EUROPE 2017: THE GRANDEST OF THE GRAND TRIPS

PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE

The idea about this entire trip was conceived last fall (2016) as a possible cruise down Europe’s longest river. When that did not pan out, Placido Domingo’s AIDA became the magnet that drew us to Vienna. Spending some quality time with my family there was an extra special bonus. And then when we sold my Rainbow Shower property in Maui, having worked like slaves for a month to make it happen, Elizabeth and I decided to go on this European trip, including this “cruise on four wheels” as our “reward” for all the hard work.

Including the outbound flights to London, Madrid and Granada, and our “sailing down the Danube on four wheels,” we have traveled a total of 16,000 miles in one month through 9 countries.

For those who may not have planned and organized such overseas trips for themselves, that’s’s a lot of hard work in planning, and thousands of challenges and unexpected twists and turns in the execution. But but it was all worth it in the end.

We have traveled around the world many times in the last 9 years. And all of those trips were wonderful in their own way. But this month we have spent in Europe is not only the longest but also the grandest of them all.

Every day was an adventure, a trip to some of our past lives, a historical discovery, a cultural delight, an unexpected detour, a surprise event put on by some of my family in Vienna or Serbia, an enchanting musical or dance or ballet experience. Even some of our misadventures looked like fun in hindsight, and made us laugh at ourselves.

But what made this trip the grandest of the grand was that we encountered Divine guidance guidance every step of the way. We felt as if we were being led by invisible strings to places where revelations would occur about our past which we could use to learn about the present and the future.

As a result, we not only encountered Mozart, my old friend from the 18th century, and Liszt, one of my 19th century incarnations, we were also guided to Johannes Brahms, Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert who also played an important roles in my past and current lifetimes.  I have played and recorded pieces composed by all of them. And I just discovered that most of them have met each other (Liszt-Brahms, Strauss-Brahms, etc.)

As we do at the of each trip, we rated our top three experiences as follows (you can see these stars at the end of each travelogue title below:

#1 – ✮✮✮✮✮ (five stars)

#2 – ✮✮✮✮ (four stars)

#3 – ✮✮✮ (three stars)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ENGLAND  US flag

Day 1, May 25 – London – A beautiful afternoon in Hyde Park

Day 2, May 26 – London – Reconnecting with Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, luncheon and godawful concert at Royal Albert Hall

Day 3, May 27 – Canterbury – Marvelous impromptu visit to home of Anglican faith

Day 4, May 28 – Visit to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral 

A travel editorial on London, England

DOES ANYBODY SPEAK ENGLISH ENGLISH ANYMORE IN THE CAPITAL OF ENGLAND?

Day 5, May 29 – London – Exploring Mayfair, Oxford Street Shopping, British Museum, seeing “Kinky Boots” – another West End flop

Day 6, May 30 – Fantom Hot Chocolate Inspires Impromptu Trip to Oxford

Day 7, May 31 – London – Surprise Dress Rehearsal for Queen’s Birthday

SPAIN Soain flag

Day 8, June 1 – Granada – Our first walk through Granada felt like homecoming

Day 9, June 2 – Granada – A dream come true: Our first visit to the Alhambra;  Also, an amazing Gypsy flamenco show caps a wonderful day

Happy Birthday balloonsDay 10, June 3 – Granada, Alhambra: A perfect setting for a perfect birthday✮✮✮✮ (Bob #2), ✮✮✮ (Elizabeth #3)

Day 11, June 4 – Granada – Reflections on “progress,” our farewell to Alhambra, exchanging gifts

AUSTRIA Austria flag

Day 12, June 5 – Granada-Madrid-Vienna flights, surprise birthday dinner upon arrival

Day 13, June 6 – Staying at romantic Viennese country inn, a challenging first drive to city center

Day 14, June 7 – VISIT TO FRANZ LISZT’S BIRTHPLACE, NOW MUSEUM, EVOKES STRONG EMOTIONS ✮✮✮ (Bob #3)

Day 15, June 8 – Delightful “Swan Lake” Ballet at Vienna State Opera ✮✮✮✮✮ (Elizabeth #1)

Day 16, June 9 – Visit to Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace 

Day 17, June 10 – Concert at Ceremonial Hall of Hofburg Palace

Stories from Vienna Woods – as I heard them 

SLOVAKIA Slovakia flag

Day 18, June 11 – Visit to Bratislava, our first stop on “Cruising Down the Danube” on Four Wheels”

HUNGARY Hungary flag

Day 18, June 11 – Visits to Budapest, Szentendre

CROATIA Croatia flag

Day 19, June 12 – Revisiting my childhood in Croatia (Darda, Vukovar)

SERBIA Serbia flag

Day 20, June 13 – Our “cruise down the Danube on four wheels” continues in Serbia

Day 21, June 14 – Relaxing day in Grocka, Serbia  ✮✮✮✮ (Elizabeth’s #2)

Day 22, June 15 – Sailing down the Danube to Tabula Traiana  ✮✮✮✮✮ (Bob’s #1)

An editorial comment – from Truth in Media – AUSTRIA STARTING TO DEFEND HERSELF FROM MIGRANT INVASION

Day 23, June 16 – A walk down the memory lane in the city of my birth

Day 23, June 16 – Cruise around Belgrade on Sava, Danube rivers

CROATIA Croatia flag

Day 24, June 17 – First, visit to Plitvice Lakes, then (unexpectedly) to Crikvenica on the Adriatic

CROATIA Croatia flag SLOVENIA Slovenia flag  AUSTRIA  Austria flag

Day 25, June 18 – A 3-country day: Dicey start in Crikvenica, Visit to Postojna Cave in Slovenia, Overnighting at Wörther Lake castle hotel 

AUSTRIA  Austria flag

Days 26-27, June 19-20 – Back in Vienna: Reconnecting with Sacher Torte, Strauss 

Day 27, June 20 – Grand final concert at magnificent Saint Peter’s church 

DAY 28, JUNE 21: RETURN TO SAINT PETER’S, VISIT TO SAINT STEPHEN’S AND MOZART’S APARTMENT, ELIZABETH’S PRIVATE FASHION SHOW

THE END

 

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