28 August 2004

Chapter Two: Vienna

How can I put this...? Oh, yes:

Meh.

That was my reaction to Vienna after seeing Prague.

On Canada Day, we piled into the rental car and made our way south.

We took a side trip south-east to a little town called Kutna Hora. It's an UNESCO World Heritage site for two reasons. Firstly, one of the oldest standing cathedrals in the world: Chrám sv. Barbory or St. Barbara's cathedral. So old, that it still boasts original frescos (albeit, faintly) from the middle ages. I was awed at the amazing work that people could do 1000 years ago, without the advances of mechanics. Think of all the neat tools we have, and the crap buildings we throw together.


St. Barbara's Posted by Hello

Then we go take a look at the Sedlec Ossuary. Basically, about 600 years ago, a bunch of monks went to build a church. But when they started digging around, they unearthed some bones. The bones of 40,000 humans remains. Geez, what's a guy to do with all these dead people. Well, if you're these guys, you build things out of them. Like giant chalices, and a chandelier, and a huge coat-of-arms wall hanging. It really highlights the futility of everything we waste our sorry existence doing.

After breathing 600 year-old bone dust, we headed off to Vienna. We crossed the border from CR to Austria with no problems, drove into Vienna, and then spent the better part of 2 hours looking for our hotel (this was to become a theme).

Funny, when you spend hundreds of years trying to ward off intruders, you don't build friendly streets and avenues with square blocks and crossroads.

We discovered that great European city phenomenon know as the "Ring Road." It's a fun road that loops the entire city (Munich has one too), with poorly marked exits to let you off in the district you need to be in. In our case, it was the Museum District. Finally, through some ingenuity and a helpful hotelier, we managed to find our hotel.

It was late, so mom and I stayed in and ordered room service, while Michael and Dad went out to an Irish pub for supper. I watched CR get smote by Greece in the EuroCup. Sadness.

Our time in Wien was frustrating. It wasn't nearly as beautiful as Prague. The buildings were more ostentatious than ornate. The river tour of the Danube highlighted the hydro station and the garbage incinerator (which was decorative, as it was designed by some famous Viennese architect).

We went to the Museum of Natural History, which was awesome -- probably the sightseeing highlight of Vienna. I got to gorge myself on real Vienna Sausages!! Trust me, they taste much better than the ones in the can. We took a bus tour into "the mountain" -- which is where the Alps begin in the east -- for a panoramic view of the city.

We ate at an amazing Italian restaurant. The chef was Austrian, but his wife (the owner) was Italian. Awesome food, and they were so excited to get some friendly customers. She even went out of her way to write up the names of some nice places in Northern Italy that are must-see! We had to go back the next day for a drink. They were awesome.

Finally, we ended our tour of Vienna with an evening at a Viennese wine garden. They make some great wines in the eastern foothills of the Alps. Tasty! And the food! Holy crap! There was a buffet, or you could have a wine-maid bring you food. We opted for the latter, assuming it would be less. WRONG. I don't think the average person is supposed to eat a plate of deep fried vegetables and beef tongues and porkchops and schnitzel and sausage, plus condiments and 4 kinds of streudel. One each for everyone.

We went back to the hotel very bloaty.


Next stop, Salzburg!

07 August 2004

Ch. 1: Praha continued

See Chaper One below.

Our first foray into authentic Czech food wasn't too scary. The Bohemians were one of the originating cultures of barbequed skewers of meat! Who knew?! It was a ton of food, but sooooo good!


"Original Presentation" Posted by Hello

On my insistence, we did a boat tour or the River Vltava (or as the English pig-dogs call it, Moltava). It was a beautiful night, and we saw so many sights. Our tour guide that night kicked ass. She was smart (spoke 6 languages!!), and could fill in all the touristy tidbits with details about the Velvet Revolution, the oldest continuous Jewish community in the world, Communism, Nazism, etc. She was fantastic.

On our last night, we ate at a beautiful French restaurant (chandeliers, an army of attentive waiters, and -- for ambiance -- a little boy peeing in the street...). We went to the Municipal house to see a performance of Mozart's Requiem. Pretty awe-inspiring for one with little to no knowledge of classical music.

It's hard to talk about Prague. Much like the entire trip, there was so much to do, and so few words to explain it. We were constantly on the go, constantly in sensory overload. The pictures are amazing, and there are so many stories. But memory isn't linear.

I'm going to work on getting all my pics posted by midweek, either on MSN, or a larger server. The website will be posted here. Eventually.

I hope this tides all three of you over.

Chapter One: Prague

What a beautiful city! I've never seen anything like it! Prague is full of history and architecture. There was nothing about Prague I didn't like -- with perhaps the one exception of the language barrier. As one guidebook put it: Forget everything you know about speaking English if you want to learn to speak Czech.

We were the for 4 nights. Our flights were all late on the way from Halifax, so we missed a grand opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the city before we started out sightseeing.

We started our trip in full force (and barely let up the entire time). First we wandered a main shopping street in the old part of the city and found a tour guide depot.we booked a tour for the afternoon so we could learn more about the city. It wasn't a great tour, though. Our guide was DULL. A 1980s talking computer program has more inflection than this guy had. It was like, he had the tour memorized, and nothing was gonig to distract him from that (a major contrast with some later experiences). We saw Prague Castle and St. Vitus' Cathedral (pictured below), learned a lot about the city's 1000+ years of history, and got oriented a little better.



Beautiful Prague Posted by Hello

03 August 2004

Calm Yourselves

Not that anyone other than Brandon has been complaining....

I'm a terrible blogger. Deal with it. I now work long hours. In fact, I'm working 2 jobs during the same hours. It's great. As a result, I can't be arsed to sit down and regale ye with tales of EuroTrip 2004.

As a solace, I offer up Matthew Good's highly informative and entertaining blog.

I'll get to my own someday....