Upon arriving Teresa decided to check her jewelry which she mistakenly left in her checked suitcase. She could not find it where she had left it. We went to the police station at the airport to report the theft. Teresa thought the policeman was cute and that Christine would have liked him.
We then took a train into Zurich; from there we were able to walk to the car rental agency. They did not have the kind of car we had reserved (small economy). We had to settle for a Mercedes sedan. It was larger than I wanted but we made do.
We changed into shorts and left the car there while we spent the afternoon walking around the city. We saw the largest clock face in Europe, (we saw this at 2:00p.m.) and several churches and crashed a wedding. Of course, we had to climb the one tower we were allowed to. We saw the guild halls that had been turned into restaurants along the river. I got chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone.
We then went back to the car to drive to Luzerne. The drive was a college boy's dream, beautiful and easy.Upon arriving in Luzerne it took us some time to find our hotel. It was right on the river. We cleaned up and walked around the town. Interesting sights included old wooden bridges, churches, the lake, snowcapped mountains in the background and the dying lion relief carved into the rock side of a hill. It commemorated the Swiss fighters who died at Tuleries for Louis XVI. We had chicken Doner kebabs for dinner.
We were able to walk on of the old city walls and climb into the towers even though they were supposed to be closed because of the hour. By now it was after nine but still quite light. We decided to retire early to catch up on lost sleep.
Upon arrival in Interlaken we decided to take the boat tour of the Thunsee. It was a beautiful cool sunny day. We stopped first at St. Beatus cave. St. Beatus was an Irish monk who came to convert the Swiss to Christianity. He slew a dragon which made his job easier. The cave was extensive with a river running through it. No pictures allowed though.
Back on the boat which took us to Thun, after several stops along the river. It was now sixish and our boat was to be the last one returning that day. We found out we could take the train back with our ticket so we went up to see the castle although it was too late to go inside. We found another doner kebab stand but this one had different meat. Off to the train which returned us to our car at Interlaken West.
We then drove to Lauterbrunnen. It was a pretty and short drive. We checked into the Oberland Hotel about 8:00p.m. The overseer was very nice. She saved the best room for us that allowed us to overlook Jungfrau and the Waterfall.
We took a walk out to the waterfall just outside the town and returned to the hotel for dessert. Beer (me), wine (Teresa), and apple strudel with ice cream, cream and a strawberry, delicious.After consulting with our hostess we decided to take the first train to Jungfraujoch in the morning. She told us she would make us a box lunch since we would be leaving before breakfast.
We woke at 6:20 a.m. I got my coke and we took the 3 minute walk to the train station. The train to Jungfraujoch is a cog wheel, which is rare but necessary for the steep climb. There were a couple of stops along the way to view the scenery from openings carved out from the tunnel in the mountains. Halfway up, we changed trains and after the very scenic two hour journey we arrived at a visitor's center close to the top.
We toured the Ice Palace which was very, very, very, cold and featured ice sculptures. We found our way to the top of the building and saw below an observation area out in the snow on a small plateau. We spoke to a family from Kansas and took each other's group picture. They were also staying in our town.
The high point of the excursion was the walk up the glacier to the tip of the glacier where a small restaurant perched. As we huffed and puffed up the slop, we shed our layers of clothing with Teresa even making her final layer into a crop top. We needed frequent pauses to recover from our exertions in the thin air.
The way back was downhill so I tried to ski on my shoes, only fell once. We boarded the train to head back, after 3 hours on the top of Europe. We went as far as Kleine Scheidegg. Teresa talked me into walking down to the town of Wengen. Two hours later after a beautiful but gruelingly steep descent along an often pebbly path, we arrived. This exercise led to some very sore calves that would plague me for days to come. I did get a lot of leg massages out of it because Teresa felt so guilty for insisting we try the climb down. After a brief reconnoiter of the town we caught the train back to Lauterbrunnen.
The day wasn't over yet. We drove a short two miles to Trummellback Falls. Here the glacial runoff from the Eiger, Munch and Jungfrau, (the mountains we had just this morning traveled through, around and down) comes thundering and gouging through a rocky mountain. The pictures won't do justice to the spectacle of the rushing, cacophonous water which has ripped a huge crevice through the middle of a mountain.
