Meet our cab driver to the Vienna train station: 74 years old, trim build and white hair, Ray Bans as shiny as his silk tie and grey mercedes cab – suit pants but no jacket. Too warm. He is Armenian-but the Turks killed his family and he and Mom fled to Iraq. He married an Iraqi woman and moved to Vienna to go to school at age 22. He considers himself Austrian, as his wife and son do and are. He knows world history in detail pretty much from the Coptic Christians forward – he is Armenian Christian. His sisters, nieces and nephews live in Canada, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Paris and Armenia.He is a content man, other than simply and utterly failing to see any sense in history’s wars political or religious.
Our last big train ride took us from Vienna to Prague in the Czech Republic. The countryside was dazzling – rolling hills with quaint villages, vineyards, corn fields and sunflowers. Every shade of green and brown painted the horizon. the continent-wide harvest continues.
We arrived in the city center of Prague after dark. It was brilliantly lit up highlighting the best of the best. The only gremlin was the blazing lights of the souvenir shops and the hordes of people.
We have awarded the architectural style points to Prague – no doubt about it. Perhaps the souvenir shops will give way in the future, or perhaps they are as historically proper as the rest of the old city, which is eye-catching and large-both sides of the river.
This picture continues into medieval villages with smaller castles and picture – book bridges and houses.
We have some family with historic connections here, so we followed their suggested itinerary. At the palace I dropped the name to no avail – they said everyone claims to be related in hopes of a free night in the royal suite. Lobkowicz Beer, made since 1477, was, however, readily available and quite tasty with goulash or sausages and sour cabbage (or chocolate cake).
We could relax here, but four days is enough and, quite frankly, we are like a couple of kids and excited to get to Spain. So tonight is our first flight in 40 days to Madrid via Brussels. Tomorrow we take a train to Salamanca, look for a house and head out as soon as possible to San Jean Pied de Port,France to start the walk (the Way of St. James or El Camino de Santiago).