Category Archives: Europe

#ThrowbackThursday: Our Travels (with Kids) 10 and 5 Years Ago

I’m lazy today and don’t want to write much :) so I thought I’d share some of our photos from our travels ten and five years ago. Sometimes it’s really fun to go down the memory lane!

2006 February – Rabka, Poland

During February vacation in 2006 I took my son to Poland to spend some time with my parents. We went to Rabka, Poland, a small town popular with families because of its salt works (it’s a spa town).

My son had fun going sledding with my Dad:

Dziadek (Grandfather) and Wnuczek (grandson) having fun on the sled being pulled by the sleigh in Rabka, Poland, in 2006
Dziadek (Grandfather) and Wnuczek (grandson) having fun on the sled being pulled by the sleigh in Rabka, Poland, in 2006

Continue reading #ThrowbackThursday: Our Travels (with Kids) 10 and 5 Years Ago

Beautiful Art in a Beautiful Building: Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Whenever I start my question with “Do you remember that museum we saw in …” my kids give me the look and reply “Which museum? You drag us to at least a couple museums every place we go to!”

But with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna it was different. I only had to say “Do you remember that museum in Vienna where we had lunch in this really nice round room, where Daddy waved to us from the hole in the ceiling up above?” and they knew exactly which place I was talking about.

My daughter replied with “Was it that place where they had a lot of Egyptian stuff? And all that gold?”

My son added “Was it the one where they had this big painting of a mountain that looked like a tower?”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Yep, that’s the one.

Continue reading Beautiful Art in a Beautiful Building: Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Collegium Maius: Museum of Jagiellonian University in Krakow

May 12, 1364 – Polish King Kazimierz III (Casimir) the Great issues a royal charter establishing a university in Kraków, the capital of Poland at that time.

While there are already some thirty universities in operation in Europe, this is the first university in Poland, and the second oldest in Central Europe. Charles University in Prague was founded some twenty years earlier, in 1348.

The university has no buildings, the lectures are held in various buildings around the city. After Kazimierz’s death in 1370, his successor Louis I of Hungary has no interest supporting the Polish university, so the few professors and students move to Prague or other universities. The kings change, however, and in 1390s, the new king and queen – Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga of Anjou – decide to revive the university and succeed. Jadwiga even bequeaths part of her private wealth and estate to the university.

The following year, 1400 King Jagiełło donates to the university a house he bought near the edge of the city, and inaugurates reopening of the university on July 26, 1400, with 206 students enrolled.

Continue reading Collegium Maius: Museum of Jagiellonian University in Krakow

In the Footsteps of Royalty: Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria

Right past the wide open massive iron gates, the vast courtyard is full of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of imperial splendors of the past.

In the times of Emperor Franz Joseph, who reigned from 1848 till 1916, on Mondays and Thursdays any subject of his empire could supposedly ask for an audience with the monarch in his opulent Walnut Room.

What did it feel like, I wonder, to approach the Schönbrunn Palace, crunching gravel underfoot and petition in hand?

Schönbrunn’s size must have must have impressed even the wealthiest of the emperor’s subjects, not to mention the simple city dwellers, if they were in fact ever allowed to see the Emperor.

The grand entrance to the Schönbrunn Palace up close
The grand entrance to the Schönbrunn Palace up close

Continue reading In the Footsteps of Royalty: Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria

Krakow, Poland Photo Essay

If you’ve never been to Kraków (Cracow), Poland and aren’t sure whether it’s worth visiting, this essay is for you.

What’s is there to see in Kraków, you may ask? Take a look at the photos below, highlighting just a few places you might enjoy seeing in this beautiful city, with history going back into the medieval times.

The Wawel Castle

The Wawel Castle is, of course, a must. Dating back to the tenth century, it was the seat of the kings of Poland for several hundred years, and includes both Gothic and baroque elements.

You need tickets to go inside the castle, but walking around the Wawel Castle hill, and within the courtyard is free of charge.

the Wawel Castle as seen from Starodomska street
the Wawel Castle as seen from Starodomska street

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Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

The shape of the building that houses Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) in Vienna, Austria, looks like an odd choice for an aquarium and a zoo – a rectangular box of concrete with a tent-like green house on one side, no windows on the other three sides, and circular platforms sticking out on all sides from the roof deck.

Haus des Meeres from the outside
Haus des Meeres from the outside

That’s because the building was repurposed – it was originally an anti-aircraft and gun tower during WWII, with a radar that could be lowered into the concrete tower and protected. The round platforms on all four sides on the roof deck was where the aircraft guns stood.

The idea of turning the building into an aquarium came about in the 1960s, and now the top deck offers great views of Vienna and the surrounding hills, and the 4,000 square meters, or 43,000 square feet of floor space inside house aquaria, terraria, and an aviary. Continue reading Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna