I began writing this note in Prague, a city of sandstone buildings, cathedrals, palaces, eye-catching graffiti and wide bridges – during my eclectic European tour with Insight Vacations. Our overnight accommodation ranged from the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel, an architectural treasure in Prague, to the renaissance splendour of Hotel Růže (The Rose) in Český Krumlov, a former 16th century Jesuit monastery and university that ranks among the most charming boutique hotels I have ever encountered.
From there we went on to Vienna, through the valley of the Danube, with stops at the Domane Wachau winery and the Palais Auersperg where the resident orchestra performed music of Mozart and Strauss during a private concert. It was at the Auersperg, where a six-year-old Mozart leapt into the lap of the Empress Maria Theresia; where the Emperor Franz Josef danced with his wife Sisi; and where part of the Hitchcock movie The Third Man was filmed. Our next stop was Budapest – my favourite city of the three – which is accessible in a way Vienna’s grandeur makes impossible. and where the streets were filled with strudel houses and lively markets.
As darkness descended on Budapest, the city’s lights began to shimmer as we sailed down the Danube while enjoying (appropriately) a delicious dinner of Hungarian goulash. We marvelled at the many beautifully illuminated landmarks along the way including the stately 19th century parliament building, with its soaring dome and neo-gothic towers.
Our last night was spent at Gundel, Budapest’s most famous restaurant dating to 1894, and serving traditional Hungarian fare. Inside this elegant Art Deco building, walls are adorned with works by 19th-century Hungarian painters. Finding hidden treasures is what I love to do when I travel!
At BOLD magazine, we believe that passport stamps and miles logged in the air and on the ground are key metrics to a life well lived. From what you, our readers, have shared with us, trying new restaurants, tasting regional flavours and visiting markets are increasingly important motivations when venturing abroad. And so we hope you get on your computer, iPhone or iPad in search of flavours, hunting for treasures, vitamin D and a dash of happiness.