Personal, Travel

Topdeck: Winter Spirit – Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic

Day 13: Salzburg, Austria to Vienna Austria

We left Salzburg to drive to Vienna. Prior to getting to our hostel, we stopped at the Hofburg Palace to have a look around and visit the market in the square for 30 minutes.  Then we headed to our hostel to store our luggage in the luggage room as we arrived early (12.45pm).   We were told that everything is closed at 2pm so we needed to make the most of it.  We walked through the town to Burggarten I decided not to visit the place and wanted to explore the shop on the way back as I was looking for a box to store my souvenirs – especially the mask that I bought in Venice.

Didn’t make it in time to the shop that I saw earlier on our walk.  Ah well… so I returned to the hostel and sat waiting for others to arrive and we were allowed into our room after 2.30pm.  I decided to have a nap while majority of the people decided to start drinking early.

I woke up and got ready for the evening of New Year’s Eve in Vienna.

I was talking to my fiancee on Facebook Messenger and I proposed to her, just before we left for the town square for the countdown and firework.  In Austria, firecrackers are legal.

I personally felt that we did not have enough time in Vienna to explore the city so I would have to return to Vienna to see things.

Day 14: Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary via Bratislava, Slovakia

We left Vienna to head to Budapest via Bratislava, Slovakia.  Beautiful city however most of the places were closed on New Year.  So I basically wandered around Bratislava and had a cappuccino at one of the café – the cappuccino was superb … it has caramel syrup in it. Hmm!!

We then made our way to Budapest, Hungary.

When we arrived in Budapest, we went on a driving tour around Budapest before we arrive at the Wombat Hostel.  We arrived at the Fisherman’s Bastion and had a wander around the Fisherman’s Bastion.  The view of Budapest is beautiful view from the Fisherman’s Bastion.  Then we drove along the Dunabe, which I saw the Shoes boat and the Bar Boat … Interesting!!

Eventually we arrived at the drop off/pick up spot near Wombat Hostel and we has to walk to our hostel – about 5 – 10 minutes walk with our luggage.

Once we arrived at the hostel, we checked in and got ready to go out for dinner at Fatal.  It was ok.  Nothing fancy.   I would have prefer to have dinner close to hostel as I was pretty tired and frustrated.

Day 15: Budapest, Hungary

The Deaf Day!  I chose today to be on my own, as I needed to have a big break from lipreading and listening with my Cochlear Implant. I decided to have a break from wearing them and have a Deaf day.

Firstly I had Facetime chat with my girl, which was nice to see her face and to have a proper conversation.

Then, I left the hostel to head to House of Terror and I arrived as the door just opened at 10am … good timing.  I waited in line for 10 minutes with my notebook ready to let them know that I am Deaf and only understand English.  I was surprised to get a free ticket into House of Terror, as I was happy to pay for the entrance fee.

I find the House of Terror to be very powerful, sickening and heartbreaking.  Half of the video was subtitled so I watched the videos … The victims story, the justice and information about the House of Terror and what it was used for.  The story about the “Double Occupation” was clearly understood.  It was not long ago in its own history so yeah, Budapest has came along way.

Then I walked toward the Dunabe (the river), so I can walk along the river to the Central Market Hall.  The market is massive and lots of yummy foods available for sale.  I went to second floor, which consists of souvenirs.  I bought a small Hungarian doll and a snow globe.  I wandered the shopping strip of the Budapest prior to arriving back to the hostel to do my washing… Yep, I ran out of clean socks!  So it has to be done.

I had a quiet evening of staying in the hostel and did a VLog for Facebook and eventually the blog.

Day 16: Budapest, Hungary to Krakow, Poland

We drove to Krakow, Poland through Slovakia.  Very winding roads most of the way so I couldn’t read nor do some work on the laptop without getting sick.  Nor would I sleep on the bus either.  We made a stop in Donovaly for lunch.  Very cheap!!  I had cola and penne pasta for €6.90.  Beautiful scenery throughout the drive and I certainly would come back to Slovakia.

We made it to Krakow, Poland in the late afternoon and did a walking tour of Krakow in the evening followed by getting our own dinner.

Poland has a long history with Germany and Soviet occupations … Those two countries were trying to rob Poland of their land – the country itself is very rich in resources.

Day 17: Krakow, Poland

I decided to do the tour of underground Salt Mines at Wieliczka, just outside of Krakow.  We had to descend into the ground with 54 flights of stairs.  Everything is craved using salt minerals. I can’t really explain the visual of the salt mines.  It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!  I would come back here again but do the full tour rather than the miner’s route.  Also do the active adventure of wandering into the labyrinth.

We returned to Krakow city central and I chose not to go to Schlinder’s Factory or the old Jewish Settlement area as my left foot was throbbing with pain due to old injury so I decided to take it easy.  I visited the dragon, and see where the dragon den is.  Unfortunately the dragon den was closed due to Winter season.

