We celebrated the end of 2013 by taking a nice long vacation to visit Prague and Krakow. As this was a long drive, we divided the trip to various stops to make it fun and not as tiring. We took a drive to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Although initially this was just a stopover, we actually really enjoyed this city. It has a nice castle, overlooking the city.
Lo and behold, doing some walking downtown we stumbled into the "honorary" consulate of Costa Rica. We just had to take a picture of Silvia and I there.
We the drove to one of our primary targets: Prague. Julie and I had heard about how beautiful this city is, and we were happy to see that people were right. It reminds us a lot of Budapest in some ways. Personally, I find the riverfront to be prettier in Budapest, but the series of Palaces/Castles to be bigger and better preserved in Prague. They are both beautiful cities.
We took the kids also to this park that has an old "house of mirrors" which was really fun.
This park also had a smaller replica of the Eiffel Tower, from which you get an awesome view of Prague. It is truly a beautiful scene.
After a couple of days in Prague, we then drove to our next destination: Krakow, Poland. Again, we had heard a lot about this city. It has a pretty old downtown with a castle.
While in Krakow, we had the great opportunity of taking a day drive to Auschwitz, the sad location of the infamous concentration camp. It is now a museum in which they've preserved the history very well. For a very good price, we had a guided tour which really gave us a background story. To make it even more haunting, the day was cold and foggy.
This part of the concentration camp is where the entrance from the train is located. Many movies have this location as an important scene.
We spent the New Year in Krakow and the city was full of festivities. They had a live concert and they had lots of food vendors. It was great fun for all of us.
Here are Julie and Silvia, enjoying a hot and tasty glass of Gluhwein, which is a mulled wine very typical of the whole region.
We drove down south to the town of Zakopane for a little skiing. It had not yet snowed enough for the season, so it was mostly with artificially-made snow. Nevertheless, we had fun and the kids cemented their skiing skills.
Finally, heading back south, we stopped in Budapest for one night to rest. We still had to go to our favorite restaurant there: The 100 Year Old Restaurant. It has delicious typical Hungarian food and they have live gipsy music in the evenings.
As we approach our final months in this region, we are starting to get a little nostalgic. It is a beautiful part of the world with intricate history and great people.