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Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia & Hungary 2013

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Bebe & I flew to Munich on September 16, 2013 then on to Krakow, Poland arriving on Tuesday, Sept 17. We had several days to explore sites near Krakow before connecting with the Smithsonian group participating in the “Symphony on the Danube” tour. Our 17 days took us to cities in six countries.

Wednesday morning we took a guided tour of Auschwitz. In the afternoon we toured  Auschwitz II – Brkenau which was built by the Nazis to accelerate the genocide. The Brkenau facility is now a Memorial.

On Thursday we decended 378 steps to explore some of the miles in the underground Wieliczka Salt Mine. We saw statues, chapels and an entire cathedral carved out of the rock salt. We joined our tour group that evening at the Radison Blu.

On Friday we climbed Wawel Hill to see the fortified architectural complex overlooking the Vistula River and later the main market square in the Old Town in Krakow. We saw the Stanislaw Wyspianski stained glass windows in the Basilica of St. Francis and finished the day touring the Oskar Schindler Factory.

Our group traveled by bus on Sunday into the Czech Republic with a lunch stop in Brno and on to our hotel in Prague. A group dinner, sleep and breakfast the next morning was followed by a walking tour through beautiful Prague.

A highlight of the Tuesday visit to the Hradcany castle complex in Prague was a concert at the Lobkowicz Palace. Listen to some of the Dvoråk  that we heard at http://youtu.be/CTwTZ2d1exI

We traveled through the Czech and German countryside on Wednesday to reach the Danube in Passau on Germany’s border with Austria. The Amadeus Elegant was our floating hotel for the next five days.

We awoke Thursday in Emmersdorf, Austria where Bebe & I explored the upper and lower villages. That afternoon the cruise paused in Durnstein for another walking tour then continued through the Wachau valley on the way to Vienna.

In Vienna there were sculptures everywhere we looked. Our tours included St.Stephen’s Cathedral, Hofburg Imperial Palace and on Friday morning the Schonbrun Palace and Gardens.

At noon we returned to the Amadeus Elegant for lunch on board. We departed Vienna at 1PM dropping about 60 feet through a lock on our way to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. We explored the lively streets of Bratislava before returning to our ship for an overnight ride to Budapest.

Sunday morning was spent on the Buda side which included a visit to Heroe’s Square. After lunch we did the Pest side of the Danube returning for a farewell dinner on board. Here’s an iPad photo from our “French balcony” at bedtime.

The next morning Bebe & I took a train back to Vienna where we visited the Spanish Riding School and spent three more days exploring this fascinating city before flying to Munich and home.