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Denmark, RS MSV tour and Prague Sept/Oct 2017

Here is my attempt at a trip report....

We finally decided to take the plunge and take that first "European Trip" and this will be our first organized trip. I'm a beer guy, so this RS tour with opportunity to see Oktoberfest worked for me! My wife was kind to go along as she got to choose the next adventure next year. Only fair? I met my Danish hosts playing a iPhone game! Believe it or not!

We arrive in CPH and was faced with the task of buying train tix to Middelfart which will be our base for a few nights. I read the guides and how easy it was to use the automated tix machines....Well not so much for a newbie like me and my wife! You can laugh now. The LONG flight combined with a new language, I was panicking! Luckily, we never had a problem communicating with anyone. Seems the Danish speak better English than me! My friends did give some great advice; write down the Danish destination or word and show it to the person you are talking to, as pronouncing Danish words should be left to someone other that me. Plus, it worked for us, the very nice attendant helped us get the right train tix and showed us the track to go to to wait. I was so impressed with everyone's kindness and hospitality, and I just got there.

The train ride was awesome. Fast, comfortable, smooth and efficient. We had a 2.5 hr train ride to Middelfart so we were able to see some the beautiful countryside. The windmills, beautiful farm land, the countless bridges and islands you cross gives you fantastic vistas of the this beautiful country.

We arrived at our friends house late in evening, bought some wine cheese and a Viking Lottery ticket. Our friends cooked us our first home cooked Danish meal consisting of superb meatballs in the classic Danish style. I apologize for my notes not having the actual name. Can't get anymore local that that! We had a wonderful evening!

The next day, we shrug off the jet lag and get up early. Me and my host Nina walked through the small town to local bakery (think it was the only bakery!). We went to get....wait for it...a Danish for everyone!! Haha, too ironic! I'll tell what though, BEST Danish I ever had!!

Then off to Ribe. This was going to be a Viking centric tour so, you'll understand our activity/place choices. We started at the "Viking Village Experience". It's a recreated Viking village with people in authentic dress, doing authentic Viking chores, using authentic Viking tools and methods. It was fun, we played in the children's Viking playground! we're kind of like that. It was sooo funny while we were there. a couple of guys were working on the framing the roof of a 10th Century Viking Church. I caught them using a cordless drill?!! I had to call them out! They came over to us, we had a great laugh about what they were doing! Turns out they were WAY behind schedule and the roof had to finished before winter! They even gave us a recap of the construction and plan. Totally unexpected, informative and so cool.

We then continued on the town of Ribe. We walked the main pedestrian walkway. As this was my first experience in old European town; it was awe inspiring and to me and truly beautiful. You see pics, watch the TV shows; but, to be standing there, looking around, listening and experiencing the say it was a WOW moment would be an incredible understatement. There are paths off the main pedestrian walkway. They are greenways with gardens. Look inside the church and see the famous stained glass windows.
Go to the Museum there. Very informative and has English verbage for most of the exhibits. Learned a lot there.

We then drive to see the flood control/water works structures nearby. Climbed a dike and saw the massive engineering project. As a Civil Engineer, I was impressed and understood what I was looking at. And, of course, I just had to bore rmy wife and host with several Hydrology lessons! I had to walk a brisk pace to keep up with them to finish!

Copenhagen next!

Posted by
971 posts

The traditional meatballs are called frikadeller :-)

Posted by
2150 posts

Love your report, can’t wait for the rest. I hope you will post again soon.

Posted by
61 posts

Today we go to Copenhagen, but sadly we have to say goodbye to 2 of our hosts as they can't continue with us on our adventure. The plan is to train to Roskilde and Nina will pick us up there after work and drive on to Copenhagen. Since we would be in Germany when the viking lottery is drawn, I put that Viking lotto tix on the fridge door and away we go..

Arrive Roskilde and we buy the Copenhagen Card as we will need it! We walk to the Dome Church to see the tombs of the Danish Royalty. Rut - Roh, Church is closed for a funeral service...denied entry! Bummer.

We have a back up destination. The Viking Ship Museum. We walk down, down, down to the museum. No line! Buy our tix and we were told a free English version tour starts I 15 mins. We're down with that. Great tour and awesome display of Viking ships and history. Largest collection of Viking ships at one place on the planet! Really informative tour about Viking ships and how they were made. SEE this museum, we loved it.

Headed back up, up, up to the Dome Church, hoping to get in. Yea! We get in. OMG, so many incredible tombs, history and a beautiful church.

Lunch on the pedestrian street and some window peeking. We had a few hours to waste b4 pick up. What are we to do? I ask her if she is up for a beer? She points up the pedestrian street we were on to a bar we had passed, I told her no way. We are going off the beaten path! She's up for the adventure.

I have a knack for finding local watering holes, plus I wanted to try some Akvavit! We stumble upon the Klosterkaeldern Pub. Entry is down a flight of old stone steps opening up into a cellar/vault. I'm digging this little Pub already. Found out we were in the cellar of an old Convent. 2 seconds after we sit down at the bar, bartender asks us where we were from and what made us come to his Pub! I guess we bleed American-ism, was it that obvious?

We talked about being from San Diego and our trip plans. Told him we were trying to be adventurous by going off the beaten path and we saw the sign. Plus, I told him I wanted a local beer, ambiance and inquired if he had any Akvavit here. HAH, what a dumb question!! He poured us a Carlsberg Pils and then he proceeded to give us an education and tasting of the myriad of varieties of Akvavit. Well, I just had to oblige his hospitality. Be careful with this stuff! You have been warned!! We had such a great time talking and sampling. Didn't take long before we met everyone at the bar. How fun. We all laughed a lot in that little pub. We had to catch our ride, he insisted on paying our tab to demonstrate Danish hospitality and told us to come again when we were back in Roskilde. I had to force him to take a small tip. Go here if you can, its fun.

We get to Copenhagen and the apt. is downtown. Walk to a Tapas restaurant. DO NOT WALK in the bike lanes!! You'll get hit by a bike! The dinner was great.

Walking back we decided to get a night cap. We walk pass a place named TAP 10. It was open and we walked down to the bar. we get a drink and chat. I talked Nina into trying a shot of Patron as that was something we do a little of back home. I order a few shots, but the bartender was at a loss!? She didn't know what to do. So, I had to train her, told what glass to get, lime wedge, salt, etc. She said most people don't do shots. Others sitting at the bar began engaging us about what we were doing and why. Bartender was from Argentina following her boyfriend as he moves around the world. Nice little place and we had fun there, too.

Tomorrow, it's all about Copenhagen!

Posted by
2150 posts

I'm enjoying your enthusiasm!! Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure. I have read that the Viking Museum is a must and I'm glad you said it was great. One of these years I plan to take the RS Scandinavia tour and I think it is on the itinerary. if not, I will plan to do it on my own.

Posted by
61 posts

Today we immerse ourselves in the wonders of Copenhagen. Our host Nina was informed this morning that she just got a new position at a different hospital! Great for her. We'll be celebrating all day. After a short delay from some phone calls, we were a short bus trip to Amalienborg.

It's the Queen and Prince's residences. Take the short walk and view the waterfront. you won't regret it. And, it's almost noon! Time for Den Kongelige Livgarde. To us commoners, changing of the guard. They walked right in front of us and looked impressive in their Black Russian bear fur skin hats. Too bad the Queen was away or they would have been led by a marching band. Very impressive sight. We then weave our way through beautiful downtown to Rosenborg Castle.

Lucky for us, we approach the Castle walking through the wonderful King's Garden.. It's a big beautiful garden for a relatively small castle! Many pics were taken. Probably could have spent a few more mins there, but we have to see the Castle and Treasury. We get the Castle and Treasury ticket. You have to check your bag. You get your coin back when you put the key back in.

Exploring the Castle was interesting. One of the Kings had a chair made that had surprise clamps trap the person who sits in it. The Throne Room and Coat of Arms on ceiling was spectacular. The Lions guarding the throne were impressive.

Don't be nervous passing the 2 heavily armed soldiers as you enter the Treasury. The incredible wealth, the Sword of State, The Crowns, the Armory, jewels, solid gold toy soldier set for KIng's son to learn military strategy, was a jaw dropping experience. Nina told us the Queen is allowed to wear these jewels as long as the event is in Denmark. And armed soldiers are close! But she can't take them out of the country.

We met Nina's aunt for a mid afternoon snack in a department store. Yep. This store aint no Target! I was impressed. We had a pastry and a iced tea and take the subway to Nyhavn. It was nice to meet Nina's aunt and thank her for letting us stay at her apt. You can't miss the multilevel bike parking garage as you leave the subway. Nina had some emailing to do, so we peeled off down the canal, headed to that yellow building in all the photos. We followed RS advice and bought a couple of Tuborgs at a local nearby market and sat on the canal edge and people watched while listening in on a local musician. We have been so lucky on the weather and today was sunny and 65. It was a relaxing and fun hour, but now we board a canal boat tour near where we were. Great way to see some sites and of course, the Little Mermaid.

Sun is setting, it is getting a little cold and we walk through the area looking at the buildings. By now all the sites have closed. We head to the Round Tower (it's open till later) to catch dusk and see Copenhagen from high above. It was well worth the climb to get those views of the city while watching the the lights of the city come alive! Wow!

Dinner at Bof Ost. If you like beef, and we do, this is your place. We had steaks and beef rib, wonderful wine and creme brûlée. As this is our last night in Denmark, we enjoy the memories of how much fun we had there. We make our promise to return.

Munich and Oktoberfest is next!

Posted by
61 posts

We had to say goodbye to Nina and beautiful Denmark. We have to be driven early to CPH due to Nina's schedule, to catch our flight to Munich. Couple extra hours hanging in CPH. Met some fun people on leg to Berlin. They were continuing on to Hamburg. They hung out in the Canal district of Copenhagen and said they had a great time.

We did carry on for our AirBerlin flight to Munich. AirBerlin was in its final days of operation. We were warned undelivered checked baggage may never find its way to you! Got some euros because the Danish Kroner is no bueno. Easy to get to the train at airport and get to transfer station for subway to get to hotel. Some very nice people on their way to Oktoberfest helped us to get off at the right station to transfer to the subway.

Check in to the Ibis Hotel. All the hotels are booked. Even RS couldn't get downtown! By the time we check in, it is late afternoon and we are hangry! Time for an early dinner.

We skip the hotel restaurant and decide to get a burger. Well, we couldn't find an In N Out, so we went to Hans Im Gluk, a gourmet burger place.

Burgers were great, nice place. Waiter was great. we asked for advice about going to Oktoberfest. He gave us some tips. Whenever we asked someone who lives in Munich about Oktoberfest, they stay away or leave town! We leave and explore the local neighborhood. It's dusk and we decide to sample a nice Bavarian Bier associated with Oktoberfest. I see this door open with a very large "Paulina Bier" Oktoberfest poster. It's a local watering hole! We are assuming it is a going to be a neat hole in the wall local German bar. What's that saying about what happens when you assume something? We walk in, order a liter or mass of Paulina. We just have to practice for the Oktoberfest Bier Tents tomorrow.

We are still bleeding American-ism and I say to hello to the lady sitting next to me at the bar. She nor anyone else in the bar speak German? She nor no one else speaks English. Rut - Roh! I even tried to communicate in Spanish since I know a little! Found out that this was a local Yugoslavian bar. They understood we were from California and they had opinions about our recent elections. We began communicating by charades and that worked well until the lady's friend walks in and she can speak a limited amount of English. Then everyone wants to talk to us. Then I had to borrow a pen and start drawing stick figures and symbols on bar napkins!! What a laugh! It worked! No wifi so Mr. Google is on holiday. We had such a great time at this little bar! My jaw hurt from laughing too much. That lady, sitting next to me; she owned the bar. We are still FB friends! Haha! Now that's off the beaten path!!! It's getting late and we gotta go back to Hotel.

Next is Oktoberfest and the RS Tour begins!

Posted by
1176 posts

Am I to assume you took the 8 day RS Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour? If so, can't wait to read all about it. I am taking that tour later this year.

Enjoyed your trip report and look forward to reading the rest of it.

Posted by
61 posts

It's Saturday, we get up sort of early for breakfast. We are free until 16:00 when the tour orientation meeting starts. We gather our supplies and go off to conquer and slay Oktoberfest. Hop on the U-Bahn and the loudest stop of the system is where we get off! We get a little lost for a while, but soon find our way to the gates of Oktoberfest. Bring it on Bro!!

It is ONE SERIOUS PARTY!! Imagine 2 Mardi Grais with a couple of State Fairs, add St Patrick's Day in Savannah and sprinkle heavily with some Key West Duval Street and you'll be close! Massive 2 story beer halls the size of warehouses. All the Munich breweries are here. Actually they are the only ones allowed there. Rides, carnival games, brats, more rides, sausage , liquor, candy , beer halls...everywhere you look.

We go into a beer hall to get our mass! It's early Sat. afternoon. We see a massive sea of humanity upon entering. We join the conga line as we walk(?) around the beer hall looking for a seat. People are dancing on the benches and tables to the music from the band. Everyone is clapping and yelling out the lyrics of the song. Beer and food is everywhere. Wherever you gaze, everyone is having a friggin' blast and everyone is in costume! Not a seat to be found! Bummer. Same at the next hall! Double bummer. We get our mass at an outdoor stall and people watch for a while. Picked up our official 2017 Oktoberfest Munchen T-shirt and head back to make the orientation meeting. Gross Alert: you see peeps puking and you dodge piles of puke as you leave and make your way back to the U-Bahn.

Meet the tour group and Fabian, our tour guide. We take the U-bahn to old town for the meeting in another hotel. Wonderful people and a diverse group. Aged 25 to 70's. Patrick was the wonderful local guide for the walking tour. Saw all the sites and learned the back history weaving medieval and WWII histories of the sites. Informative and well done. We end our tour at our welcome dinner restaurant.

We walk into the restaurant and Oktoberfest celebrations are in full swing! Band playing Sweet Caroline, everyone is clapping, singing the lyrics and dancing. Caught myself singing the chorus, "Bahm, Bahm, Bahm"! Haha We were seated in the back with a view of the festivities in front of us. Enjoyed talking to the fellow tour members seated at our table. If you are wondering; pork shank, potatoes, kraut and apple strudel.

U-bahn back to hotel, it's still early (like 8-ish). We skip the hotel bar; can't find any takers from tour members to go wonder with us to find a night cap. We head back to the neighborhood where we found that Yugoslavian bar. We walk into the "Red Pepper". It's a restaurant with small bar and they were winding down the dinner service. They were nice to us as we struggle to order a mass and talk. A guy walks in after he got off working his shift nearby and he spoke some English. We lingered and talked about each other's culture and experiences. Manager let everyone go and we somehow started to sample some German style akvavit! I WAS NOT responsible for this, really...OK, so maybe I had a small part in these shenanigans! Just the manager, our new friend, the nice bartender, and us with the door locked. They very kindly kicked us out after we had too much fun, because they were not on vacation! We walk back to the hotel.

Our Munich adventures continue and a trip to Mad King's castle tomorrow!

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61 posts

We have our morning free, then have to catch the 13:00 coach to the Castle. We head to the Residenz Treasury. I will be honest, the Danes were richer! No offense. Very nice collection of wealth. The statue of the knight riding the horse white with red crosses is much more impressive in person.

We are on a tight schedule as we lingered too long in the Treasury and now we are running late. Absolutely no time for the Residenz Museum. Fabian suggested we grab a bag lunch as time may be too tight to eat at the castle but we have time to eat on the bus. We grab some sammies at a very nice deli and we walk a brisk pace to get to the Glockenspiel. It's about 11:50 and we are a few blocks from the Glockenspiel to see the show at noon! We only have one shot at this. If we stay until 13:00, we don't make the trip to the castle! Oh no!! It's too crowded as we get within a block! ARGH!!! NO!! We hear the bells ringing and it's over by the time we push our way through the crowd and turn the corner. BUMMER! We are seconds late! Our first reason to return!

U-bahn back to hotel to catch the coach to Neuschwanstein Castle. 24 people on a 55 seat luxury motor coach! I got long legs and wide shoulders. I love my wife but I sit opposite the aisle so I can stretch out. Starts to rain a little on the drive, and thats when I realize my rain coat is in the hotel room! Forgot to leave it in the day pack. Fleece would have to.

We thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the Bavarian country side. You will to. Vistas of the Alps in the distance. Don't nap through this! Fabian gave us a wonderful history lesson on the way to help us enjoy our experience. As you get closer, the castle gleams on the hill in front of you.

We get the tram ride up the hill. Walked to the overlook bridge and tried to get some awesome pics of the castle and its setting. It's a selfie stick hell !! Take lots of pics. Maybe a few will not have an annoying selfie stick in it!! Being mid to late September, the leaves were changing. We loved the fall colors as we don't see a lot of that. I won't spoil details of the tour, no pics allowed. You can take a horse drawn wagon down if you want. We walked.

On the way back my friend in Denmark txts me and tells me we won the equivalent of $110 in the Viking Lottery!! Tell him not to spend it all in one place! Enjoy.

We struck up a fun conversation with the couple seated next to us. Fabian suggested we head into old town and find some Augustiner beer while we are here. Augustiner Kolstrgarden is the place. The Augustinian Monks brew it in small batches and it is heavenly! We both looked at each other and we just had to go! His wife google maps its location and we meet a few mins after we get back in hotel lobby. U-bahn to old town. it is now pouring rain out! But we got our rain coats.

We ask a local when we arrive and he points toward the old church (with the onion domes). We decide to trust the google maps and walk away from the church. Yep. We walk for about 20 mins in the rain and get lost. Away from old town!

I turn on roaming and find out we are 20 mins away. We head back. We are determined now! We had a nice walk back through the Red Light District. It was interesting and I never felt unsafe. Would not hang out there but we walked quickly through it! OMG, "you have arrived at your destination" was heard! Awesome. And then my iPhone shuts down from the moisture, bummer. We walk in.

BEST beer, sausages (I had the sampler plate), kraut we had so far. And hindsight tells me ever will. Gotta go back. She felt really bad about getting us lost, no worries. It was a great laugh once we were eating those sausages and toasting our team work with those beers! Plus, my iPhone dried out and powered up again! It's all good. Now we get to savior such a great memory. it's getting late, U-bahn back.

Morning departure to Salzburg!

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61 posts

Sorry for the delay, I was enjoying North Lake Tahoe....

Today we travel to Salzburg. Early to rise, eat and board the coach to begin our journey.

We travel to the Silent Night Museum. We enjoyed the tour and learned about the history of the song. You can record yourself singing the song and the send it to all your friends if you wish. We picked up a Christmas tree ornament.

We travel to the Trumer Brewery. We had the classic Vienna white sausage with that awesome sweet mustard. Our brewery tour guide, Johanna, was so passionate about her craft. A really great tour. The tasting room with the great tasting Pilsner was to die for! We loved this stop.

Try not to sleep on the ride. Enjoy the scenery. Fabian gave us lessons from the Sound of Music during the drive. I was just a little kid when the movie came out. Don't remember much if anything from the movie, so I couldn't identify with it. Others enjoyed seeing the scenery that was in the movie very much. We stopped at the Archbishop's of Salzburg home to see the gazebo from the movie. We enjoyed walking around the beautiful flower gardens.

We arrived in Salzburg in the early evening and have to walk a few blocks to check into the hotel. The skeleton type old fashioned key to the room was a cool throwback! We take our orientation walk to the old town. I am looking around and up at all the wrought iron sign posts hanging over the pedestrian streets, listening to Fabian's talk. He ends the talk and we are free for dinner. I linger at something I was looking at and turn around and my wife asks what do we want to do? I ask her what the others are doing to see if anyone wants to share the local flavor. She says they all left, as I no longer saw any of the other tour members.

We stroll the many pedestrian streets through the drizzle and light rain. Salzburg is such a picturesque old European town. Took too many street view pictures! The rain starts to pick up so we duck into a pub/restaurant looking place. We grab a table with a view of the street. They have Augustiner Beer! We have some, of course. We are happy and drying out! It's getting dark, and the rain stops, so we decide to go somewhere else to eat.

We wander around and we eat at a place named "Saran". Schnitzel, of course, is what we ordered. I go to the WC and notice pictures of the owner with RS on a bulletin board nearby. I just had to talk to him. He comes over to our table and we talk about the tour we are taking and his experience hanging out with Rick. We talked a little too long as we were the last ones out! Even the employees had left. Great time and conversation. The wine was great, too.

It's all about Salzburg the next day!

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61 posts

It's all about Salzburg! Early breakfast in the typical European style. Wonderful staff at hotel. We gather for our tour of Salzburg.

The tour was informative and beautiful. The guide was great. She guided us through the gardens, the town, the church, the history, Mozart stories, and the chocolate treat! Get the Furst version. It's handmade. TIP: Get it here as I didn't see it in Vienna. Fabian treated us to a sample. We ended up getting some gift boxes for friends. Hope they get it! Great tour. Buy a lock and lock it on the bridge with your sig other and throw the key over for eternal love. Or get a combination lock!!

Unfortunately, I hit the wall. I am sore and stiff and need to go lie down. Wore myself out! Oh no. The strudel making class with a chef is next and I knew I couldn't continue. Back to room to hydrate and lie down. Heard the strudel class was the highlight of the trip for most. My wife enjoyed it. They had goulash and ate the strudel they made. Regretted not taking better care of myself.

Rested up and met up with my wife in a couple of hours and we head to the Fortress. Took the incline up and got the basic tour tix. Met up with fellow tour members at the incline and we joined forces and toured the Fortress. Awesome views, and we got lots of pics on a beautiful sunny day.

We head back down to town, our friends peeled off to do something else. We went to experience our first cafe. Yep. all this time in Europe and now we have our cafe experience! We grab a table and order a cappuccino a tea and pumpkin cream soup. It was awesome soup! Very relaxing and great experience of ambiance and people watching.

Oops, lingered too long! We got a Mozart dinner concert to attend. I stop to order a pretzel with mustard as a snack before dinner at a stand in the market. She asked me if I want mustard. I tell her I want it to go; thinking it will be ballpark style with the mustard on top. I ask for some mustard packets. OMG! DO NOT ASK FOR THAT! I think I got yelled at in German! Lucky for me, her sister was standing next to me and explained that the pretzel will be sliced like a sandwich with the mustard inside! Too funny! International crisis avoided and we had a great laugh and moment!

The Mozart concert was awe inspiring. We were seated in this elegant ballroom of some old palace. The room is impressive. We got a highlight medley of Mozart classics. Don Giovani, Marriage of Figero, Magic Flute and another; darn notes! Wow moment! The singers walk around the audience and if you're lucky and the song is appropriate; you'll get sung to! We really enjoyed this moment.

Head back to hotel, a few of us stop for a nightcap at "Darwin's Bar" for one last Salzburg experience. We had some of their interesting cocktails and lovely wine. They were very tasty. Nice ambiance and conservation. Definitely a local hang out.

Hallstatt is up next! Can't wait!

Posted by
61 posts

We say goodbye to wonderful Salzburg early and head off to the Lake District. Enjoy the beautiful country side. One beautiful lake after another.

We make a stop at Lake Mondsee. The wedding chapel from the Sound of Music is there. we tour the church and have some free time to wander. I see a Lotto sign and go in get about 15 euro worth of tix to test my dumb luck. The jackpot is 190 million euro. We walk down to the lake front and enjoy the sights. It's so beautiful. Fabian joined us and he told us that the Haspbergs still have title to the water, but the Austrian govt stripped them of their land some time ago! We rally up at the coach, and I told all that I bought a lotto tix and if I win, we get an extended vacation!!

We ramble on to Lake Hallstatt. More incredible scenery. Don't nap! We arrive in Hallstatt and a boat is waiting for us to tour the lake and take us to our hotel. It's sunny and 67! Perfect day! We have the boat to ourselves. Get yourself a refreshing beverage and enjoy the ride around the lake. The fall colors are a perfect background to the gorgeous views! The approach to the hotel is amazing!

We check into the hotel and score with a big room with a balcony overlooking the town square! It's early, like before lunch. Today is our vacation from a vacation! Just the Fish dinner in the evening is our only activity. We head out to find some lunch. It's crowded. Lines to rent boats, restaurants full, and I see 2 fellow tour members seated at a table for 4 and it's a gorgeous lake view table! We ask if they would like company and we joined them. So nice to talk to them and enjoy lunch and views. Seems like everyone we talk to on the tour is so nice and engaging.

We part ways after lunch, they didn't let me buy lunch for saving us a seat! We want to see the Church. So, we walk up. And up. And up some more! Just find the next stairs and you'll get to the church!! Beautiful well kept cemetery and wonderful little church. Had to pet the church kitty on the way out to the Bone Crypt. Unbelievable sight! Such care and love went into the decoration of the skulls of loved ones.

We head back down and buy some Hallstatt salt (of course), and stop for a beer at a bar with a patio with a wonderful lake view. Had to rest the legs!! It's early afternoon and my wife wants to head back to hotel. Oh no! It's her turn to hit the wall! She takes a nap and I leave her alone and head down to the lake view terrace cafe to have a beer. Such a relaxing afternoon watching dusk descend upon the wonderful lake view. Gotta get ready for the fish dinner.

We gather for our fish dinner. Just want to say that at every group meal, everyone sat with different people. Didn't notice any "cliques". We had no problem enjoying each other's conversation and company. Actually, I started to seek out and talk to people that I have not interacted with. The fish was awesome. We waited for Fabian to show us how to slice it and eat it without getting a mouthful of bones. We enjoyed the dinner and the company.

We retired to our room to hang out on that balcony. We had some wine and listened to music as it got late. We really loved our time in Lake Hallstatt. The salt mines were closed we heard, so no one got to luge down the ramps. A few members hiked up and raved about the views!

We will always miss Lake Hallstatt, but onward to Vienna!

Posted by
49 posts

Really enjoying your trip report - this tour just moved up higher on my list! Looking forward to the next stop.

Posted by
2216 posts

You guys sound like too much fun! If you ever sign up for another RS tour, please announce it on this forum because I would sign up to be on your tour!

Posted by
2051 posts

My goodness-I was having the exact same thoughts as diveloonie! You and your wife sound like two travelers who truly enjoy life and all the living traveling can provide! I was grinning just reading your wonderful trip report and will be watching for the next installment. You write with such contagious enthusiasm; thank you for taking the time to do this.

Posted by
61 posts

Our next RS tour starts 9/9/18 in Rome. Heart of Italy. Join the waitlist or meet us in Amsterdam 9/3 -9/7 or Lake Como 9/18 - 9/21!
We'll wear each other out with all the activities scheduled and stuff I found I want to do!!

Posted by
61 posts

Let's go to Vienna! We walk a little sad to be leaving Lake Hallstatt in the grey skies and light rain falling. We board the coach and enjoy the country side. We make a quick stop at an Abbey on Traunkirchen Lake. There is an incredible wood carving from 1753 showing Joeseph as a Fisher of Men. It's beautiful and in perfect condition.

I had a chance to mail some postcards I had collected and wrote but never seemed to pass a post office. There is one across the street from the Abbey. We move along to Vienna and Fabian tells us some history of daring allied pilots flying low through the Lake District trying to find an air raid route to Hitlers Wolf Den. They were not successful.

As we drive to Vienna, Fabian tells us about the rise of Hitler. I didn't learn the right history being an engineering guy. Fabian tells a great story. He does have a PhD in European History. His dissertation was on JFK's visit to Berlin. Just in case you were curious! I was totally engrossed in his story and learned a lot. Bus driver needs a break. It's the law.

We stop at a roadside "truck stop" on the main highway. This is NOT the same truck stop you see on our interstates. It has a nice restaurant and buffet. Chicken paprika, beef, roasted turkey, fresh made sides and the dessert!! You can even get a mass of beer or a glass of wine. It was a great lunch.

We move along to Vienna. Fabian gives us the history of the Haspbergs! Schobrun Palace tour is next. We only have a few hours at the palace. The tour is interesting. There is even some Louis XIV furniture and tapestries there. Only 1 tapestry is real, the others are safely stored away. I guess the French are nervous about these artifacts and want them to be safe from any crazy people. We head out to the magnificent gardens. Wanted to stroll down to the monument at back but our time is too short! Huge expanse of property. The gardens are free to explore. We just have to get back there to explore them more.

We catch the coach, barely. We weren't late and saw Fabian standing by the bus, we started running. He motions to us we don't have to run, but we were the last ones to board. On to the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel AM Stephanplatz. We scored again with a large room, beverage fridge, and a balcony with table and chairs! Oh, and our balcony faces St. Stephans Square and the Cathedral. The clouds have disappeared and the evening sun is shining. Our luck is amazing. Until I found out I won NOTHING in the Lotto! Haha, looks like no extended vacation for any of us!

We rally up and meet Gherrard (sp). What a great guide. It was obvious that he and Fabian were friends. Their interaction greatly enhanced the the experience. So now we know how to navigate around St. Stephan's Square and ring road. We are now free for dinner on our own.

We all split up end we find a nice Italian restaurant. Believe it or not, didn't want schnitzel or sausage! The waiter caught me googling the German names of pizza toppings and gave us an English version menu. She got the chicken marsala, I got a pizza. Great food. Nice family place. Seemed like many locals were hanging in there. We lingered a while too! Relaxing dinner.

We head back to the hotel. We stop a local shop, it's impressive. Grab a few snacks and I wanted to sample some of the dry white Austrian wine produced locally. I ask the gentleman in the wine department and he hands me a bottle. I thank him and away we go. It was a wonderful glass of wine we had on the balcony. Looks like the planets have literally aligned as we have a view of the Supermoon shining between the spires of St. Stephan's Cathedral. One in a million!! I'm loving this city!

The only question is; how much Vienna we can absorb the next day?! It's also the last action packed full day of the tour.

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Vienna Part 1

Today we make the most of Vienna as it's our only full day there. We start early, our guide Gherrard (sp) met us at the hotel lobby. Fabian and Gherrard talk for a few mins and they call an audible change of plans! They want to add another stop! We are all in!

We subway to the Saturday Market. All kinds of stuff to buy or eat, as we stroll through the crowd. It's a little cool but we have a blue sky sunny day! We walk a few blocks to the Third Man Museum. You might have seen the movie of Orson Wells fame. It's about Vienna if you didn't know. Aww . . . But this is not a building filled with movie posters. Gherrard and his wife have collected and amassed an amazing collection of items from Vienna during WWII. Authentic uniforms, photos of the bombing damage, the clean up, the rebuilding, allied bombing maps with marked targets, many stories on print and on tape. It is a treasure trove of 1st person/original doc account of the effects of WWII on Vienna. He has been guiding a long time and he has met veterans who were stationed in Vienna during the war; both Allied and German. He talked them into giving taped interviews of their experiences, both honorable and not so. The story of the little girl separated from her parents who were then sent to concentration camps and then the story of the reunion, brought a tear streaming down my cheek. I got a real sense of the despair, the devastation, the hope, the rebirth, the resolve of the USA to save the Vienna culture! Like I said, it is not about a movie. I could have explored that place all day! I dry my tear and we go back downtown. We board the bus to the ring road. We must have un-nerved the 10 or so passengers when 25 people start boarding and cram the bus!

We tour Sisi's Apts. You learn about how she hated being the queen. She had like 16 or so children that ended up populating the rest of the European monarchies. Her genes stopped the Hapsberg overbite! We walked around the summer palace which is now the temporary parliament. The gardens are so beautiful. Wanted to get a few more pics there but we are running late with the extra stop!

Gherrard is so Vienna, and we are luvin' it! He and Fabian agree for a 30 min Cafe break. We were warned to get your check when you order or you will be stuck. We go to "Reen" across the street. We are joined by a couple of tour members. I get the hot chocolate, wife gets the cappuccino and a blueberry and cream pastry thing. Loved that hot chocolate and that blueberry and cream pastry thing! Break is over, we all head to the Treasury.

Gherrard gave us a tour of the Treasury. Again, he surpassed our expectations. You can take pics with no flash. They have some beautiful gowns, jewels and they have Charlemagne's Crown! The 1st King! So, I try to take a pic, already taken like 20. Well, it was all fun and games until . . . the flash went off!! OMG!! Warning siren, lights flashing, very loud announcement about no flash photography! I am now; The Ugly American! Bummer! Visions of "Locked Up Abroad" filled my mind! That was pretty close to being the last room on the tour anyway, so we kind of slinked out and met Fabian outside. as we were walking around we saw the Albertina Museum. They were showing Raphael's World Tour Exhibit as an extra. I asked Fabian about the museum and said it was great; buts its not the old stuff. The museum starts with the impressionists and you end up at modern art. And it's 1.5 blocks away. it's only like 13:30. We decide to tour the Albertina as the Old stuff is on other side of ring road.

