Friday, November 2, 2018

Europe River/Bus trip 2018: Vienna, again.

October 24 we arrived in Vienna and stayed at the Renaissance Imperial Riding school hotel.  We had a nice room and after checking in we walked to the Belvedere Palace to see how close it was and it was very close.  

Belvedere palace front

Belvedere palace view of the city

Oct. 25. Since we had already spend a day and a half here at the beginning of this trip, we slept in and didn't leave the hotel until around 10.  We had two objectives in mind:  the Belvedere palace and a tour of the Opera House.  
The Belvedere palace was only about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.  This palace is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Europe.  The upper palace is more visited than the lower palace and hosts mainly Austrian artists, namely Gustav Klimt, whose famous painting 'the Kiss' was on display.  

Lower palace- we did not go through.  Egon Schiele works were on display here.

Ellen in front of the beautiful fountain

Standing in front of the entry
It started out a little cold but soon warmed up

The Kiss by Klimt-

And my favorite of Klimt's - Judith

Another great view looking out the windows of the palace.

A bronze 'The Simpleton' by Messerschmidt

Another Van Gogh and Monet

After this museum we walked to the Opera House and took a guided tour.  This concert hall holds 2200 people, has an opera or ballet class every night, and prices range from €3 to over €200 (euros).  There is a different opera every night because the opera singers cannot sing two or three nights in a row.  There are no microphones in the concert hall.


Kings lounge

Stage hands getting ready for next concert 

While we were there they brought up the orchestra pit.  Some concerts have over 90 musicians. 

When we returned to the hotel this cool band was playing in the bar area.

As a group, we went to a private Viennese concert in a small auditorium.  There were 8 musicians and 2 singers. This was held in the Theater Museum.

We were served a glass of champagne and outside the reception area was this old swing set.

Our friends Negash and Gladys from Perth, Australia 

It may look like a small group but their sound was wonderful. 

This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

The two singers taking a bow.

Tomorrow - Bratislava and then Budapest

Europe River/Bus trip 2018: Budapest

Oct. 26. We arrived at our final destination, Budapest, and the traffic is the worst I have ever seen.  We were suppose to arrive at our hotel at 4:30 and we didn't arrive until 6 because of bumper to bumper traffic.   We are staying at the Mercure Corona in a good location on Karoly street, which is close to the huge city market.  The rooms were very small with no storage space but we were so glad to get off the buses and stay in one place that we requested to stay the full 5 days we had in Budapest.  

On Oct. 27 (my birthday) we took a city tour.  Rainy a little in the morning and cool.  Ellen had the bus sang Happy Birthday to me.  We went up Gellhart hill to the Citadel known as the Statute of Liberty for Budapest.  Beautiful views.

Ellen and I with Pest in the background.  The two cities were joined to make Hungary's capital in 1873, Buda on the hilly side and Pest on the flat side.

Our new best friend, Gladys, of Perth, Australia 

Next we went to Castle Hill which is a complex of buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The views from the Fisherman's Bastion are a highlight of any visit.

The parliament building

Fishermen's Bastion where there were so many tourist looking at the views.

The Gothic church of St. Matthais at Castle Hill.

Inside the church

We stopped at Heroes square with its monument to the leaders of Hungary.

Tomb of the unknown soldier 

For lunch we went to the Buda side to the lush green area and had a wonderful traditional lunch. They served goulash and game soup out of big kettles.  Then we had meat and potatoes, and a marvelous chocolate dessert.

Nicole and Emil from Quebec, Galdys, Ellen and all the rest of our cruise enjoying lunch.

Lovely part of Buda

I wanted to celebrate my birthday so I bought a small bottle of champagne for happy hour that evening.

The cruise group went on a river cruise that night to see the city lights.

Including folk music and folk dancers

Ellen balancing a wine bottle on her head

View of the Parliament building

The White bridge

Getting off the small cruise boat

We said our goodbye to most of our cruise buddies that night.  Ellen and I took Sunday, Oct. 28, off from sightseeing and rested.  I had a slight cold and we both were very tired.
We did run into a few of the cruise members on the remaining two days we had in Budapest.  We joined Gladys and Negash for a tour of the huge Central market the next day, Oct. 29.

Negash and Ellen in the market.  The market had fruits and vegetables, souvenirs, and a food court.

Ellen and I decided to go back to the Castle hill that afternoon.  We took the local bus, which was packed, and spent a little more leisure time enjoying the views on a beautiful day.

Entertainment in front of the St. Stephens statue.

The St. Matthais church

It was a very warm beautiful day!

That night we had dinner with some people from the cruise at a local Hungarian restaurant.  

The dessert was another decadent chocolate crepe.

Oct. 30. Today we walked to the Gellhart baths.  We sat in the thermal baths which were 40 degrees Celsius, swam in the big swimming pool, and had a massage.

After lunch we walked to the monument Shoes by the Danube.  This was very moving and we were appalled at the tourists laughing and trying to put their feet in the shoes.  During 1944-45 the Nazis murdered over thousands of Hungarian Jews, many by lining them up by the Danube, shooting them in the back of the head, they fell into the river and only their shoes remained.

We walked by the Parliament Building which is the third largest parliament building and is very Gothic and beautiful.

An art museum across the street.  Love the architecture -

We went to St. Stephen's Basilica which can seat more than 8500.  The interior is dark marble.

We had gelato on the street close to the basilica.  It was scooped on a cone to look like pedals.

Yes,that is me in the flower.

Ellen walked home and I went to the Jewish quarter and saw the Great Synagogue which has a Jewish museum and Holocaust monument.

There was a cemetery in the gardens where over 2000 are buried in 24 mass graves during the aftermath of the Jewish ghetto during 1944-45

This is the Tree of Life which lists all the donators that helped the synagogue and the Jewish people survive.

Ellen and I had a lovely Italian meal that night and then the next morning she flew back to Phoenix.  I stayed until around 12 on Oct. 31.  I quickly visited the National museum which was right across the street from our hotel.

Paintings on the ceiling in the museum.

Map during ancient times.

Room dedicated to WWII.

There was so much history about Hungary but I had so little time.

I took the inexpensive bus to the airport.  It was jammed packed again but I managed to get a seat.  Then I took EasyJet airline to Amsterdam.  Everything is very crowded in Europe: the tourist attractions, the airports, the public transportation.  I will be glad to get back to my small town.  But I will come back again.  Maybe even another cruise that will make the entire route!