Thursday, 25 February 2016

Winter spirit 04……. Krakow & Budapest

I have to admit, that this part of the trip is one that I never thought of traveling. And I can clearly say that I was wrong and that I would gladly return to them given the chance.

Krakow was an unexpected jewel find. Although it was always a place I was told I should visit, since a friend of mine lives there. So Agata if you are reading this I hope to meet you there again soon!
So we arrived late to Krakow and went directly to the hotel for the night. The following day was when we got to have the walking tour and had time to wander around.

We have to start with the Castle and its myth of course. It is said that in the mountain there used to live an evil dragon, so of course it was defeated and the castle is now build in its place. Not only did I find the tale amusing but I enjoyed seeing images of the dragon all around. In the castle not only will you find the cathedral but also one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most recognized artworks “Lady with an Ermine”.

Then we passed by the house where the Pope now Saint Jonh Paul II lived. As he was of polish birth. We entered the old town and went to the main square where a wonderful Christmas market was taking place, next to the church which has a story of its own. I was pleasantly surprised by the Krakow.

Unfortunately I can’t talk a lot about Budapest, Yes we were there but the mix of really thick fog, didn’t let us see much on the driving tour. Although it did give us some great pictures in Fisherman’s Bastion. It gave all the pictures a mystical sense to them.

The other reason was we were there on Christmas an as you can expect a lot of things where closed so all we got to do was a little walking tour, to the Millennium monument, on which you would find the contemporary art museum and the fine arts museum, which were closed but seemed quite impressive.

 ( I also have to note that I got sick on this part of the trip and completely lost my voice, so a big thanks to Emma my trip buddy who became my interpreter , you are the best!)

*All images are my own*
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Friday, 12 February 2016

Winter Spirit 03..... Switzerland and Austria

There were two places in which you would have been able to ski during the trip. Switzerland and Austria.

Our second stop on our winter trip was in the Swiss alps, in Ladenbrunen. It is said to be the inspiration on the elvish city of Riverdale, in Lord of the ring by Tolkien. It’s a little sleepy town situated between the Alps.  With waterfalls and small streams flowing though the city.  Although there isn’t’ much to do if you are not the skiing type, or don’t want to ski, I still recommend you go up the mountains. They have the most spectacular view of the mountains that will leave you breathless.  It showcases nature’s beauty in the Alps.

And even the infrastructure of the little town is looks perfectly situated. And where all that you think of in Christmas can be seen, the snow, the lookalike gingerbread houses, the trees, frozen ponds, etc. And here of course it’s also the perfect place to buy Swiss Army knife, since they are completely made and manufactured in Switzerland. And if you are a chocolate lover you can clearly see why the Toblerone represents the Alps.

After Italy it was off to Austria, not only was the birth place to Mozart and many composers but also where one of the biggest European powers used to live, the Hapsburgs.  The two cities that we visited were Salzburg, birth place of Mozart and Vienna who doesn’t need any more explanation. Now if you want to find one of the best Christmas markets on Europe go to Salzburg, not only is it a little town,  and close to the mountains where you can ski, but the market was absolutely gorges, filled with food stalls and every kind of Christmas decoration you might want for your house.

  Another of the tourist attractions to Salzburg is that it’s the town where ‘The sound of Music’ was filmed, so you can take the tour that takes you to all of the filming locations and sing “do- re-mi” to your hearts content.

You can also go to the Castle, which was a for trains on the top of the mountain, and not only does it have spectacular views, but the castle is in pristine form, now this is a medieval castle, not renaissance you got in Italy, so don’t expect glamour, but rather a fortress. And before you leave be sure to try the Mozart Ball’s a delightful little chocolate/ almond ball named of course after the famous composer.

After a quick stop to see the summer palace which we unfortunately didn’t have but an hour to look around and walk in the gardens.

 It was off to Vienna, in which we were given a small driving tour of what we could see. However with only half a day there, we didn’t have much time to explore especially because we decided to go to a concert. We did walk through the main street, and got a warm drink by the palace, before going off to the concert hall. There we were given an interesting night , not only did we get a concert but we had a couple of opera singers who sang a few songs, and a ballet couple, who danced to another set of songs. It was quite interesting and we really enjoyed it.

It is one of the cities that I wish we had more time, but then again I apparently said that to every single city we went to.

*All images are my own*
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