Austria + Czech Republic Cost Breakdown

Austria actual cost

Lance $75.56 + 60K miles
Keri $75.56 + 60K miles
Lila $70.06

Vienna $556
Hallstatt $141.85
Salzburg $526.93
Innsbruck $507
Cesky Krumlov $94.38
Prague $424

Rental Car
8 days $757.69

Werfen $62.13
Prague $41.54

Travel Insurance
Allianz $105.39

Hallstatt $9.58
Hallstatt $7.19
Wasserwunderwelt (waterfall) $7.17
Innsbruck $2.39

to LAX $51.15
to Prague airport $14.77
from LAX $59.71

LAX airport $19.86
Vienna Artemis (Greek) $26.07
McDonalds $4.79
Magic Pizza $20.54
Prague pizza $6.69
Prague airport $17.79

Tourist sites
Schloss Schoenbrunn $34.04
Erlebnisburg Hohenwerfen $31.15
Eisriesenwelt Talstation $57.51
Schlossverwaltung Helbrunn $29.81
Nordkettenbahnen $67.53
Nordkettenbahn $20.74
Karlstejn Castle $30.56

Vienna airport bus $24.14
Train to Danube $37.89
Train from Danube $36.93

Cash withdrawals

Transaction fees




Back to Reality: Life back home

I’m writing this two days and two weeks after we got home, and I’m so grateful to say that though it was a struggle, we’ve all normalized and gotten back on schedule!

The flight back home went fairly smoothly after some major bumps in the beginning. We woke up super early (4 a.m.!) to make it to the airport early in case we had trouble again. Our flight was for 8:15 a.m. When we arrived, we were walking through the empty airport line to check in and I made a semi-sharp turn while pushing Lila in her stroller and she fell straight out right on her face! Poor girl! It was if I saw the whole thing in slow motion. She wasn’t buckled in, but I was going so slow that I figured she’d just lay back, or at worst fall forward but catch herself with her arms. Nope! She had a pacifier in which maybe helped, maybe hurt the situation. Her tooth went through her lip and it bled and bled and took at least a week to heal. Not a great start to our day!

At the ticket counter, the Austrian employee said we had two infants attached to our ticket plus a wheelchair?! Ha. Luckily she was able to quickly solve the problem and even secure us a row of four seats to our selves. Though we didn’t have a bassinet this time, it was SO nice to have Lance and I sit on the edges and give Lila two seats to play between and sleep on. She fell asleep in his arms during take off and then slept on the seats for a few hours. She may have napped again on the flight but I already don’t remember. Either way, when we got back to the USA she was exhausted.

We walked in our door at about 4 p.m. on September 12 — that’s 1 a.m. in Austria. We put Lila down for a quick nap, and I ran to the grocery store. Unfortunately we made the mistake of not waking her up again. We tried! We brought her downstairs but nothing worked. She literally laid passed out on the floor, despite our coaxing, lifting her arms, tickling her toes etc.


In hindsight, we should’ve given her a bath. But it was hard to be motivated when we were so tired ourselves. We waited until 7 or 8 to allow ourselves to go to sleep, and when we crawled into our nice big soft bed it was heaven!

Unfortunately, Lila was up at 3 a.m. She and Lance went downstairs and I eventually joined them because I too was wide awake. Lila was ready for the day and kept asking for her “choo choo train” — a wooden toy we bought in Prague. We all went back to sleep at 6 a.m., and were back up between 8 and 9 for work and the day.

The first night I thought it was kind of fun/endearing that we were all wide awake and spending time together in the wee hours of the dark. By day three when this was still happening, I was not a happy camper! It was hard because it was so unexpected — she jumped back from jet lag faster than Lance and I did when we were in Austria! Though things gradually started to get better, it seemed as though Lila’s progress had piqued at 6 a.m. I worried that 6 a.m. would be our new normal, and that’s NOT OK! I’m used to 7:30-8 a.m.! I don’t want to start my day when it’s dark, and I don’t want to have to worry about going to bed by 10 p.m. because I know I’ll be up early.