After that we hit the grocery store for barbecue tortilla chips, potato chips, Swiss cheese (seemed appropriate), bread, wine and Sprite. We enjoyed the snacks on our scenic balcony serenaded by the jack hammer tearing up the road next to our hotel. Later we dined at the hotel restaurant. Teresa had a big salad and I had a pizza. We passed on dessert.
We slept in until 7:30 the next morning, ate breakfast then began a driving sightseeing day detailed in Michelin's Green book. Our first stop was the Aareschlutht gorge where we had a solitary walk along almost its entire length. This was a gorge carved out by a glacier and resembled a skinny grand canyon, a very worthwhile stop.
We walked back along a road and through a forest and Teresa made friends with some sheep.
From there it was on to "The 3 passes". This involved driving along numerous hairpin turns at breathtaking speeds, two miles up, trying to be sure that all four wheels of our too wide car, remained on the fifteen foot wide road. This had to be managed while traffic, sometimes large tour buses, passed us in the other lane. Luckily there were only 167 such turns.
At Gimmel Pass we parked the car to look for the Rhone Glacier down a footpath. After a lengthy trek we reached only what turned out to be the glacier's waterfall. We ate our lunch there (bread and cheese), then drove upward to see the glacier. Unfortunately the grotto which had been carved out of the glacier was closed, due to open the next day. The rest of the trip yielded the expected views but we stopped to look a few times but only when there was plenty of room.
We then drove around Interlaken to make sure we saw the whole city. Teresa wanted to eat at the Hooters but I told her the food they describe as "tacky" was still overrated. We ate Chinese. Teresa had Seszuan Chicken; I had Sesame Sweet and Sour. We then went back to our hotel to drink more of our wine and Sprite on our balcony.
The next morning we headed to Bern and parked in the very expensive railway car park. We then waked down the main street to see the sights including the medieval buildings, the fountains, the old church with new paintings Teresa really liked, the bear pit and a multimedia presentation on Bern in the visitors' center. We then climbed up a hill to the Rose Garden. We took a different route back to see more old buildings. We tried to get into the main government building but couldn't because we didn't have our passports with us. We bought some roast beef and Roquefort cheese at a grocery store, went back to the car, and headed to Neuchatel. We ate lunch on the way.
At Neuchatel we went to the Tourist information office and got a walking tour map of the city. It had the now familiar old buildings, castle and church. At the castle we were the only two who showed up for the 3:00 tour so we got a private tour and the entire history of this area of Switzerland.
We then went to the art and history museum which featured the three automatons of Jacquet Groz- the musician, the scribe, and the draftsman. Created in 1772, the musician could move her fingers and body to play the spinet, the scribe could write up to 40 programmed letters and the draftsman could draw four different intricate pictures. They only perform on the first Sunday of the month so we only saw a slide show about them. The art was unimpressive (modern). We then got ice cream, Teresa had chocolate and coconut; chocolate and chocolate chip for me. We tried to find phone cards to call home but to no avail.
Then off to Murten, where we checked in, cleaned up and ate at the hotel restaurant which was a terrace overlooking the lake. I had lamb, Teresa had the salad bar. We then walked through and around the small walled medieval town.
In the morning we headed to Avenches, where the Romans settled and built an amphitheater.
Our stop for the night was Lausanne, a large city on Lake Geneva. We arrived at 4:30 and didn't find our hotel until 6:00. We walked around, discovered the cathedral which was one of the reasons we had come here. It was closed, so we walked down to the lake, (which turned out to be quite a trek), for dinner. We both had overpriced mediocre spaghetti bolognaise and salad. There were some threatening clouds and a few sprinkles. On our way back, after a considerable wait for someone to fix the milkshake machine in McDonalds, I slurped a chocolate milkshake. We took the Metro most of the way back, having to exit early because we bought the wrong ticket.
The next morning we walked to the Cathedral, the largest in Switzerland and quite impressive. We passed some street vendors on our way back and bought a couple of ceramics from a pair of women.
We headed out of town which proved to be a great deal easier then finding our way in. We took a picturesque local road along the lake to castle Chilton. It was a very amazing castle, one of the best we have ever visited. Every room was available with an English explanation. It had a history though no major battles and no major destruction. It was built on a rock on the lake in the 12th century.
We had a day and a half to reach Innsbruck, Austria. Teresa wanted to take the southern route with multiple mountain passes because of the better scenery and she said it was shorter. I explained: the northern route was all interstate type roads and would be much faster, we had already seen one of the passes before (the Furka which was the most grueling to drive, although the most beautiful), and our last hotel manager had told us all of Switzerland was beautiful.
On the journey along the southern route, we stopped at a Dale's B B Q (or something like it) for lunch. We had 1/2 a chicken and salad, the daily special. At the end of the "you gotta be Furkaing me pass", there was one benefit. We got to visit the ice grotto inside the glacier we had missed three days before. The walk to the ice grotto ended up being the neatest part of the stop. We got to walk much closer to the main part of the glacier and had a great view. The grotto was quite a ways in and certainly took some hard work to carve, pretty neat.
After two more hours of driving 60 miles an hour on narrow roads (the speed is a macho thing- you can't let anyone think about passing you, except motorcycles because they go 90), on the sides of mountains, (did I tell you 2 miles up?), often with no guardrails, we decided to stay the night in Chur. It's a small city but very nice. It has been continuously inhabited for 13,000 years. We walked around the city; saw the church tower, the courtyard of the bishopric and a lot of the downtown area. This is not a place Americans go or have even heard of. Teresa asked our waiter if he spoke English. He said, "But of course."
We ordered a traditional Swiss dish that Rick Steves recommends, Rosti. It is basically hash browns with cheese. Teresa had the more traditional version with Gruyere cheese. Mine was with tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella. We talked to a family from Philadelphia, not tourists. He was there teaching a summer program in hotel management for students from the University of Delaware. We then strolled around some more, got somewhat lost but finally made it back to the hotel.
The next morning we headed to Innsbrook. The good news was that the only practical way to get there was by good highways, (except for about 10 miles in Lichtenstein when we were on local road). The bad news was that about 1/3 of the trip was through tunnel. We arrived in Innsbrook at noon, checked into our very nice hotel in the center of the old town and went out to explore.
The Golden Roof was right down the street as was the palace, the Cathedral, the Hop Kirche, and the rest of the sights. This was the first day we successfully found a card and called back to the states, to Mary Jo, Christine and Nanny. It ended up being extremely cheap, 10c a minute. We felt much better knowing that Shane had made it successfully home.
We ate dinner at a small restaurant with prices better than Switzerland. I had Reindl, dumplings in cream and cheese sauce with pork medallions. Teresa had a salad. We shared apple strudel with ice cream (large portion) for dessert.
The next morning we headed for Zel am See which was a quaint resort town on a lake recommended by a Notre Dame Alumnus on an Internet board. Although most resorts in the area catered to the ski crowd this one attracted sun worshippers. There was an area with a swimming pool; slides and diving platforms into the lake. Only one topless sunbather but she could be proud.
We back tracked to Bihezg to ride the longest summer toboggan run in the world. We had a nice ride up a ski lift then a fast ride through the trees down. Teresa loved it.
We headed out to Waften to the Holltezafen Castle. Here we enjoyed a Bird of Prey show featuring a bald eagle and many different falcons. They flew inches above our heads as we sat on a grassy hill in outer the courtyard.
Afterwards, we entered the castle a watched a costumed fighting demonstration of sword play and other medieval weapons. We ended our visit with the last tour of the day around the castle. We listened to an English audio tour which was pretty good. The castle had been involved in religious wars. The only successful siege starved the inhabitants but the walls were never breached.
We left to find a room in Hallstatt. Rick Steves wrote that many places in town would not accept a one night reservation but the Tourist Information center could usually find you a room. Since it was so late we never found a TI center to help us but there was a self-help board with phones and a computer of sorts. After an hour searching and even getting a girl at a "full" hotel to make some calls, we gave it up and drove out from town. A mile or so out of town we found a B & B that was nice. After cleaning up we drove back into town and parked in the lot above the town off the tunnel.
We walked down through some light rain, and in searching for a place to eat ran across what we later found out was a visiting choir, from Krone College in Minnesota, giving a show in a church. We peeked in but didn't stay since we thought we were interrupting a service or something. Later we, met and spoke with a few of the girls. There weren't many places to eat and it started to pour. A bartender recommended a restaurant that turned out to a starred one in our tour book. We dined on a nut salad and the local fish, Resalshe, which was served whole. The meal was delicious and expensive: the service and restaurant, classy. Our room looked like something from the Shire in The Hobbit. Vines had grown in through the windows and were entwined along the ceiling where they had been decorated with small lights. Teresa loved it.
In the morning we headed to the Ice Caves. This included a round trip on a cable car. Another 15 minutes' hike uphill got us to the entrance where we waited for the guide. We were the first tour of the day and we only had three other people with us. The ice caves were one of a large series through the mountain which has naturally formed year round ice formations. We were glad we brought some warmer clothes for this tour.
We then walked to the old city of Hallstadt where we ate Kebabs by the lake. The lake appears to be a valley, full of water, with mountains surrounding and reflecting back from the very cold, clear water. We looked around the Catholic Church with its triptych (a three paneled altar piece), cemetery and the charnel house with the largest collection of skulls in the world.
About two we drove to the beautiful city of Salzburg. We were allowed to drive to our hotel in the pedestrian center and found our hotel on narrow Gold Gassa. We began our walk with a visit to the Cathedral (Dom) which was glorious, and we caught an impromptu set of songs by a choral group visiting the Cathedral. We walked around the old city some and ended up in a garden restaurant for dinner. Teresa loved her pork and cabbage with salad but was disappointed in her bread dumpling because it was made with rye bread.
We then saw more of the city, including the city gates and the house of the composer of Silent Night. We walked along a major pedestrian shopping street on the other side of the river, just window shopping, (most everything was closed) got ice cream and headed back to the hotel.
In the morning we headed to the fortress above the city, Salzburg's acropolis. The city was ruled by archbishop-princes who prospered off the salt trade. The fortress was never taken by force but surrendered to Napoleon peacefully. We went through the State rooms and the various exhibits.
Next we went through some other churches in close proximity. Teresa took pictures of the Franciscan Church as it was the only "non-Baroquey" church in the city.
Our lunch consisted of a pretzel that was more like a pastry with nuts, then strawberries, and finally sausage sandwiches. I had the bratwurst, Teresa the spicier kind.
We then went to Mirabell gardens, which were featured in the Sound of Music, and the Mirabell Palace. We window shopped our way back to the hotel with stops for an ice cream cone for me and chocolates for Teresa. We took a rather extended siesta before cleaning up to go out to dinner.
Deciding on our dinner spot resuled in a rather long trip that ran along both sides of the river. We finally settled on the Glochenschpiel Café right on Mozartplatz. A violinist and a pianist played Mozart throughout dinner as his statue looked on approvingly. I had pork medallions, roste (prepared much differently), and vegetables. Teresa had chicken and asparagus over rice in a cream sauce. We shared a pricey Black Forest Cake for dessert.
The next morning we headed to Melk. We took the expressways to Yhrs where we switched over to a different road so we could go along the Danube. Teresa wasn't feeling well so we took a break after arriving at the hotel in Melk. It was a hot day and so we were glad we had scrapped Teresa's plan to bike ride as suggested in Rick Steve's book. Lot of other people though had ridden bikes into town.
The Abbey was just above our hotel. Everything about the Abbey, the architecture, the objects of art, the church, was well done. We also learned more history, theology and philosophy as there was plenty of English text throughout the Abbey. In the magnificent Church of the abbey, its motto was recited, "Where there is not a legitimate battle, there is no victory." We both thought it appropriate. I also saw my favorite painting of St. Sebastian out of the 37 we have seen in our travels.
We returned to out room and allowed Teresa to recover from the hot excursion. I ended up taking two showers before we went out to dinner. I had a salad and pizza with anchovies, ham, mushrooms and olives. Teresa had ham and oregano on hers. We then walked around the small, quaint town and regretted we forgot the camera as we had the best view of the abbey.
The next morning we headed off to Vienna. It took a while to find the correct place to return the rental car, but otherwise we found everything o.k. We checked in and then started to see the sights. It was another really hot day. We went to the church where Napoleon was married in absentia — with the crying lion.
