Truly nothing can be said that could possibly explain the feeling of walking through the gates of a place like Dachau. There is a certain weight in the air, and a distinct feeling that this place is important. Important for humanity to remember what we did in this place, and important to help us stop this from ever happening again. Many more photos at thisvagabondlens
We arrived in Munich on a very rainy, dreary day. We immediately set out for the famous Hofbrauhaus, known for it’s touristy interpretation of a traditional Bavarian beer hall, and we were not disappointed. Walking through the pouring darkness, across the city from our hotel, we wandered through twisting alleyways and regal courtyards to arrive at our destination. Entering the Hofbrauhaus out of the tumultuous downpour, we were greeted by warmth, the scent of fresh bread, hot wurst and sauerkraut. Long tables seated hundreds of people, a band played traditional Bavarian music, and the place bustled with activity. We managed to find a seat at a table with a group of Australians midway through a bicycle tour of Europe, and enjoyed a feast of grobewurst and roasted potatoes, amidst swapping stories of our travels with our newfound friends.
Unfortunately, the rainy weather did not abate during our time in Munich, and we took far fewer photos here than any other city, until our journey continued in Dachau. However, we did manage to grab a few shots of some of the sights of Munich between bursts of rainfall. Munich is a beautiful city, replete with fine architecture, culture, and a history unique amongst European cities.
Sara wrote a bit about how we ended up in Switzerland for a few days, so I won't re-tell that tale, but end up there we did. We rode a train from Zurich to Interlaken, crossing the lake in the midst of a storm. I managed to grab a few shots from the window of the train, completely mesmerized by the beauty of the lake framed by mountains and clouds. Upon our arrival in Interlaken however, the clouds began to clear, just enough for us to catch a few sunny glimpses of the alps on the tram-ride to Grindelwald. Grindelwald is a tiny, picturesque town high in the alps, home to goats, hotels and wealthy Japanese tourists during the summer. We stayed at a small lodge facing the mountains, the view from our window was nothing short of magnificent. We spent a few days in Grindelwald, hiking, climbing and enjoying our time away from the incredible heat wave enveloping the rest of Europe. There is little else to say about our stay in the mountains, so I will let the photos speak for themselves.
I will also be posting a few more photos over at thisvagabondlens.
An un-intentional self-portrait in the window of the train.
Towards the end of one hike, we were joined by a cat, who followed us back to the trail-head.
Prague. An intimate city which inhabits the dreams of romantics, inspires historians and plagues tourists with other tourists. Praha is one of the few large cities in Europe not completely ravaged by bombings (until an Allied accident in 1945, dropping hundreds of bombs on Prague by mistake, destroying many buildings and historic sites), and as a result, is one of the more ancient “feeling” cities in Europe, complete with castles, famous bridges, and gothic churches planted throughout the city in confused little rows like a child's vegetable garden.
Prague is a stunningly beautiful city, filled with magnificent buildings and impressive views of the city from the top of the hilly site of Prague Castle, an historic area that has been the home of kings, emperors and presidents throughout its nearly 1200 year history. The castle has the distinction of being the largest ancient castle in the world and is located near the Vlatava River, running through central Prague, and can be accessed by crossing the historic Charles Bridge from the “Old Town” area of the city.
Though once again marred by stunningly hot weather, our visit to Prague remains one of our best experiences in travel, with brilliant sights, vibrant culture, and a unique culture second to no place on earth.
The famous “Dancing House” by Vlado Milunić
One of the many ancient churches dotting the landscape.
The view over the river, towards Prague Castle.
A typical building in Prague. Every facade seems to have a bit of elegance attached, each adding a little to Prague's already romantic landscape.
Sunset on the River.
A guard tower on the Charles bridge, housing likenesses of saints and kings.
A crow perches atop the peak of the weathered statue of an ancient leader.
Sunset washes over the stunning facade of St. Vitus Cathedral.
HLF exploring the castle grounds around St. Vitus.
