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Back to Vienna, what a pity... (CKC1401)

Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Thomas Ritt | Europe

...because this means the Kings & Castles Tour is over. Final highlights were the huge basilica in Esztergom and the site of the original Paneuropean Picnic that took place on the Austro-Hungarian borger on August 19, 1989. This is where the iron curtain started to crumble, and of course we had to have a picnic here as well.

Thanks again to everybody for coming on this tour, it was a pleasure riding with you.


Thomas and Mirko

Esztergom basilica, the largest church in Hungary...

... conveniently comes with a nice little café right in front of it.

Picnic right on the border

Flavia says goodbye to Hungary

The group at the monument of the open door which symbolizes the opening of the Iron Curtain that started here

Behind the barbed-wire fence, today part of an interesting open-air museum right here at the site of the Paneuropean Picnic that eventurally tore down the Berlin Wall.

But the rain had cooled the air and also the city of Budapest, from 35°C on Monday to a pleasant 20°C today. One day of sightseeing in a city like this means barely scratching the surface, but we did our best. What an awesome place!

First we went up to the Buda hills to visit Matias Chuch and the statue of St. Stephen, the founding father of the Hungarian nation.

The Fisherman's Bastion holds a café with stunning views, not only of the Parliament Building.

Europe's second largest parliament building is a sight to behold

Trina, John, Mike and Chu

One of the most amazing panoramas in Europe

The Pettersons at the Zero Kilometer Marker. All distances in Hungary are measured from here.


... and Paul liked the monument very much.

The busy tourists in the middle of the famous Chain Bridge: Mike, Gary, Paul, Mirko, Chris and Jo, Thomas and John, and Chu and Trina in front.

Then it was time for lunch and we went to "The Spoon Café", a former cruise ship that is now a very nice restaurant with an unbeatable view.

Mike had the pork tenderloin and especially enjoyed the fresh, juicy dödölle...

With a view like this it is hard to concentrate on the food

Mirko needs to be by himself once in a while...

The Chain Bridge, with Matias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion as a backdrop

Mike found a great souvenir

Paul enjoyed the ride in a "topless" sightseeing bus...

The synagoge in Budapest is the largest one in Europe and number 2 in the world!

We left our hotel in Rajecke Teplice with full raingear on, but it turned out to be a nice day. Until lunch, anyways. Then it started again...

Looking out the window early in the morning. Settling clouds reveal a hint of dryness in the air...

Tour guide Mirko was in good spirits...

Randy and Sharon, wearing colorful raingear...

John on F800GS

Paul on R1200R

Trina on RnineT

Chu on the new GS

And taking up the rear, as usual, Gelson and Flavia.

After a wonderful rest day in Cracow we left Poland behind today and headed for country No. 5, Slovakia. The smallest, least populated and least developed country on our tour welcomed us with the gorgeous scenery of the High Tatras, with good food - and with plenty of rain. In order to reach our hotel we had to dive through three massive thunderstorms! See video below.

Electric carts are a great way to get around town

Lots of information about the city's history and Schindler's famous factory

Flavia, Trina and Chu

The beatiful old town of Cracow

For dinner we went to the old Jewish neighborhood called Kazimierz. The "Hummus & Happiness" was a great choice!

Tour guide Thomas can also recommend the best food...

...and John obviously LOVED his dish!

Mike, Paul, Sharon and Randy did too!

Hard to say goodbye: H & H, we will never forget you!

And the beer was good, too!

Before we left Poland we visited St. Michaels in Debno, a 600-year old wooden church.

Flavia whisperd "Welcome to Slovakia" and the boys loved it!

Lunch in Slovakia: Trina had vegetable soup...

... Flavia had salad with goat cheese, while Frank kept searching for his camera and motorcycle keys...

Enjoying lunch outside

After lunch the clouds became darker...

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Our hotel in Rajecke Teplice was nice enough to heat up a room for us so we could dry our stuff:

Poland, country No. 4 on the list, welcomed the group with plenty of sunshine and temperatures up to 39°C. We visited the infamous former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwiz, where one of the darkest chapters of human history was written. The old town of Cracow, on the other hand, is one of the most beautiful places that humans ever created, and right now everybody is thoroughly enjoying it.

The group in front of the train station in Auschwitz-Birkenau

Cracow's old town square by night

Flavia, chatting with tour guide Thomas

Paul and John enjoying the Polish beer

Randy and Paul, also enjoying the Polish beer.

Once again on the rest day we headed out for a walking tour through the city

The barbican gate

Cracow's castle is called "Wawel"

View of the castle from the river Wiesla

There are some very pretty tour guides in Cracow...

Gelson and Flavia on their Ducati

Today's ride took us back from Germany to the Czech Republic. We had some great lunch and in the afternoon  we were able to walk it off again by climbing up to Trosky castle, formerly owned by the famous Wallenstein.

Bread dumplings and fresh chanterelles, lovingly arranged on a plate - irresistable to Trina...

Randy decided to go for the giant pork knuckle, or "Schweinshaxe" as the Germans call it.

The eastern tower of Trosky Castle, built towards the end of the 14th century.

It is a strenous walk up to the castle...

... but the sweeping views from up there are just stunning.

