Our first tour of Europe! Standing in the heart of Paris in the enormous Place de la Concorde (home of the guillotine, Revolution and Enlightenment). On this trip, we will visit Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, Venice, Florence, Rome and Cinque Terre.
Unusual fountain in Place Igor-Stravinsky, discovered as we walked to our hotel.
Eiffel Tower the following afternoon. Our off-season approach doesn't work as we end up in a huge crowd on All Saints' Day, a French holiday.
Despite the long wait, the view from the top is worth it.
The Left Bank of the Seine River.
Looking straight down.
For fans of huge classical paintings, the Louvre is wonderful. The crowds weren't bad for most of the art galleries because they all crowded around the Mona Lisa.
One of the many amazing sculptures.
Notre-Dame, which only took 180 years to build (imagine a large construction project being completed now that was started in 1830!). Back then churchgoers were illiterate, so the emphasis on communication was non-verbal: incredible architecture, stained glass windows, etc.
Beautiful Seine River on a cool November day.
Fall foliage in the middle of Paris.
Cannons and a moat guarding Hotel Invalides (a huge 1600s structure built by Louis XIV for disabled war veterans, not a hotel as we know it).
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, which has tombs for Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Proust and Balzac...and of course Jim Morrison (it was the one with the crowd of Americans around it).
Juggler (with goldfish) in Place de la Bastille, the square made famous by the storming of a prison during the French Revolution.
Another view of Notre-Dame as sunset approaches. The following morning we use our Eurail Pass to take us north to Holland.
During a lunch stop in Belgium, we enjoy the incredible architecture of de grote Markt (or Grand Place) in the heart of Brussels.
Our two days in Amsterdam are an adventure of dodging bicycles, cars and trams, doing some unusual window shopping, and enjoying the two main museums (the Van Gogh museum was a highlight of the entire trip).
Train ride up the Rhine Valley (that's another train on the opposite bank).
Two of the many castles along the river.
We stay overnight in the scenic town of Rudesheim at a small B&B.
Our plan to spend three nights in Germany is cut short by a pending train strike. We escape to Vienna, Austria.
Winter arrives early.
Schonbrunn Palace, home of the Habsburg dynasty...and I mean dynasty. At various times from 1282 to 1918, they ruled Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Mexico and the Holy Roman Empire. Even Marie Antoinette was a Habsburg (Habsburg Kings married their daughters to foreign rulers so they wouldn't start wars against the family).
We leave modern Vienna to journey behind the former Iron Curtain, into the Czech Republic. Cold snowy weather adds to the Doctor Zhivago ambiance.
Prague is wonderful! This is our favorite city so far on the tour.
Site of the inspiring Velvet Revolution in late November 1989, where a half-million peaceful citizens gathered in the immense square of the New Town, part of mass street protests that led to the resignation of the Communist regime.
One of dozens of very scenic shopping streets in the Old Town.
Colorful subway in this modern, pleasant, affluent city.