Monday, 29 March 2010

Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

I came home last night from a fabulous holiday with my husband. We spent three nights in each of the capital cities, Vienna, Budapest and Prague, and travelled by train between them. It was a super way to see the countryside and to just enjoy the experience of being somewhere so different from home. I wasn't entirely craft free as I took my current crochet project on the train with me and crocheted as we  crossed  the borders of Eastern Europe.
First day we flew from Edinburgh to Bratislava in Slovakia where we were picked up and driven to Vienna. It's a beautiful city and we were staying near the university, just a short underground ride from the city centre and all the historic sites.
Just outside the Hoffburg Palace.
We had a trip round the city on one of the horse drawn carriages, called a fiaker. It was a really lovely way to see things.

Inside the Sissi museum. What a grand staircase. I could definately live in a house like this.

This is just outside the State Opera. Vienna was just the start of a super cake eating fest.

Next stop was Budapest. The train journey took about 2 and a half hours and was very pleasant. We were staying in the Pest side of the River Danube which is still showing obvious signs of it's turbulent past. There are still loads of fantastic buildings and interesting places to visit. We went to the state Opera house one night to see Tchaikovsky's ballet Anna Karenina. I've never been to a ballet before and just loved it. The opera house was beautiful, as was the music and the dancing. Nearly had a wee cry when it was over. It was very emotional.
Budapest Fine Art Museum.
We had a lovely visit here. Saw some wonderful paintings and felt full of culture.
Next visit was to the Budapest Zoo. Believe it or not, this fine building is actually the Elephant House.
On our last day in Budapest we took a trip on the hop-on-hop-off guided tour bus. We crossed the Danube to the Buda side of the city. This part of the town is more touristy and most of the old buildings have been cleaned up and restored to their former beauty.

The train journey to Prague took about 7 hours but we travelled through some lovely countryside, had some interesting travelling companions,and the time passed quite quickly.
I think of the three cities Prague was my favourite. We seemed to slow down in Prague and take more coffee and cake breaks and just watch a lot of life around us. Spring Music Festival was in full swing and we heard everything from Jazz, Folk, Traditional and Classical being played in the streets.
We went to a concert by the Prague Radio Orchestra ensemble in St Nicholas church on Friday evening. Like the ballet in Budapest, this was quite an experience. Listening to the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Haydn and Ravel in a 600 year old church is pretty special.

Easter markets are very popular in both Vienna and Prague and we visited the markets in both cities. This was the biggest egg we saw which is the Old Town Square in Prague.
We saw lots of Easter Trees decorated with colourful ribbons and egg decorations
Also in the Old Town Square, we saw the Astronomical Clock. I seem to have cut the top off when I turned this picture round so I will have to explain. Just above the clock face there are two windows. Every hour the clock chimes and people crowd round to watch. There are figures of a skeleton and the devil and they ring the bells, while at the top the windows open and the 12 apostles appear one by one at the windows. At the very top of the clock tower a trumpeter then sounds out a fanfare from all four sides of the tower. Perfect accompaniment with another coffee and strudel in a nearby cafe.

This just really amused me. The narrowest street in Prague (and possibly the world).This little street on the Prague Castle side of the river Vltava leads down to the river side. It's only wide enough for one person at a time to go through so there are traffic lights at either end.
Another funny one which is almost blocked out by a fellow tourist. On the Charles Bridge there are loads of statues of saints and kings to see you over the river. Now the Prague people have a thing about rubbing statues for luck. You can two shiny gold bits on this plaque. One that this man is rubbing and one on the other side (just under the man's collar). One is a dog for bad luck and one is a lady for good luck, but over the years people have been getting mixed up and rubbing both of them.

Our final night was spent on a river cruise having dinner and watching the sights of the city all lit up.
It was all really pretty, the food was plentiful, especially the desserts. Oooh so many gorgeous cakes.
I always hate the last day of a holiday when you are kind of killing time till you have to go to the airport. Our pick up was at 5pm so we made the most of the day by going on a coach trip to the town of Kutna Hora where we visited the Bone Church. I might show you some pictures of that next time. It was a bit surreal and slightly unnerving. The church is full of sculptures made from human bones.
Let me know.... should I show you the pictures.

Back to work now.
Fiona x

1 comment:

bubbachenille said...

Welcome back Fiona, So glad you had a great time and thanks for all the photos. My heart is a fluttering..It will be hard to get back to work after this !