Day 38, Sat, June 10 –The trains are getting more comfortable, efficient and user-friendly as we progress toward the west. We arrived at 8 A.M. and had our standard taxi issues. The first taxi we saw wanted to charge us 4 times the normal rate – he made some interesting Czech hand gestures when we balked and told him we knew how much it should be. I shouldn't feel too bad since we read that even the British Ambassador himself has complained about to the Mayor of Prague about the taxi situation (to no avail apparently). We wound up getting a more reasonable taxi on the street and arrived quickly and safely at the Marriott (another fine hotel on the travel points system!). We headed straight for the Old Town (Stare Mesto) square, with its distinctive clock-tower and two-spired church. We had lunch at a café for great people-watching, particularly the several wedding parties in horse carriages that stopped for photos under the famous 15th century astronomical clock on the old town hall. As it has for hundreds of years, it plays out an hourly mini-mortality play with carved wooden figures of saints, sinners, hatchets and even a skeleton. It’s a perfect introduction to Prague and the Czech Republic.
With its wonderfully preserved architecture and old-town charm, but cosmopolitan flare, Prague had always seemed odd on the East side of the Iron Curtain. Since being created by treaty after World War II (the same treaty the Hungarians hated), Czechoslovakia had become the “new Paris” for students, artists, writers, bohemians and intellectuals. It had tried to shake free of Russia in 1968, but a largely student-led uprising that the Czech government refused to put down was forcefully squelched with 400,000 Russian troops and tanks in the streets. As the cold war started to fade and revolution filled the air, the memory many people had was the terrifying end to the “Prague Spring”. What some didn’t know was that when Gorbachev was asked what the difference was between his Perestroika and the Prague Spring he answered “twenty years”. This was taken as a sign that a new revolt would not be met with the same force. And emboldened students and intellectuals virtually willed their way to the bloodless “velvet revolution” of 1989 – pretty much the opposite of Romania. Their leader, Vaclev Havel, is still the President. You have to love a country that elects a play write as President. Shortly after this, the Czech and Slovak republics formally divorced. Apparently 1,000 years apart in two separate worlds – Czech in a Germanic beer-loving crowd and Slovak as an adjunct to Hungary in a wine-tasting country created too many irreconcilable differences.
This current history is just the latest in a long struggle to maintain identity and freedom in the face of adversity (this seems like the predominant theme everywhere we go). After hundreds of years of various alliances and wars, a 14th century “Golden Age” of artistic, architectural and intellectual achievement set the stage for the free thinking of the rebellious preacher Jan Hus. His preachings were so contrary to the church establishment that Martin Luther said: “without knowing it, I have taught and held the teachings of Jan Hus”. Unfortunately, Hus was burned at the stake and the decades of ensuing battles between Protestant Hussites and Catholic Hapsburgs eventually led to the Thirty Years War, the largest European conflict until Napolean’s time. It also started a curious method of Czech protest called defenestration (i.e. throwing someone out a window). When all the dust settled, Bohemian and Protestantism were wiped out and Czech culture and the Slav race were suppressed under German/Austrian Hapsburgs until after World War I. A short 20 years later in Hitler’s re-Germanized world, the country ceased to exist when it was “annexed” in March 1939. When the Prague resistance movement helped to assassinate the chief of Nazi security, Hitler’s retaliation was to completely eliminate the town of Lidice, 30 km away. Every male over 15 was shot, every female over 15 was shipped to concentration camps, all the children were gassed to death, the town was burned and bulldozed, and its name removed from maps (Hitler: "The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence"). I sometimes wonder how the war would have turned out if Hitler had not been literally insane.
After lunch and some great people-watching, we walked across the Charles bridge, (named after the country’s most celebrated ruler) with its numerous religious statues and views of watch towers on one side and Castle District on the other. When I first took this walk in 1990, a few months after the revolution, it was busy with artists, energy and people selling soviet souvenirs, but at night you could still imagine the time of Mozart’s premier of “Don Giovanni” or of Kafka writing “Metamorphosis” over 200 years later. Now you can’t swing a dead cat day or night without hitting three artists, 5 souvenir stalls, a dozen tourists and a pickpocket or two.
We had arranged to meet a Servas member, Jaroslav, at Wenceslas Square, the sight of many of the country’s political demonstrations, including a young student, Jan Palach, lighting himself on fire in 1969. The last time I was here, we had a comical multi-lingual run-in with Prague police because we were driving the wrong way on a one-way street. They were very kind and led us on our merry way. We went for great (i.e. heavy) Czech dinner with Jaroslav, then to a small local teahouse. He had traveled quite a bit and we spoke about Czech history and culture. Afterward we walked across Charles Bridge and all the way up the Castle District - it was great to be with a local life-long resident to show us all the hidden spots. It was late at night and we were the only ones around most places, so we could really get a feel for the previous centuries.
Day 39, Sun, June 11 – After sleeping in a little we had a street Kielbasa and our favorite ice cream we had discovered in Poland- Nogger Mint for Naomi and Magnum Double Chocolate for me. If the Kielbasa doesn’t get us, then the ice cream will. Thankfully, we haven’t seen a scale in weeks. We visited some of the churches in the old town, including the twin-spired “Prague Gothic” Tyn church that was converted from Protestant to Catholic after the Hussite wars. We were surprised (but happy) to find that an elevator had been installed in the town hall tower. The top provides unique views of the varied architecture of the old square, including the imposing but controversial statue of Jan Hus. It turns out the tall, bearded proud defiant stance doesn’t necessarily resemble the short, baby-faced man. We met Jaroslav and his American expat friend John for tea and then a walk through the Hradcany Castle district (we called it Hard Candy just for fun), this time in daylight. The amazing collection of Baroque and Renaissance housing and palaces was featured prominently in Czech director Milos Forman’s “Amadeus”. Jaroslav knows the area well and even runs a website for Prague tourists (www.czechsite.com). The interiors of the castle were closed, but we walked around the square, gardens and neighboring streets, including the “golden lane” of craftsmen houses where Kafka lived. The most spectacular building in Hradcany is St. Vitus Cathedral, with its complicated construction history covering 1,000 years through 1929. The windows are filled with brilliantly colored stained glass, including modern art-nouveau masterpieces by local artist Alfons Mucha. A chapel is dedicated to the “good king” Wenceslas of Christmas Carol fame, who was unfortunately killed by his ambitious and impatient brother. The cathedral also houses the Bohemian crown jewels, but they are not on view since they are under seven locks with seven different keys held by seven different people. The exterior is adorned with a beautiful gold “Last Judgment” in mosaic (which is very rare north of the Alps). The work is from 1370, made from over a million pieces of stone and glass, and was recently restored by the Getty Trust (a little home town pride there).
We had a great early fish dinner with John near the
river with a view of Charles Bridge before heading back to the hotel. We had thought about going to one of the many classical
concerts, but the one we chose was in a church
right next door to a huge outdoor TV screen showing the Czech team play
Holland in Euro2000 football (not to mention orange-painted Dutch fans).
agreed the ruckus would probably overwhelm the concert and decided to
watch football in our hotel while writing and reading (you can do that
with soccer because the 10 seconds of excitement are sure to be replayed
a dozen times). Unfortunately,
the Czech team suffered terrible luck as three shots struck the post and
they lost. For dinner, we
went to the main nightlife drag near Wenceslas Square.
It was buzzing with nightlife in various musical styles and
languages. On the way back
home we passed the jarring contrast of the brooding black 15th
century Powder Tower next to the elegant art nouveau curves of the white
and gold Municipal House, another Mucha design.
Day 40, Mon, June 12 – We met Jaroslav and John again for lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was their choice as it was close to their work, but we welcomed the “home” cooking since we had not been to a KFC during them trip. Unfortunately, it was different than what we used to back home. We took one of the many easy trams up to the 12th century Strahov Monastery. The main attraction is the Library and the Philosopher’s Hall, a classically frescoed room where we heard a string quartet performance. The monastery is on a hill with wonderful views of both sides of the Vltava River. We walked down the hill to the Belvedere palace, then on to St. Nicolas’ church, a gem of high Baroque curves and motion. We took the tram across the river to the Rudolfinium concert hall and the Jewish quarter. As with every other Jewish ghetto in occupied territory, it was decimated. The pre-war population of 35,000 is now 5,000. Several synagogues remain, including one with the names of 80,000 Czech Jews killed in Nazi camps and drawings made by camp children. There is also a very melancholy cemetery with old gray gravestones (some nearly 600 years old) tilting every which way in seemingly haphazard patterns.
To break the mood we went to the small museum
dedicated to the work of Alfons Mucha since we had seen so much of his
work around the city and liked what we saw.
