Today was an exciting and very enjoyable day. Andy, Jackalie and I loaded up in their car and took a trip to Pannohalma Abbey in Hungary. It was about a 2 hour drive, and took us through some interesting sights – particularly the old Austria-Hungary Border crossing. Due to the Schengen Agreement of 1985, border checks between most EU countries have been eliminated to allow for free travel for people and goods throughout the EU – There are exceptions, countries that are not in the Schengen Zone, (mostly Eastern Europe), but it has made travel much easier – no more middle of the night passport checks on the train, etc. However, the old check points are still there – probably just incase the EU agreement fails. But, anyway, back to the fun day we had.
We journeyed out to Gyor, Hungary and the Abbey – however, we did learn that the Abbey is a hotspot on Saturdays (I’m pretty sure in the time we were there we saw 7 bridal parties). Unfortunately, this meant much of the Abbey was closed, so we had a reduced tour from the original plan. We were able to see the Library (WOW!) and the museum area, as well as the magnificent gardens! The lavender fields were spectacular! That is where my picture entry for the On the Road with CCEF contest was taken. We drank their special drink, a carbonated water beverage with lavender syrup in it – it was quite refreshing. After the stroll through the gardens we visited an incredible glass gallery – the work this man did was absolutely gorgeous – I was so impressed, particularly at his restoration work of old stained glass. It was impressive, and almost so flawless you couldn’t tell he had done any restoration work at all. The Gallery was the Hefter Glass Gallery. After exploring the beautiful works of László Hefter we started on our interesting Hungarian adventure to get food – and failed. There were very few places to eat in Pannonhalma, and even in the neighboring town of Gyor we did not have much luck. Hungary shows signs of lingering depression, from years of occupation by the Germans and the the Russians, particularly in the rural area we were in. Our attempt was to find somewhere to grab a bite to eat, but there were very few options in that town, and the one restaurant we did find would not seat us (we aren’t sure if it was because we were Americans, or if the place was reserved for an event) either way, we decided to go on our way, and we headed to Lake Neusiedl, which Jackalie and Andy had tried to visit before, but had ended up on the reed side, so weren’t able to really see the lake, so we decided to give it another go, and had great success. Lake Neusidel, or the Neusiedler See is the the largest endorheic (a collection basin that doesn’t flow to the ocean) lake in Central Europe. As Austria doesn’t have an ocean front the town we visited, Podersdorf Am See seemed very similar to a beach town in the US, like Gulf Shores with the beach front parks, entertainment and dining establishments. There were plenty of vacation homes and places to stay, and everyone was riding around town on their bike. It felt almost like we were on a sea shore.
All said, by the end of our exploring at the abbey and around town, we climbed 29 sets of stairs today according to my fitbit – but the scenery, flowers and views were absolutely worth it!
After that, we headed back to Vienna, and had fun watching a movie. I have very much enjoyed my time with Jackalie and Andy, and I am so thankful that they let me come for a visit to this beautiful part of the world. I am off to catch an early train in the morning, and will explore Munich, including an emotional visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp, before catching my first night train to Berlin. I am not sure if I will have internet access this evening, so my post may be delayed.
Thank you all for following my blog, commenting on the pictures and sharing in this journey with me – it has been spectacular, and I cannot believe what all I have experienced in the past 11 days, with lots of great adventures to come.
I am uploading the pictures in one big batch (and some at a lower resolution) today (I’m out of space! :-/) – but please check out the pictures of the Library – it was fantastic! I also made two panoramas of the space: