Khertvisi Castle, Khertvisi, Georgia

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We left Vienna on August 4, originally intending to take a train to Copenhagen.  We'd bought our train tickets months in advance on a super sale online, and I printed out our boarding pass to take with us.  Upon closer inspection, these tickets we'd gotten only went as far as Hamburg, Germany, and we had to do a small amount of scrambling to find the connector ticket from Hamburg to Copenhagen.  It wasn't actually too much trouble--the biggest issue was trying to find a place to stay in Hamburg overnight, since we happened to be making our way through during the big Gay Pride weekend that draws in thousands of tourists.  

Once we'd ironed out all our hiccups, we boarded our train from Hamburg to Copenhagen, and a little way out of town, our train boarded a boat.

This is our train.  On a ferry.

Here we are, on our train, on a boat.  How weird is that?

We made it into Copenhagen and had an awesome few days wandering around the town, riding the public transit boat-bus, and eating lots of yummy pastries.

The town hall square in Copenhagen

Another view of the square, this time with an odd fountain!

I think I want a horn like that.  It looks like a Dr. Seuss creation

There was a lot of really beautiful architecture and pretty scenery in Copenhagen

But luckily, people didn't seem to take themselves too seriously (or at least the people at 7-11 didn't)

The old stock exchange building was one of my favorites, I think

But the harbor was cool, too

I kept pointing out cool wooden doorway signs/house numbers to Sam on this trip as potential woodworking projects for him to embark on when we get back to America and have a place to live

Inside the old fortress there was a windmill and a cannon.  There was other stuff, too, but these were so photogenic

A pretty garden near the Little Mermaid statue, which we saw in the pouring rain and which Sam took pictures of with his camera, and which I don't have on my computer.  

This statue/fountain was way cooler than the Little Mermaid, though. It's a viking goddess who turned her four sons into bulls to clear the land that became Copenhagen. 

The dome of the Marble Church

Boats in the canals

The view from our boat-bus (a public transit "bus" that just happens to be a boat that travels back and forth up and down the main canal)

More boats

An international sandcastle festival was going on in Copenhagen while we were there

The marble church on the outside

Big ships and big clouds

Sam on our boat-bus ride

And then a self portrait on the boat

...which prompted another passenger to offer to take a regular picture of us.  I think this one is worse than the self portrait because it lacks that whole "we're taking a self portrait! haha!"-ness

We spent a whole lot of time one day in Tivoli Park, one of Europe's oldest amusement parks

Towards evening, Sam got an ice cream named "Thor"

This ice cream cone consisted of chocolate ice cream and cookies and cream ice cream in a waffle cone, topped with soft serve ice cream, whipped cream, raspberry sauce, chocolate sprinkles and a giant chocolate-covered marshmallow.

Even though it was a tough task, Sam vanquished Thor on the field of battle.  The halls of Valhalla surely await

Tivoli lights up nicely at night

See how pretty!

After Copenhagen, we flew to Iceland for many more Viking-themed adventures... Stay tuned for more on that!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Vienna.  I was in Vienna for a week, while Sam was there for a month.  We went to Vienna for four days last summer, as part of our epic vacation through various parts of Europe and a side jaunt to Cairo.  That wasn't enough time.  A week wasn't enough time either, and Sam says that a month even felt too short.  

Vienna is tough to describe.  It's impossible to feel like you're taking the right pictures because everything there is so monumental.  I'd get out my camera and stare at a building, then turn slightly to the right, again and again until I'd turned the full circle, realizing that I'd need hundreds of photos to capture everything that was spectacular about the view, and even these wouldn't grasp it.  That said, all the beauty makes it easy to take good pictures.  It's just about trying to find the *right* picture that's tough.  

Here are a few of my not-so-worthy pictures from my week in Vienna.  I ended up not taking too many snaps because of the overwhelming feeling that all my attempts would be underwhelming.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

This is the main building of the Vienna University, where Sam studied

The university is just down around the inner ring road from the Rathaus, the city hall.  No word on whether or not there are rats there.

View of the Austrian Parliament building from the Rathaus gardens

Front of the Parliament

A very cool mosaic on the second floor of a shop along the main pedestrian mall

Roof of St. Stephen's cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral

One of St. Stephen's gargoyles

This clock apparently does a whole song-and-dance show at noon, but I wasn't there at noon

The church just outside Sam's dorm wasn't too shabby

We trekked out to the Wienerwald, which sadly doesn't mean "wiener world", but which means the Vienna woods.  It's a great park that we walked all around, hoping to see some wild boar.  No pigs, sadly, but we did get a sweeping view of Vienna, which is huge. 

We went out to the Prater Park in Vienna to walk around and ride some rides.  We didn't ride this carousel, but maybe we should have?  Anyways, it was propelled by real ponies.  Real ponies.  

Instead of the carousel, we rode this, which is apparently the tallest swings thing (what are these called?) in the world or Europe or Vienna or somewhere.  It was tall, and a very cool ride.

Sam may not have found Die Jurassic Park as entertaining as I did, but he posed for a picture in front of it like a sport

Because we rode the swings thing, we skipped the ferris wheel.  Seeing it made me want to watch The Third Man again.  

So, again, looking back at these pictures (and my others from Vienna), I'm unimpressed at my abilities to capture a city in images.  Can I just keep telling you all to visit all these places I've been? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Side trip to Bratislava

I made it to Vienna on Saturday, August 28 and was finally back with Sam.  Sam's mom, sister and brother were in Vienna to visit him and to take a nice European vacation, and we spent Sunday together enjoying the city, going to the Music House Museum (a very cool museum, if you're in Vienna), eating lots of delicious food, and watching the new Batman movie ('cause what else are you gonna do in Vienna?).  

On Monday, Sam was in classes for most of the day, trying to get a handle on the whole German thing (it's so weird for him to be studying a language that uses the Latin alphabet!), and the rest of us took a quick day trip to Bratislava, the capital city of neighboring Slovakia.  It was just a short 75-minute cruise down the Danube to reach Bratislava, and the ride alone would have been worth it, even without a very cool city to see on the other end.  

Some old ruins visible from the boat

Just before arriving at the dock in Bratislava, we passed under this bridge, with statues that I mistook for jumpers from further away

The same bridge, from a bit further away

We got a great view of the Bratislava Castle from the river

Our boat!

We docked and then took a speed-walking tour of the city (European 24-hour timetables caused some confusion in purchasing tickets, so we only had a couple of hours in Bratislava before having to board again back to Vienna).  We could have easily enjoyed ourselves in Bratislava for many more hours or days, but it was nice to get a quick taste of another great city.

The National Theater building in one of the town's main squares, lined with lots of restaurants and cafes down the pedestrian boulevard that runs in front of it

Heather and I managed a decently successful self portrait on my camera before she showed me that her iPhone lets you see the picture you're trying to self-portrait.  Hers turned out better, but it seems like cheating to this self-portrait purist

Scott, scoping out the distances to various other cities from this particular spot in Bratislava

Cool statue and cool church.  Not sure what they're called.  There was no time for learning names of things.

I have no idea why that statue was adorned with a hat, but it was.

This guy's hat might have been cooler, though.  I don't think I would have felt very comfortable sitting on that bench for long.  Would you?

Bratislava's old town is really beautiful, and wonderfully pedestrian friendly

In our last few minutes in Bratislava, we decided to try to hike up the hill to the castle (which we could see best from the river).  We got quite the workout in doing so, between the stairs, and the hill, and the sprinting to make it there and back before the boat departed.  It was definitely worth it, though, for the view and to see the castle closer up.  If (when) I go back to Bratislava someday, I'm going to definitely take a tour of this castle.  It looks so cool!

Almost there (puff puff puff)

Turned around view from in front of that gate above.  We walked up a pretty steep hill to get here!

The view of the Danube from the castle.  The river forms the border between Austria and Slovakia here.

A building inside the castle and part of the castle wall

Main castle building

Ceiling inside the gate

Walking back down the hill to make it to our Vienna-bound boat, which we did indeed catch

It was a short trip, one that I had not planned on before coming to Vienna, but one that I am very glad to have taken.  Sam's family did some amazing things during their central Europe trip.  In addition to really doing Vienna justice and seeing tons of museums and sights there, they also went to Bratislava, Slovakia; Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; and Salzburg, Austria.  They got their money's worth on this vacation, I think!