Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Blog Europe September 2022

I know having been to London and Paris in June that this trip must appear extravagant but it was planned nearly a year ago.  We set off on the 1 September for a month.

On 2 Sept we arrived in Madrid together with all our luggage arrived well done Emirates.

We started by staying at a great hotel near the Prado, the Westin Palace which is perhaps the most famous hotel in Spain.  The first night we had dinner at the hotel’s La Rotonda Restaurant which has a massive stained-glass dome.  The first course of cooked artichokes topped with fried Iberian ham was the best dish we had on the trip.

It is 5-minute walk to Prado Gallery where we spent 4 hours the next day.  It was not too crowded.  Goya Velasquez and El Greco are the big 3 and it would have to be top attraction of any visit to Madrid.

We could not get into the Royal Palace so on the advice of TimeOut we went to Museum of Illusion best business idea I have seen in several years.  Absolutely packed with families; kids having a great time.

On Monday 5 September we caught the fast train to Valencia and I did it again; I left kindle#4 on the train. This time we were booked at the Hotel Palacio Vallier which is a new hotel boutique hotel located in the old city centre and has a great location with great staff.  They contacted the railway station and recovered my kindle which we collected the next morning.  That night we ate at the Orio restaurant on the recommendation of the hotel.  It was the only one open before 8 and served terrific Basque food.    

The next morning after collecting the kindle we went to City of Arts & Sciences visited Hemisphere and saw Blue Ocean Imax.  That night we ate at San Tommaso Italian restaurant again it opens before 8.

The next morning we went to the Saint Nicholas church in morning.  Quite spectacular Saint Nick is the original Santa Claus.   Then we went to the Panorama Restaurant located at the beach for lunch where we had Paella which was invented in Valencia and should only be eaten for lunch.

On Thursday 8 September we went to Valencia Cathedral to see the Holy Grail before we flew to London.  It was Boarding Chaos at Valencia Airport and we left 45 minutes late which meant even greater chaos at London Heathrow.  No operator available to drive the jet bridge for 30 minutes and then we had another a 45-minute wait at the carousal.  Finally got to the Tardis at 6pm to met with announcement QE2 had died.

Interesting time in the UK.  Transition to Charles III happened seamlessly.  He immediately held audience with new PM Liz Truss.  The UK is in for interesting times but you have to be impressed with how democracies handle transitions.  (Except for the USA in 2020;  I can never forgive Trump for throwing Pence under the bus.)

On Saturday I went to the National Gallery where in June I had gone to the Titian exhibition.  This time I managed the first half of the gallery – there are 36 rooms.  The most impressive for me was the Rembrandt room which contains the only equestrian painting done by Rembrandt.

In the afternoon I went to see The Seagull by Chekov starring Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Throne).  I had never seen the play before and it is quite brilliant.  Indira Varma (another GOT performer) who plays an aging actress was stunning and it was a wonderful production.

The next night we all went to see Six, the musical comedy about the six wives of Henry VIII.  Given five of the wives die in the production it was bizarre mix but we had a memorable night.

We wrapped up our stay in London with meals at The Ivy in Richmond, City Barge at Strand on the Green, and Daylesford Organic in Notting Hill.  No question the quality of restaurants in London has risen dramatically.

Next stop was Munich.   Perhaps the wealthiest city in Germany and on Antony Mayer’s suggestion we stayed at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski which is the top hotel in Munich, located on Maximilianstra├če which as home to shops like Prada and Gucci is the most expensive street.  The people watching at the hotel was great fun and that night (as we had a 100 euro food & drink credit) we ate at the hotel restaurant. 

Friday morning we went on a tour “In Hitler’s footsteps” which was all about the rise of the Nazi Party to power.  I did not realise that Munich was its spiritual and physical home. When the Allies captured the Nazi head office in Munich Hitler committed suicide 1 hour later.  Great tour and highly recommended.

The next morning we went down to breakfast to discover all the staff and the majority of guests were dressed in the Bavarian national costume.  It turned out it was the first day of  Octoberfest even though it was September 17.  The hotel was full to capacity and the atmosphere was very buzzy.  Using the principle of buying straw hats in winter we decided to visit the Alte Pinakothek which is the Art Gallery of Munich and contains one of the finest collections in Europe.  As an added bonus the Neue Pinakothek, which is the Impressionist gallery in Munich, was shut for renovations and 10 rooms in the Alte were displaying all its masterpieces from Van Gogh to Manet so you got two galleries for the price of one. 

Although every restaurant in town was booked out the hotel managed to get us a booking at Trattoria Seizt.  The previous night we walked in and got a cancellation at the Brenner Opengrill.  Both are great restaurants.

On the Sunday we caught the train to Passau to board the Viking Rinda and sail to Budapest over the next 7 days.  The trip to Passau was a comedy of errors but we did finally get on the boat.  We then started our 7 day cruise to Budapest.  Viking laid on a great trip.  Excellent food and service and highly recommended.  Each stay started with a walking tour followed by a light lunch and excellent dinner.

Passau: we went to the Dachshund Museum which is hilarious.

Linz: third city of Austria, where Johannes Kepler lived, who discovered the three laws of planetary motion, which explains why the earth has seasons and our weather changes.

Wachau Valley; most beautiful part of the cruise.

Krems: Gottweig Abbey home of apricot wine and schnapps.

Vienna: Terrific city.  Evening concert lead by violinist Edua Zadory was fantastic.  Empress Maria Theresa has 16 children her husband had 31.

Bratislava; Capital of Slovakia: Biggest producer of cars per head of population in the world.  All the manufacturers are here.

Budapest: Moored in Pest the flat part. Parliament House has a brilliant tour.  Then moved to Buda (the hilly part) staying at the Hilton in the castle district.  Not quite at the level of the Kempinski but pretty close.   

On the day before our departure, we went to Szentendre, driven by Les Farkash who is an old friend who now spends his time 50/50 between Budapest and Sydney.  It was Les who recommended the Parliament House Tour.  Szentendre is a charming town about 30 mins north of Budapest where we had lunch in the town centre.  Les gave us a great insight in what it is like to live in Hungary which he has now done for six months every year for the past 17 years.

If you are in Budapest staying in the Castle District on the Buda side I highly recommend the Bistro Maison for dinner.  This morning we had a two hour walk around Buda Castle.  Now sitting in the hotel waiting to be picked up by a driver to go to airport. 

And that wraps up the trip.  Europe is going through interesting times but is always worth a visit.  If all goes well we will be back in Sydney on 29 September.

Chris Golis Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence 
website: www.emotionalintelligencecourse.com 
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisgolis 
Email: cgolis@emotionalintelligencecourse.com 
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