More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor hotels

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RooFlyer

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This trip has been in the works for about 4 years. Initially planned as a month long drive circling around Frankfurt taking in the former Soviet states as far as Ukraine, it got displaced for several years as friends and I did other long journeys (SE Asia and Baltics / Russia) and finally it changed into an almost exclusive flying trip around eastern Europe, with some of the west included too. After a fantastic visit to Russia last year, I’ve tacked on another 5 days there at the end of this trip. That meant taking Ukraine off the schedule (well, it sort of took itself off) and Belgium, where I haven’t visited and longed to have mussels at Bruges, also got cut. Again. :(

It’s one of the most complicated itineraries I have ever done, and has taken a huge amount of work by my TA, who I hope against hope got some decent commissions out of it! It’s probably a sign of age that I’m taking some day tours where previously I would have arranged myself. Simply can’t be bothered with those ‘catch a bus to catch a train then another bus type’ of day trips. My final communications with my TA were some flowers and a bottle of wine as thanks (and a nice note to her boss).

Now if you are going to fly around central and eastern Europe, it’s gotta be Star Alliance (LH, OS, LX, LO) to get ‘Airpass’ type intra-European fares that in turn dictated the long haul carriers. I really wanted to try Turkish, but the best J fare by quite a way was with Lufthansa. I’m no fan of LH, having suffered with their cancelled flights and brick wall reaction to getting compo under the EU rules and also their angled flat beds are nothing to write home about. But it was a good fare and it included a round trip intra-Europe in J (well, Euro-J anyway), AND it included SQ J for MEL-SIN-MEL so Lufty long haul it will be. Of course the catch was that it was Lufty’s ‘P’ class fare, which often comes up as ‘Economy’ in various engines and will earn only 50% miles under Aeroplan. But I was assured it was in fact business!

The round-Europe bit will be via a *A Europe Airpass, only available in whY; I have *A Gold, so at least there will be extra baggage allowance and lounges!

So here’s the deal:

HBA-MEL in QF J
MEL-SIN-FRA-KRK in SQ then LH J
KRK-VIE in OS Y
Vienna-western Hungary-Bratislava by hire car
VIE-SBZ in OS Y
Three day private car tour of Transylvania (Romania)
SBZ-VIE-VCE in OS Y
Venice to Florence by train
Florence to Naples by train
One day tour of Pompeii
Naples to Rome by train
Tours of Vatican City & its gardens
FCO-ZRH-AMS in LX Y
AMS-LHR in BA Y
LHR-FRA-LED in LH Y
Private day your of Pushkin & Pavlovsk palaces outside St Petersburg
St Petersburg to Moscow by high speed train
DME-FRA-SIN by LH J
SIN-MEL by SQ J

That’s 9 countries, 15 sectors and 4 trains in 32 days :shock:!
 

RooFlyer

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

So the preliminaries.

HBA-Mel the day before the long haul; it’s a Qantaslink 717 and of course it’s late. J service is good, with iPads for streaming entertainment, except it’s not working. As I’ve said before, catering in J HBA-MEL is good, almost too good. Choice of 2 hot dishes for a 1h15m flight whilst a good offering, is something that could probably be enhanced without much controversy.

Check into the ParkRoyal at MEL airport, booked through Qantas. As a GHD Gold member its free wi-fi which is about all I want. On my floor, at 5pm I was a bit peeved to see breakfast plates still out in the hallway. Not a good look.

PR food.JPG


I dump my gear and to get ready my forthcoming visit to Transylvania, I go into town to see Rocky Horror Show at the Comedy Theatre. Its been 20 or more years since I saw it last (Stuart Wagstaff playing the narrator). Whilst it was great to hear the old tunes again, and to see the Time Warp performed very energetically, Frank-n-Furter was way too camp and overplayed to the audience too much for my liking.

A decent night’s sleep on the car park side and out the door at a very civilized 8am for a 10:20am departure on SQ. With bags checked all the way to Krakow, it was through security reasonably quick; it was pretty busy, but the lines moved well. By the way, does anyone else notice how the security & ‘marshal’ people at MEL tend to bark instructions at the PAX? I’ve seen it quite a few times both arriving (in the carousel area) and in departure security. It’s a good idea to actively advise pax about what to do in the security line, and today it least it appears to have the desired effect. But given it’s sometimes somewhat heavily accented, and the tone is somewhat hectoring, it could easily get people’s backs up. One time in the bag collection area at MEL, the lines to get out were very long, snaking all over the place. A couple of little Kommandants were shouting and close to abusing people to form the lines in such-and-such a way. Most of the people being bossed about were probably not Australians and may not have had English as a first language. Welcome to Australia! I was so pizzed off I reported those two.

Anyway down to the SQ lounge which I don’t think I’d been in before. A few pics below. It’s a pretty good lounge, a bit gloomy as it has no outside windows but it’s well laid out, with power at every seat and the breakfast food and bev were OK in a bright eating area. Wi fi good without being brilliant. Customary photos:


SQ MEL lounge 1.jpg

SQ MEL lounge 2.jpg


We boarded just a little late. It’s a 777 with 2-2-2 in business. I’m on the window a few rows in front of the engines. Immediately after take-off I become concerned about the noise the engines were making. Very loud and somewhat ragged. This persisted until we levelled off shortly after take-off and as he powered back the noise changed to a more normal volume and tone. Ah, I thought, we’ll probably be turning back; but no, he powered up again, the noise and bad tone came back, but eventually went away.

For a day flight I like a window and for a Trip Report no reason not to start with some pics of our own Wide Brown Land. We flew straight over the top of Ayres Rock, so got this view of The Olgas, and then other desert features.

Olgas.jpg

Outback.jpg


I used to work in environments like this. Now, to use a Paul Keating metaphor, I fly over it on the way to Paris (er, Frankfurt)
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

And after 4 or 5 hours, Elvis has left the building:

Coast.JPG


The flight. Bolly was the Champagne served pre flight and a post take-off drinks order was taken. Lunch served about an hour into the flight. I had ‘Booked the Cook’ and ordered roast duck. Entrée was Mescalin with duck liver and duck confit, so all in all it was a very ducky meal. And also well-presented and delicious. Dessert was macadamia nut ice cream. Yum. Only grumble was that the Pouilly-Fuisse off the wine list had ‘run out’ (not re-stocked in MEL I’m thinking) and a French Chablis, not on the wine list substituted. Not bad.

SQ J meal 1.jpg


We arrived into SIN T2 almost on time about 4:20pm local, which was good, as I had made a booking for 7pm at Luke Mangan’s Salt Bar and Grill after reading drron’s review . I don’t usually eat at ‘celebrity chef’ places (over-rated), nor restaurants with fantastic views (often means the food is average), but I made an exception here.

The first immigration hall I came to at SIN was a zoo, probably hundreds in there; this is happening more and more at SIN I find. I kept walking another 100m or so and then went down to the other immigration hall. 10 mins and I’m through. Store carry-on bags and jump on the MRT. Two changes of station and I’m at ION on Orchard in about 40 minutes and all I have to do is get in an elevator to get to the restaurant. How good is that! But I’m early so I go outside to get some daylight and walk around for a while.

At 6:30 I could do with a drink, so checked in at L4 at ION and was told that early was no problem. Concierge person led me round a few corners then into a black-marble-no-lights “see how funky we are” lift lobby. The lift takes you straight up to L56 and the restaurant opens up. Wow! The view across Singapore is spectacular in the late afternoon. Decided against the degustation menu, and went with coconut broth with lobster tortellini and then a tasting of pork preparations. A German Riesling “Dr Loosen” with the former and an Italian Nebbiolo with the latter (the sommelier very much agreed with both choices :) . Wow again! It was all good. After sitting for a while I decided a desert would be OK (being a trendy sort of place the portions weren’t large), so it was the white chocolate semifreddo and a Tokay. By 7:30pm the place was full; about 50/50 Anglos and (I assume) locals.

With the bill came the only disappointment of the evening. The menu said up front that a 10% service charge would be added to the bill. OK to that. The credit card chit had the 10% service charge, as expected, THEN tax (so you are paying tax on the tip) and then a space for another tip! I could get really pi**ed off about that, but I was still in awe of the tucker and atmosphere, so let it go through to the keeper.

Mangan 1.JPG

Mangan 2.JPG

Yes, they were the truffle-oil and parmesan fries drron.

Mangan 3.JPG

And no, in fact they are hand basins in the gents loo. When I first walked in I had visions of Level 56 at Chifley Tower in Sydney in the '90s ;)


After dinner it was down in the lift to the MRT station, buy a ticket to Changi for S$3.40, and jump on a train that left immediately; change a few stations on to another train which is just leaving, and then another change with no waiting. Arrive at Changi about 30 mins after I left the restaurant. Magic!
 
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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Through SIN departure immigration which is again slow and tedious and up to the Silver Kris lounge, then onto the flight.

It’s a Lufthansa A380 and I just hope it’s been refurbished. Fancy getting a fleet of brand new A380s and putting non horizontal beds in ‘em, then immediately start a refurb to flat beds. Argh, no it’s a non refurb job. 2-2-2 in business, a narrow seat with absolutely no storage space at your seat, except what you can jam in with the magazines.

LH A380 J seat.jpg


Of course there’s a full drinks service, then dinner after take-off, concluding about 2:00am local. These late night dinner services really bug me. Sure, offer something if you must, but surely just make it a one plate supper, so it can be over with quickly and relatively noiselessly.

Here’s what was on offer:

LH J menu.JPG


After a mostly sleepless night they serve breakfast service about 2 hours prior to the 5:30am local landing at Frankfurt. I’ve been through FRA a number of times and knew it was no point planning how I’d navigate my way through. I was right. My next flight was in the same terminal, thankfully, so just follow the signs. First through security. Wow. Standard x-ray stuff for the gear but everybody also gets a pat down. I don’t know how everyone else went, but mine was the most er, thorough I’ve ever had. Not so much a pat-down as a feel-up. This guy ended up knowing more about me than my doctor! Then to immigration. Another long queue, badly managed. FRA is losing it. Finally get through and then to the LH Senator Lounge near gate A50. These are usually good and this is no exception, except for a long wait for a shower (about 45 mins). We ‘board’ on time, only to be shoved into busses for the longest drive to an off stand I’ve ever experienced. Past the cargo hangers, past the LH Technic building, to almost the end of the runway and I’m sure into the next post-code. And it seems they only were using the one bus. It went back and about 20 mins later brought the remaining pax. Note to self. No more LH and FRA, no matter how good the fare is. This is us approaching Siberia:

Outer FRA.JPG

I’m still in business courtesy of the LH long haul ticket which gave me a return J trip within Europe. Of course its Euro-business which means a crammed seat but the seat next to you is unoccupied.

LH Euro J.JPG


Flight to Krakow took about 1hr 15 mins. It looks like they are building a new terminal at KRK, and they need it. Existing arrival facilities closely resemble Hobart airport. I can’t be stuffed with the train or bus so get a cab. Spotless inside, uniformed driver. Oh-oh, rookie mistake, I’ve gotten in a limo. Turns out it’s not a ‘limo’ just one of the Krakow Airport Taxi Service jobs. I tell him “Novotel on Kosciusko Street”, but pronounced Kosciusko more like the true Polish ‘ko-shoosh-ko’. He’s impressed that I know about this Polish hero and we get on famously. Fare was bang on what I was expecting and the guy got a good tip for indulging me in conversation during the ride.

Novotel Krakow Centrum is a bog standard Novotel, which is what I was after They checked me in OK at 10am and I remembered to not accept the offered front side room, with views over the Castle. Trip Advisor told me that trams start rumbling by at 5am. So it was a back room, with views over ... well, the other wing of the hotel. But it was quiet. Room somewhat plain, but had everything I needed.

Novotel KRK.JPG

After a short kip, I’m ready to hit Krakow.
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Awesome TR so far RooFlyer!
The gents loo was inspired by Sofitel MEL ;)
 
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More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Acco...

The LH menu looks good.
Sorry to hear about your bad FRA experience. I was there just a couple of weeks ago and was lucky to be escorted by the TG rep through security check. A few words in German and they let me go quickly.
If you will transfer in FRA again in the future, try the AC lounge, it's not as busy as LH and has great rain showers. I put some pics in my recent TR.
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Acco...

Make sure to keep your camera handy when in Romania, you will see some funny stuff.
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Acco...

The LH menu looks good.
Sorry to hear about your bad FRA experience. I was there just a couple of weeks ago and was lucky to be escorted by the TG rep through security check. A few words in German and they let me go quickly.
If you will transfer in FRA again in the future, try the AC lounge, it's not as busy as LH and has great rain showers. I put some pics in my recent TR.

Damn :(! I am following your TR (with significant envy factor) but missed the AC post. Its through AC that I have *A Gold, so would have liked to check out that new lounge. Will do it on the way back!
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Acco...

Make sure to keep your camera handy when in Romania, you will see some funny stuff.

