April 29, 2017

European Lodging – The Choice is Yours

George Bernard Shaw said “The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a great refuge from home life”. This too true statement is indicative of why the choice of hotel when traveling is so difficult and important!

Luckily Europe has many different lodging options which will add to the enjoyment of your escape! Here are a few that I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed at.Alpenrose Hotel Mittenwald Germany

Hotels can be wonderful traditional guest houses like Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Hotel Alpenrose in Mittenwald Germany. Make sure you know whether they have elevators and are prepared for stairs if they don’t! Also make sure you know whether there is a bar or restaurant on the first floor. This may mean it may be a bit noisier than expected.View Schloss Hotel Rheinfels Germany

They can be Luxury class beauties set on the shores of an equally beautiful lake as with Palace Hotel on Lake Lucerne and Suisse Majestic Montreux Switzerland or seaside in the Hotel du Palais Biarritz France or even have amazing views of rivers like the Schloss Hotel Rheinfels in St. Goar Germany. I don’t have the opportunity to stay in luxury hotels often since the price is not usually in my budget but can say I’ve enjoyed staying in luxury accommodations even if I wonder if they are really me.

Gasthof Fraundorfer Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

Gasthof Fraundorfer by Q-BEE, on Flickr

There are 4 star large basic properties conveniently located for train travel such as the Intercity Hotel in Mainz and Hotel Excelsior Erfurt Germany. Not usually my first choice but I really did enjoy how close they were to the train station and the city centers of both were easily reached.

Green hotels like Hotel Victoria Freiburg Germany which boasts they are the “most eco friendly hotel in the world” and they just might be! All electricity and heat come from renewable sources like solar, wind and wood pellet heating. The thermal solar panels on the roof and the natural materials used throughout hotel make for a wonderful experience and the Victoria is also convenient to both the train station and city center!BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany

Historic architectural treasures in perfect locations – Old Town city centers – but not completely convenient for train travel BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany and Kasererbraeu Salzburg Austria. The beautiful building housing the Barockhotel dates back to 1520 while the Kasererbraeu is from 1342 and was once a monastery and brewery before becoming protected by UNESCO!

Hotels I’m glad I read the online reviews of so I wasn’t completely frightened by the entrance, Panorama Central in Budapest. A wonderful oasis once you got inside but honestly a little unsettling getting to! Moral to this story, READ online reviews!

Known for its history and spa, Schwarzer Bock Wiesbaden. I’ve been lucky to stay here two times and can say this is one of my favorite hotels. Dating back to 1486, the Schwarzer Bock is a classic beauty- luxurious and yet very comfortable. And in a wonderful location!

Hotel I fell in love with because there was a heat wave and it was air conditioned refrigerated, Grauer Baer Innsbruck! I would stay at this property again because it was very convenient to Old Town and train station.

While my preferred type of lodgings are guest houses and architectural and historic beauties, in some way, all of the hotels I’ve stayed in have added to my enjoyment and experience I had in their cities and villages.

What do you look for when choosing a hotel for your trip?

Europe’s Natural Monuments

While traveling we all visit monuments erected to honor those who have helped shape our history, but sometimes it is the world’s Natural Monuments that leave us speechless.

I am no spelunker but I am intrigued by caves and the underground world created by a Karst landscape.

A Karst is a unique landscape formed by the weathering of water soluble rock like Limestone, Marble and Dolomite. Rain water trickles down through openings in the rock and over time erodes the rock creating passages. Some of the larger passages we know as caves or caverns. Obviously this process takes eons to develop but it is this process that makes the beauty that lies beneath the ground.

Skocjan Caves Slovenia

Skocjan Caves Slovenia by Jabbi

The Karst landscape is identified by a lack of surface streams and a network of openings below the surface. The openings can be sinkholes, disappearing stream, springs and even caves. This fragile ecosystem is home to many plants, bacteria, fish and spiders that flourish in a dark and static world.

Domica Cave near Slovakia and Hungary

Domica Cave by jojo

It is estimated that 10% of the Earth is composed of a Karst landscape and although it is the underground wonders that we are most familiar with, I’m sure you would recognize some of the above ground Karst landscapes too!

El Torcal near Malaga Spain

El Torcal near Malaga Spain by Jakub Botwicz

Karst Landscape Minerve France

Karst Landscape Minerve France by Hugo Soria

Here are a few below the surface natural wonders you might want to visit while wandering through Europe.

Moravian Karst
Moravia is a well known part of the Czech Republic but this natural beauty sits in 120 square kilometers of landscape that includes caves, caverns, underground lakes and rivers. There are 4 caves that are open to the public but the Macocha Gorge is the most famous. The gorge is over 500 feet deep and includes 2 ponds and the Punkva River which runs underground for part of its journey. During your visit to the caves you can explore both on foot and by boat and you will be thrilled by the beauty and serenity of the cave which includes many stalactites and stalagmites. There is even a chair lift to the top of the gorge allowing amazing views across the landscape.

Moravian Karst Czech Republic

Moravian Karst by YuKengShih, on Flickr

Skocjan Caves
These UNESCO listed caves are part of an amazing limestone plateau that is full of stunning caves and tunnels near the tiny village of Skocjan in Slovenia. The landscape has been carved over time by the Reka River which actually disappears underground near Skocjan and reappears 27 miles away. While underground, the river carves through rock leaving behind amazing scenery! Near the exit you will hear the rushing river from below and see the huge Murmuring Cave, which is actually the largest underground canyon.

Škocjan Caves Slovenia by Ramon

Škocjan Caves by Ramon

Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
Located near the border of Hungary and Slovakia is another UNESCO listed site that is also the most explored Karst area in Europe. To date, there have been 712 caves identified including an Ice cave and one known as the Fairy Tale cave. This area shows both tropical and glacial climatic affects which allows for an even greater variety of wonders! The caves in this area offer a glimpse into evolution, archeology and local cultures. The Baradla-Domica Cave system actually connects Hungary and Slovakia and is home to the world’s highest stalagmites!

Domica Cave near Hungary and Slovakia

Domica Cave by Jojo

All these caves are beautiful, distinctive and breathtaking. Touring them will leave you marveling at these Natural Monuments!

What Natural Monuments do you enjoy?

 

Honoring Heroes in Budapest

Monday we celebrate Memorial Day in the United States.

Originally began as a day of remembrance for fallen Union soldiers from the Civil War, today it is a day to remember and honor all those who have died during military service fighting for our freedom and independence.

While thinking about Memorial Day I thought about European countries I’ve been in and their memorials to service men and women.  This reminded me of Budapest and Heroes’ Square.

Millennium Monument Heroes Square Budapest Hungary by Paul Manniz

Millennium Monument Heroes Square Budapest Hungary by Paul Manniz

In the center of Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Monument.  This grand monument depicts various historical elements of Hungary and honors those that lost their lives fighting for freedom and independence.

Collonnade with War Heroes Square Budapest Hungary

Colonnade with War

In the back and to each side are colonnades that form a semi-circle.  Each is adorned with figures from Hungarian history.  On the inner edges and opposite each other are statues depicting War and Peace.

Column at Heroes Square Budapest

Column with Gabriel at top

Moving towards the front is a column with the Archangel Gabriel on top.  Gabriel is holding the crown of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen.  At the base of the column are a group of mounted figures representing Magyar Chieftains who helped found Hungary.

Magyar Chieftains Heroes Square Budapest Hungary

Magyar Chieftains

At the front is an empty tomb that is dedicated to the heroes of Budapest who gave their lives fighting for freedom and independence. 

Chieftains and War and Peace at Heroes Square Budapest

Chieftains with War and Peace on each side

 

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

Architectural Gem in Budapest

Even though Budapest left me feeling Bleh, there were some amazing architectural gems I found in the city by the Danube.

One of these is the State Opera House. 

Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House

Built as part of the Hungarian millennial celebration of 1896, the Opera house was designed by one of Hungary’s most important architects, Miklos Ybl.

The building itself is a Neo-Renaissance beauty that also exhibits many Baroque elements.  Across the top you will notice many statues of the world’s great composers including Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi and Tchaikovsky.