I am out of character count space!

Part 2 to follow!

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Vienna Part 2

We buy our tix to the Albertina. Short line, we get the audioguide and head up to see the Raphael exhibit first. Found out he died at 34. Also discovered I need to go to the Vatican to see his real work at the Raphael Rooms! We head down to the first of many rooms showing us the visual journey of the changing artistic styles from the impressionists to modern art. Such a wonderful museum. The Monet's, Manet's, Chagall's, Van Gogh's, Renior's, Picasso's, others I haven't heard of, and it keeps coming at you, room after room. After like 2.5 hours and cauliflower ear from the audioguide, we are "museumed" out! We briskly walk through the modern art exhibit so we can say we were there!

We stroll St. Stephan's square and stop at "Demel" to get some chocolate to take home. We have some time to kill before we go to the farewell dinner. We continue to stroll and gawk and stare at the wondrous street views. Enjoying the ambiance on another sunny day.

We meet up for the journey to the farewell dinner at a Heuriger. It's a winery on the edge of town. we take the subway to a tram and ride the tram to it's end point. Walk about a block and enter through a garden to the room where dinner will be served. It's buffet style. they carve your choice of meat to order, sides galore, some wine is provided by the winery. Again, everyone mixed it up and sat with other people. The dinner was awesome. we started reflecting on the good times, wow moments and the silliness of our travel errors (like lost in the rain!). The top contenders for wow moments were Lake Hallstatt, strudel making and Ludwig's Castle in no particular order. Such a great time. I think we had such a great time that we closed the Heuriger down. Fabian commented that we were a fun group to lead, no grumps appeared!. As we were leaving and heading back, I realized that we did become friends as best we could have in those 8 short days. And they were 8 SHORT days. Time flew by.

We tram back to subway and back to hotel. We meet up in lobby and sadly turn in our listening devices. A lot of hugs and more laughter. We went back to the room to pack and finish that lovely wine. A couple of tour members joined us in our room to help us finish our wine and most of the beverage fridge! Had a great time talking and listening to music. Never got charged for the fridge! Thanks RS!

Some are heading home, some are lingering for an extra day, some are heading to another destination. We didn't come all this way to stop now! We are going to Prague!! Bring it Prague. Let's end this adventure with a bang!!

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2051 posts

Again, so enjoying your trip right along with you! What positive energy you bring your lucky guides and fellow travelers! I appreciate knowing where you'll be in September and look forward to those reports, as well. I will be in London and Scotland then, having my own adventures. I'm hoping you haven't finished your trip reports as I'm waiting to hear all about Prague next. Just there last summer-it's a great city! Andi

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Your trip reports are really fun to read! Are you really a geek? Sure don't sound like one! Looking forward to Prague!

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Although we are sad to leave the tour behind and even sadder to leave Vienna, we cheer up because we got a Railjet to Prague. We got 1st class as it was a 4 hr ride and you get power outlets and wifi in 1st! Had a nice breakfast along the way.

Arrive at the train station and get the subway tix and find the right track. Our hotel is located near the base of the castle complex. Looks like we were walking through a residential neighborhood, but we see the hotel's front door at the end of the street, so we didn't get lost!! Our hotel is "The Golden Well Hotel". I think we spent like $220 night but the service was typical of twice the price. This is one nice hotel. We were warmly greeted and we given a cool towel to wipe our sweaty necks from walking up that hill with our bags. They wisk our bags to to our room while we were given a quick overview of the hotel amenities. They offered us a welcome drink and orientation in the Terrace Restaurant. We head up to the room and resupply to and call the desk and tell them we are ready for the orientation.

We have a glass of champagne and a little taste of some wonderful finger snacks during the orientation. We were shown where things are and best way to get to them. The views over looking Prague from the restaurant were stunning. Clouds and light rain move in as the orientation ends. We were given complimentary umbrellas to stay dry. They also gave us a fully loaded smartphone to use so we did not have to roam!

We find the steps leading to the castle. Wait, I mean, we found the 70 million steps up to the castle! OK, so I am embellishing a little. But, as you continue to step up, and step up, and step up and step up a ton'll think there are 70 million steps!! We get to the top, and I can still walk! Finish theses steps and you will enter "The Order of Iron Legs"! Uh, we found out later you can take a tram to get up there!! Haha.

We pass through security and find the tix office. It's 16:40 and find out all sites close at 17:00. The tix agent tells us we would be wasting our Kroners so, we run over to see St. Vitras Cathedral. You can peak inside the entrance and snap a pic. Its beautiful inside and from the outside as you walk around. Still drizzling and we take pics, walk down Golden Lane after it closed and ended up at the wall of the Castle where we got great pics of the city.

We wanted to experience a Czech Pub like RS did in his Prague episode. we thought we saw one near our hotel so we head down that hill. Google map a Czech Pub and maps tells us to go back up the hill! NOO! I am so done with those steps so we walk up hilly street. That Pub is located in the same square as the Castle entrance! We walk in.

It was worth climbing the hill twice for this place. We were in "U Cerneho Vola". Great Pilsner! Sorry Bavaria, but the Czech may have better beer!! Wonderful atmosphere, it isn't a quiet bar for a first date! You share picnic style tables as you drink your Pils with strangers. OK, so, I talk to them! Nice couple from Munich on a short Holiday. We shared our stories from Munich and they were kind enough to give us some tips for places to eat while we were there. We had fun there! Yes, it looks just like in the episode!

We stop at a restaurant on the way down to eat. That sat us in a room by ourselves with no reservation. Nice place, good food, and we got the Czech version of akvavit!! Yep. Wonderful ambiance in that place.

We head back to the hotel and head up to the bar which has a terrace view of the city. Yea, there are like 4 levels of views here! We have some wine under the heaters and we received complimentary bar snacks for being guests. As we gazed at the wonderful light filled cityscape, it was a perfect rest for the Iron Legs! We go back to the room and have a dessert waiting for us under a cloche!!

It's all old town Prague for our final full day of our vacation. I have a list no one can finish! Wish us luck!!

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Yep Ruth, I have to be geek to finish engineering school!

Actually I am a huge University of Maryland fan as both me and my dad graduated from there. Terp Geek!!

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We get up early and have breakfast on another terrace as we watch the sun rise above the horizon with the city in the foreground. I had the best eggs Benedict! Time for old town.

We head straight to the Jewish ghetto as it's closest. We struggle a while trying to find the ticket office but soon we are headed to Pinkas Synagogue. We don our courtesy yarmulke and begin strolling through. You see names written on the wall. Every wall filled from top to bottom. These are the names of people murdered by the Nazi's in Czech!! Madeleine Allbright had family killed there. Look for the family name "Korbel A" You also see children drawings from their time in concentration camps. So sad and moving. You walk out to the cementary. All the headstones are tilted from settlement. 85,000 buried on top of each other. TIP: gather a few small pebbles before you go in, and place them on the top of gravestones as a sign of respect.

We head to the Synagogue that is a museum. It's nice but we don't linger there for long. Old town is waiting and time is ticking. We try to do the walking tour described in the guide, not the audio tour. We quickly discover that both tours are not synched. One starts in another place than the other and we discover we are spending way to much time reading the book and then looking at something. We bail on the book and do the audio tour.

Great tour. Great stories. We stopped to linger when RS suggested we enjoy the scenery! You see a lot of old town and some of the newer portions. Beautiful city, but crowded like nothing we experienced yet! Wonderful old European street views along the way. Enjoy the Art Deco style of some of the buildings as you tour. Grab a seat "under the tail" and people watch. Grab a tredelik. Fill it whipped cream, or strawberries, or chocolate. Be bold. . . get all 3! Yummy. Catch the show at the astronomical clock.

We are crossing the Charles street bridge and the sun is setting in a couple hrs. We have to decide between another attempt at the castle or hotel for complimentary social period with wine and snacks. We opt for the free wine and snacks! That hotel just continues to impress. For like 2 hours, we had complimentary wine, awesome apps and some finger food. We had fun talking to the other guests. They were headed to Vienna next, we talked about our experience and how we loved it there. He heard about the third man museum and it was on his list.

They took the food and wine away and we head out! We found that Pub near the hotel a couple of blocks away. No google maps this time! Place was packed. A very nice couple made room for us at pretty full table; be sure to ask before you just sit down! He spoke perfect English. He works in Bahrain, has kids living in Italy. I can tell you more! OK, can you tell we talked for quite some time? He was in Prague to see his girlfriend. We had so much fun talking and laughing. Seems like we ended up talking to everyone at the table!

I noticed he kept walking outside every once in a while and he had no cigs! I'm a Cali guy; so, I ask him what he is up to? He takes me outside and shows me what he is smoking. We smoke some "Cali smokes" or stuff you would find at a coffeeshop in Amsterdam! That was cool. We spent way to much time there having such a great time. A memory to cherish. Was that the bang?!

As it was getting very late, we are forced to part ways with our new friends. Thank you for your wonderful hospitality! Restaurants were closing or are closed by now. We head back to hotel hoping to eat there. They have a 5 star restaurant. It's so late, restaurant won't seat us. Bummer. But room service is open late! We order a wonderful meal in our wonderful room. We are forced to pack as we head home the next day. Early cab ride means no eggs Benedict!

Wow! Our adventure ends. We had a super duper, awesome, great time as one word won't do our experience justice. If you learned something, great! Until next trip.

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Lessons Learned:

Take your time when planning. I was so excited to go I did everything from deciding to go, where to go and for how long on the start and end, buying tour, airfare took less than 2 weeks! And then I started planning in depth.

Spend more time in fewer places! You see it written on this forum a lot. There is a reason for it! Wished we had extra days in Vienna and Prague. Now we gotta go back!

We went in and out of the Euro zone. Plan your cash out, and don't use the change places. It's like 30-40% commission. From Danish Kroner to Euro to Czech Kroner, got to be an issue.

Stay hydrated! Don't worry about something if it doesn't work out or it's not what you expect. There is always something else to do.

Engage the people around you when appropriate. If they talked to me, they'll most definitely talk to you! It opens up the local flavor to you.

It's a journey, enjoy the heck out it!

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2051 posts

This has been a most wonderful read, geek or not (and now I understand the terrapin reference). I've smiled, laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of your travels. I particularly agree with all your points in your final paragraph and although not original with me, I would add my own personal mantra-"always leave something to come back for.....". It is my excuse to always do as you so wisely have advised: "Spend more time in fewer places!" (.......and leave something to come back for.). Thank you for making the time and the effort for writing and posting this delightful and well written trip report.

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61 posts

Thanks andi

Reawakened all the wonderful memories writing this! Trying to get my wife to comment! She's thinking about it!

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Thank you so much for your endlessly entertaining and informative trip report for the Munich, Salzburg and Vienna tour! I’ll be taking the same tour starting 11/25 and yours is the first comprehensive trip report I’ve been able to find for it. Here’s wishing you continued happy travels! :-D