Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Return From Europe

Europe was amazing and exhausting! It was freezing and chilly....and frequently dreary. But I am glad that it did not rain. Here's my recap in pictures!

We flew to Amsterdam and arrived Saturday morning. From there, we checked into our hotel and went to a local park, Vondel Park. We also explored Amsterdam that day, including going to the Van Gogh museum. There was a note in our hotel room letting us know that the local transportation would be on strike on Sunday, and after seeing everyone in Amsterdam riding a bike, we decided that we would rent bikes on Sunday.
Of course, I haven't ridden a bike in years and was very wobbly. It's not my best sport.
On Sunday, we biked all over Amsterdam, trying to avoid cars and pedestrians. I preferred the deserted side streets where I wasn't likely to run over anyone with my bike. At least because of the strike, I didn't  have to worry about avoiding the trams. We biked to the Secret Annex of Anne Frank (center of picture). That was amazing - I haven't read her diary since middle school and had forgotten that her father was the only person to survive. The building is now a museum and visitors can walk through the hidden bookcase to see where her and her family lived for a couple of years, hiding from the German Nazis.
The weather was cold and dreary, but despite my initial apprehensiveness, I had fun biking along the canals! On sunday night we caught the overnight train to Prague, Czech Republic. The train stopped in Düsseldorf and Berlin, along the way. We arrived in Prague and settled into our gorgeous 5-star hotel. Prague is inexpensive and the hotel cost us only $50 per person per night! I loved the red stairwell.
While in Prague, we wandered all over the city and saw the Astronomical Clock in the main town square and walked across the Charles Bridge.  We also did a night time ghost tour that went through the Old Town and underneath into the medieval torture chambers - but we did not see any ghosts.
After two nights in Prague, we took the early train to Munich, Germany, to spend the afternoon/evening. We drank huge 1 liter beers at the Hofbräuhaus and sat with boys in the band who wore lederhosens as we listened to traditional Bavarian music.
We stayed at the Hofbräuhaus for 5 hours then had to continue on our way via train to Salzburg, Austria, where we were scheduled for the Sound of Music tour! Wednesday morning was spent singing along with Julie Andrews in one of the 20th century's most beloved films. We saw many filming locations throughout the town and up in the Austrian mountains.
Here is the glass gazebo where they filmed the song, "I am 16 going on 17..." and also the Mirabell gardens, where they filmed the "Do Re Mi" song.
After Salzburg, we had a quick train ride to Vienna, but only stayed one night, as we were headed to Budapest, Hungary, on Friday. I liked the horse drawn carriages in Vienna.
In Budapest, we stayed at a hotel that is connected to thermal hot baths, built at the beginning of the 20th century. As hotel guests, we got free entry. These baths were quite relaxing after all the running around we were doing, but we had forgotten about the European lack of modesty and custom of nude bathing. We, however, chose to keep our suits on.
Saturday in Budapest, we explored the city. The picture of us with the maps pretty much sums up our trip, haha, but we managed to find our way everywhere we needed to go. The picture below that was taken on the Buda side of the Danube River, overlooking the Pest side.
Finally, Saturday afternoon was our flight to Paris with an overnight layover.  The main thing I wanted to see on this trip was the Eiffel Tower and it was amazing - so much bigger than I imagined and so beautiful lit up at night. And, it glitters on the hour - I loved it!

The last place we went for the night was the Moulin Rouge, but we didn't see a show. The next day we got up to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, then headed for the Paris airport. Several free glasses of Delta wine and 3 movies later, we landed safely in Atlanta! Now it's back to reality - preparing for a holiday dance performance and Christmas-time!


Anonymous said...

Looks like u had a blast! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing trip MA!!! Looks like it was amazing. I loved all of the pictures-thanks so much for posting them. Thanks for the Eiffel gif too :) very cool. I got chills thinking about actually seeing Anne Frank's secret annex in person.

SassyUptownChic said...

Mary Ann, Welcome Back Girl!!! These pictures are just gorgeous. You look fabulous in them! I am loving The Sound of Music pictures. Oh my gawd the glass house where she sang "I am 16 going on 17" is just too cute. It still looks the same. And I love your identical pose to Julie Andrews. I am such a fan of that movie. The Eiffel tower looks beyond amazing. You captured each and every moment impeccably. And I'm so glad you guys made the best out of the strike situation. Glad you enjoyed yourself and welcome back. ((HUG))

Lilly's Style said...

Welcome back! It looks like you had an amazing trip. The pictures are beautiful!

Rachel said...

I love the pictures! Looks like an amazing time! You look fantastic too, for having run all over Europe! Welcome back:)

Aurelia (A Pretty Life) said...

Budapest is sooo beautiful. I came here for 2 years and already live 10 years.Kisses from Hungary.