Since I just returned from a bus tour of Central Europe, I have decided to share with you this exhilarating experience, a marathon visit of Frankfurt, Weimar, Berlin in Germany; Poznan, Warsaw, Jasna Gora, Auschwitz, Krakow, in Poland: Budapest in Hungary; Vienna in Austria; Prague in the Czech Republic, and finally Munich, Rothenberg and back to Frankfurt. Are you tired? Wait till you hear the rest.
Wake-up call at 6 am; suitcases out of the room at 6:30; breakfast at 7 am; everyone in the bus at 8 am to hear our pretty guide and tour director, Sophia, announce in her Hungarian accent: “Good morning. Are ve all rested?”
Dazed eyes settled on her. A few yawning echoed from various seats.
“I am sure ve are ready to go?” she continued with her unwavering smile.
One or two brave souls answered: “Ready.” Maybe they had an extra cup of coffee or maybe they skipped dinner to sleep.
I loved the bus ride between cities–my best napping time– although Sophia was determined to impart her vast knowledge about the area. We watched movies, listened to stories and songs, and soaked up the new cultures. And we really lived the momentous events that shaped the History of Europe.
In Berlin, we spent a night in a hotel in East Berlin. We visited the Berlin Wall, the Allied Point, and heard a lot about the Nazis, WWII, and the Communist regime.
In Krakow, Poland, where Pope John Paul is the big hero, we spent a wonderful day. Churches, restaurants, stores, line the main plaza of the old town adorned by the historical city Hall. Musicians were everywhere.
In Jasna Gora, Poland, we visited a monastery that housed the miraculous Black Madonna painted by St. Luc the Evangelist in the first century. During the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul, he prayed the Madonna to save his life. Later he donated the sash that still shows his blood where the bullet hit him to the monastery.
We spent a very oppressive afternoon in Auschwitz, visiting the barracks that housed 900,00 Jews and 200,000 people from Central Europe transported and kept there by the Nazis. We saw the gas chambers, rooms filled with shoes , or hair, or clothes of these poor people. It was horrible the meanness that men can reach. I was about to throw up.
Famous for its bridges and its astrological clock, Prague is one of the most colorful capitals I have visited. Tourists crowd every place. The Swarovski glass headquarters occupy a whole block in one of the small pedestrian streets.
Too bad it was rainy and stormy in Budapest. After a thorough tour bus of the city, we lunched at a small café in front of the Cathedral and had ice cream and gateau in a tea saloon.
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