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Trip Report Iwan2go Prague, Salzburg, Vienna and Paris

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I began planning this wonderful trip last September for my husband and I. We're in our mid-sixties, in good walking shape (needed it!), and love gardens, architecture, good food, and meeting new people. While we have been to Paris several times, this was the first time we have been to the Czech Republic and Austria. For guidance in planning, I used Tripadvisor, you guys (thanks!!!), and three guidebooks: Rick Steves for connection info (trains, times, etc), museum, and self-walking tours; Fodors mostly for hotel and restaurant info; and Eyewitness for the pretty pictures. I left the EW at home and tore out irrelevant pages from the other two, then tossed them when we left each country. Figured by the next time we go, they'll be out of date (and I needed room for purchases!) Of course, now I don't have them for crib notes, so I might not know all the names of places, so cut me some slack. :)

We spent four nights in Prague (good number as it turned out), three in Salzburg, and cut down to four in Vienna when we decided to meet my brother- and sister-in-law in Paris for four nights. In retrospect, the only regret I have is not getting a guide in Vienna, as having one in Prague made it much more interesting and in depth. Next time! The weather was cool but not uncomfortable, and while it sprinkled some, we had no rain showers - just cool spring weather. I was glad I'd thrown in one turtleneck cashmere sweater with the lighter sweaters, though.

We left LAX on Air France flight at 4:00pm, and had a smooth flight. We were lucky enough to get seats on the upper level of the Airbus 380, which was great. Economy, but we were served much more quickly and it was very quiet. When I needed exercise, I just walked up and down the staircase in the back. The transfer at CDG was fine, from Terminal 2E to 2F, though if I recall correctly we had to take the tram. I must have been more tired than I thought, because usually when we get to France I'm energized and excited, but this time, all I wanted to do was connect and get on with it!

I had arranged to be met in Prague by a driver, which was one of the best decisions ever! I got his name from the Rick Steves tour book, and we used the same company for transport from Prague to Salzburg: Michael Jakubuv ( My husband had a nice conversation about linguistics with our driver, as that's something both have studied somewhat (Cool. What are the chances of that?) Cost was 600CZK, about 30USD.

I had read a lot on Tripadvisor about the Golden Well Hotel and it was absolutely perfect in every way. It's located in the Mala Strana area, adjacent to the castle grounds (there is actually a gate that leads on to the gardens from the upper level restaurant). The hotel is made up of five houses, one of which belonged to King Rudolf II, who let the astronomer Tycho de Brahe live in it. It was the most expensive hotel on our trip and for us, well worth it! Our room had a view of the city below and terraced gardens to the side. We decided to eat our breakfasts there with the city spread at our feet, and it was hard to leave to explore - the hotel and the staff were just perfect. I wrote a TA review with pictures.

First night is a blur, I have no idea what we ate or where. The next morning our guide Jana met us at our hotel. She's about 38 years old, a darling Czech woman with three children who knows about everything about the Czech Republic, and an absolute pleasure to be with ( She told us stories and legends ("another legend says" the second day we were laughing, another legend!?) and made it all come alive. We took a tram from the Malostanska Square up and around the castle, getting off to see the Strahov monastery and walking over to see the Prague castle complex and St Vitus cathedral. Some of my favorite things in the church were the carved map of Prague circa (? a looong time ago), the miners and faux boiserie on the bottom of the king's balcony, and the silver tomb of St John of Nepomuk. She said that the legend of St John went like this: he was the confessor of the Queen, and refused to break the seal of the confessional, so he was thrown off the bridge. Five stars came down from the sky, marking the placement of his body. So when you see his statue, he has a halo of five stars.

We worked our way down the hill (I will digress here to say that I was very glad we were not working our way UP the hill, because that's some hill), stopping at the Wallenstein gardens to see the grotto and plantings before eating on the square. Went back to rest, then walked to our dinner reservation at Heregotva Chilna. This was probably my favorite meal in Prague; I had sea bass and my husband had lamb, and both were delicious! It's on the river (though we didn't have a particular view, reviews say it's great in summer on their terrace).

I will end now (am I only on day one? good grief) as dinner calls. Will do more over the next few days. Again, thank you for all of your great advice, everyone!

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    Leely2, we loved the location of the Golden Well, out of the way (across the river from the Old Town) yet close to so many of the things we wanted to see. I would suggest that if you stay there, you get the Deluxe room, not the Superior, which would overlook the courtyard and have no view. Looks like rates are somewhere around E220, plus VAT 10%, when I plugged in July. There's lots of info and photos on TA and the Golden Well website.

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    Gee, thanks guys! I'll write more tomorrow, but we just got back from dinner and I wanted to add a few quick notes before I forget. When we got to the front entrance of the castle complex, Jana took us to the left, to a little garden. In the middle there's a series of concentric rings, like a tiny amphitheater. If you stand on the middle ring and speak, there is an echo that only you can hear. Way cool.

    Second, there are several places to buy tickets for the interior spaces of the castle complex (the gardens are free). So when there were lines in front of the castle, she took us around and found another ticket booth with no waiting. Just an FYI to save some time.

    Finally, the cost at Hergetova Chilna for one glass of wine each, bottled water, two asparagus soups, lamb and sea bass entree, and one shared dessert was 2235CZK plus tip, about 125USD if I'm doing this right. Loved it.

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    The following morning we woke up early and headed up to the restaurant for breakfast again (can you tell we liked breakfast?) We booked it ahead, so it was 350CZK each (about $17.50), which sounds steep til you start eating... First is the buffet, with fruit, cheeses, meats, breads, homemade yogurts, vegetables, these little cream puffs, sweet cakes, an amazing dish of tomatoes and cucumbers in a watery vinegar/sugar liquid that I could not get enough of, juices, coffee or cappuccino and tea. Then our darling server (Oksana, from Ukraine, whom we saw every morning) asked for our cooked order (Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon w/eggs, oatmeal, what-ever). When we finished that, she said, how about a sweet dish now? griddlecakes with blueberries...we said, whoa, we'll roll outa here if we eat that too. All of it with the most beautiful view over the roofs of Prague. Sigh.

    OK, so we left with Jana at around 10:00 for the second part of our tour, the Old Town and the other side of the river. We'd decided that it would be better to do two half-days than bolt out of the gate with one full day, after such a long flight. Good decision, we had time to rest.

    Anyway. She took us a roundabout way, explaining along the way that the Baroque facades in much of Mala Strana were just that, facades built over much older buildings. In the Little Quarter Square, you can see it - one of the buildings has wide stone buttresses on the bottom (medieval?) and the top is all Baroque. Very interesting! We went by the John Lennon wall and on to see some of Kampa island (including the mark showing the flood height of the river not long ago) before crossing the Charles Bridge. Saw a statue with five stars (St John of Nepomuk) and several others, which she explained, then on to the other side.

    Now we went into the Jewish Quarter, with its many synagogues and the old cemetery. She explained that the Jewish people were limited to this area for housing and burial, which is why the grave stones are stacked high and tight. As needed, they added another layer of ground, building it up to much higher than the adjacent street. There were several beautiful synagogues in the area (again, limited in where they could be built). Hearing all the history while walking gave it so much more impact; we decided that from now on, a guide is worth it.

    Now it was around noon, so we went over to the astronomical clock on the town hall to see the procession of apostles and the skeleton shake his hourglass. Went from there to the Powder Tower, Wenceslaus Square, and had a bite to eat at a little place off the square before bidding goodbye and thanks to Jana. She opened our hearts and minds to this beautiful city and country! Walked over another bridge, through the park on Kampa, and back to our hotel for a rest and dinner upstairs at the Teressa U Zlate Studne (our hotel's terrace restaurant).

    Wow! Loved it. I wrote down "asparagus soup, Prague ham, Duck confit, Sea bass, two plum ravioli, two wine, two tea, about 4000CZK ($200)". Very, very good. Went downstairs and crashed! One more day in Prague to go.

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    Our last day in Prague was unstructured, as we were on our own (this is my way of saying - we were pretty clueless and so I'm sure we missed a lot. What-ever). We wandered around the Little Quarter square looking in the windows, bought some earrings for our daughter at a little shop with blown glass jewelry Really pretty, unusual, and inexpensive. We took the funicular up to Petrin Hill, passed the mini Eiffel Tower (which those in Prague point out is "higher than the one in Paris, if you count the hill". :) Went into the Stahov monastery to see the library, and had a view lunch up there at Bella Vista (food not worth it - about $50 - but the view was killer), and walked in a meandering path down the hill on a street called Zameche Schody/ Thunovska, which has a staircase to heaven. Parallels Nerodova Street (which we never walked down, wish we had), and if Nerodova is anything like Thunoska, wow, would you have major calf muscles walking up that thing.

    My husband decided to stay in the hotel and relax, but I had a mission! To get another piece of jewelry for our daughter-in-law, who loves modern, different pieces. So I went down to the square to get a tram ticket. Well, the place that sold them (like a tabac) was closed for a break, the machine wasn't working, another place said, no we don't sell them - by that time the original place was open, Eureka! and I took the tram back over the river to Belda, a place mentioned in the Fodor's guidebook. Found a really interesting pair of earrings that loop around and I hope she likes them! I was quite proud of myself for venturing out on my own in a city where, as my sister says, the street names need a vowel drop. Back in time to collect my husband and walk around some more. We wanted to visit St Nicolas church, but when we went past there was a concert, so we decided to find some dinner. When in doubt, eat, is my motto!

    The place we ended up eating in, Luka Lu, was a total hoot - even the website is a trip: I was intrigued at the description in Fodors, so we tried it. The restaurant is wildly decorated with things like big church bells and chairs hanging from the ceiling, all kinds of kitsch on the walls, and a vivid paint job. We sat by the open window to the street - by now it was raining and quite entertaining, both inside and out. Food was fairly good - grilled calamari and bouillabaisse, salads, a beer came out to 1000CZK ($50). The owner was either Serbian or Croatian, and as my mother's family is from Croatia, we chatted a little about that. They brought us a complimentary delicious custard dessert, saying that perhaps my grandmother made something like it. So sweet, and a fun evening. Apparently they have a cool patio out in the back and have live music, so if you're up for a fun time in Mala Strana, you might want to check it out.

    We went back to the hotel and packed, and said goodbye to Prague in the morning. After breakfast, of course.


    I had looked into taking the train from Prague to Salzburg, with a switch in Cesky Budejovice, but really wanted to see Cesky Krumlov, as many of you had mentioned it. So we arranged to have a driver from Mike Jakubov (email in first section), and it was THE best idea in the whole trip. I figured that the difference in cost (taxi, train, taxi), time, and experience was worth it. Jan picked us up at the Golden Well and we were off through the Czech countryside, arriving in CK around 11:15. He parked up at the top of the hill and we walked through the gardens to the castle entrance. Didn't get an English tour (I had wanted to reserve one but I think you needed more people) and didn't miss it. Well, at least as far as I know, maybe we missed a lot, but I am in blissful ignorance, so just leave me there. We had an explanation card in English.

    The castle complex was owned in 1302 by a very (very very) wealthy family, the Rozmberks (Rosenberg), and the town is a UNESCO Heritage site. Located on the Vltava river, the town has some charming buildings and restaurants. Enjoyed the tour (other people have, I'm sure, covered this in much more detail), looked at photos of their theatre which was not on the tour, and wandered around. Had lunch overlooking the river at Krcma Barbakian, grilled fish and Greek salad at about 278CZK (wow, how can that be? $14.00?), friendly service. We met a nice Canadian couple on the terrace and chatted over some beers. Jan had arranged to meet us at 3:00, so we hopped back in the car and were off for Salzburg.

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    We arrived by 5:30 or so at our hotel in Salzburg, the Hotel Auersperg. We loved our spacious rooms (the garden view room had a bed area, a closet and shelf central core, and a sitting/desk area. And two bathrooms: one with toilet, sink and magnifying mirror, and one with sink and tub/shower. Very nice!

    Unfortunately, they were finishing up exterior painting of the building, and as I had made the reservations in September we slipped through the cracks of notification. To make up for it, they offered to move us to the adjoining Villa building or discount our room. My husband didn't want to move and we decided that we'd be out during the day when the workmen might be there, so we were satisfied with the discount. Room including an amazing breakfast was about 180E/night, which I thought for Salzburg was a good deal. We liked the location, within 10-15 minutes walking from the Old Town.

    That evening we elected to eat in the hotel's bar area, soup and sandwiches, and wander around a little bit. Woke up to a lovely day and set off for the Old Town, where we did a self-walking tour with pages torn out from RS and Fodors. Saw the beautiful cathedral, St Peter's cemetery with unusual grave markers made of painted, embellished lacy wrought iron, the shopping streets. Had lunch at what turned out to be a chain called Nordsee, which had very good choices of mostly fish and salad dishes and was fine. That evening we took the funicular up to the Monschberg to see the fortifications, and had a wonderful meal overlooking the valley. Wandered home to our hotel and to bed.

    The next morning we went on the requisite Sound of Music tour - We had the RS book with us and got a 5E discount. We had seen the movie again right before leaving and figured that this was an easy way to see areas outside of Salzburg - which it was. There were only four of us on the bus (a couple from up north, I think) and our tour guide. Loved it! Saw some beautiful scenery, lakes, manor houses, and churches. We stopped for some apple streusel by one the the lakes and enjoyed the scenery. We were dropped off at the Maribel Gardens and wandered through there for a while before seeing Mozart's House (a total let-down. I have a feeling we missed an entire floor, it was all photos and not much else). Then back to the Old Town to do some quick shopping for the grandkids.

    Feeling peckish but not famished (that came later), we stopped at Carpe Diem, at the end of the Getreidigasse shopping street for some snacks in a quiet atmosphere. Great little place with a lovely patio and finger food, many in little cones. Delicious, but not inexpensive, 50E for some snacks and two glasses of wine. We sat next to a really nice couple from Germany, a lawyer and his wife who were in the area for work and decided to drop by for a snack. It was fun to talk with them about traveling and stuff.

    On the way back to the hotel, my husband said he was still hungry, so we went to a fun place called Istra Enotek, at Wolf-Dietrich Strasse 27. They basically had fish, wine, and fish. You could chose the three, four or five course option, so we went with three. First to arrive was ahi carpaccio, and I have no idea what they had on it (oil and seasonings), but it was delicious. Then mussels in a broth. Then grilled whole fish and vegetables and potatoes. I think the total bill with one glass of wine was 61 E, $80.00. It was a small place, maybe seated 25 -30 people, and next to us was a big table filled with friends and children. They were having the BEST time! And the owner, waiters and us enjoyed their laughing and comraderie. The waiter was Croatian and it turned out that his last name was the same as my Mom's family, so that was interesting.

    We went back to our hotel to pack and prepare for an early train to Vienna.

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    Gee thanks guys, I will do the rest asap. The other restaurant we went to was on the Little Quarter Square and was called Beseda, I think. The best thing was the outside seating; we weren't impressed with the food - not bad, just not memorable. I'm guessing the cost was more like $25.00, though.

    Leely, I think that the trip from Prague to CK was about 2 hours and 15 minutes. There are several companies, by the way, who will drive you there (and beyond) - many other posters have noted them. Some are shared shuttles, some are private drivers. As we wanted to stop on the way to Salzburg, this was the most convenient way for us (especially after we heard from a fellow traveler in Salzburg that the train had been delayed for a few hours in Cesky Budejovice). The total cost, including waiting for us in CK, was 6800CZK, which came out to about $340.00. It's all posted on Mike's website (most other places also have the cost posted).

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    Thanks, iwan2go. We are renting a car; I am sure it will take us longer than 2h 15m. I tend to get lost a lot.

    Hello Louisa, I'll be in Poland and the Czech Republic the last two weeks of July. Are you going anytime soon?

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    We got to the train station in Salzburg in the morning, about 40 minutes before the train - just in case - and found that we didn't need the extra time. There's a Westbahn ticket office (which I thought was closed, but it just had reflective windows) and we walked right up, paid 25E, and got on the train. Took about 2.5 hours to Vienna. Thanks to molker for the info on Westbahn vs Oebb!

    Arrived early at our hotel, Hotel Altstadt, located near the Spittelburg quarter and within about a half mile of the Museumplein. Very comfortable hotel, with reception on the second floor and rooms located throughout an old (1902) building. We had a lovely room with a view of the church across the street - I put a review and lots of pictures on TA so won't go into it here. Had lunch nearby at Glacis Beisl, which was fine; I liked the garden atmosphere more than the food. Cost for wine, salad, two mains was 24E, but it was handy.

    In our room, I was looking at the website for the Kunsthhistoriches Museum (I'm abbreviating that one from now on to KHM, forget this) and noticed that they have a wonderful dinner every Thursday night in the rotunda of the museum. Wow! Asked the reception desk to make us a reservation, got dressed, and, feeling smug and debonaire, went down at 5:00 for tea and coffee at the hotel. We sat next to a nice couple from England and chatted, then said, off we go! Dinner at 6:30! To realize that today was Friday...plop went that souffle, off went the dressy clothes and on went the walking shoes. Walked down past the museums, Hofburg complex, stopped in a huge specialty foods store on the Graben (Julius Meinl) to get something different for one of our sons. I had my torn-out pages of restaurants with me so we went to Wrenkh for dinner. Nice place, dinner with one salad, soup, two mains, two beers was 44E. I wouldn't go out of my way, but it was a Friday night and places were filling fast, so it was fine.

    We walked around some more, looked into the cathedral, and took in all the beautifully lit buildings and fiakers (horse-drawn carriages). We decided to go the Cafe Central for dessert and a coffee, which was a wonderful closing for the first day in Vienna - apple streusel and live music in a lovely historical setting.

    Next day we went to the KHM. Wow, what a beautiful museum with a wide and interesting collection. We ended up eating in the rotunda (ta da!), and I liked it but don't have a receipt so I don't know how much it cost or what we had, though I think it involved apple streusel. So I was a happy camper.

    The one place my husband wanted to go in Vienna was the Haus der Musik, so I went along for the ride (walk) and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were lots of interactive displays, including one where you threw a dice on a table and the "notes" that were created with the bouncing of the dice were made into a composition - which was then embellished in the style of Mozart. So you felt like a wizard. We did that one a few times. Lots of other things to try, info on all the famous Austrian musicians, sound bending stuff. I would recommend this museum for anyone who likes music or has children of any age in tow, as it was a lot of fun and only cost about 8E to get in. And I think it has a fantastic restaurant upstairs - which didn't work into our plans, too bad.

    By now it was early evening and we were tired, so we returned to our hotel for a light dinner. They have a beautiful, peaceful lounge, and we sat there with candlelight and the breeze coming through the open window, reading. We had wine, zucchini and lentil soups, and snacks (including an amazing open sandwich of toasted bread with brie and chutney). It was just the most relaxing evening! And the food was wonderful. We felt very lucky and happy.

    Each morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, a very expanded buffet plus cooked to order eggs, included in the room rate. There were at least four rooms in which to eat. I really liked the hotel, but noted on TA that some of the rooms would face the rear and not have a good view. The rate was outstanding, 165 - 175E, depending on weekend/week night. We thought the area was ok, not amazing but safe and fine, and would recommend it.

    Sunday the weather was wonderful so we went to Melk abbey and the Danube. We took the subway to the Westbanhof train station and bought the Combi tickets from OEBB there for $150.00 for both of us. The train goes to Melk, then you walk up the hill to the abbey (and this is one pretty big hill - the tour buses parked up at the top). It was all Baroque and gilded magnificence, with a spectacular library and church. Others have written about Melk, so I will just add, it's worth the trip. One of the most magical things was serendipitous - a choral group of Italian tourists, sitting in one of the outdoor covered porticos and singing sacred music, a cappella. We stood and listened for 20 minutes until they stopped singing.

    Walked down the hill to catch our lunch cruise on the Bradner line. As others have said, go down the hill, turn to the right (don't cross over the bridge, that's other cruises), and look for the ships past the grassy area. There are flags for the two lines; you just go up to them and give them your ticket. We elected to get the meal and it was very good - drinks, a light soup, fish, and dessert for 56E. We stayed inside while everyone else crowded outside, and it was very relaxing to see the little villages as we went by. We talked later and decided that we were glad to have the chance for a short cruise, as now we know...we're not long cruise folks. This was just the right amount of time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

    Got off the ship in Krems and eschewed the tram, which in retrospect we wouldn't recommend, as finding the train station (over a mile away, high-tailing it) was difficult. So if you do this, either take the little tram, or plan on hustling. If you do walk, you just go to the right, under the bridge and past a little park, and the station will be on your right, set back from the road. You haven't missed it, you just haven't walked far enough.

    I wanted to go to one of the heuringer, but we were tired, so we just went back to the hotel and ate nearby at Amerling Beisl. I'd read about it in Rick Steves, and folks, Rick Steves and I are not on the same food page. It was fine, I guess typical beisl food, but I would not go back. I will say that the cost was reasonable, though, 35E for two beers, humus, soup, schnitzel and a veggie lasagna, and the wait staff were very friendly and helpful. Just my 2 cents.

