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Trip Report Czech Repbulic, Austria, Bavaria Trip Report

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I just came back from the European trip of my dreams. It had been 33 years since I had been to Europe (on my honeymoon). I had even went to Prague then, but in 1975 it was very forboding, no English speaking, no tourists, soldiers with guns looking under the train at the border. We had only stayed less than 24 hours before heading back to Germany then.
This time I went with my 25 year old son who just graduated from college with a degree in History Education. We bought sophisticated back packs and a tote bag and never checked our baggage on the airlines. We packed light, as we would be gone for 2 weeks and brought our own travel clothesline and travel soap. I spent 8 months planning this trip and made all the hotel reservations, hired my own personal tour guides for Prague and to visit my great grandparents village. I hired Sarka Kacabova, www.prague-guide.info who assigned me a wonderful, friendly, extremely knowledgeable tour guide Katarina Kruspanova, package@pragueperfect.cz. This made our trip to the Czech Republic a dream come true. Katarina was a walking encyclopedia of European History and Czech Culture. She took us everywhere I wanted to go. She taught me how to use the metro and train system so we could get to Austria and Germany, and she drove us to my ancestors village. We stayed at the Old Prague Hostel near the Old Town Square, we had our own double room, the bathrooms and showers were in the hall. It weas clean, friendly staff, free breakfast and internet access. I enjoyed my stay there, for a very reasonable price.
In Prague, we saw the Old Town Square, went up inside the Old Town Hall for a magnificent view of the square and the city, Prague Castle, and St. Vitus Cathedral in the distance beyond the Vltava River. We went to an open air market, had Kolaches at a cafe in the Ungeldt Courtyard behind the gothic Tyn Church, went inside the Tyn Church, beautiful. We walked along Charles Bridge and touched St. John of Nepomouk for good luck. I am a photographer and I took over 2000 photos on my trip. We also visited Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Golden Lane, took a tour of the Jewish Quarter (which was kind of boring, I had went with a different tour group for that and I wish I would have kept with Katarina). We took a bus tour with Premiant Tours outside of Prague to Karljsten and Konopiste Castles which included a wonderful Czech lunch at a fabulous restaurant in Karljsten. The castles were magnificent. Katarina also took us to Kutna Hora, where we saw a bone chapel, garlands of skulls and crossbones and a chandelier made out of all the bones in the human body. We saw St. Barbara's Cathedral there also. This all took place from Tuesday - Friday, July 1st - 4th. Thursday July 3rd we went to a Czech Folklore Evening set up by my tour guide. We saw Czech dancers in costume dancing and singing with a Czech folk band with a Hammer Dulcimer, clarinet, violin, accordian. Audience participation was a must and my son danced with one of the dancers and I played a jug/horse hair instrument as we ate Czech food family style at our table with a family from Chile.
The evening of July 4th we left by train to northern Czech Republic to a city of 50,000 named Decin. I went there to meet my penpal which I have been corresponding with since 1976 but had never met. We spent the weekend with her family and it was wonderful. She fed us constantly and she took us to a castle on the river, it was very scenic there although I know it's not on any tourist itinerary. My penpal spoke broken English and we both used our dictionaries a lot but it was like we were old friends and so much fun.
Sunday at noon we left Decin on the train back to Prague, switched trains going south and spent the night in Ceske Budejovice in a wonderful hotel off the town square, Pension and Restaurant Centrum with our own wc, shower, TV and breakfast included. We drank some Budvar (Budweiser) Beer which is original to the town. The next morning we took a train to Linz, Austria which arrived late, so we missed our connection but caught the next train an hour later to Attnang-Puchheim where we changed trains to our final destination, Hallstatt, Austria. This is the most beautiful place on earth. You have to ride a boat across the lake from the train station to the town, nestled on the side of the mountain. We stayed here 3 nights at Helga Lenz Zimmer which was a folk Austrian B&B. We had the whole 3rd floor to ourselves at a moderate price including breakfast. The floors, cabinetry, furniture was light pine. We had a bed room, living room with TV and a very large beautiful bathroom with shower, with blue tile floor and yellow and blue throw rugs with the light pine and lace curtains. Looking out our window was the most scenic view of the town, church spires below and the lake and the Alps. Tuesday we took a funicular up the mountain to tour the inside of the Salt Mine, ate dinner at Rudolphs Tower originally a house for some nobility and then we walked down the side of the mountain, We also toured the churches and another bone chapel with the skulls painted with flowers and garlands with the persons name and date of death on them. The next day we rented a boat to drive on the lake, and walked around the town which has a waterfall raging through the middle of it.
Thursday morning we left Hallstatt by train (by boat), and went via Attnang, Salzburg to Innsbruck changing trains at each location. We spent 3 hours sight seeing in Innsbrook. We saw the Old Town Pedestrian area, the Golden Roof and went up in the Old Town Hall Tower with a beautiful view of the city and the Alps rising up to the heavens. Then we got back on the train to Garmisch, Germany, switched trains there for Reutte, Austria where we arrived at 7 p.m. and called a taxi to take us to Hohenschwangau, Germany where the fairy tale castle Neuschwanschstein is. There we stayed at a B&B called Romantic Alberecht Pension and had a balcony view of the castle our own wc and shower and TV, breakfast included. On Friday we toured both the
Hohenshwangau Castle and Neuschwanschstein, I had reserved tickets ahead on the internet at home so we just walked in and with the discout from our B&B I picked up our tickets right away and headed for the castles. We took the shuttle bus from Hohenschwangau to above Neuschwanshsttein Castle to Mary's Bride over a waterfall. The castles are a must. My son just loved all the castles we saw and the history about the kings and knights, and medievial information. The next day, Saturday, we took a bus to Fussen and with help from a local German got a ticket from the automated machine and took the train to Munich. There we stayed at Wombat's Youth Hostel in a mixed gender dorm room. I was the only female in a room of college age guys which I only saw in the morning sleeping when my son and I got up to go sight seeing. It rained all weekend but we went to Maria's Platz, saw the Glockenspiel do it's dance Saturday night at 5 p.m. went to the Viturlikan Market, Alois Dalmer Deli (a fancy grocery store for the Kings) and then ate at the Hofbrau Haus at a table full of tourists from China. That was the funnest place, packed full of people, an Ooopah Band, painted ceilings, dirndl clad waitresses carrying 6liter size mugs of beer at a time. On Sunday we took the Panorama Grayline Bus Tour of Munich and stopped at Nymphenburg Palace for 3 hours and toured that with an audio guide. Then we got back to the train station and walked past Maria Platz to the Residenz which is a palace with the Bavarian Crown Jewels and ornate rooms.
Monday morning July 14th we took the subway from the train station to the airport and headed for home. We were up for 25 hours before we got home to Whitewater, Kansas (near Wichita).
I loved every minute of our trip, it was a perfect experience, and a wonderful time to spend with my son.

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