When Emilie purchased our train passes, we opted to buy the 5-day, 3 country pass, for the countries of Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Even though we were overseas for more than a week, and we left our schedule pretty loose, we were busy, and had a hard time fitting everything in. All I know is that I wanted to go to the Czech Republic. So we made it work.
Thursday, November 11: We boarded the train in Vienna for Brno, the 2nd largest city in the Czech Republic (Prague being the 1st.) Our rail passes were for 1st class, but for some reason, we missed out on the 1st class car on this part of the ride. I don't want to be a snob or anything, but boy, 1st class is the way to go.
This was the longest train hauling cars that I have ever seen. Seriously, it went on for as far as the eye could see.
It was a beautiful day in Brno! The sun was a welcome relief after a few cloudy days in Budapest and Vienna.
We came across a farmer's market, so we decided to see what was for sale. I learned the one word in Czech that I will never forget: cibule, which is an onion.
I liked the combination of modern and traditional architecture shown here.
After wandering around for a bit, we stopped at a pizza place. We got this amazing pizza, shown below. The Czechs know how to make some good pizza pie!
At one point we noticed three things:
1. Everyone was converging into a main square, as there was a wine festival taking place. What's not to like about that?
2. We also noticed, at about the same time, that there was a high level of very good looking men in Brno.
3. And the last thing? Women who dyed their hair red had all chosen a very interesting shade of red. Definitely not a natural shade.
We weren't in Brno very long - maybe 4 hours. But it was enough to know that it would be worth coming back to Brno at some point in the future.
And then we hopped on the train and went back to Vienna...it felt like coming home. Which was good, as we were leaving again the next morning for Graz, and needed to rest for a bit.
Friday, November 12: Today was the day we were heading to southern Austria to visit Emilie's family. Her cousin Amy, lives there, along with her husband and two girls: Isabella (9), and Sophia (6). This was a much-needed break to visit with other people, as we had run out of things to say to each other. And at this point, I was missing being around Ava, so I was craving some kid-time. Plus it's always nice to experience a new place from a local perspective.
On the train...unfortunately, pictures don't do the Austrian Alps justice.
This reminded me of Northern Minnesota with the pine trees.
There is a department store that had been recently renovated, and they were serving drinks on the roof. What a great introduction to the area!
This is Sophia. She and I bonded very quickly...and she reminded me so much of Ava (4 years in the future), she instantly had a special place in my heart.
One of the trees the town will decorate for Christmas - it was huge! That's Isabella and Sophia in front.
That night we had dinner at the restaurant by the Schlossberg (clock tower). Another amazing view of Graz (which I wasn't able to capture in images), and a ton of steps to walk down to get to the bottom.
Unfortunately, I don't have any more pictures from our time there. I was having too much fun hanging out. We didn't do much...we went to the Spar (grocery store), and just enjoyed our time at their home. We played with the girls, we chatted, we ate, we relaxed. It was perfect. I was sad to board the train to go back to Vienna later on Saturday afternoon. But, I will always look back on my time in Graz with some awesome memories...(and a few new friends on Facebook!)