13.04.19. Delhi (0945 hrs)-Helsinki(14:45 Hrs)-Hels(17:35 Hrs)-Prague(18:45) -Pra(23:00 hrs)
21.04.19. Salzburg/Cesky Krumlov
22.04.19. Cesky Krumlov / Prague
24.04.19. Prague (11 30 hrs) /Helsinki (20:15 hrs)
25.04.19. Delhi (5:00) /Kolkata (9:00)
We reached Prague just in time for the connecting flight and our waiting time actually got reduced because of previous delay. Our plane left little late (10 minutes late) to accommodate 2 people, who were stuck because of this Pakistani air space problem. However unlike India they kept us informed about the reason for being late. They even said they will try to travel fast to make up the delayed departure ! We reached Prague or Praha (that is what is written in the airport) only 5 minutes late at 18:50. The immigration was done very fast. It is a small airport. We saw a robot mopping the floor. If you stand in front of it, then it will stop working.
We changed some currency at the airport. They were giving ridiculous rate of 1 USD=15.85 Kroner . We are forced to exchange bare minimum of 7 USD (each) x2 and got 112x2=224 Kroner to take the bus/metro. They were trying to persuade us to buy more Kroner. Mohua almost agreed to do it !
There is an airport express bus - which leaves from the airport - the fare is 60 (45 Kroner if you bought online). Or else you can take either bus no 100 or 119 - which will drop you at a metro station. This bus (100 or 119) basically works as feeder service. They will drop you after 3-4 stops.
If you take bus no. 100, then you can avail yellow line metro - Zlicin metro station (line B), which will take you directly to Florenc bus satiation without any interchange.
But if you take 119 , then you can avail green metro line - Nádraží Veleslavín metro station (line A) and interchange at Mustek station to finally reach Florenc bus station.
You have to pay 32 Koruna or Rs 96 for the bus + metro combo for the 90 minutes duration. Since we just missed bus number 100, we took bus no. 119 to reach Florenc bus station. There is no need to take Airport express, since it is double the fare of bus+ metro combo.
Today it is very cold, 3 degree Celsius. Normal temperature varies between 6-16 degree Celsius. We reached Florenc bus station in time at 9.30 pm. The bus station is very near to the Florenc metro station - you have to walk for 2 minutes. There are many ticket counters in the bus stations - important ones are there - Flix bus, Regio Jet, Eurolines etc. We made a small change in the forex counter (5 USD only) in the bus station at 1 USD= 22.3 Kroner (vs 15.85 in airport) , i.e 1 Koruna = Rs 3 !!). Flixbus was our default bus company not only this time, but also in my France tour. The rates are really good and facilities are world class. Later I learnt that forex rates in the Florenc bus station is very good.
Then we boarded the bus. Everything is neat clean - bus and bus station. There is a bathroom in the bus. The bus is very nice. There is wifi and a screen behind every seat. They served Cuppaccino in the bus. At t he bus station there is an automatic coffee vending machine - where you can drop a coin and have coffee - coffee ATM. The exit in Czech language is Bhaichod !
We reached Budapest just in time at 5.30 am. The name of the bus station is Szent Gellert Templon. It is not the main bus station. From there we took green line metro to get down at Keleti Palyaudvar to take red line metro. The metro fare is 350 Hungarian Forint or Rs 90. Keleti is a very important metro station. The last station of red line metro is Ors vezer tere. The next red line station from Keleti is Puskas Ferenc station. I used my forex debit card to buy it, since I didn’t have any Forint with me. Somebody helped me to buy the metro ticket from Ticket vending machine.https://www.introducingbudapest.com/metro
After getting down at the last metro station, we took a tram to go to my friend Gabor's house. The fare is same i.e. 350 Forint. When you shift from Metro to tram, it is considered as different transport and not part of same system. But for interchange between tram / bus, you don’t have to buy ticket , provided it is within a stipulated time. There is a ticket vending machine at the tram stop. Interestingly you can buy ticket inside the tram also, since there is a machine inside the tram also. We reached Gabor's house by bus and tram combo by 8.30 am. He stays in a multi storied building - with 4 flats per floor. He stays in the 4th floor. There is no system of security guard. Like Russia you have to tap (a metallic thing) on the door to open it. He opened it from the 4th floor for us, by pressing a button. Gabor has travelled 155 countries - probably the most travelled Hungarian. He appears on TV and is also featured in Radio. He sometimes work as a travel agent also. He said, I must go to Iran, Myanmar. He stays alone now. He has a house near the centre of the city - from where he derives some rent. We had a grand breakfast in his house- he gave us food from Palestine, Iran and we had lots of cheese, bread, Jam, Jelly too. Then we sat with a map and suggested the places where we can go
Today we went to Szentendre by local suburban train on the advice of Gabor. It is just beside Danube. There are some other places nearby - Estergom, Vizegrad. But we stuck to this place. There was not Indian tourist. The easiest way to go there is by suburbun train. Here the name of transport company is BKK, like CTC in Kolkata. But it is not part of BKK system. So you have to buy single/separate ticket for this train. Since we did not know this, we had to buy the ticket from the ticket checker inside the train by paying 310 Forint.. Budapest pass will not work here. With Budapest pass of 24 hours - all 3 modes are allowed. It may be noted that if you buy a single ticket then you can change tram/bus within a stipulated time. Or you can board metro with single ticket (350 Forint). But interchange between tram/bus AND metro is not allowed. But if you buy "transfer " ticket then interchange between tram/bus AND metro is allowed. In fact I made a mistake when coming to Gabor's house in the morning. I should have bought "transfer" ticket to avail metro + tram combo. He told me to buy transfer ticket, but I did not understand what he was saying.
We bought a 24 hour Budapest pass on the advice of Gabor for 1650 Forint or Rs 400. First we took a tram no 3 from a tram stop in front of his house, to a very important tram stop/junction Bosnyak. From there we took another tram 1 to go to Betheny Pier to take the suburban tram , just beside Danube. There is boat service from Bethney Pier also to Szentendre. But the frequency is not good. We reached Szentendre by suburban time in 1 hour. It is a heritage town. You have to walk around the village. There is no local transport here. Each and every house is like a fairy tale house. The main square is called Fotere. There is a place where artists stay (not in Szentendre) - where he suggested us to go. We reached at 12.45 pm. But the bus no. 7 which will go to the artists village, will leave at 2.25 pm. So we had to abort the idea. But today, being Sunday , there is carnival atmosphere there. So we decided to go to the main square - Fotere. We had Gelato. We had hungarian sausage - similar to what I had in Kolkata. It may be noted that Kalman is a common name is Hungary. In fact there is a tram stop after Kalman. This is the genesis of the name of famous Kalman cold storage in Kolkata near New Market. We had a popular dish here - Lagos - a type of Pizza with sour cream, Cheese. The base is very soft. Then we tried to catch a boat to go back to Budapest. But the boat left in front of us. It leaves form main square of Szentre - Fotere. Anyway we took the suburbun train to reach Bethney Pier. Then we stated walking around Danube and saw the famous Chain Bridge. We saw the famous Parliament building across the river. Then we crossed the river by Chain bridge.Then we lost our way initially. Ultimately with the help of a person from England (teaches English in Budapest - Sr citizen , we reached our destination. When I asked him do you know hungarian ? He said are you mad ?! Actually Hungarian is a very complicated language and is not from Latin group (Rumanian, French, Spanish, Portuguese) or any other known group (like Slovak Group - Polish, Russian,Czech or Anglo Germanic Group - Englsih, German).
Generally people are very nice in Hungary. The price of things are reasonably cheap compared to West Europe but not Indian price. Here Petrol is quite expensive 1.3 Euro. The cheapest car apparently costs 20,00,000 Forint or Rs 5 Lakh. It is cheaper than West Europe. In Belgium the minimum bus fare is 3 Euro or Rs 240 vis a vis Rs Rs 120 (1.5 Euro) in Italy. Almost every tram stop has electronic display of next bus which will be arriving. It is not common even in West Europe. I cannot recall it in Amsterdam or Brussels or Antwerp. The roads are generally good. But not the best of the lot. He told me BKK is making loss like any other public utilities. Public transport is owned by Government and very efficient and well planned. He told me per capita income here is 16,000 USD. The size of Hungary is 93,000 Sq Km, only 5,000 sq Km. The population is 90 Lakh or 0.9 million. The We did not see any refugee here (though I did see some homeless). He told me after 1956 revolution they had more of socialism, than communism, which I thought. There are many things which are of Hungarian origin - safety match, dynamo, carburetor of a car, almost 75% people in Oppenheimer conspiracy were Hungarian.
After reaching home we went to sleep. One of his friends stayer with him for the night.
In the morning we had Jam - Strawberry, Apricot, Various kinds of Cheese, some food from Georgia, sweet from Palestine - somewhat like Mihidana. Then Gabor finally explained the places which we should go with his city map. Buda Pest consist of Buda in the West of Danube and Pest is in the East. It is in the order in which it is written. Previously they were separate. Then there is Obuda in the North. It was under Roman. There is a ruined amphitheatre there. There are some Roman ruins there. Now all 3 has merged into Budapest. Budapest was also under Ottomans also. Turkish bought the culture of Thermal bath or Hamam here.
First we went to Jasnyak. They pronounce J as Y. Then we went to Buda - which is the hilly region, by catching a bus to the Buda. Pest is basically plane. From Buda hill we took bus number 27 to go to the citadel. There is no entry fee for going to Citadel. There is a wonderful view of the city from Citadel. We met a Moroccona lady there. She stays near Tetuan - which is not very far from Chefchouen. She looks just like European. She knows French. She is travelling alone. Again we took bus no 27 to go to the same place and then we started walking toward Matias Church, Fisherman's bastion. Very near to Chain bridge is Deak Square - from where you take funicular to go to Buda Castle hill. However we took a different route. Later we learnt we could have taken bus no. 16 from Deak square to go to Buda castle hill or Matias church. There is a wonderful view of the city from there too. Buda hills is a big area - where there are Matias church (after King Matias), restaurant, fisherman's bastion. The marriage of beatrix happened here in 1474. This was basically a fisherman's village.
After spending some time we took bus no. 16 from Buda Castle (not 16A, which we took mistakenly) to go to Deak Square. First metro in continental metro started in Deak Square. The first one was in London (which was not part of Continent then). The metro at Deak Square is just below the road - there is no elevator or escalator. They retained the old world charm. Even trains have retained old world charm. Deak square is a very important junction. It is line 1. ??. After one stop is Vosomorty Ter stop. From there you walk upto Hero squre. Hero square is a very important landmark of Budapest. The square is huge. There are corinthin pillars. There is a museum on one side and church on another side. Today the museum is closed. In the year 1896 this square was constructed to mark the 1000th anniversary of victory of Magyar (they say Major) at Carpathian basin. Just behind the Square is a beautiful City Park. Inside the park there is a wonderful citadel ?? . There is a moat around it. There is a small church inside. The architecture of the citadel is unique. After spending some time in the park, we took line 1 to reach Deak Square/Vosomarty Ter ??. Then we started walking along the Pedestrian street. On the way we saw Elizabeth Bridge. The reference point for Budapest is Chain bridge and Elizabeth bridge. Apart from this Deak square (not very far from Chain or Elizabeth Bridge) and Keleti is very important. Before going to Budapest you should familiarize yourself with these 4 places.
Mohua bought some souvenirs. The road is called Wachi Utca (Utca is road) . It starts near Vosomarty Ter. We had Goulash or Goylash. Goulash is of 2 types - Goulash with bed (soup with bed) or Goulash with main dish (with mashed potato). I had half soup with bread for 1190 Forint. It looked somewhat like Broscht soup of Russian. But the taste is different. The taste is good. The restaurant is very very nice. Someone was playing music. Mohua had inch 12 pizza for 2250 Forint. I had some pizza too. There is 13% service charge. We paid around 3600 Forint or Rs 900. Then we came back to Deak Square. From there we took bus no. 7 to go to Bosnyak and then by tram to reach home at 10.45 pm. Today another friend of Gabor has come. A part of Hungary was annexed to Slovakia. She is from that part of Slovakia. She is Hungarian and speaks Hungarian, but lives in Slovakia. She also knows Slovak language. We chatted till 1 am. She is very lively. Her daughter studies in Rumania. She will go to Romania tomorrow to meet her daughter. She will spend today here.
Today we had some Iranian tea with rose petal apart from Hungarian cottage Cheese and dessert in the morning. We had some homemade alcohol and Georgian wine. In Gabor cared for us like a family. Since Mohua did not have a good backpack , he gave one to Mohua. He gave one jacket to Mohua - since it was much colder than we expected. He even gave an extra charger to me, just in case my battery runs out of charge ! I did not ask for it. We were really touched by his gesture.
Today I left alone. Mohua was having pain in her feet. She chatted with Gabor. I took tram no. 3 to Bosnyak square. At Bosnyak square, I got the 24 hour pass (first change the option to English from Hungarian). I am not too sure if my international credit card will work in this machine. I took a bus to go to Astoria to see the famous Great Synagogue. It is one of the biggest synagogue after New York, outside Israel. It was constructed in the year 1859 . Gabor said it is not great from inside. So I skipped going inside, basically because of the large queue. I have used an interesting software map-it, suggested by Gabor, it works without internet. First you have to download it and keep your GPS on. From there I went to "Ruined pub " . It has become very famous here. It has reconstructed a ruined or derelict house into a pub. The theme of this pub is ruined pub. Here you will find old TV, old radio set , Gramaphone etc. Later this idea was copied in Berlin.
He was waiting for me to take me to Thermal bath. There are 9 Thermal baths in Budapest. The one in the centre of Budapest is more beautiful and also expensive. It is the influence of Turkish rule in Hugary and is a version of Hamam. He gave small pant to me. He is over 6 ft and travels mostly by his cycle. I went to Paskal (Thermal bath) by trolley bus and he went by cycle. We reached there at 6.15 pm. It is not very far from his house. We kept our luggage in a locker. A plastic wrist band with magnetic tape was wrapped around my wrist. It was swiped to enter the place. He paid Rs 500 for me, since I am not a member. He did not allow me to pay. First we went to hot swimming pool. After spending 5 minutes we went to steam sauna. This is my first experience in Sauna. Initially I had some breathing problem. After sometime I got acclaimatized. Then after some time we went to small tank (hot). He went to the colder tank. From there we went to a dry Sauna. It is really hot ! It was almost unbearable. After some time we went to a hot swimming pool. There are some places from where hot water stream is falling. He took us at that place. At another place, hot water is coming from below. It is really very refreshing and great fun. It closes at 8 pm. There is no separate place for man and woman here.
We have to catch a bus from Nepliget bus station at 10 pm. We had some quick dinner. But we were late (9.15 pm) and Gabor carried our luggage to the tram stop, otherwise we would have missed the bus to Vienna. We got down from tram at Ecahrechie tram stop and we were suppose to take a metros to Nepliget station. But we heard the metro is not plying. Somehow we got a bus with the help of good Samaritan. Even after reaching Nepliget it was difficult to find the bus station. Some how we reached at 9.56 minute !
We reached Hopbonhauf or Studitrolerplatz?? , Vienna at 12.50 am. There were only 6 people in the bus ! It was quite late, so there were hardly any people in the street. It was difficult to find the place initially. I forgot the download the vienna map. But it is very near to the bus station. Ultimately after some effort we finally reached our destination.
In Austria, the heart of the city is Stefanplatz. Platz means Place. The most important church of St Stephen is there. This is the place where one should come first , after visiting Belvedere museum. All other important places are nearby.
We reached Stefanplatz after another 2 Km walk from Belvedere. Mohua took some rest at the square/ Plaza / Platz. I took pictures from all sides. It looks different from different side. We spent some time there. The St Stephen Cathedral is huge in size. Then I went to St Peters Church - where they have concert regularly. In fact they convert the church into an auditorium during performance. The cheapest ticket is 29 Euro. I took one brochure. It is just 150 metres from St Stephen Church.Then I came back to the Stefanplatz. There are many people selling Mozart concert in various places , by various concert companies. The lowest price was 44 Euro. I showed him the brochure of 29 Euro. He, after some hesitation, scaled down to 27 Euro. He said you will also listen to Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi . Some companies were selling ballet also. We will see the programme tomorrow. Normally a typical Mozart show costs around 50 Europe.
Then we went to Hofburg Palace. It is a huge place. We took the help of a Bangladeshi magazine stall owner to reach the place. He said there are 5000 Bangladeshis here . Many people are selling pictures. You have to have a license to sell it. In the meantime police came to check their license. It appeared to me that their license has expired. They paid some money to the Police on basis of Challan. The Bangladeshi said he is selling on behalf of his company. So he does not have any license problem. He said people , here , are very good. But if you trying to act too smart or cheat , then they will disown you. He stays with 3 of his friends. He is here for 12 years. He has taken asylum. He gets 400 Euro per month + medical facilities. He knows German.
Just after that is St Maria Teresa Square. One side of it is Natural Historical museum. The architecture of these places are exquisite. There is a collonade over there. Other side looks similar . I dont know the name. You can walk and sit in the park inside this square. After that we crossed the road and reached the Museum Square. All the famous museum is located here - Leopold museum, Mamlock ?? museum. Mohua took some rest in the Museum square. In the meantime I looked around the places nearby. Then we came back to Stephen platz.
In Stefanplatz we bought 24 hour pass. For 24 hour pass you have to pay 8 Euro and 15 Euro for 48 hour. Then we took metro to reach hostel. The metro station is just in front of our hostel. We had famous Snitzel - nothing but Fish and chips. Fish is replaced by Chicken fry (like fish fry) and they also give brown rice and salad. Since it is not a touristy place, the price is quite reasonable. Mohua had Pizza. The cost of small Pizza is 3.5 Euro. The bigger Pizza is 5 Euro and the largest one is 7 Euro. Since I opted for the big one, I paid 7 Euro (small one is 3.5 Euro) - which I could not finish. Apple strudle is also very famous.
After that we went to the hostel, for calling it a day.
Yesterday we were more or less done with the important places of Vienna. We planned to take Tram ride by no.1 or 2 to see the whole city . It passes through the most interesting place of Vienna. First we went to the Parliament . We took red line metro to go the Parliament and got down at Karlplatz ?? and then took purple line to reach Rathaus (Town Hall) metro station for Parliament house. Unfortunately restoration and refurbishment is going on. Now Parliament is working from Hofburg Palace. So we could not go inside. Because of the scaffolding, it did not like very nice too. Just beside the Parliament is Town Hall or Rathhaus. There is a nice Rathaus Park. We walked around the place and sat in the park for some time. Actually this place is also not very far from Stefanplatz and this is walk-able distance. It is to the right of Museum square. We went to a church nearby. It is called Karlskerch ?? or St Charles Church. It has twin spire. It is really beautiful, with Belgian glass inside. It has Gothic Style. Almost all the buildings on the way to the church is amazing. These are all part of old square. Old square is quite big. In the meantime we went to the loo at University of Vienna free of cost. We had some food in the cafeteria. It is not that cheap , as one would expect. In fact Police suggested us to go to the University for the loo.
We boarded tram no. 1 and got down at the last stop and again boarded the same tram. We saw the other side this time and finally came back , boarding the same tram and got down near Danube Channel - the nearest point from our concert hall at 2.30 pm. We saw just beside the Daunbe channel a party was going on by the youngsters. We had to take stair case to go near the Channel. The main Danube is further away.We spent some time there. There is a place called Tel Aviv beach here. From there we started walking towards our concert hall. It will start at 6 pm . Since tomorrow is Good Friday - there is a temporary Easter market, near the concert hall, in a square. People are selling wine, chips, souvenir. The concert will take place in a big hall and it is not an auditorium. Since concerts are held all over the place - so it is difficult to find concert taking place in a huge hall with 2000 spectator, I guess, unlike what I saw in Ballet in Russia. It will take place in a grand old house , almost 200 years, grand lampshade, grand staircase. The concert hall is not very big. The size is somewhat like the one in Calcutta School of music. We heard Vivaldi, Puccini, Mozart even opera. Different people performed for music. It is a compact programme. Then we walked till the Stefanplatz. We met the Bangladeshi for the last time and left by metro to reach Struditolerplaz or Haupbaunhof beside our hostel.
We have to catch train at 6 am tomorrow from Central train station. We went to the station for recce - it is just 3 minutes from our hostel. There are nice restaurants over there. We had our dinner there. There is an Indian shop called Chutney - where they are selling a ridiculous item called Madras Chicken. Mohua had Chinese. I tried some famous local Sausage here. Sausage is very popular here. I also had some nice soup from a very popular family run restaurant. The restaurants in the train station looked like the one we see in our airport in India ! Unless you are told , you will think you are in an airport.
There is a very good deal from Vienna to go to Bratislavia. They sell a train ticket (to and fro) to Bratislavia and with that ticket the local transport of Bratislavia is free ! You have to pay only 15 Euro.
Then I went outside to buy some more sausage from a kiosk (since they were not available in the family run restaurant) opposite our hostel. I did not like it at all. We have to catch early morning train tomorrow.
We took the 6 am train to reach Salzburg in 2.50 hours. The train is as usual very good. After getting down at the train station, we took bus no. 3 from the station to reach our destination near city centre. The bus station is in the North. The Salzburg is beside Salzac river. We have to cross the river to reach the old town of city centre. The bus fare is 2.8 Euro. Our Airbnb is very near to Mozart's house. Just before our house there is a Vietnamese restaurant. After that there is only residential place. Our host gave us the pin code, as the address ! Thankfully the vietnamese owner helped us to make call to the owner. Otherwise we would have been in soup. It is a very old house - almost 800 years old. One side of the house is hill.The house has been carved out of the hill. The water was leaking from the hill and there is water all around. However the room is dry. Our host is from Brazil. He is a musician and normally rents it to musicians. There is a piano in our room. There is a gas oven in our room.
Vienna is cold , but Salzburg is not very cold surprisingly. Budapest is coolest between 3-16 degree Celsius. You can feel the nature much more here, compared to Vienna. It is slightly hilly region. We liked Sulzburg more than Vienna. Because there is marriage between architecture and nature. It is not that big too. You can see hill from any side.The whole place is very picturesque. The architecture of buildings are no less.
The size of Austria is 83,000 Sq Km, less than 5000 sq Km compared to West Bengal. Previously the size of Austria is much bigger. part of Austria went into Italy, part went into Hungary, Germany. During the time of Austria got annexed to Germany. There are lot of historical connection between Hungary and Austria. The King used to rule both the countries. The per capita of Austria is 51000 USD vis a vis 16000 of Hungary. Gabor was telling me , many people come to Hungary to consult dentist. A coffee in Hungary costs typically 1.10 Euro. Here you wont get Cuappacino below 2.25 Euro in an ordinary place. Both in Hungary and Austria - you dont have to buy water. You can drink tap water.
Today our first destination is Kapuchin Church at the top of the hill, which is just beside our house. But we have to trek up to the hill. There is a nice view from the church of the whole city. There is St Sebastian Church. There is a cemetery too beside the Church. There is a grave of one of the family members of Mozart. Then we went to the Mirabell Garden in the plain by walk. The shooting of Sound of Music took place here. This is used as a marriage ceremonial hall on hire. Then we went to the house of Mozarts. Here you cannot take picture. So we did not go there, since Mozart's birth place (MozartVonhaus ??) is just across the river. It is more interesting, according to Lonely Planet. Mozart was born 1 year before Battle of Plassey i.e. 1756. His family moved to this bigger house, when he was 14.It is called Mozarthaus. The entry fee is 11 Euro. But the combo fare for the both the places is 18 Euro. I took some pictures outside. So went across the river to reach his birth place - almost beside the river.
The house is reasonably big. His father Leopold Mozart - was a musician. His grandfather was a master book binder. Leopold had 7 son and daughter. Out of them only 2 survived - Amadeus Mozart and Anna Maria Mozart. His father was quite well known. He wrote a popular book on "how to play piano" and became very popular in Europe. Like Annapurna Debi, some skeptics think that Anna Maria was more talented than Amadeus. Some of the compositions were apparently by his daughter. The relation between Leopold and his wife was also very good. They were considered as prodigy in those days. Amadeus Mozart's father toured extensively across Europe with his son and daughter. Ana Maria used to stay home more, being a girl and used to give tuition from home. Amadeus also used to give tuition. At the age of 25 he left for Vienna for working on his own - he was under an employer and also free from Church authorities and also because Vienna was much more prosperous. In 35 years of his life, he traveled 3500 days or almost 10 years for giving performance.
Contrary to popular belief , Amadeus made lot of money from performance, copy rights etc. But he spent lavishly on expensive cloth and wine. He used to love his wife a lot (some letters wee on display). His wife too spent lot of money on luxury and spa. So he had to take loan from his friend (a letter was on display) and ultimately fell into debt trap and died at the age of 35 in 1791 in pauper's graveyard. We spent some time in his house.
Then we went to Residentplatz, also in old town. This is the heart of Salzburg. There is a big church nearby at Domplatz or Dom Square. We went inside the church. Then we decided to take the furnicular train [type of cable car] (festunbahn) to go to the Fort/citadel (Fetunbahn ??) on the top of the hill - Festun Ohensalburg. This is the signature landmark of Salzburg. The to and fro price of the furnicular is 10 Euro (one side is 8 Euro). The view from the top is majestic. We saw the snow capped hill from there. We spent some time together. We met a Bengali couple over there - they stay in UK and the guy has studied in my school. We spent some time together.The lady was in Punjab, New Zealand, Switzerland and finally settled in Edinburg. Her husband stays in Leeds. They have a house in Leeds. The reason being, Edinburg is very expensive. They have come during Easter holiday. They said they are weekend couple ! They are both Professor of Chemistry. She has passed from Kalyani University.
Here sausage is very popular , like our Roll - you will find it everywhere. If you buy it - they will ask "Sauce or Ketchup ?". Sauce is basically English mustard. They are put inside a burger or bread. We had some sausage from a kiosk - Orstel . We had Frankfurter, Kisenkare ?? and Bosna ?. I had Bratwurst yesterday. It is nothing great. Hungarian sausage (Kolbas) is much better. I tasted like Chicken sausage- which I hate! Then we had some gelato. It is quite nice. One scoop is around 1.6 Euro. There is a famous desert called nockrel - which I could not find. We had famous Apple struddle. Since I am not very fond of Apple - I did not find it out of the world. It is basically small pieces of Apple enveloped by a dough.
Tomorrow we plan to go to Sound of Music Tour - it takes 2 times a day - one at 9 and another at 2 pm. There is another separate tour to Hallstart. When we were done with our tour , it is already late. All the travel agents shop are closed. Just beside the river there is a company called Bob's Special tour. They do both the tour in one day. There is another tour comapny called Panorama tour. They also do the tours together. Their office is at Mozartplatz.
So I took their number from the signboard on their office and contacted them over whatsapp. I told them I am planning to do Hallstart + Sound of music tour tomorrow.
Today we went to a very nice Italian restaurant near our house. We had 12 inch thin crust Pizza (Funghi or Mushroom) and Pasta Ajio Olio (Garlic + Olive Oil).
We reached their office little early, at 8.15 am. The tour costs 110 Euro per person. They gave a concessional rate of 100 Euro for last moment booking, on my request. But we had to pay by Cash. The concession is not available on payment by card. The tour will start at 9 am. You cannot make payment online. Since I was hungry - I had to buy bread from a bakery - Croissant ( 1.6 Euro each) - quite expensive - not very big. I bought another interesting bed for 3.2 Euro - certainly not cheap. We paid 6 Euro only for bread ! There is no point buying Salzburg pass, if you dont stay long. More so, since the city centre or tourist attraction places are all nearby . I spent only twice on bus - 2.7 and 2.8 Euro depending upon the distance.
An MUV came at 9 am- similar to Tata Winger. There are 3 more couple in the bus apart from us in the car. First they took us to different places where shooting of Sound of Music took place - the place where wedding took place, the place where "Rain drops on roses" song was sung etc. This tour is more popular. There is a whole day Sound of Music tour too. It was Mohua's dream to do this tour. Official version is shooting took place over 3 weeks. But in reality it was more than that. They had to abandon the shooting midway, since it was raining heavily and went back to USA and came back later. It happened number of times. Sound of Music was based on real life story of Van Trop family. It varied from the real life - they settled in USA in real life, unlike Switzerland, as shown in the movie. They used to do musical performace in USA , moving from one place to another. Their decedents stay in USA. Their last house was burnt down.
Then we left for Hallstart. On the way falls St Gillen - Amadeus Mozart's mother's birth place.There is ice capped mountain all around. This is part of Lake District. We saw a terrain - which is similar to Switzerland. If you go to Innsbruk, further West , I guess the scenary will be even better. I took many pictures on the way to Hallstart. Each and every house on the way is exquisite. It is much better to see Austria than very pricey Switzerland. You will probably see everything here - which you normally expect in Switzerland. There are only 650 residents in Hallstart. It is a very small village beside Lake. At the end of it , is a snow capped hill. The whole place is like a picture post card. We were given around 2 hours to see the village by walk. There is no public transport. There is a departmental store. We returned to our car at 2.30 pm. On the way back we went to a church where the wedding of Van Trop took place. We learnt that the main wedding hall is 3 times bigger, than the real size - though the facade was same , but the rest in the wedding hall is a set in hollywood. We returned at 4.45 pm. Then we went to Mozartplatz, very near to Bob's office. There is a festival hall nearby. Every Thursday and Saturday , a 45 minutes concert takes place. It has already started. We heard a music coming out of basement ! I sat there for some time and heard the Mozart concert free of cost.
Then we went to a nearby horse pond. Two days is enough for Salzburg. The day light is there till 8 am.
Today we went to the same Pizzeria and ordered Margherita and very nice garlic soup with Pizza bread I had some Frankfurter and Bosna before . They cost 3.5 Euro for 2 long sausages. Not cheap ! You should expect to pay at least 10 Euro for lunch/dinner . Pizza is slightly cheaper (at 8.30 / 9 Euro). We went back to hotel , since we have to catch a bus tomorrow at 8 am.
We left our home at 6.45 am. We just missed the bus. We saw, the next bus will come after 22 minutes as per electronic display board. The time displayed changed dynamically from 22 minutes to 25 minutes. The bus came at 7.17 am. It will take 14 minutes to reach. Since it is Sunday the frequency is less. We were bit scared. The bus station is quite far from the city centre. It is outside the city limits - in a secluded place - to reduce the congestion of main city.
Luckily we reached in time. Our Leo Express bus came in time and we left for Cesky Krumlov - a small picturesque town in the South of Czech Republic. This bus will go up to Prague. Prague is more than 3 hours from here by bus. From Vienna you have to go to Linz first and then go to Cesky Krumlov. My friend's uncle used to live in Linz. It is a very important junction from both Vienna or Salzburg.
We reached Cesky Krumlov at 11.05 am. It left little late from Salzburg, but reached in time. Cesky Krumlov is part of Bohemia region of Czech Republic. The whole village is around a horseshoe shaped canal. There is a castle on the top of a hill. There is a church too. Normally people come here for a day tour from Prague and go back. We decided to spend the night here. From the bus stop we walked upto the our cute hostel. The whole city can be covered in 20 minutes. The check in time of the hotel is only 2 pm. So we kept our luggage in the hostel and went to see a synagogue. Since it was closed, we saw it from outside and sat on a bench at a secluded corner of the city. There is a nice view from the bench, since it on small hill. The city is very touristy and over crowded with tourists. But this side of the city, near synagogue is a study in the contrast.Then we returned back to our hostel to keep the language inside our room. The hotel got many award. It was manned by a Vietnamese boy - who is working during his summer holiday. His parents came here to study long back and stayed back. There is also a Vietnamese departmental store nearby. It is open till 10 pm. There are many Vietnamese here. We tried to change some Euro/Dollar to Koruna. Czech Republic is famous for scam related to foregin exchange. The first place ( and we thought that is the only place in the small village) we went, were charging quite ridiculous rates. I did not excahnge it - just in case there is another office. Mohua as ususal bought it at that ridiculous rate (22.5 Koruna = 1 Euro). I saw another office after 100 metres and the difference is almost 10 % - lower than the first one (24.5=1 Euro) ! The spread between buy and sell is 4 ! You have to see if the commission is 0. Otherwise you have to pay this commission over and above the exchange rate.
Then we went to the city centre and from there we went to the Cesky Krumlov State Castle on the top of a hill. But when we reached there it is already closed. But you can have a wonderful view of the village and you can sit for some time. There is nice garden at the top. A famous artist Egon chile used to stay here in 1911. We could not find his house. He was basically from Vienna , but used to stay here. He was controversial for his activities like nude modelling. There is a monastery here. It was closed too, since we were late. You have to cross the canal by a wooden bridge. We saw a Bata shop here ! Much better than our Bata shop. None of the shoe looks similar to what we see in India. Bata is after all Czech !
After that we went to our hostel and took a short nap. When we got up it was bit late and almost all restaurants were closed. We planned to have our dinner from Nonna Gina, famous and good value for money Italian restaurant. But it was late. So we bought bought some Instant noodles, Tom Yum soup from the Vietnamese restaurant and cooked in our hostel. There is adequate facility in the hostel to kitchen. We met a girl from Chile, who is a nurse. She gets a 3 weeks leave a year. She works in a Pvt hospital. She said 75% of the nurses work in Govt. Rest work in Pvt. The salary is more in Govt hospital. After finishing our dinner we went to sleep; tomorrow we will leave for Prague.
Our bus is at 8 am and will reach Prague after 11 am. In Prague we are staying in a airbnb of a saint from Isckon. Their house is in Lipanska. There is auto check in facility. A lock box is hanging on a lamp post in front of his house. You have to use your phone internet to get the password . With the right password the lockbox opens and you take the key from the box and then you open the main (wooden) door. I was bit confused how to open it . After some time, a person in that house (who is also a member of Isckon - his name is Madhusudan) helped us to open the door. In our room there is a numbering lock - not like this. We had a quick prasad /lunch beside the pooja/worship room. Jola , my Polish friend has come Poznan, Poland to meet us. We decided through whatsapp to meet them at 4 pm near their house. They are staying in a studio apartment in a 15 storied building, very near to our airbnb, as per our plan - booked through booking.com. So we have some time left. In the meantime owner of the airbnb came. His name is Fredrico ?? . There is a Gouranga restaurant below their home. Initially plan was different , he was suppose to be travelling. Mohua shared some hindu philosophy with them. They were very happy to learn it from her.
Then we went to the next stop where Jola was waiting for us. I am meeting her after almost 9 years. She was not married then. Now they are married with a little kid. Her husband Peter Lyon is CEO of a Company. They are a very nice and kind hearted. They have driven 5 hours to meet us. Then we took a tram to go the Old town or old squre beside Vlatava river . Jola's daughter went there with a pram. The trams stops were made in such a way that you get into the tram with pram. I paid 110 Koruna / Kroner for the 24 hour tram/metro / bus ride. A single ride costs 30 Koruna or Rs 90. There are Prague card also. But it will not make sense , unless you stay longer. The tram is less advanced than Budapest. There is no electronic board mentioning the arrival time of next train. Only a printed paper with route is mentioned. The bus number is also mentioned.
On the way to the old town we had famous Czech roll - Trdlnik. I was approached by a person - who said "Do you understand English? I am hungry". Since I have learnt to ignore these scams in Europe, he left without any fuss , but after 10 minutes, I saw him walking and talking over a mobile phone. At the old town there is a famous Astronomical clock Tower and Old Town hall (1338 AD) - which is the signature architecture of Prague. Lot of people gather in front of the tower, everywhere, when the bell rings every hour - it is itself an attraction, becasue of a small performance. We reached there at 4.50 . So we waited for the performance.The architecture of old square is very charming.
Then we went to see the the famous Charles bridge. The famous castle district is on the other side of the river. It is too late for the day. From the Charles bridge the city looks exquisite. No wonder it is called the city of 100 Spires. But in reality there are 900-1000 spires. Spire means on the top of the building there is a pyramidical formation. This is the unique feature of Prague. Its documented history is at least 1100 years. Like Austria , you will also find many places where there is concert taking place. There is one famous concert hall cum Church just in front of Charle's bridge. Interestingly Mozart did a performance here in this church !
Then we went to Jola's apartment by tram. They brought lot of food for us on the occassion of Easter holidays - Cheese, various types of cake, salalmi, sausage. Peter has worked in Australia and Canada. He has not worked in place for long. It tries to see as many countries as possible in this way. Now he is in Ireland. He is in any case Irish. Jola lives in Poznan, Poland. They meet during the weekends or so. Sometimes he works from home. Jola's daughter is very well manered. In fact she is expecting another child. In fact Jola's mother was bit skeptical of their long journey. But she had her own way ! After chatting some time it is time to leave. Peter got down and dropped us to our airbnb, although it is only 2 trams stops away. Again we had problem in entering the flat. The key does not seem to work. Later we learnt that the password changes every 4 hours. And we dont have internet ! I went out looking for a place , where there is free wifi. Before I could manage it, Mohua told me some young couple came of the building and she kept the door open ! It was really frigtening , since it was 10.30 pm ! Fredrico and his girl friend (from Argentina) were in their room, just beside our room. They have been in India (Brindaban) for 2 months. She is wearing bangles - Sakha and Pala !
Today Mohua stayed back and will perform some kirtan/puja in the morning with them. She had vegetarian lunch at Gouranga.Mohua said there were many people in the restaurant ! The food is also good according to Mohua. Fredrico takes his bicycle to do prachar / send the message of Krishna to various people around the city. I saw few white Czech people/saints who has been inititated. Mohua joined Jola later in the afternoon.
Things are cheaper than Austria. It is somewhat similar to Budapest.But don't expect to buy a Gelato for less than 1.5 Euro. Lunch will cost you at least 7 Euro. The scam is quite common here. Whenever the economy is not doing well, scam is common. Czech Republic was previously Czechoslovakia - now it divided into Czech Republic and Slovakia, whose capital is Bratislavia. After this size of Czech Republic has reduced to only 78,000 sq Km. - less than Austria. Its population is 1.04 lakh. The per capita income is 24,000 USD. So the economy is stronger than Hungary by 60%. So the price should be slightly more than. Their language is Slavic. So they belong to the same school as Russia, Poland. That is why Jola understands bit of Slovak if it is spoken slowly.
In Hugary, Austria and Czech, I saw many pictures of Gustav Klimt. So he is famous in all these places . Hitler brought large part of Hungary ?? Czech ?? under him with a pact with France. Iron ore, Mining area was attached.Almost 70% of coal mining area, 20% of Iron Ore was annexed to Germany. I saw many beggars here - begging in a very strange way - the way people do Namaz. They are not regugee. They are local. So probably the social security is not good here. I did not see many beggars in Budapest. I did not see beggar in Austria.
Czech republic is divided into two parts - Western part isBohemia region (Cesky Krumlov is its part) and the other part Eastern part is Moravia. There is a nice place called Olumuc - hill top town. For that you need to stay longer. Prague is part of Bohemian part. Prague was found in the year 900 AD approx - almost 1100 year old history. But it really prospered during the time of Charles IV. The Charles bridge constructed during his period and conceiving of the new town all happened during his time. Some of the Bohemian kings were part of Roman empire - some what like our Nawabs of Murshidabad - they were governors of Mughal. After that it was part of Austro Hungarian (history of Austria and Hungaria is often overlapping) empire. Then Prague was capital of that kingdom for some time. Prague was hardly affected by World war. Very few houses were affected. That is why there are so many beautiful houses in Prague. My friend Gabor said, Prague is a more compact city compared to Budapest. You have to choose one - he will pick up Prague. He is right. It can rival any city in the world.
Prague can be divided into 4 parts. The main river is Vlatava river. On the Western side is Castle district or Hradany and Lesser quarter - Mala Strana - which is is not very far from Castle district. Mala Strana is basically beside the Charles bridge.
On the Eastern side is Novo Mestro (New town) and Sapre Mestro (Old town)
I went on my own. I bought only one single side ticket 30 Kroner from Lipanska tram station in front of our house. I went near Castle district by tram and got down at Mala Strana Nemesti ; then walked upto to the Castle - slightly up hill. There is a big queue. You can book/buy tickets for various groups. I rightly bought Tour B for 250 Kroner. Other Tours costs 350 Kroner (possible if you have lot of time and not recommendable). With Tour A , you can enter 4 different places. Over there I saw a march past by police is going on. There is a large crowd watching it. It is also the seat of Political power. In the meantime my camera just ran out of memory. After spening almost 15 minutes I was able to delete the pictures taken in the last tour to Egypt ! It is on the top of a hill , like Salzburg. As usual the view is superb. Inside the Prague castle you can enter without ticket. But they wont let you in most of the places. There is an absolutely stunning St Brutus ? Cathedral (constructed over a period of 600 years - one of the mostl richly endowed cathedral of Europe - it was pivotal to the cultural life of Prague), old Prison, wonderful building, workers quarter, museum, gallery, manuscript inside the Castle. You can go to the old Royal Palace - inside the castle. Its history, since 1135 is recorded here. It was the sit of Czech kings. Then I went to the Golden lanes - where Doctors used to sit, Hotel etc. There is a wonderful Pvt museum inside - Private residence of a perosn - Loptovich palace?? . You have to pay 690 Koruna to go inside. I skipped it It will take half a day to see it.
Then on the way back to Charles bridge, falls a place called Loreta with Baroque architecture - owned by the same person. I did not go inside. There is a stahoff library - I did not go there for want of time. On the way back I went to Lesser quarter - Mala Strana, walking. I had some Czech lunch in a good restaurant. The roasted pork in red cabbage and Potato dumpling seems to be popular here. With Tax and service charge, I paid 230 Kroner. We had Trdlink also - which originated here. It was there in Budapst also.There is also sausage, salami, burger in Czech.
On the way back falls St Nicholas Church and Infant Jesus museum (free). Then I reached Charles bridge. There is a Mozart and Vivaldi (4 season) concert at 7 pm in that church cum concert where Mozart played. Here charges are much less - only 18 Euro.
We could not go to Jewish Town and Novo Mestro. There is a funicular train at Jewish town. Jewish town not very far actually. So you need 2 full days to see Prague. I saw different kinds of architecture in Prague- Gothic, Baroc.
Then I suddenly got access to wifi beside a Candy shop and informed Jola I am done with my tour. They said they are near Old town (Stere Mestro). I told them to wait in front of Astronomical tower. We met them there and took a tram together to go back to their home. We had tea together and left our home by walk ! After reaching our airbnb, we had some food in a chinese restaurant opposite to our house. The chinese food is food, but different from what we have in Kolkata. We called it a day.
Today our plane will leave at 11.30 am. We planned to leave little early and decided to took tram no 26 to a place very near to airport. But unfortunately their route has been changed. So we got down from the tram and took an airport express bus (60 Kroner) near Florenc Station . Initially We faced lot of problem since, for none of the routes of metro (which goes straight to Airport ) there is an elevator, to get into the train from ticket counter. There is no staircase. You have to use escaltor - Mohua is scared of that. We would have missed the plane. Thankfully somebody helped Mohua to ride the escalator. Normally in most metros in Europe, there is an elevator to make it convenient for disabled.When we reached airpot, only 1.30 hours is left.
We reached Helsinki in 2+ hours approx and reached Helsinki at 1.30 pm and our connecting flight to Delh is 8.15 pm. We spent some time in the lounge (had food there and read New York Times. One NY Times cost 3.5 Euro. There is no local news. It is world news. I also read Fiancial Express.). It is free for me, because of my Regalia card.
We reached Delhi at 5.20 am and our connecting flight to Kolkata is at 9 am. I was bit scared of the Pakistan airspace problem. We had to change airport, which is quite far. Because of Pakistan airspace problem, the plane left little late - otherwise we would have missed the flight.