Author Topic: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report  (Read 1337 times)

Offline Ellen

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Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« on: August 15, 2019, 06:03:17 PM »
I know its a been a while since this trip, but perhaps this can still be of help to people.
Note: I originally wrote a long introduction, but to certain reasons decided to skip it on this forum, instead delving right in!
Also, I didn't yet figure out how to add pictures, and don't have the time now, but maybe later on.

Enjoy!

Trip Part 1- Switzerland

Day 1: Titlis with a short stop in Zurich

We arrived in Zurich on time, at approx. 10:30am, picked up our rental car, and headed out for the 2 hour drive to Mt. Titlis.
We enjoyed watching the cows grazing the fields, spotted by chalet-style houses with colorful flowers in the windows, and the more-than-occasional parasailer, along the way.
The views from Mt. Tiltis are magnificent. Hashem blessed us with superb weather; clear, but with fluffy clouds, and cool, but with a strong sun.
The revolving chairlift allowed us to get panoramic views of the ascend. This was the first time we saw snow in the summer so the neflous haBora was evident.
Once on top, we walked the snowy paths to the Bridge. As someone who loves heights, this was magical. We enjoyed the glacier cave, did some scenery-gawking, and another, this time open, chairlift and headed back to the city, once again enjoying the views.
After stopping in the city for Mincha and some food, we headed back to the airport to catch our 9pm flight to VIENNA!

Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 02:23:58 PM »
Is there interest in this without pictures?

Offline ludmila

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 04:56:13 PM »
Is there interest in this without pictures?
Sure, looking forward to read the rest.
I was the Best,still the Best, and will always be the Best.
Pele Good,Maradona Better, George Best.

Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2019, 06:46:36 PM »
Trip Part 2- Vienna

Days 2-3: Vienna

We arrived in Vienna late at night on Thursday. A family member picked us up from the airport and drove us to the apartment we were staying at. (They arranged it for us.)
We have been to Vienna a few years ago, visiting family, and we toured the city then. This time we were just there for Shabbos so not much to say.
Friday, my husband went with some family members to Bratislava to pick up a rental car (much cheaper to rent from there) and they stopped in at the Chasam Sofer also.
Shabbos we just hung around with our relatives and caught up on some sleep….
Motze Shabbos we were busy repacking our suitcases, preparing for our tomorrow’s departure to…the Austrian Alps!

A note about this part of the trip: It was incredibly hot in Europe while we were there, especially in the city. For someone coming from the US/Israel, Europe is so, so left behind in their A/C systems. Also, as is typical in Europe, all stores are closed on Sunday (except for maybe some food stores, open half a day).

Day 4:
Sunday morning we realized that we needed some toiletries as in the Alps we were gonna be in a self-catered place with our family which did not provide anything except linen. We went to the nearest pharmacy (BIPA wouldn’t been more suited to our needs, but was closed). So officially its closed, but you can speak to the storekeeper through a window and she brings you what you need. It was so ridiculous. There we were, standing on line, behind about 5 other people, melting in the 95 deg heat, while the pharmacist is running back and forth helping a customer at a time. We got to hear everyone’s stomachaches….

After the pharmacy, we headed out for our 6+/- hour drive to Wald im Pinzgau, Austria.


Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 10:00:33 AM »
Part 3- Pinzgau

Day 4: Sunday
The drive from Vienna to the Alps took us approximately 6 hours including gas/bathroom stops. Now, most gas stations with not allow you to use the WC unless you pay. This posed a bit of a problem as we did not change money so we literally didn’t have cash. we somehow had about 2 EUR so that was enough for 4 bathroom uses. Most places had a machine where you put the coin and it prints out a coupon for the same amount, which you can use as a voucher, for gas. Then you can enter. One place, however, had a little old lady sitting in the bathroom area, with a table and a woven basket where I had to put in the coins. And she was very strict about it. No using the bathroom otherwise!
I’ll try to describe the place we were staying at. Basically a big house, but it had a private bathroom for every bedroom, which made it feel a bit more hotel-like. It had a commercial kitchen, a bar, a lounge (which we used as a shul), and a tremendous porch with glass railings overlooking a valley. Across the valley we were able to spot the Krimmel Wasserfalle, the biggest waterfall in Europe IIRC. The décor of the place was cedar colored wood, etc as is common in the mountains in Europe.
It was a family trip, with relatives from a few countries joining, totaling over 40 people including kids.
We had a truck with food and supplies for the next week, so the night was spent helping to unpack all the pantries (which took quite a while considering the amount of food/supplies we had), kashering the kitchen, and a “Hachnosas Sefer Torah” in the “shul” (lounge) for the Torah we brought along. We grilled food for supper and headed to bed.

