Without a doubt, the greatest part about visiting Vienna is the food. In fact, all I can really remember about the city are the meals I ate, including Wiener Schnitzel and tall glasses of radler (beer with lemonade) every evening. And, of course, for dessert, strudel or cake (and, occasionally, both at the same time). Lots and lots of strudel and cake. The above photo illustrates just a few of the many cake varieties you can enjoy while in Vienna.
Photo of the stairs leading up to the area where Prague Castle is situated. This photo was taken during a return trip to Prague in December 2009. It was much colder than my previous trip in July 2005, but less crowded (which I enjoyed). Flights to Munich from Prague are usually cheap and quite easy to arrange, but most tourists in Europe travel via train.
I’ve never been good at night time photography, but this will have to do. This is Prague’s Old Town Square, shortly after Christmas. Last year we spent Christmas week in Berlin, Prague, and Vienna. This year I’m back home in sunny Palm Desert, California. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Behold the trdelník, the greatest pastry ever produced:
When we visited Prague in December 2009, I ate trdelník several times a day. Basically, you take dough, wrap it around a metal spit, and place it in a wood-fired oven. When it is finished baking you then roll it in sugar and walnuts and devour it while it is still warm. Perfect treat for a cold winter day, no?
I originally thought trdelník was a Czech creation, but it actually hails from Skalica, Slovakia. Nevertheless, if you are visiting Prague during the winter you can find trdelník stands throughout the city, including the Old Town Square Christmas Market and the Prague Castle.
Currently home to the German Bundestag, the Reichstag building has played a major role in Germany’s tumultuous 20th-century history. Construction of the building was completed in 1894 and it housed Germany’s parliament until 1933, when it caught fire. The fire was blamed on Communists, and Hitler used the fire as an excuse to suspend civil liberties in Germany and imprison thousands of Communists. The building was further damaged by Allied bombing raids during World War II and was one of the primary targets of Soviet artillery during the Battle of Berlin.
A victorious Soviet soldier waves the Soviet flag atop the Reichstag following the Battle of Berlin.
The Reichstag was rarely used during the Cold War, as the the West German parliament assembled in the the capital city of Bonn, away from West Berlin, in accordance with the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin. Following German Reunification in 1990, it was decided that the capital of reunited Germany would be Berlin and the parliament would once again assemble in the Reichstag. Reconstruction of the building was completed in April 1999.
On a lighter note, the Reichstag also has a cafe/restaurant on its roof (Käfer Restaurant) which featured excellent panoramic views and a breakfast which I believe should be served everywhere: Weisswurstfrühstück. This particular breakfast consists of white sausage (veal and bacon), pretzels with various sauces, and wheat beer. Beer, sausage, and pretzels for breakfast? I’m going to start looking for flights to Berlin (OK, or Bavaria, where this breakfast hails from) just for that!
This is a copy of the famous sign that once stood at Checkpoint Charlie, a border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. The checkpoint remained in use until October 1990, when Germany was reunified. Checkpoint Charlie remains a major tourist destination, however, and a replica of the Allied checkpoint guardhouse was erected at the original site.
I visited Berlin for the first time in December 2009 and would highly recommend a trip there if you are interested in Cold War history. Despite the cold weather, I loved visiting during the winter. Flights to Berlin are relatively cheap at that time, and you can always warm up with some glühwein or jagertee.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Central Europe (and that’s saying a lot), construction on this Gothic cathedral first began in 1344. The cathedral is located within Prague Castle, where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices.