Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 33

Day 33 Prague - Saturday 31st July
How romantic is this bridge? The Charles IV Bridge constructed in 1327 has a post card quality.
Ever heard of the Astromical Clock? Neither have I but I am told it is famous. The silly thing is, I can't work out how you tell the time with it! The clock is part of an old Prague cathedral and we climbed to the top of its tower. It was a case of 'wall to wall' people and you had to literally squeeze past everyone at the top. The views over the city were great - lots of gothic architecture again.
They certainly love their live entertainment over here and we enjoyed the traditional singing and clog dancing (click on the video). We also caught some cool trad jazz with a terrific washboard player (click on the video).
Had a cruise up the Volta River to get a different perspective on Prague.
At night we walked the modern section of Prague - lots of night life and really wide streets. Got ripped off with a chicken and a tuna salad for tea.

Booked tickets for Carmen at this theatre.

Day 32

Day 32 Vienna to Prague -Friday 30th July

Chocolate waffles with ice cream. Yum!!
After braving the rain to say goodbye to the Danube River, we headed off to Prague.
Debbie was obviously enjoying her lunch in the dining car.
Nearly five hours of train travel today. Most of the countryside was fairly flat and you could already see that Czecholslovakia is not quite as well off as Austria.
Arrived in Prague at around 5.00pm. The directions we had to the hotel were somewhat vague and we spent an hour towing our bags up and down the streets of Prague!
Had a night time wander through the quaint old centre of the city - very busy!! It seems that Prague is a popular tourist attraction!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 31

Day 31 Vienna Thursday 29th July

Anyone recognise this ferris wheel -otherwise known as the Riesenrad? It was featured in Orson Welles' movie, The Third Man. I know you would have got this Jamo!!!
It was actually built in 1897 - no wonder it was creaking and groaning. The cabins are made of wood!! But we survived! Found out it had a demolition sticker on it in 1916!

Climbed the 343 steps up into the very gothic St Stephens spire. Phew!! The narrow stone stairwell (a bit like Bristol Hill tower) seemed to go on forever. It became comically congested when we tried to pass others who were coming down. Inside, the cathedral was striking with its gothic pillars and magnificent stained glass wondows.

I have always wanted to go inside a 'real' European oprea house and today we had a look at the Vienna State Opera house. We were taken through all of the rooms and halls. Backstage was massive with its hydraulic platforms and construction area.
The main theatre was awesome - see photo - with its gold leaf work, red carpet, drapes and the obligatory ostentatious chandelier. Placido Domingo once set a record here with an 80 min curtain call! I was tempted to get up on stage myself and belt out a few tunes - but Debbie had a strong grip!

  1. These opera costumes were designed by Picaso.

  2. After a late el fresco meal beside an outdoor cinema, we inadvertently got on a tram that went in exactly the opposite direction to where we needed to go. The pitcure shows the driver relaxing as he waits at the end of the line to take us back to where we started!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 30

Day 30 Vienna -Wednesday 28th July

You never really know what you are going to get with these internet bookings. Tonight's is the rather attractively named "Urania Hotel" - alright, stop laughing!! Once again the room is huge but to our amazement, it is decked out in a medieval theme....better not upset debbie tonight!!! Axes, maces, skin floor rugs and furniture fit for a castle. And a lovely bay window in the corner of the building overlooking the street.

The day started off with bircher (Debbie's favourite) muesli in Innsbruck before the 41/2 hour train trip to Vienna. More fertile valleys and lots of rolling, green hills.
We are loving the challenge of arriving in a new city and negotiating the local subways, working out how on earth you purchase a ticket - especially when there is very little English on the signage.

Caught Debbie having a 'wurtle' for lunch in the dining car.
Had traditional Viennese fare for tea....schnitzel and strudel!! Yum.
Above are pictures from Vienna tonight - the State Opera building and the war memorial. Below are some shots as we left innsbruck - the gilded copper tiles and buildings in the old town.

Here you can see the gilded golden copper mosaics of the Goldenes Dachl built by Emperor Maximillion 1

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 29

Day 29 - Innsbruck Tuesday 27th July

It's getting awfully cold!!!
After 'choofing' our way from Bolzano, we arrived in pretty Innsbruck at 1.00pm.
It took three cable car trips to get to Havelekar which is the peak of the mountain that looms over Innsbruck. The first cable car actually takes you underground before heading up the mountain. It was absolutely freezing up there and fairly cloudy, but we got some great views of the city and the mountainous surrounds.
You have to climb the last two hundred metres. The thin air had us panting in no time!

Walked through Innsbruck's old section of town
and saw the Goldenes Dachl with its gilded copper mosaics on the roof (see picture Day 30). It was built by Emperor Maximilian 1 and this part of the 'middle ages' city oozes opulence.

As you can see, the hotel room was huge - and only 60 Euros!

Day 28

Day 28 - Bolzano Monday 26th July
Mission Accomplished!!

A special message for 7A .... well, like I promised, I've finally met up with Otzi (The Iceman). I found him and all his bits and pieces in the South Tyrol Museum Of Archaeology in Balzano (northern alps of Italy)Unfortunately I was not permitted to take photos inside the museum but here I am outside. I feel almost like he is an old friend as I have taught about him for many years.
Otzi is in a special atmosphere controlled chamber and you have to look at him through a window about the size of a big TV screen (I'll get a picture off the net).
He looks just like the photos we studied but he was not very tall. He looks pretty good for 5,000 years old though!
Apart from his clothing, he was carrying an amazing amount of things with his primitive wooden back-pack. Arrows, tools, daggers, tinder, food and nedicine (fungus). All of these are quite well preserved.

Three hours of train travel took us from the romantic waterways of Venice to the top of the world in Balzano. We stopped over in Verona (Romeo and Juliet country) and followed an endless valley rimmed with steep escarpments to the alps.
Took the cable car up to Oberbolzen. Wow!! The photos don't really do justice to the views. Would love to come back here and do some of the walking trails.