There are endless reasons to adore Europe – aromatic espressos, architecture at sunrise, people watching, (especially if said people are wearing socks and sandals simultaneously with two braids tied on top of their head and pushing a pram with a dog in it) but my favourite reason is the ability to be in a completely different country within an hour. In the six weeks we spent in landlocked Austria we took three side trips which I will regale you with the best bits, awarded on the amount of laughter or oohing and ahhing that was generated and the worst bits, allocated according to how large I wore my frown.


Salzburg, Austria

Best bits:

1. Meandering the cobbled streets of the old town and reaching the top of the Hohensalzberg Fortress that guards the city. Built in 1077, the medieval fortress offers the best views of the city. Visit the fortress before or after lunch so you can dine alfresco at the Stieglkeller. Their golden lagers were a treat after walking in the sweltering heat and their potato rosti with smoked salmon and caper berries was one of the best meals I had in Austria!




2. Reading the engraved padlocks along love lock bridge. This fascination is not born out of a romantic notion, I value practicality over romance which is why I find the bridge (and Skip) so intriguing. I imagine two lovers standing here, one looking favourably at their partner and says “shall we?” and the other responds with a nod in agreement. They search for a shop which sells padlocks and discuss what colour they should buy, what size, what should it say, initials or full names? They debate the date they actually got together, one says first kiss, the other says first sleep over. Back to the bridge they go lock in hand, pondering where to hang it. One of them paces the bridge trying to source the ideal spot when finally the other suggests ‘here‘ which is where I stand reading their statement of love. I wonder if they are still together?  Do they have 2.3 kids and a Volvo? Is this someone’s memory of a lost love? This exercise seems all too consuming for me yet the result is beautiful wall full of love confessions.

Worst bits:

1. The passive aggressive over-talkative waiter at the hotel. Complimentary afternoon tea was included in our stay and we took a seat in the sun, had espressos and a tray of buttery sweet pastries delivered to us. We were then subjected to a relentless and breathless tirade of statements for the next half an hour. Each question was a trap, a lure to school us on all things we should know about the world and clearly don’t. “How can you not like classical music? Ridiculous, you MUST see a Mozart show in Salzburg!”. And so it went until Skip gave me ‘the look’ and we got up and left, avoiding eye contact with him for the rest of our stay.


Bratislava, Slovakia

Best bits:

1. The beautiful boat ride to Bratislava along the Danube River with quaint fishing huts lining the water.

2. Getting off the boat and walking to a cafe I was staggered at how head turning attractive all of the women were. Four of us were all in amazement and my friend David accurately stated that it “looks like someone left the door to the pretty girl factory open.” Single guys should add this to their ‘must visit’ list.

3. A cone of ice cream is only 70 cents!



Worst bits:

1. Seeing a dead goat thrown into the back of ute at Devon Castle. There were two other goats lurking around looking rather shifty…to this day the case remains unsolved.

2. In Australia the pinnacle of Rugby League is a series called the State of Origin. Two states, Queensland (maroon jerseys) and New South Wales (blue jerseys) battle it out in a three game series which my husband Skip never misses and watched over lunch while on our day trip. After Queensland had an 8 year winning streak they were defeated by New South Wales. So finding an all blue church on the day Queensland lost was salt to the wound.




Budapest, Hungary

Best bits:

1. What’s not to love in this city? I immediately liked Hungary, it encapsulates a funky vibrant vibe with a charming old world feel.



2. Our magnificent Hungarian lunch at the Blue Rose restaurant with garlic potato cakes, fried camembert with fresh apple and cranberry sauce, pancake with shredded beef and paprika sauce and goulash!

3. Participating in live game called Claustrophilia which is held in an apartment and involves figuring out a series of clues, using logic and an array of tools and objects to move from one room to another until you exit the apartment. It was a fascinating, challenging and fun 60 minutes that I recommend anyone try if they get the chance.

Worst bits:

1. The yellow bus line on the hop on hop off bus…if the narrator told me one more time that a monk was put into a barrel of nails and thrown down a hill into the Danube River I was going to put myself into a barrel of nails and throw myself into the Danube River!


From the Big Top,