At the end of each month I am going to send out a summary of the highlights of the month. I will tell you about any travel bargains I’ve found and update you on our plans for upcoming trips and activities. Here is the summary for July 2017.
And We’re Heading East!
Another month gone already! We’ve now been travelling for three and a half months and sort of getting into the swing of things. We have slowed down a lot, mostly spending four or five days in each location. Moving every two or three days firstly gets exhausting, and secondly, is not cheap! I would like to perhaps slow down even a bit more, but there is still so much we want to see. We’re trying to find balance. Before we left home I thought after three months we would be moving into the Middle East, but I can see at least another month, perhaps two, before we get there.
We started the month in Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria, staying with my cousin Emma at her holiday home in the simply stunning Austrian Alps. If you have ever considered a holiday around this area, have a look at my post and search for availability at her apartment. There is so much to do in Sallbach-Hinterglemm, but the apartment is out of the main tourist areas so peaceful and relaxing too. I will definitely be back.
From Saalbach-Hinterglemm we moved on to Vienna, with a couple of hours in between trains spent exploring Salzburg. It wasn’t long enough though, and I can see we are going to have to try to get back to Salzburg at some time in the future – even if only to have another of the huge sweet pretzels that can be found there.
Vienna is known for it’s grand architecture and colourful history. I will always remember it for the heat. Oh, and the schnitzel. I had been told we just HAD to go to Figlmueller to taste their schnitzel. They have been making them the same way for over 100 years now. It was a bit of a challenge getting a table, but the schnitzels were worth the hassle.
Next was a quick visit to Slovakia, where we spent three days in Bratislava. Another European city with a lovely little old town and a castle on a hill well worth a visit for a couple of days. Bratislava has one unusual attraction – the UFO Tower. I hadn’t researched this very well, but I had seen it mentioned. For some reason I thought this was initially a tower that had seriously been used for spotting UFO’s. Well, turns out I was wrong (who would have guessed!!!!) and it it simply an observation tower in the shape of a UFO, providing stunning views from the top. If just looking at the view isn’t enough, it also contains a restaurant and bar.
We were meeting friends in Prague, but had a few days to fill in the meantime, so we stopped off in Brno on the way. I knew nothing at all about Brno, it was just a convenient place to stop. It’s the Czech Republic’s second city, a university town, and is yet to be swamped by tourists. Prices were some of the best we had encountered anywhere, and the free walking tour we did gave us so many quirky little details about the town. Brno has a real personality about it and I am so glad we stopped by.
In Prague we met up with our friends Caloling and Joe from Germany. We had a fantastic weekend eating and drinking to our heart’s content, celebrating Caloling’s birthday. We did a night walking tour of the Castle, and this is seriously the best way to see it without having to deal with all the crowds. In summer even at 9pm it is still light, so there is no problem with still seeing everything. I will also remember Prague for doing a crazy cheerleading stunt. Unfortunately there are no good photos, but I was trying to emulate my 18 year old daughter! Who says that it’s too late to try new things in your forties?
Leaving Prague meant an epic 13 hour train trip all the way to Timisoara in Romania. We were now out of the Schengen Zone, with just one day to spare on our 90 days allowed. We didn’t really know what to expect in Romania. Our first few days we were greeted with the heat, with the temperatures hovering around 36 – 38 degrees Celsius. This didn’t encourage us to get out and about a whole lot, but we did go out each morning and explore for a few hours. In early afternoon as the temperature became unbearable, we would scamper back to our air-conditioned room to hide.
Sighosoara (pronounced “See-gi-shwa-ra” which I don’t think I got right once) was next. This is the birth place of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. We will always remember Emanuel from Your Guide in Transylvania who took us on a day tour to Bran Castle, and then was so generous to take us with him the next day to Sibiu. He was going there anyway, so invited us along. We learnt so much from him, not just about the history related to Romania and Bran Castle, but about life in general for the Romanian people. He is a local, born and bred in Sighisoara, so if you are in the region, look him up. You will get a personalised and enjoyable tour to one of the many interesting locations in the area.
We end the month in Bucharest, Romania’s capital. This city has so many sides to it. Side by side it is possible to see the many different influences. Magnificent French inspired buildings are next to ugly communist apartment blocks and shiny new towers. Bucharest is home to the second largest administrative building in the world (first is the Pentagon) in the Palace of the Parliament. It was built back before the revolution, when then leader Nicolae Ceaușescu decided he needed to have the biggest building in the world. He didn’t quite get that, but It is so huge that only about one third of it is used today, even though it houses the whole Romanian Government, a museum or two and a convention centre.
We are so disorganised! At this point we only know that after we leave Bucharest tomorrow we are heading to Varna on the Bulgarian coast to enjoy 5 nights lazing by the Black Sea. We hope to go to the capital, Sofia, after that, before making our way to Macedonia and Albania. Plans then become even more fuzzy. Perhaps Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina then Croatia. You will just have to wait and see where we end up!
In case you missed them, here are my July blog posts:
June 2017 Summary
Travel Diaries – Bologna
Travel Diaries – Milan
A Visit to the Borromean Islands
Travel Diaries – Lake Como
Travel Diaries – Venice
Travel Diaries – Trento
Travel Diaries – Innsbruck & the Alps
Don’t forget to follow along on social media where you will see some content that does not make it onto my blog.
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I am a whole month behind on my posts now, and that’s not good. At this rate I will be three or four months behind when I get home! It’s a challenge when the travelling gets in the way of writing about it.
On the up side, during July we had our first sponsored stay at the Holiday Inn Brno. We were treated like kings, and truely had a really enjoyable stay at this family run hotel. Dinner at their restaurant was easily the food highlight of our stay. If you are travelling to Brno – and if you are in the area I suggest you do – please consider staying at the Holiday Inn.
We also received our first payment from Booking.com – so now we can afford that extra drink! Thank you so much to those who booked through our links. And please, if you are thinking of booking any accommodation, please clicked through any one of my links – nearly all my blog posts have them, or this one – and send a few dollars our way instead of giving it all to the big companies. We truely do appreciate every cent.
I also got another invitation to attend an event back in Adelaide – the launch of Winterfest in Port Adelaide. I of course didn’t get to attend, but it’s looks like everyone really enjoyed the event over the ten days and I hope it happens again next year so I can check it out for myself.
Not a win but a blogging frustration. I am having so many issues at the moment with my photographs! For some reason the combination of software I have been using for editing and compression no longer works, and I have had to try some new things. I have not yet found a solution I am happy with, as I seem to be loosing a lot in the way of quality. I will keep trying.
Until next month, take care.
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