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Two sisters in Austria + a little Switzerland—Our Trip Report

Introductions: We are in our mid (sister) to late (me) 40s. Our first trip to Europe was last Sept. to Switzerland. I returned to Switzerland solo this past June. This Austria trip was originally going to be my second solo trip. But, once my sister learned of the Sound of Music and Swarovski connection, she just had to come along. My sister has numerous health conditions, so I changed my original plans to make it an easier trip. And I had to include some shopping for her.

Flight to Vienna: We flew nonstop on Austrian Air out of O’Hare. Our gate—M37—was in the new part of terminal 5. Let’s just say it was a little far from security. We went past the Rick Bayless restaurant and just kept walking and walking and walking. No services other than restrooms yet. Here’s a map:
https://www.flychicago.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/O%27Hare/Map/T5.pdf
Deciding to save Vienna for a future trip, upon landing in Vienna, we took the Railjet to Salzburg. I had received some great help on the forum from Steven and wmt1 and decided to purchase the tickets ahead of time along with seat reservations as the trains that morning were expected to be near capacity. This turned out to be money well spent as the train was indeed very crowded.

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5 nights in Salzburg
We spent our first 5 nights at the RS recommended Weisse Taube in the old town. The hotel was nothing fancy, but it was a great location and the staff was very friendly and helpful.

Our first full day we spent in Salzburg. We loved how walkable the city is and around every corner there was something new to see. I won’t mention all the tents and fencing that were set up all over the place, making it very difficult for me to take my pictures. 😊 My sister fell in love with Austrian painter Gustav Klimt as all the shops had his paintings on everything from shirts, to pens to magnets. And yes, she bought it all. 😊 This might be a good place to mention that we ended up shipping a box home to make more room for all the Swiss chocolate we intended to buy later in Switzerland. We bought the extra large box from the post office and couldn’t believe it only cost 40 Euros to send to the US. For 20 pounds of loot!!!! My sister is already planning all the shopping she can do on future trips since it’s so cheap to mail stuff back home.

The next day we took an early train to Munich and spent the day there. Again, I was worried about the trains being crowded, so I reached out to the forum and received some great info. from sla019. We once again prepurchased our tickets and this was one less thing to worry about. Passports were checked on the way to Munich by 3 German police officers. They just flipped through my passport pages but really spent time looking at my sister’s and took a picture of it. Perhaps it was her exotic trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic that gave them pause.

For our third full day, we again spent time in Salzburg. I won’t list everything we did and saw as you can get an idea from my photos. But, we did take Carrie’s Sound of Music Tour. Great guide, I highly recommend her as it’s me. 😊

We spent the next day in Zell em See and had a nice time walking around the lake and old town.

Misc. Notes: We did run into a few places that only accepted cash—a bakery at the train station, the tobacco shop to purchase bus tickets, and some of the toilets. Get out early (around 7 am) to get some pics without all the crowds. Nothing drives me crazier than people in my pictures!! 😊

The Paprika Chip Challenge: When we were in Switzerland, we fell in love with the paprika potato chips made by Swiss company Zweifel. Forum member Pat had alerted me that we could find some paprika chips in Austria. So, we were determined to try them all and we did!! Here’s our rankings, as scored my sister: Kelly’s 2; Pringles 3; Lorenz natural 6; Spar 8.
If you’re a chip fan, be sure to read the Switzerland part of the report to see what we discovered there.

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6 nights in Innsbruck
We spent our next 6 nights at the AC Marriott in Innsbruck. I had credit card points so this was free for us. Well, expect for the $1079 they tried to charge us for laundry when we checked out. 😊 Great location—close to the train and old town.

Innsbruck was cold and crowded. I was glad we packed our puffer coats. Our first meal of chicken Caesar salad gave us both food poisoning. It can happen anywhere, so I won’t mention the restaurant. And I’ll spare everyone the details other than to say my sister was in pretty bad shape for 2 days. Mine was pretty mild. It was difficult finding bland food in a foreign country when all we wanted was Saltines and toast. While my sister stayed in the room, I explored Innsbruck on my own and one afternoon went to Hall in Tyrol, which I really enjoyed. I was afraid to venture too far away from my sister. And we were both a little nervous about eating after this.
Luckily, my sister recovered in time to make our reservation for the Swarovski Crystal Garden. My sister has been a huge fan of Swarovski for as long as I can remember. She said this was like her Disney World. 😊 She had a great time and has the pictures and jewelry to prove it.

