Showing posts from October, 2010

#14 Budapest, Hungary: Shall I Compare Thee?


My visit to Budapest seemed to have passed in a flash. First of all Budapest was not part of the much awaited Eastern European Study Tour program. It just so happened to be on the itinerary of this substitute trip, so I did not have time to check out any travel guides on Budapest. My introduction to Budapest was merely gathered from the requisite briefing given by the tour director prior to arriving at the next destination. Our tour director stated, “The Danube River flows through Budapest which divides the city into 2 parts – Buda and Pest. The name of the city, literally, comes from combining Buda and Pest. Buda is hilly and the older part of the city while Pest is flat and the newer and commercial part of the city…” Our tour director also mentioned on various occasions that her 2nd favorite city (2nd to Paris) is Budapest. Since Budapest was often compared to Paris, and I was particularly familiar with Paris, I thought I would explore the city on my own. So I started to get …

#13 Salzburg in Autumn

According to the Salzburg Tourist Bureau, “In October, autumn finally arrives in Salzburg…” Visitors to Salzburg are advised to bring normal clothing and dress in layers, and prepare for the worst (rain and temperatures under 10 degrees Celsius) and hope for the best (sunshine and temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius) for both levels are possible in October. Fortunately, we were greeted with the latter upon our arrival. In addition, we had the best hotel in Salzburg during this whole trip and surprisingly good dinner, and a glass of very good wine for less than 2 euros. A precursor to what’s in-store for us the next day.

Salzburg is small cosmopolitan city. It is a very picturesque city with fascinating architecture, and rich cultural heritage. As the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg prides itself on being a destination for music. Every year the Salzburg Festival draws Mozart fans and music lovers in droves. ‘The Sound of Music” also put Salzburg on the map. Although it’s a common knowle…

Prague, Czech Republic: Great Expectations

I wasfamiliar with Prague, so I thought. I stumbled upon a TV programshowing a video of Bedrich Smetana’s secondsymphonicpoem in ‘Ma Vlast’ (My Country). The video opens with smallstreamsswirling through the Bohemian countrysideandwidens towards thecity of Prague. Asthetemporises, the video zooms in on thecity of Prague. Thecityseparated by theriver Vltava andlinked by themanybridges, thehistoricbuildings, theimposingmonuments, thecastleandthetowers that rise over thecityprovide a stunning backdrop to Smetana’s music. Conversely, themusictempomatchesthemoodandprovidesthebackground to stunning cinematography. I wassointrigued by themusicand cinematography that I recordedtheprogramandplayeditoverandover. Prague, Czech Republic is steeped in historythat to talk about Smetana’s music in terms of cinematography is deceptively simple. Maybethesound of a swirlingbrook, the ripple andthewave in "Vltava", thesecondsymphonicpoem, is a metaphorforhumanstruggleandtriumph. I may have to…

#11 Bavaria, Germany: From Salvation to Libation

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux A Centuries-Old Labor of Love

The Passion Play of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany is an event staged every ten years to honor a vow made in 1633 to spare the village from the plague that devastated Europe. This event is participated by the whole town and listed as a ‘must-see’ in many bucket lists. The play ran late May to early October.  My sister booked us on this trip two years in advance as she did not want to miss out on the opportunity of seeing this event this year, but that travel plan turned into a nightmare. Needless to say, my sister’s Oberammergau travel plan debacle left us with a mixture of disappointment, apprehension, ruined schedule, and very little money to spend on our next trip.  But I kept hearing my sister's nagging voice in my head, "If we didn't go now, 10 years is a long time to wait."  So I scoured the internet in hope of finding something simi…