Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Deeper into Prague .... Now the Prague Palace!!!

Prague Palace

We had the joy of breakfasting at the Buddha Bar Hotel this morning. They were so welcoming....and this marks the second Buddha Bar, the other at Budapest.

From the Buddha Bar to the Prague opposite to another!
Beautiful morning and we beat the madding crowds to the Palace.  Also we beat the crowds to the hop on/hop off and so greatly enjoyed the ride and the narration.  We had just enough time remaining on the 24-hour ride card to get us to the Prague Palace.

St Vitas Cathedral on Palace grounds

St Wenceslas Chapel

Good King Wenceslas on his horse.  Wenceslas Square from bus tour.

 We had full opportunity to visit St Vitus's Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace
Basilica of St George, the Golden Lane and the marvelous Lobkowicz Palace where we had a marvelous luncheon.


Today was a splendid day -- we walked on new cobbles and retraced steps over stones we'd trod yesterday.  We enjoyed a quiet breakfast and a less quiet afternoon coffee at the Irish Times bar.  At the suggestion of several friends we sought out the Lobkowicz Palace and lunched there on a shaded terrace.  We walked well over our daily goal of 10,000 steps, including 150+ steps down from the palace hill to the 'real people live here' places. We are learning our way but are still getting lost every day as we try and find our way back to the Marriott.

The views from the Palace were outstanding....

Tonight we will hear a Mozart and Dvorak concert and return to the Marriott for our private buffet en suite:  cheese, sausage, paté, and a pastry from the market.  

In between we watch the Brexit events.  We will always remember being on this trip during the days approaching and following the historic vote.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Delving into Prague and all its Mysteries

Today is Becky's first day for finding out why we all love Prague so very much. Our Marriott is within easy walking to the Old Town and we plan to have a grand time exploring.

About 9 am a stroll to the nearby market square in search of the hop-on/hop-off bus kiosk.  The vendors were already busy:  we bot pastries and handmade tater chips.  At the kiosk we got our ticket cards plus suggestions for a nearby coffee place:  the elegant, Municipal Building Coffee Cafe.  Found a table in the shade that looked out at the square and had a cappuccino each and shared an "old bohemian omelet' -- 3 eggs, plus bacon and potatoes.

People watching is fun no matter the locale.  Prague People Watching (PPW) is especially interesting.  There was the loud, intrusive Chinese tour guide in front of the coffee shop; there were the 'dressed up' couples and families carrying flowers and definitely going to some special occasion; there were the dogs, both big and small, strutting their stuff at the end of the leash; the smartly dressed and those with that 'just got out of bed' look.

Hop on!  Crowded mini van with tiny transmitters on the seat back in front of you.  Plug in the buds and choose the channel for your language.  "On the left side…."  "On the right side…."  We started at stop #2.  Had to decide to exit by #14 after a quick ride around the famous Prague Castle.  At least 75% of the streets are cobbled. 

Such a bumpy ride our brains were unable to process -- nothing at all seemed to make sense when we exited at the Old Town Square.  

Barely missed the noon ringing of the astronomical clock so we did a circle around the square, ducking into a church when we heard some chamber music.  

Then back to Cafe Mozart and a table right across from the Clock in time for the 1 pm ringing and display.  Beer and cappuccino.

We couldn't bear the idea of returning to the rattly bumpy mini van so plotted a route across the King Charles Bridge to "small town."  Lots of great artisans on the bridge; a "bridge band"; tour groups; lots of people.  Dirty black statues line the bridge -- very much in need of a deep cleaning.  River Vlatava is popular for small craft and larger tour cruises of the daily lunch or dinner type. The swans also have a home there.

Found the Infant of Prague -- small revered statue of Jesus, with the reputation of having saved many during one of the plagues.  This was a quiet few moments before we set our sights on a late lunch and a return to the Marriott.

Stopped in at least 6 cafes looking for sausages -- we didn't want pizza or burgers or McDonald's; we wanted the 'real' thing.  Found it and sat outside enjoying two kinds of sausage, incredible fresh horse radish mixed with two different kinds of mustard, and sweet 'sour' kraut.  Beer, of course.

Here's what we ate and the name of the lovely beer.

Wandered 'home' and Beth found a deli so we got cheese, olives, and a sausage to add to our pastries and paté for an in-room dinner.

Got lost, got found, got home, got showers, got ice (finally), got vodka.

Happy gals.

Pinch me, please…..

Good Bye Budapest and Hellooooo Prague

Planes, Boats, And Trains

This morning we were up and packed and ready to head to the train station. Our Ritz Carlton Bell Captain went to the train station and to assist with the heavier luggage. He also located the Business Lounge for us to wait until the train arrived, gave us history of the hotel and history of the station. AND Behold, we go into the Lounge and the “DCPF” Grumpy and her assistant tried to throw us out!!! “Grumble, growl, grumble”. Our “assistor”  straightened her out and we settled peacefully in the Lounge.

