October 15, 2005

Karlovy Vary and Karlstein

On the way from Salzburg back to the Czech Republic, we drove through the Salzkammergut, a beautiful region that is a World Heritage Site. It is full of clear lakes, mountain peaks and green forests. We really enoyed driving through it. Both Brooke and Tyler fell asleep, so we ended up not stopping along the way. However, we had to stop once on the road so that a work crew could knock loose rocks off the mountainside. It was fun to watch them start small avalanches and then clear the rocks off the road.

We had planned on staying the night in Linz, in northern Austria, next to the border, but we reached there at noon so we decided to continue on to the Czech Republic. Early in the afternoon we stopped to eat at a KFC. It was fun to eat at a non-kosher KFC. The kids had lots of fun on the playground. Tyler had fun, but we noticed that he wasn't quite himself. We realized that he had a fever so we gave him some Tylenol. We continued on to a city called Plezn. After a few tries we found a reasonably priced hotel. Since Tyler wasn't feeling very well, we let him watch cartoons as we got ready for bed. He ended up having a pretty rough night, waking up and saying some bizarre things.

When we got up in the morning Tyler was feeling much better. We drove to Karlovy Vary, which is also known as Carlsbad. It is a spa town, with natural hot springs. After checking into a hotel, we wandered around the town. We really didn't know what to expect, but we really enjoyed it. There are two pedestrian zones - one that is on both sides of the warm water river through the town and another one in the downtown area. Both areas are full of little shops selling crystal, porcelain and jewelry.

For many years people have gone to Karlovy Vary for spa treatments and to drink the mineral water. We thought the mineral water smelled funny and looked too hot to drink, but to each his own. We did, however, buy a small porcelain pitcher which is the traditional method to drink the water. One of the great things about the town is eating the spa waffles. They are actually more like wafers, but they are very good, especially when warm. We bought lots fresh, and also bought boxes of them to take home.

Karlovy Vary spring

On the far side of town from our hotel there was a funicular up to the top of a small hill. We knew Tyler would love it so we had to ride it. At the top there was a tower. We were able to ride an elevator to the top of the tower, where we had a beautiful view of the town. Scott took this fun panorama.

Karlovy Vary Panorama

We played on playground equipment at the base of the tower and then rode the funicular back down. We continued walking around town and admired the five star Grand Pupp Hotel. We had been told to stay in that hotel, and that it cost about fifty dollars to stay there ten or fifteen years ago. However, it was way outside of our price range at about four hundred dollars a night!

We then rode another funicular up to the Imperial Hotel, a large, beautiful four star hotel. We had a snack, admired the view and then rode back down. We ate doner kebabs for dinner and then went to bed early.

Karlovy Vary

The next morning we drove to a castle just outside of Prague named Karlstein. You may notice the name Karl pops up a lot. Both Karlovy Vary and Karlstein are named after Charles IV, a Holy Roman Emperor who lived in the 14th century. Karlstein is a Gothic castle built on a hill. We had to wait a while for the English tour, but it was very interesting. It was on our tour that we ran into another Israeli family. Tyler was shy, though and didn't want to talk to them in Hebrew.


After the tour, we walked back to our car. On the way we stopped and ate sausages and then bought a Bohemian crystal vase.

Road to Karlstein

As the sun started to set we drove back to Prague and returned our rental car to the rental office at the Hotel Intercontinental. We were able to take one of the hotel's Mercedes shuttles to the airport. We wandered around and killed time at the airport until our flight left at midnight. One of the highlights of our airport time was watching a luggage saran wrap machine. For about three dollars they would spin the suitcase on a machine that wrapped it with a large roll of saran wrap to protect it. We even wrapped a couple of our own pieces that needed some extra protection.

We had a wonderful trip to the Czech Republic and Austria. It was very relaxing and we got to see lots of fun things and eat lots of great food.


"I can't reach my cough medicine." - while delirious.
"I can't find my yellow blanket. It is in your pocket." - also while feverish.
"Amit and Or are teaching me Czech at school." - Apparently, Tyler's two best friends know Czech.
"How come they have Hebrew shows here?" - Tyler was surprised to see shows he recognizes, such as Bob the Builder, in the Czech Republic. He didn't seem to notice that they were in German.
"Daddy keeps parking the car." - After Scott stalled the car with its manual transmission a few times in a row.


"hand" - As in, "I want to hold your hand and walk instead of being carried." Actually means that she wants to run away from us.
"vafa" - waffle, especially the Karlovy Vary spa waffles.
"Ohhh" - As in, "I understand now."

Posted by sjbowden at 10:10 PM

October 13, 2005


The drive to Salzburg was beautiful. We decided to take the scenic route through the mountains rather than the faster and less scenic freeway. Tyler especially loved all the tunnels (over 20!) through the mountains and Tiffany and Scott enjoyed the fall foliage.

We found Peppermint Rittersport chocolate at a gas station along the way which made Tiffany very happy, as she was panicked when she couldn't find them in Vienna. We arrived at our bed and breakfast, the Pension Sallerhof, at about 6 pm. The staff recommended an authentic Austrian restaurant down the street. The kids got chalkboards and chalk to color with which was fun for them, but meant that they were covered in chalk dust by the time our food arrived. Tiffany had a Cordon Bleu weiner schnitzel and Scott had a very spicy weiner schnitzel with blue cheese.

The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast of yogurt, eggs, bread, cereal, sliced meat and cheese with juice and hot chocolate. We had our own table reserved for us in the breakfast room, with a high chair for Brooke and a booster seat for Tyler.

Just a short drive from the bed and breakfast is the Untersberg cable car. Tyler loved playing with the toy cable car in the station while waiting to board. The cable car ride was amazing; it took us up over 1300 meters (4300 feet) in altitude. The top station is on Geiereck peak of the Untersberg mountains.

There is a local legend that the Emperor Charlemagne is asleep on his throne next to a round table inside the mountain. His beard has already grown around the table twice and when it makes it around the third time it will be the end of the world. We didn't get a chance to see him, but we did see some of the ravens that are supposed to fly around the mountain until that time.

Untersberg cable car

At the top, we put Brooke in the backpack carrier and we hiked to the next peak, Salzburger Hochthron. Overall the hike to the peak and back took us a couple of hours. We were a little out of breath from the altitude, but it was a beautiful day and the view was amazing.

Salzburger Hochthron

After we descended, we drove to Hellbrunn palace. We took a tour of the trick water gardens that were built in the 17th century. They were lots of fun. There was an outdoor table that the Archbishop of Salzburg would use when he had guests over. He could cause water to spray through all of the seats except for his own. We got to watch an elementary school class get soaked. There was also a rain grotto room that rains inside, a room full of bird sounds produced by water forcing air through whistles, and lots of unexpected jets and hidden water spouts. We survived mostly dry, but only because we were very careful to walk where the ground was dry.

Hellbrunn Water Gardens

After the tour, we wandered in the gardens and toured the palace. We also watched a glass blowing demonstration and tried to convince Tyler that he didn't need anything from the gift shop.

Hellbrunn Water Palace

On the grounds of Hellbrunn is the authentic gazebo used in the Sound of Music. It is actually one of two gazebos. This one was used for all the outside shots. There was another, much bigger one in Hollywood used for the inside shots. We ate a picnic lunch on the grass nearby and let the kids play on the playground equipment. The palace park was huge and the kids were sad when we left.

Sound of Music Gazebo

After Hellbrunn, we drove to downtown Salzburg. Tyler saw the funicular to the top of the Salzburg fortress, so we had to ride it. We explored the fortress and then rode the funicular back down. We walked through the pedestrian zone, saw the house where Mozart was born, window shopped and then ate pizza for dinner. After dinner we drove back to the bed and breakfast and slept.

View of Salzburg

The yard of the bed and breakfast was beautiful, with lots of flowers and green grass. There was also a crystal clear stream running by on the other side of the fence. It was very relaxing and refreshing. We enjoyed the view from our balcony.