Day 5: Monday- Zillertal Arena
We took the chairlift up, enjoying gorgeous views on the way. Once up there was this all-wood huge playground. The kids enjoyed the actual slides, etc. while the adults made own fun. (Example: going on swings, seesaws, turny things, and other silly stuff which we hadn’t done in years…) It was the company and watching the kids enjoy that was the main attraction. There were also hammocks in the woods to relax.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the Alpine Coaster.

Day 6: Tuesday- Wildkogel Arena
Again, chairlift up, enjoyed the stunning mountain views. Once up, we did an extreme hike, literally not breathing, all the while sweating buckets, to a point even higher up. Once up the efforts paid off, the view from there was really something.
After that, the kids played in the playground. We took walks with them to get some hands-on interaction with the free roaming cows.
Instead of going back down with the chairlift, we zoomed down with Mountain Go Carts. This is not for the faint of heart as the paths are not gated. The ride is steep, curvy, and a sort of gravel, making it dusty and bumpy. Awesome!

Day 7: Wednesday – Großglockner
Don’t have much to say about this trip. It was a very curvy drive up the mountain, with places to stop on the way. Think lakes, gift shops, etc. Once up, there was a nice view of snow-capped mountains and what I think was supposed to be a glacier somewhere. The was a short hike up where you can’t go with a car anymore. I didn’t join the hike so I am not sure about the details of that. (I think there was a glass building there with some stuffed real animals and more randomness)

Day 8: Thursday
It was a rainy, cloudy Thursday. The family was staying in the place, resting up from the week, preparing for Shabbos; kids were doing arts n crafts. We decided to try to visit the Krimml waterfall as we were leaving on Sunday and the family had it planned for later in the week. We set the GPS and headed out. Alas, it was not meant to be. We ended up in what I think was, but hope not, private property on some unpaved narrow road. We took some pictures and went back to the place. After that we joined the family for cow-milking at the farm down the road.

Day 9: Friday - Wildkogel Arena Again
Some of the men wanted to use the mikva before Shabbos so they drove about an hour to Hinterglemm. Meanwhile, the women and kids returned to Wildkogel for a different activity. This time it was the chairlift up and rutsche down! It is a trail (not good for strollers) where you walk a bit and then you reach a slide. They are long and curvy, some covered, some not. Really fun. Ironically, some of the children were quite scared! “Scared? Of a slide?” I know! Shocking!

Day 10: Shabbos
Just indescribable! Eating Shabbos seuda outdoors overlooking the mountains, together with extended family…. Ah! Just fabulous!

Day 11: Headed to Hungary!
Sunday morning we got up early to drive back to Vienna to return the car and catch our 5:40pm train to Budapest. We got into the city early enough (or so we thought…) to “chap” a fresh pizza in Prego. Jewish Vienna was deserted then. Everybody goes to the mountains. There wasn’t even a minyan that day. We placed our order for the pizza, chose drinks, and sat down to wait… Now, being that we are from NY, we are not used to the out-of-town we-make-it-fresh-as-soon-as-you-order idea. It took a while for the food to be ready, and the clock was ticking, but finally we got it, ate, and headed to the Hauptbahnhof. Once there, we were circling the place, searching for the car-rental-return. We literally had no clue where to go. At the same time, the clock was showing 5:30, 5:35 and even if we find the place RIGHT NOW, we still need time to gather our luggage and go upstairs and figure out which platform to get to…. At that point, I was oh-so grateful that I bought the time-transferrable ticket for a few euro more….
Finally, we just entered the regular parking lot and found the car return there. BTW, there was not a single garbage can in the parking lot. Having used the car for a week, we had some things to dispose of before exiting the car, but alas, we were forced to litter….. ☹
Finally getting upstairs, we take a look at the timetable and lo and behold, our train was delayed!!!! We still had to wait about half hour. Finally train arrived and we were off to Hungary!
A note about the long distance trains: we were told by the locals that the long distance trains are gorgeous, very comfortable and have proper air conditioning… We got on the train, and nothing doing. Only when the train finally started moving did the air go on. At every stop, the air shut off once again. We arrived around 9ish at Budapest-Keleti.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 10:04:50 AM by Ellen »

Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2019, 03:52:53 PM »
Trip Part 4- Hungary

Day 12: Hungary
After shachris and breakfast we headed out with a relative to tour the city. First stop was the glamorous Dohány Street Synagogue. After that we stopped in at the Chabad Shul just to say hi to the locals. Then we headed toward Buda passing the busy Váci Utca (Váci Street). Somewhere along the way, there were some tenty things set up by the government where workers were giving out free water. In bags! They were equipped with scissors to snip the edge for you so you can drink right out of it! Super strange! But hey, welcome to Hungary. We crossed the famous bridge between Buda and Pest, arriving at the foot of the Fisherman’s Bastion. One can either walk, take the rail car, or a shuttle up the hill. It was too hot to do the walk up, and the rail had a really long line, so we took the shuttle. Once we reached the top, we took some panoramic shots of the city, refilled our water bottle from a spout that I’d venture to say is from before WWI (but hey, it was dripping cold water!), and passed the President’s house. While passing, the Changing of the Guards was just beginning, so we stopped to watch that. Took about 3 minutes and was pretty cool.
We headed back to the apartment to pack up our things for our next stop, Ukraine. Our plan was to stop in Kerestir on the way and have supper there.

Passing the border from Hungary to Ukraine is a mini nightmare. We were lucky our driver was experienced with it, otherwise we might’ve still been waiting there. We finally crossed into Ukraine after mid-night. Interesting to note that the date of my entry stamp from Ukraine is a day after my exit stamp from Hungary… We were waiting so long in no-man’s land…


Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2019, 03:53:34 PM »
Part 5- Ukraine

Day 13: Tuesday
We stayed in Mukachevo. We visited the Jewish Cemetery there. The Minchas Elazer of Munkatch is buried there. We walked around the place; the marketplace bearing delicious fresh fruits as in common in these hicktowns. There is an “Amusement Park” somewhere there with a Ferris Wheel that my grandma still remembers from her times… I think we were the only people in the entire park, except for someone cutting the grass. They started the ride specially for us. Each car has 2 half-circle shaped benches with a canopy and a wheel in the middle that you can use to turn the entire car. The cars are not enclosed and get locked with a little string that you can just open and jump out if you so prefer. The rickety ride was quite a thrill.
Later on, we drove out to a few little towns where some grandparents are buried. The streets are more potholed than not.
Somewhere along the drive, we stopped to at a gas station. After the guy there confirmed that there’s WC in the back, I went to take a look. As I’m coming up there, I see a little shed?garage?building? with 2 doors, one of them totally covered in leaves (poison ivy?). I opened the door and was greeted to !!!! A concrete floor with a hole in the middle! No windows either so good luck in there when you close the door!!! Just as a note, this gas station was really in the middle of nowhere, just fields for miles around. Maybe I should give them a bit of a benefit of the doubt?!?
Later we drove to Bishtene, to the kever of Reb Mordchele of Nodvorna. There’s a nice (newly built) shul there as well.
For supper we went to the Chabad Rabbi in Uzhorod who was hosting another family as well. We visited the old shul (today it’s owned by the government, I believe) and drove back to Mukachevo. Just as a by the way, Uzhorod has loose dogs roaming the place and barking loudly, not very pleasant.
As we were leaving Uzhorod, the car started making strange noises…

Day 14: Wednesday
Right in the morning, the car was dropped at the mechanic. A part was severely damaged from all the potholes we covered.
Having no car, we sought other activities. Now, Mukachevo is very “updated”. They have a version of a “mall”. Basically a 2-story building that has escalators(!) and some junk stores. On the second floor they have a bowling alley with some pool tables so we hung out there for a bit.
After that we took a taxi to the Palanok Castle, a few minutes’ drive away. The taxi had 2 amazing features which are not common in the states; a. no A/C, b. windows that you literally “roll down” with a handle. Good memories of the old times…. We didn’t actually find the castle itself so interesting, but, as it is built from stone, it happened to have been quite cool compared to the outside temperatures of about 95 deg F. Did I mention it was hot? Interesting: the torture chamber and a big well. There was actually a room (we needed to ask them to unlock it) in memory of the Jews of Mukachevo who were killed in the Holocaust. They had lists of all the people who were taken away and some pictures of Jewish life before the war. I’d venture to say that was the most interesting part of the castle. Oh, and the views were pretty good also. There’s an outdoor deck to view all the surrounding areas, and we were able to see pretty far.
We went back to the city and did some shopping; things are cheap there.
Finally, the mechanic called that the car is ready.
We drove back to Budapest, arriving very late after sitting at the border again for hours.


Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2019, 03:53:55 PM »
Part 6- Back to Hungary and departure

Day 15: Thursday: BUD-ZRH-NYC
We got a few short hours of shut-eye before the alarm went off, signaling that we must get ready to leave for the airport.
Our flight back home left at around 9am!


All in all we had an amazing time trekking through Eastern Europe.


Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2020, 05:22:25 PM »
Here are some photos of this trip.
Switzerland






Offline Ellen

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Re: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine 2018 Trip Report
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2020, 05:28:26 PM »
Austria
Sunday- Driving from Vienna to Pinzgau area. Mountains starting to peek out


Monday

Mountain coaster