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Friday, October 11, 2019

Photos from my travels...

This post is photo-heavy, so if you're not into looking at vacation photos, you may want to just move on.

We left for New York City on August 29, arriving there early enough to get to our room and then find our way to Chelsea (a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan) where we attended our granddaughter's play, which she wrote and directed. Her play had been selected to be part of a city-wide arts festival. The play was wonderful and we were so proud of her accomplishment!  We also attended "To Kill a Mockingbird" on Broadway with Jeff Daniels playing the part of Atticus Finch. It was an amazing production!

While in NYC, we toured Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We learned lots of interesting facts about immigration to the U.S. and how it helped build this nation into what it is today.

From NYC we headed to Heidelberg, Germany. We spent just one night there and then boarded a train to Paris.

 This is a spice stand in a market in Paris. Aren't those spices beautiful? I was tempted to buy some, but I eventually talked myself out of it when I realized I had a month of traveling ahead of me and only so much room in my luggage.

This, of course, is the Eiffel Tower. It really is an amazing structure!

And a view of Paris and the River Seine from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

One of the fun ideas that the French have put into practice regarding the Eiffel Tower is to illuminate thousands of twinkling lights every evening from 10:00 - 10:05 pm and 11:00 - 11:05 pm. We were fortunate enough to see this happen twice, and it's actually really uplifting. When that huge tower twinkles, you just feel like all is right with the world!

I know this picture doesn't do it justice AT ALL, but I was just too excited to hit the "video" button on my phone. All I could manage was a blurry photo. Click HERE for a short video I found on YouTube that will give you an idea of what I am talking about.

We visited Sainte-Chapelle where the stained glass windows took our breath away. They are so numerous and so incredibly beautiful. There simply are no words to adequately describe them.

While in Paris we also visited the Rodin Museum, the Louvre, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the Arch de Triomphe, the Montmarte neighborhood and other sites too numerous to mention.

After Paris, we headed back to Heidelberg where we spent a few days with family. Then we hopped onto a train and headed for Prague, Czech Republic. The photo above is of the Old Town Square where some of the buildings were constructed in the 14th century. I'm not sure why there was a Polar Bear milling about, but it certainly added to the festive atmosphere.

Also adding to the festive atmosphere were the street performers. This guy was incredible. He did a long routine on this hoop, never touching the ground with any part of his body. I don't know how he managed it, but I think the muscles you see rippling in his back had something to do with it.

We visited many parts of Prague, including the Jewish Quarter (visiting the oldest Synagogue and the cemetery there), the Charles Bridge, the John Lennon Wall, the Communist Museum and Wenceslas Square, to name a few.

From Prague, we once again hopped on a train to Krakow, Poland. On my bucket list was a visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camp Memorial sites. These are the most notorious WWII camps where more than a million people were put to death.

I know you cannot see the wrought-iron words that stretch across the entrance to Auschwitz, but it says, "Arbeit macht frei." This translates to "Work makes you free." Of course, we all know now that was just a ruse to calm the fears of those who entered here. My heart was so heavy during this tour, but it was something I felt I needed to experience.

This is the "street" that separated the women's barracks from the men's at Birkenau. The only reason the barracks were made of brick is that this was originally an army base in Poland, which was taken over by Hitler to use as a concentration camp.

We also visited the Jewish Quarter and Oskar Schindler's factory in Krakow where he saved the lives of more than 1,000 concentration camp prisoners. This was a much more uplifting museum experience.

We LOVED Krakow, by the way, and would highly recommend that you visit this charming city if ever you are in Poland. The old buildings are still intact (it was not bombed during WWII), the people are friendly and it's still affordable.

The night before we left Krakow, we found a crocheted butterfly ornament and a hand-written note on the doorknob of our room. The note says, "Dear guests, Crochet ornaments are typical for old Krakow and Poland itself. Our grandmothers used to decorate their houses with them, creating a warm atmosphere and a place we still go back to in our memories. Thank you for choosing Tango House and giving us the opportunity to meet such wonderful guests like yourselves. We hope this little gift will remind you of your time in Krakow and will make you want to come back to this charming city which we are privileged to call our home. Tango House Team"

That little gift and kind note brought tears to my eyes!

After Krakow, we once again boarded a train and headed to Vienna, Austria. We saw so many wonderful things in Vienna. The city is old, beautiful and filled with history. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and we started each day by heading there. We toured the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palaces, watched the Lipizzaner horses practicing at the Spanish Riding School, attended a string quartet/organ concert in a very old and beautiful church and also toured the famous Vienna Opera House.

This is a photo of the ceiling in one of the salons at the Opera House. It was so beautiful!

One of the neat things that the Opera House does is, once a month, they project a live performance on a screen outside the building so that all Viennese and visitors can enjoy whatever happens to be performed on stage that evening. We were able to watch a live ballet on the screen on the very same day we had toured the building. What a treat!

When our time in Vienna was up, we headed back to Heidelberg for a few days and then home. It was such a memorable trip. I just wish I had a video tape of everything we saw and experienced so that I wouldn't forget a single moment.

Thank you for bearing with me through this litany of our adventures. And please remember to laugh--a little or a lot--every day.


designbydonna said...

Cheryl, wonderful pictures. Looks like a great time. You have some great memories to holld on to.

Lynette said...

That looks like an absolutely amazing trip, Chery!! Thanks so much for sharing some of your pictures.

Heartwarmers from Vicki said...

It looks like a really wonderful trip! Great pictures!

Glittered Paws said...

Beautiful pictures - love the Eiffel Tower with the twinkling lights as well as the stained glass windows. The crocheted butterfly and handwritten note - must make you feel special. TFS your pictures.

Lynne in NI said...

Wow, that was a holiday and a half!! Thanks for sharing your photos Cheryl, I had a peek at the Eiffel Tower video too and it looks amazing. I quite fancy Krakow myself, I've been trying to talk Greg into going on a wee city break x