Vienna (Wien) Austria

When I first arrived into Vienna one thing that stood out to me, as the bus made its way to the station, was how tidy it was. Everything seemed to have a place.

After checking into my pension the receptionist walked me to the building that housed my room. was a key to get into the building then a small elevator to take me to the floor. The building appeared to be empty of inhabitants, though I knew this couldn’t be true. The room was small, but it had all I needed. The large windows opened into a courtyard with an apartment across the way with its inhabitants getting on with everyday life.

I went in search of food, and found a church, St. Peter’s, offering a night of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi. So I bought a ticket and went across the road to eat while waiting for showtime. People were going past in horse drawn carriages. Tourists were settling in to an evening a good food and fine conversation.

Back in my room later that night while writing in my journal, someone tried to open my door, and then I heard a couple go into their room next door then realizing they had made a mistake trying to get into my room. I did call the reception desk since it did rattle me some and the owner of the place assured me Vienna was a safe city.

The next morning I ate crepes in the Volksgarten. Afterward I bought a ticket to see a concert (Konzerte) at the Hapsburgs Schoenbrunn Palace; a short metro ride from the city centre. https:/ Though I did not tour it, other than what I saw during the show, I do think it’s worth a see. Before the show I had Vienna’s version of goulash at the little restaurant on the premises. The palace orchestra played music of Mozart and Johann Strauss. Periodically two operas singers would make an appearance. It was a magical night. I walked back to the pension that night, and was happy to hear my neighbors home. Though I could not understand them, there was comfort in knowing others were around.

Vienna is known for Schubert, Strauss, and Mozart. You can visit one of the places Mozart lived during his lifetime. Vienna is also known for the famous Lipizzaner horses, and the artist Gustav Klimt.

Jews of Europe endured hardships long before the Nazis. The Jewish Museum of Vienna shows that strife. During the time of Hitler they had to give up everything they owned and loved to include the city they loved, to flee what was to come even before knowing from what it was they were fleeing. Your tour of Vienna would not be complete without a visit there.

I wanted to see a show at the opera house, but it was not open the nights I was there. The Vienna philharmonic is one of the best orchestras in the world.

Vienna Austria is truly a special place. You can walk everywhere, or take the train or tram.

Visit the gallery to see more pictures of the beautiful city.

Budapest, Hungary

My arrival into Budapest, was not exactly a happy one after finding out the airline left my suitcase in Rome. They assured me the suitcase would be delivered the next day to Avenue Hostel where I was to stay. Yes, another hostel, but for $43 I stayed three nights in the heart of the city, in walking distance to most sites. Between my book bag being left in the rental car in Venice, and the airline leaving behind my bag, I was going to be in need of some clothes. I saw numerous places to shop as I left the train station in search of the Avenue Hostel. I checked in and was told about a mall near by. The outside did not prepare me for the inside. It looked like a typical American mall. The dollar goes quite far in Budapest, with the exchange to the Hungarian Forint, so I was able to find what I needed with minimal cost.

As with most big cities, you can get the hop on hop off bus to see Budapest. I took it through the streets of Pest and then over to Buda to see the castle. The view above the city was amazing, especially the view of Parliament. There was an outdoor restaurant perched about the river with Parliament in site. The Hungarian Goulash was delicious. After eating I found out the restaurant only took cash, which I did not have. The revelation of this must be a common occurrence because there is an ATM machine. The machine only gave me the wrong amount; 5000 HF instead of 10000 HF. A man had a problem getting money out of it to pay his bill, maybe because I called the number on the machine to complain I had been given the wrong amount. The mans waiter started walking him to the next closest ATM, and took me along with them. For about 30 minutes we had our own tour guide as he told us about what we were passing.

Before leaving for my trip to Europe I booked a ticket to see a ballet; “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” For 3500 HF I could have a box seat in the famous Hungarian State Opera House, or so I thought. First I checked to see what the conversion would be, and was happy to see it was only $12 for the seat. I was disappointed to find out the opera house was under renovation and the show would be at the Erkel Theatre instead. The Erkel Theatre is more of a community theatre than a fancy opera house; though it is apart of them. The ballet was a family affair, with the very young to not so young in attendance. The seven dwarfs stole the show with their antics. On the way back to the hostel I stopped at a nice restaurant near the place. The courtyard had many restaurants to choose from and most had seating outside. I had chicken paprika, with dumplings and the best gingerale I have ever tasted. When I arrived back to the hostel my suitcase was waiting for me, 2 1/2 days after my arrival.

Despite various obstacles during my stay, it was a nice visit. The next morning I boarded a bus and for $9.99 to Vienna Austria. Just download Flixbus or look on to learn more about traveling by bus. It’s a comfortable ride, and cheap as well. Make Budapest a destination. You will love it!

Padua and Venice

Galileo, famous for his ideas in the field’s of astronomy, and physics did most of his research at the University of Padua in 1604. The Roman historian Livy was born in Padua in 59 BC. He gave a great account of the history prior to his life, but also a great interpretation of Roman life during his lifetime. It is said he was friends with Emperor Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. Padua is also famous for the Basilica di Sant’ Antonio, known as a place of pilgrimage to thousands of Catholics every year. Though flooded most days with tourists, the courtyard’s inside the complex are tranquil. St Anthony is buried inside, and you can even touch the glass that hold his relics, to include his skin and floating rib.

My friend Annie and I stayed just a short walk around the corner from the famous church at Hotel Al Fagano. Having stayed here in 2013, I knew it was a nice place. The couple who own it were very nice and helpful. Our host gave us a choice of two rooms; a room with two twin beds or a beautiful room with a double bed, a terrace and a view. We took the double. The host said the hotel has been in the family for over 50 years, and his wife inherited it from her parents. She did all of the artwork; which was quite interesting. After walking around town we sat down to eat at an outdoor table of Ristorante Pe Pen,www.pepen in Piazza Cavour, and I preceded to have the best steak I have ever eaten despite it being cooked way below the normal temperature I prefer. Annie had an array of appetizing fresh seafood. After dinner we had limoncello, a lemon liquor from southern Italy.
The next morning we took a bus over to the train station for a short ride to Venice; only 25 minutes to St Lucia. Taxi’s, waterbuses, and gondola’s are your choices for transportation. We opted to walk from island to island via the footbridges and took a waterbus back to the train station later. The waterbus is the cheapest mode of transportation. They say Venice is a sinking city, but it has lasted for hundred’s of years. In the summer there are hordes of tourists. See link below for some news about visiting the city. There have been some recent changes that will affect you if you visit. Venice is famous for handcrafted Murano glass, made on an island of the same name. It is a city where opera was and to some degree still is important, once having had 12 opera houses. John Berendt”s, book “The City of Falling Angels,” tells of the arson fire that destroyed the last opera house, Teatro La Fenice still standing in 1996. It has since been rebuilt. Berendt’s description of the city makes you feel as if you are there. Many movies have been filmed in Venice, with my favorite being “Bread and Tulips, with the late actor Bruno Ganz. As we walked around the streets we came upon a traffic jam of gondola’s. Even in a small canal, travel can be tedious, but much better there than on a highway with nothing to see during rush hour.

The next morning we dropped the rental car off at the airport, where Annie and I would part way; her back to the US and me onto the rest of my trip for 2 more weeks. I have used this company for years and have been quite happy with them. With this being said, make sure you have everything before locking the car and putting the keys in the box if they are closed. I left a book bag containing many souvenirs as well as other important items, that I would not see again for 12 days. The company agreed to keep the bag in their office. It is important to know your cellphone carrier may add charges to your bill when calling country to country; despite the global plan. I learned this the hard way after having to call the rental office when they opened from Budapest. This mishap also cost me a trip back to Venice later in the month. Ok, I know it is ridiculous to complain about having dinner in Venice before my night train to Rome, but your head would spin if I told you the whole story. I picked up the night train in Verona, and sat down in a chair only to have the conductor inform me I was to be in a sleeper car. He took me to the room, knocked on the locked door, and spoke to the man inside in Italian. Then he informed me the man had to get dressed first, noting he was in his boxers. I was so exhausted that it didn’t matter that the room was hot,and that my roommate was a man I had never seen before. I took the top bunk across from him. He told me in Italian how to lock and unlock the door, and then we both fell asleep until the next morning when the restroom called both of us at 430 am. Later the conductor would announce a wake up call as we neared Rome at 6.

Colorado Springs

In May of 2018 I moved my son out to Colorado. We hitched a ride with a friend going out there to leave his suv so he could move his lovely girlfriend East soon after. We loaded up a uhaul and took the 23 hour ride. This post will not be of that ride except for the pictures you see, but will be about our amazing excursion to Pikes Peak. Pikes peak stands 14,115 ft high, and is a part of the glorious Rocky Mountains. There is a cog railroad that takes you to the top. It was under repairs so we drove up. Check out the site for details of when they will reopen, and other useful details about the area. Now I will admit I am not fond out heights. I have gotten by being in the fire department, but going up and down on a road without guardrails is another story. The girlfriend of my sons roommate did a fantastic job driving up the mountain. We stopped at various locations along the way. The views were breathtaking! There was a storm in the distance that would catch up with us later when back in the Springs. As we headed the top, snow covered the ground here and there. At the top there is a gift shop and a place to get a snack. The shop boosts in having donuts made at the highest point in the world. A new cashier was fighting altitude sickness, as it was his first day. People seemed to be walking around in slow motion, or maybe that was my brain feeling the affects of the altitude. As we sat to munch on the donuts I remember committing that John Denver’s song Rocky Mountain High had to be about this feeling of being lightheaded; I felt high. After a look at the view we made our way down the mountain. The young lady, an experienced climber, who drove us up came prepared with pretzels and pedi-lite to make us feel better. Several cars zoomed by us on the way down, but a Porsche can take the road. Usually there is a stop half way down where they check your brakes. Today they did not.

We drove through the Garden of the Gods just as the rain started to drop from the sky. The rain made contrast in colors of the land and sky more dramatic.

The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial is a must see. It is a nice tribute to those who lost their life in the line of duty. A former coworker and friend will be added to the list of names there next year. He succumbed to a illness on February 1, 2019, as a result of his efforts at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Colorado Springs is a lovely place to visit. The views are amazing, the food is great! The pace of the little city is relaxing. Check out more wonderful views in the gallery.