Vienna, the city of palaces!

It is amazing how many beautiful buildings and palaces you can find in Vienna (Wien), Austria. The emperors kept building and building new palaces and beautiful buildings.
You can fly into Vienna Airport (VIE) in Schwechat (in German Flughafen Wien-Schwechat). The airport is around 11 miles from Central Vienna and around 35 miles from Bratislava, Slovakia. In Slovak the airport is called Letisko Viedeň-Schwechat. Vienna International Airport makes a good hub to base your travel into the center of Europe.
Take a train to Wien Mitte which is like 10 minutes walking distance to the stunning St. Stephen’s gothic cathedral (Domkirche St.Stephan or Steffl). Vienna has lovely pedestrian streets. From St. Stephen’s, you can stroll on the Graben to Kohlmarkt to Heldenplatz. Once you get to the Heldenplatz, you can find your way around to see various magnificent buildings in this area. Check out the Hofburg, Neue Burg, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Albertina. There is also the Volksgarten and Burggarten (Castle Garden). You can also visit the Schmetterlinghaus (Palm Haus). There is really one fascinating building after the other.
Take some time off to enjoy some good Viennese food. The emperors knew how to eat. You may wish to try Wiener Schnitzel (cutlet) and Tafelspitz (beef). Try some really good desserts such as Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy pancakes with apple sauce and powdered sugar), Viennese Apfelstrudel , and Sachertorte (chocolate cake) with your coffee at the local cafes.
You will need more time to visit the Summer Palaces of the Habsburg rulers located around the city. They are spectacular. Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens are really huge. You can also visit the magnificent Belvedere Baroque Palace and Gardens. You can see the great display of wealth of the emperors. This city is really a city of palaces!

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Cruising the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean has many beautiful places that can be explored by ship. The Mediterranean itself can be a destination. Enjoy sailing on the blue waters enjoying your favorite food while visiting with friends or family.
Each Cruise package has many different options. Cruises may divide the Mediterranean between the Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean (Adriatic Sea). The Western Mediterranean Cruise may visit places like Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France), Monte Carlo, Civitavecchia (for Rome, Italy) and Naples (Italy). Eastern Mediterranean cities may include Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Athens, (Greece), and Santorini (Greece).
There may be trips inland to cities like Florence (Italy) and Rome (Italy). You can either sign up for the cruise tours at port or venture on your own self-guided tour or hire a local guide at lower expense. So you can have both the convenience of the cruise package or your own custom itinerary.
There are so many things to do on a cruise. For an example you can have a great family reunion with members of the family of different ages all dining together on the cruise. The ships are handicap accessible and so both young and old can find things to do together. Each can choose to enjoy the cruise at their own pace. Lay on deck and soak in the sun. Enjoy the pool. Eat to your hearts content. Watch the entertainment on board. Sleep in your own cabin. Get a cabin with an ocean view so you can enjoy the views. It is a basically a floating city. The cool thing is this “hotel” takes you from one city to another!


The Romantic Rhine

You can cruise the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands via the German Heartland to Basel, Switzerland. Rhine starts its journey from Lake Toma, in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden and winds its way to Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Rhine actually passes through Switzerland, Liechtenstein , Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. There is so much history along the Rhine. It used to be the boundary between civilized Europe and untamed lands beyond. There is so much to see along the Rhine.
Rhine Falls or Rheinfall in German is Europe’s largest waterfall. In some ways resembles the Niagara Falls between United States and Canada. Rhine Falls is located near Schaffhausen , in Switzerland just across from the German border.
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is one of the lakes on the Rhine. Bodensee borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland. You can basically visit all 3 countries by boat. Principality of Liechtenstein is around 30 minutes by car from the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
Basel, Switzerland on the Rhine is a good transportation hub to pretty much get anywhere in Europe, especially to your Alpine destinations. A good place to rest and sight see in the lower elevation before going up into higher altitudes of the Alps.
The mid Rhine is probably the most romantic part of the Rhine. German towns from Mainz to Kobenlz, Germany will take you back in time. Take the Rhine ferries to slow down and soak in the beauty.
The Moselle River meets the Rhine River at Kobenlz. Moselle can take you all the way to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Luxembourg actually means Little Castle). Towns along the Moselle such as Zell and Cochem are simply breathtaking.
Take another detour along the River Neckar (Neckar meets the Rhine at Mannheim) to Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is both romantic and picturesque. It is definitely worth the detour.
Keep following the River Rhine and you will end up in Rotterdam, Netherlands which is Europe’s largest port with plenty of good places to eat and shop. For the romantic side visit Amsterdam.


Lauterbrunnen Valley to Jungfraujoch Switzerland

Switzerland is also known in Latin as Confoederatio Helvetica. That is why their internet domain is .CH. You will need to use the Swiss Franc (CHF) when in Switzerland. If you are flying from the USA, you would probably fly into either Geneva (373.6 m – French speaking area of Switzerland) or Zurich (408 m -German speaking area of Switzerland). Basel Airport ( EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg ) is also an option but it is actually located in France. Basel EuroAirport serves Germany, France and Switzerland. Take your time in these lower elevations to acclimate to the altitude. You should drink plenty of water as you recover from your flight especially if you are flying across the Atlantic from the USA. From any of those cities, you will need to get a train to Interlaken ( the city between lakes Brienz and Thun at 566m). Interlaken is a good base to explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Bernese Oberland. The train system is excellent in Switzerland and runs on time like Swiss clockwork.

There is so much to see in the Bernese Oberland (Bernese Highlands) area. You can use Interlaken as a base camp to travel further south in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Interlaken has all the modern conveniences you need. If you are not into too much walking, just ride the train from Interlaken Ost Station to Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch (Virgin Pass) is the highest railway station in Europe or Top of Europe. You will be going up in elevation from 566 meters in Interlaken to 3454 meters in Jungfraujoch.

There is more than one way to get to Jungfraujoch. You can take the train from Interlaken (566m), Zweilütschinen (652m), Lauterbrunnen (795m), Wengen (1274m) (car free), Kleine Scheidegg (2061m) (beautiful place to stop) and then on to Jungfraujoch (3454m). The other option is to take the train from Interlaken, Zweilütschinen, Grindelwald (at 1034m another very beautiful place), Kleine Scheidegg and on to Jungfraujoch. Take one way up and another way down as the journey can be the destination on this route. You will pass through Alpine scenery and then on to see the snowy peaks above timber line. Jungfrau stands at 13,642ft or 4158m. Jungfrau, Eiger (3967m) and Monch (4107m) peaks form a massive range overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is a must see area of Switzerland. The contrast between the snowy peaks with the green Lauterbrunnen valley with many waterfalls is a site to see. The picturesque Lauterbrunnen village with the 300m high Staubbach Falls cascading down the mountain is breathtaking.

From Lauterbrunnen, you can take the cogwheel train to Wengen (car free) to get a gorgeous view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Take time and smell the mountain air and soak in the Alpine scenery. Beautiful view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley for your photos for instagram.

Or from Lauterbrunnen, take a cable car to Grütschalp and then by mountain rail to Murren. Then hike downhill to Gimmelwald Village to go back in time. Enjoy the alpine scenery, the flowers and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It is well worth it. There is even a gondola that goes to Schilthorn from Gimmelwald for more exploration. The options seem endless. You can be lost in the Bernese Oberland and loving it.