Tuesday: Vienna

We headed from Krakow to Vienna this morning. It was a gray day and snow is expected in Krakow in a few days, so it was probably a good time to go. I enjoyed our stay in Krakow and would love to return.

The Czech Republic and Austria both require a sticker to drive on the main toll roads, so of course that was an important concern as we drove. The booth to get a “winiety” was behind a convenience store. The woman working there was very friendly and had stickers available for both countries, so that was out of the way without further searching.

We got to our lodging in Vienna in the late afternoon, but we realized right away that we are too far from the center of the city to walk there – or walk anywhere really. Luckily the bus and subway systems are very good but we should have researched a bit better. Still, it is nice to be on the Danube River.

We had weiner schnitzel and then enjoyed the Christmas lights, some hot mulled wine, and the holiday market. There are four of them here so we will check out more tomorrow. It is a beautiful city, full of people.

photos: some of Vienna’s holiday lights; chocolate tools for sale at a booth at the Christmas market; the small (just one person can fit in it, plus the woman woring there) hard-to-find booth to buy a sticker to drive on the roads in the Czech Republic and Austria.

Friday: Gyor, Hungary

The Gyor Book Festival is this weekend, so language barrier or not, of course I wanted to check it out. It is at the National Theatre, so I had the chance to see part of that building although the main stage area and audience seating was closed.

It was interesting to walk around and see all the vendors and there were speakers in some of the rooms – all parts I couldn’t enjoy. But a good inhalation of book puts me in a great mood regardless.

I left and went across the street to the Square Donut shop. I was disappointed that the squares were all pretty heavily iced and embellished. I would have gotten a plain one if there was such a thing. “Plain? I do not know this – plain,” said the young woman behind the counter.

We visited Bishop’s Castle later in the morning. There are a few hundred winding steps to get to the top, the castle’s lookout. It was worth the trip – the four-sided view of the city was gorgeous.

The cellar of Bishop’s Castle is where Bishop Vilmos Apor and others hid for protection from the Soviets during WWII. The bishop got shot protecting those people in the catacombs and he died a martyr. It is unsettling to be down there, with bullet holes still in the ceiling and some of the rooms just as it was.

We had lunch in a pub and walked around for a few hours, and planned the next few days when we will be in the ancient southern Hungarian city of Pecs.

photos: a view from the top of the castle; square donuts – not all that enticing; the start of the book festival

Saturday: Clermont-Ferrand

After breakfast in our hotel, we walked into the city, about a half-hour from where we are staying. There’s a bus and tram service close by, but it was a nice morning with temperatures in the sixties so traveling on foot seemed to be the best option.

It was an interesting walk – we passed very old buildings and narrow, pretty streets. We spent some time checking out the “Notre Dame de Clermont,” a replica of the famous cathedral built mainly in the 1300s. It’s black from volcanic ash outside, but inside it’s beautiful and used regularly, it seems.

We continued walking around and checked out some store, and stopped for coffee when a rain shower caught us off guard (without umbrellas). The sun eventually came out and we found a nice restaurant for lunch. We left a few hours later after eating too much delicious food and we started the walk back to our hotel and a comfortable reading spot.

Tomorrow: Lyon

photos- a narrow old city street

below – Notre-Dame in Clermont

from fromage at the farmers market this morning

Wednesday: Wexford

We left behind the bustling city of Dublin this morning and took a bus to the airport to pick up a rental car. We were surprised to queue up behind at least fifty other people, but 90 minutes later we had our car and drove to Wexford, a river city almost two hours away.

Sitting on the righthand side of the car and driving on the British side of the road were a challenge for sure (not for me, I sat on the left) and making a right turn takes some practice, but all is well and we made it here.

With Hurricane Lorenzo threatening very bad weather tomorrow, I am glad we are in a comfortable quiet place, with a lap pool and full gym that looks pretty deluxe if we are hotel-bound tomorrow. If it turns out to be a decent day after all, we will explore this very old and beautiful city.

photos: top – the tables and chairs are off the hotel restaurant’s back deck as they prepare for Thursday’s storm.

bottom: the noisy, busy nighttime streets of Dublin

The River Slaney in Wexford, Ireland

Monday: London


The next leg of my travel adventure begins today. My rowing is finished, I said goodbye to my rowing friends, and spent the night at Heathrow airport where my traveling companion will arrive in a few hours.

We will visit friends in the city later on today and tomorrow before heading to Scotland. For now, some coffee after a workout.

20190922_232423Got to keep on keeping on now that I’m not rowing eight hours a day.

Day 7: Weybridge


Today was the last day of our Thames River row and we ended our trip in Weybridge. This is where the River Wey joins the Thames.

It was an unseasonably warm day with lots of wind and many boats out enjoying the weather. It seemed as though everyone was outdoors, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and rowing. We spent two hours total, we calculated, waiting to get into and through the 3 locks. Boats were lined up in both directions. When we finally arrived at the boathouse to wash the boats and put them away, it was close to 6pm.

We finished with a farewell dinner at a restaurant in Windsor, and agreed that our week was just about perfect.

On to London tomorrow as my trip continues.

[photos: above – packed up boats, Windsor Castle

below- black and white cows]



Days 3 and 4: Henley


We had two fabulous days of rowing the Thames.

Tuesday we traveled from Abington to Wallingford. I rowed in the double for the morning row and it was fantastic – cows wading in the water, beautiful birds, lush green trees.

We stopped at a pub for lunch and I was in stroke seat in the quad for the afternoon row. Dinner was at Brown’s Restaurant in Oxford. It was a long day and late night, but wonderful.

Wednesday we moved from our rooms at Wadham College in Oxford, after three perfect nights on the old Oxford campus. I lived it and was sad to leave. But leave we did, and we put our boats back in the water at the Brooke’s University Oxford boathouse where we had pulled them out last night. I had a nice morning row in the double, in bow seat. We passed by some collegiate rowers, miscellaneous other boats, some beautiful homes, and of course wonderful scenery. We pulled the boats out at Henley and checked into our hotel, where we will be for two nights.