S: Europe 2012
BC: The Hungarian Opera House, Budapest, Hungary
FC: Europe 2012
1: Our Trip to Germany, the Czech Republic Austria and Hungary September 21 ~ October 8, 2012 More thanks than I can say, Mom and Dad! Love, Susan
2: Day 1: Atlanta to Koblenz, Germany | Fast food at the Wiesbaden train station! | A club of new wine aficionados joined us on the train to Rudesheim | Didn't sleep the whole way, but mom and I watched two movies. When we got in, we took a train from the Frankfurt to Wiesbaden, then took another train to Rudesheim on the Rhein.
3: Rudesheim is a charming town town in the heart of wine country. It was very crowded since it was Saturday. We had a couple of hours before our boat left to go down the Rhein, so Dad said he'd stay with the luggage while Mom and I explored some of its cute little streets. | Mom, Dad and I waiting for our boat
4: Pulling away from the dock on our five hour trip down the Rhein to Koblenz. We didn't stay up top for very long, as it was windy. Above is one of the vineyards around Rudesheim.
5: I had no idea! There were castles every couple of miles, with little villages on the banks of the river below them! We stopped at a few of them to pick up and drop off passengers.
6: At one of the stops a group of folk musicians came on board and played and sang their way down the Rhein. Dad and one of the singers did a little duet! Accordion, banjos, kazoos and beer. Couldn't have been better! We finally arrived in Koblenz and, first miracle of the trip, there was a taxi waiting to whisk us away to our hotel.
7: Day 2: Koblenz to Bad Neustadt | After a good night's sleep at the Hotel Bastien on a hill on the outskirts of Koblenz surrounded by sheep and an apple orchard, we took a taxi (after mom worked 'Mu magic' and convinced her we could fit all of our luggage in the back) to get our car with TomTom on board. We drove up the Lahn River and stopped in the ancient town of Limburg an der Lahn for lunch. The son of the owner of 'C'est la Vie', had just been an exchange student in Chicago.
8: We hopped on the autobahn and drove to Bad Neustadt to stay at the annex of the Schwann und Post, the hotel Dad stays in when he visits Herr Bookmann. We noticed that the cafés had blankets on the chairs outside, a brilliant idea! The next morning we visited his wife, | daughter and housekeeper and spent a nice hour looking at pictures and getting acquainted, even though he was not in town.
9: Day 3: Bad Neustadt to Rothenberg ob der Tauber | Prichsenstadt, Bavaria, Germany
10: The hidden jewel of Prichsenstadt, the first of three towns we visited on the way to Rothenberg.
11: It started to drizzle, but that just added to the coziness. Mom went into a butcher shop and bought some wonderful ham, and we ate it for lunch as we drove the back roads on to the next town of Dettenbach.
12: Dettlebach, the second town we stopped in, was two-tiered, and felt very deserted, since it was Monday and many stores were closed.
13: And finally Ochsenfert, the largest of the three towns. Dad stayed in the car in a shaded lot just outside the old wall, while Mom and I wandered around. It was here that we bought each other our 'dopplehanktlecaffetasse', although the lady told us they were for zuppe, and Mom picked up a German-English dictionary, which we used to help decipher signs. The rathaus had a cute glockenspiel.
14: Day 4: Rottenberg ob der Tauber | Our hotel in Rottenberg was in the 800 year old Gasthaus am Weissen Turm (or Guesthouse by the White Tower). Dad was amazing, driving through the little narrow streets to find it. Tom Tom only got us so far. Our room was up three flights of stairs, but we just put what we needed in littler bags and did just fine. He had to park a few blocks away. It was an incredible location, as these pictures of the view show! The night we drove in we ate dinner just down the street. It was delicious, but Mom had schnitzel for the third night in a row and said, "No more!"
15: Our hotel is this green building on the left
16: We had breakfast a few blocks away a the Black Swan Guesthouse. To get there you had to walk through the arch that went under St. Jakob's church. We then spent some time in the Reichstadt Museum housed in an old convent. The collection of weaponry, steins and so much more was amazing, and we had the nicest docent who showed us around, pointing out different interesting articles and who explained a bit of Bavarian history to us. Then I ran to look at the outside of the town wall, and met up with Mom and Dad by the church and this bakery selling the local specialty, Schneeballentraume.
18: St. Jakob's Church was Catholic before the reformation, dating to 1311. Some of the stained glass windows were mostly plain glass. We thought they had been destroyed in WWII, but a lady said the war did little damage. They had been like that as far back as they knew, but there was speculation that they had been broken during the Reformation. Dad loved a canoe of the Holy Family carved out of ebony wood that was a gift from Tanzania. There was an altar by Tilman Riemenschneider, who carved many in different churches around the area, that supposedly contained a drop of Jesus' blood in a crystal reliquary in the middle of the cross.
19: We stopped in this little Christmas shop run by a mother and her two sons. "Anna Leise' is a friend of Rick Steves. She was delightful! We bought a lot of souvenirs there; even dad bought a little Swiss army knife! We then went and saw the clock tower in the marktplatz chime at 1:00.
20: Dad waited while we went into the disgusting Kathe Wohlfahrt's 'World Famous Christmas Village', devoid of any charm, selling a lot from China or very expensive | German souvenirs. We loved Anna Leise's even more after this!
21: We went and got a late lunch at the same restaurant as dinner before. Had some Franconian soup wit a large raviouli filled with ground sausage in it ~ delicious ~ then up to the room for a little. We went out just as it started to rain, so we went back into our favorite Christmas store and bought some more ornaments and souvenirs. We walked to a little market and bought ham, cheese and bread for dinner in our room. We decided it wasn't enough, so Mom and I went out, walked around a bit and swung by for some more. | The ceiling of our hotel room | The view past our hotel up toward the 900 year old White Tower, part of the 12th century wall around the town.
22: Day 5: Rottenberg to Salzbach-Rosenberg | We checked out and walked to where our car was parked to put our luggage in the car, then walked through the Judengasse ~ the old Jewish neighborhood ~ to breakfast.
23: After breakfast we walked across town to "The most photographed spot in Rothenberg." I must admit, it was pretty much a fairy tale! We liked the salami cigars.
24: We walked back along the ancient city walls. It was lined with the names of donors who had contributed to the restoration of the city after the damage done in World War II. About half way around we came down and zigzagged back to the car.
25: Took lovely back roads to Salzbach-Rosenberg, where we stayed in the Gasthaus Sperberbrau, a beautiful hotel/brewery. They only had a suite left, way up some steps on the third floor, but we took it. Mom and I wandered the town a bit, then joined Dad on the patio of the hotel for a drink. Went inside for dinner at 6:00 and didn't leave until about 8:00. On the way drove through Nurmburg ~ disaster! ~, and none of us liked it. Dad was an amazing trooper driving on what looked to be pedestrian malls, but who knows?
26: Day 6: Salzbach-Rosenberg to Prague, Czech Republic | We drove through the former Communist East Germany. Everything was clean and fresh, and T-T made it easy. Crossing through to the Czech Republic was so interesting. The abandoned border check point, pornography, everything so run down. Abandoned palaces and estates, stucco crumbling, graffiti everywhere.T-T quit in the heart of Prague. We got directions at at a restaurant, but they sent us to the Hotel Kampa, not the Kampa Gardens.
27: It was a weird little place with a surly desk clerk on a little alley. I took the place of T-T, following the map he'd given us, down narrow, narrow streets or alleys through people and stalls set up and a band playing, but we found it! And they had an elevator! But, unfortunately, no parking. So, after unloading, we got back in the car to follow the directions to a a recommended gated car park, which led us right back to the first hotel! We had to get the surly guy to open the gate, but then it was just a short walk back to our hotel, which really was beautiful, the sun lighting up the old buildings on the opposite bank of the Vtlava River.
28: The Hotel Kampa Gardens | The view of the Vtlava River | Again, the view from Mom and Dad's window | The river between the trees, from a side window | Day 7: Prague
29: Potatoes on a stick | Donuts on a stick | Don't ask | The location of our hotel was ideal, right beneath the pedestrian Charles Bridge, the main artery across the river. It was on the Kampa Square, lined with little restaurants, stalls of food (don't ask), and the ever present musician. We could walk everywhere. | A memorial to the firefighters who lost their lives on September 11th 2001 in New York City.
30: The Kampa Square was on a little island surrounded by the river and this little canal. A tradition of putting a lock on a bridge as a sign of your love was popular. Across the canal and under the Charles Bridge there was the most marvelous marionette shop. Mom found out about getting tickets to see a puppet show that night, Mozart's Don Giovanni.
31: Coming off the Charles Bridge was the entrance to Mala Strana. From the bridge you could see many kayakers on the spill way.
32: There were so many street musicians in Prague. I really think you did not go five minutes without hearing live music. These are just a few of the street buskers that we saw on the Charles Bridge. There was also a wonderful violinist that played down in Kampa Square, and I saw him early one morning in the park behind our hotel.
33: On the other side of the Charles Bridge as you entered Stare Mesto (Old Town) you took your life into your hands crossing this busy street with the throngs of people. Prague was so crowded because it | turns out that it was St. Wenceslas Day, a national holiday. As we were walking to Old Town Square down these narrow, narrow, crowded cobblestone streets, we stopped and bought tickets for a concert the following evening. We were headed to the astronomical clock for its hourly show. We ate lunch afterward.
34: The Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Square | Details inside St. Nicholas Church on Old Town Square
35: Did I mention that Prague was crowded???
36: After lunch we took the hilarious EkoExpres around the city. What were we thinking? It was so noisy that you couldn't here the tape that explained the different sights we were seeing. It chugged and dragged us around town on busy main streets with real traffic whizzing by, finally pulling us up this steep crowded street to the Castle District.
37: We didn't understand where we were to get off for the castle, so we ended up getting off too early and walking to it. From the Castle the view of the city was spectacular. The Castle District is really a large square surrounded by different palaces, and in the main complex what actually looks like a castle from a distance is St. Vitus' Church.
38: Details of St. Vitus' Church, where good king Wenceslas is buried | We joined a tour of the area
39: The synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. | Mom and Dad back in Old Town after our tour | Dad told us he would meet us by the cannons after Mom and I poked our heads into the church. After we came out, we couldn't find any cannons, and while we were looking for them, we almost got run down by the changing of the guard! We laughed when we found Dad, because there weren't any cannons. | We came up with the great practice of brainstorming words to capture our experience in the different places we visited. Some words that describe Prague: crowded, elegant, enchanting, medieval, baroque, twilight, towers, spires, windy streets, cobbled, narrow, busy, music, statues, worn, graffiti, restaurants, marionettes, buskers, kneeling beggars
40: Prague at twilight from the Charles Bridge | We ate dinner at the little restaurant on the square by our hotel, where Mom and Dad had such a good meal the night before. Mom was looking forward to the duck she ordered, but it was so over done! After dinner we went to see The National Marionette Theatre's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the recommendation of the woman in the marionette shop. We thought we knew where it was, but that turned out to be another production of the same by a different troupe. The theater was actually just off of the Old Square. It was fun, but rather odd. They made sure that you could see the hands of the actors, interesting but distracting, and they made the opera rather campy. Mom got bitten by something in the middle of the first half, did a little fancy maneuvering.we all decided we'd had our fill at the intermission and left. Glad we did, as the view on the bridge was incredible!
41: Our rooms in the Kampa Garden Hotel. We had a mini-suite with bath. | Day 9: Prague | All I need to say is, "Buyer, beware!"
42: Another crowded day in Prague. We walked over the bridge and down the busy thoroughfare , wending our way to Wenceslas Square in New Town. We had a pretty good cup of coffee at McDonald's (I'm rather ashamed to say. But it was good!) to get out of the rain. We walked back to Old Square, and then finally to the Clementinum and enjoyed a concert of strings and organ, supposedly on an organ which Mozart himself played.
43: Kampa Square at night | After the concert it had stopped raining, and we walked back and had dinner at another restaurant in our little neighborhood. We had the best time, and the duck was wonderful! We then went back to the room and packed up. Mom and I felt like we were on the Oregon Trail, needing to lighten our load before crossing the Rockies, abandoning as much of our luggage as we could to make them lighter before we got on the train in Vienna.
44: Day 10: Prague to Salzburg, Austria | Before saying good-bye to Prague, just a few more memories: The breakfast room in the basement playing '40s swing music feeling post WW II, the effects of Communism on th city, Mom hiding plates on other people's tables."Good Morning to You", Mom's bite, Dad's patience while Mom and I souvenir shopped on the Bridge, Johnny Depp, ponchos, Dad's foot with all the walking, the parking lot gate, pick pockets (not), cannons (not), the 50 euro lunch of potatoes, cabbage and ham.
45: Tom-Tom had a bit of a nervous breakdown getting us out of Prague, but it was smooth sailing once we were on our way driving south to Salzburg, Austria. The villages the southern Czech Republic are so much cleaner and prosperous than on the western border. The two lane roads are lined with nut trees. We had to take a detour through a little town because of an accident on the road, and we saw people collecting them. Just as we were getting hungry for lunch we came upon this country restaurant, filled with locals out enjoying a Sunday drive. | The countryside around the restaurant
46: We took a wrong turn just before crossing over the border into Austria, and went west on a two land road | in the Czech Republic, finally ending up in Vyssi Brod where we happened upon this beautiful monastery built in the 1300s. Going south into Austria, Tom Tom got a little nervous getting us out of Vyssi Brod, but flawlessly delivered us to our hotel in Salzburg. where the very helpful receptionist said the four best words in the English language: 'There is a lift."
47: Day 11: Salzburg, Austria | Waiting for our Panorama tour of the town and environs led by Gunther the hissing tour guide.
48: On our bus tour with Gunther the hissing tour guide, we stopped at the Hellbrunn Palace, built in the early 1600s. We only had 10 minutes there, and I saw Mom racing back to the little red tour van. She said she wanted to buy something in the gift shop. While she was gone, Dad and I found a Mozartkugeln magnet that we bought for her to surprise her. As we were walking back to the car I asked her what she had bought. She had bought a bag of Mozartkugels! We gave her the magnet right then and there. ~ Salzburg had souvenir gift shops galore, filled with kitsch items like these Mozart rubber duckies. We also saw Mozart's birthplace and toured his family home.
51: One of the most impressive things about Salzburg is how it has recovered from the damage done during the Second World War. The dome of Salzburg Cathedral (left) was destroyed but rebuilt to its original splendor, completed in 1959. The picture on the previous page, top right is a detail of the alcove ceiling above. There was a plaque on a square marking the spot of a Nazi book burning in 1938. | Alcove of Salzburg Cathedral
52: St. Peter's Abbey, Salzburg
53: Details of St. Peter's Abbey. You entered into a courtyard before going into the church, with a gift shop, windows like the ones here, and a statue fountain of St. Peter holding keys. The church has a very old and famous cemetery, where the scene was filmed where the Von Trapp family was hiding in the Sound of Music. Mom found a postcard with a painting of the castle on it that she really liked.
54: Good-bye to Salzburg! The photo top right are door bell pulls. Some random thoughts we wrote down: Good eggs for breakfast, good pepper in Koblenz, tasting real kugels at the Furst Confiserie on the way to the bus, walking, eating dinner at the Pakistani-Italian restaurant connected to our hotel, where dad got turkey schnitzel, beautiful clothing shops, no rushing at meals, they wait until you ask for the check, $60 lunch with 'nice' people and good food, roasted chestnuts, candy store with hedgehogs and acorns.
55: Day 12: Salzburg to Vienna | The perfect rest stop at Mondsee Lake - sheep, cows, meadows, mountains, just like Heidi!
57: We drove along the foothills of the Alps, but had trouble seeing them as it was so cloudy. Mom and Dad told me about making willow whistles when they were little. We stayed on the autobahn this time, and it took us right past Mekl Abbey, where 'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco takes place (I've just ordered it from Amazon). Tom Tom did it again, and got us to the Hotel Carlton Opera in a misty, downtown Vienna. It was a great location, and we had a wonderful suite, complete with kitchen. There was, however, no elevator (see picture to left!), but we made it! We had to unload all of our bags, as Dad and I returned our car to the rental agency.
58: We walked through the Nacht Markt, just a few blocks from our hotel, and mom looked for a scarf for Patti. It led us to the Secession Museum, and we realized how close | we were to Karlplatz Kirch. It had stopped raining and so we walked through the park to go into the church. It looked rather like the Taj Mahal, with its minarets, but was beautiful with its reflecting pond.
59: After touring the inside (Dad got his special discount), we walked back to our apartment, stopping at a supermarkt where we bought dinner (such as it was.) Dad's salad wasn't the best, but it was nice to eat in and relax. Nice to be able to make a cup of tea!
60: Day 13: Vienna | We woke up to a beautiful, sunny day! Hotel had a great breakfast room, but intimidating coffee machine. We decided to take a tour of the city. Mom and I got on the first shuttle to the bus station and Dad came on the next one. It took us around the Ringstrasse, the main road with most of the important buildings, including the Opera House, museums & government buildings.
61: Secessionist Museum
62: Our tour ended at the Schonbrunn Palace. Our tour guide was wonderful and the palace of the Habsburg dynasty amazing. We could have spent a whole day just in the gardens, but took the bus back into town.
63: After being dropped off at the Opera House, we stopped for lunch, where Dad had apfelstrudel, eiskreme unt schlag for lunch. and then walked down the crowded pedestrian boulevard to St. Stephan's Cathedral. We walked all the way around it to find the entrance, finding this lovely flower shop!
64: Walking back up the street we stopped into the famous Gerstner's patisserie for a little pick me up, and all shared a cherry strudel. We then walked back across the | Ringstrasse toward our hotel. We wanted to see the Gustav Klimt Beethoven frieze at the Secessionist Museum. They had a platform built up in the room for better viewing.
65: The steps of the Abertina Art Museum | We cut through the Nacht Markt again where Mom finally found a scarf for Patti. We discovered a local pub called Franz for dinner, which was perfect! They first put us in a back room, then moved us out to the no-smoking area. The waitress didn't speak English. There was a mix-up of plates, and we got to watch a birthday party through the glass, while Mom gave us the play by play of what gifts the girl got. We walked around the block on a spectacular evening to get back to the hotel.
66: Day 14: Vienna to Budapest | A great taxi driver took us to the Westbahnhof train station. Whilet there preparing to leave Schnitz'l Land before entering Goulash Land, Mom and I bought a Turkish feast to eat on the train. Dad had gotten seats with a table in the middle of | the train car.We were relieved to get our luggage up into the train, though Dad hurt his shoulder, but we made it! The train stopped about every 30 minutes.
67: Hungary looked run down coming in to Budapest. We felt like we had traveled longer than 4 hours! The station was crowded, with taxi drivers assaulting. Mom said the people looked like gypsies. Our business was fought over and we were fleeced by the taxi driver who finally won. We saw how close things were when we took our tour the next day. 39 Euros. Part of the adventure! | Above and below: views from the taxi ride in. Right: a detail from one of the buildings. | Below and bottom: view from our hotel
68: The night we got in Mom and I took a walk while Dad did some work. A man in an art gallery by our hotel recommended a little area just a few blocks away. After checking it out we went and got Dad, who had also been out scouting. We decided to take the green bus tour the next day, filled with freebies. Hop-on Hop-off took us all around the city. It was great! | Day 15: Budapest | The Great Synagogue | The Hungarian Opera House
69: The Hungarian Fine Art Museum and Hero Plaza | Budapest is a city of contrasts, with boarded up grand buildings next to those who have been back to their beautiful splendor.
70: The tour took us over to Buda, the hilly side of the Danube, and on up to the Citadel. There was a beautiful view of the city, and the weather couldn't have been better. The bus tour included a free bowl of Hungarian goulash soup at a restaurant up in the fortress at the top. We thought it was going to be very crowded and feeling mass produced, but it was wonderful! We went in and there was no line, they sat us at a table in a dining room and brought us a bowl of delicious, hot soup. We loved the ambiance.
71: I love this picture. Dad looks so patient and unconcerned, as Mom looks for her bus ticket. "I hope I didn't lose it. (She hadn't.)
72: After lunch we did a little souvenir shopping at the stalls set up around the Citadel. Mom took a picture of me and Dad in the Witness Protection Program. We then Hopped-On a bus that took us down to the base of the citadel and then up another hill to the Castle district. On the way we saw another example of how so much of Budapest got run down during Communism, and how it is just starting to come back. Right page: The view of the walkway and St. Mattias Church as we drove up.
