Voyage to the Jewels of Eastern Europe

8th Jun 2018

View from the Gellért Hill in Budapest

Photo of Voyage to the Jewels of Eastern Europe by Rajashree Das Nayak

Resembling every year, we were planning for our tour destination this year as well. I along with my travel partner, my husband is a kind of gallivanter, provided our pockets are slightly balanced.

Post length of deliberation, this time we unequivocally kept our travel destination. The dream destination for many and so was ours. Yeah, Europe it is. But we restricted ourselves towards the most sought after countries and choose four of the offbeat track locations for the eight days’ tour.

Limited facility and connectivity, Guwahati had very little for us to ease the trip. From Visa to board a flight to the travel destination, we went through some of the fresh experience which needs both time, patience and money to pass through. Yet, the ecstasy we felt was much more that kept us busy with numerous research and plans till the day of our travel. First ever trip to the world which we just read and heard of, can’t be expressed in words but the amount of elation felt till the day prior to our flight and throughout the trip was never felt before.

The first step in Bratislava was a moment of magic. Capital of Slovakia, Bratislava embraced us with its basket of uniqueness and surprise for the next two days in the city. Situated in the bank of river Danube, Bratislava is surrounded by vineyards and the little Carpathian Mountains with the Bratislava Castle as the main attraction. The charismatic view of the town and the river from the eloquently built castle gratified our senses. Hlavne namestie literally means the Main Square located in the old town is the place which can never satisfy you even after spending the day. Colours, Music, food, drinks and dance, bustling in the small town is where you are bound to vow yourself for a visit again to this gorgeous town. One must prepare the taste buds, to adjust the drastic variation it brings in compared to the Asian food. Fresh fruit and veggies along with loads of meat and fish with potato sides were all that we tried during the days of our stay in the Slovak city. We took as much of memories we could and moved to our next destination, Budapest.

We were enthralled to experience the stunning capital of Hungary. The cruise along the river Danube with the audio guide took us through the history of the surrounding of the river was quite enchanting. The views of the hill Buda and the plain Pest can best be felt from the river which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the notable monuments we pleased to our eyes during the cruise includes the gorgeous Hungarian Parliament, Buda castle, Fishermen’s Bastion, Gresham Palace, Mathias Church and the Liberty Statue. We tried not to miss even the slightest of thing and captured every possible moment in our minds during the city tour. The panoramic view from St. Stephen’s Basilica was marvellous. The first monsoon droplets at 96-metre-high made the whole mood so romantic that we stood still for hours together singing with the rain and the breeze to venerate the unfolded celestial realm. Nicknamed as Capital of Freedom the city never sleeps. Nights were as beautiful and colourful as the day was and we couldn’t afford to miss either of it. Such energy the city bestowed upon us. We hopped and sang and strode through the city. The city has some of the best café houses and food to not depress the taste buds. The goose liver and chicken paprika as the ethnic cuisine of country made our taste buds a try in Szazeves restaurant, a century old restaurant of the city is something one ought to try.

Wrapping some of the best memories from Budapest we headed to the city of hundred spires, capital of Czech Republic, the gorgeous Prague. Voyaged through the roads, the maize field and the tiny houses made us feel what developed nations means and what advances the world discussed about. At times I turned around my partner to ask if the vehicles had horns for I couldn’t hear even the slightest of honk throughout my eight days. The houses are scattered and sparsely populated. On the way to Prague we entered a village named Lednice in South Moravia in the Czech Republic. A village it is; and I was astonished to see the arrangement the small village has in itself. More than the Lednice palace and the park which is the largest in the country covering 200 square, the village in itself is a place to sit back relax with some fried cheese, juicy burger or the delicious pastries if one has a sweet tooth.

More one says, the less it is; the excitement to witness the beautiful Prague kept on lingering in our mind throughout the whole course until we actually stepped in the city. Truly divine was our first feel to the golden city of Prague. Prospered by the gothic, baroque and renaissance era the city has brilliant architectural splendour. The moderate summers made the tour relaxing; energising us to feel the quixotic moment. We had early supper and went for a night walk to experience the work of art, the Charles Bridge. The pedestrian bridge crosses the Valtava river is one among the top attraction in the city. We experienced the grandiose view walking through the city from the Prague Castle through the Charles bridge to the old town square amidst the vineyard and the fruit junction. The day was filled with the crazy stuffs, food, poses for photographs and a vintage car ride. At the fall of the day we delighted ourselves amidst the tradition. Folklore garden took as savouring the countries traditional meal with live musical performance. Prague known for its Bohemia crystal brings out country’s best crafts and products which definitely one can’t miss out. The popular brand Bata was founded 123 years ago in Czech Republic. Thanks to it. Personally I am a big fan of Bata shoe wear. Including Cesky Krumlove as an addition, to the itinerary can never dishearten you, rather make you feel the gift of nature with heartiest thanks to the tour agency. Tales of the White lady has field all the major castles and palaces of the town. We got drenched in rain but that didn’t stop us from exploring the hilly terrain of the place. Pork knuckle, clay oven pizzas to name few are some of the indigenous cuisines to be tried during the visit to Cesky. The two days spent in each location was an exploration to keep space for a comeback.

We were a bit tired but the excitement in us was live and awake craving for newer places to explore. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I landed in the shooting location of my favourite film “the sound of music” and it’s for real the hills are still alive with the sound of music. Salzburg, the city of music housed Mozart, a prolific composer and an influential composer of classical era. Fabulously painted in white, I could feel how amazing the place would look during the snowy winters. With narrow streets and cosy lanes, it’s by order to opt cycles over cars in the roads of Salzburg, which highlighted the beauty many fold. Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Mozart museums, the Getreidegasse and Hellbrunn Palace are among Salzburg’s most popular locations. A funicular ride gives an easy access to the Hohensalzburg Fortress from the old town. Once we reached the fortress, we were amazed at the gorgeous eastern Alps that we couldn’t resist but to sit back with some cosy drinks and munch to enjoy the picturesque view of the Alps. One with a love for a bird’s eye view must never miss out the fortress on the visit to the city.

And we reached the final destination of our stupendous trip, the Vienna which is the city of dreams. Wrapped in the Viennese charm the city is blend with royal design and modern architecture. One would hardly believe if I say the guided tour to the Schonbrunn palace made me immersed in the imagination attending the royal dining with the queen and the princes, with the view to the amazing French style garden through the window of the palace. And definitely one can’t miss out the prestigious Opera houses in the world. The Swarovski store in Vienna with amazingly decorated interior can never let go any women without a stop by. Nordsee, popular seafood and European fast food restaurant offers varieties of delicacies that I couldn’t let go but made some random choices for the meal and yeah I liked it.

Slowly, my heart felt a bit of pinch for the time had come to bade bye to the dream voyage. But we were glad, we shall be returning with some of the best treasure moments. We can never forget the smiles of every unknown passer-by, the help from the strangers when we lost track in spite of language barriers, the colour and fun filled lives in the city that never let you sleep and let you enjoy every bit as if it’s the last day of your life can never be forgotten. And finally the hills and palaces and the feel of the renaissance era fresh from the history books shall truly be remembered. Time to say adieu with a wish to come back again. Auf Wiedersehen

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