Liszt Budapest Hungary Opera

Liszt

Adorning the front are wrought iron lamps and 2 sphinx statues that seem to be guarding the entrance.  You will also notice a statue on either side of the main entrance.  These are two of Hungary’s most famous composersFranz Liszt is on the right and the first director of the opera, Ferenc Erkel is on the left.

Sphinx Statue Budapest Hungary Opera House

Sphinx Statue

With all the detail in this building, you can see why it took almost 10 years to complete! 

Side View Budapest Hungary Opera

Carriage Way

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

A Photo Essay on European Statues

Oh the places you go and the characters you’ll meet while traveling!

Besides being works of art, history can be experienced through the statues or monuments dotting a city or village.  Through them we come to know who or what was important to the citizens.

Here are a few of the statues and monuments I stumbled upon while visiting Europe last summer.

Neptune Statue Bamberg Bavaria Germany

A great meeting place in Bamberg Germany is the Neptune statue locally called Gabelmann.  Standing near the Gruner Markt in the pedestrian only area of Bamberg, the statue is also a popular place to enjoy an afternoon ice cream.Matthias Klotz Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

This homage to Mittenwald’s native son, Mathias Klotz, indicates the important role he played in the village.  Mittenwald is a picturesque village nestled up against the mountains in southern Bavaria that is known for its violin and string instrument manufacturing.  It was Mathias Klotz who brought this esteem to his home town which continues to this day.Statue near Inn River Innsbruck Austria

I ran into these little guys while exploring Innsbruck Austria.  While they sit near the river Inn, I never did find out what this statue represents but it did intrigue me.  To me they look like they are sneaking into the city.  Are they just having fun or about to engage in something more nefarious?Water Statue Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

The beautiful Mirabell Gardens should not be missed on any visit to Salzburg Austria.  Besides the amazing flowers, fountains and gardens Mirabell is home to equally impressive statues.  Some are whimsical and others depict history and lore.  One of these is this statue by Ottavio Mosto representing water through the abduction of Helen by Paris which in turn started the Trojan War.By Virtue and Example Statue Vienna Austria

With the little time I had in Vienna, I decided to spend it exploring the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum at the Hofburg.  Finding the extra large Hofburg was not a problem but finding the Sisi Museum took a bit more effort.  Wandering I passed many architectural delights and an abundance of statues.  Finally I arrived at Michaelsplatz and the entrance to the museum.  I found this lovely statue waiting for me.  The motto below means “By Virtue and Example”.Kossuth Memorial Budapest Hungary

In Budapest, the Kossuth Memorial sits near the Hungarian Parliament honoring a man who was a prominent figure in the War of Independence from 1848-1849 and later became President of Hungary.  In this national symbol Kossuth can be seen pointing towards a brighter future.  Alas, it was many years before Hungary’s future became brighter.

“Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”  Dr. Seuss

 

Tell me about some of the interesting characters you have run into while traveling.


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.  For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

My Travel ABC’s

Before Thanksgiving I received an invitation from Katherina  of 1000 Miles Highway to participate in the A to Z survey about travel called The ABC of Travel!

Thanks Katherina for including me!

Now, European Travelista’s ABC’s of Travel.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: At 23 I made my first international trip to Europe which was also my first solo trip and is still my favorite!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: The best foreign beer I’ve had was at Stiegl Keller in Salzburg.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure why it is my favorite but I think it might have something to do with the amazing views of Salzburg or the fantastic meal I enjoyed. Whatever the reason, it was memorable!Schnitzel at Klosterbrau Bamberg Germany

C: Cuisine (favorite): Mexican Food!  I love it spicy and could eat it for every meal.  While in Europe, my favorite cuisine would have to be German.  Can’t get enough of schnitzel, spatzle, sausage and sauerkraut or goulash soup 🙂

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Bavaria Germany holds a special place in my heart!  This was my first stop on my first trip and Bavaria just feels so comfy to me.  I can’t seem to get enough of the mountains and tiny Bavarian villages. My least favorite would have to be Budapest which just left me feeling Bleh!  Although I am going to give it another try.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: This summer I had the unexpected opportunity to witness Lederhosen clad goat herders bringing the goats back to the barn! An event I thought only lived on in books.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Ooh that’s hard.  I actually like all modes of transportation and have used them at different times.  Trains, buses, cars are all amazing and offer different perspectives.  I guess my favorite mode is via an airplane because when I get on an airplane it means I’m going somewhere!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The feeling of awe when seeing amazing scenery, experiencing the peace and serenity of mountains, flower bedecked houses or realizing how old the city or building really is.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Ixtapa, Mexico during July!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Once we were eating at a café in Paris and we had a great waiter.  He would joke with us (yes it was Paris France) and when we asked what type of Dijon mustard they had on the table he gave us a bottle!  It’s the little things that make a difference to me.

J: Journey that took the longest: Driving through Austria and Switzerland during my 2 week honeymoon!

Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

In Front of Kathe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Germany

K: Keepsake from your travels: I love buying Christmas ornaments from any where I travel because I get to relive my travels while decorating the tree with my family!

L: Let-down sight, why and where: The Terror Museum in Budapest. This museum left me wanting more. . . much more.  Upon entering you hear intimidating music, see an old Soviet tank and busts of some of the more notorious characters of the soviet period in Budapest.  I was expecting many more items of torture and not the narration in Hungarian I got.  The museum was really very stark without many exhibits of actual devices of terror.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: My first trip to Europe in 1981 filled me with a love of Europe that has lasted to this day!  I love traveling anywhere and am the one that does all the research and planning for trips no matter where we are going.

View from room at Palace Hotel Lucerne Switzerland

View from Palace Hotel

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: My personal budget doesn’t include luxury hotels very often but I do enjoy luxury when I get it.  The nicest hotel I have ever stayed in would have to be the Palace Hotel in Lucerne Switzerland!  I had a corner suite which had amazing views of the lake and mountains surrounding this lovely city.  My next choice would have to be the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California. I love old historic hotels and my room in the old portion of this beauty was perfect.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I’m not sure I have an obsession but would have to say amazing views usually from or of mountains!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Oh if only they consistently stamped my passport!  Many places in Europe including London, Paris, Biarritz, Toulouse, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Zurich and Copenhagen.  Add in Mexico and Tahiti.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Alligator Farm in Buena Park, California.  I loved this spot as a child since those alligators were really scary but alligators right across the street from Knots Berry Farm?!!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Spend a day in Auvers sur Oise (outside Paris) reliving Van Gogh’s last days, then visit the Orsay museum to view his art work!  This will make an art lover out of anyone!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Local food, but not at trendy fashionable restaurants, including beer, wine or local cocktail!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: A tour including the Changing of the Guard in London.  Couldn’t see a thing but I went back early in April and was able to visit on my own and see the entire procession without any one in my way!

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Visiting Zermatt Switzerland for the first time!  This charming village took my breath away.  Explore the village and mountains during the day and then enjoy an exquisite meal of fondue that night.  It is so warm and comfy!

V: Visas, how many and for where? To date, I haven’t need any visas 🙁

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? So I don’t remember what type of wine we had  but my husband and I had some great Italian red wine in Stresa overlooking Lago Maggiore!

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ooh there are a lot of great vantage points.  How about the amazing views from Neuschwanstein castle or the top of Mt. Pilatus?  Or the view of Paris after climbing the stairs at Notre Dame!  Or locally, the view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Y: Years spent traveling?: I have traveled my entire life if you include some vacations.  Unfortunately, my life has not afforded me the opportunity to spend years abroad . . . yet.  That is on the bucket list!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I am not a zealous sport fan but my first ice hockey game was very memorable.  My friend got tickets about 4 rows from the glass which makes for an exceptional game.  I didn’t know I had so much testosterone in me!

 

Well that’s my ABC’s, I would love to read the ABC’s of these fine bloggers:

Inside Journeys
Devour the World
Adventures with Ben
A View to a Thrill
EuroTravelogue

Nagy: A Hungarian Hero in Budapest

There are a lot of statues in Budapest.  One day I was roaming around and stumbled upon this very unique statue.

