Austria, Czech Republic, Germany

Vienna - Johann Strauss (Waltz King) and my Sister Lena, Brother-in-law Sasha, and Nephew Sergey in Stadtpark My plane departed Nice, France with more than a two hour delay and landed in Bratislava, Slovakia instead of Vienna, Austria.  Eventually they bused the passengers to the Vienna airport (two additional hours).  It was around midnight when I managed to find my hotel asking for directions all kinds of interesting people leaving the late night bars.   Vienna - Our Hotel And what a surprise!  My sister’s family also just arrived and they were parking their car on the other side of the street.  They were very late too but what a good timing!

Vienna was great.  The weather was just a little too hot.  But early mornings were perfect for jogging along the Ring and in the parks with my nephew Sergey.  We have visited some popular with the locals biergarten in the Prater Park.  Hundreds of people after work come to sit around the large tables under the trees drinking beer and eating what looks like slow baked pig thighs with two different types of mustard and the coleslaw.

Ceske Crumlov, Czech Republic Ceske Crumlov, Czech Republic.  Well preserved very old town behind the defensive walls.  It was raining and so we didn't spend too much time in this tourist trap.  The nature around was great.  Low mountains.  The Vltava River just starts there and eventually goes to Prague.

Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic - Birthplace of Real Budweiser Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic.  The birthplace of the real Budweiser.  Stayed on the 14th floor of the socialist times high rise hotel Gomel full of elderly German tourists.

Passau, Germany.  Nice looking old town fortunate to be not too heavily bombed at the end of WWII.  Located at the confluence of three rivers one of which is the Danube.  Passau, Germany - Start of Bike Ride

We had a great bicycle ride on rented bicycles along the Inn river banks on both German and Austrian sides.

Regensburg, Germany.  Stayed in the hotel run by a guy who was married to an American GI from Minnesota.  Again rather well preserved nice old town on the Danube River.

Prague, Czech Republic.  A very interesting city with the outstanding architecture, history, food and beer.  But my sister, brother in law, and I have been there before so we used the second day in Prague to take a side trip to Karlovy Vary (aka Carlsbad). 

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic - Russian Church It is a nice spa town in the mountains.  Hot natural mineral water drinking fountains are all over the town.  We made a nice one hour climb up to the local mountain and the views were great. Also visited the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church. 

Back in Germany the first stop was in Konnigstein.  This is a very impressive fortress on the top of a pretty high mountain overlooking the Elba River. This is in Saxony.  The region is called the Saxon Switzerland.  Great views.  Konnigstein, Germany - View Down Elba River Valley

Dresden.  Just walked for three hours.  The city was leveled and burned at the end of WWII.  Kurt Wonnegut wrote a novel based on that.  But the Germans managed to restore the Zwinger (Dresden Gallery) and about a dozen of other historic buildings. 

Dresden, Germany - Frauenkirche The most impressive is the huge church we visited.  It was rebuilt just several years ago on the donations which came from all over the world.  While rebuilding it they tried to incorporate the rubble from the old church inside the new walls.

Berlin.  The autobahns are maintained very well and still mostly do not have any speed limit.  So we got to Berlin before the sunset. In the evening just walked along the Kurfurstendam. Berlin, Germany - Kazerkirche on Kurfurstendamm

The next day visited the Reichstag and some other places.  I have been to Berlin many times before.  In the previous years a lot of construction was going on in the areas where the Berlin wall once was.  Now it seemed like the construction is complete.  Even the new American Embassy building construction next to the Brandrburg Gate on the Pariser Platz is complete.

The huge East Germany Parliament building is torn down and all you see now is a large fresh grass lawn.  The plan is to build a replica of the Imperial Palace which stood here before the WWII but they don't have money right now.

At the end of the day my brother in law, my sister and my nephew dropped me at the airport Tegel and went to Braunchweig to visit their friends for the weekend.   And I flew to Orly, Paris.  Paris, France - Hotel Normandy The AirBerlin is by far the best budget airline company I have ever flown. 

So I am back in Paris, France now and staying at the same Hotel Normandy I have stayed many times before.