Thanks Dmitri; can't wait :)

I use a Sony pocket digital camera with GPS; awesome compactness, resolution and zoom. It comes with laptop software that allws you to first suck the pic locations into Google maps:

Sony map 1.jpg


... and then into Google Earth. Check out the resolution, with my walk down the path in the park!


Sony map 2.jpg


If you click on a pin, it brings up the image.

Sony 3.jpg


This feature is great when you have taken a picture of some place or feature, but don't know what it is, or is called. Just plot it up and there it is. There is a Lumix (Panasonic) camera on the market which actually brings up your location / place name on the camera screen as you look at the viewfinder screen. :) :)
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

View attachment 30859

And no, in fact they are hand basins in the gents loo. When I first walked in I had visions of Level 56 at Chifley Tower in Sydney in the '90s ;)

I've enjoyed many boozy lunches at level 41 :D Haven't experienced level 56!

Enjoying another RF TR....
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

I've enjoyed many boozy lunches at level 41 :D Haven't experienced level 56!

....

Obviously mine were more boozy than I recall (hazily ...) :oops:
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Krakow. I didn’t know much about it, other that it was historic and it was the Archdiocese of Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope Saint John Paul II. There are lots of reminders of JP2 about today; left at Wawel Castle, middle at Corpus Christi church in Kazimierz and right on the wall of St Mary's Cathedral, where JP2 was Archbishop :

AA JP2.jpg


I had 2 days in Krakow and hadn’t planned much beyond the Old Town; it was first stop of a long trip and I was at least sensible enough to start slow. My friends will be joining me in Vienna, so I was free to mooch about at my own pace. Krakow is a great place to do that – lots of sights in a short distance and lots of refreshment stops in between :) .

The Novotel is only 10 mins amble from the most prominent feature of Krakow – Wawel Hill, with Wawel Castle and Cathedral. The River Vistula wanders past the castle and the Novotel and provides a great place for wandering or just sitting in the sun. That's the Novotel in the bottom LH pic - white building, over the bridge.

AA Wawel and river.jpg


The Castle dominates both river and landward side. The RH pic shows a tethered balloon that rises up periodically, I assume with tourists.

AA Wawel Castle.jpg


The Royal Castle was first constructed in the late 1300s and like many of its ilk has been destroyed, rebuilt and re fortified many times. Since the 1500s it was the base for the Polish royal family and many Polish kings are interred in the Cathedral in its grounds (but Polish royalty goes back to around 1,000AD; including a pwriod of elected monarchs from the 16th to 18th centuries!). It was significantly restored in the 1900s and now houses the Polish Crown Treasury and Armory, State Rooms, Royal Private Apartments and a number of other museums and exhibitions. Opportunities for photography are limited in most of these places unfortunately.

The top pic below is a panorama showing the State Apartments – where the royal family lived and went about its business. Just about all of the interiors were lost before 1900s but since that time major restorations before and after WW2 have seen the dozens and dozens of rooms restored, and furnished with a great many furnishings and tapestries. Mostly donated to the Polish State I understand, including a huge bequest of art and furnishings by Countess Karolina Lanckorońska, a survivor (just) of Polish nobility who was a resistance fighter in WW2 and sentenced to death by the naz_s. But she escaped that fate and lived to 104. The other pictures show one of the many tapestries and one of the stand-out features – surviving, minutely embossed and decorated leather wall coverings (the brown themed coverings - they are all over many of the rooms).

AA Wawel inside.jpg


The other main building within the Castle is Wawel Cathedral, with its 2 uneven height towers, dating from the 14th Century and where Polish kings were crowned, and buried; also buried within the Cathedral are many heroes of the Polish state, in the arts and military (including Tadeusz Kościuszko) . Limited photo opportunities, but a magnificent structure inside and out. A church has been on the site since about 1,000AD; the earliest grave still existing is that of Bishop Maurus who died in 1118.

AA Wawel inside 2.jpg
 
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TraceyK90

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Isn't there a legend about a dragon living under the castle?
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Yes; that was the one tour I didn't take :( - the tour goes under the castle, emerging from beneath the walls at the river side outside it. You have to buy tickets (as you enter the Castle precinct) and separately for each 'attraction' within the Castle and each is given a set time for you to enter, which makes things a bit tricky, as you might be hanging about for your next entry if you are quicker than most. One of the State Apartment tours is escorted. I figured that I wanted to be gone by the time I did the final tour, so no dragons for me :D
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

After conquering the Castle, I wandered up towards the Old Town. This was easy – from the Castle a (mostly) pedestrianized street heads straight towards the main feature of the Old Town, Rynek Główny or Town Square.

But first are two churches side by side. The first and oldest, is St Andrews, built about 1080 as a fortress church. And it worked, it was the only church to survive the Tartar’s attacks in the 1200s. The publicly accessible area inside is tiny; I would have loved to take a few pictures, but respected the worshippers inside.

AA St Andrews.jpg


Next to it is the Church of St Peter and St Paul, a Jesuit church from the 1600s.

AA St P and P.jpg


Some terrific statues along the front. The boys are back in town

AA Boys are back in town.jpg


Heading up the street only a hundred metres or so you come to Rynek Główny, and it’s a magnificent revelation. At about 200m x 200m it’s the largest medieval town square in Europe. In the middle is the 16th Century Cloth Hall (Sukiennice). The square is ringed by umbrella-ed cafes, bars and restaurants, and plumed horses pulling carriages ply a good trade. There are kids playing, couples strolling, and good quality street musicians.

AA Town square.jpg


Now I love looking at the architectural details on old buildings, especially the detailed carvings and embellishments (this will become obvious through this Trip Report :) ). Have a look at these guys atop one of the columns on the Cloth Hall (the colonnaded yellow building in the middle of the square).

AA capitals.jpg


The sun is warm and I’ve hiked about most of the day so time to settle down by the square, sink a nice cold beer and watch the world go by. Bliss.
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

I decide to have a bit of a graze. Off the square I find a street market and yes! Just what I was after – sausage, pierogi (dumplings) and beer. Nice, but not what you would call compelling.

AA Street food.jpg


St Mary’s Basilica dominates the square, and most of the Old Town. It’s made of brick and was last re-built in the 14th Century. It has two towers, of different heights. Every hour, on the hour a trumpet sounds from near the top of the taller tower. It goes on for some 10 to 20 seconds then stops abruptly – every time. This is to commemorate the 13th Century trumpeter, who sounded the alarm before the Mongol attack but got shot in the throat by an arrow whilst playing :(.

AA St Marys.jpg


Inside, the church is full of bling. The highlight is an altarpiece by Viet Stoss, a German sculptor, created in the 1400s. The triptych is about 13m high by 11m wide and the figures in it are about 2.5m high :shock:. It’s all carved out of wood, and gilded. The panels are closed and opened daily. During WW2 the whole altar setting was taken apart and hidden, but was found by the naz_s and taken to Nuremburg. It all survived the war and was re-assembled in the church in the 1950s.

AA St Marys 1.jpg


The vaulted ceiling is beautiful and the detail around the stalls is amazing.

AA St Marys 2.jpg


Of course you can climb the tower :). On a couple of external doors are these interesting carved (or moulded) heads. I didn’t get the significance of them.

AA Church heads.jpg


Also within the Town Square is the Church of St. Adalbert or the Church of St. Wojciech and yes, it’s about 1,000 years old. Remember when you first went to London and marveled at the ~1,000 year old Westminster Abby? Well, I think we’ve seen about three 1,000 year old structures in Krakow so far, and they are only the major ones .
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Great itinerary you have planned - following with interest :)
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

Time for some more people watching in one of the cafes in the Square. And some more beer. I decide to try the beetroot soup; the menu also calls this borscht, and who am I to argue but it’s not like the borscht I had in Russia last year. This version is just thin and red, like the juice you get from a tin of beetroot slices. The thing on the left is like a spring roll.

AA beetroot.jpg


A group of 3 piano accordionists are playing nearby and they could have been playing in a concert; I gave them 10 zlotys (about $3) which is about 10 zlotys more than I have given any other street musician!

Around the corner is the Town Hall tower, the remaining part of the 13th Century Town Hall; the rest was demolished in 1820. Town Hall tower in the RH pic; the LH pic is of St Florian’s Gate, part of the remaining city wall, some way from the Town Hall. The Gate was built in the early 1300s after the Tartar/Mongol attack in the 1200s.

AA Gate and tower.jpg


You can climb the tower to get good views of the surrounding town. The entrance is guarded by carvings of two lions (set there in the 1960s). One’s asleep; the other, er, isn’t.

AA Lions.jpg


I mentioned the City Wall. It’s mostly gone now and in its place is a wide swath of parkland surrounding the Old Town. A great place to walk and relax in the shade on the abundant seating. Although there is one road/tramway traversing the parklands which you just know is going to end in tears.

