Hi Roberta, and thanks for inviting me as a guest blogger. My usual blog topics are about my writing life, but because I just returned from a trip (yes, with a new idea for an historical mystery), I’m going to share some of my incredible experiences with your readers. If anyone has visited these places, I hope they comment with their opinions. It’s always interesting to see how different people react to the same environment.
I flew into Vienna, Austria, a day before meeting the group of like-minded people with whom I would be traveling. I always need the extra day to recover from jetlag. When the others arrived, our journey began.
Ah, Vienna. Just the name of the city conjures up images of eighteenth century ballrooms and chamber music. The Viennese are justly proud of their cultural heritage, and although much of the city, along with its opera house, was bombed, the city has restored most of its damaged buildings using the original plans. There is much to see there, and if I went again, I would plan to spend at least a week instead of the three days we had.
From Vienna, we took a train to other cities. I splurged and got a deluxe sleeping car, complete with private bath and a huge picture window. I’d do the same again. Sleeping on a train is my idea of heaven on earth, to say nothing of dining in a car with new friends while the world zips by.
Our first stop was Innsbruck. From there we visited other cities, like Munich, Salzburg, and Venice, ending our train ride in Budapest. The route took us through Brenner’s Pass, an area that figured in WW II history.
I had been to Munich and Venice before, but I had never seen Venice in flood stage! It had rained for days and the canal flooded the streets and the square. The authorities put up something like a catwalk (short folding tables) so pedestrians could cross the square without wading. Of course, vendors were selling colorful plastic boots and some pedestrians just chose to wade across the square. I wish now I’d bought a pair of those boots—a perfect memento—but I had to think about my full luggage.
Innsbruck and Salzburg are beautiful cities, surrounded by alpine country. I definitely would like to go back and spend a week in each of those cities.
My surprise came in Budapest. We stayed on the Pest side of the Danube, but many sites we wanted to see were on the Buda side. I took one afternoon to enjoy one of their thermal baths and a massage, then took one of their frequent buses back to the hotel in time for dinner. Speaking of dinner, one night we ate dinner on a boat on the Danube. Budapest, from the river, is an awesome sight at night. The bridges are lit and from the city streets, hundreds of tiny lights flicker, reminding us that in spite of its ancient beauty, Budapest is a thriving city of thousands. Budapest, to me, is a hidden jewel. I believe they consider their town a poor stepsister of cities like Vienna. I emphatically disagree. Budapest should be on everyone’s bucket list. And the opera house is beauty to astound you. Be warned, though, to read what the opera is about if you don’t already know. The subtitles are in Hungarian, whereas both Prague and Vienna state opera houses have English subtitles.
Our last day was spent at the Danube Bend, where we ate lunch in a wonderful restaurant high in the mountains with a view of the city below. From there we visited a market where I bought scarves for my daughter. They are always a welcome gift and take little space in your luggage.
Now I’m home and back to revising a mystery set in Stockholm. That might require a trip to Sweden too!
~ Joyce E. Moore