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The last stop in Estonia was
at the wonderful ruins of Vastseliina Castle:
It's not often you get
to go poke around on dangerous, crumbling ruined castles!
After leaving Estonia, passing back through Latvia and Lithuania, we are in Poland again.
Białystok was just supposed to be a hotel stop, but it turned out to have some impressive sights itself, though it rained the whole time.
The Branicki Palace:
The Branicki Palace gardens, and the
Assumption Cathedral towers in the background:
I had a terrible time
finding the hotel in Białystok and was lost for an hour. This is why:
(The hotel is the one with the 149 sign.)
Just up the street, this was
On to Warsaw!
I didn't plan much time for Warsaw, since not much fine old architecture is left. The city got pretty much wiped out in WW2.
However, it is very impressive for how modern and progressive it has become in recent years. It may not be beautiful, but it is very much The Capital.
The real name for the city in Polish is Warszawa (Var-SHA-va), which sounds nicer than the English version.
The grand old Palace of Culture on the left was a "gift" from Stalin to the Polish people, who hated it.
It is still the tallest building in town, though many new skyscrapers have been built.
Yes, this is Warsaw....
I would like to have spent
more time in Warsaw, after seeing it;
but I was in a hurry to get on to one of my favorite cities in the world --
Kraków was the ancient capital of Poland, back in the days of kings and royalty, though that honor was lost to Warsaw long ago.
But it is still considered the most important city for Polish culture and history. No skyscrapers allowed here!
The cathedral in Wawel Castle:
The front of the cathedral,
built in the 1300's:
Its full name is the "Royal
Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus".
The golden dome is the tomb of King Sigismund of Poland.
There are many ancient kings
and queens of Poland buried in the cathedral, in royal tombs like this:
Part of Wawel Castle, the ancient
home of the kings of Poland:
The magnificent opera house
St. Mary's Basilica, on the
main square of Kraków.
Centuries ago, the city was being attacked. A guardsman climbed the
highest tower to sound an alarm on his bugle -- an ancient tune, called the
After a few lines, an arrow struck him right in the throat, and he died; but he had warned the city in time, and it was saved.
Every day since, for hundreds of years, a bugle player climbs the tower of St. Mary's and plays the same alarm call.
He plays it four times, once to the north, east, south, and west. And each time, he cuts the tune off abruptly, as if an arrow had struck.
You can hear it here, or look up "Hejnal" on YouTube.com.
Me at the ancient
Jagiellonian University, Kraków -- the greatest university of eastern Europe:
After driving from Poland all the way through Slovakia, where I didn't have the chance to take any pictures at all -- next comes Hungary.
Budapest was originally two separate cities. Buda is on one side of the river, and Pest is on the other.
One of the world's most spectacular buildings, on the Pest
side of the Danube River-- the Parliament Building (or capitol) of Hungary:
This is actually the back side. The front, with its
grand entrance portal, was under repair when I was there.
The Gothic Matthias Church in Buda, with its beautiful tiled
No, it's not Disneyland -- but it is what the Disneyland
castle was copied from!
The Fishermen's Bastion in Buda:
The Fishermen's Bastion has no purpose other than to be
pretty! Notice the Parliament Building far below, on the other side of the
As seen through an arch in the Fishermen's Bastion:
A statue of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary -- he lived
from about the year 975 till 1038:
Heroes' Square, in Pest:
The Budapest Art Museum, on Heroes' Square:
Anywhere else, this might be a capitol building. But in
magnificent Budapest, no -- it is a bath house:
Goodbye to beautiful Budapest!
Vienna, Austria -- one of my favorite cities. Architecturally, it is second only to Paris. But every time I go there, it's raining! So I don't have many pictures.
The Belvedere Palace, Vienna:
Constructing the most modern new train station in Europe:
The ancient Liechtenstein Castle, south of Vienna:
The Bösendorfer factory, near Vienna -- this is where the
world's greatest (and most expensive) pianos are made:
You could get this one for about $350,000:
Finally, back into Germany.
At the end of a boat ride on the Königssee, or King's Lake, is the little pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomew:
St. Bartholomew's fish market:
Getting back off the boat at the town of Königssee, Germany:
A hotel in Königssee:
And that was the end of the trip!
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Some friendly deer at a
small town in Austria: