Dream trip day 77   Petřín Lookout Tower, garden, Czech band plays CCR

Why, hello again morning rain, my travel companion.

Fortunately coffee and a burrito were a short walk away so I was all set to wait out the rain and stay a bit active.

I was able to chat up my roommate a bit, he came home very late and was usually  asleep most of the morning.

He was traveling through Europe before he got a job. He was from Japan and explained this was likely his last trip until he retired. Vacation, hell, weekends weren’t much of a thing in his city.

‘We work ah everything, for money,  fun, boredom.  Always work, no night, drink! Hahah’ he explained.

We couldn’t talk much, his English wasn’t great and my Japanese is non existent. I picked up he enjoyed going to big night clubs that were opened into the morning.

I shook his hand before we parted and wished him well on his travels. I was grateful for someone to talk with, even for just a moment.

My route up to the tower, garden was due west, straight down the road outside the hostel and up.

The clouds parted and I was off admiring the river.  There was a small island park about halfway across this particular bridge so I made a mental note to explore later.

After passing a busy road, I was on a separate walking train that lead to a sculpture and stairs.

Once up the stairs I was on the walkway to  the top of a mountain.

I knew it was a bit of a hike when I came across a long queue for a gondola that took groups to the top. I had legs and a strong desire so I skipped the line and continued on the path.

It was a dirt path that zigzagged up the mountain and was quite popular with joggers and walkers alike.

Ever so often the path had a small rest area with benches or a small park area where people sat to drink, eat or play with their dogs. A wonderful yet steep walk.

About halfway up, there was a tiny restaurant, but more importantly for me, their restrooms were outside, perfect. I could pop in, use the facilities and fill up my water bottle.

If you’re traveling for any length of time, a wise investment is a durable, aluminum water vessel. You’ll easily pay for it and save $ due to the expensive water bottles vendors sell in areas like this or especially at airports.

Staggering water prices and most EU airports had water fountains. If not, there was always the rest room faucet, just mind the signs, some airports don’t use potable water.

I paused at a bench and took in the city view for a few moments. There was no hurry to scale this mountain, it had turned into a nice day.

After a few more uphill zigzags, I was at the top. What a view too!

20160807_174726.jpg
Through a floral archway I saw the tower. I’d read this was based off the Eiffel Tower, but with a Czech style influence.

There was a long line with admission to ascend the tower. I opted to walk around the tower for free.

Under another floral arch was a lush garden full of roses and other flowers. A short walk revealed a circular walkway with another garden in the middle.

I sat on one of the many benches that followed the circle, spaced out about every 10 feet or so. Close enough to overhear a conversation at another bench.

A couple were talking in Czech and what I picked up based on tone, inflection and physical interactions they alternated arguing and making up.

About what, I wasn’t positive, but sex was for sure on the guy’s mind as he had his arm slung around her or on a choice body part then she’d squeal and bat him away for awhile before they’d make out and begin the process over again.

Suddenly he got up and picked one of the roses and put it in his teeth to her shock which soon turned into a laugh. Smooth move, though likely illegal to pick anything in this public garden area.

20160807_170141.jpg

I, too, got up but didn’t pick any roses, just completed the circle back to the entrance.

I passed by the tour one more time and saw people going from the opposite direction I’d come up. Perhaps there was another route down?

Indeed there was another path that I followed for a bit until I saw a worn path in the grass which I took until I hit a fence with an ominous sign.

Ah I’d found a slice of the US in Czech Republic but it was fenced in, haha land of the free, sometimes, not here.

20160807_175600.jpg

Looked like a residence of some sort. Prime land with a view so likely diplomat’s home or for use by VIPs when they were in Prague.

Back to the main path and soon another tributary path was revealed, but this one was paved so it had to lead to some where cool, at least accessible.

It lead to a small rectangle area surrounded by small concrete walls about 3 feet high, maybe this was an overflow parking lot?

Sitting on a ledge with choice view of the city were 2 couples talking and listening to Pink Floyd via small, Bluetooth speaker.

They’d met at some club last night, the ladies were visiting and the guys were from Netherlands, but visited Prague often I overheard while taking the view in.

They chatted and compared Prague vs Amsterdam and all agreed to meet up in Holland in the future.

I continued my decent after they began to hold hands and sneak kisses.

Back down to street level I encountered an interesting fountain where the runoff trickled down into a ground level reservoir for pets to drink, too. No waste here.

Why don’t we have more efficient things like this in the US, I wondered?

I was soon back at my hostel where I showered and got ready for the evening starting in the common area.

Foiled again, everyone was immersed in their phones.

I passed by the Vagon music club and had noted that tonight they had a CCR cover band.

A minimal cover, cheap beer and good tunes made for a great night out!

The band was spot on, too, each song is a classic and was played very well. The only way I knew it was a cover band was the Czech between song banter.

They took requests as the sweaty, beer bellied front-man said something to which the crowed called out song titles in English.

They played nearly 2 hours to great applause from the crowd and me. They did these songs justice and having never seen CCR live, this was as close as I ever would.

I lingered with a beer in the back after the show, finding a small place to sit near a screen that was showing rock videos.

My attempts to chat up some local goths, punks failed. Not much English spoken here.

After the band was finished, the placed morphed into more of a dance-y club that closed very late.

I finished my pint and headed to my hostel, whistling a CCR tune.

 

Song:  Creedence Clearwater Revival    Who’ll Stop the Rain?

Beer: Breznak

20160807_175014.jpg

Dream trip day 67 walk through the (historic) park, protests, 1516 brewery

The days were usually very overcast and I grew paranoid about being caught in the rain so I would stay in my room, writing and researching my next move until the afternoons.

Doing some research I located a castle and park a short walk away through Vienna’s city centre.

I also began to realize I was weary of making decisions, walking everywhere. I missed conversation, my friends.

Hours of introspection sound nice, but if silence is forced on you, as in sitting at a communal table and no one speaks English, well now I know what being alone in a crowd means.

This hostel offered free laundry service so I packed up everything except what I was wearing and dropped them off with the friendly receptionist.

All the hostel receptionists were super friendly and welcoming, they usually were the only people I talked with so I tried to think up a question to ask for a bit of conversation.

‘What’s a good place for coffee? What is a cool landmark to see? Where do you like to go in town?’ Those types of small talk helped me stay connected.

I was directed by the receptionist to a coffee spot inside the park that I had walked around in this area, but never walked through. It was huge space, a full square city block.

The coffee spot was still closed but I did walk around the grounds which were full of flowers and a small fountain full of turtles.

This was a royal summer residence turned to a park and art museum.

There was a small coffee shop across the street so I had a cup there and plotted my route downtown.

It was pretty much a straight walk down the street, only 1 turn.

I passed by a rock bar and made note how close it was to the hostel. Maybe tonight or tomorrow.

Vienna was a pretty city to walk around but it seemed to not have many big or historic landmarks. None of those things that you have to see like in other cities, this was just a city filled with old, elegant buildings.

I came to a huge, Gothic cathedral, sadly undergoing renovation as one side was covered in scaffolding.

Across the street was Sigmund Freud Park so I walked around for a more head on view of the cathedral.

I wound up in wino central, as several approached me for euros, others just sat on a bench close and passed out. Time to split.

The park is near a bus, tram stop so that’s likely why it was so full of winos.

Soon I make a left and the avenue opens up and cars are replaced by bikes and horse and carriages.

I soon find a film festival area in front of a large ornate building. A large screen is in front of several temporary bleachers.

20160727_142645.jpg

Alas they only show films after sunset.

There are food booths on the walkway to the screening and each stall offers a different country’s cuisine.

The servers are all dressed in their restaurant country’s attire, a great attention to detail, but stereotypical.

I know most Germans don’t wear lederhosen and presume Aussies don’t wear all khakis a la Steve Irvin.

Soon I’m in Volksgarten, a huge green space in the middle of the city.

Benches, roses and statues are everywhere. Many people are picnicking, children are running and laughing. It’s a very calming place.

The history is wonderful as well, Johann Strauss, Brahms and other composers have conducted symphonies here.

I closed my eyes and try to imagine what that would’ve looked and sounded like over a hundred years ago.

20160727_143745.jpg

All those wigs, huge dresses, very formal attire, seated near a small symphony, the poor likely lined on the other side of the metal fence, fighting for a view.

Across from the park is another public space in front of an ornately decorated building likely used for government purposes long ago.

I hear singing, trumpet and drums. I soon see about 50 people marching around the grounds.

I follow them and they make a circle, dance a jig while circling a guitarist, drummer in the middle before moving into a courtyard nearby.

A man holds up a megaphone and begins talking in Spanish. I don’t get the gist of their protest, but they have Mexican flags waving.

Perhaps this is calling for justice for the missing students, overall corruption in Mexico, trade practices, I’m not sure how or why this is going on  in Austria.

I grow a bit hungry and located a brewery whose beer I’ve previously had on this trip a short walk away.

Past elegant fountains and street performers to the end or start of the tourist quarter, I locate the brewery just off the Main Street.

I pull up a stool at the bar and order a pint.

I’m seated next to a lady and Japanese man who is eating a whole pig’s worth of ribs, a tremendous quantity.

He is practicing his English, she has never been to Japan and is from St Louis I put together eavesdropping.

I attempt to make an aside to join in but she is set on only talking to the Japanese guy, which I get, that’s why you travel.

She can talk to anyone about St Louis but only on this trip will she get to talk to a Japanese guy.

I have a few pints, making small talk to the two bartendresses as the tap is directly in front of me so we are always looking at each other as they pour pints.

I’m careful to be a considerate tourist as they are just in college, young ladies so I focus questions about the city, country.

They are both from rural Austria and don’t know much about the city activities and weren’t aware of the film festival going on a short walk away. They just go to school and work apparently.

Soon the people next to me leave so I get a light snack to sate my hunger and save a bit of €.

This was a tourist spot and the prices reflected that. Servings were huge though.

I finish up my pint and head out.

City centre is even more beautiful at night when it is lit up by streetlights against the night sky.

The walk back takes longer as I walk slower taking it all in as well as trying to capture a picture of this night scene.

I pass by the rock bar and decide to save it for tomorrow.

The hostel sells beer so I get a bottle and sit outside watching the chess masters smoke and argue about strategy.

A light rain lulls me to sleep, a cool breeze from my open window is also welcome end of the evening.

Beer: Sipper Pale Ale

Song: Blur Mirrorball

20160727_153739.jpg

Dream trip day 11   Karlsruhe zoo, rain, schnitzel 

Rain continues most of the morning so I wait it out at apt and search destinations.

Weather breaks and so do I for morning walk to zoo.

Find Italian coffee shop and successful order long white coffee. Milk and coffee, finally!

A bridge goes over the zoo so you can see a bit for free. Only saw boats on lazy river in the middle of the zoo, no animals.

There is another green road that is north-south near rail station I discover by following signs after zoo trail ends.

Find the trail but it’s closed halfway due to widening of a waterfall area it passes through.

Just before construction I find a tiny garden house village. It appears to be run by Red Cross but not sure how one gets to live and garden there. 20160602_121419.jpg

It’s a couple blocks from the train station so very much a garden in the middle of the city which is very good.

I walk down one of the main north south roads past the Santo where I spend nights.

It begins sprinkling so I head back to the courtyard near the apt for shelter and sandwich.

Back to apt to nap. Soon Hiba, the host returns. I walk down to the corner store for beer as she only has one left.

We talk as she eats fries. She’s cooked fries every day and says that’s mostly all she eats, no veg, she doesn’t like.

Of course I’ve survived on donner, least its balanced with veg and meats.

We talk about many things. She is Lebanese, physicist but wants to make music. Her dad is a Christian preacher back home, she doesn’t go to mass anymore but misses singing in the choir.

Matt texts me stating its time for German meal as everyone else is with other friends so it’s just us.

We hit up the beirgarten behind his hotel. Schnitzel and noodles is the plan with beer.

It’s like fried pork chop or chicken fried steak equivalent.

Our server is very friendly until the bill. She may be joking about tips and how she needs to live. I planned on leaving a tip, but she gets mad when I thank her.

As we leave she is all smiles and waves goodbye. I figured she was messing with us.

After a beer back at hotel Matt leaves but I stay with Alex.

He lives close and just recorded w a member of the band so he wanted to see rehearsals.

He has a driver and plays with the singer of Cannibal Corpse in a band occasionally.

He told us they just played for free in Argentina. A semi working vacation just fly us over, room, food, and have equipment ready. That’s how to do it.

He tells me of a van hire service that’s cheap and everywhere in Europe.

We exchange info and hope to meet him in Bonn or elsewhere.

Another long dark walk to the apt.

People are still partying along the way, I think about joining then realize I need to save $, partied all ready no need for more.

Light rain lulls me to sleep.

Beer: Black Forest ale
Song: Iron Maiden The Trooper