Friday, September 28, 2012


We had a really amazing time in Prague. We arrived very early in the morning by the night train, and walked all through the city enjoying the morning light. We walked across Charles bridge and up the hill to the castle. We climbed the tower of St Vitus - all 500 steps - and had a wonderful view of the city. 

We were in Prague from September 17th to the 20th which luckily coincided with a big international music festival in the city. We went to see Dvoraks Sabat Matar in St Vitus played by the Prague philharmonic orchestra and choir. It was very beautiful, the acoustics were amazing and we arrived early and so got great second row seats beside a 3 star general and we're pretty sure an arch bishop. The next day we got tickets to a concert at Dvorak Hall by the Prague Radio Orchestra with violin solos by Vilde Frang who is a 23 year old virtuoso. It was also really awesome! 

We also went to an organ concert at a small church another night which was quite interesting as well. 

Another highlight was the Lobkowicz palace which was a lovely little museum with a great audio guide. It's at the palace of the family, who were very famous in history. We got to see original Beethoven manuscripts of his 5th and Eroica symphonies which were both dedicated to prince Lobkowicz. They were quite amazing, and seeing Beethoven's own signature was quite something. 

We visited Wencelas square and the old town square where there is a neat astrological clock. And just enjoyed wandering around the city. 

On our last night before the night train to Warsaw, we had a very nice dinner which ended with the chef coming out and painting a dessert for us on a piece of glass. 

The night train to Warsaw was quite nice and we awoke early to some very nice sunrise landscapes. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


We arrived in Budapest on an extremely rainy day around 11am, and found out we couldn't get into the apartment we were staying in until 8pm. So we parked our bags at the station and walked all around the city. We didn't take any pictures that day as it was quite miserable, but we discovered that there was a wine festival going on all week on Castle hill, we found out the Faust wine cellars we had been excited to visit happened to be closed for holidays the whole time we were in town, had a nice traditional Hungarian lunch complete with Goulash, and paprika chicken crepes, and figured out the less than intuitive subway system. 
We also happened to find the Ruszwurm Cafe which was an epic little tea room and confectionary - possibly the oldest in Europe. We popped in at about 5pm as we were pretty wet and cold, and found the most amazing atmosphere and tea and cakes! The cakes are all tiny layered and made there, and in many different and tasty flavours. If you ever happen to be in Budapest, you really need to try a piece! 

The next day proved to be much nicer, so we headed to the wine festival where we spent the whole afternoon tasting local and specialty wines and munching on traditional snacks. The two most notable wines were Egri Bikaver or Bulls blood which is a famous red wine, and Tokaji which is a sweet dessert wine. 

Another day we spent going to the Central marketplace which was pretty interesting, the Cave Church, climbing the citadel hill, walking across the city and up Castle hill. We then rewarded ourselves with another tea and piece of cake from Ruszwurm cafe. We also explored the castle area and ended with a dinner by the side of the Danube. 

One of the neat things we tried were a street food called Transylvanian chimney cakes. The stall we got them at made them by hand and cooked them over a wood stove. They were very tasty and warm and delicious. We actually saw them in Prague also, but they looked no where near as good. We found a neat tea shop where we played backgammon on a real board! We'd been playing quite a bit on Jerome's phone, so it was fun to roll some real dice. 

Finally, on the last day we went to a place which Jerome had seen signs for all week, but I'd been chickening out about. It was a spa type place where you put your feet in water with these tiny little fish, who nibble on your feet to make them nice and smooth. Well that's what it feels like at least, and is extremely ticklish! Really they don't have teeth. It turned out to be quite fun as we laughed for pretty much the entire time, and was very memorable! 

We ended the trip by taking the night trip to Prague. It was a bit hard to sleep, but was a really fun experience, as I'd never been on a night train before, or slept in a top bunk - but I managed to not fall off even when the train kept stopping and starting in the night.

Enjoying the wine festival

Jerome reveling in his double 6 win over tea

Outside the Central Market

Inside the Central Market

Cherry cake from Ruszwurm

View from Castle hill

View from Castle hill

Castle hill

Transylvanian Chimney Cake

Fish nibbling our feet

Excited for the night train!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Austria (Salzburg, Hallstatt and Vienna)

We left Munich and headed to Austria where we spent a week visiting Salzburg, Hallstatt and Vienna. 

We were only in Salzburg for one night, but got to see quite a bit of it. We did a lot of walking all around the old town seeing lots of neat squares, the river, some really cool gardens including a dwarf garden and the house where Mozart lived. We also tried some Mozartkugels which are a chocolate candy balls inspired by Mozart. We happened to find a really cool monastic brewery called Augustiner that had an awesome beer garden. There you picked your own cup, small or large, rinsed it out in a neat fountain, and then passed it to a guy who filled it up from the keg. 

We left Salzburg for Hallstatt, which is a very small village nestled on the side of a mountain beside a lake. It was historically very important as it is where the first salt mine was started over 3000 years ago, and therefore allowed the preserving of food. We rented an electric motor boat one day to go all around the lake, and a paddle boat the next day so that Jerome could go swim in the middle of the lake. It was really beautiful. We went to a concert in the square of the local marching band. If you gave them a donation, you got a shot of schnapps from a tiny little keg! We also went down in the old salt mine, which was neat and fun, as they had several large wooden slides to help you get around the mine faster. 

After Salzburg we headed to Vienna, where we stayed with a very nice couple in their apartment. The very first night we stumbled upon a big harvest festival in a big square. It had little stalls for all the local area farms who were selling food and drinks and things. There was a big band, and floats with wheat crowns and lots of people dressed in traditional clothes. It was a lot of fun! We did a lot of just walking around the city as it is very pretty, and the old buildings are beautiful. One of the days we rented segways for a few hours and rode them out to the island on the Danube, which was pretty much deserted of people as I guess the swimming season was over. We also attended a concert in the famous Musikverein music hall where we heard classical music and even the Danube Waltz. 

The square in Salzburg with a great view of the castle.

View of the castle from the Salzach river

Part of the Zwergerlgarten (dwarf garden)

Mirabell gardens 

Outdoor section of the Augustiner beer hall (note the traditional chestnut trees)
Our beer being filled up by the kegmaster


The cemetary in Hallstatt is tiny, so after 10 years they
remove the bones, paint them and put them
in the Beinhaus (bone house) 

Boating on the lake

Hallstatt from the lake

The Hallstatt Band

Getting our schnapps from the tiny keg

Sharing a Nockerl for dessert

In the worlds oldest mine

Looking down on Hallstat from the mountain

Jerome swimming and splashing in the lake

Jerome destroying me at giant chess

The Gasthoff Simony where we stayed in Hallstatt

Vienna's Parliament buildings

The Harvest Festival

The band at the harvest festival

Potato and meat dish

The statue of the Archduke Charles of Austria in the Heldenplatz
The Rathaus (Townhall)

Cake for breakfast on my birthday =)

Hummingbird Moth

From the top of St Stephen's Cathedral

St Stephen's has a really cool roof

A modern art sculpture

St Charles church

Mozart is kind of a big deal in Vienna

A really cute elephant statue that you can't climb

The concert at the Musikverein

Segway-ing around the city

Traditional Sacher cake