Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 45: Milan (Oct 31)

Blog post coming soon! Highlights: the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and a piano recital at Teatro alla Scala. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 44: Glacier Express, St. Moritz (Oct 30)

Blog post coming soon! Highlights: train ride across Switzerland on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 43: Zermatt (Oct 29)

Blog post coming soon! Highlights: train ride to Zermatt, a walking tour of town, and a trip up to the Gornergrat to see the Matterhorn. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 42: Interlaken, Schilthorn, Murren (Oct 28)

Here are today's pictures.

  • From Interlaken, I took the BOB up to Lauterbrunnen, took a series of trains and cablecars up to the Schilthorn. 
Up to Schilthorn
- Interlaken West to Ost
- xfer to train to Zweilutschinen
- xfer to bus to Lauterbrunnen
- xfer to cablecar to Grutschalp
- xfer to cogwheel train to Murren
- xfer to cablecar to Schilthorn
Stopped at 2200m for 5 min 
  • There’s a restaurant at the top there called Piz Gloria, it’s got a history as a filming scene for the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. It was a little less than 2 hours for the whole trip from Interlaken, so it should be roughly the same from Grindlewald.
  • Spent about 2-1/2 hrs at the top with lunch and taking pictures of the mountains from the restaurant, left at 3:30pm. 
- cablecar from Schilthorn to Murren (wander 1 hr)
- xfer to cablecar to Gimmelwald (wander 30 min)
- xfer to cablecar to Stechelberg (wander 40 min)
- xfer to bus to Zweilutschinen
- xfer to train to Interlaken Ost
                            • Murren is a main stop on the way down. The station for the cablecar up to Schilthorn (the Schilthornbahn) and also to the small towns of Gimmelwald and Stechelberg is at one end of town, and the train down to Lauterbrunnen is at the other end. It’s a really nice walk through town, with fantastic views of mountains and valleys. On one of the shops I saw some stickers for Ron Jon’s (in Cocoa Beach), so I stuck another of the Endless BBQ stickers on the door (if you see it, please take a picture). I took the cablecar down to Gimmelwald to marvel at the small town, then down to Stechelberg (6pm) where I caught the train to Lauterbrunnen and back to Interlaken (7pm).
                            • I'm not a hiker, but there are tons of trails all around where you can make a day of it. I didn’t have that luxury (plus I’m lazy) so I took the cablecars and trains.

                            Cinque Terre flooding - have to reroute

                            Sad to hear that a major storm in northern Italy on Oct. 25th has devastated the Cinque Terre region: 20 inches of rain in 3 hours, according to one resident of the area. Flooding, devastation, trains re-routed, towns cut off and accessible by sea only. Non-residents told to evacuate, few have water and/or power. Several meters of debris on the rail tracks. That's obviously not going to get back to normal by Nov 9th when I was originally going to get there.

                            My trip plans were 1 day in Milan starting on Monday, then 2 days in Venice, 5 days in Rome (with 1 of those being a day trip to Amalfi and Pompeii), 1 day in Florence, 1/2 day in Pisa, 1-1/2 days in Cinque Terre, 2 days in Nice/Monte Carlo, and 2 days in Provence. The total number of days is not flexible, but where I spend those days is very flexible.

                            Anyone have some good ideas on what to do with those 2 days? I could spend an extra day in 2 places, or go somewhere nearby for 2 days. My clock starts ticking when I get to Milan on Monday (not flexible).

                            Facebook friends have recommended Sicily, Naples, Tuscany, Lake Como, Lyon, Paestum, Verona, and Asisi. Other suggestions?

                            (Originally posted 10/28/11 at 10:40am, Interlaken)

                            Thursday, October 27, 2011

                            Day 41: Interlaken, Jungfrau (Oct 27)

                            Here are today's pictures.

                            • From Interlaken, I took the BOB up to Lauterbrunnen, then switched to another train to Wengwald and Kleine Scheidegg. From there, you can go up to the Jungfraugoch, which is the built-up area (mall/restaurant/viewing/skiing/etc.) at the top of the Jungfrau. See the map at the top for the path I took. On the way back down, I got off at Kleine Scheidegg and switched to another train going to Grindlewald. 
                            • My trip up had the following transfers (which I had to write down to keep straight):
                            ​Going up
                            - RE train from Interlaken West to Ost
                            - xfer to Zweilutschinen on train 151
                            - xfer to Lautenbrunnen on bus
                            - xfer to Kleine Scheidegg on cogwheel train 351
                            - xfer to Jungfraujoch on cogwheel train 551  ​ 
                            - Jungfraujoch to Kleine Scheidegg on cogwheel train 570
                            - xfer to Grindlewald on cogwheel train 470
                            - xfer to Interlaken Ost on train 270
                            - xfer to West
                            • All of the named stops on the train line from Kleine Scheidegg up to the Jungfraugoch are places where the train stops so you can get out and take a look out the windows carved in the walls.
                            • At the top, there’s a restaurant and gift shop (of course). There’s also a platform to go out and look at the glacier and pose with the Swiss flag atop the pole. It’s mighty impressive. And cold, too – I wore a light jacket over a sweater plus a scarf, gloves, and a hat.
                            • Photo tip: there’s so much snow that the reflected light backlights the subject if you’re taking a picture of someone, so set the flash on your camera to always go off.
                            • In the vestibule is a large picture of the mountains, saying it’s a UNESCO site. In the upper left corner is another one of my stickers (orange circle with a BBQ grill reading “#Endless BBQ”) – if you see it, please take a photo.
                            • Also at the top, on the inside they’ve got an “ice palace” (Eistpalast) to walk through. It stays below zero all year around.
                            • As the sun goes behind the mountains, they take the flag down and bring everyone in. It gets really cold out there with no sun.
                            • As mentioned earlier, on the way down, I changed trains at Kleine Scheidegg and went to Grindlewald. Due to the train schedule, I wouldn’t have had enough time to hang out there for dinner (it was 6pm) so I went back down to Interlaken and had dinner at the Grand Café (menu looked good). I had tomato soup with a dollop of ricotta, macaroni with meat sauce (National Dish of Interlaken) and applesauce, Alpenperle beer.
                            • Stopped by the casino at night, having been to Las Vegas I wasn't impressed and didn't stay long. The casino has 125 slots, 2 roulette tables, 2 video roulette, 2 blackjack tables, and 3 poker tables. Only one of the 7 tables was in use, one of those for roulette.

                            Wednesday, October 26, 2011

                            Day 40: Interlaken (Oct 26)

                            Here are today's pictures.

                            • Arrive in Interlachen, drop off my stuff. I took the train to Thun and wanted to take the boat across the lake, but the boat only runs on Sundays, so it was the train all the way in.
                            • I booked the hotel based on price and availability, I stayed at the Hotel Loetschberg. I got there on a Wednesday just before lunch, and left Saturday morning. The hotel closed for the season on Sunday, and there was only 1 other person in the hotel when I was there. Because it was the end of the season, a lot of summer-season activities were closed and the winter-season stuff hadn’t opened up yet, but the desk clerk found a paragliding company that was still open.
                            • October has great winds for paragliding. My pilot had a selfie stick (which I had never seen before) and took pictures and video of us in the air, and I was allowed to use my own camera as well. This company said they guarantee at least 10-15 minutes of air time, but with the good winds I was up for about 30 minutes. It took about 30 minutes to drive up to the top of the mountain, so the whole thing was done by about 3pm.
                            • I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around and checking out the main “downtown” area and scouting a restaurant for dinner. Finally settled on the Banhof Hotel, just because they were the only place around that had cheese fondue for 1 (all other places had fondue for 2 or more).
                            • I checked out the casino after dark, but it wasn’t great. It was mostly a bunch of slot machines. Played 20 francs worth.

                            Switzerland details

                            I've fallen behind in my daily writing - as I write this now, I'm going on day 3 in Switzerland, so I still have 1 day of Hallstatt, 4 days of Munich, 2 days of Bavaria, and 2 days in Switzerland to get caught up - but I still have to plan for where I'm going more than write about where I've been.  So here's the plan for Switzerland.

                            Tuesday, October 25, 2011

                            Day 39: Bern (Oct 25)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: walking tour of the city. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Monday, October 24, 2011

                            Day 38: Lucerne (Oct 24)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: walking tour of the city. ​It was still pre-dawn and cold/foggy at Buchloe when I changed trains from Fuessen to Lucerne (changing trains again in Zurich - it's definitely not a no-smoking facility like Germany is.) In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Sunday, October 23, 2011

                            Day 37: Fuessen, Schwangau (Oct 23)

                            Here are today's pictures.

                            Just a €9 bus ride from Garmisch, left 7:50, had a quick breakfast at the hotel before I left. Transfer from 9606 to 73 at Bad Bayetsoien (Echelsbacher Brucke). Pass thru Obergammerau & Untergammerau on the way. Frost covered fields of cows and goats, fog shrouded valleys. Part of Romantic Road. Arrived in Fuessen, drop off my stuff. I booked the hotel based on price and availability: I stayed at the Altstadthotel zum Hechten (which has the Ritterstub’n restaurant attached). Again, this was a “place for my stuff and to sleep” home base.

                            Get reserved tickets for the Castles. You’ll do Hohenschwangau first, then two hours later Neuschwanstein. If you miss your appointed time, you can’t get in. With reservations, you’ll still have to pick up your tickets so make sure to allow enough time for that (30 minutes before the first one, 60 minutes before the second one).

                            From the bottom, the best way to go is taking a one-way bus up to Mary’s Bridge for the money shot view of the castle, which then has a 10-minute downhill walk to the Neuschwanstein entrance. Then catch a horse carriage from the castle down to the parking lot (or walk, which I did – it’s a long walk, but downhill).

                            I took a nap when I got back but overslept, and by the time I woke up, most of the restaurants were already closed, so I ate at the restaurant attached to the hotel (cash only).

                            Saturday, October 22, 2011

                            Day 36: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Zugspitze (Oct 22)

                            Here are today's pictures.

                            Arrive in town, drop off my stuff. I booked the hotel based on price and availability, I stayed at the Gastof Fraundorfer Hotel in Partenkirchen.

                            Head to the railroad station and buy a ticket on the Zugspitzbahn up to the top. As you can read below, there are 2 ways to get up to the top – cogwheel train all the way, or part train and part cablecar. The train takes about 15-20 minutes longer but you’re climbing up and through the mountain (with stops so you can get out and look around), while the cablecar should have some great mountain views. I took the train both ways, I don’t know if you can do one of each. Made it back down about 1800.

                            Up top at the Zugspitze are some AMAZING views of the mountains. There’s a restaurant at 2600 meters, great place to have a beer and just relax. Then there’s a cablecar that takes you up even higher. You’ll probably have a lot of sunlight, by mid-October the sun was going behind the mountains at 1615.

                            Had a beer & apple crumble torte at Sonn Alpin (2600m, 8530 ft), summit at 2962m, 9618 ft. Surprisingly, it got warmer in the mountains - it was 3 deg (37F) when I left Munich at 7:45, 4 deg (39F) in Garmisch at 11am, and 9 (48F) at Zugspitzplatt at 2pm.

                            Back at the bottom, I wanted to go to the Tourist Information booth, but I didn’t get there in time, so I had a nice little wander in that general direction (see the Banhof in the center, the TI at the upper left, and the hotel at the upper right: )

                            After I came back from the mountain, I strolled around the town before I decided I was hungry and wanted dinner. I stopped at Pizzeria da Renzo in Partenkirchen, a few blocks from the hotel. Nothing special, I was just in the mood for pizza.