73: The charming street lined with shops and restaurants that led from the bus stop to the church.
74: The following pages are just pictures of the inside of the church, the most beautiful building I've ever been in. The walls were entirely painted. It was glorious.
79: I stayed in the church longer than Mom and Dad, and met up with them by a little refreshment stand where they bought one of those donuts on a stick like we saw in Prague. There was a souvenir stand with real gas masks for sale. As we walked back to the bus stop we passed these girls playing violin and this souvenir bazaar that Mom and I visited later.
80: The Parliament Building, as we drove by in the bus | Another example of dingy next to restored splendor | As we walked back towards our hotel after the tour, Dad wanted to show us the place he'd found the night before to perhaps eat at. Just as we approached it I decided to check to see where we could get our free beer. It was the same place! Not crowded at all. We showed them our coupon, got our free beer and shared an order of potato hoops. Decided to walk back to the hotel Eurostar, and Mom and I went to a market and bought a few things to eat in the room for dinner. | A quiet moment. Budapest is noisy with lots of sirens!
81: Day 16: Budapest | I just want to mention the Irish ladies book club traveling together that we met in the breakfast room of the hotel. In the morning Dad, Mom and I walked along Museum Road to the Central Market, a huge market with stalls of souvenirs upstairs and mostly food downstairs. Dad was so patient while Mom and I shopped. We picked up a few things, including our paprika, but liked the stalls by the Citadel best.
82: We strolled along Vaci Utca, a main pedestrian street in Budapest, and popped into St. Michael's Church, where a small orchestra and choir were practicing. The street mostly lined with more of the same souvenir shops, then stopped for an early lunch at a restaurant with the friendliest, smiliest waiter who recommended the sampler of 'typical Hungarian foods': chicken paprika, goulash, some vegetable thing, served with ...potatoes, of course, and a salad of pickle spears and sauerkraut, plus two desserts. Dad finished walking back to the hotel to do some work and Mom and I walked to the synagogue and Hopped-on the green bus again (the ticket was good for two days!)
83: Mom and I wanted to go back up to the Citadel and so I could get one of the St. Michael pitchers we had seen. We also wanted to go through the Hungarian National Gallery, housed in the old Hapsburg Palace. It was very interesting. The paintings were dingy and dirty, the lighting and set up not great, but we discovered Josef Rippl-Ronai, a Hungarian secessionist artist home we loved. | I don't know how Mom got this picture. It was so crowded! The next thing I knew she had weaseled her way to the front!
84: The last freebie on our Hop-on Hop-off deal was a one hour cruise on the Danube at night.
85: Day 17: Budapest Our Last Day | Although Sunday, Dad had to spend the whole day with the convention he was attending. Mom and I walked the back streets of the Jewish quarter to the Opera House. Once again saw Budapest as a city of contrasts. We met a man from the states ~ a New York Jew from California who just wanted to talk. So friendly and lonely, living in Budapest now. Pointed out this door to us.
86: Got on the metro at the Opera House. A nice woman had gotten her coin stuck in the machine! She helped us figure out tickets we needed, and the agent came over to help.
87: We were on our way to Hero Square and the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts. The Hungarian Marathon was going on! The museum had an amazing collection of Monet, Pissaro, Ruben, Van Dyke, Goya, El Greco, a huge Flemish collection and Titian. Still needed cleaning, but a beautiful collection. We were on the metro back to the Opera House with the 3rd place Women's Division winner of the marathon!
88: We had a great tour guide for the Opera House. It was stunningly beautiful. Very interesting to hear about the ventilation system they had, using ice in the basement to cool the building!
91: We took the metro all the way back to the Astoria Hotel, easy as pie. The absolutely deepest metro we'd ever been on! Mom and Dad went to dinner with some business associates of Dad's. It was pouring! I got organized and finished packing and had hummus, peanuts and apples in the room. Mom and Dad, it was the most wonderful trip. Just putting this album together was like being there again, and I hope it will be like that for you looking through it. I love you both so much! ~Susan