Back Home & Yet There

We arrived in the states Thursday the 20th about 10pm. We cleared Passport control and Customs quickly, only realizing later that when asked if I brought any fresh fruit into the country I said no when I actually had an apple from the Berlin hotel. Yikes! That could have resulted in a hefty fine. After an 8 hour flight, on which I watched 3 movies, I wasn’t thinking.

We secured a ride through Uber to our hotel. The line of people waiting to get a taxi was a half mile long, no lie. Our stay at the JFK Quality Inn was all we needed – clean, comfortable, and a free shuttle back to the airport to stow our packs while we enjoyed another day in NYC. It was a spectacular fall day, all sunshine and easy breezes. We headed directly to Central Park and the Belvedere Castle.

A view from Belvedere
NYC from Central Park

But, I still have memories and photos to share. First, I’ll include a map with our route, as requested by a friend.

Route: Berlin Prague Budapest Zagreb Split back to Zagreb then Cesky Krumlov and České Budejovice before heading home via Vienna. Cesky Krumlov and České Budejovice are outside of Prague, and just a 45 minute train ride apart.

Also not included in the map: from Split we took a ferry to the island of Korčula and from there a ferry to Dubrovnik. From Dubrovnik we ferried directly back to Split.

Plus, we had a change of plans one day due to heavy rains forecast in Lake Bled, Slovenia. We were riding from Budapest to Ljubljana to get there. Pouring the entire time with heavy rains predicted for lake Bled. So, realizing that would be a drag, we hopped a train in Ljubljana to Zagreb.

And now, some odds and ends:

Would this fly in the USA? BTW ziletky means razor.
CBD\THC vending machine

Marijuana was amazingly prevalent in the Czech Republic. We popped into a small liquor store in Prague for a small bottle of Absinthe. On the counter, a big glass jar of buds. It was for sale loads of places. Didn’t smell it much though. I wonder how long it’s been legal, what kind of struggle (if any) they had, what, if any negative repercussions there are.

Castle stoves are beautiful and efficient. One was in use in the Prague Castle. We saw other examples in the Česky Krumlov castle.

Česky Krumlov

We had a one night stopover in Wein Meidling, a neighborhood of Vienna. After dropping our packs off we headed to a large park Ed found on maps. Lo and behold, it was the Hapsburg Palace grounds! Fortunately those were open to the public and we took full advantage. Looking in the windows, it seemed the interior was akin to Versailles, sans Hall of Mirrors probably. The building itself as well as the gardens did remind me of Versailles. Would certainly return to Vienna someday! Also had fantastic dinner at a small energetic place around the corner. Good energy in a place is important, as we discovered that night after entering and then leaving a restaurant that had none. Even with people there. Granted, one family and a woman dining alone. Even the waiter seemed without any oomph.

Europe is awash in beauty. Well, when you’re in the old town areas. There was exquisite attention to detail. Such ornamentation. Here is an example that struck me. A cannon at Fort Lorvijenak (Lawrence) in Dubrovnik.

My first thought was this is an object of destruction. My second was, no, this is an object for protection. As such, make it beautiful, put a saint on there to bless our well being, pray those cannon balls hit their mark, do the job.

Sure and I’m all over the place here. It seems I delay completing this post because I must keep revisiting photos and that keeps name there in a way. Here are a few photos from Berlin.

The Berlin Cathedral – the only Protestant cathedral we experienced.
I think this is the Spree River, but it might be a canal…
Victory Column with massive statue of Roman goddess Victoria to commemorate the many German war battles. It sits in the middle of the Tiergarten, a massive park that radiates from it. Enter via underground tunnels as this giant roundabout does not have crosswalks.
View of Tiergarten and Berlin from Victory Column viewing platform.

I reckon I’ll call it quits for this post and this trip and leave you with one last image.

Oh! See the blanket over the chair (through the wine glass)? That was a common accommodation to the chilly weather. I love that!

So, sorry to leave you hanging and wondering if we were still traveling. Thanks for checking in and for hanging in there.