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The Czech Republic, Hungary & Austria


Francova Lhota, Czech Republic

Who's ever heard of Francova Lhota? Not many, but that's where Vicki's mother's family has roots.
This carved wooden sign greeted us
as we entered the village.
  From the hillside above the town,
we could see about half the houses.
This is the altar from the only church in town,
which dates from 1787. That's where most of the family were baptized and married.
  We were lucky to meet a relative that showed us the old homestead, which has obviously had some updates.
( I don't think Great-Grandpa had satellite TV.)

Olomouc, Czech Republic

Here is a plate of typical Czech food -
5 potato dumplings, 2 slices of pork neck, one homemade sausage, 2 pieces of smoked pork chop
served over white and red cabbage.
In the back, beef with mushroom gravy served
with a bowl of french fries.
  The Czech Republic has the largest per capita beer consumption in the world - 161 liters per person per year! At the restaurant tables, there are serve yourself tappers with a meter box (like a gas pump) that tells how much you need to pay at the end.
The town of Olomouc (pronounced OH-lo-mohts) had two large city plazas, a variety of international restaurants, museums, and lots of onion-topped spires.   When we walked into our hotel lobby, a wedding party was celebrating; and trays of Vodka shots were being passed. Soon we heard a chopping sound. The groom and then the bride (in gown and tux) were each taking turns chopping a wooden block in half to symbolize working together in the marriage.

Prague, Czech Republic

Our good friends, Jim & Rosalie Cooper invited us to share their Wenceslas Square apartment in Prague.   They even upgraded to a larger apartment
while we were there.

The garage parking system was really cool. The concierge would punch in our number and up would come our car from beneath the ground, still on the pallet where we parked it. Then it would spin around on a giant lazy-Susan and point to the street before we got in.

  The four of us took a couple of day trips,
including one to Kutna Hora.
The fall colors and villages we passed through were lovely, but. . .
Kutna Hora is famous for its ossuary, a chapel filled with artistically creative ornamentation made of the bones of over 40,000 people.   Even the chandelier was made of bones by the
Cistercian monks.

Brno, Czech Republic

Brno (pronounced Ber-NO) is old and new all at once. The colorful, pedestrian main square boasts cafés,
a large flat screen advertising screen,
kids playing on unicycles
and 17th Century fountains and sculptures.
  Once again the Czech monks have gone morbid.
In the Capuchin monastery 41 dried bodies
are on display under the inscription,
"What you are, we were; What we are, you will be!""

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was a lot of fun. Decorated pysanky eggs, peppers, paprika, garlic, caviar, Russian nesting dolls (cheaper than in St. Petersburg!) were all for sale in the large covered market. The prices for prepared food were super cheap.
I even had a glass of white wine for 100 Hungarian forints (about 55¢) with my Bigos (cabbage casserole).
These women were waiting in the plaza outside of the Lutheran Church for the service to begin.   The statues representing the various Hungarian tribal leaders at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier looked like characters out of the "Lord of the Rings".
We went to the elegant Opera House to hear the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. The acoustics were outstanding and so was the setting. We bought our tickets for $3.45 and those weren't even the cheapest tickets! We actually sat first row balcony with a stellar view.   The Sunday Brunch at Hungary's most famous restaurant, Gundel, featured an array of regional specialties.

Balatonfüred, Hungary

Balatonfüred is the Lake of the Ozarks for Hungary. Unfortunately, we arrived on a cold day in October and couldn't enjoy it like we would have in July.   True to the Hungarian love of paparika,
there were huge displays of peppers in the shops.

Salzburg, Austria

We went outside the city of Salzburg to the
Schloss Helbrunn used as the façade of the
Von Trapp family home in "TheSound of Music".
  This is the gazebo used in the film when Liesl sang, "Sixteen going on Seventeen"".