    The next day was our last, and we had to decide between the Hofburg, Albertina, Belvedere, and Schloss Schoenbrunne. A really hard decision. It's been compared to Versailles, to which I've never been, so we elected to see Schoenbrunne and enjoy the beautiful weather and outdoor gardens. We didn't get a ticket ahead online, figuring, how busy can it be in April, and we can use our credit card. NOT. Bad decision - the old chip-and-PIN thing tripped us up, and the machines would not accept the credit card. We had to stand in line. Not a big deal, we had to wait maybe 35-40 minutes, but as we stood in line, all the people at the machines were moving the time up, minute by minute. Buy the tickets online ahead of time!!!!

    OK, so we finally got in and took the tour, pretty amazing place! Takes about an hour to walk through the Grand Tour, which is the expanded one (the second one) and was fine for what we wanted to see. We then walked up, up, up the hill to the Gloriette, a pavilion at the top with a view over all of Vienna. Had lunch up there at the (natch) Cafe Gloriette, for 32 E (soup, croissant sandwich, Caprese type salad, beer, water). Walked all around there and took lots of photos. Took the subway home to our hotel, had tea and cake, and told our English friends that we'd meet them in two hours downstairs for a reprise of the hotel dinner we'd enjoyed several nights before. It was like relaxing in your living room with new friends - except you didn't have to clean or cook!

    And that was it for Vienna. We talked it over and had a few regrets. First, that we didn't have one or two more days. Second, that we didn't have a guide - I think that we missed many of the parks and other things (not to mention the historical context in greater detail) that we would have seen with someone intimate with Vienna. Third, that we didn't go to any musical evenings. I hadn't wanted to book something ahead of time, in case the one sunny day we had to go on the Danube would be too crowded for time, but we should have done it anyway.

    Thinking it over, I'm glad that we gave four days to Prague, which is more out-of-the-way than Vienna. We can go back to Vienna and see all the wonderful things we missed, next time. Oh well, live and learn, and on to ...PARIS!

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    As our flight was early, we took a cab to the airport - it's a small airport, BTW, and not complicated like CDG (more on that later). Arrived in Paris to be picked up by the cab I'd arranged for the four of us, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. We had planned meeting up back in September and were very excited to see each other - they live on the right coast now (S Carolina) and we're on the left in LA. Anyway, my SIL had unexpected heart surgery in November, so we were just glad that she was recovered and we were still able to meet. They flew in from Florence and had only been to Paris once, maybe eight years ago, for three days.

    We'd booked rooms at the Hotel Brighton, right on the Tuileries, through First time I'd done that kind of booking and all was fine. Because we've been to Paris before we elected for a courtyard, not Tuileries, view, and had a large and bright room which we liked. Got lunch down the street at the Cafe Imperial, about 45E per couple with soup and main. Was ok. Walked around, over by the Madeleine and snagged a macaron at Laduree.

    We had booked a special dinner that night at Itineraires in the 5th, so we ventured out into the now rainy skies, taking the Metro and walking the last (...mile or so, oops, didn't realize it was that far). We had eaten at Itineraires two years ago, and loved both meals! The wait staff is so friendly and professional - you feel so comfortable in elegant surroundings, and the food is outstanding. The waiter told us they'd just been awarded one Michelin star. Had the five course tasting menu, plus two amuse bouche and little dessert snacks and caramels, total 156E. Our favorite meal of the trip.

    A note on the husband and I walk a lot, and by the time we got to Paris we (well, I) must have been on speed drive. Not good with someone recovering from surgery, so I had to be hauled in every so often. I was so excited to be in Paris again and was the designated tour guide! My relatives were very understanding (though at one point I was accused of waterboarding. Eek). Still, we had a blast.

    We opted to have the buffet breakfast at the hotel for 17E. Angelina next door was 29E, even Cafe Imperial was 15 or so, and we liked the convenience of the hotel. We'd booked Michael Osman as our tour guide again - it was the French holiday, May 1st, we figured he'd know all the ins and outs and besides, he's so much fun. He discovered that my SIL is interested in fashion, so we wandered around the rue St Honore, Place Vendome, over to the Palais Royal area and Marais. Stopped for lunch on the Isle St Louis at Le Lutetia, very nice, quiet, good food, 51E for 2.5 of us (including Michael). Over to Notre Dame, back to the Place des Vosges for coffee and a tart. Dinner at Cafe Imperial again.

    Next day we did some shopping and just took it easy. Went to my favorite store for jewelry, Babylone, at 15 rue des Petits Champs behind the Palais Royal gardens. I always find some earrings and necklaces there. Walked through the gardens for lunch at Le Fumoir, over by the Cour Caree of the Louvre (the opposite side from the Tuileries). We liked it a lot! 21E for the plat jour, nice staff and surroundings. Booked dinner there for the last night.

    On the way back to the hotel, my SIL and I stopped to shop in the Carousel du Louvre, where I bought a beautiful scarf and some little gifts at Fragonard. The guys were resting when we returned at 4:00, so we did the same. By 5:00, my husband and I decided to hot foot it over to the rur Cler and get some food for a picnic in the hotel. What fun - hit the cheese store, veggies, a baguette, pastries, wine, fruit. Walked back, past the dome of the Invalides, over the Pont Alexandre, through the Tuileries...the sun was out and it was like magic. We felt so excited and yet so peaceful at the same time. The four of us had a fantastic meal at the little table in our hotel room and to bed at an early hour.

    Last day, and we decided to go to the Louvre. Here's a funny story, and shows how each of us vacations in our own way. My BIL and SIL (who is of Italian heritage) had spent the earlier part of their vacation in Rome and Florence. Before they'd left, I advised that they get online tickets for the Uffizzi. OK, so we're talking about our trips and asked, How did you like the Vatican Museums? "Well, the lines were so long, we just walked around". Same with the Uffizzi. Then my SIL brightened up and said, "We DID see one museum! The Ferragamo Shoe Museum!" I almost fell off my chair laughing. They had a marvelous time! Just walked around, watched the Italians who reminded my SIL of her relatives in New Jersey, had cappucinos and relaxed. It was the absolute perfect vacation for them.

    Anyway, so we went to the Louvre for the morning and had a great time. Decided to eat on the Tuileries at Le Saut du Loup, where the fixed menu is 22E with a Louvre ticket. The main attraction was the view - outside, with the museum over to the left and the Eiffel Tower to the right. How can you beat that. Service was friendly (but don't be in a hurry here, it's slow) and the pork roast and dessert were delicious. Late afternoon rest for everyone but me, who went back to the jewelry store :) and then to Laduree for some macarons for our son-in-law and a darling insulated bag at La Maison du Chocolat, both near the Madeleine. BTW, those insulated bags at LMDC are a great gift - 4 E and they're tres chic. There's a store at CDG as well. Dinner at Le Fumoir and a walk home through the streets and past the Louvre. Printed boarding passes and packed. And we never even made it to Angelina next door! :(

    Had a cab get us (we had breakfast, they said they'd catch it at the airport) at 7:30 on a Saturday for a 10:30 flight. Fine, til we got to the construction at CDG, which added at least 20-30 minutes to the last half mile. When we got into the airport, it was total chaos - thank God we didn't need to print the passes, but BIL and SIL did, so we lost track of each other. Thank goodness for cell phones and texting, we could at least do that. It took 25 minutes to get through baggage drop off, then a tram to the terminal M, then another line for security! Got into the final area at 9:30, and boarding was starting at 9:45. I wanted to get more Laduee and shop, but there was a line, one assistant, and no time. This airport experience was unlike the others we've experienced at CDG, and from now on, we're getting there 3 hours ahead. Just a heads-up for anyone else.

    So. The end of a wonderful, wonderful trip. We loved the change of pace at the end, and being able to enjoy Paris with our family. Loved Prague, Salzburg, and Vienna, and it's fun to re-live it all in a trip report. Hope it was helpful for someone! And on to discovering the next great destination.

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    fantastic TR!!! great detail which I love!
    we are off to P,Vienna, and Budapest next September and will take this with us for help
    your rec of mike chauffeur for transfer from P to CK is the rec I needed as we are hiring him for P to CK to Vienna day transfer.
    happy travels!

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    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us! My husband and I - of the same vintage as you - are going in May. We have been pouring over the tour books to have a "plan" as I hate to waste time while in a place to decide ... I am definitely taking many of your tips to heart!

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