Becky wrote on the Ritz Carlton Budapest web site praising our “assistor”!

We are finally settled in our reserved First Class seats (thank God for small favors) departing 9:48am. We will be riding backwards for 7 hours (4pm ish arrival)! 

First border crossing: Slovakia 11:15 am
Second border crossing: Austria 12:45pm
Third border crossing: Czech Republic 1:15pm

We are getting closer and closer to Prague with Brno next. Arrived in Prague about 4:15 and were in the Marriott Old Town and in the bar by 5:15 with an "Extravaganza" drink special to Prague. Straight to our rooms and room service! 

Ah Happiness!!!!

Then the pouring rain came pounding down lasting about 15 minutes drenching all the people outside. We watched, smiled and settled in to watch Iceland celebrate their win over England...I am sure 50% of Iceland population is now in France!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

We are on our own in Budapest

A Fond Farewell to all those departing today!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Good bye new friends, we are on our own for the next week as we finish off Budapest today, have dinner with friends tonight, get packed and prepare for a delightful train ride tomorrow. 

My friend, Janice Brevik posted this fabulous Washington sunset to make us feel homesick, however all it did was encourage us to enjoy every moment we have here in Eastern Europe.

This morning was a true sleep in! Finally at 7:30am I threw open the shades and began the coffee. We have played with the blog working toward perfection. We met with the concierge and reviewed our trip on the train. He has arranged to have a bellman go with us to the train and get our things loaded on the train. Blessings for a 5 Star hotel.

We then headed out to do our walking down Vaci Pedestrian Walking Street and Becky stared screaming.  There in font of us was BUDDHA BAR AND HOTEL. We immediately went in and introduced ourselves and got a grand tour of the place. And as we expected it was exactly what was promised; a giant Golden Buddha, Red walls, elaborate fringed chandeliers and very upscale bathrooms!!! We continued our walk and returned to Buddha Bar for lunch. The Asian Infusion lunch was Bento Box with bites...excellent!!!!!

Following our lunch we continued our walk down Kiraly Street crossing over near the Opera House and walking back via Andrassy Street to the Ritz Carlton. Just under our 10,000 steps for the day.

Our dinner tonight was at a great restaurant; Aszu Etterem (on Sas utca 4) just across Elizabeth Park from the Ritz Carlton (park named, of course, for the famous Elizabeth Willis!!!). Judy and Jeff Fosbrook made the reservations and we were pleased to join them. Beautiful ambiance, great food, and delightful company. A short walk back across the park and we achieved the 10,000+ steps we targeted for today. The park was full of folks watching the COPA games and football/soccer games on large screen TV’s.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last Day Before We Are On our Own......Budapest

Ah a Look at the Other Side

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Yesterday, We visited the Pest side of Budapest, today we head to the Buda side. 

Most of the down time is spent watching the international news of BREXIT and t's impacts. Besides that we have a giant important soccer match tonight between Belgium and Hungary. Massive TV screens are being set up in the parks so everyone can watch the match!  (Hungary lost 4-0)

 We started out visiting the "Sziklakorhaz" Hospital in the Rock. This is a newly opened secret hospital used for the Hungarian and German armies during WWII. The visit took us far into the caves where we had the chance to see how the hospital was set up. Many original items were displayed.  Our guide remembered the days of the war, when as a child she and her friends noticed the German Shepherd dogs and soldiers guarding the then communist cave.  Up close and personal….

We went through the St. Mathias Church 


From the Fisherman's Bastion we were able to look back at Pest and see how beautiful the building shone on the Danube.

Fisherman's Bastion on Gellert Hill

 To get even higher on Buda side of the Danube we drove to Gellert Hill and enjoyed the vistas of both Buda and Pest. 

On the left:  Buda (largely residential.)
On the right:  Pest (more commercial.)

Also on Gellert Hill is a large monument is called Liberation Monument.

By noon the heat has returned after a lovely and pleasant morning. We are anxious to return to the Ritz Carlton and enjoy a quiet lunch and walk through the Sunday fun park which we have noticed is full of artisans offering their!  Later this park was filled with soccer/football supporters viewing the Hungary/Belgium game.

Tonight we celebrated our farewell to our travel mates by a smashing dinner at the Academia Club located in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Lovely dinner, delightful dinner partners, local musicians who played throughout the dinner.  Two pictures showing some of the very elaborate interior of our 'dining' room.

This farewell meal was perhaps the best of the trip.  Tours and cruising are very much about food -- the menu of the Farewell Dinner won the award for "Classiest Menu."  Grapefruit and salad leaves with goose liver terrine.  Mushroom cream soup.  Filet of venison and farm style chicken breast with taters. Ganache cake with ice cream.  Wines were exceptional, truly fine, especially the dessert wine, a sour cherry distilled liquor.