Happy birthday Tom! (I know, this is a little belated - his birthday was August 12th!) But he certainly was lucky...who doesn't like cake for breakfast?! (Also please note the fabulous feast, including kaiserschmarrn and all the incredible Austrian bread rolls!)
Tom looking like the proud Austrian that he is in his birthday LEDERHOSEN! A perfect gift from his family, Tom is now going to be bringing the style back to the streets of Montreal...get ready, people!
(Fun Fact: he actually wore them on the plane home to Ottawa, receiving more than a few double-takes and admiration, especially from one portly Canadian whose wife wouldn't let him buy one on their trip!)
To top off Tom's birthday happiness, there was 'weisse' beer galore! Note the perfect pour in the photo - right amount of foam, it's in a typical white beer glass - as it stayed in the glass just long enough for the photo to be taken, before being knocked over his birthday cake. Serious party foul.
All in all, Tom had a magnificent birthday! (*please see previous post for photos of his three birthday cakes!)
We went on a birthday outing to Burghausen, Germany to see Burghausen castle, the longest castle in Europe - over a kilometre long! As you can imagine, it's near possible to capture, so I've done my best to get the whole thing in (stretching behind the church spire)
It was a beautiful castle, and it was neat to hop over a river and end up in another country!
What made it even better was going with the whole family!
I know it may not look like it from all of the photos of food, but I swear we did do something besides eat! Tom's family was incredibly generous with their time, and organized many trips and outings, including everything from castles to mini-putt! Read on..
Tom's Uncle Norbert and Aunt Anni are avid golfers and took us to their home course for a round of golf. I walked the course, as anyone who has seen me at the driving range would know that it would be a very long and painful game should I be involved!
This was naturally followed by a delicious lunch! This was one of our favourite dishes: eierschammerl mit knodel, which I think translates to girolle-type mushrooms with noodles and some sort of amazing mushroom cream sauce. Well deserved after 18 holes!
We went mini-putting with Tom's cousins near Attersee, which was really fun, though I lost quite terribly! But note Tom's fine form :)
Again, our sporting activity was followed by lunch, though this time at a local brewery, Zipfer!
Along with delicious beer, they served beautiful local meat and/or cheese platters, which was very refreshing after our rousing game of mini-golf!
Next stop: bowling!! Tucked away behind a restaurant, this gem of a bowling alley was perfect, and let me tell you, the competition was fierce (check out that technique!)
I really should have dedicated an entire post to the delicacy that is knoblauchstangerl. Though sold at most Austrian bakeries, none of them even come close to those sold at the Lohnsburger bakery. Basically, this piece of heaven is a long, chewy bread stick ('stangerl') filled with delicious garlic ('knoblauch'), butter and herbs. I miss them already.
We were taken on a neat day-trip to Hallstatt, a village so beautiful, the Chinese have created an exact replica! Originally an old salt mining village, it is now a tourist destination, though the salt mine is still active. Perched on the edge of Hallstätter lake, it really is picturesque, especially with the mist and fog when we were there.
Though known for it's beauty, Hallstatt also contains an ancient charnel house dating from the 1200's. It was definitely a bit creepy being surrounded by so many skulls, but it was also an interesting snapshot into the lives of the many permanent residents, with the markings painted onto each skull representing different aspects of the person's life. Most are from many centuries ago, but one woman requested that her skull be placed in the charnel house in 1983! (to the right of the cross - you can just make out her gold tooth!)
As I mentioned earlier, Hallstatt contains a salt mine, with a small part of it still being mined; the other part of it is open for tour groups. Since there is a constant temperature of only 8 C year-round, they outfit everyone in one-size-fits-all jumpsuits, though somehow Tom has made himself look very coordinated! One of the mine highlights: wooden slides to take you from one level to another! Though I might add there was some serious friction on the behind...!
After leaving depths of the mine behind we headed to Gmunden, a lovely town right on the lake. We had arrived just in time for their summer festival, which took place all along the water, complete with a water ski show, fireworks, live music and all sorts of delicious treats to try!
Here is an example of a local classic: fish on a stick! Most of the fish are caught locally and then grilled to perfection. I didn't try one, but they seemed very popular!
This post brings us to the end of our stay with family near Salzburg - we had an incredible time, and look forward to visiting again (and being able to speak fluent German!)
Next stop: Wien!