On Monday, May 26th, we hopped unto our tour bus in Prague, and made the five-hour trip to Vienna, Austria. We didn’t get checked into our hotel until around 2pm, leaving us about five hours for independent touring.
Vienna is a large city, around 1.7 million people. It’s not as pretty as Prague, but it has a lot of things to see. Julia joined us for an afternoon of whirlwind touring. Our hotel was located just inside the main city “Ring Strasse.” We started out with the main group and walked to the Stephandom (St. Stephan Church). After taking a group picture, Julia, Kathy, and I made our way to the Hofburg Palace complex. This was the home of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire at the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the Imperial Apartments and other museums were closed on Monday, so we settled for a walk through the immense grounds. We eventually ended up at the famous Opera House on the south side of the Inner city ring, bought tram tickets, and rode the streetcar around the Ring Strasse.
When we circled back to the Opera House, we found Cafe Sacher and had a Viennasese treat, the Sacher Torte, a rich chocolate cake with whipped cream. Then we worked our way back to the Stephandom and the Hotel Pension Arenburg. By then, we were thoroughly exhausted, and got some rest. Most of us went out for a very nice supper at one of the oldest restaurants near the hotel. Kathy missed this outing because her feet were too sore from the intense walking we did earlier (due to slave-driving tour guide husband Arnie).
The next morning, we got up, had a really nice breakfast at the hotel, and hopped onto our bus for a ride to Bled, Slovania.
Alles geht gut jetz! Everything is going well now! We arrived Prague on Saturday, a day later than the team and staff with no further airline problems (Whew!). After checking into the Hotel Ceasar Prague, we walked to the famous Charles Bridge and joined the thousands of vacationing Europeans enjoying the views and statues on the bridge. Best bridge experience in the world. We met the team and guides in the Old Town Square at 05:30 and gave Julia a big hug for starters.
The guide gave us a good history of the square. Then Julia, Kathy, and I walked up around 10/11 stories to the top of the Astronomical Clock Tower for spectacular views of Prague. Naturally we watched the Astronomical Clock show at both 6 pm and 7 pm. We had supper at a cave-style restaurant later and retired for a much needed jet lag sleep.
Today, Sunday, we got up early and took a tram with the team to a volleyball arena south of downtown. Unlike the match Saturday, the OU Sooners played great and beat the Czech Club team in three sets. The team played outstandingly and Julia had a super match. Fun, fun!
We had lunch with the group, followed by free time. Even though Julia saw the Prague Castle yesterday, she gave Kathy and I the tour today. We took a tram near our hotel to and from the castle without a problem. The round-trip fare was 48 Korunas (around $2.60 each). The group had a nice supper in a German-style restaurant later.
We leave by bus tomorrow morning for Vienna, Austria, for an afternoon and evening of sightseeing before we go on to Bled, Slovenia, for the next volleyball match.
Thanks to Delta Airlines, our first day and a half of the tour have been wiped out. They cancelled our flight to New York JFK airport. We missed the connecting flight with Julia to Prague. Delta kept us on a string for two hours claiming it was weather conditions preventing anyone from landing or leaving JFK. The gate people insisted there was not a problem, since “Everyone” was affected. Then they pulled the plug on us and cancelled the flight. Julia and the OU team were able to make the Prague flight, even though they were temporarily rerouted to Newburgh. Too bad Delta couldn’t have given us some option too.
In any event, we will leave tonight on a flight to Amsterdam, and then continue on to Prague. We will try to rejoin the tour Saturday afternoon. We should be able to see her games against the Czech Junior National Teams.
After a long and nasty winter, we are going on a European Adventure. We were making plans to go to the French Open Tennis Tournament in Paris, which starts on the last week of May. Then we received word that the Oklahoma University volleyball team was invited to play in several European arenas in May and June. Our granddaughter, Julia Doyle, is the setter for the team. Parents and grandparents were given an invitation to join the team on their journey as they play the Junior National Teams of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy. This was an opportunity we could not pass up. In addition, they are going to many places we have not been to in our previous travels.
22 May – Fly to NYC Kennedy airport and join the team on a flight to Prague.
23 May – Arrive Prague and tour the city.
24/25 May – Sightseeing. Two matches with the Czech JNT.
26 May – To Vienna, Austria, by bus, and sightseeing.
27 May – To Bled, Slovenia, by bus, and sightseeing. Match with Slovenia JNT.
28 May – To Rovinj, Croatia, by bus, and sightseeing. Match with Croatia JNT.
29 May – Sightseeing and match with Croatia JNT.
30 May – To Venice, Italy, by bus, and sightseeing.
31 May – To Milan, Italy, by bus. Match with Club Italia.
1 June – Sightseeing in Milan.
2 June – The tour ends. The team and most tour members will return to the US.
2 June – Arnie & Kathy rent a car at Milan and drive to the Cinque Terre for 3 nights.
2/3/4 June – Tour the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre (between Portofino and Pisa)
5 June – Drive to Arezzo, Italy, to visit the town that granddaughter, Rachel Doyle, will be attending this fall.
6 June – Tour and drive to Lake Como near the Swiss border.
7 June – Stop in Zug, Switzerland, to see our friends’ son. Continue on to Hartheim, Germany.
8/9 June – Visit long-time friends in Hartheim and Freiburg, Germany.
10 June – Drive to Vaduz, Leichtenstein, for a visit to this small country.
11 June – Drive to Milan via Chur in Switzerland and stay overnight near the airport.
12 June – Fly home to the US.
Eleven days is good. Twenty-two days is better. Venice and the Cinque Terre have been on our bucket list for a long time. Seeing friends in Germany is always a delight. Driving through Switzerland twice is a visual treat as well.
Hoping to take lots of pictures and videos along the way. We’ll post some messages as we go.