FNT-astic Travel Tips

FNT European Adventure

“It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”

Oktoberfest, German Pretzels, Schnitzel, Prague Castle, Mirabell Gardens (“The hills are alive with the sound of music”)…

View of Prague Castle from Strahov Monastery

You’ve probably heard of these things (and places) many times…perhaps seen them in the movies or on the Travel Channel. But did you know the parts of Eastern and Western Europe mentioned above are more easily accessible from Flint Bishop than ever before? New flights to Charlotte open up even more international connectivity to dozens of cities, including Munich. That’s in addition to our longtime flights to Chicago with American AND United - and Atlanta with Delta. Come along as we bring you on a recent journey to Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. The trip started and ended at Flint Bishop – saving us the hassle of traveling from a large airport, and the expense of parking at one for a long period of time.

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MUNICH

The mid-morning flight from Flint Bishop to Charlotte (FNT & CLT) is perfectly timed to tap into the international bank at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. CLT is among the top 10 busiest airports in the WORLD, with 175 nonstop destinations around the GLOBE. So if Bavaria, Oktoberfest, the Christmas Markets, or Neuschwanstein Castle are on your bucket list, we’d like to help you check it off!

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We traveled to Munich in late September – just in time for Oktoberfest! It was incredible! There is nothing like the original, the largest, world renowned Oktoberfest in all its beer glory. From the amazingly large beer halls, to traditional Bavarian food, to the singing and dancing – you should definitely visit at least once in your life!  

What to do at Oktoberfest:

1.       Buy the traditional dress; a drindle for the ladies and lederhosen for the men.

2.       Drink a beer (even if you’re not a beer person).

3.       Try the food. Absolutely delicious!

4.       Sing! Be prepared to sing along with a live band in every tent.

5.       Dance – Dancing on tables is absolutely normal (and perfectly acceptable) there!

The German Markets

When it comes to Christmas Markets, no one does it better than Germany. Us “Michiganders” even have our own little German Christmas Market in Frankenmuth. Unfortunately we were not there during the Christmas season. However, the markets were still impressive. We visited the Viktualienmarkt and found a foodie heaven! It was amazing!

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Neuschwanstein Castle

There are several beautiful castles near Munich, but the most famous (and arguably the most beautiful) is Schloss Neuschwanstein. It beautifully situated in the Bavarian Alps, about a 1.5 hours from Munich. It’s definitely a must-see for Disney fans. It served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty.

Dachau Concentration Camp

Though difficult and emotionally tough – Dachau was a wonderful experience. We understand this may not be high on most people’s travel bucket list. We even struggled with the idea of going. We did go. And we left feeling inspired to be better, do better, and love deeper. It’s impossible to leave a concentration camp and not become more empathetic. Dachau, by the way, was the first Nazi concentration camp. There were 32,000 documented deaths there and thousands more that are undocumented. The camp was liberated by the United States Army in April 1945.

Austria; Salzburg and Hallstatt 

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In under two hours you can drive from Munich to Salzburg, Austria – beautifully situated at the foot of the Alps. This is another stunningly beautiful European city with so much history! Not only is it the birthplace of Mozart but it’s also where The Sound of Music was filmed. Salzburg survived World War II virtually untouched so most of the old, Baroque buildings remain in their original condition. The architecture is breathtaking.

Not far from Salzburg is Hallstatt. Hallstatt is one of our favorites – a picture-perfect town and off the radar. It sits on Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by the Austrian Alps, with beautiful alleyways filled with cafes and shops. It’s absolutely stunning! We only had 24 hours here, too. However, we definitely should have built in at least one more day. 

Both Salzburg and Hallstatt are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Salzburg Sightseeing

We arrived mid-afternoon and wasted no time exploring. We took a scenic walk through the city and crossed the river to stroll through Getreidegasse – the city’s most famous shopping street. It is picturesque with lots of cafes and shops. We also walked through the Mirabelle Gardens (a Sound of Music scene), and strolled past the Mozart Museum.

Markets of Salzburg

The Gunmarkt is a must! It sits in front of the beautiful University Church and has everything from local produce to handmade baskets. The pastries and homemade pretzels were unavoidable. We bought a couple goodies as we strolled through the stalls – where we purchased a few souvenirs to take home. There are two other well-known markets there; The Salzburg Schranne and Organic farmers’ market Kajetanerplatz. Since we were only there two days we missed them but we hear they are wonderful!

Sound of Music Tour

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This is a must if you’re a Sound of Music fan. However, if you have a car we highly recommend visiting the sites on your own. We did have car but thought we’d prefer the guided tour. Although it was nice to hear some more background about the move (and country) along the tour, we felt it was a little too structured. If you don’t have a car, the guided tour is a great option! It’s pretty magical to see all the picturesque sights from such a great movie!

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 Dinner and Drinks

There are endless locations to choose from when deciding where to eat and drink. Since we were only there a day – it was hard to pick the best. There is a Michelin Star Restaurant in Salzburg. We contemplated going. However, we opted for a more laid back restaurant with stunning views of the city. The IMLAUER Sky Bar & Restaurant is amazing! We were there as the sun was setting, and it was a beautiful scene! We ordered a wonderful cheese platter and sipped on some wine before heading to the Salzburg Whiskey Museum --- an awesome gem in the city! This is not a museum in the conventional sense. It’s very much a pub – with hundreds of whiskeys to taste and an awesome atmosphere that pays homage to the spirit. It a “speakeasy meets old-world pub” type of place. This is a must - even if you’re not a whiskey drinker.

24 hours in Hallstatt

Next on the European Adventure is Hallstatt – perhaps our favorite stop! You can do everything or nothing here. There is a lot to see and take in. However, sitting down at a café and simply taking in the scenery is awesome, too.

Eat & Drink

There are several wonderful places to get a full meal, an appetizer, a pretzel, or just to enjoy a drink on the water. Definitely try some pumpkin soup which is a traditional dish in Austria (and parts of Germany). It is soooo good! They use pumpkin oil which is delicious - and make sure you purchase that while you’re there, too! Spaetzle is a must-try, too!! It’s Austrian’s answer to Mac and Cheese. It’s seriously so good!  Another wonderful treat we found was Gluehwein – mulled or spiced wine that is served hot. There are several outdoor areas that sell this throughout Hallstatt and you can walk around town with it! We were there on a crisp, slightly rainy, fall day so it was the perfect warm drink to sip on while walking around!

Hallstatt Cable Car to Viewing Platform

This is a must when you’re in Austria! Hallstatt is home to one of the oldest salt mines in the world! And there is an incredible maze of tunnels still open to visitors.  There is a railway that connects the Old Town of Hallstatt up the mountain and tourists can take a cable car up to get spectacular views! There are a number of things you can do while up there; explore the caverns, salt mines, ice caves, etc. There’s a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy lunch, an espresso, spirit, or just sit back and relax. The restaurant is at the start of the World Heritage Skywalk – a platform that sits over the top of Hallstatt and offers panoramic views of the entire region. It’s absolutely stunning!

Three Days in Prague

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Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is in Eastern Europe. It is an easy drive, bus ride, flight (three of our airlines have flight options between the countries) or train ride from Salzburg and Hallstatt. It is very walkable, sits along a beautiful river, is incredibly charming and romantic. Oh and surprisingly affordable! The city has so much history, a large arts culture, and breathtaking landscapes. There is literally something for everyone in this city.

Guided Walking Tour

Our first day in Prague started with a guided walking tour. We chose to do a free one (tips encouraged) and we couldn’t be happier with this decision. It allowed us to get familiar with the city and decide how we wanted to wisely spend the next couple days. Our walking tour started in Old Town Square. Prague is separated by Old Town and New Town. Both parts of the city have many things to explore and sights to see.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the world-famous Astronomical Clock? That was one of the first stops on the walking tour, not too far from Old Town Square. It was constructed in 1410 and has quite the legend behind it. Every hour, on the hour, the clock “performs”. You can watch to see the small wooden figures move. Other stops on the tour included the Jewish History Museum, Old Jewish Cemetery (Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish Cemetery).

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Prague Architecture

Prague is often times compared to Paris. And while it is incredibly charming and romantic like Paris, it is distinctly different. The mix of baroque, Gothic, and medieval architecture is something to behold. The city is known for its stunning buildings, museums, and castles; Prague Castle, St. Nicholas Church, Týn Church, Golz-Kinský Palace,  St. Vitus's Cathedral and many more.

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is one of the main highlights of this city. It’s a pedestrian-only bridge that connects Old Town and New Town. You’ll find some of the most stunning views of Prague from the bridge. The walk itself is beautiful with various musicians performing all along the way. There are also lots of artists and street vendors lining the bridge. It’s a great spot to grab a painting or souvenir to take home. After crossing the bridge you can immediately tour Prague Castle Strahov Monastery and many other places. By the way, the walk up a steep hill to Strahov Monastery is incredible. There are wonderful views of the city!

Eating Through Prague

If you’re a foodie, Prague could be for you. The city has lots of great traditional Czech restaurants. If Czech cuisine isn’t your thing – the city has a great blend of restaurants featuring traditional food from many different culture. The first day we wanted to get a true taste for Czech food so we asked locals for their recommendation, and they sent us to LoKal. There we indulged in a traditional dish of Svíčková (braised beef) with dumplings. We also tried Kulajda – a mushroom & potato soup, and Wiener Sausages.

After the first day of lots of Czech cuisine, we were craving some pasta and pizza. We found an incredible authentic Italian restaurant in New Town, not too far from Prague Castle – called San Carlo Mala Strana. It was sooo good!

You must try the beer in Prague! Even if you’re not typically a beer drinker, we recommend giving it a try in Prague! Lokal is a great spot for a beer. You’ll also find lots of great pubs near Prague Castle. The Strahov Monastic Brewery is a great spot, too. There are wonderful patios to enjoy a beer, take in the sights and relax after a long day of sightseeing.

As we look back, it’s hard to believe all of these experiences were had in just 8 days!! And we feel there is so much we still need to see. Luckily traveling the world from Flint Bishop Airport is FunNaturalTimely. We can’t wait for our next adventure from FNT!

Start your journey today at bishopairport.org.

 

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