We also did a day trip to Brixen, Italy to see the cathedral and impressive cloisters. And to eat pizza and gelato of course.

Misc. Notes: Do pedestrians not have the right of way in Austria? I can’t count the number of times we were almost run over while walking in the crosswalk. Bikes and electric scooters don’t seem to stop. And cars wanted to turn into us, even though we had the right of way.

3 nights in St. Gallen, Switzerland
We were thrilled to be returning to Switzerland for our final nights. Everything is just so easy in Switzerland. I can’t explain it, but I love it so much!! 😊

We stayed at the Hotel Metropol right across from the train station. It was a basic hotel, good location. I really wanted to see the Abbey and library, which was really impressive. We really enjoyed the old town too. A great place to walk around without crowds. And we were happy to be eating our favorite avocado sandwich from the Brezelkönig.

We spent one day at the new Lindt chocolate museum. Yes, it’s touristy, but we’re tourists, so it worked out great. 😊

For our final day, we went to Konstanz, Germany. My sister was running out of steam, so we didn’t stay too long.

Misc. Notes: I mentioned earlier how we love the Zweifel paprika chips. Well, the Manor Dept. store had a limited edition truffle flavor. I’m not a fan, but my sister was super excited and bought 6 bags to take home. More on that later. Also, passports were checked along with our train tickets.

Flight from Zurich to Chicago: In Zurich I was flagged for the Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS). This actually went pretty quick. When the women opened my carry on and saw all my sister’s potato chips, she just sent me on my way. I don’t think she wanted to know what was going on with all the chips. 😊 And back at O’Hare our gate was also in the new part of terminal 5. According to my phone, we walked 2,000 steps from the gate to passport control. It was really unbelievable!!

NEXT UP: Italy in March 2023 (with 2 nights in Lugano, Switzerland) with my sister and brother-in-law. Edinburgh and York solo (unless my sister tries to come along) in May 2023. Belgium and the Netherlands solo in Sept./Oct. 2023.

Finally: I will be taking a break from posting on the forum, but will check back for the next week or so in case anyone has any questions about the trip.

Happy Travels!!

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3225 posts

I've never understood that SSSS business. It happened to me at CDG last year. What exactly do they expect to find that wasn't found when I disrobed and went through the metal detectors?

And sorry about the food poisoning, that's why I try to eat only cooked food and drink Coke and beer when on the road.

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1459 posts

Beautiful pictures and sounds like a lot of fun. I was selected for the SSSS at AMS yesterday and then my husband was selected when we landed in ATL. It was interesting to note how thorough they were at AMS and how....not...they were at ATL. All they would've found was chocolate vapors on my luggage anyway 🤪

Lindt museum sounds great to me. I was giddy at the Godiva store in Brussels!

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2145 posts

Nicely written trip report. It sounds like you and your sister had fun in spite of your respective tummy troubles. I travel quite often with my sister and we do it well together!

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983 posts

What a fabulous trip and your photos are a feast for the eyes! Thank you for sharing.

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915 posts

Thank you for the Salzburg information. We are coming back there in December and happen to be staying at the same hotel that you did. Good to know about shipping stuff home! I have done that often in Paris and London, but not here. I am sure we will since we will be there for the Christmas Markets.

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2396 posts

Carrie, great report and pix.
You can combine your Swiss love with your future Italy visit- from Lugano you can easily get to the start of the Bernini Express train, which crosses over into Tirana, Italy. Then to Lake Como, and onto to Venice, and onto exploring the rest of the "boot". ( Just a suggestion.)
Have a great time planning.

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3369 posts

Nice trip report. I liked the details… like the potato chips! Salzburg is a great city. I like it a lot. I like Hall in Tirol a lot, too. Thanks for sharing your travel adventure!

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2181 posts

How do we see your photos, Carrie?
I enjoyed your report!

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1695 posts

Sorry, S.J. I took the photos down after a few weeks. One of these days, I’ll figure out a good place to store all my pictures long term.