Looking down to the parking lot from the tower. This is how far we came up!

After catching their breaths the group was able to smile again.

Chu, posing in front of the - inaccessable - eastern tower.

This is what Trosky castle looked like during the Middle Ages

Hippie Gary enjoys his boot beer

Unlike Prague Dresden is a city where you can still find some locals, even in downtown. Our walking tour took us to all the major sights and attractions, but for refreshments we opted for some Bavarian beer...

The group, Martin Luther and the Frauenkirche ("Our Lady's Church) in Dresden

One of Dresden's most famous landmarks is the opera house, named "Semperoper" after its architect who built it in 1841.

Gary and Thomas, enjoying the dark, full-bodied Augustiner beer

Chu bacame an instant Augustiner aficionado!

A well-worn Simson Star, leftover of the GDR

It is never easy to leave a city like Prague behind but today there were some wonderful roads to be ridden and some great scenery to be marveled at, so we left the Mother of all Cities and headed towards Germany, country No. 3 on our list. Among the highlights was one of the famous Edelweiss picnics, prepared by Mirko and devoured by everybody.

Sharon and Randy in Melnik, where we parked the bikes for a while to visit the ossuary and have a cup of coffee.

Chief-chef Mirko prepared a great lunch. We couldn't find even the smalles hair in any of his dishes!

Smoked trout, cold cuts and a Bohemian style meat loaf.

There were long lines in front of the buffet...

Flavia and Jo were digging in...

... and Trina liked it so much she tried to kidnap the chef!

After lunch we entered country No. 3: Germany

Flavia jumped with joy...

John and Paul from Australia happily entered the country of the current soccer world champion...

Jo and Chris affectionately greeted the Free State of Saxony

Michael also made it to Germany, here is proof.

Would you guess that Gelson - here with his wife Flavia - is actually a Mercedes fan?

View of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains

Frank and Gary thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic views from the Bastei

Beautiful scenery all around us

Only three days into the tour and already time for a rest day. Prague is a world-class city with enough sights and attractions to keep you busy for a month, but our day here was enough to get an impression. Most of the group joined the guides for a walk from the castle across Charles Bridge to the Old Town.

we shot the first group pic of the day in front of the Royal Bohemian Museum

Michael had his picture taken in front of the castle guards so many times that they had to be exchanged!

Here come the new guards!

The changing of the guards takes place under strict supervision of the general.

St. Vitus cathedral is the most important church in the Czech Republic.

The interior of a large gothic church is always impressive!

Beautiful stained glass window

The group in front of the castle entrance

The former bishop's palace

sightseeing made us thirsty...

Chu and Trina, doing their "homework"

Somebody's living room? No, a cafe in the old town of Prague

Chris is enjoying the day

wonderful downtown scenery like this is abundant in Prague

Jo found out today that she actually has a cocktail bar in Prague!

Frank touched a magic plaque on Charles Bridge, hoping for fame and fortune...

This is where we were today!

Group picture on Charles Bridge

Frank and Michael enjoyed the light and healthy Bohemian cuisine... It was GOOD, though!

On day 2 of our tour through Eastern Europe the group went to Cesky Krumlov, the best preserved medieval town in the Czech Republic. An absolutely amazing place and a great warm-up for the "Mother of all Cities": Prague!

introducing the group, from left to right, top: tour guide Thomas, Paul, Frank, Randall and Sharon, Michael, Chris and Jo, John, Gelson and Flavia; kneeling: tour guide Mirko, Gary, Trina and Chu.

the beautiful castle of Cesky Krumlov is the second largest one in the country!

Chu and Trina on the balcony of the castle

an unusual restaurant

The Edelweiss Kings & Castles motorcycle tour is in full swing: a group of 13 from the US, Australia and Taiwan left Vienna today to travel around six countries in Eastern Europe. It was a beautiful day full of lovely scenery and great roads, even a ferry ride was part of the program. We ended up in Budweis, Czech Republic.

Jo and Chris on the ferry across the Danube

Randall, Sharon and Micheal and the vineyards of the Wachau in the background.

Beautiful view of the Danube from the "Strand Café"

Flavia and Gelson, enjoying a piece of Apfelstrudel

Journalist Trina from Taiwan likes it too!

Edelweiss veteran Gary, high above the Danube

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Add a comment Rate this post
Marty Larsen
Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 23:47

Great adventure, thanks for sharing your pictures and experience. We recognize places in Prague, Budapest, etc. from our prior visits. Wonderful places and great beer everywhere. Did you sample the genuine Budvar in Prague? We have not been to northern Germany and Poland yet so that leaves room for future trips.
Enjoy the tour and keep the calories down on all that good food.
Stephanie Hill
Monday, July 21, 2014 at 05:02

Looks like a real good time! The scenery is beautiful.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 06:43

Looks like your are having fun dad.....but get a haircut you hippie!!
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 00:26

Great pictures. Glad to see you are enjoying the scenery and having a great time. We also thought Prague was a wonderful city and the sights magnificent. Enjoyed our time there.
Jeff in Vegas
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 06:47

To Randy & Sharon
Jeff and Carolyn says Hello and have a great time
Sure looks fun The History, The Architecture, The History


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