“Enthralling Experience of Central Europe…. Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary & Germany”
Dhananjay Vijayrao Sevalkar
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Certainly, it was the just beginning of the New Year-2016 and we all family members were enjoying the first holiday of New Year-2016. After having a fresh cup of Coffee and by seeing the summer vacation schedule, my elder daughter reminded our earlier Central Europe plan, “Dad, this year’s summer vacation, we all must go to Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary & Germany” and with cheerful smile, I said, “Done”. This spark ignited the flame in my Touristic Heart to jot down the entirely customized trip schedule for me & my family as we always go on tour by our own. We all started searching our major locations, main touristic spots, scenic beauty and travelling connectivity.
Yeah! The entirely customized plan made ready to cover Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary & Germany in 16 days. After intensive scrutinizing lots of travel airlines options & connectivity locations, we finally booked Royal Jordan Airlines with multi-destination via Jordan (Kuwait-Vienna, Munich-Kuwait) as our earlier experience with Royal Jordan was graceful & dazzling.
All the necessary documents organized for getting a Schengen Visa and with great surprise, we got our Schengen Visa within 4 days from Austrian Embassy in Kuwait. Our Central Europe excursion started immediate next day of summer vacations for Indian Schools in Kuwait on 10 June 2016 via Jordan. As expected, joyfully we all landed in Vienna, the capital of Austria. The process of immigration was very swift and our online-booked Taxi Driver welcomed us with a great smile and a bouquet.
After brief set-up in a hotel room, we walked down in a delightful afternoon up to beautiful Belvedere Palace and its amazing garden. Coincidently, it was the first day of UEFA EURO Cup-2016 and we all witnessed the passionate crowd of football game as the first intense match was between France & Romania and a live telecast was arranged on a big screen at Wien Central station. We made Vienna’s first night as a stopover location before proceeding next 3 days to Prague (Czech Republic) by Austrian Rail jet.
Our first scenic & an early morning rail journey commenced in Rail Jet and after four beautiful hours, we reached Prague in the noon. We already decided 3 days for UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites of Prague, as it is the historical capital of Bohemia and home of a number of famous cultural attractions. My blissful family checked-in “Residence Karlova Apartment” located right in the heart of historical Prague.
Our voyage started via Old Town for local sightseeing viz. Old Town Square & Cathedral, Powder Gate, Republic Square & Charles Bridge including the amazing historical Prague’s Astronomical clock. The entire atmosphere of each lane of Prague city was so live and amusing that each lane was having some mellifluous musical events & ingenious acrobatic demonstrations.
In the next morning, we all headed by a private one-day tour to another UNESCO World Heritage Site Cesky Krumlov. It is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, where Cesky Krumlov Castle is located. Our fairy-tale journey started through the region of wine and a landscape of vineyards. The Palava Hills, a landscape protected area and UNESCO biosphere reserve with two medieval castle ruins, is a place that will long remain in our memory. Beautiful nature with the breathtaking views of picturesque little villages and vineyards. This place is highly endorsed for romantic souls. During this tour, we all enjoyed wonderful views of beautiful untouched nature, and learnt about the rich history of Cesky Krumlov & historical South Bohemian Region. In between, we took many breaks for nature’s photoshoot and returned by evening for the night view of Charles Bridge & Prague Castle.
We wanted to make our last day in Prague most memorable. After heavy breakfast, we all utilized superfast tram and bus services for visiting local sightseeing in Prague Lesser Town viz. Prague Castle, St. Vithus Cathedral, Petrin Tower-Park & New Town Hall. We enjoyed the most delicious pizza & hot chocolates opposite to Petrin Park, which satiated our taste buds.
Late evening, we covered National Museum, National Theatre and the most famous Dancing Building on the bank of Vltava River. Nightlife and glittering lighting view of Wenceslas Square & Charles Square was really an astounding scene. Experiencing the beauty of Prague at night to illuminate the city's fairytale sites with charming stories is the best part. Surely, colorful views of Charles Bridge, banks of Vltava River and Prague Castle lit-up in the night was ecstatic.
