Next stop…Vienna with someone else’s luggage

The day before this photograph was taken, my group of 11 travelers and myself took a tram and train from our hotel in Prague to the train station in Vienna.  When I purchased the tickets via the Czech Republic train system online (discovered through the amazing site covering world-wide train travel…The Man in Seat 61), I knew I had to wait until 60 days before the travel date to purchase all 12 of them.  Because I had budgeted a certain amount of money based on the least expensive train tickets, I also was aware that it was necessary for me to be online and ready to secure them as soon as the window opened up.  Although I was poised and ready when the window opened, I was forced to choose two different times for the group to depart, within an hour of each other, splitting us into two groups of six each.  I’m telling you all of this to lead up to my funny (although not at the time) train travel story and in case it helps you with your travels.

While still in Prague, I gave everyone their train ticket and their 72-hr. transport card that I had purchased online and that was mailed to me, for their use while in Vienna for all trains, metro, and buses.  The 72-hr. card is especially handy for travelers so that you don’t have to buy a ticket each time you want to use the metro, a bus or tram, and one only needs to validate it once (which entails sticking it into a machine that places a stamp on it).  When my group of six arrived to the train station in Vienna, we stopped at the ATM to withdraw money with our debit cards, and we found the next train we needed to take that would deposit us within a block of our hotel.  I had verbally told everyone and typed the information on the Itinerary, to remind ourselves to validate the card  once before use, to avoid a hefty fee if discovered without the validation.  So, of course we board the train and before we even sat down I remembered, so I loudly announced for everyone to get off NOW!  You may think that’s not a big deal, but when the trains are crowded and you’re heaving a large suitcase (like me), then it can be a hassle.  We all disembarked and one of the travelers took our tickets to the validation machine, brought them back, and since the train was still there, we all got back on!  But…that’s not the end of the story…

If my memory serves me, this particular train ride was only about 10-15 minutes long and just before getting off, one of the ladies says, “This isn’t my piece of luggage”.  I look at her as the blood is draining from her face and immediately reassured her that everything would be alright.  We emerged from the depths of the train tunnels and walked down the street to our hotel.  As soon as I told them my name at the front desk, the Reservations clerk informed us that the Manager from our last hotel in Prague was on his way driving the three hours to Vienna to pick up the piece of luggage that they had mistakenly given her and replace it with her piece.  Because we had to check out of the hotel in Prague before leaving for the train station, we left our luggage in their storage room and when she went to pick up her’s they gave her the wrong piece!  It all worked out though!  The mystery is…how did the hotel in Prague know where we were going to???

The following day we followed the Itinerary and walked to the Hofburg Palace Complex, which is the official residence of the President of Austria, and where the Spanish Riding School is located.

This photo was taken in the Complex area…

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Searching for Vrtbovska Zahrada

During the five weeks I spent researching and planning this month-long 9 country European odyssey, I saw photos of an amazing garden called Vrtbovska Zahrada.  It was under $4 to gain entry and I was determined to find it.  In yesterday’s post, we walked down Petrin Hill in search of the gardens and found it!  As you can see, it’s absolutely gorgeous!

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The views were spectacular…

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Exploring Prague and the Funicular to Petrin Hill

With the Charles Bridge and Prague in the background, this solitary row-boat appeared to be quite “solitary”!

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I left off yesterday having explored some of Wenceslas Square in New Town and Old Town Square.  When I presented this trip to my Travel Spirit Meetup.com, I stressed the point that we would be traveling together as independent travelers, meaning if you wanted to stay with the group you could, and if you wanted to divide off with someone else or a separate group, you could and should.  At various times during the tour, people would do that.  I enjoy solo traveling and believe it empowers people, so I encouraged others to take at least a few hours by themselves, exploring.

On our way walking to take the Funicular (Cog Railway) up Petrin Hill, we happened upon this interesting Memorial to Victims of Communism…

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Old Town vs. New Town in Prague

The Astronomical Clock in the center of Old Town Square is on the tourist’s “must do” list, so we did it.  There were twelve of us traveling through Eastern Europe for 11 days.  Shifting from one leg to the other to take pressure off of my back, it was hard to believe I was finally there.  When the figures finally did their thing (I forget now what they did because I watched a clock in Munich also), it was a bit anti-climatic.  I was more interested in taking photographs of the amazing architecture and people!

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I loved watching the giant bubble maker making his bubbles and children trying to pop them!

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A couple of us climbed to the top of the Powder Gate for a fantastic view of Prague…

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A Day Late to Prague

I couldn’t believe my ears when I arrived to the Delta Airlines check-in desk at the Cincinnati airport and the Reservations Clerk said, in a cavalier tone, “Your flight to Newark, NJ has been cancelled due to weather.  Come back in the morning for the next flight.”  I explained I was leading a group of people through Europe and it was very important to arrive as soon as possible.  After checking some other options, he explained that was my only option.  My husband drove the 50 minutes back to the airport to pick me up and in the morning made the third trip to the airport to drop me off.  I’ve always liked Airports.  The anticipation of going somewhere new, the people watching, and even the photo ops.  Who knew restrooms can look “artsy”.

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On my overnight flight from Newark to Amsterdam, I was seated between two men traveling together.  I intended to get as much sleep as I could, but they were so funny and interesting, we talked and laughed for more than half of the flight!  I had arranged for an airport shuttle to pick up the 12 travelers in my group.  They arrived at various times, so there were a number of trips.  After notifying one of the travelers of my late arrival, they decided to wait the extra two hours for me to take them on Day 1’s list of activities:  Taking Tram 22 to the Prague Castle Complex, which includes St. Vitus Cathedral, the Powder Tower, Rosenberg Palace, and the Old Royal Palace; strolling down from the Castle area on Nerudova Street across the famous Charles Bridge.

After checking into the hotel and taking five minutes to freshen up, I joined the group in the lobby for the day’s activities.  The first photo I took in Prague was while we were waiting to hop on Tram 22.  When I requested permission to take this woman’s photo, she asked “why” with a puzzled look.  I responded, “Because I like your pants and your dog”.

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So, now we’ve arrived at the top of the hill where the Prague Castle Complex is situated, including St. Vitus Cathedral.

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European Vacation: 9 Countries, 10 Cities, 27 Days, 12,500 miles

Having just returned a few days ago from my month-long European Vacation, I’d like to share a photo from each of the ten Cities I traveled through.  I’ll be going more in-depth in future posts about my experience of taking a group of travelers through Europe, my feelings and thoughts, challenges and delights!  The photos are in order of Cities visited…

Here’s most of the group (a couple of people’s flights were delayed or missed) (for the Eastern Europe portion) in front of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

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Within the Hofburg Palace Complex – Vienna, Austria

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Let’s go to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest!

Planning a trip for yourself is one thing, but when you’re planning for a group of 12, the importance of a solid travel itinerary is essential!   I’ve spent over 100 hours planning an 11 night trip for May of this year to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, traveling from City to City via train.  I’m so excited!  I’ve longed to visit Eastern Europe and am giving a presentation to my travel meetup group next week, to see who would like to join me!  After checking how much other travel companies charge for a very similar trip, my group will be very pleased to discover how economical it will be…at almost half the cost.  I plan on staying an extra week to travel to Berlin and Amsterdam and hopefully Couchsurf!

With the weather so cold, its been the perfect time to get all of this planning finished!  I took these photos the other morning…

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You can barely see the sun peeking through the pine trees here…

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I’ll post the itinerary for everyone when we get closer! xoxoxo

 

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