                            Turns out the hotel has a recommended restaurant (I didn’t notice it when I checked in, and didn’t check for any recommendations). Later that night I came down for a beer there was a party going on. I posted a photo with the caption “Sitting in the lobby restaurant of my hotel in Partenkirchen, in Bavaria (with a half liter of Paulaner). There are men in lederhosen and women in dirndls, and a guy playing the accordion. And in my booth are signed pictures on the wall by astronauts Jim Newman and Ox van Hoften.” TJ Creamer commented “Been there... didn't sign! Congrats! GREAT atmosphere and exposure... Was kann ich jetzt sagen, aber: SUPER Gemuetlichkeit!”

                            Friday, October 21, 2011

                            Day 35: Munich (Oct 21)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: Dachau and the Alte Pinakothek museum. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Last day started with a metro ride to Dachau for a walking tour of the concentration camp. After lunch, I had the day free so I spent some time at the Alte Pinakothek Museum, which has paintings from the 14th-19th centuries [Rembrandt, da Vinci, Botticelli] (my other choices were the Neue Pinakothek with paintings from 1800-1920 [Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh], the Moderne with early to mid 20th century stuff [Picasso, Dali], and the Brandhorst with late 20th/early 21st century [Warhol, etc.]). Dinner was at Opatija im Tal, a Slovenian restaurant that was recommended by one of my guide books.

                            I didn’t spend as much time in the beer gardens as I had anticipated, I was always busy doing something else. The Augustiner is considered the best in the city because got no music and it’s away from the tourist hordes. Other recommended beer gardens are Andechser am Dom, Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom (both trendy and touristy), Altes Hackerhaus and Der Pschorr (both popular with locals), and Spatenhaus near the opera house.

                            Thursday, October 20, 2011

                            Day 34: Munich, Rothenberg (Oct 20)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and return to Munich for dinner at the Ratskeller. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Took the train up to Rothenberg ob der Tauber (if you go, make sure it’s this one and not the other Rothenberg), which was a 2-1/2 hour ride. The town basically looks like it got stuck in the 1600s and is really neat to walk around and sightsee in. I got back to Munich at dinnertime, I went to the Rathskeller in Marienplatz.

                            Wednesday, October 19, 2011

                            Day 33: Munich (Oct 19)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: Marienplatz, St. Peter's Church climb, Viktualienmarkt beer garden, Jewish Museum, and the Beer & Brewery walk ending at the Hofbrauhaus. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Went to Marienplatz to check out the clock tower at the Rathaus, then climbed up to the top of the Peterskirche for a great view of the old town area (only 306 steps). Walked over to the Viktualienmarkt for lunch at a Hofbrau kiosk. Also in the area is the Jewish Museum and Asam’s Church (Asam Kirche), which is a 1700s church with a lavish interior. Right off of Marienplatz is the Apple store, which was built on the site of the first Nazi party meeting place.

                            I stayed in this area to catch the Beer and Brewery Tour at 18:15 under the glockenspiel in Marienplatz (there are many walking tours that depart from here, no reservation required, including a City Walk and Hitler’s Munich) which took us to the Paulaner brewery and dinner at the Hofbrauhaus.

                            Munich & Bavaria details

                            Came up with this list of things to do in Munich and the two days in Bavaria a few days ago, but haven't had a chance to sit down and post it yet. I've got 4 days in Munich, one of which was originally supposed to be a day off but has of course morphed into a day with something to do. Then I'll go off to two towns in Bavaria: Garmisch, which is at the base of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain, and has some pretty neat sounding ways to get up the mountain (all of which involve me not actually climbing much); and Schwangau, the home of King Ludwig's castles. The details in those areas are a little fuzzy right now.

                            Of note: Thursday is stocked with museums, but I can't see spending 8 hours in art museums. I'll probably just hit the highlights and then go have a beer or check out the English Garden or something.

                            Also of note: Friday is the halfway point in my journey.

                            Tuesday, October 18, 2011

                            Day 32: Munich (Oct 18)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: hop on/hop off tour, walk from Karlsplatz to Marienplatz, and Marienplatz at night. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Hop on/hop off bus tour of the city - Gray Line Tours has hop-on, hop-off bus tours that leave from in front of the Karstadt department store at Bahnhofplatz, directly across from the train station; there’s a 1-hour Express Circle and a 2-1/2 hour Grand Circle route. Just show up and pay the driver (cash only), or get a €1-2 discount by buying your ticket in advance at EurAide (€13 Express tour, €18 Grand tour, daily in season, tel. 089/5490-7560,

                            Then walked from Konigsplatz (former home of the Nazi party in Munich) to the monument at Karolinenplatz down to Karlsplatz and to the town hall at Marienplatz. Google maps says it’s a 22 minute walk but you’ll probably be stopping along the way. Dinner at the Lowe am Markt nearby (no particular reason, prices were decent and had a good menu) in the Viktualienmarkt.

                            Monday, October 17, 2011

                            Day 31: Salzburg (Oct 17)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: Sound of Music tour, Mozart's birthplace museum, and a river tour. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Sunday, October 16, 2011

                            Day 30: Salzburg (Oct 16)

                            Blog post coming soon! Highlights: Rick Steves Old Town Walk and Hohensalzburg Fortress. In the meantime, here are today's pictures.

                            Saturday, October 15, 2011

                            Day 29: Hallstatt (Oct 15)

                            Today's pictures are here on Flickr.

                            While doing my research in the months before I left, I came to quickly find that I enjoyed the Rick Steves guide books much more than Lonely Planet, Frommers, Fodor's, or any other (though I did consult as many as I could find). It also helped that Rick had a TV series, and a great many of his shows covered cities that I had planned to visit. One of those shows was on Salzburg and its surroundings, and while Halstatt wasn't on the list of places from the Frommer's car trip that got me to Melk, Krems, and Bad Ischl, he liked it enough to devote a segment of that show to the town (which you can watch here, it's only 3 minutes). I saw that episode and said that looks cool enough to spend a day there on my trip through the Salzkammergut.

                            Friday, October 14, 2011

                            Day 28: Bad Ischl (Oct 14)

                            Today's pictures are here on Flickr.

                            The only things I knew about Bad Ischl were that the Austrian Emperor had a summer home here for 60 years, and that it was famous for its spas. It’s also further west, towards Salzburg, in what’s known as the Salzkammergut area (roughly translated to “Salt storehouse”), after train transfers in St Poelten (3rd time) and Attnang-Puchheim (1st time). The train to Attnang was delayed by about a half hour while they cleared the track ahead of us; apparently someone got hit by another train further up and they had to bring the police, ambulance, and cleanup crews in before we could get going. Of course my connection had long since left by the time I got there, but I just hopped on the next one going to Bad Ischl, leaving me time to grab lunch from a kebab stand nearby (that was really good – a shwarma sandwich but in a tortilla wrap). The train only made it as far as Ebensee, though, due to construction on the tracks, so we had to disembark from the train and get into a standing-room-only bus to get the rest of the way to Bad Ischl. I had booked a B&B the night before in Mautern, so I found the Tourist Information office and got a map of the town, and she helped me figure out where I needed to go.

                            Salzburg details

                            Two days seems to be enough to cover all that I want to see in Salzburg, though if I had a third day that would be ideal (same as Vienna). However, I still have Munich, Bavaria, and Switzerland to see before my hard deadline of Oct 30 in Zermatt, so I'll have to make do with two days. The two big tourist draws in Salzburg are the Sound of Music and Mozart, so I'll take whatever else I can get.

                            Thursday, October 13, 2011

                            Day 27: Melk, Krems, and Mautern (Oct 13)

                            Today's pictures are here on Flickr.

                            The next 3 days will be different from what I’ve done so far – they’re in the Austrian countryside, or at least relatively small towns compared to all the big capital cities I’ve been to so far. The Frommer’s guide book recommended a driving tour from Vienna to Salzburg to Innsbruck, and as I was only going as far as Salzburg I used their ideas for a train tour. And since they aren’t big cities, there’s not as much to do, which is kind of the idea. There will be enough to keep me occupied but not busy.

                            Wachau & Salzkammergut details

                            So apparently the Danube Valley is called the "Wachau" region. I discovered it while researching Austria, Rick Steves doesn't cover it but Frommer's does, as part of a driving tour that goes from Vienna to Salzburg to Innsbruck. I'm not going that far, but the book does mention some interesting-sounding things to see and do in the Austrian countryside. I decided to make it into three days, one day in the Wachau region of the Danube River not too far from Vienna, and two days further west towards Salzburg in the Lake District or Salzkammergut. Even though they're very different areas, I'm lumping them into one post here for convenience.

                            Wednesday, October 12, 2011

                            Day 26: Vienna (Oct. 12)

                            Today's pictures can be found here on Flickr.

                            Slept in a bit and went into town to see the Lippizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School. They have a performance this weekend and I was hoping to see some cool stuff at their regular morning practice, but it was mostly just warming up, walking around, and a few things like prancing in place or side stepping, but only occasionally. In the arena, five horses practice for 30 minutes, then they leave and are replaced with five more horses. This goes on for 2-1/2 hours, and people are free to leave when they want. I stayed for a little more than an hour, seeing two full practice sessions.

                            Tuesday, October 11, 2011

                            Day 25: Vienna (Oct. 11)

                            Today's pictures can be found here on Flickr.

                            The train got in close to 6:30am, and I had already been up for an hour. I knew this was going to be a long day. I was in occasional email contact with my host in Vienna, and rather than get there so early, I left my luggage in a locker and after checking my email and getting some breakfast in the 1st class lounge, I jumped right into my tour of the Vienna sights. I took the metro into town from the Hauptbanhof (main train station) and picked up a ticket for tomorrow’s morning practice of the Lipizzaner Stallions, who train right next to the Hofburg area.

                            Monday, October 10, 2011

                            Day 24: Prague (Oct 10)

                            Today's pictures are here on Flickr.

                            It's Columbus Day back in the US. Over here, it's "A European allegedly discovered you 500 years ago? What were you guys doing for a couple thousand years before that while we were over here building castles and cool stuff like that?" Day.

                            Vienna details

                            Now that I've rested and relaxed as much as I can for a couple days in Prague, I'm ready for another trip back on the road and rails. Next up: Vienna.

                            I've gone northeast-ish from London to Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, and up to Copenhagen, then south to Berlin and Prague, and now I'm headed west for a while through Austria, Munich and Bavaria.

                            Sunday, October 9, 2011

                            Day 23: Prague (Oct 9)

                            Today's pictures are here on Flickr.

                            Since I had all day today (Sunday) and one more night at the apartment, checking out in the morning, I originally planned to relax for the day, get some writing done (both here and figuring out future plans), and then on Monday I’d go to the Castle Quarter while leaving my bag in the room. That would end with dinner, picking up my bag, and heading to the train station.

                            Saturday, October 8, 2011

                            Day 22: Prague (Oct 8)

                            Today's pictures can be found here on Flickr.

                            I had an email waiting for me when I got up, from my host telling me that the room was vacant the next 2 days and that I could stay if I wanted (I’d pay in cash at the same rate). The only things really on my agenda for the day were to do laundry and change my train ticket from Prague-Budapest on 10/9 at 12:04am to Prague-Vienna on 10/11 at 12:04am. I’d put off the Castle Quarter for Sunday or Monday.

                            Budapest details

                            Before I left, I had figured out my daily plan up through Prague. Had I realized how little time I was going to have during my trip to figure out what to do after Prague, I would have started earlier and done more up-front work. So now while I'm in Prague, I'm fleshing out a plan for Budapest which is my next stop. This was much easier to do sitting at home at my kitchen table.

