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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Back from Vacating Prague

Marv & Claire in PragueTen days on the road was a great diversion from Prague’s usual (though never uninteresting) sights sounds smells and food. (to see many more pics, visit flickr) In Prague, Mom & Dad liked the food & wine, loved the castle sights and street sounds. Old Town Square was a fantabulous cacophany of peoplesound. But then we lighted out.

Viennese Subway entranceFirst stop, Vienna … which I thought I’d seen most of last time. Wrong. The city palace of the Hapsburgs is enormous, with lots and lots to see; which means I need to return, especially for its pastries, which this time we sort’a missed.

In the pocket of the Adriatic sits a pile of villages climbing up the mountainside of Croatia. We stayed in Opatija, on the sea. The wine was good, the food decent, and a morning swim in the blue sea was both cool and finally exhiliarating. This salty sea is nearly drown proof.



Mark & Claire swimming the Adriatic

Next down the coast came Sibenik, a small fishing village with fabulous food, good wine, lively people swimming boating sunbathing gabbing. Played Scrabble on the beach front and drank good Croatian beer, Ozujsko and Karlovacko. The “town” was a mere cross street among crowded lanes of house/apt rentals, but a small Konzum grocery gave up beer, fruit, meat & bread.

harbor boats at Sibenik


Sunset on the Adriatic


home crushed olive oil

Along the way to Dubrovnik we passed through long-long LONG tunnels: one 5,790 meters, another 5,940 meters. You get inside these and the temperature drops 15 degrees. Just amazing.

In Dubrovnik the Hotel Neptune sang loudly above the rocky coast, where beach lounge-chairs spread alongside the waterfront. I’d punished my knee in a previous day’s workout, so swimming was not on the ticket for me. But beer was.

up the steps in Dubrovnik


Dubrovnik city walls

Dubrovnik’s walled city looms like a coastal citadel because … well, because that’s exactly what it was. For a few dollars you get to walk the circumpherence of the wall, getting sights unique to travelers and tourists alike. The seafood in the harbor restaurant was excellent, and so was the house wine.

main Dubrovnik street

As we walked the old city streets, we each of us realized that this walled city was much like Valletta, Malta’s walled city: long wide streets running to the sea and land; narrow cross streets that climbed stairways towards the walls. Nowadays these streets are crowded with restaurants, bars, and shops, but one can still imagine life as the 16th century citizens might have felt.

Dubrovnik city walls_2


castle walls onto the Adriatic



Zagreb was in fact a short stop after a long drive toward Budapest, but this small old town with a delightful square gave up the best restaurant on the trip: the Vinodol, hidden in a courtyard and serving traditional Croatian dishes — fish soup, sausages, veal, seafood … all to stuff us enough so that we couldn’t imagine ordering the chocolate-filled pancake dessert. And the wine was fabulous.

mark with beer

Budapest is a hot, dusty, loud city in the summertime, but it has its pleasures, including side-street cafés under shady trees, used English-language bookstores with cheaply priced titles, and stunning Danube views and hilltop overlooks of the famed Parliament palace.

Castle district in Budapest

What made Budapest well worth the trip was spending half a day at the Gellert (hotel) baths and spa. The palatial main thermal baths hold all the grandeur people expect of Old Europe-kept-alive. While outside the main pool was alive with beauties, and the sauna was steamy-hot-hot with a coldCOLD bath outside. Loved it all. And there was a nice little tree-shaded café serving fresh salads, German beer, and some decent house wine.

Gellert baths main hall


Gerllert hotel outdoor pool

Yes, always the wine.

Budapest Parliament at night (no shit)

1 Comment »

  ClaireMargaret wrote @ August 8th, 2009 at 8:47 pm

What a great synopsis of our trip. Am using it as a guide for organizing my pictures since memories flitter back and forth from place to place as often as my pic download mixed them up. Now need to sort them by date, and this really helps. What a joy your blog is.

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