Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Full day in Vienna.

Where on the train to Munich now and they have free WiFi (pronounced WeFee over here for some reason) - pretty sweet.  After my frustration with the lost post last night, I figured I'd take a stab at this again today.  It was my fault for not saving, so I was only bummed out with myself.  

I'm not sure how much this is making the news over in the states, but we are being chased by a large storm system, which has been producing tons of rain and flooding.  Prague got hit really hard when we got out and apparently flooding has crippled different parts of the city that we were walking through just last week.  I also got a message from Sarah saying they were experiencing some flooding in Ansbach as well.  You quickly gain love for these cities when you visit them and we hope that the impact of this weather is only a small amount.  We also hope with the move to Munich, we might be done with the rain and weather.  Vienna was cold and wet from beginning to end.  Yes, we brought appropriate gear, but you loose so much when your in a walking city head down because the wind and rain are hitting your face.  We still were able to do quite a bit, but we definitely longed for a day without a coat or the thought of time spent just hanging out in one of the many amazing parks we passed in the way to indoor activities.  I hope this isn't confused with ignorance, because I'm aware of the displacement and disasters that have put others in way worse predicaments here in Europe and back home in the States (w/ the tornadoes in Oaklahoma).

Here's a shot I took on the train ride to Munich this morning.  That is not a river.: 

Our first stop on Monday was the Hofburg Palace.  Now there are about a billion places to visit on the entire grounds of the Palace, but we specifically had narrowed it down to the royal apartments and the treasury.  The latter proved difficult to find and we packed the day with activities, so the Apartments were bunched with a tour of the royal silverwhare and a special Sisi exhibit.  Honesty, you could walk around the palace and never enter its walls and be filled with plenty of amazement.  The grounds are enormous, the buildings are massive, scultptures endless, and the gardens are pretty boss too.  

The silverware was a little strange of an exhibit and grew slightly boring after a while.  I appreciate collections, but after a while your kind of like: damn, this is an insane amount of dishes.  After the dishware, we moved through an exhibit on Empress Elizabeth, aka Sisi.  The exhibit was strange.  Apparently Sisi was a little emo and so they expressed that by creating a darker atmosphere as you moved through it.  It was highly informational and helped you understand the fascination with her and her role in the Franz Joseph empire (the longest ruling Haptsburg).  The apartments added equal amounts of insight of the living quarters of the family while in Vienna.  Again, there is lots to see outside, but for the 20 some euros, we got a massive history lesson from the tour - totally worth it.

Oops, I totally wanted to mention this place because we agreed we would recommend it to anyone.  For lunch we stopped at place called Palmshuas.  It is located in a massive green house in the Burggarten and the food was amazing.  It was French quinine, which was a nice break from pork and boiled meats.  The inside was pretty fly.

Our next stop was the Albertina museum.  To my suprize, there was a retrospective exhibit for Gottfried Helnwein on display.  I've been an admirer of Helnwien for sometime, but being my unprepared self on this trip, I didn't even think to seek out any of his work while in his country.  As luck would have it, they just happen to have a high concentration of his works in the Albertina.  

Helnwein does hyper realistic paintings that appear to be photographs they are so detailed.  He generally uses children and cartoon characters as subject matters to provoke thoughts on how we view violence in society today.  For those reasons, his art work tends to be surrounded by controversy. You couldn't take pictures inside of the exhibit, which is really nice, so I just snapped one outside the exhibit doorway.  

The exhibit did not disappoint and to be honest, I'm not sure what else we saw in the Ablbertina, because I was floored by his paintings.  There were numerous works that had to be 15 feet squared and the detail and brush stokes were just nutts.  Until you got 2-3 feet from them and stood to the side, could you even begin to understand it was a painting.  It was very inspiring and I'm feeling pretty spoiled between that and Muchi's Slav Epic installation.  Aside from the Helnwein exhibit, the Albertina museum is not knotch.  

After the Albertina, we stopped out in front of the Opera.  During the summer (something you wouldn't be able to tell it is from the weather) the Opera house has a massive screen that is projecting live operas outdoors for anyone to enjoy.  We made it through a single song of Carmen and then went on our way.  It fulfilled my wife's request and it would have been really cool if the weather was nice.  It is a very cool idea that the Opera, although a very fancy gathering, is for all the people.  Something that we learned more about when we toured it the next day.  

This is the point in the day that you realize you need a few things - food, drink, and a place to get off your feet.  We averaged just around 6 miles a day walking in Vienna, which was around 4 less a day in Prague, but after a while those stone surfaces just start to break through any amount of comfort.  We sought out Cafe Einstien from a travel book and the place was nice and relaxing. 

I forgot we dropped by a couple other places on the way home - here's a few pics of them as well.

Monday, June 3, 2013

No way!

It's late here...I'm an idiot, because I just got done typing for an hour and stopped to look something up on the net to confirm my travel notes - like a dumbass, I didn't save my post and instead launched another app to fact check.  Now here I am, back in the blogger app, with all of my previous rumblings gone.  O well, I'll try to replace them tomorrow on the train ride to Munich and hopefully remember to be mindful of saving my work in the future.  

The skinny - Vienna is absolutely beautiful.  We have walked everywhere we have needed to go and have seen a tons!  Unfortunately, our lists are still full and we leave for Munich in the morning.  We could have definitely used more time in this great city and honestly we both agreed, given the chance we could easily live in this city.  Here are some pictures of our first day in Wien.  

Karntner Strasse - our hotel is located in this picture just behind the Starbucks there in the foreground.  Killer location.  


Hofburg Palace 

Famine Sculptue (?)

We got oriented with the city fairly and had one of my favorite moments in the city on our first night.  Feeling slightly out of place and fairly foreign, we ended up at dinner in a pact place and shared a table with another couple.  Seemingly German, we only shared a few glances with our table mates and a sort exchange throughout the duration of being served our dinner.  After eating, Jessica and I were discussing a possible apertif of Underburg (that's right) when, our table companion just decided to engage and recommended we try a true digestif.  This began a full blow 2 1/2 hour conversation with Heidi and Clause who are from Hamburg area and were in Wien for work - Clause is a gastrial surgeon.  It was so awesome on the first night to have someone just open up and teach us so much about the culture and share converaation, it definitely made is feel welcome.  

Alright I really need to get some sleep, but I've got some really cool stuff to share about Vienna when I get some time.  We leave for Munchin tomorrow, so maybe I can get some more done on the train.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Prague is a fantastic city.  As we prepared for leaving last night, we all felt like we could have stayed for days on end and found plenty more to do.  That being a fact, we covered a ton of ground.  From the minute we got into Prague, we hit the streets and started exploring.  Since we covered so much, I'm going to just throw some highlights out there and in no particular order...but, since I must be missing my daily duties at work(?), here is something I've become accustomed to doing on a daily basis: 

-The people of Prague speak excellent English - to the point that I would highly recommend it as a starting point for people concerned about the language barrier.  
-Like most major European cities, public transportation is great.  Not completely without some hassles, but easy enough.  
-Navigating the streets can get difficult at times.  Get or bring a street map...and in some cases when that can get old, it's helpful to have some internets.  I bought a small data plan for my iPhone and Google maps never steered us wrong...and it uses a very small amount of data.  
-Prague is part of the EU, but is not on the Euro.  Their currency (Crowns) conversation is about 20:1.  For every 1 USD, you get 20 Crowns.  
-The city is relatively cheap - we stayed in a great apartment for around $100 USD a night.  
-Beer is insanely cheap and delicious! On average you pay 35 crowns for .5l of beer. That's under two bucks folks! 
-These people take their beer seriously - I was standing next to a dude around 8 this morning who had his tall boy at the train station having a tall boy with his breakfast.  This was a daily occurrence.  People drink beer like water, so "when in Rome.". 
-The food we had was great and covered a wide variety of cuisines.  We leveraged travel books (mostly Rick Steve's) and hit up Trip Advisor a couple of times for suggestions and had great luck.   
-Travel with people you like.  Sarah and Jessica definitely had done their homework and had a multitude of ideas.  

Sites visited/Activites in Czech Republic: 
-Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour
-Charles Bridge
-Old Town Square
-Prague Castle 
-Mucha Museum
-Jewish Quarter 
-National Gallery (specifically for Mucha's "Slav Epic" installation)
-Prague Beer Festival
-Prague Bike Tour
-Palladium Mall (weird massive underground mall)
-Municipal House 
-A multitude of restruants, food stands, cafe's, and pubs.  
-Prepare for rain, because getting a little wet shouldn't stop you from seeing things.

My favorite view where from the castle.  There were a couple of lookout rooms that you could just engulf yourself overlooking Prauge.  The "Slav Epic" installation was inspiring and probably one of the coolest exhibits I've seen anywhere.  The bike tour ended up being a confirmation that we had done well traveling in the city.  We finally got to go on one on out last day, because of rain, and we had been most of the places it covered.  It was still totally worth it, because our guide taught us plenty of new tidbits that we had not known.  


Panoramic from the castle
Pork knuckle!

Charles Bridge
Astronomical Clock

St. Virus @ Castle Prague

Pork pork. 
Jewish Quarter
Beer Festival
Municipal House
Bike Tour send off
Old Town Square

Mucha's Slav Epic

We're in Wien now and had a great first night.  More on Vienna later.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What is today?

We're in Prague and get stuff done, I'll post more later, but here's some pictures, because that's what everybody likes anyway.  

In between Ansbach and Prague, we stopped in Pilsen, so there are some shots at the brewery - which was our only destination.  

View of Rothenberg from exterior wall.
View from Sarah's backyard in Ansbach.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery

Pilsner Urquell Old Brew Room
Unpasturized Pilsner Urquell 
Prague from the Castle Wall.
Astrological Clock
Jess & Sarah @ Jama Bar
St. Vitus - Castle Prague.