Willkommen in unserem Blog!
You may have recently noticed, by one or two posts on social media, that we spent some time abroad. Yes, we literally left the country during the peak of the holiday shopping season. No, we did not plan that on purpose, but it was absolutely what two, sleep-deprived, small business owning, boss babes needed!
To us, traveling is life. So, when we got asked by one of our best friends/travel partners (what's up Karianne!) to go on a two week adventure, a year in advance, we said yes before she even got done asking. Right around this same time last year, we created something very special to us. You all may recognize this as Freshwater Design Co. In all actuality, we started Freshwater as a travel fund for us to supplement our day jobs. It just so happened that you lovely, supportive people, turned us into much more! We are now full-time at both our jobs AND Freshwater. It can be exhausting, but knowing that we are creating our futures is incredibly motivating to us. For a year, we balanced burning, designing, marketing, travel planning, artist festivals and markets and hours spent on the phone with airlines... but, we rewarded ourselves with a trip of a lifetime to Austria and Switzerland!
We boarded our plane on Black Friday, after dropping off a (very large) Christmas order at the Post Office. We had 16 days ahead of pure bliss, where our hands didn’t touch a wood burner, nor a keyboard. Resting our fingers was nothing compared to the other-worldy mountain views our eyes soaked in, the rich Viennese coffee our taste buds savored, or the 81 miles of earth our feet giddily discovered. We backpacked through 10 amazing towns, from Vienna, Austria all the way across Switzerland, to end in Geneva. Of course, not of all this was on foot. We couldn't help but to feel like James Bond, in our first-class train car, sipping on cappuccinos, eating flaky croissants, and watching the sparkly snow-capped mountains roll by every other morning or so.
HERE IS OUR FIRST GOLDEN TIP - First-Class train tickets are only about $100 more. At least for the weeks that we traveled, they were. This is a big deal and one of the BEST things we invested in BECAUSE (story-time) Day Two in Austria we got on our first train, but had no idea where the first class cars were. We didn't know how to tell them apart at the time. We just got on the car that stopped right in front of us since we were afraid to miss it! Well, we were not where we were supposed to be and it was Monday morning rush hour in Vienna... *face palms. We got stuck in a VERY cramped and sweaty car for about a half hour. Finally, enough people got off the train to let us pass through to the back of the train where our actual first-class seats were located. The large, comfy chairs and panorama windows coupled with a bathroom and restaurant in the next car over, made for quite comfortable traveling from then on!
The train would pick us up and drop us off, with each destination more beautiful than the last. Trains, of course, do not always go in straight lines and we think we may have seen every inch of Switzerland by the time we left! We only spent four days in Austria but they were some of our favorite! In Vienna, we were lucky enough to see the gorgeous white stallion Lipizzaner’s dance across the historic 450 year old Spanish Riding School. In Salzburg, we were treated to a warm winter day and hiked up to the plains overlooking the beautiful city and twirled around like Maria from the Sound of Music. If you did not know, Salzburg’s claim to American fame is this movie, even though most of its residents have never seen it! We love the movie but we travelled here for the natural beauty of unforgettable landscapes.
This beauty was also found in St. Wolfgang, Austria. This tiny lakeside town is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and still-green fields with adorable little Austrian deer romping through. Back in the traditional town, you are treated to the smells of a Christmas market, where locals are literally roasting chestnuts and filling Schaumrollen with vanilla meringue in quaint little log houses lining the main street along the lake. It's home to the stunning the Pilgrimage Church, built right on the water, with 360 views. This was one of our favorite places by far and plan to absolutely return!
GOLDEN TIP NO. 2 - If they say an area is “No Textiles” they mean no clothes.
On our last day in Austria we splurged a bit to stay at the Aqua Dome spa in Lagenfeld, to relax in hot outdoor thermal pools, under the snowy mountains. We didn't quite understand why the receptionist kept pointing out the "no textiles" areas. We soon found out when we walked into one of the sauna areas. We decided we would stick to the family-friendly areas. We all had hilarious, first time, full body massage experiences and also the best naps in zero gravity chairs we've ever had in our lives.
So, we're nice and relaxed when arriving in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It turned out to be the coldest day of our trip. St. Moritz is an incredibly fancy ski town with a very high altitude and very high taxi prices. This combination of variables actually made it our least liked destination, which is probably a bit unfair to St. Moritz! The wonderful things we planned to do here just so happened to be closed because the ski season wasn’t to begin until a few days later. However, we were here and decided to make the most of it. Besides, our accommodation had laundry services and we be-friended some horses, so we called it a win overall and had a lot of laughs at all the things that went wrong. MOVING ON!
It totally makes sense that our next destination, Zermatt, was undoubtedly our favorite stop on the trip. Zermatt is the tiny, idyllic town that rests at the foot of Europe’s most famous mountain, the 15,000 ft high Matterhorn. Yes, that crooked mountain on the Riccola cough drop package. One would think it may be a tourist trap town, but our off-season timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The first chance we got we went on the cog wheel train to the top where neither the words on this page nor the pictures we took could ever do the glorious view of the Matterhorn justice. It was the most pure form of a winter wonderland imaginable. We stayed and basked in the beauty most of the day, finding new beautiful spots to enjoy and play in the snow like we were carefree kids again.
With our renewed love of Switzerland we set forward to Lucerne, a gorgeous city on the water with swans and castles and literally millions of Christmas lights. We traveled through Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen, where we hiked by icy waterfalls and fields with goats and sheep and cows, all donned with traditional Swiss bells. The train rattled on through more mountain adventuring in Gstaad and an amazing stop in Lausanne, where a self tour of the Chillon Castle made us feel like we missed out on being born in medieval times. Modern houses are so boring, where are the moats and turrets and views out to an aquamarine lake?
By the time the train dropped us in Geneva, we almost felt like it was impossible to take in any more beautiful views and moments for fear that our brains would run out of storage. Our backs may have been sore from heavy backpacks, our feet ready to rest outside of bulky snow boots, and our heads missing our familiar 2+ pillows.
GOLDEN TIP NO. 3 - Always ask for extra pillows. Apparently, Europe only likes to give you one tiny pillow per person.
We were so happy and content that it didn’t matter. Two weeks with three best friends made for one hell of a trip. If you know us at all, you know we are huge advocates of travel and adventure and the good it does for your soul. Don’t let yourself look back and say I wish I had gone. Just go. We promise you won’t regret getting on that plane, or train, or bus, or boat. They keep saying that there are trips or experiences that are "once-in-a-lifetime"... While this may be true, we will never settle for that saying. Why can't it be twice-in-a-lifetime? Or three times? Here's to never limiting ourselves to what makes us happy.
All our love,
Dani & Bri
Here are some lovely images from our adventures. Enjoy!