                            Update 10/9: After staying up til 4am putting this together, I decided that it was just too much and I needed some time off to relax (I haven't really had a day off since I left) and to plan ahead, plus get some writing done.  I didn't want to be figuring out what I'm doing in Vienna while on the train to Vienna. So regretfully, Budapest will have to wait for a future trip, but this is what I would have done.

                            Friday, October 7, 2011

                            Day 21: Prague (Oct 7)

                            Today's pictures can be found here on Flickr.

                            Rather than getting up early to visit the Jewish Quarter, I saved that for after lunch, which was from the vendors in Old Town Square, roasting hams and grilling bratwurst. I had a wurst and a Gambrinus beer, with some pretzel-y thing for dessert (they put dough in a spiral around a metal bar, then heat it over the fire, then put cinnamon and sugar on it).

                            Thursday, October 6, 2011

                            Day 20: Prague (Oct 6)

                            Today's pictures can be found here on Flickr.

                            Once I did my usual thing of getting my bearings, finding a map, and finding some wifi to check in, I made my way down to Prague’s Old Town Square where my apartment was. I couldn’t have asked for a better location, it was literally right in a back alley off of Tyn Church, about a minute’s walk from the Square. It wasn’t too long before I realized that Prague was what I was thinking of when I wanted to see “Old Europe”, even though I didn’t know it at the time – churches, cobblestone streets, castles, rivers, photogenic bridges. By the end of the first day I was already thinking that this was my favorite new city of the trip so far.

                            Wednesday, October 5, 2011

                            Day 19: Berlin (Oct 5)

                            Today's pictures can be found on Flickr here.

                            Last day in Berlin was Museum Island day, in particular the Pergamon and the Neues Museums. The Neues ("New") Museum is known for its huge collection of Egyptian artifacts, including mummies and a bust of Queen Nefertiti. Upstairs they've got a prehistoric museum collection that's still in work, but includes some Neanderthal skeletons.

                            Tuesday, October 4, 2011

                            Day 18: Berlin (Oct 4)

                            Today's pictures can be found on Flickr here.

                            I originally had some additional things planned for the day north of Unter den Linden in the afternoon, but I spent it all down south. First up was the Jewish Museum of Berlin. It was very powerful, moving, and evocative, tracing the history of the Jews in Germany in general and in Berlin specifically. I tend to linger at museums like this, where there are a lot of things to read. I didn't take many pictures because there really weren't many things to make remembrances of. It took about 2 hours to go through the museum and so I stopped for lunch at a nearby shop. Most of my lunches in Europe tend to be of the "grab a sandwich on a baguette" type of meal.

                            Monday, October 3, 2011

                            Day 17: Berlin (Oct 3)

                            Today's pictures are on this Flickr set.

                            On the one hand, the Berlin train station is really empty and pretty quiet at 6:00am. On the other hand, there's not much open. The tourist info booth doesn't open til 8, and the hop on/off bus doesn't pick up at the train station until 10:20, so I have to amuse myself for a few hours. Dunkin Donuts has good donuts, and Starbucks next door has free wifi. Yay free wifi!

                            Sunday, October 2, 2011

                            Day 16: Copenhagen (Oct. 2)

                            Pictures from today are in this Flickr set.

                            I had some things on the schedule today and leftover from yesterday - the Danish Jewish Museum and the Library, and the Rundetarn (Round House) which was originally built as an observatory for Tycho Brahe - but the only one that really interested me was the Viking Ship Museum in nearby Roskilde, so I slept in.

                            Saturday, October 1, 2011

                            Day 15: Copenhagen (Oct. 1)

                            Today's photos are posted on Flickr here.

                            Woke up around 8:30 or so, after a good 8 hours sleep - which I haven't had since before I left. The train pulled into Copenhagen an hour late, around 11:30, despite the ontime departure, and I had to sit on the internet to finish arranging my lodging for the day.