Luckily a few curve balls, like keeping her up late a few nights in a row, helped get things back on track. I was more careful to start waking her up from her naps (otherwise she’d sleep 4-5 hours) and not letting myself take naps either. After exactly a week, she slept in until 7:30. Lila now goes to bed about 8 p.m. and sleeps til 8 a.m., and wakes up naturally from 1 p.m. naps after 2-3 hours. Wahoo!


Last stop: Prague

In a way, we saw as much in Prague as we did in Vienna. Somehow the first and last cities we visit always seem to suffer. The former because of jetlag, the latter because we were just done. Done with tours, done with museums, done with spending money. Or was that just me? I think Lance would’ve been happy to keep playing tourist day after day, but was equally happy to take it easy with me.

In Prague, we wandered through the meandering streets of Old Town and enjoyed the city that was touristy but still genuine and dirty. People live and work here and you can tell. We’d always end up in Old Town Square, because it’s the view I always picture when I think of Prague. There we’d enjoy a snack from a street vendor and let Lila run around — she’d usually chase the pigeons, point to the “horsies” or want to pay a street performer to play in his bubbles.

Unfortunately the Old Town Hall and its clock tower were under construction, so it was unsightly and we were unable to climb to the top, which supposedly boasts the best views of town. Instead we ventured across Charles Bridge (a beautiful sight itself — built in 1390!) and wandered the grounds of Prague Castle. The castle is the city’s most popular tourist attraction and has traditionally been the seat of Czech rulers. Today it functions as the official residence of the president. Entrance to the grounds was free (though manned by armed guards) but to go inside any of the sights, including St Vitus Cathedral, required a ticket. We opted to just explore outside as the weather was beautiful and Lila needed a break from the stroller and baby carrier.

On our way back to our side of town, we stopped at a park just below Charles Bridge, which offered an amazing view of the bridge and the Old Town. Had we been alone, we’d never known there was a park there or stopped to rest and take it all in. It was moments like that that we were glad to have brought our Baby Girl. And despite the playground being covered in rain drops, Lila loved playing and making new friends. We would’ve stayed longer, but a poopy diaper and only two wipes made us return home.

During our three day stay, we discovered a yummy treat called “Trdelnik” — it’s a yummy pastry rolled into a cone with soft serve inside drizzled with Nutella. I had two while we were there (and together we could barely finish them). So good! We also finished up our souvenir shopping and bought a Prague magnet and a wooden “choo-choo train” for Lila. Though it looks like it could’ve been purchased at Ikea, it still reminds me of the trip (and hopefully someday her) because she pointed out and went on so many “trains” (metros).

The apartment

My AirBNB review: “Though this apartment has a lot of potential, I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s why: The bed was so hard, loud/squeaky and uncomfortable that I ended up sleeping on the couch. The bedding and number of pillows are not accurately portrayed in the photos; no dish soap, laundry soap or paper towels was included; the place seemed to be hurriedly, half-heartedly cleaned and not at all restocked since the last guests. (We ran out of toilet paper!) Despite all of the reasons why I wouldn’t stay again, there were nice elements of the apartment. It was in a good location, felt safe, and the SmartTV (which allowed us to sign into our Netflix account) was a nice touch. Much of the decor was nice, and the bathroom was updated. But when traveling, I care more about comfort, cleanliness and functionality than aesthetics. (Just FYI — we are Americans in our 30s and this was the final stay of a 2+ week across Austria and the Czech Republic. We stayed at a variety of pensions, hotels and home rentals, and are used to different standards of comfort. This went beyond that.)”

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Karlstejn Castle + Photos

“Rising above the village of Karlstejn, 30km southwest of Prague, this medieval castle is in such good shape it wouldn’t look out of place on Disneyworld’s Main St. The crowds come in theme-park proportions as well, but the peaceful surrounding countryside offers views of Karlstejn’s stunning exterior that rival anything you’ll see on the inside.” — The Lonely Planet

Sounds great, right? Well … The Lonely Planet let me down on this one, but I’m still glad we visited it anyway.

Because of the size of the castle, its accessibility, where it’s located and the landscape, it was impossible to get a good view of Karlstejn. So it could’ve looked like a beautiful medieval castle on Disney’s Main Street, but I’d have no idea. Additionally, the inside was barely occupied by furniture and historical items, none of which were that interesting or ornate.

And yet, I’m still glad we went and think it was worth the trip. Our tour guide looked 18 at most, and spoke English with a heavy Czech accent. It wasn’t until halfway through that Lance whispered to me that “Jane the Virgin” nailed the accent — and I burst into laughter. “Jane the Virgin” is a TV show we watch that has a Czech immigrant who spoke just like our guide. After that, the tour was much more interesting purely because of that silly connection.

It was also worth visiting because it was interesting to hear about the country’s history and learn about it’s people from it’s past. Lila really struggled at the end, and Lance wrangled her the best he could. We gave each other “the look” (what have we done?!) several times.

The village itself was cute but kitchy and obviously geared toward tourists, though I doubt any spent the night because of its proximity to Prague. We shared a slab of fried cheese (yum!), a sausage, some fries and an ice cream cone and I cursed the fact that we hadn’t found any more gelato since our stint in Innsbruck. And then we drove to Prague in time to turn our rental car in by 6 p.m.!

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Cesky Krumlov: An introduction to Czech Republic

I wrote on Instagram that Cesky Krumlov is what all of my medieval town dreams are made of. When deciding whether or not to extend our trip and go to the Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov was the tipping factor. Here’s the Lonely Planet description: “Outside of Prague, Cesky Krumlov is arguably the Czech Republic’s only other world-class sight and must-see. From a distance, the town looks like any other in the Czech countryside, but once you get closer and see the Renaissance castle towering over the undisturbed 17th-century townscape, you’ll feel the appeal; this really is that fairy-tale town the tourist brochures promised.”

It’s hard not to rave about the perfection of this picturesque city. I posted pictures and everyone though we were standing in front of a backdrop. Like Hallstatt, I could’ve roamed around for days, or holed up for weeks reading novels, contemplating life or writing a book.

We got to Cesky hours later than expected, so there was definitely a feeling of being rushed as we wandered the town right before dusk. When we left Innsbruck, I expected the drive to be uneventful and for the geography to look similar to Austria and Germany. It didn’t. As soon as we got to the Czech Republic, we knew. The roads were narrow and crappy, the land seemed barren and brown without those beautiful bright green rolling heels Austria is known for. There were billboards of pornography even in the countryside and the homes were not necessarily run down, but not as nice or well kept.

We stopped at a gas station right after crossing the border in order to use the rest of our Euro, and it was a much different experience than we had in all of Austria. It was dirtier and the people were well .. of a lower standard. They were nice — but obviously not as well educated, friendly, etc. They stared, knowing we were foreign, whereas we didn’t experience that in Austria either. For the first time on the trip (but not the last) I felt a bit unsafe. We quickly got back on the road, but before we did, I bought us 6 or so ice cream bars to share (and use up the rest of our coins)! Lila LOVED having her own and got it every where. It’s the simple things 🙂

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Anyway, back to Cesky. We walked around the upper border of town in search of viewpoints I had read about that were great for photos. We easily found multiple spots that offered fabulous views, and the lighting was just perfect. We then went deeper into town in search of something to eat, and that’s when I got so grouchy! I hadn’t had a proper lunch, and it was past time for dinner. Finally Lance found and convinced me to eat at this restaurant that was fine — but we were the only patrons so that was weird.

We went back to the pension, but I wasn’t satisfied to call it a night. We changed our clothes and got Lila ready for bed, but then put her in the baby carrier and went back into town. It was dark, but the town square was full of people. There was an old car show going on, so we stopped and watched for awhile before wandering some more. We crossed a bridge kind of heading outside of town and immediately decided to go back to the lit tourist areas. Lance later said he too felt the tangible “this place isn’t super safe” feeling that I did.

The Czech Republic has only been a democratic country for a few decades. I think transitioning from communism has been hard, and it’s made the people skeptical of police, authority and strangers aka foreigners. On the other hand, that’s also what made it so interesting to explore — it feels much more authentic than most of the places we visited.

The pension

We stayed at the Castle Apartments. The Lonely Planet describes them as “a group of three houses near the castle district that have been transformed into comfortable private apartments that offer wooden floors, and modern kitchenettes and bathrooms (no additional charge for the romantic views). Castle Apartments just may be Cesky Krumlov’s best-value accommodation option.”

It’s a bummer we only stayed for one night, because they really were SO nice for the price — not even $100 a night! It even included a hot breakfast, which we gobbled up. The following morning we walked around the town once more, and then got a pass that allowed Lance to drive into the Old Town right up to the pension door so we could load our luggage. (He had lugged it on his own from the far away parking lot the day before.) It was just enough time, but I would’ve preferred more in this beautiful city!


Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic (1) Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic (2) Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic (3)

Innsbruck: A Welcome Reprieve

If I had to choose a favorite location from the trip, Innsbruck would be it. Compared to Hallstatt, the city itself couldn’t compete in beauty, picturesque views etc. But overall, our experience there was so enjoyable I’d rate it No. 1.

From The Lonely Planet: “Tirol’s capital is a sight to behold. The mountains are so close that within 25 minutes it’s possible to travel from the heart of the city to over 2000m above sea level. Summer and winter outdoor activities abound, and it’s understandable why some visitors only take a peek at Innsbruck proper before heading for the hills. But to do so is a shame, for Innsbruck has its own share of gems, including an authentic medieval Altstadt (Old Town), inventive architecture and vibrant student-driven nightlife.”

In Innsbruck, I decided to do something different and not stay in the Old Town, aka center of it all. So we were the people described in the guidebook who only peeked at Innsbruck proper (to get groceries etc) and then headed for the hills. We stayed in a rental with an AMAZING view and an even better location. Right outside our door was the walking trail we took each day to hike in the beautiful Austrian Alps.

The apartment

My AirBNB review: “The location and view from this rental was even better than I expected. Every meal was spent on the deck, and every evening we curled up on the couch and watched the sun set and city lights start to sparkle. It’s been my favorite location during our 2+ week trip through Austria. (We are a young American couple traveling with a 2 year old.) The place was clean, had free parking, was within walking distance of a children’s playground and a lift up to the cable car. Our time in Innsbruck was spent hiking; one day we took a trail that started right outside of the apartment up the mountain to Arlzer Alm, a traditional mountain restaurant and farm. The next we took the Nordkette to Hafelekar. We spent very little time in Old Town Innsbruck. We had our own car, so we drove there — after hiking all day a 30 minute walk up and back didn’t seem appealing. Our only faults with the rental were this: Finding it (even with GPS) was difficult and the layout of the apartment was odd. It was fine for our needs, but a bit odd use of space. Overall, I’d recommend! The hosts were great!”

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Hiking and more hiking

As I wrote in the review, one day was spent hiking directly behind the apartment up the mountain to Arlzer Alm, a traditional mountain restaurant and farm. There were many ways to get there, but the trail we planned to take was closed so we had to improvise. Luckily Lance has unnaturally good navigation skills, so we made it just fine. There were a couple times I worried about trekking into uncharted territory, but I knew all along that if needed, we could easily get back to civilization by just going down, so there was no real concern there.

That hike took us all day — 5 or 6 hours at least. When we arrived at the restaurant the trees opened to a clearing and I thought we had reached heaven. I know I’ve written this several times already, but this meal and the one we’d have the following day were definitely among our favorite the entire trip. There’s just something about working hard and finally reaching your goal — aka the restaurant. Lance ordered a large bacon dumpling in soup and I had traditional pork, potatoes and sauerkraut. Lila loved running around looking at and petting the animals: there were ponies, bunnies, goats, sheep and chickens. I loved watching her, because it meant I could rest before heading down the mountain!

When we were almost home it started to rain, and we somewhat miserably power walked down switchbacks trying to find the rental. Once inside, we took a family bath upstairs to warm up and relax our aching muscles. It was only 4 or 5 p.m. but we decided to call it a night. After dinner, we curled up on the couch and watched “Frozen” on our computer. It was our first time watching the movie (though we’ve seen the live production many times at California Adventure). It was so fun to snuggle and relax and enjoy a well-earned break. Lila of course loved it (she always asks to “watch a show!”) and she deserved it too. Poor girl had been cooped up in the baby carrier most of the day, and she wanted to do something more toddler friendly.

The next day we took the funicular up the mountain and swallowed our disappointment at the incredibly dense fog that prevented us from having any sort of view. Still in high spirits, we walked for awhile on our first stop (Seegrube, half way up the mountain) and let Lila chase goats and get some wiggles out.

We then got back on the funicular and headed to the top of Hafelekar. The guidebook describes it like this: “The 2334m summit of Hafelekar affords tremendous views over Innsbruck to the snow-capped giants of the Austrian Alps, including 3798m Grossglockner.”

It was so cold that we decided to have a hot meal before hiking to the top viewpoint, which was only supposed to be 15 minutes or so. I ordered two bacon dumplings in soup (I loved Lance’s so much the day before I had to get my own) and he ordered goulash with sausage. Though we didn’t work for this meal like we had for the one the day before, it was still enjoyable to sit in a small, traditional, unassuming hilltop restaurant and eat a yummy, inexpensive meal. Occasionally the clouds would part and we’d get a partial view, which added to the experience!

After our meal, we set out on the 15 minute hike with no expectations. And that is why we were completely blown away that at the viewpoint we had clear blue skies and beautiful views! The geography was so varied, with dark, snow-capped mountains on one side, sharp, pointy rocks on another, and white gravel that looked like snow all around, plus city and valley views below. I could not stop taking pictures, and I love how each of them turned out. I’m so glad we decided to make that short trip up to the viewpoint, even though we didn’t think we’d see a thing. How disappointing if we’d turned around without trying!

That evening we walked through town to find Lance a souvenir for his collection at work. The city was prettier than we originally gave it credit — the buildings that lined the main strip were painted in pastel and each had unique flavor. While there we got gelato to share, and I immediately regretted not getting more! I’d never had it before and now I crave it. Yum! Lance eventually bought a small mug with Austria’s symbol printed on it. I bought an Austria magnet in the shape of a coo-coo clock that makes it seem more like it’s from Germany.

Krimml Waterfalls + Photos

Krimml Falls was another lucky find in the guidebook, which only had one paragraph describing it as Europe’s highest waterfall and one of Austria’s most unforgettable sights.

I thought it’d be a fun break from museums and castles, but wasn’t sure we’d make it because it was several hours out of the way between Salzburg and Innsbruck. Last minute we decided to X driving the Grossglockner Alpine Road off our itinerary and just do the waterfalls, which cut the drive in half. I’m so glad we made the effort because it was worth it.

Somehow we didn’t expect it to be such a hike, and yet it was. There were multiple times on our way to the top that I told Lance there was no way I even wanted to keep going, let alone could. But we of course did, because I can’t give up. The weather was cool and it would occasionally sprinkle, but for the most part we had clear skies and great lighting for views and pictures. Lila slept strapped to Lance — a reoccurring event that contributed to him coming home so physically tired each night!

The way down was much easier, and at the bottom we got ice cream cones and let Lila play at the park. It was such an unexpectedly fun day!

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