A smaller chapel under renovation inside the castle walls.
The Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at dusk.
Prague at night, just as elegant as the day.
Though never seeming exceptionally crowded, especially for being the 14th largest city in the EU, Prague is nonetheless a bustling metropolis during the workday.
Despite the heat during the afternoon, Prague was a refereshing city to explore. Easy to navigate, plenty to see, and a very real sense of the history present on every street.
For a few more photos, head over to thisvagabondlens
We spent a few pleasant days in Vienna, pleasant in spite of the incredible heat and humidity hovering over the city like a fat man on a too-small chair. The city itself is beautiful, clean and blinding in the afternoon sun, warm and hazy as that sun descends. The haze is largely a result of the incessant smoking by every living being in the city. Vienna is renowned as a place where smoking is a hobby embraced by the entire populace; walking the streets of Vienna can be likened to watching a noire film from the 1960's, where a thick fog of smoke obscures everything the camera pans across, singlehandedly creating the “noire” portion of those films.
In spite of the chimneys casually strolling the city, Vienna is a lovely place. It is cancer-ward clean, with waste bins on literally every street corner, beckoning for empty bottles and cigarette butts. There are city employees whose sole purpose for existence is patrolling the streets, policing the smoking denizens and shouting aggressively at every smoker to use the aforementioned waste bins rather than simply tossing the smoldering, soggy remains of their horrid habit into a convenient corner or gutter.
Through the haze however, we managed to find some delightful places in the city, which is littered with cafés, parks and monuments to the dynastic greatness of the Habsburg family (see thisvagabondlens.com for more). We ate dinner at Amerling Beisl on our first night, and returned during the next couple of days to sit in the shady alley and escape the heat for a few moments. Perhaps our favorite place in the city was a small park, where we spent an entire evening laying in the grass and watching the passersby as we listened to a fountain splash in the background.
Vienna is a city filled with beauty, elegance and charm, and in spite of the unusual heat during our visit, was a city that instantly felt like home.
Our lovely little park.
Entrance to the Habsburg Palace.
Everyday table set for the Habsburg family.
This one even comes with a handy carrying case for carrying a pot-roast the the potluck at your friend's house. Pretty sure that thing is actually just a golden crock-pot.
The HLF lounging in the clover.
I know nothing about this place, I just like the way it looks.
A typical street in modern Wien.
Amerling Beisl, our quiet little oasis.
The bell tower atop one of Vienna's many churches.
My HLF in her natural habitat.
We spent most of our time in Budapest wandering the streets, staring at places we would love to live, and straying down alleyways we probably shouldn't have. In all of our travels, we have realized that this is what we do: we gaze at the unattainable and explore the wilds of a city until we happen upon a hidden gem, where we will return as often as possible during our stay. Such a place is Szimpla, a “ruin bar” in a forgotten alleyway in the midst of the Jewish Quarter on the Pest side of Budapest. Ruin bars are reclaimed sections of ancient, often bombed-out buildings being converted into small bars and restaurants, a trend unique to Budapest.
Walking into a seemingly innocuous alleyway, you may find yourself entering a secret world, where dingy doorways open to the airy, cavernous interior of a unique local establishment catering to the young and hip, the family with children, and the elderly chess players and pipe smokers who gather at the city parks in the morning, and then filter to the ruin bars to escape the heat of the afternoon sun. Gems like Szimpla are the things which sear the memory of a specific city into my mind, places where the experience is so unique and invigorating that I will forever be transported back to the moment I first entered the establishment, each time I glance at a photo or hear people speak of Budapest.
The specialty of Szimpla: giant carrots, with the skins shaved away, revealing the most succulent carrot I have ever experienced. Yes, I said succulent when referring to a carrot. No other word will suffice to explain these carrots, they were indeed succulent!
My HLF sums up our experience nicely, with this photo and a few words:
“Big city charm with small-town ease. Delicious food, friendly people, rich history and beautiful weather. Our trip could not have come to a better start than Budapest.” – S.S.