Our Spanish Parador Extravaganza continued: Parador de Cuenca, Spain

This is one of several overviews because the area is so large!  The most noticeable sight is the Hanging Houses on the right that lead up to the old town.

Looking at the walk way below, there are a few hardy souls heading for the old town. In the ravine is the river that together with the Hanging Houses, helped keep out the attackers over hundreds of years. You can see a bit of the town in the distance.

This view of our lovely Parador was originally the site of a 16th century convent and retained some original paintings.

This area, Costilla-La Mancha, was immortalized by Cervantes (1547) in “Don Quixote de la Mancha”. The tall, skinny knight riding a sway backed horse and wearing a medal dish as a hat and accompanied by his side-kick, Sancho. Both were out to defend those who needed protection….and did!

This infrequently visited area has great mountain ranges, dramatic gorges and the two cities of Toledo and Cuenca and these were the factures that drew us to Cuenca.

Four of these hallways encircled a beautiful outdoor patio (I could not take a picture because of the bright light).  The comfortable  furniture, and nearness of the bar made social interaction available ….weather rain (rare) or heat (hot summers)….air conditioning within.

This view of our lovely Parador was originally the site of a 16th century convent  and retained some original paintings. This lovely painting above a large doorway was one.

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We separated after breakfast:  Bert, a photographer, and his wife, Frie, were off to explore.  Shortly thereafter  Mike and I followed, but a little more slowly. After crossing the track and walking steeply uphill, this was a fantastic  close-up of a Hanging House. It was open for tours.  But the first room  WAS the balcony… and there was no way I was going to look out or down from there!

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I took this lop-sided picture of this 12th-18th century Cathedral because of the horde of people surging up the steps trying to enter the church.

Little did we know that it was the beginning of May Day Celebration in the square and the church was locked. There was laughter, music, and finally prayer. This assuages my desire to see the antiquities housed inside.

IMG_48231The younger priest wending their way through the crowd to line up before the stage.

This joyful celebration was worth missing the 12th and 18th century antiquities in the Cathedral.

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My opinion is that this row of religious were older, because they got the seats. Because of the crowd (and not understanding much of what they were saying) we moved on to eat lunch and of course have a glass of lovely wine.

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These ceramic tiles shown on the back of the dinning room wall were done during the 14th century. Interestingly enough they were made by musicians of the time and they placed their work upon this wall. The parador saved it.
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                            (I dare you to try walking through the above)
—-Many of the pictures are by Burt Haegemans.
(My camera died)
Although I saw no, “Don Quixote” these Spanish people are wonderful!
1/17/2017
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Our Spanish Parador Extravaganza with the Parador de Siguenza

This 12th century medieval castle was begun in 1133 and built on a Roman settlement.  Until  this last century  it was the enclave of bishops and cardinals who maintained this castle and the Cathedral in the adjacent village.

Although an exceptional entrance portal, there were a few drawbacks. There are 40 wide steps up to the massive doors…and difficult to drag the luggage behind. Happily there are 2 elevators to get to your floor…and ours was on the 4th!

A small altercation when the receptionist said “no balcony” caused me to snag my Reservations out and show her “Superior, with balcony”. Then smiles.

It had a lovely view.

The view from our balcony included part of the castle wall, the mountains and a distant peek at the town.  (If you reserve the parador ahead, are over fifty years, you get generous discounts, excellent service and  accommodations…. just  carry the receipt!)

The timing was good. We were surrounded by greenery and they were just putting up the umbrellas . From what we could see on the location map, there were only two main streets that converged in the Central Plaza. These were commercial, narrow and stoned. With no car…need better shoes.

The downtown Plaza much improved as we approached the Cathedral! The church is just behind the plaza. We went to enter and found the church was locked (probably closed for lunch). We walked around this beautiful 12th century structure that the religious owners of the palace- for almost a thousand years- had also enhanced the cathedral.

After this we limped our way back to the parador and passed this picture in the lobby.

This picture was the only info I could find of the original building after its destruction. During the Spanish Civil war in the 30’s the bombing wrecked havoc on the castled. Looking closely you will see there are a few structures remaining.


This original chapel survived! One of the service people had to lead us to the balcony so we could see. Because of its age they don’t allow tourist to enter the lower levels, nor are there any signs for it.

Lovely original and mostly formal dinning room. Mike ordered a scrumptious bottle of wine to go with his seafood and I had to accept it graciously even though I was having “kid” (baby goat). And that night we slept like babies.

The following was an evening shot from the city below the parador. And what a memory!

7/6/2017

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Our Spanish Parador Extravaganzia continued: Parador de Alarcon

Not the biggest parador…but certainly being established in the 11th century makes it one of the oldest. Driving in, left side, bottom, and curving up to the parking lot behind, you walk through an iron portcullis to the inside of the courtyard. The village it still guards is behind the tower. Notice the high ramparts ….you will see us walking around them shortly!

This Medieval Arab Fortress was an exceptional witness to the Reconquest beginning in the 8th century and it perfectly preserves and maintains  the aura of Arabic influence.

Our bedroom, high on my priority list. I enjoyed having some of the “original” castle (left wall of rocks) to lull us to sleep.

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The window just above the staircase was our room. It looked down On the small but lovely courtyard with tables, umbrellas, greenery….and a couple  drinking wine! They were very friendly and asked us to join them. We did.

I told them what I had over heard from the concierge earlier talking to a customer: “Yes, you can go up to the battlements, walk carefully around the perimeter and please return the key.” And while we were there with Bert and Frie the couple with the key returned. Naturally, we ran and got the key for ourselves.

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This is what we saw when we got to the top of the turrets. Leaning down we saw the River Jucar below circling the ramparts.

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I could see Mike puzzling over what lie beneath us- or whether or not he was going to jump- but he looked puzzled by what he saw.

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We found out later that it was set up for paddle boats, canoes, etc for taking short trips around the river.

Mike Pondering jumping

Mike pondering jumping???

Bert and Frie added that we hand’t finished the wine yet and it was getting warm. Whoops, we were going down the stairs very quickly!

——The previous 4 photos were courtesy of Bert Haegemans.

Before meeting our friends for dinner Mike and I wanted to see the very old village the castle had guarded, and a very special church.

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Walking through the village on the rough heuwn steps, you can see the church (dark brown at the very top) but it was locked. A native offered that it was rarely opened except for special events because of its antiquity.

Interior dinning area Alacron

The dinning room that evening was beautiful with excellent roast lamb! A bit crowded but this Parador can only accommodate 28 people.

We found out that our new friends were also moving on to the next Parador that we had reserved for 2 days- how wonderful!

To be continued– with the Parador de Cuenca.

6/4/2017

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Scene II: Cyprus

If you can figure out the names of the other countries please send us a copy…

We’re on our way down from New Helvetia Hotel and the marvelous hills and mountains surrounding. Rough and stoney but drivable roads, with no traffic. The Zambartas winery was both beautiful and their “tasting room” delicious.

Please notice the background of the enormous vineyards rolling off down the hills but not- climbing the mountains behind them.

His wife is the administrator of the tasting room and helps run the business while he is the vineyard and wine crafting master. (And the kids just do their thing of squashing grapes on each  other.)

From the vineyard owner, “The region is home to centuries old terraced vineyards (you can see them stretching and climbing up the hills) with unique indigenous grape varieties. There is nothing more exciting for a winemaker than to continue this heritage in a contemporary way and we are excited to make wine out of our local grape varieties such as Xynisteri, Maratheftiko & Yiannoundi. The Zambartas family sets their bar very high in terms of quality and style.”

This rough country is protected by the gifts of nature; rocks for everything: houses, roads, walls, and most importantly things drinkable.

A little background of Cyprus in necessary. In 1119 Richard the Lionheart conquered Cyprus. The reason for this (and other bloody battles) is apparent.

Cyprus lay at the crossroad of the Eastern Mediterranean and its rich copper deposits were the cause for the first steps out the Stone Age. (And the reason for its name: Kyprus = Copper).

The Troodos mountains (which we had just left) contained large deposits of copper and Cyprus became the largest producer and exporter of copper in the Mediterranean basin.

This is an expert from my husband’s recent article for the American Wine Society Journal that will be published this Summer:

“Cyprus is a small island–roughly 3500 sq. miles, making it larger than Delaware but smaller than Connecticut,–in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  It lies 60 miles west of the Syrian coast and miles south of Turkey’s southern shores.  Athens is over 500 miles to the northwest.

With its strategic position in the Mediterranean, the island has over the centuries seen many players and occupiers: the Phoenicians, the Hellenistic dynasty of Alexander the Great and the Romans.  The Byzantines had their short stay in the 10th century.  And, of course, there were the  Crusaders (11th century).  Richard the Lionheart captured the island then turned it over to the Knights Templar who in turn sold it to the French noble family of the Lusignans (a 300 year reign).  Then came the Genovese and Venetians.  The Ottomans had a 300 year hold before Britain took administrative rights to Cyprus in 1878.  This hold lasted until 1960 when Cyprus established independence. However, animosity between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots  soon surfaced and in 1974 the Turkish government sent troops to Cyprus to put down a coup d’état–a coup that was encouraged  by Athens.  Since that time the island has been partitioned into the ethnically Greek south Republic of Cyprus  and the  northern Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (recognized  only by Turkey).  A “Green Zone” buffer border separates the two–a 112 mile border with only 5 vehicular crossing points plus two more pedestrian crossings in the walled city of Nicosia, the capital of both “counties”. One island, two cultures, two languages, two currencies (Euros, south/ Turkish Lira, north). After over 40 years the island is still resolutely divided!”

Our last stop was this Castle Kolossi.

During the 13th century, the castle served as the Grand Commander of the Knights Templar and after the fall of Acre in 1291 the castle served as the headquarters of the knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It was built with military architecture offering security within the area and resisting any attacks. At a height of 21 meters and a length of 15 meters on the outside and 14 meters on the inside.

Now enough education, back to the Zambarta’s winery for some drinks— and it was good!

“The Sweetness of your love is like Cyprus wine.” Mark Antony said to Cleopatra as a wedding present.

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Tomar, Portugal : A magnificent Old Town

When we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, we had to walk the airport to unkink our legs. We have now accumulated enough Delta Miles to fly first–class, half money and half earned miles (But not in time for this trip). Reason: for 11 hours of flying, the couple ahead of us put their seats ALL the way back! (Except when the trays were put down for meals.) I didn’t want to do the bathroom shuffle so I said I wasn’t feeling well and if they moved their seats a bit forward, we wouldn’t disturb them. And they did.

Unkinked and rental ready, we drove the hour to Tomar just as the sun came out.

Town view of castle You can just see the top of the Knights Templar Castle over the bridge, above the buildings and guarding the village.

Knight Templar 1160 - Copy - CopyThis ancient structure was a combination of Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architecture integral to Portuguese history. “Convento de Cristo”  was founded In 1160 by Gualdim Pais, Grand Master of the Templars. They defended Portugal from invaders. In the 14th century the order was banned in Europe…but they were supported by the Portuguese Royals and re-established as the new “Order of Christ” and continued as such.

Hotel Dos Templarios, Tomar

One of those rare but wonderful accidents….the hotel was hosting a conference and only a suite was left…which we got at the double rate. Unbelievable. Upstairs and down stairs, one bed room, bath and patio on each…and complimentary bottle of Port. Life is good!

After bathing and checking out the Port wine, we headed downtown for dinner.

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A well kept pedestrian  street with the Castle hovering above.  We found a restaurant with a riverside patio where we enjoyed watching the pedestrians crossing the bridge. The next morning we were switched to an even better room  on an upper floor, with our patio facing the Castle…. lit up at night!

The next morning off to see Portugal-Castle-de-Almoural.

Portugal-Castelo-de-AlmourolYou had to take a ferry to visit the ruins on a tiny island in the Tagus River. The Grand Master Gualdim Pais also built this Templar Castle in 1171…over a Roman fortress…and it was never taken by invading forces.  45 minutes  climbing  to see the fantastic view (and catching your breath) but only 15 back to the ferry.

Returning to town, we wanted to checkout some of the 15th century additions to the 1160 Castle.

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Wonderful entrance through the old Castle walls.One of the Cloisters

Inside we visited one of the Cloisters. This is the area where the monks, and in this case, the Templars would come for prayer and worship.

Begun in the 15th century, this “Cloister” reflects the Italian art of the time. There were concealed spiral stairways in the corners leading to the, “Terrace of Wax”. But- they were sealed off.

We were tempted to climb up the outside walls and find out what the “Terrace of Wax” was.

Synogue de Tomar

This synogue was built in 1430 and is one of the oldest synagogues in Portugal. It was last used as a place of worship in 1497, after Emanuel I closed it to all Jews who didn’t convert to Christianity, and consequently it was used as a prison, a hayloft and a warehouse. Today it holds a small Jewish museum. You can see the original columns and a vaulted ceiling in the back of the picture.

As we left Tomar we stopped just over the bridge to view the top of the Templar castle as we saw it in the beginning.

Town view of castle

1/24/2016

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5th in the Parador Series

There have been a number of people who have requested more information about the Paradors in Spain. And, which was my favorite. (This one, the history is fascinating.)

It was diffichanging-housesult to find pictures of the Hanging Houses in Cuenca, Spain. I had to use Bing for the excellent pictures because we had not been there and wanted information.

The 1992 book, “Discovering, Spain, an uncommon guide” by Penelope Casas  gave us vital history of the area.

Cuenca  hangs at the edge of a rocky spur, ringed by gently rounded cliffs and flanked by surrounding rivers the, Jucar and the Hucar.

Cuenca is an impenetrable fortress, approachable only by way of a narrow bridge crossing  a shallow moat. That strip of land was the only point that the city needed man-made protection.

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Lower left is the Parador while the Hanging Houses are across the river and around the cliffs. Notice that the bridge crossing the river runs up to the highway and up and through the houses. This was the only place where Cuenca needed man made protection and was defended by thick fortified walls.

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This was a 6th C. convent abandoned and later converted to a parador. It is directly opposite of the hanging houses and has a wonderful view.

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This is a grand place to go for an afternoon break and a drink after walking miles and miles of the town.

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With energy left one could avail themselves of the swimming pool.

The Hanging Houses of Cuenca, backed by the cliffs, rise more than a dozen stories over the rivers, but from the medieval streets that wind and twist up and down from the central Plaza Mayor, the houses are just three and four floors high. The best way to see them is from a distance.

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We haven’t been here yet, but from all this information and the pictures, there is no way we’re going to miss this site and the Hanging Houses, and maybe over imbibing after entering one of the structures!

1/16/2017

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Parador de Baiona: Part 2 of Series

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A fantastic location over looking the Atlantic, with rolling Pine Hills off to the left! On the right and straight  ahead, the small orange roofed  building is the Bar and Grill  with an outside patio right on the water.  In the evening it is lit with fairy lights that extend over the white path that outlines the Atlantic. Notice the circular front entrance on the road to the left.

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And this Regal  Entrance  leads us to the Parador…guarded by ancient walls on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on  the  other….also well protected by the animals within, and currents.

Having the opportunity to walk, we took the path on the right and headed uphill into town. Small city (at that time) but packed with fetching shops and a beautiful  Church.

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Coming back from the upper town, we were amazed with this wonderful distant view of “our” island! Limping down to the Bar and Grill, we chilled out with a local wine.

Still tired from the long walk, we naturally headed for the heated swimming pool with the soft Atlantic breeze as a bonus.  We decided to eat in one of Baiona’s restaurants  that eve.