Then I went up to the Wawel Castle to have a look around however I didn’t go inside as I wasn’t interested in the Palace Apartment or the Church.

After this, I went to find a café with internet so I can have a chat with my girl via Facebook messenger. I sat in café for an hour and half, just drinking massive mug of coffee and surfing on the Internet.  After the café, I wandered around the city including the Market Square.

I came back to the bus pickup point as it got dark and everything was being closed early due to winter season.  Got in too early so I went to Sheraton Sports Bar to watch Qatar Tennis and had mulled wine.  Mulled wine is hot wine and it is delicious if there is no herbs or spices or fruits added to the wine.

6.30pm approached and we returned to the hotel (Hostel more like), to have late dinner.  Dinner was nice however I made a joke about the soup, which had everyone burst out laughing.  I said that the eggs and sausage looks like leftover from this morning breakfast.

Went to bed early because we had to get up early for Auschwitz.  Although I didn’t get much sleep throughout the night as I had a lot on my mind and my mobile finally got connected to internet in the room so I had a good read through the notification and catching up on the news from 11pm to 1pm. Ran out of news and started thinking about things again.  There will be a blog post on this thinking.  Plus I am already homesick for my girl so I am looking forward to next month when I fly home for a happy reunion from 3 months of separation and remaining connected through cyber world.

Day 18: Krakow, Poland to Prague, Czech Republic via Auschwitz, Poland

I am still tired however for some reason energized for the bus trip.

We made our way to Auschwitz to visit the concentration camp and death camp… I am going to be honest.  I didn’t find the concentration camp nor the death camp exciting nor powerful … Again, I think it is because I am on a guide tour with no information and I could have bought a book from the bookstore which I didn’t and don’t want to.   I was sad however I wasn’t somber about the place.

If the guide tour or the place itself was more interactive, I would have such feeling that would be provoked.  Interactive tour would be – in sign language, video with subtitles, or more of victim stories to have such impact on me.  I already knew a lot about Auschwitz camps through reading lots of book such as Anne Frank, A Lucky Child, Exodus, Books written by Leon Uris and few other books.  Also I watched a lot of videos about the World War II – Hitler era and Japanese era.  I would only recommend this place if anyone was to provide interactive tours to the deaf people.

Long drive to Prague and we arrived in time for dinner.  The dinner itself was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also saw vegemite jars so certainly will have vegemite on toast tomorrow morning… Yes I do miss my vegemite!!

Day 19: Prague, Czech Republic

I got up early this morning so I can FaceTime with my fiancée due to time differences.  It’s not easy however it suits us both well.  I had a great time catching up on news in the midst of the storm that was happening in Brisbane.  Dammit, I miss the storm!! Haha.

Had breakfast and met the tour guide in the reception of Plus Prague Hostel for our walking tour and knowing what tram to catch to the city.  We arrived near the Museum (no name), and walked toward the Old Town Square, Tyn Church, and Old Town Hall.  We watched the Old Town Hall Astronomical Clock at 10am and it does a mechanical performance through the window just on the top of the astronomical clock along with cute tune.  I have a video below.

After the Old Town Hall Astronomical Clock, we made our way to Charles Bridge which is a 14th century stone bridge linking the two sides of Prague. This magnificent structure, one of the city’s finest attractions, is the main pedestrian route connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town / Prague Castle.  Between 1600 and 1800, the Catholic Church has constructed 30 statue on Charles Bridge.  Interesting piece of work and has been maintained over hundreds of years.

We then walked to Jewish Ghetto – Old/New Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery and the story behind the Jewish Ghetto.  The top deck tour guide spoke about the history about the Jewish Ghetto and where it is now.

Eventually, we made our way to Hradcany Castle and St Vitus Cathedral which is within the Hradcany Castle, to roam on the ground of the castle and intake the most amazing view of Prague.   The Hradcany Castle, the exterior … I just fell in love with it. Same as Tyn Church.  They are great example of Gothic Architectural buildings and they are so breathtaking.  I didn’t go inside and I wanted to explore Prague further and to visit the Tyn Church.

After the Hradcany Castle, it was everyone’s free time.  I chose to depart the group and made my way around Prague.  That the thing I love about being a solo traveler, you get to choose where your feet will take you.  I would have walked back to Charles Bridge to explore the shops but I explored the streets near the Hradcany Castle, and no I didn’t take any photo which a pity.

Eventually, I made my way to Charles Bridge to get to Old Town to explore the markets and the shops.  Eventually, I made my way to find a tram and for some reason, I ended up in Andel … Ah well.  I did explore Andel Shopping Centre which was interesting and it is just an ordinary suburb just outside of the City of Prague … sort of reminds me of any city in Australia. Then I catch the “right” tram back to hostel.

Now I am having a quiet night while most decides to hit the nightlife of Prague.  Tomorrow, we will be heading to Berlin, Germany via Dresden.

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