We saw more neat stuff on the way to the Hapsburg's palace in town. Inside the palace we toured 3 museums: Ephesus, (apparently the Austrians were to Ephesus what the Germans were to Pergamon) with musical instruments, and instruments of war, which was very heavy on armor for people and horses.
We went to the parliament building which has my favorite fountain in the world but you have to go to the backside of it to appreciate it.
We went to city hall where we chanced on a horse dressage demonstration.. The architect of the building also designed the Cologne Cathedral.
We saw some more churches, including St. Stephen's Cathedral which they have started cleaning- it needed it badly. We then strolled and found a Greek Restaurant. We shared a huge eclectic salad and each had roast lamb with beans and rice. We then took the subway back to our hotel.
In the morning our first stop was Schonbrun Palace. Remarkably like Versailles, a hunting lodge outside the city turned into a large palace where the emperor received commoners etc., with gardens and fountains in the back.
We U-Bahned it back into town and each had a tuna fish salad for lunch, very good. The art history museum was next which was full of Titian, Tintoretto, Verrazano, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Eyk, Breugel, and Palmagramino, among others. This took five hours including a small break for ice cream.
We then went to the suburbs via tram to the "new wine" district and ate at a "new wine" garden. We shared a bottle of not so new wine, 18 Euros verses the three Euros for the new wine. We poured it "like we did in Vienna". Before going back to the hotel, we strolled along the shopping street near our hotel and got ice cream cones.
We slept in until eight o'clock and headed to St. Stephen's to view the cathedral again. We were told that an English tour would start at 3:45 so we went to the TI to see about train tickets. We were referred to a travel agency which booked them for us.
We then went to the Treasury Museum at the Palace and it was impressive. The normal crowns, scepters, orbs, reliquaries, and even coronation and other vestments were in great shape. We spent a lot of time there using the excellent audio guides.
Next was the National Library in the same Palace. On the way we passed a medieval fighting demonstration just like the one in Waffen.
We grabbed some very mediocre pastry and went to St. Stephen's for the tour only to find it had been cancelled. We did some shopping, some more churches- St. Peter's the Franciscan Church and St. Maria Hifiger.
It was then back to the hotel to get ready for the concert. We had been talked into concert tickets on our first day and soon found out that we were going to a tourist concert. These were sold by costumed English speaking salespeople. At least we could truthfully tell the twenty hawkers or so throughout the rest of our stay that we already had tickets.
The concert was in the Musicterin which was nice. The performers were all in 18th century garb. The string section was very good, the horns weak, the conductor rushed through the first movement of Mozart's 40th, and there was too much opera sprinkled. in.. (which our salesman neglected to tell us) Afterwards we walked around downtown Vienna to see it lit up at night. There was quite a promenade going on.
We ate Italian for dinner. Teresa had penne pasta with sun dried tomatoes which was very tasty. I had linguine with fruits de mer. We both had salad and garlic bread. It was fitting therefore for us to have gelato. I had banana and lemon for a change, Teresa had caramel and cherry. It started to rain so we went back to our hotel.
In the morning we headed. to Belvedere.Palace but stopped at the train station on the way so we would know where it was . Belvedere Palace was created for Prince Eugene who routed the Turks in 1699. It is in two parts both containing art work. The first had impressionists including Monet, Van Gogh, Pisarro, and Renoir. It featured an Austrian named Amerling and Gustav Klimt who painted The Kiss", one of Teresa's favorites.
The lower palace where the Prince resided held mostly medieval art. I did take a picture of David's Napoleon although it wasn't allowed.
We then walked to the opera house for the tour. On the way we passed the Russian soldier memorial which is not mentioned in any books and generally ignored.
The opera tour took us to the tea room of the emperor, now rented out at 1,600 Euros a performance- no champagne or chicken wings. We saw the intermission rooms and then were taken back into the opera seating area where they were assembling sets. The Vienna opera changes the opera every day! This means a huge logistics problem for set erection.
After the tour we headed to St. Stephen's and on the way ate a sausage with cheese inside it and wrapped in bread. I enjoyed it, Teresa thought it was greasy.We then got the guided tour of St. Stephen's and learned its history.
We then strolled back to the Parliament to take some pictures.
From there we headed to Pater Amusement Park beyond the Danube Canal. We went on a Ferris wheel which is the oldest operating one (over a hundred years old) in Europe and possibly the world. We then walked through the extensive amusement park. I offered to let Teresa ride on several rides by herself, but she wanted me along. I didn't have the urge to become nauseous at this point.
We decided to eat in the area of our hotel and it was a good choice. We found a popular Italian restaurant. We both had insalata mista and spaghetti Bolognese after Teresa tried to confuse the waiter twice.We then walked around the neighborhood and headed back after seeing the fifth McDonalds.
We slept in the next morning as our train for Prague did not leave until 10:25. We had a bit of a panic when we discovered a wait of two or three hours for a credit card to clear for the hotel stay. I scampered out and found an ATM. We bought custom-made. sandwiches from the grocery store across the street, along with my Coke, and got on the 13A bus to the train station. We had discovered that some of the constant street noise we had been hearing outside our hotel window was this same bus. The train ride was reminiscent of East Germany with the stark ugliness of decaying Communist architecture.
In Prague we took the subway in from the train station and were first surprised at the weakness of the dollar against the Czech crown. This made our hotel cost rather high in a cheap city. When we arrived at our hotel, we found out why. We had inadvertently booked a suite consisting of three separate rooms, a bathroom, bedroom (small) and a living area with a large dining room; a table with six chairs fitted comfortably around it, a small refrigerator, a large writing desk with chair, sofa, chiffarobe, television cabinet, and two other chairs and table.
We started walking and went to St. Wenceslaus Square in the New Town; walked and saw sights in the Old Town, including the seven o'clock chiming of the 1453 astronomical clock with saints peeking out, the Old Town Square, the Powder Tower, and other sights.
We found a restaurant near the St. Charles Bridge. I had Roquefort Salad, Sirloin with Roquefort Sauce, Julienne Vegetables and Au Gratin Potatoes. Teresa had a Feta Cheese Salad, Black Rice with Chicken, Steak, Pork and Vegetables. We walked along the St. Charles Bridge before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning we headed first through the Little Quarter to the Palace. We toured through St. Vitaly's Cathedral, the old Palace and the Golden Lane. We had to go up the tower in the Cathedral. It was a large Cathedral but mobbed with tour groups speaking Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, and English.
We then went to a series of five museums in the Jewish Quarter, including a cemetery, three synagogues and a burial ceremony hall. At one time Prague had a very large Jewish population that was persecuted on and off through hundreds of years.
On the way back to our room to clean up we went to Cream and Dream. (Cream.Dream.com) for the best gelato we had ever had, including Italian gelato.
For dinner we went to a nice Italian restaurant. We each had very good pizzas. Teresa said her Pepperoni was the best she ever had. I had beer; she had two wines, with tip, fourteen dollars.We then walked to Charles Bridge.
We got into a little scuffle with a crew filming a movie "The Last Daughter". They tried to keep us from the bridge. While we were straightening that out, Matt Damon tried to pick up Teresa but I told him to buzz off. We got on the bridge and took a picture we hope turns out.We then walked back to the Old Town Square, got some more of the best ice cream in the world, Teresa chocolate/chocolate and me chocolate/banana.
The next morning we tried to go the Bethem Chapel across the street where John Hus preached. It was closed. We found out later that evening the Czech Republic's President was coming for some event. We walked south through the New Town to its hall and tower. We went up the tower, our last climb of the trip. We then walked around Charles Park which included a trip to St. Ignatius Church, a Jesuit edifice and a botanical garden. We then walked back into town and went to some malls in the city near St. Wenceslaus Square. Teresa first had a caramel frappacino from a Star Bucks wanna be Star Café. (It was ok) I had a sausage and Teresa got a gyro. We found the farmers market but only window shopped.
We caught our only cab of the vacation at 5:30 in the morning and were driven at breakneck speed through the almost empty streets to the airport to catch our flight to Zurich with a long lay over before leaving for the States. We flew into bad weather in Miami, circled back out to the Bahamas, were told we would have to divert to Fort. Myers but as we were heading in that direction we received clearance to land. This had made us quite late getting in and we worried about Shane who was waiting for us. We were able to find him with the use of Steve's cell phone and we headed for home.