He was one of the pioneers of the flowing, direct art nouveau
style at the turn of the century like theater posters for Sarah
Bernhardt, but his most emotional work is a group of large canvases
representing the struggle of the Slav race. Unfortunately, I accidentally
erased the tape of this trip (as well as the Jewish quarter)
so there are no photos of these (yes, I'm upset with myself too).
Unfortunately, I accidentally erased the tape of this trip (as well as the Jewish quarter) so there are no photos of these (yes, I'm upset with myself too).
Day 41, Tues, June 13 – After packing and checking out, we met another Servas member, Katarina, for lunch at a local beer hall. The pork and dumplings were great. Katarina is a student in Prague, but she is soon traveling to the European Congress on minority rights. We discussed many of the problems facing Europe as a new generation struggles with inherited problems, some of which are ethnic and nationalistic such as Yugoslavia and others are racial due to the influx of economic immigrants from Africa and Asia to perform lower-level and manual labor. Katarina agreed to help us with Czech translations for the following interviews:
These guys who run a hot dog stand were a riot. Their answers went something like: "Health and money. No, wait - money and health. OK, here it is: money, health, a flat, love, and to be on TV"
We had a slight transportation adventure on the way out of town. We had collected our bags and were getting out of the taxi at the station when Naomi realized she had left our trusted and all-important baggage cart at the hotel. A few tense moments and quick calculations later, I was speeding down the street with the driver, safe in the knowledge that I had about 14 minutes to make a 13 minute trip. I made it back just in time to board, but without the standard snacks for the ride. Oh well. This train crap is the most interesting part of the journey sometimes.
As with Veliko Turnova in Bulgaria, and Sighasora in Romania, we scheduled Cesky Krumlov as a break from the standard European capital circuit; mostly for the change in scenery, but also for the differing types of people. We were not disappointed. At the tiny station, we approached a casual taxi driver reading a newspaper on a park bench. Unlike the big cities, he seemed as though he would be happy not getting a passenger all day. We got a cheap ride to our hotel, where we were met by the proprietor, a jolly round Czech and proud father anxious to show off the photos of his hockey star son. Hotel Straninger was recommended by our Servas friends in the States – it was the smallest hotel either of us had ever stayed in – three rooms! Each was really a suite taking up an entire floor. We had a foyer, bathroom, shower room, sitting area and bedroom with centuries-old wooden beams on the ceiling. Our large window overlooked the quaint cobblestone street below which led to the castle. We got in late, so we only had time for dinner. We walked around the silent old streets and found a great outdoor seat at a steakhouse near the bubbling river.
Day 42, Wed, June 14 – Cesky Krumlov is a relatively small town and was little known until a few years ago; now the tourists flock here as a counterpoint to the overwhelming Prague. The old town is built around an almost circular bend in the Vltava River and has very few cars, so the experience is like a step into the past (except for the kayakers gently paddling down the river). The primary attraction is the castle, rising up on stone crags from the river. It is the second largest castle in Czech (behind Prague), but it has very little royal history. Although it was originally built for fortification and defense purposes in the 12th century, its fame came as the hereditary home of some of the richest families in the area and it provides an example of the wealth and power amassed by the aristocracy of the time. Through the centuries, it has been home to the Krumlov, Rosenberg, Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg clans, becoming a cultural and political center famous for court celebrations, theater and music productions. As a center of status quo wealth, it was a bulwark against the revolutionary Hussites during the religious wars. Today’s other claim to fame is the local Eggenberg beer that has been produced here since the 14th century (and tastes fine, thanks!).
We went for a tour of the castle, passing through the main gate “protected” by two brown bears in pits below the walkway. They must have been impressive some time ago, but they looked a little out of place now, although they seemed to be enjoying themselves. They were definitely a hit with the children (even while napping). The round castle tower dominates the city and is the focal point of the castle. It is fairly unusual, having starting out as gothic, but remodeled to look somewhat like a minaret with an arched renaissance balcony. We climbed to the top for a view over the city and river below. The guided tour of the residential interior was excellent, particularly the rococo chapel, the masquerade ballroom with fantasy paintings, the courtyards with original 16th century sgraffiti, an incredible elevated renaissance walkway/gallery, and the theater, one of the oldest in Europe. We had heard some pretty strong rain while we were inside for the tour, but when we exited we realized it was marble-sized hail. It was very odd coming out into the sun with hail on the ground.
We went to a lively pub for dinner (with Eggenberg
beer, of course) where the crowd was singing along to a piano player and
watching football on TV. It
was all good fun.
Day 43, Thur, June 15 – Off to an internet café (yes they have them in the most unlikely places) to touch base, followed by a tour of the castle gardens and outdoor theater (which is still used today), and then to the 15th century St. Vitus church. We had lunch in the rain by the river, which was really very peaceful. To date we have been very lucky with the weather (once we left Russia), so it’s nice to have a rain once in a while.
Today's opinions on the most important thing in life:
After lunch, we visited the Egon Schiele museum. The Austrian expressionist made a second home of Cesky Krumlov, the birthplace of his mother. He created a great series of cityscapes here with the unfortunate title “the Dead Town”. They are much different from the minimalist nudes he is more famous for. He was initially welcomed by the townsfolk as a breath of culture until they realized one of his favorite subjects was pre-pubescent girls (maybe that’s how he decided the name of his series on the town?)
Spent the evening writing, eating ice cream, and enjoying the scene from our hotel window (just like the woman and cocker spaniel across the street).
Day 44, Fri, June 16 – We woke early for another great breakfast prepared by the friendly owner himself, then got a taxi to the train station. All in all, it was a great break from hectic city life. We took a train to the crossroads industrial town of Cesky Budejovice. They also have a famous product (hint: the town was called Budweis under the Hapsburgs). Yes, beer! We sampled some of the original Budweiser, which recently won a legal trademark battle with the American brand of the same name. We climbed the 360 steps of the gothic Black Tower for a view over the city (accompanied by a horde of screaming kids on a school trip), then hung out in the enormous town square long enough to see a couple of wedding parties come by for traditional photos and to talk to some people. We also watched some kids chasing pigeons, which we have been happy to find out is a worldwide phenomenon and bought me a new (black Budweiser) hat since my John Mellencamp tour hat had taken the brunt of Russian sleet, Polish rain, and various other stains and abuses. We headed back to the train station where the books and postcards reminded us there were plenty of castles and sights in this small part of the world which we missed and will have to come back for.
The most important thing in life? "To me it is music. It can change the way people think and feel"
We had to change trains at the Austrian border town of Gmund, so we took the opportunity to shop for some famous chocolates and other goodies. We arrived late to Vienna and checked into Hotel Ibis, which was thankfully close to the famous Prater amusement park. We walked over and had a delicious kebab and bratwurst and watched the youth of Vienna thoroughly enjoy themselves on various rides and games. They have one of the widest selections we’ve seen, including ferris wheels, spinning chairs, roller coasters, bungy jumps, space rockets, and other nausea-inducing contraptions. They have certainly advanced from the “Tilt-a-Whirl” of my childhood. We wisely waited until our greasebombs were somewhat digested before riding a roller coaster ourselves. The carnival was a nice change of pace.
This New Zealander was living in Vienna and running the bungee jump attraction at Prater (what a surprise!). His most important thing in life is "Enjoy yourself, have a good time and be happy with who you are". If his opinion is widely held in his country, we can't wait until we get there in a few months!
Day 45, Sat, June 17 – In the morning we
moved to the Hilton, the last of our “points” award hotels for some
time. We took full
advantage of the amenities (including the free welcome champagne and
orange juice) before taking on the vast city.
Vienna is known as “the city of culture “ for
good reason. With its daily
classical concerts and music history (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn,
Schubert, the Strauss family, Mahler, the famed boys’ choir), famous
opera balls, elegant coffee houses, spacious parks, Mercedes taxis,
horse carriages, the unique Spanish Riding School, wine tasting, and
famous pastries and chocolate, it has a level of sophistication that
elevates “good living” to an art form.
It is not only the birthplace of the waltz, but psychoanalysis
was also dreamt up here by Sigmund Freud.
Art (Klimt, Schiele), literature (Brecht), theater, and
architecture have also been well represented by the Viennese
intellectual community. The
Austrians also have the Germanic predisposition for politeness,
cleanliness orderliness, and strict adherence to rules, regulations and
codes of conduct which
manifests itself in the character of their capital.
I remember on my first visit it struck me as a sort of “Disneyland”
of European cities because it was so clean and orderly, as if everything
was in its proper place.