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Not our bedroom…although ours was lovely…and less expense.  I figured in another 5 years, and with  the Senior Savings, the 40% reduction would certainly be a benefit.

We could see why Christopher Columbus wanted to retire here.

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That evening we walked over to the Bar & Grill, sat under the fairy-lights and toasted  the fantastic view. And this was a “keeper”!

November, 20, 2016

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Journey to Cyprus: Part 1

We flew into Cyprus, grabbed our rental car and drove to our hotel in New Helvetia in Platres—a small beautiful mountain town.

Although this picture does not show the hairpin drive up to the entrance- one can feel it!

The hotel is about 100 years old- but excellent and a bargain!

One side of the room is down stairs and it contains the bathrooms and the bed,

and the stairs going up contain the television and reading couches. The porch has chairs and are semi-enclosed and separated from your neighbor with a view of the hill side.

I took this picture from the balcony looking down to see how many were still eating. And as you probably noticed my camera is having troubles and there were no postcards to be had I found out later.

After settling in we decided to see our small town.

The first stop was Choirokoitia, an ancient site existing from around 4,000 B.C.

Lying at the crossroads of  Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, Turkey, and among others who were interested in their rich copper deposits. Their name Cyprus came from Kypors which meant copper.

The trasnition between the Stone and Bronze age was called the Chalolithe- and was the site we were heading for. The Troodos moutains had a large deposit of copper.

A Neolithic village, in the 2nd half of the 7th millennium B.C. Choirokotia was inscribed on the UNSEC world heritage list.

The “house” consisted of a group of these structures around an open space where all were installed for growing and storing corn. Light came through the openings in the walls for visibility. Their custom was to bury the deceased inside the bottom of the pit so that the families could remain together.

We were tired and hungry when returning from this excursion so I leaned out over the balcony to see how crowded the dinning area was. It showed very few people.

So we ended up having lunch in the bar and discovered the huge tree trunk growing there. It was planted by our hostess grandfather. He was revered by both his family and the town. And by the picture of his last car embedded in the outside patio wall.

Mike thinks it’s a Morris Miner car of the 50’s.

I included this picture because I thought it revealed the attitudes and ambiance of both the lovely hotel blending with the early Fall season at the outside dining area.

We will get to the wine areas next time!

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After Prague: the hinterlands of the Czech Republic

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After discovering the strength and bravery of the Czech people in Prague, we wanted to see more of the Czech countryside. It was a dreary morning, made more so by the mammoth SUV the rental company foisted on us.  “…but we got no other car…maybe tomorrow?”  (Mike had reserved and paid for a sedan 3 months earlier.)

I was driving with the parking lights on when a policeman motions us over. “No lights!” he said.

I got out and reached up my hand to reflect the parking light. He mumbles and walks around the car. “So K” he says “but need brighter”.  I flicked on the brights. “So K, so K” he says and smacks the trunk. We learned afterwards that the police are poorly paid and compensate for it. Hence I carried money in my pocket and only had to use it once.

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About an hour later we reached the Sternberg Castle loftily capping the hill and guarding the Sazava River valley. Perfect for coffee and a leg stretch. This 13th century  Gothic castle was captured in 1467 and at the end of 15th century the original family regained and restored it. We got coffee from the heavily wooded bar and walked the windy river battlements and found a network of iron cages containing owls and eagles. The trainer was speaking to several kids and removed an owl from its cage and freed him. It flew up in growing circles until the trainer whistled him back to his arm. We were all enthralled.

On to Tabor.

Tabor,Czech_RepublicIt was beautiful and uncrowded. The Luznice river can be seen behind the rooftops. The village grew from a military camp of Hussite refugees escaping Prague in 1420. The maze of streets and narrow alleyways were beautifully built!  This group were avid supporters of Jan Hus, one of the most important religious thinkers of the 1400’s. He fought against the Catholic Church’s  corrupt practices and opulent life styles. The Papacy excommunicated Jan and then burned him at the stake. (Not much negotiating in the 14th century!)

On to Jindrichuv Hradec  (even a linguist would have difficulty with this name).

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Although this looks more like a “trout stream”, there were many round ones. Fresh fried trout decided our staying several days and exploring nearby sites.

Jindrichuv Hradec

The castle, towering over a trout farm, was built in the 13th century and Italian architects expanded it into  a Renaissance  palace in the 16th century. There were no English tours so we linked to a Norwegian group who graciously helped us understand the tour guide. Five floors but no Elevators. After several hours of climbing and descending, we cut to the castle wine bar.

Not often can one visit a Gothic Castle converted to a Renaissance Palace!

We had a wonderful trout dinner that evening and decided to see Ceske Krumlov tomorrow.

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It was just an hour’s drive, the beautiful medieval Ceske Krumlov was across the river from Austria. (Saving that for another trip.) This village belonged to the Rozmberk dynasty from 1302 to 1611. In 1992, Unesco added it to its World Cultural Heritage Site. Just looking at the picture…..one can understand why! Additionally, the town center is closed to cars. Beyond that, Ceske Krumlov is noted for its Baroque Theater that is one of a kind. It offers a fascinating glimpse of 18th century theatrical life …including costumes, sets and stage machinery.

Back to Jindrichuv Hradec just in time to see a weather change.

Cloudy evening in Hradec

Nothing like a pub and fireplace when the weather chills. The next day on to Znojmo and a few days at the Prestige Hotel’s outdoor patio where one can read and rest their feet.

Prestige Hotel patio

The next day on to Znojmo and a few days at the Prestige Hotel’s outdoor patio where one can read and rest your feet.Znojmo

Znojmo is one of Moravia’s oldest towns with a warren of narrow streets and surrounding river.

After a final cup of coffee on our hotel’s sunny patio, we are off on a side trip to Brno. Mike had arranged  to meet with structural engineering Professor Strasky for an overview of his bridges.

Pedestrian Suspension Bridge

I thought this was outstanding and wanted to run across…but then I’d have to come back.

Professor Strasky then took us to lunch. He and Mike had much in common and talked for hours about architecture and engineering.

We also stopped at Brno’s “Hall of Prayers”, the site of 9,000 Jewish tombstones.

Prag Jewish Cemetery2

The Jewish community raised the funds to put headstones on the unmarked sites. Meanwhile, the Church of the Holy Cross has mummified  monks (dressed) in the crypt. These towns certainly preserve and honor their past….remarkable!

The next stop: Mikulov.

MilkulovIt offers a palette of wineries, naturally, a castle, and an intriguing cemetery. The town is beautiful especially with the ancient “foundations” protecting from the highest point. (The 13th century castle was destroyed by the Germans at the end of WW II.) But, you can see and smell the vaults where the remnants of the 2 centuries storage of locally-made wine still flowed.

The Jewish cemetery began in the 16th century.

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That this was the seat of Moravia’s chief rabbi, 16th century, was not coincidental. Many of the headstones date back to 1618. In “Prague” (see blog on same), the Jewish ghetto ironically survived the destruction because although the Nazis’ destroyed ghettos elsewhere, Hitler wanted to preserve the “Prague collection” as a museum of the “Extinct Jewish race in Europe” after the Final Solution was achieved!  Ha.

Continuing on, we drove into Trencin , Slovakia and were enthralled by the huge castle above and the modernity  of the streets below.

Trencin Castle

The large building below is the Hotel Tatra and staying there was lovely and easy: out the door and you are in the central square.

The next day we drove toward Olomouc and Mike sighed when the first vineyard appeared.

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Lush, green and magnetic. If there only was a tasteing-room…..

Olomouc-Czech-Republic-3828Driving into the city was a joy, the streets wide and parking easy. The Holy Trinity Column dominated the area, crowned by figures representing the Holy Trinity and surrounded by people sitting on the steps enjoying the weather and the view of this 7th century village.

