Koos, me and the Smart go through Europe (again)
So at last we are off on holiday again, this time it is to be a relaxed, no haste holiday! We got up just after 7 and had breakfast and then packed the car. Even though we had packed carefully for our four-week trip we were a bit surprised how full the car was. We stopped for coffee just before crossing the border. It was actually quite busy on the roads early in the morning. Once we were over into Germany the roads were less busy. We went passed Botrop, Dormund, and towards Kassel and then turned south and finally passed Eisenach, Weimar and on to Jena. The route description for the last kilometres to the hotel said go pass 5 sets of traffic lights and on the 6th turn left. We did that but did not see, as they said, the hotel in front of us. In fact we had to turn left at the 7th set of lights. We checked into the hotel and the room was nice and big with a sitting area, which is great for the evening. Then we had a drink and a chat before dinner. We had booked half board (as all the other Dutch here for the week had done) and we all had to eat at 6 o’clock. So it was a long queue for dinner. We ha a table with four very pleasant people. The noise in the dinning room was terrible when everyone started chatting!!! We had cream of spinach soup, followed by pasta with goulash and apple strudel as pudding. It was very nice but with the portions I will not be gaining weight this holiday. After a coffee we had a shower and then relaxed.
It was very cloudy when we woke up at 7.30. We turned over and had another 15 minutes in bed before getting up for breakfast. It was a very good buffet breakfast with lots of choice. We were away just after 9 and heading towards Rudolstadt for the first sightseeing. On the way we saw two beautiful hawks sitting on the edge of the road. We parked not far from the centre of Rudolstadt and walked into the centre. . The old centre is lovely although they are busy doing renovations, which meant we could not get all the photos we wanted. We wandered around the centre looking in the shop windows, safe to do that today as they were all shut. Then we decided to go on to Saalfeld, which is smaller but also has a lovely old centre. We had a coffee stop on the way and while we were looking around the centre of Saalfeld it started to rain. We went back to Rudolstadt to visit the castle there. We had thought about walking up to the castle as it is a short (but steep) walk but because of he rain we drove up and parked near the castle. We wandered around the grounds taking photos before going into the castle. There was a guided tour through the rooms of the castle, which are beautiful. Then we drove back to the hotel in the rain and had a cup of tea. I spent some time writing up my diary before dinner.
I was awake just before 7.30, we got up and went to breakfast just before 8.00. It was quiet in the restaurant this morning. After a leisurely breakfast we set off for the day. It started off sunny after the rain we had had in the night. We were having a day in Erfurt; we had just gone onto the motorway when we were in a long traffic jam with no chance of getting off the motorway. It took about 30 minutes before the jam was sorted out; it had been a three-car accident. We got to the city and parked in a parking lot for the day. We had coffee first before heading off towards the cathedral and the St Severin church and on to the Petersberg fortress. There was a funfair in front of the plain by the cathedral and that was a shame because from the cathedral steps there was a lovely view over the old timbered houses. We had lunch and then walked to the fish market with its lovely buildings and the town hall, then on to the Kramerbrucke, which is so beautiful. We walked across it and then around the streets on both sides of it. We found a tiny little shop with all products from honey and bees-wax. We bought a bottle of mead so we can have a drink each evening. Then we had a look in a couple of shops and I bought a packet of Dead Sea bath salts before we went back to the car. I thought I would have a long soak in the bath this evening with the salts and that it might help my cold. We drove back to the hotel; we stopped at the supermarket opposite the hotel and bought some bottled water because the tap water in the hotel tastes of chloride. Then we had a cup of tea and relaxed and decided on our plans for tomorrow before dinner. Lovely dinner and then I was looking forward to my soak, only the tap water was a dark shade of brown! So instead of a long bath I had a quick shower!! I wrote my diary and read for a while before bed. It had started raining during dinner.
I was awake at 7.00 but we did not get up until 7.30, the sun was shining. We had breakfast and were away by 8.15. We were off to Wiemar for the day, the traffic was light and there were no hold ups so we were in Wiemar just after 9.00. We parked in the underground parking lot behind the Goethe House. We went into the Goethe House and walked around the garden, which is beautiful. Then, after a cup of coffee, we went to the Franz Liszt house. It is small but interesting and as you walk into the main room there is the famous drawing of Beethoven which of course always warms our hearts! We walked through the city’s park and saw the Liszt statue and Goethe’s garden house (which was shut). Then we wandered through the streets of the centre before stopping for a light lunch. We got back to the car and headed out of Wiemar to the World War II concentration camp of Buchenwald. It is 8 kilometres NE of Wiemar but the memorial can be seen from miles away as it is high on the hill. The gate to the camp complete with prison cells is still there plus the crematorium and rows of foundations for the barracks that once stood there. In the crematorium there was a dissecting table and some instruments. Post-mortems were done to conceal the actual cause of death and at a later date all the gold fillings were removed and unbelievably (as was written) skin was used to make things or presents for the SS and skulls were shrunken as presents!! Under the crematorium was a body cellar with large hooks on the walls were 1100 were hung up there. When the Allied troops arrived in the camp the dead bodies were piled up outside the crematorium and partly burnt bodies were still in the ovens. The Nazis had not had coal for some days so the ovens had not been working although they had tried to get rid of the "evidence". We walked to the huge memorial and saw graves. In 1997 during renovation works lots of urns with ashes were found hidden under the roofs these have been (partly) identified and buried. It is perhaps a not so happy visit for a holiday but it is unfortunately part of our history and must not be forgotten.
I woke up at 7.00 with a bad headache but it got a bit better after breakfast and a cup of coffee. We were away from the hotel a little bit earlier today because we were going to Eisenach, which is about 100 kilometres from Jena. We had been to Eisenach before to visit the Bach house but this time we wanted to go to the Wartburg high above the city. It was another lovely sunny day. We parked the car in the parking lot, which is about half way up the hill and then did the steep climb up to the castle. We decided to do the full entrance ticket, which includes the castle with a guided tour the museum, and Martin Luther’s room. The guided tour is only available in German and my German is non existent... I can understand some words. The rooms of the castle are so beautiful especially the room decorated with mosiac showing the life of Elizabeth. We had lunch and then drove to the centre and parked so we could have a look around. They are very busy renovating and a lot of the centre is closed off. We spent an hour looking around and then set off back to Jena. We decided to take the tram into the centre of Jena and spend an hour there before dinner.
I awoke at 7.45 and we had breakfast. The yoghurt and berry mix is a firm favourite on my breakfast menu. Then we set off to Weimar again, stopping on the way to get rolls for a picnic lunch. It had rained in the night and was still very dull this morning. We went to Schloss Belvedere first. It is a little palace more like a hunting lodge really. The people there were not very friendly and that is the first time we have had that this holiday. There is a beautiful collection of porcelain on show. Then we walked through the Russian garden and to the Orangerie and the park before having lunch. After lunch we went back into Weimar for the afternoon. We went to the Schloss museum, which is very good, although the very old exhibits do small of mothballs!! There was a lovely Monet and some beautiful icons on show. After that we headed towards a coffee shop or a well-earned drink before spending some time wandering around the centre. We saw the Schiller house but did not go in. In that house Schiller wrote William Tell. We headed back to the hotel stopping to get some rolls for tomorrow. It is a public holiday tomorrow and as we plan to drive through several tiny villages in the area we want to be sure of having a lunch, we think everything will be closed.
I woke up later this morning and we sat chatting at breakfast so we were away later this morning but we had a quiet day planned so it did not matter really. It was very misty this morning and very dull. We set off towards Erfurt and then got off the motorway and went to Arnstadt. We parked on the edge of the town and walked to the historic centre. A lot of it has been beautifully restored. We went into the church where JS Bach was employed as organist in (date). It was his first job the church has been restored and it lovely. We then walked through the old centre. We were looking for the house where he lived during his time in Arnstadt but we could not find it. It is not a museum but an ordinary house and there were no signs for it. We then drove to Ilmenau where there is a memorial for Goethe. We stopped at a lovely picnic area for lunch but unfortunately it was very windy so we could not sit outside. Koos did stand beside the car but I stayed in the car, having just gotten rid of my cold I didn't want another. Then we headed back to Rudolstadt and on to Jena and the hotel. We were back a bit earlier than we normally were but it was good to laze around and do the packing for tomorrow. The week has been a big success and we have managed to do so much. We are off to Austria tomorrow.
We were up early today at 6.45 and into breakfast early. It was a very dull morning and it had rained in the night. We were away by 8.00 going towards Gera and then Regensburg. Rains, rain, rain all morning and then showers all afternoon. It was strange I really ha the feeling that the holiday was over last night and at breakfast this morning. It was a travel day today as it was 650 kilometres to the hotel in Eichgraben. We arrived at 4.30 and unpacked and had a drink before dinner. It was a lovely hotel and a good room. There were no other Dutch cars and no touring buses.
We were woken up at 01.00 by the people laughing talking and shouting to each other in the corridor and of course doors opening and closing. So I got out my earplugs which I never travel without. Then we were woken again at 07.00 by the television in the room next to us. We stayed in bed for another 15 minutes but then gave up the hope of felling asleep again and got up. Lovely breakfast and there was fresh fruit with it. The restaurant was so noisy - well part of it was we had a little corner of it for ourselves which was quiet. After breakfast we saw three German buses leaving the hotel. We headed off to Vienna for a day sightseeing even though the day was very dull and rainy (luckily showers although some were very heavy). We managed to park the car at Schonbrunn and got a 24-hour ticket for the public transport. We got the U-Bahn to Karlsplatz and then on to Stephansplatz where we had a coffee before walking to the Hofburg and the Neuwe Burg for the musical instruments. They have a wonderful collection of instruments including the violin from Leopard Mozart. We got the tram to Schottentor instead of walking because of the heavy rain and had a light lunch in the Subway restaurant by the Pasqualati house. Koos was amazed that I knew where we had to go for it from the last time we were in Vienna. The rain was so bad that we decided to abandon our plans for the central graveyard and we went to the folk museum, which had a wonderful exhibition about Afghanistan. Then we went into the Michelarkirche before we walked along the Graben back to the U-Bahn where we got the metro back to Schonbrunn and the car
We got up at 7.30 and had breakfast. Then we took the minor road to the abbey at Melk; the weather was lovely today although it had turned cooler in the night. We took an individual tour through Melk and it was wonderful. It was very busy with tours but that was no problem for us. The library really is so beautiful and the Baroque church is gorgeous. We had lunch at the abbey; we had a picnic with us. Then we drove to the little town of Melk and walked through the old centre, from there you can get some lovely views of the abbey. We then turned back towards the hotel but stopped for an hour in St. Polten and walked through the old centre there. We had parked in a parking garage, which said it was for the centre - turned out to be a 1-kilometre walk to the centre. We had stayed in a hotel there on our "grand tour" in 2001. Then it was time to go back to the hotel where just had time for a short rest before dinner. The weather forecast for the coming days is colder and very changeable with showers.
We had breakfast and then left for a Haydn day. It was cold and dull but dry as we headed to Eisenstadt. We parked the car in the garage next to the Esterhazy Palace. The palace is nice but you only see a coupe of guestrooms and the Haydn concert hall (which is beautiful) on the guided tour.
We went to Heiligenkreuz to see the grave of Mary Vetsera the 17-year-old mistress of crown prince Rudolf. Then we went to Mayerling where the suicide(s) had taken place in 1889. Prince Rudolf's hunting lodge is no longer there (apart from a little bit of wall and one tower). After the suicide his father, the Emperor, gave the hunting lodge to a Carmelite convent and it was completely rebuilt. The deaths of the crown prince and his lover shook the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire. From there we went to Baden where we had coffee and of course once again took photos of the Beethoven house. It was in this house that the great man wrote the wonderful 9th symphony. He came to Baden in the hope that the spas would cure his increasing deafness. We went into the tourist information office to see how we could get to the Ruhenstein ruins; it was there that Beethoven’s nephew, Carl, tried to commit suicide. We drove to the beginning of the walk up to the ruins and then we had to walk through the woods to the castle ruins. The castle was in ruins in Beethoven’s time and he used to walk up to it. It had been lightly raining all the time we were in Baden and I suggested that we could perhaps first go to Modling and then do the walk afterwards. At that time it did look like it might become dry, but Koos thought it would dry quickly and it would be better to do the walk first. So off we went; it is a walk of about 2 kilometres climbing gradually up through the woods. We had done about half the walk when it started to pour and there was hailstones and thunder and lightening!!! Of course there was absolutely no shelter even at the ruins. Koos was of the opinion that the hail, thunder and lightening just highlighted how desperate Beethoven’s nephew must have been. He thought it added to the romance of the story! We were so wet, but Koos' coat did not leak through, his trousers were drier and his outdoor shoes stayed dry...... mine were soaked through. So instead of going straight on to Modling after the walk (as we had planned on doing) we had to head back to the hotel for a change of clothes and a warm drink. After that we went to Modling where we saw the Beethoven house there and wandered through the lovely little centre. Then it was time to go back to the hotel for dinner. Today we had the worst weather of the holiday (so far).
I had a migraine, which started in the night, so I spent the day in bed. Koos ha a day exploring Vienna on his own..... he had the better deal!!! He got back to the hotel about 15.30 and we had a cup of tea together. Then we packed as much as possible, and by that time it was dinnertime. I felt a bit better after a light dinner but climbed into my bed afterwards and had an early night.
We were up at 6.45 and into breakfast just after 7.00. We left the hotel just after 8.00 heading towards Baden, Graz, Klagenfurt and Villach - where we went into Italy. we stayed on the motorway as far as Vizenca. There we found a hotel for the night the room was on the 4th floor and the lift was broken but we decided to take it and not to go further because of my migraine yesterday. The room was all right and the bed was good which was the most important thing for us. I did decide to leave my travel bag in the car and just take the absolute necessities up all the stairs!! It was lovely weather all day today and warm.
...... please read more in part 2. thanks.