As mentioned in yesterday’s post Janeen found an artist who’s jewelry she liked. This involved her buying a lovely necklace and a bracelet. Well, the design was such that it was a gold and silver piece but the two pieces (bracelet and necklace) didn’t match. So today, as it was HOT, we called an Uber and got a ride to the third shop of the store that represented the artist. Unfortunately they didn’t have anything that would resolve this issue. We went for a great lunch at Kampa Park Restaurant for a nice bottle of Sav Blanc and lunch.
We were right on the river and watched the boats going back and forth on their various tours.
Insofar as we didn’t resolve the jewelry issue, we called Uber again and went back to the original store (also the “flagship” location) to see what they could do. Well, the staff were very friendly and with only a little prompting by me called the Artist directly to see about making adjustments to the necklace and bracelet. Well, not a problem they said – we can ship it to you in 4 to 6 weeks. Naturally I took a picture of them
and with only an addition 200 Czech Koruna (8.40 US) the deal was done. Of course this only made the total value of our purchases in the 7000 Koruna range. But Janeen will be happy and it will arrive in time for our anniversary (I hope).
On our way back to the Hotel we stopped for a quick picture (standing in the street) of the Powder Tower.
The Estates Theatre was built during the late 18th century in response to the Enlightenment thought regarding general access to the theatre, and theatres themselves demonstrating the cultural standards of a nation. The Estates Theatre was designed and built a little less than two years for the aristocrat Count Nostitz Rieneck. Currently productions include a variety of productions – drama, opera, music, plays – and the schedule changes virtually every day requiring the stage to be reset daily. Our visit included a nice tour of the building, a visit to several boxes and a performance by several musicians.
After the tour of the Theatre, we went to the Municipal House. This is a civic building originally built in the 1380’s but destroyed but ultimately rebuilt in 1905. It was finally opened in 1912 and has a large auditorium and a number of “waiting” rooms around the outside of the main auditorium. It is notable for having a good deal of art installations done by Alfons Mucha, Jan Preisler and others. Today it is used as a concert hall, ballroom, civic building and I was temped to get tickets to see Diane Reeves who was scheduled for Friday evening.
Lunch at the Municipal Building wasn’t anything to write about but at least it was filling and in an interesting environment.
From there we went shopping as Janeen had found an artist’s work in the gift shop she liked so we had to track down where we could see other examples. This ended up as trip to a nice shop at which we purchased a lovely necklace (more on that tomorrow). This involved going to two of the three shops but again more on that tomorrow.
We did stop in Old Town Square for a nice bottle of wine. It was SO hot, the water truck showed up to wet down the plaza and people as desired.
Heading back to our hotel took pictures of a couple of interesting buildings.
That evening we connected with Jerry and Gloria and took another Uber to dinner at Divine Cafe and Wine Bar. Sitting in the patio we enjoyed a lovely dinner of the special of the day.
The following day Jerry and Gloria were to fly home so this was to be our final meal on this trip with them and it certainly was enjoyable. A cab ride back to the hotel and the day was finished.
Prague is widely considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, its called the Golden City. The variety of architectural forms is an extraordinary harmony, the city can watch all directions and styles, where Romanesque and Gothic buildings, built in Renaissance and Baroque whimsically combined with more recent trends: modernism, cubism. It will take several days to experience all the splendor of the Czech capital.
On our way into the city, we passed by this building – called The Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger, is the nickname given to the building designed by Frank Gehry – that’s right the same architect who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.
We arrived at the Art Deco Imperial Hotel just a few blocks from the Old Town Square.
After getting checked in, we went down the street to a burger place and had a wonderful lunch (with a couple of brews) and chatted up locals at the adjacent tables. It is amazing to me that English is so common in Europe and yet we don’t speak other languages. O’well, maybe I start classes at PCC.
After lunch we walked along the river ultimately finding our way to the Old Town Square passing interesting restored buildings, the Astronomical Clock. This was installed in 1410 making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. We were there in time for the 4 o’clock strike where all the movement operates – really something to see.
After another break for a beverage we went to our dinner spot – Wine O’Clock Shop. This was a small place with basically small plates available and lots of Italian Wines. It appears Veronika, the Owner, likes Italian wines and imports them from a small region along the eastern coast down by the boot. As part of our small plate dinner, Veronika made this really wonderful blue cheese dish.
After finishing we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day in Prague.
As the river would not allow the boat to go further along our path, UniWorld arrange a Coach tour into the Bavarian Forest. This was a nice alternative and included a site seeing tour along the route, a horse drawn coach adventure through the forest, a visit to a glass museum, a glass factory and a lovely lunch.
After we returned we packed up for tomorrows trip to Prague and had the Captian’s Farewell Dinner. All and all a very nice day.
Regensburg is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naap and Regen Rivers and is the 4th largest city in the State of Bavaria in Germany. The medieval center of the city is 2,000 years old having been originally settled by the Romans. Many of the buildings have been restored and the entire city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thus is protected from any changes being made. We visited this city during our last adventure to this part of the world and I was looking forward to returning for a visit.
Between 1135 and 1146, the Stone Bridge (so called as it is made of stones across the Danube was built. It is undergoing a renovation to restore the road surface and walls so we could not walk the entire length of it only a portion. This bridge opened major international trade routes between northern Europe and Venice and this began Regensburg’s golden age as a residence of wealthy trading families as it provided a major access point across the river.
Wealthy merchants would build towers to impress – not for any other function. There are still a number that are evident throughout the city.
After our guided tour we stopped in for a nice lunch – with beer of course.
Along the banks of the Danube is the oldest Sausage Kitchen originally felt to have stated with the building of the Stone Bridge around 1146 – and is notable as perhaps the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world. We stopped for a Sausage prior to rejoining our group for the return to the boat.
Just before we got to Passau, we had a lock to pass and a spillway – which I believe is a generating power plant. This lock was about the separate from Austria to Germany. Once we docked, I noticed this canoe group bailing out the rain water that was making their trip quite an adventure. Why you would want to canoe on this river is beyond me. Altho, there was a group of our fellow passengers who decided to do a bike adventure – 17 miles – from our last port of call to Passau arriving just before lunch. Gloria, our friend from North Carolina was part of this group – it rained virtually the entire time of their ride. Again, not sure why this group did this but they all said it was fantastic and thAfter docking in Passau, which is situated in Germany along the Austrian border and lies at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers. Known as the Three Rivers City, it is overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century hilltop fortress housing a museum and observation tower. The old town below is known for its baroque architecture, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral, featuring distinctive onion-domed towers and an organ with 17,974 pipes. We arrived late morning and after lunch boarded the bus for a tour of the city.
From the hilltop fortress we could see down to the city and the various buildings and see how the rivers converge on this city.
After returning to the boat we learned there was a significant high water issue and we may not be able to proceed further. Time will tell on this issue – tomorrow we head to Regensburg.
We motored along the river, passing lovely little villages like Durnstein
as we found our way to Spitz for a day tour of this little village.
We started off with a visit to a nautical museum – showing the various boats used on the Danube over the years and how they moved these boats both down stream – easy of course – and upstream – very hard for sure.
To bring the boats back up river they would use horses to pull them – and depending on the size of the boat there could be up to 100 or so horses all linked together. Needless to say, not a rapid process of moving along.
They even built a large sailing ship in an attempt to work their way up and down the river. This model included the ‘poop’ deck at the bow.
After our tour, we walked through the little village of Spitz – fortunately it was Sunday so all the shops (of which there were very few) were closed. It was interesting, however, how the Village has created a wall they can install along the river bank to protect them from flooding As you can see by this picture, they have had a bit of a problem with high water over the years. The high water marks along this building were very telling – we were about 5 feet above the current water level of the river already. To try and save the village they created a barricade wall they can install along the bank of the river. This is a removal iron wall that takes a couple days to install but certainly makes a difference in the safety of the village.
This is the starting point of the wall and insets between the concrete column in the above picture along the curb wall along the river.
Once completed with our adventures in town we returned to the boat for a little wine tasting of local wines. The primary wines are all whites – with Gruner Veltlier being the primary varietal. This was a pleasant tasting and had the wine shop been open I would have picked up a bottle or two. The wines we tasted are only available locally.
For lunch we enjoyed a light repast on the Sun Deck of the ship – very pleasant.
By late afternoon on Thursday we were underway – heading towards Vienna some 300 Kilometers away. There is something peaceful about cruising along the river with beautiful hillsides, small villages and vineyards along the way. The further along we went the more dramatic the scenery – steeper hillsides, terraced vineyards, castle ruins.
As we got close to Vienna, we went through our second lock (the first was at 1AM so I didn’t take any pictures).
With still 1 1/2 hours to Vienna, there was still lots to see along the shore. This place looked like a nice weekend cottage – maybe it’s a AirBNB. Further along was a freight area and train yard.
As we drew to our dock in Vienna, this church – Saint Francis of Assisi. Once we were all docked and organized, we got on the bus for the tour of Vienna including a visit to the Opera House. Along the Ring Road – where the moat and wall used to be located around the city is now the major road that circles the inner city. The City is a mix of old and new – all depending on what was destroyed during WW II.
