Tuesday, March 28, 2017



Arrived via train on Weds evening. We took a cab to our hotel - the cab ride reminded me of a 007 movie - the roads appear to be alleys and it was a little bit foggy - I was a bit nervous, but not to fear we were welcomed with open arms. They have us a glass of champagne and escorted us to our rooms. From there we went out - the Christmas market was almost right outside our door. It is a beautiful one with a huge tree as it's center piece. We met Nick for dinner - we ate in the cellar of the 12th Century building, there was piano music playing in the background - I thought I was a wonderful dinner - I have no idea what Nick thought of it.

When I met Nick for dinner  in Prague - my, my
but we've come a long way from
South County!

 This picture does not do this Christmas tree
justice. It was one of the coolest trees I've 
ever seen and it was less than a block
from our hotel.

 The Christmas Markets of Europe are
all about food, family and gifts. At most of the 
markets there are little petting stalls scattered
around for the kids to have some fun

 Check this out! Hams cooking on a spit over
an open fire - when you order some ham
they just go and slice you off some.....
wish I had some right now!

Another animal stall

 This was our transport up to the Prague Castle

I thought it was pretty cool....

 The outside of the castle. The term castle is misleading
it is really a whole village behind those gates.
When the court would move literally hundreds of people
moved with it. I wish I had some pictures of the 
village. Cute little houses and shops lining the cobblestone
 One of many, many manger scenes I saw
this one is done in hay.

This is stained glass at the church
on the castle grounds. Notice St. Lukas
I took that for Tony, his son is named
Johnny Luca - and now he knows his Saint.

Upon leaving the castle there is this statue
of a naked boy - I don't know why - but apparently
everyone around the world wants to rub his
you know what....it's quite polished.
I won't post the picture of me polishing the nob.

 There is a famous artist, David Cerny who was 
commissioned to build this tower when the
country was under Soviet rule. Just to piss them
off he sculpted babies crawling all over it. 

Then to ad insult to injury he sculpted this horse
for the Soviets and then hung it upside down.
What I've read about him states that this was 
an act of civil disobedience and considered
"hooliganism" and he was briefly arrested.

A day in Vienna

December 2016
The only city that was not bombed by the Germans - Hitler visited
Vienna before the war and he loved the city so much that he
gave strict instructions that the city was not to be bombed.

We started the day with a car tour, this will be the first time I've come to Europe and gained weight- our tour was really nice - this is a beautiful, old city.

 A church we stopped in our guide told us this is the church that Royalty use to get married in

 An eclectic neighborhood - the artist that designed this neighborhood 
has a museum but he went ahead and brought his art
to the street.

 Look an old fashioned phone booth
I couldn't pass this up - after 30 years with 
the "phone company" it's odd / nice 
to see a phone booth.

more of the neighborhood the artist built

 The  sign on the street
at the beginning of the "artists" neighborhood.

During a museum tour we got to pop in
to a cooking demonstration of how 
the Viennese make the wonderful
apple strudels.

Look carefully - no need to let
language barriers disrupt 
bathroom manners.....only in

The old guard shack -

Kate and Stammie

We took a tour of this castle 
it was quite interesting to witness how
royalty used to live

At the top of the hill is the Queens little house
the King built for her so that she could
escape the hustle/bustle for awhile.

the walk way to the Queen's private palace

An example of the statues that reside all along
the walk way.

 Outside our hotel

in front of the hotel
The whole city dresses up for the holidays

And this beauty was in the lobby of our hotel
she was backlit with candles - beautiful

this was my breakfast most mornings in Vienna

I ordered a hot chocolate it was served on
a nice silver tray - I love the way they
all of the dishes over here!!!

 I took a fondue class in the St Louis and they
ended the class with Raclette - which was delicious
now I find it here at a Christmas Market in Vienna

Just a random shot of the market - people of all
ages enjoying the market day and night....

Friday, March 24, 2017

Budapest - December 2016

The trip is long over but I am finding that if I don't document these pictures pretty soon I won't know what they are all about so here goes...

 My driver - he was waiting for me at the 
airport. I really thought I "had arrived"

On our first night we went on a dinner cruise. These fine people took care of through out the evening.
 Once the band was done playing the violin player went around to different tables for requests. There were people from all over the world on the cruise and one of the songs requested was "Silent Night" (remember this was a Christmas time) the entire boat sang the song in english. Up until this point in my life I had no idea the world sang the same Christmas songs. It was a cool experience.

 The Is the Budapest Parliament. The second largest in the world. Totally beautiful at night, especially when viewed on boat. 

 The band that played through out the evening.

 My hotel room 

another view of the room - it big, nice and lovely.


 The guy at the top was the king at some point in the history of Hungry. Well, it has been documented that he was an exceptionally handsome man - he had a wife that lived in the castle with him, but it was rumored that he had hundreds (yes I said hundreds) of women though out his life - even with this constant womenizing he was loved by all of his country men - Apparently he was a good ruler with his head and his.....

Budapest is known for its thermal baths and ice skating! As I was about to find out ice skating is very popular in eastern europe. Everyone ice skates.

This was our tour guide - she was wonderful

 My favorite store!!! 

 My traveling companions - 

 A view of the Pest side of the river

 Another view of the Pest side - 

 Just a view of a regular old street

 Our lunch menu

Me with the city in the back ground....

A very small sample of one of the Christmas Markets.

At every Christmas Market there is a bandstand - it's my understanding
that these are just pick up bands - regular people doing what
they love on stage - 

 We went to the oldest Opera house in Hungry to see 
the Nutcracker - this is a view from our box

yes - I said Box - Just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Women
when she was flown to San Fran for the opera

Dinner after the Opera - I loved having the violin
player serenade us. I know, I know I am easily impressed.