AA Garden and track.jpg
 

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

The final morning in Krakow and I walk down to Kazimierz, to one side of Wawel Castle and formerly a co-mingled Jewish and Christian town, separate from Krakow and settled in the 14th Century. The Jewish population suffered indescribably during WW2 under the naz_s and today the synagogues are still there, but the main one appears to be deliberately decrepit and sad looking.

The main attraction for me is the “Church of St Michael the Archangel and St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr and Pauline Fathers Monastery”, or Skałka near the banks of the Vistula River. On this site the Bishop of Kraków (saint) Stanislaus was slain on the command of Polish King Bolesław II (the Bold) in 1079. The present church was raised in the 1400s. The interior is baroque in fashion and the crypt is the resting place of many distinguished Poles and is by way a National Pantheon for Poland.

In the grounds is an excavation with spring water made available and encouraged to drink. It’s quite sulpherous. Nearby are seven pillars with statues of Polish ecclesiastical figures through three centuries, including Pope Saint John Paul II (see original post) - they are to the rear in the RH pic below.

AA Skałka.jpg


Inside the decorations are gorgeous, in the baroque style, and there is a chapel dedicated to St Stanislaus.

AA Skałka 2.jpg


Regrettably, that was the end of my visit to Krakow. It’s off to the airport to check in for my first Austrian Air flight; unfortunately in economy on a Dash 8! I notice that they do have 2 rows of (Euro-) Business. Krakow International is small (about the size of Hobart Domestic), but they are building a new terminal next door. Check-in was easy and I breathed a sigh of relief when my *A Gold status was recognized and I was allowed 2 checked bags. I was then surprised by the offer of a lounge. The *A web site gave no lounge for *A Golds, but the ‘Business Lounge’ awaited. And there it was, in stylish burnt orange and acid green décor; I was expecting the guy at the desk to be wearing flares and a ‘fro (readers under 30, ask your parents).

A good range of booze, especially Vodka. No eats except for biscuits, nuts and the packet variety

AA KRK Business lounge.jpg


AA KRK lounge booze.jpg


With the terminal construction, it was again a bus out to the plane, which can be seen in the RH pic, the little one in the middle.

AA KRK terminal apron.jpg


So, with the engines gunned, it’s off to Vienna.
 

RooFlyer

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Re: More Central and Eastern European bling (incl Transylvania); *A flights, Accor ho

At Vienna, I had arranged to be picked up by the ‘red cab’ service offered by Austrian. The docket said I’d be met in the arrivals area by a giy holding a sign – usual stuff. Well, I arrived and walked up and down the sign holders. Not there. I did a lap of the wider arrivals area; not crowded and nothing for me. I called the service who informed me that the guy was standing next to such-and-such a shop. Where’s that? Next to the such-and-such meeting point. Hmmm. Eventually I discovered that the guy was some way down the arrivals area. The we seemed to then do a lap of the airport to get to the car. Austrian ‘Red Cab’ – not recommended on my experience.

Anyway we arrived at the Mercure Wien Zentrum, where I met friends who were going to be with me for the next while. The room was a ‘standard’ and would be one of the smallest hotel rooms I’ve ever had; ditto bathroom. It would make a Hong Kong Budget hotelier blush.

Mercure Zentrum.JPG


That done, we plunged into Vienna. There’s not much new in Vienna that people aren’t largely familiar with so I’ll probably try to put some interesting pictorial details in this TR. Normally I bone up on the history too, but I’ve tried to figure out the Hapsburgs before, without success, so I’ll leave them be. This will largely just be pictures of building and bling.

The Stephansdom is the major Cathedral in Vienna largely dating from the 14th and 15th Centuries with a soaring 136m tall South Tower.

Stephansdom outside.jpg


The usual beautiful Altarpiece and side chapels, and carvings all over the place.

Stephansdom inside.jpg


The Treasury is a highlight with a major collection of Saint artifacts and ecclesiastical valuables

Stephansdom Treasury 1.jpg


You can climb the South Tower of course … all 360-odd steps and there are good views over the city. There are also tours of the crypt beneath the Cathedral. No pics unfortunately. Besides the usual caskets of past Bishops, there are the urns with the internal organs of the Hapsburgs (their bodies were embalmed) and chambers of the bones of about 11,000 folk who were interred beneath the cathedral in areas especially excavated. Most rooms have been cleared out, but in some you can see the bones packed tightly, crammed into every space. An actual charnel house.

Stephansdom tower.jpg
 
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