To utilize the rest of the day at the most, we started our return journey to Vienna in the morning by Rail jet. At noon, we reached Vienna and checked-in centrally located "The Square Apartments” at Stephansplatz i.e. city center of Vienna for next enormous 5 days. The location of the apartment is the best and unique in nature as it is the center of all the major tourist attractions and just near to all the food malls, main metro station & supermarket. This made our life most cozy and comfortable.
In the late afternoon, we progressed to multi-coloured tile roof St. Stephens Cathedral, which is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of Vienna city and consecrated in 1147. Kids were eager to reach at the bank of Danube River for enjoying DDSG Grand Danube River Cruise Ride as it covers the most parts and major landscapes of the city such as Danube Tower, Millennium Tower, Ring Tower, Urania Observatory etc. Thanks to a Visitors 7-day Pass, which allowed us to access superfast Metros, trams and buses throughout Vienna city. We covered the maximum attractions and visited them with lots of enthusiasm. On Day-6, Rathusplatz, Berg Theatre & People's Theatre near Volks Garten and visiting Austrian Parliament was really an awesome experience. Just next to it, we visited Natural History Museum, Fine Art Museum, Museum Quartier, Maria-Theresien-Platz Square and historical Monuments etc. The surrounding ambience was entirely happening and we felt that the life seems to be most beautiful.
Our Day-7 allocated for Schonbrunn Palace, Garden and Zoo. We sweat out a lot until the half day, as it happened to be the hottest day of the year in Vienna. However, we could able to visit other places in the late evening as the weather became cool. The entire area of Museum of Military History, State Opera House, Baroque Cathedral (Karlskirche) and the House of Music was simply superb and drizzling in the late evening made it even special. In the largest municipal park i.e. Stadtpark, we took photos with the gilded bronze monument of Johann Strauss a great Austrian music composer and the most frequently photographed monuments in Vienna.
Dedicated Day-8 for kids; we witnessed the great Spanish Horse Riding School at Michaelerplatz and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Beside this, Hofberg, Imperial, Baroque Palaces, Neueburg & Sissi Museum (Heldenplatz) visited and we learnt about the great historical journey of Austria since ancient ages. After this entirely jubilant day, we all relaxed on the lush green lawn of Burggarten near National Library.
We got up early to visit the twin city of Hungary i.e. Budapest, which is the most beautiful and highly architectural place, by a day trip arranged and conducted by our own with Rail Jet. On the onset, the journey of two & half hours enjoyed from Vienna to Budapest. By using the Day pass, we enthusiast reached Hungarian Parliament Building, St. Stephens Basilica and State Opera house. With a great surprise, we came to know that our day pass includes for Danube River Cruise circular trip, which allowed us to enjoy more. Later on, we toured Budapest Castle, Fisherman's Bastion & Matthias Church, and the most beautiful Chain Bridge. However, we felt lucky enough to witness a musical event at Hero's Square in the evening before returning to Vienna.
After having memorable & wonderful time in Vienna and Budapest, we headed by rail jet to Salzburg. Salzburg is Old Town & UNESCO World Heritage Site internationally renowned for its baroque architecture in North Alps. The two & half-hours journey was the most scenic and full of natural beauty. We purchased our 3-day pass at a very ultra-clean & posh railway station. The location of our “Hotel Crown Plaza”, which is managed by Pitter family, was an excellent choice in view of food and convenience.
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century great composer Wolfgang Mozart. Salzburg locations remain most famous for their settings for an American musical drama hit film “The Sound of Music” in 1965. Our sightseeing tour in Salzburg started from the most beautiful Mirabell Palace & Garden, birthplace of Mozart & his residence. The photogenic spots of Hellbrunn Palace was splendid and with full of pure nature. Hohensalzburg Palace, Schloss Klessheim is a Baroque palace and beautiful downtown spots were soothing our touristic eyes.
Especially, kids enjoyed the most awaited Hanger Arena of Redbull-7, owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz. It is a multifunctional building with a collection of 25 historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula-One racing cars. It is really a different world.
On this 12th day, we were ready for our private tour to the top class scenic spot of Upper Austria i.e. Hallstatt a village in Austria's mountainous region. The world’s most famous spot is 16th-century Alpine houses and Gothic Catholic church sit on Lake Hallstatt's western shore. Hallstatt is famous for its production of salt dating back to prehistoric times. A funicular connects to Salzwelten, an ancient salt mine with a subterranean salt lake.
Sweet Water Lake of Hallstatt adjacent to rock salt mine is really an unbelievable miracle of nature. During our full day trip to Hallstatt, we visited a small Romanesque Lutheran Church. Lake Cruise & the purity of breezing air with calm ambience entirely appeased our body. We had a strange & an awesome experience by visiting Bone House in Michael’s Chapel as the tradition of decorating & painting the skulls of earlier dead people. We toured by the glass walled Salt Mine Funicular, which took only 3 minutes to climb 1181 feet up the mountain side and Skywalk was a lifetime experience, where we experienced unmatched and breathtaking open-air views of surrounding Alps of Hallstatt village.
Truly, rail jet was our favorite transport for Austria Trip. By another RJ train, we reached Innsbruck within 2 hours and checked-in central "Hotel Hilton". After quick set-up, we rushed to the world’s most desirable & unique destination spot of all tourist i.e. Swarovski’s Crystal World in Wattens. It was a half-day trip and the beauty of art at its peak. The sparkling Chambers of Wonder exude a new brilliance and state-of-art in ornaments and jewellry studded with uniquely chiseled crystals. We visited the world famous Giant and his esthetics garden, was simply outstanding & enchanted by its beauty, inspiration and energy. In the noon, we visited many local spots as everything is within a reachable circle viz. Hofkirche & Hofgarden, Imperial Palace, Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, Triumphforte, Annasaule Pillar, Maria-Theresien Street and Golden Roof along with riverside night view.
Next day morning was the real adventure for us, as we went up the peak point of majestic Nordketten’s mountain range by super swift Funicular Train and the most steadfast Cable Car. We rose to new heights with fantastic views at this jewel of Aps and all in just 20 minutes from downtown Innsbruck, the journey and embarking stations demonstrated the ultramodern architectural engineering. The top roof Hafelekar restaurant at 7401 Feet and its chilling coffee was the pleasant flavor of the enthralling trip. While return, we stopped at Alpine Zoo, which was wonderful for kids and then hopped back on to the cable car to reach downtown.
On 15th day, we bid adieu to Austria from Innsbruck to Munich by transiting in Euro city train. After reaching “Hotel Novotel” in Munich City, we relaxed in a swimming pool, as it was a change of cold weather to hot weather in Germany. After a little 2 hours nap & tasty cuisine in Novotel, we visited a great Deutsches National Museum, gothic & catholic Frauenkirche, St. Peters Church, Marienplatz, Peter's Kirche, Altes Rathus, National Theatre and at last Hofgarten. Marienplatz is a central square in the city center of Munich, which we made our shopping spot, as the entire location is full of life and fun. Late night, reached our hotel and relaxed in the hotel for returning to home.
This was our last day in Munich and our flight was in the afternoon, we enjoyed fitness center, indoor pool, steam room and sauna. Kids enjoyed at game center with Xbox games console. After arduous workout, we all enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast and departed to the largest airport of Munich. During the departure process, all the highlights of our last 15 days holidays in Central Europe sprinted before our eyes.
With the emotional feeling & heavy heart, we left Munich for Kuwait. After settling us in the Royal Jordan Airlines, the beautiful captures of Central Europe by our eyes started glancing one after another. Earnestly, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary & Germany trip of Central Europe happened to be the greatest & most memorable trip of our life. Indeed, it is really an enthralling experience.
|Dhananjay Vijayrao Sevalkar is a Chemical Engineer and presently, working as a Process Engineer in Kuwait Oil Company. He loves travelling across the world, takes interest in tourism & historical places. He is a passionate tourist especially to visit the isolated Islands & tropical beaches. He loves to spare leisure time for drawings, painting, freelance writing and photography.|
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