A Travellerspoint blog

September 2015

Salzburg, Austria

We are traveling east and many are traveling west

overcast 65 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

17-19 September 2015

Getting to Salzburg was an easy shuttle ride (about 3 hours). Our driver, Tomas, took a liking to us and dropped us off right at our guesthouse - Pension Jahn (yes, just like Karen and Shel). It was just around the corner from the train station and on his way. But I think the real reason was that Brenda had finished a book (true story) about a dog who helped the Czechs in WWII and she offered it to him as a present. I'm not sure any other passenger had ever offered him a present and seemed sincerely touched. Hopefully, he'll think of us fondly as he reads.

We checked in and found that our room would not be available until 2pm (it was about 1130). That gave us time to go to the train station, get money (Euros used in Austria vs Korunas in the Czech Republic) and see about getting train tickets to Vienna on the 20th.

Brenda and Jim relaxing at Pension Jahn after a long day

Brenda and Jim relaxing at Pension Jahn after a long day

The train station was less than a ten minute walk and as we approached the station there was a large squad of police officers walking in formation from their station (across the street) to the depot. There was also a very large inflated quonset hut type structure put up by the Red Cross set up to assist the refugees. Life just got real!!!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention what is going on in Europe right now. The plight and flight of the Syrians from their country is not something I need to explain. It's in the news and on the internet daily. It's one thing to read and hear about it - another to see it. I'm sure another altogether to live it.

We made our way into the station. The officers gave us a passing glance, obvious to all that we're nothing more than three middle aged travelers. It appeared to us that it was "shift change". The officers fanned out and took positions throughout the lower station area near shops, restaurants, outside the bank and near the train ticket office, seeming to be more of a presence than anything else. In Salzburg, there were not the hordes reported in the news but I think by this time people were making their way in smaller groups just trying to get "somewhere". There were men, women and families - so many children - all was orderly but oh so sad.

Outside the Train Station in Salzburg

Outside the Train Station in Salzburg

One other reality check - while trying to get our tickets from Vienna to Budapest we're told that the border was closed to train travel. We'd need to check back the next day. Compared to what others are going through, a little inconvenience isn't really such a hardship.

Our day continued with lunch at beer garden which in all truth was OK. I still like Czech sausages better.

The next couple of days in Salzburg were lovely. Rain threatened but never really appeared at least not for very long.

Note: We decided to purchase the "Salzburg Card" - 36 Euro and good for two days for many attractions and public transportation. If you're thinking about purchasing this card, first, think about what you want to do and if it comes close to breaking even, in my opinion, go for it. We used it for the cable car to the top of the mountain at the Untersberg station, the funicular, a couple of museums, boat ride on the Salzach River, the Castle and transportation and it paid for it self. If your interests are elsewhere - there were many other sites where you could use the pass. The ease of just grabbing a tram or bus was an added plus.

Our trip to Untersberg was fun. Making our way to someplace new is always exhilarating. The cable car up is not for those who don't like heights but the view from the top was outstanding. My first view of the Austrian Alps :-). It was back to town to see more of Salzburg. We crossed the Makart Bridge and observed it's thousands of locks. This seems to be a current theme to add locks with names and dates to bridges. I have heard this was the case in Paris also but that the locks became too heavy so they cut them all off. Don't know if that will really stop people from "locking" again.

The I(Tourist Information) office was very helpful with information about concert and eating suggestions - so with a suggestion in hand it was off for some tasty Austrian food and to discuss our evening plans. We decided to do a Mozart Concert with dinner the next evening up at the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It was a bit pricy but sometimes you've got to splurge.

As we were walking back towards "home", we walked through the beautiful Mirabell Gardens and took a side exit thinking it would just lead us out to the street. It actuall lead us right into a group of kiosks selling "Sturm" and small plates of food. What the heck is sturm?? We found that we had stumbled on a yearly festival to celebrate the first press of whatever grape it was (really not sure). We were given a taste and decided to stay. There were a couple of different "sturms". The one we all chose tasted a bit like a bubbly sangria. A bit...anyways - it was good enough for a second glass.

A quick stop at the train station and we were in luck. The border to Hungary was open again and we were able to get our tickets.

Our last day in Salzburg was supposed to be rainy but again the weather gods blessed us with sun - at least most of the day. Brenda headed off to Hellbrunn Palace and JIm and I wandered the streets of Old Salzburg. We toured St Peter's Church, drooled over the fresh produce at the Farmer's Market and learned more than I ever knew about Mozart from two different museums. Our stroll back lead us right by the Sturm Fest - oh what the heck...we stopped again. It was great fun people watching.

Rain did not quite hold off for the whole day but did at least to let us get to the Hohensalzburg Fortress to tour the complex and then stay for dinner and the Mozart Concert. Again, I'm not a big classical fan but on this trip I've come to appreciate the talent of the wonderful musicians.

Don't forget - check out photos from this trip on my Shutterfly site - see link below.

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

Posted by pjburke 10:05 Archived in Austria Comments (4)

Cesky Krumlov

sunny 70 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

15 -16 September 2015

Sad to leave Prague - such a lovely city. Five days - not really long enough - but enough that we learned a little about the city, ate some great food drank some great beer and got over our jet lag.

We're off to Cesky Krumlov - a small town (UNESCO site) south of Prague, near the Austrian border. The skies were overcast and threatening rain so I guess it was a good time to leave. While Brenda and I were at Terezin yesterday, we had Jim scope out which tram/bus we should take to the bus station. It was up early, a short walk down the hill from our apartment and about 15 minutes later we arrived. Easy - Peasy!!!

Bus to Cesky

Bus to Cesky

Our next destination

Our next destination


Bus ride was about three and half hours of rolling country landscape - very similar to NYS Southern Tier. Arriving at the Cesky bus station, we weren't quite sure where to go...but we just followed the crowds towards the end of the parking lot, up a small hill and as we crested the rise, before lay the fairy tale village of Cesky Krumlov.

Our first view of Cesky

Our first view of Cesky

With a spring in our steps, we made our way down the hill, over a bridge and along the cobbled streets and over another small bridge to our home for the next two days - Pension Meandr.

Note: if you get to ever get to Cesky - Pension Meandr was wonderful. Small pension (guesthouse) with three rooms, it was right along the river with wonderful views of St Vitus Church. Also, the breakfast was great - not low cal by any stretch of the imagination - but enough to hold us most of the day - maybe!!

Pension Meandr

Pension Meandr

Not exactly heart healthy ...but very yummy!!!

Not exactly heart healthy ...but very yummy!!!

After getting settled we wandered the town. It really is a great town just to wander - beautiful views around every corner - alot of ups and downs and the cobblestones can be a bit brutal but so much more the reason to stop for a tasty Czech beer.

Our second day in town, we took in the Castle and it's environs. Again, just beautiful!! Enjoy the photos....oh and just a note: most restaurants except for the ones associated with the hotels don't take credit cards...Cash Only but there are a couple of ATMs right in the town square.

Tomorrow off to Salzburg...why ??? because the hills are alive with the sounds of music...or so I'm told :-)

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

Posted by pjburke 00:55 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Terezin Concentration Camp

overcast 65 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

14 September 2015

Brenda and I started the day in Old Town Square, a quiet place early in the morning. The town just starting to wake and so were we.

Early Morning Prague Old Town Square

Early Morning Prague Old Town Square

The Face

The Face

Wedding Photo on the square

Wedding Photo on the square


Much of what we've seen and heard in and around Prague is very warm and comfortable - the sites, the food, the beer. But that was not always the case in Europe. There is a tragic history that cannot be ignored or glossed over. Brenda and I decided that to learn more about the Czech people and their history, we should explore that past.

We've all heard about the most well known Death Camps of WWII - Dachau, Auschwitz, Mauthausen (which are really only three of 20K). But we were not traveling to those areas, so we did a little research , We found that we could tour a concentration camp near Prague called Terezin. What we learned boggled the mind. Our tour guide from Prague was a young man named Felip Huta with Sandeman Tours. We were very, very lucky to take the tour the day he was to be the guide. His passion and knowledge made both Brenda and myself feel the depth of depravity the Nazi's served on the Czech people.

I will give you a brief version of the Terezin history. If you have an interest, please take the time to research Terezin. It is one of those hidden stories that shouldn't be hidden.

Terezin was an actual village that served as a fortress from the late 1700's. Over the next 100 years it would decline and in the early 1900's it was used by the military as a prison for political prisoners. There were also a number of people who lived and worked in the village. In June of 1940, the Nazi's took over the town. People living there were given six months to relocate. Terezin was to be used as a "Transfer" point internment camp for Czech Jews being sent to the Death Camps. That information was a closely guarded secret. Terezin was also to be used for major Nazi propaganda purposes. The "outside" world was told that the town was being set up so that Jews would have a place where they could live, work and govern. But in actuality it was run as a work camp by Nazi's. Although no Jews were ever executed there, over 35K died from hunger, disease and injuries. (Note: Upon entering the camp, many possessions were taken from the prisoners including medications. Not able to take their medication was one of the reasons that many died). The first prisoners were brought in June 14th, 1940. Terezin would exist for the next four years.

In 1944, the Nazi brought in the International Red Cross to observe the camp's operations. What was set up for them to see was a complete rouse. The Red Cross left and then reported that the Camp was exactly what the Nazi's stated - an internment camp. A film was made of the conditions but never distributed.

In total, approximately 140,000 Jews, not only Czech, but from all over Europe were sent to Terezin. 35,000 died at Terezin,about 88,000 were sent to Auschwitz and about 17,000 survived.

I've attached some photos to my Shutterfly site, I won't say to "enjoy" - these are more for thought and reflection.

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

Posted by pjburke 01:01 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prague Jewish Quarter and Cemetery

sunny 75 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

13 September 2015

By coincidence, we decided to visit the Jewish Quarter of Prague during the day prior to Rosh Hashanah. The area has history dating back to the 13th century.

We started the day traveling by Metro for the first time. The tram was our mode of transportation for most of the trip since it was very convenient to our apartment. But the metro seemed to be the easiest way to reach the Jewish Quarter. At first we thought that we were in the wrong area. On a map the Quarter looked like a really long walk but in reality - it was not. Small lanes and winding trails, surprisingly brought us right where we wanted to go.

Also surprisingly, the Metro was one place where there was absolutely no graffiti - unlike the rest of the city. The Art Deco vibe reminded me of the stained glass at St Vitus Cathedral.

Prague Metro

Prague Metro

Our time in the the Jewish Quarter was for learning and actually feeling the history of this area, especially the Cemetery. I don't know how to say this without sounding a little "off" but I love cemeteries. They are such a reflection of lives lived and lost. To me, cemeteries are history and as a result the future also.

Spanish Synagogue

Spanish Synagogue

Star of David in the Jewish Quarter

Star of David in the Jewish Quarter

Feel free to give me feed back as to how this change is working. Also - you should not need to log in to Shutterfly to see the pics. Live and Learn!!!

Our travels this day also took us to a special place for the Czech people - St Wenceslas Square.

St Wenceslas

St Wenceslas

St Wenceslas with National Museum in the background

St Wenceslas with National Museum in the background

I'm going to try something different. Eastern Europe is a photographer's dream. It's easier to download to shutterfly. Not sure this will work but it's always fun to experiment.

So, saying that - here goes: https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

.......tried the link myself - it doesn't work....I'm working on it....Patty

Posted by pjburke 06:41 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

More of Prague

Prague Castle and the Loreta...nothing tells a story like pictures

sunny 70 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

11 and 12 September 2015

Friday and we're off to tour the Prague Castle. It's a huge complex. The tickets are 350Kc (about $14.50 USD) and the tickets are good for two days. We took in St Vitus Cathedral, saw the changing of the guard and wandered through the vast complex. It must have been nice to be reallllly rich back then!!!!

Enjoy the pics!!!!

St VItus Cathedral

St VItus Cathedral

Stained glass in St Vitus Church

Stained glass in St Vitus Church

Stained Glass inside St Vitus

Stained Glass inside St Vitus

Castle Guard Band

Castle Guard Band

Jim enjoying a bit of Czech food

Jim enjoying a bit of Czech food

Prague from the Castle

Prague from the Castle

View from Prague Castle

View from Prague Castle

View from Charles Bridge

View from Charles Bridge


How did they do that

How did they do that

Saturday we decided to head back to the Old Town, take in the Loreta and finish off the parts of the Prague Castle that we didn't see the day before. We actually thought, being Saturday, that it would be busy but we must have caught both sites before or after tours because they were both less than crowded. Before culture we started with food (we do have our priorities) at a place called Maly Buddha (an Asian type cafe which was very good) and just around the corner from the Loreta.

From Wiki:Loreta is a large pilgrimage destination in Hradčany, a district of Prague, Czech Republic. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, a Holy Hut and the clock tower with a famous chime. . We almost bypassed it but I'm glad we didn't.

Loreta admission 150 Kc (about $6.25).

Maly Buddha

Maly Buddha

Inside Maly Buddha

Inside Maly Buddha

Spring Rolls - Unlike any I had ever had

Spring Rolls - Unlike any I had ever had


Loreta Courtyard

Loreta Courtyard

Loreta Alter

Loreta Alter

Jeweled Monstrosus

Jeweled Monstrosus

Creepy Cherubs

Creepy Cherubs

Courtyard

Courtyard

And then it was back to Prague Castle, again at a leisurely pace.

Light post Prague Castle Style

Light post Prague Castle Style

Entrace to the Castle

Entrace to the Castle

Looking Up

Looking Up

P1150496

P1150496

St Vitus from sunken garden

St Vitus from sunken garden

We stayed down in the Old Town and took in a Mozart Concert at the Klementinum Mirror Chapel. There were two musicians and two vocalist - three of whom play for The Prague State Opera. I'm really not an opera aficionado but this was just lovely. Such a nice way to end a great day in Prague. ....I just love this city!!!

Klementinum Mirror Chapel

Klementinum Mirror Chapel

Mozart

Mozart

Posted by pjburke 11:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

Our first day in Prague...

overcast
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

10 September 2015

We all slept very well but were excited to start our tour of Prague. We'd heard so many good things. We agreed that the first one up would find the grocery store (we were told it was just around the corner) and grab something for breakfast... it just so happened it was me. I felt very at home stepping outside the front door of the apartment building. There was a lady who walked out with me and she appeared to be carrying a shopping bag so I followed her. She lead me right to the small store. After picking up a few items, I stopped at the bakery that was across the street - homemade apple strudel made it into my "Wegman's" shopping bag.

Front of our apartment building in Prague

Front of our apartment building in Prague


View from out patio in Prague

View from out patio in Prague

We decided that our first day would be an adjustment day. The three of us had a month to travel and we didn't want to end up sick. We had breakfast, found a Tabak store to buy our tram tickets (110 Kc = about $4.50 for a 24 hour ticket) and we were off. We wandered to the Old Town Square to see the Astronomical Clock and "who did we run into???" Judy Lawler and two of her Irish friends, Sue and Emma. It really is a small world!! It was then on to Charles Bridge, a little lunch, back to the apartment for a rest and then back to the Old Town for a Vivaldi Concert at St Clementine's Church. The music was lovely and the acoustics great...even if we did get a little lost on our way there.

Prague really is about the people and the sites. Enjoy the photos from our first day - there will be many more to come.

Old Town Square Astronomical Clock

Old Town Square Astronomical Clock


Astronomical Clock

Astronomical Clock

First lunch in Prague

First lunch in Prague

First PEG Picture in Prague

First PEG Picture in Prague


Prague from the Charles Bridge

Prague from the Charles Bridge

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

Memorial to John  Hus in Old Town Square Prague

Memorial to John Hus in Old Town Square Prague

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

Prague Castle at night

Prague Castle at night

Vivaldi Concert at St Clementines

Vivaldi Concert at St Clementines

Posted by pjburke 09:26 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prague ....I love this city!!!!

Off to a great start

sunny 74 °F
View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

16 September 2015

I've been meaning to sit and get this blog started but Prague was such a beautiful city and for the most part the weather has been stellar. Right now we are south of Prague in the beautiful little medieval town - Cesky Krumlov. I was trying to write before breakfast today but breakfast was delivered (yes, delivered) and then it was off to the Castle before the tour groups arrived. Hopefully, I'll have a post before the end of the day.

First things first...We left the US last week (Tuesday) and the trip really wasn't too eventful. We're off!!!

We're off!!!

The short version: The trip from Rochester to Toronto wasn't a problem but we did get an email that morning indicating our flight from Frankfurt to Prague was cancelled - Lufthansa pilot's strike. We made it to Toronto and after two hours in line at the Lufthansa desk we had tickets leaving Frankfort at 8pm the next night after arriving from Frankfurt at 0800. That would mean a 13 hour wait in the airport after traveling for a whole day. Not too happy!! We connected with Brenda who arrived from DC shortly after we did and decided that we'd take the train instead of waiting. Fortunately, we had only checked our bags through to Frankfort and Brenda had done carry on so it was off to catch our train. Two stops to change trains along the way, enjoying the beautiful German countryside, catching some zzzzzz's and arriving two hours before we would have even taken off had we stayed in Frankfurt. Taxi from the train station was a breeze as we went to "Travelers Point", a tourist office, in the train station (recommended by Rick Steves). We had booked our accommodations, six nights in an apartment (residential area about a 10 minute tram ride to the Old Town) with Airbnb.com.

Upstairs Bedroom

Upstairs Bedroom

Kitchen

Kitchen


We were welcomed by the owners step dad, given keys and told to make our selves at home. Also, got a recommendation for dinner close by. After dinner at Waikiki, it was back to the apartment and we were more than ready for a good night sleep.

The next couple of post will be mostly photos. Prague is such a great city - we absolutely fell in love with it.

IASW (if you've followed my blog in the past, you know that I definitely think this world is getting smaller and smaller. So when those "moments" happen, I will often refer to them as "IASW"...we had our first one on the very first day of our trip- I think it was a good omen.) We had just gotten to the Rochester airport and tried to find out how we'd get to Prague when we met a small group that was traveling on our same flights. They were heading to a river cruise. Travelers tend to be a friendly group so we chatted on and off. We were in line together while boarding the plane for Frankfurt when one of the ladies asked Jim what he did for a living when we were in Rochester. When he told them he was a cop - we got a couple of very stunned looks. One of the ladies asked if we knew a Officer Lawler - I said "Bill?"..."no, Tim - he's my husband". NO WAY!!! Of course, Jim not only worked with Tim but Tim also worked on two of our kitchen rehabs. And, one of the other ladies is the mother in law of Marv Patterson. So you see, it really is a very small world!!!

Posted by pjburke 07:57 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 7 of 7) Page [1]