Today, Vienna is home to about 20% of Austria’s 8 million
people. The country holds a
much different place in European life than it did during the Hapsburg
empire, which at one time included over a dozen of today’s countries
and over 40 million people. As
with most widespread empires, it was spread too thin to defend itself
(from both outside and within) and was finally broken up after the first
World War. How the empire
got so large is through a unique combination of conquest, politics,
marriage and luck. After
Marcus Aurelius died here in 180, the series of invaders included
barbarians, Charlemagne and Magyars until the Babenberg dynasty
maintained stability for 300 years (including the capture and ransoming
of King Richard the Lionhearted on the way back home to England after
the third crusade). This
was also the time of the Holy Roman Empire, which was disparagingly
called “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire”.
The Hapsburg Empire would rule for over 600 years with various
shrewd political alliances and marriages.
The Hungarian King was famously quoted: “Let others wage wars,
you, happy Austria, get married”.
The golden age was the 16th, with Karl/Charles V
ruling for 37 years, a time when the empire was largest (including parts
of Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands) and one of the richest (with New
World gold and silver), but it also faced threats from outside (Turks)
and inside (the Lutheran reformers).
Karl V was a staunch defender of Catholicism, but his heirs were
a little more lenient. Finally,
the Hapsburgs triumphed during the Thirty-Years War, only to face new
threats from Bohemia, Sweden, the Plague and the Ottomans.
With the Turks finally repelled, the Hapsburgs had relative peace
(except for a little war of succession) for a while to prosper under the
prodigious Marie Theresa, who bore 16 children, including the
unfortunate Marie Antoinette. Napoleon
invaded and occupied Vienna, then the peace after his abdication led to
a period of cultural growth until the revolution of 1848.
This ushered in 18-year old Franz Joseph and his elegant wife
(and cousin) Elizabeth (Sissi). His
long reign (until World War I) would include significant growth for the
Empire and Vienna, but would also be marked by personal tragedy (his
unhappy marriage, the assassination of his brother, the suicide of his
liberal, wild son Rudolf, the murder of Sissi by an Italian anarchist,
and finally the assassination of his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand
which ushered in World War I). Austria’s
historic and cultural ties with Germany brought it into both wars,
although its level of capitulation is a subject of heated debate to this
day. Austria was
technically invaded and annexed by Germany, but the “anschluss”
was not necessarily unwelcome by most of the citizenry, many of whom
readily joined the Nazi party and armed forces.
After losing the war, Austria was occupied by allied forces and
became a hotbed of cold war activities (as dramatized in the film “The
Third Man”). It became
independent in 1955, with an obligatory declaration of neutrality, which
still stands today, despite joining the European Union in 1995.
Never quite famous for tolerance and acceptance of differing
peoples, Austria is still home to a very strong anti-foreigner (some say
racist) right-wing party. The inclusion of the “Freedom Party” in the current
government so angered other European countries, that political sanctions
were slapped on Austria by its 14 European Union partners.
Of course, Austrians see this as unnecessary interference in
their internal affairs.
started our tour at the heart of the tourist area, Hofburg Palace, the
historic seat of the Hapsburgs. The palace is very stately and
proud, gleaming in white with equestrian statues and sculptures around
Dozens of horse carriages with drivers wearing bowler hats and
handlebar mustaches complete the 19th-century appearance.
We thought about taking one for a trot around town, but they are
very expensive (as is the rest of Vienna) so we passed.
We continued to the tourist and shopping area, Graben, and
visited St. Peter’s church, a baroque gem squished into a tight
We stopped for lunch to have the home-grown wiener schnitzel and
my favorite, bratkartolfen (skillet-fried potatoes and onions). Next was the number one attraction in town, the huge gothic
St. Stephan’s cathedral, the symbol of Vienna.
It was built over 300 years through the Renaissance, but suffered
significant damage during the war and was rebuilt. The highlights are the 1340 choir, the carved wooden pulpit
from 1500, and 230,000 colorful roof tiles in the form of the
double-eagle symbol of the Hapsburgs.
These can viewed from the towers.
We chickened out of climbing the taller (137 meter) South tower
in favor of the elevator up the shorter North tower.
The views were still great over the town to the beautiful (but
not quite blue) Danube river. We
continued to St. Michael's, where Mozart’s funeral mass was held
before he was buried in a mass pauper’s grave.
tour happened to coincide with two other huge events: a
gay pride parade and concert, and the Euro2000 football match between
England and Germany. I was
a little more interested in the latter, so I watched it in a pub with
the decidedly one-sided crowd. They
were quite upset when England beat Germany for the first time in 34
We walked back to the hotel along the Ringstrasse road of civic
buildings as a full moon hung over the illuminated monuments of the
It was a beautiful night.
Day 46, Sun, June 18 – We encountered the
Viennese coffeehouse experience in the morning.
Looking on the bright side of the Ottoman invasions, the locals
have said that they owe one of their most beloved traditions to the
Turks. It did not take them
long to elevate coffee to a leisurely art form.
There are now more ways to order than a Starbucks and the wait
for service is twice as long. It
is meant to be savored, sipped and enjoyed for an hour or so, not
slammed down like water the American way.
We met the tradition somewhere in the middle, but did enjoy a
famous chocolate sachertorte to go with it.
We took the tour of the Hofburg palace, through the
living quarters of Franz and Sissy and the entertainment and reception
areas full of crystal and gilded stucco.
The palace is somewhat more homey and modest compared to others
of Europe like Versailles and Hermitage.
The real comparison should probably be to Schonbrunn, the summer
residence outside of town. The
silver and tableware collection was unbelievably large, seemingly enough
to serve the entire city. There
was also a moving exhibition on the sad Rudolf, black sheep of the
Hapsburgs, whose sensitive nature and liberal ideas were counter to
those of his father. He was
an accomplished although anonymous) author on wildlife subjects, but he
also partied a bit too heavily and contracted venereal disease.
His despondency over his family and future place in the empire
led him to a suicide pact with his 17-year old mistress.
The larger museum, Kunsthistorisches, had a special
exhibit on the most powerful renaissance ruler of Europe, Karl/Charles
V. It was very informative,
setting the historical context re: the royal families, the politics, the
pope, Martin Luther, the wars and intrigues, and the Turkish threat.
In a couple of hours, we learned
more than we ever thought we would about the Hapsburgs.
Just to top it off, we went to the Augustinerkirche where 54
Hapsburg hearts are kept in Silver urns.
It was a hot day and the park was full of people, so we talked to a bunch and got the following comments:
Igor: "To be healthy and happy, to have a good job and to be satisfied with your job"
Tania: "Love. It includes many things. Anything that is done with love is OK"
Back home we took advantage of the sauna and
telephoned home to touch base with my parents. They are fine,
thankfully, but worry about us nonetheless.
Their favorite line is “you’ll find out what it’s like when
you have kids – just wait and see.”
We had a great outdoor dinner while soccer fans
were screaming all around us.
Day 47, Mon, June 19 – After quite a struggle, we were finally able to upload the journal and photos to the website. We are up to 400 hits with only about 100 of them me! It has been really difficult to pursue our original strategy of promotion and solicitation while on the road. We know the odds are very much against us, we just hope this thing catches on out there in cyberspace by the time we get back, so it will be easier to obtain future backing and support for bigger and better projects.
Anyway, after taking care of administrative matters, we took the (of course) clean, efficient U-Bahn (subway) to the South of town to visit the Karlskirch church which is currently being restored. The alter is almost finished, in all its gleaming baroque glory. The paintings on the dome are also very impressive, but my favorite part is the exterior, with minaret-like towers rather than spires. We continued past the soldiers' monument and fountain to Belvedere palace, the gift to Prince Eugene of Savoy for assisting with the defense against the Turks. The interiors were closed, but the spacious grounds and gardens were relaxing (in spite of the heat).
Back “home”, the kind folks at the Hilton let me use the business center to write and edit videos even though we had checked out (we also had some more afternoon champagne). All in all, I think we had a successful (but short) tour of Vienna, taking in many sights in just three days. We did miss Schonbrunn, the Lippizaner horses, and the boy’s choir, but I had been lucky enough to see those last time. We made the train in plenty of time (for a change), but encountered a different type of fiasco this time. When the conductor came around, we found that the ticket we bought in the US was for the sleeping car reservation only and did not include the actual ticket itself (notwithstanding what we were told when we bought them). We thought for a moment that we would be booted off the train, but the understanding conductor bent the rules a little (maybe the culture is changing?) and said we could just pay him. We couldn’t really do anything else, but we did check the price with another passenger before paying. The final amount wound up at about what we would expect to pay to fly to Venice in much less time! Anyway, you can only imagine our joy that this is our last overnight train in the entire journey!
To carry on to the next Photojournal, please click here: Photojournal June 20 - July 9
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