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Democracy Road - Austria

Topdeck Travels.

sunny 26 °C
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16 July- Budapest continued....
In the evening Cara and I switched to hotel accommodation (score!) to join the 10day Democracy Road trip operated by Topdeck. We were joining the ‘Discover Europe” trip on day 17 of their journey. In hindsight I wouldn’t do this again (joining another tour half way through) as everyone on the bus had already formed their groups and friendships. It seemed much more isolating then the Busabout ones. Plus, because it was the hotel style trip, it attracted more couples that tended to stick with themselves anyway. Lucky I had a travel buddy with me too.

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By the 18th July, we finally left Hungry and headed to Vienna, Austria.
Vienna – the home of Redbull and Weiner schnitzel, but certainly not Kangaroos.

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After we got dropped off OUTSIDE of the provided map, Cara and I spent part of the morning getting lost and trying to navigate the Austrian metro system. As we found out, a lot less people speak English here so a lot of pointing and one worded sentences ensued. Haha
We managed to successfully make our way back into town. We were so happy with ourselves when we made it back to Karlsplatz station, that we took a photo to prove it!

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Vienna is undoubtedly also the home of classical music - Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Strauss have all had their compositions proudly premiered here. We had the opportunity to put on dresses and some makeup and see a traditional Viennese Chamber Orchestra play a concert in one of the palaces, but not before we indulged in a 3 course dinner complete with wine and waiters. This was such a novelty after the last however long eating street food. How cultured.

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(ps I am so incredibly tanned!)
I needed a lot more time in Vienna to really enjoy it.

Posted by KylieClark 14:52 Archived in Austria Tagged budapest vienna austria hungary topdeck Comments (0)

Democracy Road - Czech Republic

Topdeck travels


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Today we watched “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” in transit to the Mauthausen concentration camp. As a visual learner, this movie made the experience even more real and emotive before we even arrived. It was then coupled with my past experience of Auschwitz/Birkenau a few weeks prior and a documentary video once we got inside that showed real footage of how the Jews were treated, starved to death and just dumped on top of one another into the backs of trucks. It really made me feel sick- especially on approach to, and in, the actual gas chambers. I swear there are a lot of lost souls hanging out in there still crying out for help.

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A lot of reflection happened this day.

To get back to the bus we had to descend down the “stairs of death.” Being as unknowledgeable as I was prior to this trip, I used to call the stairs at Kangaroo Point Cliffs in Brisbane the stairs of death during my exercise sessions… little did I know that there actually was such a thing. The stairs of death were 186 steep steps behind Mauthausen that lead down to a quarry. The prisoners were forced to carry blocks of stone up to 50kgs from the quarry back to camp- one behind the other. Most of the prisoners were unfit due to malnutrition, poor living conditions and hard labour so many of them collapsed with exhaustion which then created a horrific domino effect with the first prisoner falling onto the next and so on. I have never referred to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs as the ‘stairs of death’ since.

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With the day’s events still very fresh in my mind, by evening I somehow found myself back in Prague marveling at the prettiness of the gothic masterpieces, the castle district and the Charles Bridge. It ended with my first taste of Absynthe and the attendance at Prague’s famous 5 story nightclub. I’m not much of a clubber myself, but this place was great. Each level had different types of music playing from techno to the 60s and 70s. They also had a room which was completely covered in mirrors that laser lights reflected off- I was like a kid in a candy shop in this room talk about an awesome sensory overload!... I never did see the green fairy though :)
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In the morning, Cara and I hiked the million miles and up a hill to see the changing of the guard, admire the view and do some general touristing.

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Posted by KylieClark 15:04 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged prague nazi czechrepublic concentrationcamp Comments (0)

Democracy Road - Germany

Topdeck Travels

sunny 26 °C
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Saturday is here and we are headed to Berlin, Germany for a few days. A stop in Dresden first though which has basically rebuilt itself since being demolished in World War II. Complete with restored Renaissance buildings and communist Ampelmännchen (German for “Little traffic light man”).

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Upon arrival to Berlin we did a drive by of the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, the Victory Monument and the Brandenberg Gate. We also got to see what’s left of the fallen Berlin Wall. Berlin is also home to the first set of traffic lights and plumbing/gas pipes above ground that leads to an interesting landscape.

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We did a Third Reich walking tour which supposedly took us to where Hitler’s bunker was. It also took us through the Holocaust Memorial. This is a memorial for the ‘murdered Jews of Europe.’ Its a 4.7 acre site that has a grid of over 2000 concrete slabs that vary in size and length. The place where it is located is also sloped. Apparently the designer was hoping to recreate the confusion and sense of being lost that the Jews may have felt during this time. I think he succeeded after having walked through the memorial – all of us were asked to go diagonal through the site to meet the guide at the other side. We all started at the same point but I don’t think any of us came out at the same place at the other end.

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Posted by KylieClark 15:28 Archived in Germany Tagged germany dresden berlin topdeck Comments (0)

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