Slovakia/Austria: Komárno, Bratislava, Vienna, Hainburg,Banská Bystrica
After crossing over into Slovakia from Hungary at Esztergom we proceeded to Komárno along the north side of the Danube river. Komárno has a long and complex history - I'll spare you the details. We found it to be quite charming.
That evening we arrived in Bratislava. We ditched the camera bags and set out in search of ice cream. We ended up having a lovely treat along the banks of the Danube River, then a leisurely walk back to the hotel through the oldest part of the city. The next morning we were on the bus for a tour of the city.
- Slavín, Castle Hill - Slavín is a war memorial and burial ground for thousands of Soviet soldiers who died liberating the city from German occupation. Castle Hill is now the seat of the Slovak government.
- Bratislava - Walking tour of downtown Bratislava
- Ceramics and Wine Tasting - we sample local products.
- Dóm svätého Martina (St Martin's Cathedral) - we sang a concert here. What an amazing experience!
The next day we took a day trip to Vienna. We had morning free time wandering about town, then a couple of hours on the grounds of Schloß Schönbrunn. We completed our Vienna experience with a walking tour of town. On our way home we stopped for dinner in Hainburg an der Donau, an old city that dates from Roman times. We arrived back in our hotel at dusk, just in time to attempt a dramatic night shot of Bratislava from out hotel window.
- Vienna I - Vienna is a chic, trendy place, with lots of people, the latest of styles and fashions, and everything one could possibly want except... It's perhaps a little commercial for my taste. Probably one of the most disappointing things that has happened to Vienna over the years is the encroachment of modern structures into the main square. The magnificent St. Stephens cathedral is now so crowded it's impossible to get far enough away from it to take a decent picture.
- Schloß Schönbrunn - Another of those places where cameras are forbidden. I think tourists should boycott any place that won't allow pictures.
- Vienna II - back to Vienna after Schönbrunn.
- Hainburg an der Donau - An amazing little town that dates back to Roman times. Complete with walls, gates, a castle on the hill, the Danube River, and really nice food, it was well worth the visit.
- Bratislava Panorama - After returning to our room I set up my camera and telephoto and captured this very high resolution image of the castle and St. Martin's. The original is about 60 megapixels. This is a reduced version.
The next day we traveled to
- Hronsek - This amazing little church was the surprise of the day. Actually, not so little as it can seat 1,100 people, but built entirely of wood without nails and completed within a year.
- Banská Bystrica prides itself with being the center of the Slovak National Uprising, an armed insurrection organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War II. There is an important museum in town devoted to the uprising.
- Levoča - The drive to Levoča included the stops mentioned above, as well as opportunities to take photo-masterpieces out the window of the moving bus. Yah, I kind of failed that one. Levoča itself is remarkable and quite photogenic, were it not for the pouring rain and flashing lightening that persisted the entire time we were there. I do like a good thunderstorm, though!
keywords: Slavin, Castle Hill, Sovak Majolica, wines, St Martins Cathedral, Schloß Schönbrunn, Hanburg an der Donau, Hronsek Kastiel, Wooden Church, White Stork, Banská Bystrica, Slovak National Uprising, Kostol Nanebovzatia Panny Márie, Levoča
On to Krakow...