Monthly Archives: May 2011

Thoughts on my Central Europe Trip

Posted by on May 16, 2011

Before I get too far into Europe, I figure I should go back and do a quick review of my time in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia. It was only a quick trip of 10 days, but I was able to get a taste of the region and see some of the things which I’ve wanted to see. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip:

Most Pleasant Surprise

River in Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had no idea was I was in store for when I visited Ljubljana. When I arrived I couldn’t even pronounce it and I didn’t know much about it other than it was formerly in Yugoslavia. It is a charming city, very walkable, affordable by European standards and is one of the smallest capitol cities in Europe. The only downside to the city is that it has a pretty bad graffiti problem. I’m surprised that Ljubljana doesn’t get more of the backpacker crowd considering how cheap it is and how close it is to Vienna and Venice.
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UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

Posted by on May 13, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

UNESCO World Heritage Site #133: Old City of Dubrovnik

From the World Heritage inscription:

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.

Dubrovnik is an very nice, historic town on the Adriatic. Almost all of the original walls of the city are still in place and the old city managed to escape too much damage during the break up of Yugoslavia. I arrived in Dubrovnik during a stop on a cruise ship which was just enough to explore the old city on my own time. I was able to walk twice around the walls of the city as well as explore many of the side streets of the old town itself. It is listed as one of the top 100 Wonders of the World by Howard Hillman.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

Posted by on May 12, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

UNESCO World Heritage Site #132: Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

From the World Heritage inscription:

From the 18th century to 1918, Schönbrunn was the residence of the Habsburg emperors. It was designed by the architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi and is full of outstanding examples of decorative art. Together with its gardens, the site of the world’s first zoo in 1752, it is a remarkable Baroque ensemble and a perfect example of Gesamtkunstwerk

When you visit Schönbrunn Palace, you get the strong impression that at one point an Emperor or Empress of Austria visited France and was the guest at the Palace of Versailles. When they got back home they said “We have GOT to have one of those”, and construction on the palace was begun.

It is incredibly ostentatious and it is a surprise that they didn’t have a revolution in Austria as well as France.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: Historic Center of Vienna

Posted by on May 11, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: The Historic Center of Vienna

UNESCO World Heritage Site #131: The Historic Center of Vienna

From the World Heritage inscription:

Vienna developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, as well as the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.

While not the most exciting city in Europe, I think Vienna deserves inscription as a World Heritage site. Surprisingly, it wasn’t included on the list until 2001, well after most of the major European capitol cities were included. The photo above is of St. Stephens Cathedral, which is the historic center of the city.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #130: Historic Centre of Ceský Krumlov

Posted by on May 10, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #130: Historic Centre of Ceský Krumlov

UNESCO World Heritage Site #130: Historic Centre of Ceský Krumlov

From the World Heritage inscription:

?eský Krumlov is an outstanding example of a central European small town dating from the Middle Ages that owes the structure and buildings of its historic core to its economic importance and relatively undisturbed organic development over some five centuries. The town grew up within a meander of the Vltava river, which provides a natural setting of great beauty. Its evolution over time is evident with startling clarity from its buildings and its urban infrastructure. It has profited from a relatively peaceful history in that it has retained its entire medieval layout and most of its historic buildings relatively intact. Restoration and conservation has been slight and so there can be no question as to the authenticity of both the townscape and its components.

My biggest regret in the Czech Republic is not scheduling more time to spend in Cesky Krumlov. This is a great town and should be a priority for everyone who plans to visit the Czech Republic or North-East Austria. The entire city center is a walled fortress and looks like it came out of a storybook. It might be the most under appreciated attraction I’ve seen in Europe.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited.

When Things Seem Slow They Are Actually Quite Busy

Posted by on May 9, 2011

St. Mark's Square in Venice taken from my room aboard the Carnival Magic

St. Mark's Square in Venice taken from my room aboard the Carnival Magic


The last week or so I haven’t posted much. It has been an extreme case of Gary’s Paradox. This has been due to my manic schedule across Europe and the limited Internet access I’ve had on the Carnival Magic as we have been sailing around the Mediterranean.

Just to give you an idea how hectic things have been for me, since I arrived in Europe on April 19 I have been to:

– Prague
– Cesky Krumlov
– Vienna
– Bratislava
– Ljubljana
– Venice
– Dubrovnik
– Sicliy
– Naples
– Rome
– Cinque Terre
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