Hello! Libby here!
I figured I would put the update about the three places I went in one post to make it easier for everyone! I did a little bus tour in Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; and Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic). These three locations were all fairly close to one another, which made it easy to travel between the three of them.
My first stop was Budapest and I loved it there. Budapest was a quirky little town that has a lot of history. My first stop in the morning was the Great Synagogue. I visited during passover, so the Synagogue was fairly strict on proper head coverings for men and not allowing any food inside the temple. The building was both beautiful on the inside and the outside. And, since Hungary was heavily affected by World War II and the Holocaust, there were many memorials for that. Later in the day I also visited the Terror Haza, which is a museum dedicated to both the Holocaust’s effects in Hungary and also the later communist reign in Hungary. It was incredibly powerful to learn about Hungary’s history from them and also see the people’s response to these events, including the way their government is currently trying to change history. One of the local monuments is the Shoes on the Danube River. These shoes where put there to honor the people who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.
Later on, I climbed up to the castle and church on the hill. The church is called Matthias Church. This church gave beautiful views of the City of Budapest and the hills around there and also taught me a little bit of royal history from the Austro-Hungary Empire. Then I ended my evening there with a nice long soak in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. This is an open air public bathhouse that hundreds of people visit each day. I relaxed in the thermal baths for a couple of hours and then retreated back to my room for the evening!
The next day, after a couple of hours on a bus, I made it to my next stop: Vienna, Austria. I had a ton of fun in Austria, and I started my morning out the best way you could: by going to the zoo. Vienna’s Zoo is home to many extinct- or close-to-extinct animals, so I was in for a treat. There were so many different animals there and many I had never seen! I was especially excited because I made it there just in time for the penguin feeding — let me tell you, penguins go crazy when they are being fed! I spent about 3 ½ hours at the zoo and could have easily spent more time there, but I wanted to go visit the palace, too. I went into the castle and learned a lot more about the family that I began learning about in Hungary (The Habsburgs family). I learned about their lives and their eventual decline in power. This castle is still beautifully preserved and constantly undergoing refurbishments.
I ended my first evening in Vienna at the Vienna Opera House. This opera house has a great system where you can queue for a standing ticket that only costs 4 Euros. I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to see the show that night, which was a premiere of the Ballet Raymonda. This was my first ballet and I really enjoyed it.
The next morning I was just wandering around Vienna and enjoying the city sights when I happened upon a festival that was celebrating the region of Styria. The region is known for their wine, apples, and their Sunday best. I had a good time enjoying a little bit of Styria wine and culture and it was a great way to end my time in Vienna.
That then takes me to my final stop in the journey and on the European mainland: Prague. Prague was a nice city, again with a lot of history. I set out to learn a bit more about this and took a tour through the Jewish Quarters. In this area there are many synagogues and many memorials for the victims of the Holocaust. One of the synagogues that I visited had the name of every Jew from Czechia that was murdered during the Holocaust. Those walls were filled. I continued my tour through the Jewish quarters, visited a couple more synagogues and an overflowing graveyard, and learned a ton more.
After my tour through the Jewish Quarters I toured through the Clementinum. I toured here because it houses the most valuable library in Europe and possibly the world. Unfortunately I was not able to take pictures in the library, but I was able to take a couple from the look-out point in the same building. It housed a great view of the city and allowed you to see just about everything!
After spending some time in the Clementinum I began to explore the city and side streets a bit. I got to try a traditional Czech dessert, which roughly translates to chimney cones and ice cream. They make your ice cream cone out of dough and slowly cook it over the fire. Then they fill it up with ice cream and other goodies. Boy, was that good. I watched the sunset over the river and then headed back to my BnB to prepare for my flight early the next morning!
I really enjoyed my time in all three of these cities, and I did a lot more in each of these cities, but I figured I would just give a little taste of each of them! I hope that you enjoyed the slightly longer post and pictures! I am off to Dublin, Ireland now; stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!