Bed and Breakfast backyard

Our plan was to go on the Salzburg salt mines tour. However, once we got there we found out that Brooke was too young for it. It was a two hour tour, so we decided not to split up. Instead, we drove back to downtown Salzburg to visit Mirabell palace. It is the site of some of the scenes in the Sound of Music. We had fun playing and exploring the grounds.

Mirabell palace

Tyler and Brooke had lots of fun with the gnomes at Mirabell.

Mirabell gnomes

Here are the famous Do Re Mi stairs from the Sound of Music.

Do Re Mi Stairs

Brooke fell asleep on the ten minute drive from Mirabell to the Salzburg zoo, so we ate our lunch in the car until she woke up. At the zoo, there were coin opereated toy construction machines. Tyler and Scott paid one Euro to scoop up dirt and move it around for about five minutes.

On the job

We loved the zoo. The African section was especially fun because we were able to tell Tyler that his Grandma and Grandpa Bowden live in Africa and have seen some of the same kinds of animals. Zebras are Tyler's favorite animals, so he was thrilled to see some up close. He was disappointed, though, that they wouldn't talk to him. Tyler also enjoyed seeing the tiger, panthers, rhinos and bears. Brooke had fun pointing to all of the animals. She seems to like animals and is starting to name the more common animals.

Tyler and the Rhino

After the zoo, we went back to downtown Salzburg and ate at a Japanese restaurant. The only other family in the restaurant was an Israeli family. We overheard them speaking Hebrew so we had fun talking to them for a few minutes (in English).

After another restful night at our bed and breakfast, we headed back to the Czech Republic.


"I'm a cow." - Tyler's response after Scott called Brooke a clothes-horse.
"I'm sad because I want a movie like this at home." - About the ski channel that shows panoramic views from the top of ski resorts, including views of chairlifts and cable cars.
"Push me again, my time is running out." - On a swing.


"horse" - One of Brooke's favorite animals.

Posted by sjbowden at 8:18 PM

October 10, 2005

Vienna - Zanoni & Zanoni special edition

Scott scanned in this picture of Tiffany holding two ice cream cones from Zanoni and Zanoni taken in 1999 when Scott and Tiffany first went to Vienna together. He couldn't resist uploading it with a similar picture taken six years, two children and lots of travels later.

Zanoni and Zanoni 1999

Zanoni and Zanoni 2005

Posted by sjbowden at 7:15 PM

October 9, 2005


We arrived in Vienna on Friday evening and went straight to our hotel. We were thrilled to find that our hotel was right next to a U-bahn (subway) stop. As soon as we got our luggage into the room, we headed to downtown Vienna. Tiffany spent a semester in Vienna with BYU Study Abroad, so she was really looking forward to visiting Vienna again. Tyler was thrilled just to ride the subway.

We wandered around downtown and then found Tiffany's favorite bratwurst stand. We got cheese bratwursts which were wonderful. The kids even ate some. Tyler loves Smart cars, so we took his picture next to the Sacher hotel Smart car. The Sacher hotel is a famous Viennese hotel known for its specialty chocolate cake, Sacher Torte. Tyler was also excited to see a Smart police car.

Sacher Smart

Next we went to Zanoni and Zanoni's, Tiffany's most favorite ice cream shop in the entire world. Her professor introduced the Study Abroad group to it on their first night in Vienna and they had ice cream there almost every day. Brooke loved the ice cream so much that she ate through a paper napkin trying to get more. We then headed back to the hotel and collapsed. Our hotel room was really nice. It had a fridge, a microwave and best of all, a partition to separate the adults from the kids.

Zanoni and Zanoni

On Saturday, we had croissants and hot chocolate for breakfast compliments of the hotel and then took the U-bahn north to the end of the line. We did it mainly to please Tyler, but it was fun to explore. We stopped at the Donau island park and walked along the Danube river.

Beautiful Blue Danube

Our next stop was Prater, a year-round amusement park. On the way there, coming out of the subway station, we were given Yoplait yogurt samples which was great because that became our lunch. At Prater, the first thing we did was ride the real steam train. We sat up front and watched the engineer load coal into the firebox. Needless to say, Tyler loved every minute. Brooke was very cute waving to all the people we passed.

Liliput Steam Train

Our next activity was riding the Reisenrad ferris wheel, a famous landmark in Vienna. It has been in several movies, including a James Bond movie. It was fun to ride high above the city and see the panoramic view.

Reisenrad Ferris Wheel

Tyler asked to ride on the bumper cars, so Scott and Tyler rode together in a purple car. Tyler steered and Scott controlled the speed. At first, it was just Scott and Tyler driving around alone, but then an employee got in a car so that they could bump him and get bumped. Tyler loved it and was convinced that he won.

Bumper cars

No trip to an amusement park would be complete without cotton candy, one of Tiffany's favorite treats.

Cotton candy at the Prater

We shopped at a nearby Billa, Tiffany's favorite grocery store, for things we can't get in Israel and food to eat in our hotel room. We then had lunch at the hotel and went downtown to look for a Leonidas shop, Scott's favorite Belgian chocolates. We rode the tram in a circle through downtown and then explored the museum quarter.

Art History Museum

For dinner we ate at Tiffany's favorite pizza restaurant. For dessert we had more Zanoni and Zanoni's ice cream. We ate the ice cream as we wandered through the pedestrian zone and watched street performers. We returned to the hotel by subway.

Viennese subway

On Sunday, we went to church and lucked out by arriving for the meeting time of the International ward. It was nice to have the meetings in English; we were planning on sitting through meetings in German. We were welcomed warmly and several people were disappointed that we were not moving to Vienna. We even met a family that had lived in Israel a couple of years ago.

We were a little worried how the kids would do during church. Our branch in Israel is very small and our children are used to wandering from person to person during the meetings. The ward in Vienna was large and had real pews that were full of people. Fortunately, it turned out well. We sat near another four year old boy that Tyler was happy to meet. Tyler was thrilled to go to Primary with the five other four year old boys in the ward. That day the entire Primary was practicing for a Primary program. Tyler wanted to participate so much that they made up a part for him in the program rehearsal. Tiffany was excited to meet members of the BYU Study Abroad group also there at church. We hung out for a while after church talking to the members.

We returned to the hotel and ate microwave dinners. Then we went to the Leopold museum which had a special Impressionist exhibit from the Musee d'Oursay in Paris. Next we went to Schonbrunn Palace and walked around in the gardens.

Schonbrunn gardens

Even though it was getting late, Tyler insisted on climbing up to the Glorietta. We got there just as the sun was setting, so it turned out to be a wonderful sunset view of the city.

The Glorietta

The next day we left Vienna, but we couldn't leave without one more serving of Zanoni and Zanoni's ice cream. We bought souvenirs downtown, then checked out of the hotel and headed to Salzburg.

More Z and Z ice cream


"I'm not happy because I'm not on the subway." - A constant problem.
"Are we going to go to church or just to look?" - Confused about visiting ancient cathedrals versus going to church meetings.
"I need a hug. Anyone give me a hug, please." - Stalling at bedtime.


"Ba-pa" - Brooke's favorite mode of transport, riding in the backpack carrier.

Posted by sjbowden at 8:51 PM

October 6, 2005


In order to fly to Prague we had to do something we had hoped never to do again, leave very early in the morning. We had to leave home a little after midnight, and unfortunately the kids woke up at as we carried them to the car and didn't fall back asleep. We flew on Czech Airlines which was nicer than we expected. The kids each got toys and kids meals. Scott was so tired that he fell asleep while eating his breakfast.

We had a hard time finding an inexpensive hotel on the internet before we left, so we arranged to rent an apartment for our three nights in Prague. The apartment agency also picked us up at the airport. As soon as we dropped off our bags we went exploring. Tyler was thrilled to see the electric streetcars (trams) and begged to ride them, so we bought 72 hour public transportation passes. We then had lunch at Little Caesars Pizza. It was fun to eat pizza and crazy bread again since we hadn't eaten there for years.

We then took a tram to the bottom of a nearby hill. We rode a funicular to the top. At the top there was a tower that is about 1/5th the size of the Eiffel Tower.

Petrinska rozhledna

We weren't planning on climbing the tower, but Tyler insisted and we were glad we did. He did very well climbing it and even complained that Tiffany and Brooke were too slow. The view from the top was wonderful. Afterwards we wandered around in the gardens at the base of the tower.

Panorama of Prague

After we rode the funicular down the hill we went to a big department store. We bought some things that we can't get in Israel and some Legos. We were tempted to buy more toys because they are so much cheaper than in Israel, but we realized that they are still expensive compared to the States. We then ate at a little French restaurant, La Petite Bretagne, near our apartment. We had raclette, a traditional French dish (although not from the Bretagne area). The kids were crazy because it had been a very long day, but we survived. The food was very inexpensive, about $25. In general, we found the food in the Czech Republic to be inexpensive.

The next day we got up and rode the tram. We actually walked back one stop so that we could ride it two stops instead of just one. We did this often, sometimes riding trams just to keep Tyler happy. We spent the day in the old city. The picture below is one of the old synagogues in Prague. Tiffany remembered going to a Jewish museum in this synagogue when she visited during her semester in Vienna. It was closed, but then it dawned on us that it was closed for the Jewish holidays which were the reason Scott had time off of work!

Maisel synagogue

We visited the famous clock tower and went to the top of it (by elevator fortunately). One of Prague's nicknames is the city of a hundred spires and we sure could see a lot of spires from the top.

From the top of the clock tower

After the clock tower, we wandered around the shops downtown, ate sausage rolls from a bakery and walked down Wenceslas square. We then went back to the apartment for more lunch for the kids and naps. Unfortunately, Brooke and Tyler did not fall asleep for two hours, spending the time running around the apartment instead. They finally fell asleep but only napped for a little while. So, we left the apartment and walked along the Moldau River to the Charles Bridge and walked across it and then back again. Somehow we managed to wander past a Swarovski crystal store and Tiffany ended up with a new necklace.

Moldau and Prague Castle

The next day we rode a tram to Prague castle. Inside the castle complex is the St. Vitus Cathedral. Tyler convinced us to climb the 287 steps to the top of another tower. Tyler proved to be quite the tower climber this trip. Everyone that saw us on the stairs commented how easy Brooke had it in the backpack carrier.

St Vitus Cathedral in Prague

We ate sandwiches and treats at a little cafe near the castle and then saw the basilica, Golden lane (a street of shops), and the old palace. There was also a toy museum which the kids loved. Predictably, Brooke was glued to the doll displays and Tyler was glued to the train displays. Tiffany probably spent the longest, though, examining the History of Barbie exhibit. We did get to go in the art museum, but we were a little unnerved by a guard that followed us around making sure that we kept our children under control.

View towards Prague old city

We really enjoyed our apartment. It felt a lot more private than a hotel room. It was nice to have a fridge; we were able to give the kids yogurt and milk. It was also nice to eat breakfast cereal in the apartment instead of looking for breakfast every morning. We were also able to do several loads of laundry with the washing machine in the apartment. The apartment was close to the main sights and best of all, the kids had their own room.

Prague apartment

After our last night in our apartment, we got up and packed. We then picked up our rental car, a very nice Opel Vectra station wagon, loaded the suitcases inside and headed to Vienna. It was on the way to Vienna that we had the only language difficulty of the trip - despite pointing to the Happy Meal sign in a McDonalds, we apparently did not order the Happy Meal or get the Happy Meal toys, which was the whole reason we ate there. The drive through the Czech Republic was very scenic. We enjoyed seeing the fall colors, something we do not see in Israel. Overall, the weather was perfect, sometimes we wore light jackets, but never more than that.


"Gray navy" - Gray sweatpants that match his navy sweatshirt.
"I don't speak Czech" - Tyler was surprised that he didn't understand people.

Posted by sjbowden at 7:49 PM