided to take another “back-up” female driver as we planned to do a longer trip across 3 different countries (again!): France, Germany, and Austria.
It was quite a brutal trip, to be honest. We started the trip from Eindhoven on Thursday, 1st of April to Paris, France. We stayed in Paris for a night and toured the city on the next day (Friday). I’ve been to Paris before, and I went there alone at that time. I liked the city a lot and I wanted to come back because I wanted to take better pictures (you know, when you ask strangers to take pictures, they don’t do the job really well!). But Paris was quite gloomy that day; the sun was too afraid to show up and it was raining almost the entire day. So the city didn’t look as beautiful as it was in the summer last year. As some of my friends hadn’t visit Paris before, we had to rush to visit a number of places like the beautiful Sacré-Cœur, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Fontaine Saint-Michel, and of course the Eiffel Tower. We did that in 5 hours!!! LOL (Paris is very huge by the way. Touring the city for a day is not enough). After completing our super quick city tour, we then left for Ulm, Germany in the afternoon.
The journey to Ulm supposedly took about 6.5 hours according to our beloved GPS, TomTom (which we heavily relied on), but due to heavy rains, traffic jams, and unexpected stops, it took us more than 9 hours to reach the destination! A lot of people asked, why did we have to go to Paris first and then to Germany?!? It was a crazy decision, I agreed (haha!). But one of our friends had to go to Paris first (and she’s the driver hehehe), so we decided to tag along. Anyhow, with the 9 hours journey, I was very thankful that we didn’t force ourselves to drive all the way to Munich (as previously planned), because that would take us an additional 2 hours! We were tooooo tired by the time we reach Ulm, especially the two drivers! The next day, we did yet another quick tour around the city of Ulm. Ulm is a fine and a typical German city featuring its tallest church in the world and the half-timbered houses in the Old Town. We didn’t spend that much time in Ulm, though.
In the afternoon, we headed for a German village called Hohenschwangau, where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle was located. This time, the journey took only 1.5 hours. The village was packed with tourists and I bet it was built especially for them. I could only see souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other type of accommodations, and expensive shops (like Swarovski shop in the middle of the town?!?!?!). The castle itself, which was located on the hill above the village, was magnificent!! It was not an old-looking castle as it was built in 1860’s but the view surrounding it was amazing! You could see the village, Bavarian Alps, a beautiful lake called Alpsee, a smaller yellowish castle nearby called Hohenschwangau Castle, and other towns and lakes nearby. The sky was clear and it couldn’t be more beautiful! If you think you’ve seen this castle before — that’s right! The Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle was inspired by this castle 🙂 We didn’t go inside the castle, by the way (and not interested either). We had so little time and our schedule was quite tight.
Our next destination was Salzburg, Austria. None of us have been to Austria before so we were quite excited about it. Instead of taking the highway, we opted for smaller roads and it was worth it! We could see beautiful sceneries and small towns along the way. We even randomly (and unexpectedly!) found this beautiful reflection of mountains and sun on the lake next to the road:
Amazing isn’t it?!? I love such random and unexpected encounter! If you pay attention to the first picture, you can see there’s someone sitting in the hut (or what do you call that?). He was actually fishing and most probably enjoying the beautiful view. I envied him so much!
Anyway, we reached Salzburg at around 9pm after almost 3 hours of journey. It was not until the next day (Sunday) that we wandered around the beautiful city. I really liked Salzburg. The building and churches reminded me of Prague, Czech Republic; but it’s much cleaner and neat. The city was famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the famous and one my favorite childhood movies, The Sound of Music. I couldn’t believe that after watching the movie for so many times, I got to visit this beautiful place!!! It was a dream come true! I couldn’t visit all the places featured in the movie though, as they were located far from each other. But at least, I got to set my foot at the Mirabell Gardens where Maria and the kids sang Do Re Mi (at 4:00 til the end in the video) and the Nonnberg Abbey, the monastery where Maria stayed. Although the movie was so famous worldwide, I was told that most Salzburgers hadn’t actually watch the movie 😀 .
Our last destination was Königssee (King’s Lake) in Germany, near the Austrian border — about half an hour from Salzburg. My housemate recommended me this place. The lake was so clean (it’s the cleanest lake in Germany!!) and green! The attractions can only be reached by boat, so we took the boat to see St. Bartholomä Church. It was a pity that we couldn’t go any further with the boat, probably because it was still too dangerous to go to some places there (snow and cold weather). It was quite sunny and warm before we took the boat but the temperature at St. Bartholomä dropped to the lowest! It was freeeeeeezing and I didn’t take my coat with me (I left it in the car). So we decided to have lunch and warm ourselves up at the only restaurant there. I treated myself that day for a nice meal and ordered a really delicious fish 😉 . It was really nice. The beautiful view around King’s Lake reminded me of New Zealand’s Milford Sound. I think it’d be nice if we could do hiking or walk along the trails, but unfortunately we didn’t have much time. We had to rush back to Eindhoven, with a journey of about 8 hours 😀 . Alhamdulillah, we reached home safely at around 2am!
To recap: my friends and I managed to visit a total of 3 countries and 5 interesting places ranging from cities, towns, to natural wonders and drive through about 2,500 kilometers (that means about almost a day worth!). It was a super AWESOME and memorable trip with 2 strong female drivers (who were still enthusiastic to do another road trip! haha) and two bodyguards! Not to mention our extremely nice and welcoming Couchsurfers who hosted us for free (and even showed us around the city) in Paris, Ulm, and Salzburg — which made us save around 60 Euros worth of money for accommodation which can otherwise be spent for others 😉 . Super great!!!
Let me see, what’s next? Andalusia, Spain? 🙂