Partying at Pratar: Vienna, Austria- Wednesday 22nd September
We drove from Croatia to Austria this morning, and arrived at an Austrian services for lunch where we experienced our first Austrian schnitzel. That night after checking into the Vienna hotel we headed to Pratar- a big theme park in Vienna. We went on one of the oldest ferris wheels in the world, built in 1897. Then we had dinner and explored the rest of the theme park.
Views of Vienna, Austria- Thursday 23rd September
Vienna is a very pretty city. We started with a walking tour of the city heading through the palace. We saw the Spanish dancing horses walking through the town. Then we went to the Swarozski crystal feature store to look at all the crystals and jewellery. We then went on a tour of the Sissi museum looking at all the dinner plates and serving ware from the royal family. Also we got to walk through the palace rooms set up as they were when the royal family lived there. We went to a Schnaps museum to sample some traditional Austrian schnaps.
For dinner that night, we went to a Vienna Palace to see a Mozart concert with singers and dancers. Then we had dinner in the basement of the Rathous- the Vienna City Hall.
Oktoberfest: Munich, Germany- Friday 24th September
We first visited a Concentration camp from WWII to see and understand this part of history. We had lunch at an Austrian restaurant overlooking a lake and mountains in the area where the Sound of Music originated. We arrived in Munich at around 4pm and headed into Oktoberfest via the Metro train. On the way we saw the giant Glockenspiel clock chiming.
Oktoberfest is like a big carnival with rides, food stalls and big marquees for the beer halls. It was extremely crowded in the marquee areas, even getting a table outside was extremely difficult. We finally managed to get an outside table just before the rain started. Unfortunately there were no roofs in the outdoor areas so we got drenched. We got schnitzel burgers for dinner and looked around at the beer halls and stalls. Then by luck we managed to get into one of the exclusive beer halls for Hofbrau. There were 10,000 people inside the tent with live music- it was an amazing atmosphere.
Snow in Switzerland: Mt Pilatus, Switzerland- Saturday 25th September
We had lunch in Liechenstien- a small European country. We arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland at around 2pm. Unfortunately the rain had set in and the temperature had dropped to below 10 degrees but we still decided to venture up Mt Pilatus. We caught a cable car up the mountain which took about 30 minutes. To our amazement it was snowing on top of Mt Pilatus- a massive amount of snow had fallen covering the mountain. It was awesome to see snow and we had a snowball fight. We had hot chocolates in the café to warm up before catching the cog railway back down the mountain. The railway is the steepest in Europe and the train takes about 45 minutes to get back down the mountain.
Lucerne, Switzerland- Sunday 26th September
We went into Lucerne in the morning for a walking tour where we saw the Chapel Bridge- built in the 13th Century across the river. Then we went to look at some Swiss watch shops, and bought some Lindt chocolate. For lunch we had a traditional Swiss Fondue lunch with cheese fondue and veal sausages. There was traditional Swiss folk entertainment with yodelling, flag throwing and broom dancing. James was lucky enough to be selected to yodel on stage and show off his singing talent. He earned a free beer for his efforts. Then we set off on a lake cruise to see the very scenic snow capped mountains surrounding the lake. It was very picturesque. That night we had a dinner at the hotel.
St Goar, Germany- Monday 27th September
We started our visit to St Goar at the Stein shop- famous for their handmade beer steins. They even make a special edition Contiki stein. Next we saw the Cuckoo clocks and hand-made teddy bears. After shopping, it was time for a leisurely cruise on the Rhien river. We had dinner at our hotel and then went into an old wine cellar from the 18th Century for some wine tasting. We got to sample the special Ice Wine unique to this wine region- with the grapes harvested in -8 degree temperatures.
Amsterdam, Netherlands- 28th – 30th September
Amsterdam is such a beautiful city. We did a bike tour around the waterways, visited Ann Frank’s house, did a boat trip around the canals, visited the Heineken Brewery, walked around the Red Light District. This is where we departed the Contiki tour as we were catching a flight to Prague and they were just driving back to London.
Prague, Czech Republic- 1st- 2nd October
We had 2 full days in Prague. This gave us just enough time to look around. We stayed in Century Old Town hotel. In the old town there are so many cobble stone roads. The old town centre is very beautiful. It was easy to walk around the town centre and see most things. We caught the Tram a few places as well.
Berlin, Germany- 3rd -6th October
There is so much to see in Berlin and so much history. We stayed just out of this city centre however close by public transport at Best Western Kant. We caught a train from Prague to Berlin which was interesting. The train ride was very scenic. We were sitting in the wrong place to begin with and could not understand the train conductor which kept moving us on. We finally figured out we were meant to be sitting in first class at allocated seating. We did a segway tour though the city which is highly recommended. It was a bit dangerous as you ride in the bus lanes and need to make sure you keep up with the guide. We went to dinner in the oldest restaurant in Berlin at Zur Letzten Instanz. It was a very charming building.
We Flew back to london and we only had 2 full days before returning to Australia. We went out to Oxford to catch up with Nikketah’s friend. It was good to get out into the English countryside. Now to plan the next trip!