Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: funicular

Euro Tour 10 – Budapest

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Today is officially a free day and in view of the excellent weather (the heatwave continues) it seems entirely reasonable to us to go and make use of the Szechenyi Baths.  By walking back to the station where we arrived it is possible to catch a direct service to the Millennium Monument we visited yesterday and then walk through the park grounds to the baths.

Obtaining an entry ticket is not difficult – but working out where to go inside turns out to be a bit more complex.  We find the changing cabins and take all of our stuff with us.  We arrive just about in time to get two sun loungers (and move them into some shade) before entering the large pools outside.  They are quite busy – and the temperature of the pool is about 32 deg C – and the air temperature is not much higher.

Whilst I do not believe the pools are as effective as the spa at Rotarua in easing aches and pains they certainly provide some relief.  Inside the building there are a variety of pools at different temperatures and we both take an opportunity to relax in these before departing.

We start walking across the park and I am reminded we were told of a couple of local cafes when we were on the tour so decide that a light lunch here would be a good idea before we head back.  Jackie is feeling the heat and is looking forward to the air conditioning in the hotel and is very glad when we get back there!

I decide to return to the centre of town and to see if I can traverse the funicular which was closed yesterday – I also have to master an ATM for some cash – but after our practice earlier on the holiday this is not difficult.  I can report that the funicular is working and I take it up the hill; at the top I am in time for the local changing of the guard; then I return to the bottom.  It is very hot and I consume a huge beaker of orange juice.  Dehydrating!  I walk back across the Chain Bridge and return to our hotel on the metro.

Photographs of my solo excursion are here.

In the evening we are back on the group tour.  Our fellow travellers have apparently also enjoyed the various Baths which exist in the City.  We are taken to the Danube for a river cruise and dinner.

From the river we are able to see some beautiful sights.  With the river cruise completed we rejoin our coach noting that the next party are ready to embark – they keep these cruisers busy.  The coach takes us to the top of Gellert Hill which enables us to enjoy some views of a lit up Budapest at night.

Photographs of this evening’s expedition are here.

Some of us remain in the reception for a drink and a chat once we are back at the hotel.

Euro Tour 5 – Prague

Thursday 27 July 2017

Today is a free day according to the official itinerary and we can therefore start a lot later, not only taking breakfast late but also setting out from the hotel much later in the morning.  As last night we take the metro but this time only as far as Staromestske and we then walk past the edge of the Jewish cemetery (given the buzz around much of the town this is very quiet) to the Cech bridge as our booked river cruise departs from the closely adjacent jetty (stage 5).

We are booked on the 2 hour lunchtime cruise which takes us along the Vltava and up the lock in the centre of the city and then we go further upstream to just beyond the railway bridge (Železniční most).  The boat then turns around returning via a complicated manoeuvre to allow a good look at the Charles Bridge.  The waterway is busy at this point and I have a feeling some of the waiting was also to allow proper pathing of various boats on shorter cruises.  We then go downstream as far as we can without going through the next lock down turning around just short of Hlávkův most before returning to our starting point at stage 5.

Lunch is generously catered with, amongst much else, a huge ham having slices carved off, lots of salad and a decent selection of cheeses.  Jackie has some very good ginger cake.  Our photos of the river trip are here.

One fascinating building we did see in the distance was the Dancing House, which is better explained and illustrated in the linked post than my pictures – a very different piece of architecture.

As we wander around the City we saw a lot of these cars showing tourists the sites (with thanks to Jackie for the photo):

After the cruise we take a tram along the riverside and then walk across the Vltava to catch the funicular to Petrin.  The queue seems lengthy but moves fairly rapidly.  It is helped by Jackie heading off to the ticket office for the funicular whilst I remain in the queue (we are following the example of people ahead of us in the queue).  It is a pity that the fare is simply for the funicular and not also combined with the tower as we have another queue there!  It is not Disney though!

At the top of the hill the observation tower (which previously we have been able to see from all over Prague) is now invisible!  The posted map is useless as all the other visitors have stabbed the “You are here” point as well as the location of the observation tower, so the descriptions are obliterated and I cannot work out which is which!  The map however gives the Czech translation of “Observation Tower” and nearby a finger sign showing the same Czech translation points the way (behind a bank of trees).  We follow this indicator and soon find ourselves in a queue for the ticket office, which to our consternation only takes cash.

There is an ATM is in the same office so after some kerfuffle getting the right language (for us) Jackie is able to draw some cash; the ticket office then wants a smaller note than the one dispensed by the ATM.  Sometimes despair sets in!  We do not fancy taking the staircase to the top and the tiny lift can take 5 or 6 people, so we have to await the second departure.

Photos of the funicular and of Prague from the tower are here.

Once up at the top of the observation tower the movement of people and the slight breeze means that the swaying of the tower is discernible so we soon return to the ground floor and a refreshing brew ere retracing our steps to the funicular and then waiting a tram to return us to the hotel.  There are a lot of trams here and they provide an excellent service, at least as far as our limited usage is concerned.

In the early evening we head down the hill from the hotel in search of a local restaurant which we find after marginally taking a wrong turning.  It is packed, noisy and obviously extremely popular.

We decide on a traditional main course of duck and potato dumplings which does include a decent piece of duck so it is a good solid meal.  We see various other fellow travellers and our tour guide partaking of meals in the restaurant!



Sunday 28 August 2016

Our first port of call is Bergen and for me this is a return visit, after almost exactly 40 years as I came here in mid-1976 when travelling on an Interrail ticket.  It is fair to say that I recognise very little of the City to be honest.  I came out from Oslo and wandered around before taking a train back whence I came.

We initially take the hop-on hop off bus as we have not booked any trips and we know these give a good background to the ports at which we call.  We stop about half way round so that we can take the Fløibanen funicular railway – which was there on my last visit but I do not remember using it.  It rises 991 ft and carries over 1m passengers a year.  The current cars date from 2002 and are fourth generation for the line.

We wander around the mountain top taking photos including our cruise ship which dominates the bay.  Lots of goats as well.

We return to sea level and continue our bus trip and then visit the preserved part of the town – Bryggen – which more reminds me of how I remember far more of the entire town and sea front.  Not quite as many different bright colours which are often used in photos promoting Bergen.  The buildings are all wooden and close together; the aim being no doubt to conserve heat in the winter.

Having wandered around we then feel entitled to some coffee and local cake – the Skillingsbolle – a cinnamon bun.  I eat little bits of Jackie’s but cannot find a photo of one in our collections.  The cost of even this small consumption is of course high!

At the waterside there is a market with a lot of fresh fish; I hope the provisioning team on board our ship have been ashore as it all looks hugely fresh.

We wander around the City – we see trams, odd buses and so on – obviously there is now a huge number of tourists which visit here.  There is a second photo album.