Tom’s summer 2018 bicycle tour of the Czech Republic. Tom cycled through Southern Bohemia after playing tourist in Prague. The beauty of Southern Bohemia was exposed in small villages and towns surrounded by lakes, hills, forests, and rolling farmland along the Vitava River. The final days of the tour followed cycle paths and country roads along the Danube through Austria’s Wachau Valley. Click on an image to read the story behind the photo.
This is the classic Prague view from the Charles Bridge looking toward to Prague Castle and St. Vitas Cathedral. You need to get there early since this bridge is swarming with tourists during most of the day.
While touringhteČeský Krumlov castle, I wandered into an art gallery in the catacombs. There were so many odd and unique sculptures. I find Europe has many strange and out of the ordinary works of public art.
I had cycled through small villages along the shore of the Vitava River. This view is of the village taken from the village's abbey. There are many abbeys in the Czech Republic. This particular one is in the process of being restored.
I had cycled the prior day to Horni Plana on Lake Lipno. Courtney, th tour guide, offered to cycle this rainy day. I opted in. It was less than memorable. We cycled along a "canal" that was a ditch that was used to transport logs from the forest to the lake.
I had climbed many miles from Ybbs an der Donau, Austria mostly through a heavy forest with limited views. I heard an engine and along came a tractor. I m sure the farmer wondered what are these people doing here!
Melk is a postcard-worthy Austrian village. It is a stop for river cruises. The city is swarmed with these tourists during the day. They disappear as the sun goes down. I very much enjoyed my stay in this village.
Durnstein, Austria is a popular destination on the Danube. It was a beautiful day of cycling. I came across this touring family on my walk through the village. What adventure and memories being made.
Tom explored the land of his Hungarian ancestors on his September 2017 bike tour through Western Hungary. The adventure started in Vienna and headed through the vineyards along Lake Neusiedl (Lake Ferto in Hungary). He cycled to the northern shores of Lake Balaton and ended the tour sightseeing in Budapest, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Click on an image to read the story behind the photo.
Viennese Back Street
St. Peter's Catholic Church
Statues at the Hofburg Palace
Catholic Church Maria am Gestade
Vienna Jewish Quarter
Horse drawn carriage in Vienna
Cycling through the Wachau Valley
Wine Cellar at the Domaine Wachau Winery
Street Scene in Durnstein, Austria
Walking through Rust, Austria
Looking like autumn in Rust
A typical Hungarian picnic lunch
View of Sopron from the Monastery
Library of the Carmelite Monastery
Dinner at Sopronbánfalvi Kolostor Hotel
A view with my coffee
Fall of the Iron Curtain Sculpture
Deep in the Fertőrákosi Quarry
Lake Ferto/Lake Neusiedl
Cabins on Lake Ferto
Wine cellar at the Raspi Vineyard
Raspi Winery and Restaurant
Öreg Malom Hotel in Csepreg, Hungary
Entrance to the Öreg Malom csarda
Koszeg Town Square
Sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church in Koszeg
A bicycle in front of the coffee shop on the Koszeg town square
Sopron was the first Hungarian city I visited. This view of the city center ist typical of these cities. A religious statue in the center of a square surrounded by a church, city hall, cafes, and shops.
This sculpture sits high on a hill inside the Fertőrákosi Quarry. It commemorates the fall of the Iron Curtain. I did not know that the Hungarian-Austrian border was the first border to open with the fall of the Soviet Union.
I was raised in a Hungarian American family. I was familiar with all the food I experienced during this tour except for this dish... Dodolle is a regional dish. They are potato dumplings fried in butter and topped with sour cream. Healthy, huh!
This rustic museum near Felsőcsatár is the creation of a former Iron Curtain guard who reconstructed sections of the many faces of the fence over the years. Yes, the Iron Curtain had three versions across the Hungarian border. Well worth the visit to better understand the tragedy of this fence.,
Palinka is a strong cordial fruit liqueur that is common in Hungary. We tasted many varieties courtesy of the Iron Curtain Museum owner. The museum sits on the grounds of a winery and fruit orchards that produce this liquir.
This lovely estate turned into a spa was my home for a night while cycling along Lake Balaton. The room was large and nicely appointed. The food was outstanding, a selection of Hungarian specialties served buffet style.
Very authentic and delicious Hungarian gulyas served at lunch in the Badacsony wine region. Most Americans know goulash as a macaroni, tomato and ground beef dish. This is far cry from this delicous dish!
A typical shopping and dining area of Tihany which is a popular tourist destination. Hungarian tourist spots have the mix of good and bad quality shops in these areas. I bought a beautiful hand embroidered table runner with the help of Peter, my tour guide.
Food stand at a street festival in Tihany. Notice the serving sizes. This is typical. Hungarians are hearty eaters. THe prices are low for American. The lemonade is 550 HUN which is $2 for 1/2 litre glass.
I strolled through this small town before breakfast. Every street was neat with nicely maintained homes. A large mown lawn was a rare sight on my bike ride. Hungarians use much more landscaping including trees, bushes, perennials, and flowers.
All decorative pieces of Herend porcelain are handmade. An interestinf fact is that the Communist regime allowed Herend to make these decorative pieces since it yielded income to the state. The factory did produce cheaper Soviet leader busts during this period.
One of the buildings surrounding the square at the Hungarian Parliament Building. The Hungarians held a competition for the design of the Parliament building. They ended up building the three finalist designs around the square.
Biked past this and walked several times through Erzsébet Square. This little park had nice food booths and bordered the high-end shopping area of the city. Budapest and Vienna copied the London Eye but with much smaller ferris wheels.
Notice how the overhang reflects the word terror on the building. This building was the Hungarian Nazi headquarters during the WWII occupation and later housed the KGB during the Soviet era. Appropriately named.
A national Hungarian monument and a large park. This was an imposing set of sculptures. The figures on the semicircular arches are Hungarian rulers. This serves as the entrance to a large city park, think of it as Budapest's Central Park.
I did not understand what this was during my tour. It sat at the end of the small chapel in the back of the basilica. His had was exhumed and placed in this jewel and gold encrusted display case. I understand it is very sacred to Hungarians.
This magnificent structure is the largest marketplace in Budapest. The building is full of vendors of all types. It sits on the Danube, a nice walk from the Chain Bridge. For an authentic experience, take the tram along the river for spectacular views.
If you are visiting Budapest, head up to the second floor of the Great Market Hall. You will find the best deals on souvenirs, Hungarian lace, embroidery, leather and woodcrafts. It is also the home of food booths and a cafeteria. The langos stand is perpetually busy.
Hop on this funicular on the Buda side of the Chain Bridge to head up the Buda Castle District. I enjoyed it both during the day and at night. The night view is spectacular. Walk at least one of the ways up or down the hill. The stairs along the funicular pass through nicely landscaped gardens and crosses the funicular twice.
I walked this bridge several times a day. It is crowded with tourists during the day. I loved my walk across it after dark. It's construction unified the cities of Buda and Pest into one city, Budapest.
This castle is quite impressive on the outside. It turns out that the inside is institutional rooms. The castle was almost leveled in WWII. The Russians left it unrestored for almost 10 years as a sign of distaste for the monarchy. It was reconstructed Soviet style with not decorations in the interior. What a shame to lose that grandeur.