We were dropped off and walked past this lovely fountain
The Opera House was significantly damaged during WW II – a bomb fall through the roof into the audience area destroying all the boxes and stage. It was rebuilt but can never recapture the original grandeur of the original.
The Theatre cycles a different event every day – with about 10 different things happening every two weeks. That means, every day they have to break down the stage and resent – could be opera, could be ballet, could be a concert.
After we had our tour of the Opera House, we walked around the shopping area and eventually we stopped for a sweet and a beverage.
I had the Chocolate and Janeen had the Apricot. Both were out of this world.
On the way back to the boat, I took this picture of a floating swimming pool in the canal next to the river. I also did a quick grab picture of this hardware store. Note the display on the right side of the window.
After dinner we headed out again – this time to the abbey of Klosterneuburg. This abbey was built 1000 years ago and is still maintained by the church. About 5 years ago they had the exterior of the buildings cleaned – really making them beautiful. As part of our tour we went into the Church, along some various hallways, saw some relics and the monks private garden.
The trip to the abbey was really for a concert of Mozart and Strauss music.
After a very full day, we got back to the boat and off we went again along the Danbue. I was sorry we didn’t have more time in Vienna but I can certainly see us coming back here again sometime.
We checked out of the hotel and took a cab to our new home – the River Princess.
This ship, operated by UniWorld, will be our new home for the next week or so – and go on the Danube River from Budapest to Nuremberg – and then a bus to Prague. Of course there are stops in various places. Our room, while small, covers everything we need – and is a better layout then we have had on other river cruises we have been on.
After checking in, we headed out again and made a special trip to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank.
This is a memorial to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
After our visit the skies opened up with rain, lightening and thunder! Fortunately we had been able to stop for a beverage and were out of the rain and were able to call a taxi to get us back to the boat.
The following day (Thursday) I took the bus tour and Janeen took the walking tour. Her adventure took in various public transit options – subway and trolley with stops along the way.
My tour via bus went to first to the Castle District, at the top of the hill on the Buda side of the city and to a visit to the Matthias Church and area.
Saint Stephen found his way to the area of present day Hungary in 1015 and was able to convert the King to Christianity – thus started the Catholic Church in this area. At the top of the hill, is the Matthias Church a Roman Catholic Church with the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of the Buda Castle District. The current building was built in the second half of the 14th century with extensive restoration in the late 19th. The roof of the church is very bright – with the roof tiles made from ceramic materials.
This Soviet era car was a result of the Soviet Union realizing they had a large amount of cotton and plastic waste that they didn’t know what to do with. So they sent it to their East German comrades, so they could build themselves a car. The Germans combined the cotton/wool waste with recycled plastic and resin, calling their new solid-ish (and extremely flammable) material “Duroplast”. Some say it was the first ever eco-friendly car, being the first to use recycled materials in its construction.
Driving down from the Castle District, we drove by a World War I Museum with this large sculpture out front. Budapest didn’t fair well during this war due in large part to their alliance with Austria.
After visiting the area, the bus cycled the Pest side of the city passing by several highlights – WW I museum and an interesting sculpture depicting an artist’s impression of the Iron Curtain.
The Soviet Union didn’t leave until 1989 – just a few years ago. With all that has happened over the last 100 years, the resilience of a people is fantastic. We saw interesting sites, had wonderful food, met really nice people and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Now it’s off to Vienna!
We joined up with our friends Gloria and Jerry and walked over to the hop on – hop off giraffe bus and headed out for the day. This 2-hour bus ride had something like 23 different stops but we only hopped off a couple of times. Commentary covers the sites and some Hungarian history and cuisine, so it is a lovely way to meet Budapest on a sunny June day.
Our first stop was the covered market, because a hat and mementos had to be purchased along with a food snack or two. Vendors were selling all kinds of foods – meet stands, nuts and gifts of all kinds. Janeen and Gloria were on the hunt for a new hat for Gloria and they both got new a new purse. Architecture that stands out are the 18th and 19th century buildings, but there are plenty of 1000-1600 examples as well. This building had a lovely mosaic at the top and appeared to have been recently restored. Our entire route was scented by the blooming Linden trees that Janeen had to find out about. Having traveled full circle, we found a late afternoon table for a snack and bottle of rose before returning to the Corinthia Hotel to set our appetites for Italian hospitality and Hungarian recipes as well at Comme Chez Soi. This Italian flavored restaurant is listed as #1 in Trip Advisor and we had a lovely time!
After dinner, we boarded a boat for an evening tour along the Danube which was lovely.
Tomorrow we check out of our Hotel and board the River Cruise!