Brateslava, Slovakia was our last site. It was difficult getting into this city of 600,000 people. What few street signs there were, we couldn’t read. After checking some hotels that were full we headed for the central plaza. The Carlton (Radisson) Hotel, with a parking lot beneath that turned the trick. We got a splendid room (123) on the first level with a big balcony over looking the pedestrian area.

Bratislava, The CarltonThe railing blocks a view of our room, but we had a splendid room and view. I asked the clerk how much for one night, for two nights, three nights… and bingo! Got down to 40% reduction for three nights. (Which we planned to do anyway)

We set off with our prearranged guide “Roman” at 2, going to taste wine at the castle cave. It was very good. That evening we had dinner at out hotel bar which was more lively and fun than the formal dinning room.

 Brateslava Castle

At 10 AM we met with our other guide, Susan, for a tour of the castle and part of the town. Perched on a hill above the Danube, the castle was first mentioned in 907. A strategic spot covering the trade routes and the old Amber route, it went through the usual transitions, rebuilt in 1950. The original huge castle cellar had been used for copper storage but evolved to wine storage, it certainly smelled better!

The next day I took time off from wine touring to explore the central square and narrow alley ways.

Brateslava Square

And what a joy it was! People everywhere small shops and vendor wagons crowded for space, and lots of smiles. I bypassed the wineries the second day and explored more. Found a church and started to enter late for the noon mass- a guard blocked the door “No tourist wondering through the church.” Remembering picture taking and talking tourists in European chruchs … I left.

We returned to Prague the next day for our departure the following morning. Only one area I wanted to revisit- the Jewish ghetto and burial site.

Prague Jewish Cemetary

I gave my thanks to the unbelievable culture and courage of the Czech people.

1/17/2016

 

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The Serendipity (choices) of Senior Malfunctions

View when entering RovinjAfter leaving Venice and Slovenia, ultimately heading for Split, Croatia, we were sidelined by Rovinj, Croatia. And this picture is what lured us. On the left, by the sea, there was a narrow road that dead- ended in multiple parking lots wedged between the buildings. So we did too.

Rovinj, Croatia (port)


Out with the umbrellas and start walking. We circled the buildings and arrived at “Port Side” just as the sun and people came out! Confused by our location and the whereabouts of our car, we stopped for a map. ,Rovinj like a jig-saw And the uncertainty vanished. This is an Overall view of Rovinj and our car was hiding on the left side, near the water, while we had zig-zagged between the houses to the Portside path. The first hotel I looked at was for “Sailors” only. (I wonder what they would have said if Mike had gone in?)

The final one was on the other end of the Port Side and perfect. Small, maybe 10 rooms, and the owner gave us a 2nd floor room with this view. Rovinj, Croatia (view from hotel) The Old Town and Church are straight ahead…a bit on the right. The hotel’s restaurant was just below us. The owner gave us directions for car retrieval (using back streets only) and a parking spot next to the hotel….and we extended our stay to two nights. But first, I love Old Towns and wanted to see this one. Inside old Town This one was very different. It was and is a fishing port….so the major entrance is the door opening to the sea while the alley ways we saw were secondary entrances…narrow, dark and functional. But well maintained. This picture with the pumpkin in it allows us to see the shrouded passage way behind it. Then it began to drizzle again and we found the perfect place to eat. Rovinj...dinner Choosing a small table adjacent to the restaurant, we applauded our waiter raising an umbrella.  We had a narrow view of the Adriatic Sea and the fishing boats returning. The thrumming of their motors and their twinkling lights were a wonderful show. (Too dark for a photo.)

The next morning we noticed a large green area on the far left of our balcony.

Rovinj, Croatia

Our hotel owner said it was open to all.  And it was exquisite….some very old stone walls, an occasional “rusting” statue and views over the sea. Of course we did a wine tasting and tour that afternoon. Mike rated the wines very highly….as the driver, I only had 2 sips. Dinner in our own restaurant that eve.  The seafood and the local music were exceptional.  This city was a wonderful choice….but we didn’t realize it until we arrived.

Now that’s “Serendipity”!

4/15/2015555

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