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Autumn 2016 Travels in Europe: Up to Heaven

October 3, 2016

Up, up we went in a scaffolding elevator inside the beautiful and tall Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) in Vienna towards the dome painted with scenes of heaven. “We’re going to heaven today,” commented a fellow passenger. Petrified of heights and in an open elevator, I replied, “I just didn’t want to go today.” The scaffolding was in place so that the dome could be repaired and restored. Once we reached the dome level and stepped out onto the scaffolding, I froze, the scaffolding trembling and shaky. I saw a chair and asked Kathy to help me to it, somehow thinking that if I sat I would be safer. That is when I saw the narrow open scaffolding going further heavenward to the copula far above where they were restoring. Kathy said, “Let’s climb.” I said, “No way.” I could not believe they would let you, but they did. She insisted and said she was going. I said, “Go ahead.” She did. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when she returned from 236 feet above ground level, and we descended to the main floor of the beautiful church. What an experience!

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Schoenbrunn Palace was the summer palace of the Habsburg dynasty, of first, the Holy Roman Empire and then the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Grand it is! Imagine huge crystal chandeliers in gold and white rooms in room after room, and you get an idea of the grandeur. The grounds are also amazing with magnificent gardens and fountains and statuary.

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We are staying in apartments in a historic building in Vienna within easy walking distance to the State Opera and other areas of significance. The apartments are wonderful. Wood floors, separate living rooms, one and a half bathrooms, kitchens, separate bedrooms. While each of our apartments is different they all have the same wonderful amenities. Huge and comfortable, we are quite pleased. We had intermittent rain today, but we managed to stay dry and we ate at a highly-rated cafe coffee house nearby. Rhonda and Allen, Sandra and Mike, Sherlene and Kathy and I say “hello” to all our family and friends. WEG

Surprising Bratislava

The Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava, Slovakia

The Cathedral of St. Martin in Bratislava, Slovakia


The Stare Mesto (Old Town) is comfortable and quaint–you know you are in eastern Europe; everything is different and in a good way. But the food!
The view from our Bratislava apartment on the fifth floor of  the Old Town  (Stare Mesto) that includes the Bratislava Castle

The view from our Bratislava apartment on the fifth floor of the Old Town (Stare Mesto) that includes the Bratislava Castle

View from Bratislava Main Square in Old Town

View from Bratislava Main Square in Old Town


One of the joys of traveling is trying new foods, expanding your pallet and taking risks. I cannot imagine traveling this far and eating things I can get back home. Tonight we dined in a brewery that has a traditional Slovak restaurant attached. The starter was a home made crackling that was chopped and ham fat drippings added to make something like a pâté. Served with sautéed onions and soft rye bread–I would be hard pressed to think of a spread that I have ever had that was better. Did you say, “carbs?” I didn’t hear you–I was too busy chomping away–remember the adventurous food part! Kathy and I will take a walk when finished. Main course for me was crispy duck legs on a bed of stewed red cabbage with ham dumplings–scrumptious. Kathy had stewed beef in a pumpkin cream sauce with puffed bread dumplings–excellent. We shared sides of marinated tomatoes and creamed cucumbers.
The delicious traditional  Slovakian meal we enjoyed

The delicious traditional Slovakian meal we enjoyed

The Stare Mesto (Old Town) of Bratislava is charming. Church steeples abound. Mainly Roman Catholic, the city has a large share of Lutheran churches as well. The streets are thick cobblestone–really old time thick cobblestone. The narrow streets curve around so that you don’t end up where you thought you were going. But, that was ok, since where you went was pretty and interesting. I saw a big crystal beer mug, hand-cut and crafted in Slovakia, in a store window, and that is my main souvenir for the trip. Each ancient archway leads to a new street to search, and we walked hand in hand around the entire area. The castle fortress sits on the hill above the Stare Mesto and gives the area a majestic feel. So, as you can see, I walked enough to eat that pátê.
WEG – Monday, September 28, 2015

Outdoor market in Bratislava near thhe Main Square

Outdoor market in Bratislava near thhe Main Square

One of the items for sale at the market in Bratislava, Slovakia

One of the items for sale at the market in Bratislava, Slovakia

Kathy’s post script: We are so pleased with public transportation in Europe and the ease of using it. We feel quite comfortable with the process and are performing quite well in our travels. Yesterday in Vienna, we looked at the map of the train routes and figured out (by ourselves) the plan to get to the train station the next day from our apartment, and we bought our tickets — for less than three euros. This morning we left our Vienna apartment, walked a block to catch the U6 tram, transferred at the appropriate stop to the U4 tram, then transferred to the U1 that brought us to the main hauptbahnhof in Vienna where we then boarded the train to Bratislava. Upon arrival in Bratislava, we paid less than two euros to take the x13 tram to our stop in Stare Mesto (the Old Town) where we met our apartment manager & settled in to an apartment in the Old Town.

Apartment living in Europe has been a positive experience for us. Our apartment in Bratislava is wonderful. For a mere 72 euros, we have a fully furnished apartment with a kitchen equipped with cooktop, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, coffeemaker, cookware, & dishes; two master bedrooms each with a king-sized bed; a couch & chair; dining room; bathroom with a shower & a washing machine; & two TVs with English channels (which we don’t have time to watch!) — and internet that works! It is beautiful. In our Vienna apartment, I was amazed to have use of a clothes washer/dryer combination that effectively performed both tasks.

Just wanted to share with you some of the details of travel in Europe with the Graumann’s.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia

Another view of St. Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava

Another view of St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava