Archive | July, 2012

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The “Bull’s Blood” of Eger, Hungary

Posted on 14 July 2012 by brett

Plaza View from Eger Castle

Plaza View from Eger Castle

Most people we met en route to Hungary darted straight for Budapest, the capital city. Our engagement anniversary date is July 13th….. and we wanted to do something special in the wine country. Why? Because we were engaged at Matanzas Creek Winery in their beautiful lavendar gardens. Well, that’s easy! We will just swing by St. Stephen’s (10th century) town of Eger. But seriously, this is not a straight forward destination from places like Zdiar, Slovakia. Christie found the best route, which took over six hours and consisted of a bus to Poprad, train to Kotice, train to Fuzesabony, and train to Eger.

Downtown Eger

Downtown Eger

Eger feels like a cross between Mikulov and Olomouc in the Czech Republic. It has Olomouc’s vibrant university scene meshed with tons of historic buildings. Add wine country, thermal baths and there you have Eger. Eger’s wine tourism brings an older “cafe crowd” very much like Mikulov. So, if you’re not in school and have some time….. Eger could be perfect for you!  Continue Reading

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Slovak Paradise in the High Tatras

Posted on 11 July 2012 by christie

A Slovak Paradise in the High Tatra Mountains

A Slovak Paradise in the High Tatra Mountains

Finally after detouring from Prague to Berlin, then Krakow and Auschwitz, we are back on track inhaling the crisp mountain air in the High Tatras, Slovakia. All of the cities we visited were spectacular, especially our unexpected tour through the vibrant city of Krakow. Nonetheless cities are cities and we are always bound to get very weary of the hustle and bustle…making the High Tatras Mountains the perfect next stop on our journey.

Zdiar in the Bela Tatras

While staying at “Poet’s Corner” in Olomouc, Czech Republic, we heard about “The Ginger Monkey” hostel situated in a little village called Zdiar in the Bela Tatras. Upon further investigation, we discovered the Bela Tatras are a smaller mountain range close to the Polish/Slovakian border, directly next to the High Tatras. We had read about some small villages in the High Tatras, such as ….., however they appeared to be extremely touristy. Away from it all, Zdiar sounded like the perfect location to relax our minds and bodies for the next couple days. And…it helped that the Ginger Monkey had the most rave reviews. Continue Reading

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Krakow…. Revival of the Jewish Quarter!

Posted on 08 July 2012 by christie

Lively Streets of Krakow, Poland

Lively Streets of Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland wasn’t part of our travel itinerary. After detouring from Prague to Berlin for the Pearl Jam tour, traveling through Poland was essential to get back on track with our visit to the High Tatras in Slovakia.  And, boy were we happy that we didn’t miss this wonderful little city, along with its friendly Polish residents. 

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland, but still quite small compared to other cities we’ve visited in Europe. Our primary reason for staying a few nights in Krakow was to visit the Auschwitz concentration camps, which are just 80km outside the city. Brett had visited Poland several years ago and was sorry that he missed the opportunity to visit the camp. Krakow in itself is worth spending a few days, exploring its neighborhoods, sites and enjoying its riverside activities.   Continue Reading

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Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Experience

Posted on 07 July 2012 by brett

The Children of Auschwitz, Birkenau Camp

The Children of Auschwitz, Birkenau Camp

I had the chance to visit Krakow, Poland and the “Auschwitz” concentration/extermination camps in 2004. My visit to Poland was for business and I was petrified to see what happened there between 1940 and 1945 (the Soviet liberation). Our last minute trip to Berlin, Germany made it possible to reverse a past regret. On the way to Zdiar, Slovakia we spent a few days around Krakow and Auschwitz.

To summarize our experience, Auschwitz is a place everyone should see. Yes, it is unimaginably sad and gruesome….. but, at the same time a valuable reminder of how dangerous the world can be. Believe it or not, these Nazi Germany crimes happened less than 70 years ago. Operated by the Third Reich during WWII, Auschwitz was the largest death camp where 1.1 million of the 6 million European Jews were killed. Continue Reading

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Pearl Jam & Berlin, Germany

Posted on 05 July 2012 by brett

Mike McCready at Praha Train Station

Mike McCready at Praha Train Station

Our decision to leave Prague and follow Pearl Jam to Berlin was spontaneous and what life’s all about. That morning, we scored two seats in Section 102 and a small guesthouse in Wedding, Berlin. We approached the train platform in Praha to notice a bunch of 10c members crowded around Mike McCready. What?? OMG!!

At the right moment, we jumped in for the photo opportunity of a lifetime. Brett said, “dude?” and Mike was like, “where you from?”. We should have made a request or said something witty, but you know how that goes. Mike is such a cool and genuine dude. He travels independently by train with his family. It’s actually much easier in some ways than trekking to the airport, etc…… and, there is 1st class. We couldn’t wait to get to Berlin and share our story!

The Berlin Wall Near Wedding

The Berlin Wall Near Wedding

Not too far from the Wedding District in North Western Berlin are remnants of the Berlin Wall. We did a self-guided tour of the “walls” with watch tower foundations in between. Some parts of the wall are brick and intact. Others, are rusted steel beams. Pictorials exist all over with stories of escape attempts. We read about a young boy who scaled the wall and ran atop before being gunned down. There, remains a memorial with his story. Our favorite story is of a man who drove a pickup truck filled with sand, his wife, and child through the wall and then multiple barracks. There are sections of the wall where one could technically be on the east side, but think he’s on the west side. We met friends who shared their family story of migrating from east to west. They followed the “economic miracle” in West Germany (around 1950) as the Parliamentary Democracy prospered. Children secretly carried household items everyday to school until everything was moved. Continue Reading

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