Even though I didn’t know who it was, I was really drawn to it. The setting is actually very beautiful and I was drawn to the look on his face.

This is Imre Nagy who was Prime Minister of Hungary twice.  Even though he was a communist he promoted a “new course” in socialism which caused him to fall out of favor with the Russians.  They fired him but he was put in place again by public demand during the 1956 revolt against Soviet imposed policies.Imre Nagy statue in Budapest Hungary

His reformist ideas meant that his new government was not supported by the Russians and when the revolt failed, Nagy was captured and eventually executed for treason.

Despite his political agreement with Communism, his role in the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 brought him admiration among  Hungarians and he died a martyr.

His name was not allowed to be uttered after the revolt but once the communists were expelled, he was buried as a hero and this statue was built in 1996.

For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

 

A Little America in Budapest

As I was wandering around Budapest, I came across a little bit of America and thought I would share it with you for this edition of Travel Photo Thursday!

Look who I found in Budapest!

Ronald Reagan Statue Budapest Hungary

Earlier this summer, this 7 foot statue of Ronald Reagan was unveiled on Freedom Square in Budapest to honor his role in ending communism.

Also nearby is the US Embassy.

US Embassy Budapest Hungary

This was a bit harder to see because it really doesn’t stick out except for the large fence surrounding it, barricades to automobile traffic and signs that say Don’t Take Pictures (oops am I in trouble?).  Plus the flag wasn’t waving freely, but I eventually figured it out!

 

For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

Ugly History in Budapest

When traveling I love learning about history of the area I am in.  The thing with history is, it isn’t always pretty or doesn’t always make us proud of those who came before us.  Nope, but it is history and important to look at as a way towards understanding people and societies.

Today we are a sum of all the events that have taken place in an earlier time and to evolve we need to embrace history.

Unfortunately Budapest has its fair share of the type of history that is really ugly and makes us uncomfortable.

War is ugly but WWII and its repercussions to  Jews was especially this way.  This was true for the Jews in Budapest too. Early during the war the Jews in Hungary were basically left alone since Hungary sided with the Nazi’s.  But as the war dragged on Hungarian support changed and so did the treatment of the Jews.Dohany Synagogue Exterior Budapest Hungary

In March 1944 Germany occupied Hungary. Ghettos were formed in Budapest and 200,000 Jews were moved into squalid conditions.  Food was not let in, waste and trash was not collected and the dead were piled high or buried in a mass grave at the Dohany Synagogue.Dohany Synagogue Interior Budapest Hungary

Budapest has many memorials to its Jews that lost their lives during WWII.  Some of these monuments are at the Dohany Street Synagogue, the 2nd largest synagogue in the world.

In the courtyard of the synagogue is the mass grave of thousands of Jews from the Budapest Ghetto. This is very unusual for a synagogue since according to Jewish law the dead are not to be buried on the grounds of a synagogue.  In this case, there really was no other option.Mass Grave Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

As a memorial to all Hungarian victims of the Holocaust is the weeping willow. Made out of steel with each leaf containing a name of a victim, this commemoration was built in 1989 and sponsored, in part, by the Emanuel Foundation which was created by Tony Curtis in honor of his father, Emanuel Schwartz, who emigrated from Mateszalka Hungary to New York.Willow Tree Memorial Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

One of the most disturbing is the “Shoes on the Danube” monument. On the edge of the Danube near the Parliament building you will see bronze shoes standing at the waters edge.  As the war was coming to its end, the Nazi’s realized they were loosing.  They installed the faschist Red Arrow Party in Budapest and empowered them to round up groups of Jews, take them to the rivers edge and shoot them so they would fall into the Danube.  Prior to shooting them, they were required to remove their shoes.     Estimates are that 10-15,000 Jews died in this manner.Shoes Along Danube Budapest Hungary

In 1941 there were about 246,000 Jews living in Budapest and at the end of the war almost 50% had died with most of these deaths occurring after May 1944.

History is philosophy teaching by example and also by warning.
Lord Bolingbroke

 

What’s your take on history?  Like it, love it or leave it?