Tag Archives | couple fights

Best places to Kiss in Venice

Thy sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest!
White phantom city, whose untrodden streets
Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting
Shadows of palaces and strips of sky;

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “Venice”

For traveling couples, visiting Venice, Italy is a dream come true.   There are few places that rival the magic that Venice works on lovers.  You have your tickets purchased.  Now what?  How can you make your visit to the City of Bridges match your romantic expectations?  The Fighting Couple is ready and here to help.  The following our some of our best couple travel ideas for your Venice adventure.

Gondola Driver in Venice

Gondola Driver in Venice

Venice Gondola ride

Ok…lets get the easy one out of the way.  As you likely know, the Fighting Couple hates spending money on really touristy type things.  Couple travel is expensive!  Taking a gondola ride in Venice is just that.   With that said…shell out the Euros and take your sweetie on a ride.  (The official cost for a 40-minute gondola ride is €80 and €100 after 7pm).   It’s just money.  Isn’t your lover worth it?  You don’t need a reservation.  Just show up, agree on price and time you want, and bon voyage!

La Fenice Opera House, Venice, Italy

La Fenice Opera House, Venice, Italy

La Fenice during Intermission

Located in the heart of Venice is the wonderful Fenice Opera House.  The Fenice or Phoenix is appropriately named, it has been built and burnt down twice.  Today’s version is a result of a 90 million euro renovation.  It is stunning.  Enjoy the first two acts of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.  Take your lover by the hand, look into each other’s eyes and capture a kiss.  (Don’t wait till the opera ends….it doesn’t end well.  Sorry to ruin it.)  Tickets and info: www.teatrolafenice.it/site/index.php

Slow Dance on St. Mark’s Square at sunset

This one is our fave!  The square is lined by restaurants that waft their culinary delights into the salty air.  The lights dim.  The notes of a lonely accordion linger in the distance.  The perfect recipe for love!

If you need some advice on how to kiss…please read our instructions:  How to Kiss Correctly.

Find a lonely alley in the Dorsoduro district-

Next to the Grand Canal is a wonderful section of Venice, the Dorsoduro district.  There are a number of meandering alleys with wonderful shops and coffee stands.  Spend a warm afternoon going from shop to shop.  Take your camera as there are some wonderful mansions and Palazzos to take in.  This area of Venice is often called the “real” Venice.  It is home to the Galleria Dell’ Academia and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.  Both of these sites are must sees for anyone venturing to Venice.

Stroll across the Rialto Bridge

Find your own Casanova and then follow the original Casanova’s footsteps across the Rialto Bridge.  The Bridge is one of the most recognizable icons of the water city.  Climb to the apex and watch the boats below.   It can be a bit crowded at times, it is best to get your pictures early.

St. Mark's Bell tower

St. Mark’s Bell tower

St Mark’s Campanile Bell Tower

One of the best ways to take in the grand city is atop the bell tower of St. Marks.  Perched  99 metres above the square, you can look over the red roofs of the entire city.  Pull you lover close as the cool ocean breezes tussle your hair.  The views offered from the top are truly breathtaking.  Taking the stairs will help you burn off some of that wonderful Italian gelato.  For more info on St. Marks.

Italian Food

A yummy creation at Harry’s. Venice, Italy

Harry’s Dolci

Are you looking for a romantic restaurant away from the hustle and bustle?  We have the perfect place for you and you sweet heart.  Take the water bus across the bay to the Hilton.  Turn left after walking off the boat and head to Harry’s Dolci.  This is a Fighting Couple’s fave haunt.  The last time we were in Venice we went there twice for dinner!  What to order you ask?  If it’s on the menu, it is going to be good.  Don’t miss their bruschetta.  YUM!  Of course eating is the second best thing you can do with your lips at Harry’s.  It’s Amore!

Ok, now go and book your tickets to Venice.  Pack your Brics Luggage, don’t forget to include a warm sweater.  Then follow our simple recipe for making the perfect romantic visit to Venice!  Send us your pictures!

Did we miss your favorite place in Venice?  Sorry.  Shoot us a quick comment below.  Enjoy Venice!

 

 

 

 

8

Two Days in Krakow

Are you looking for a city rich in history, a developing food scene, and salt?  Yes- we said salt.  Stay tuned.  Located in southern Poland, Krakow is the country’s third largest city and for some really good reasons it is the most visited by traveling couples and tourists.  In typical American fashion, we expected the city to be a dull cement laden tribute to Soviet occupation.  We could not have been more wrong!  The city has a number of interesting surprises in store for you.  We are going to show you Krakow Fighting Couple style top to bottom.  Lets start at the bottom…the very bottom:

Krakow salt mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine

Do you ever visit a place not really knowing what to expect?  We rolled up to the Wieliczka Salt Mine a few miles outside of Krakow with no idea what to expect.  First off queue up and purchase your admission ticket.  Once you have a ticket in hand everyone gathers in a large hall.  At the appointed time for your tour a guide leads you down the longest staircase that we have ever used!  You decent 135 meters or 450 feet below ground level.  Don’t worry about coming back up, you will take the elevator.

The Wieliczka salt mines have been in continuous operation for hundreds of years.  The result is huge caverns that have been converted into lakes, museums featuring statues made of salt rock and even a cathedral!  As you wander from room to room, you learn how the salt was mined and the lives of salt miners.  The salt mine ended up being one of our fave highlights from Krakow.  They have developed a really great interactive website:  http://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com/

Warning, if you visit the salt mine in the summer, and are summer attired, bring a jacket as the temp underground is massively different than the temp above.

The Wawel Royal Castle

At the heart of the city of Krakow is the striking hilltop complex called the Wawel Royal Castle.  You should start your exploration at the Wawel Cathedral.  It includes tombs of a number of key polish leaders and historical figures.  As a part of the tour you can purchase a bell tower pass.  Pay the money for this option!  The view from the top gives you a commanding vista of the entire town.  Next door to the cathedral is the Armory and a museum dedicated to Pope John Paul II.   Both are well worth the extra time.  They have a number of interesting personal belongings of the Pope.  You can see the entire castle compound in 2-3 hours.

orange dessert

Three Steps Into Madness!

Three Steps into Madness

Ok, we know, Krakow is not the first place that you think of when we say avant garde food.  But…. You must give our fave haunt a try: “Trzy kroki w szaleństwo” or if you don’t speak Polish: “Three steps into Madness”. (http://trzykroki.pl) The whole premise of the restaurant is to offer everything on the menu with a different angle.  The offer a selection of Soups, Salads and really creative entrees.  It is no wonder that TripAdvisor named it the best restaurant in all of Krakow.  Impressive.

The star of the show at Three Steps is of course the deserts.  Listen to these descriptions off their menu:

-Mousse from  Belgian  dark chocolate flavored with orange, ginger, piri-piri and vanilla from Madagascar served with coco Rafaello and Red Bull jelly.

-Classic lemon tart served with basil sorbet.

-Vanilla and chocolate  panna cotta with alcohol marinated cherries.

-And of course the feature, The “Three Steps into Madness” dessert.  Soooooo good!  It is a citrus and sorbet extravaganza.  The great thing about this work of art is that everything is edible.  Cool huh?

Hogwarts School (Jagiellonian University)

One of the most interesting places we visited was the  Jagiellonian University.  One of the oldest universities on the planet.  It was started by Casimir III the Great in 1364.  Some of the greatest minds of the middle ages came to this house of learning to study topic ranging from astronomy, mathematics, Latin and yes even potions!   We couldn’t help but feel like we were taking a tour of Hogwarts!  Even the ceiling is painted like the sky.  One of the most famous pupils that attended here was none other than Nicolaus Copernicus.  Tours are offered during the day and are highly recommended.  The school is still in use today!  What impressed us was the wonderful wood work and artifacts of former headmasters and students.  The entire tour and visit to the gift shop should take you 2-3 hours.

Hogwarts School (Jagiellonian University)

Hogwarts School (Jagiellonian University)

Schindler’s Factory

One of the saddest chapters in Krakow history is the treatment of Jews during WWII.  Oscar Schindler and his now famous factory was a small refuge from the death and destruction.  The former factory has now been converted into a living museum to help interpret the holocaust.  The museum is laid out well and uses multimedia stations to explain and convey what happened in Poland during the Nazi occupation.   As you can imagine, this museum is extremely popular and is often full to capacity with visitors.  It is best to time you visits in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds.  Hard to give you a solid time on how long it will take to see the museum.  You will need at very minimum 1 hour and you can easily spend 3 hours reading and seeing everything in the museum.

Schindler’s Factory

Schindler’s Factory

 

Isn’t Krakow wonderful?  A few surprises?  Ok so how are you going to get to there?   Bon Voyage!  See you in Poland!

10

What’s Inside the Fighting Couple’s Luggage?

The Fighting Couple gets asked a lot, “What products do you guys like to travel with?”  So we put this post together to give you a peek inside our travel bags and see first hand some of our favorite things.  Traveling as a couple, it is critical to travel with the right gear.  Being prepared can take a lot of the stress and worry out of the trip.  More importantly, having a little style as you travel will make the experience all the more rewarding.  So lets open the bags and show you our faves!

women's travel case

Mint and Pink Travel Case from Marble Hill Design Studio

A Girl’s Best Friend

They say that makeup bags come in all sizes and shapes.  We have not found this to be the case.  Either you have a super jumbo full on makeup “trunk,” or a mini compact holder that fits a stick of lipstick and a small brush.  We have finally found the solution, the Marble Hill Studio’s handmade “Mint and Pink Women’s Cosmetic Travel Bag.”  The bag’s ample size  10″ x 4′ x 6″, allows me to take all of my “girl gear” for a weekend or week-long with ease.  I can even fit my handy propane curling iron in it.  (Yes they make them.  And yes I love it.)  The mint color doesn’t come through well on pictures, but it is gorgeous with the pink bow in person. Who doesn’t want a bag engraved with your name and topped with a cute bow. Can you say, “Adorable?”  (As tested: Women’s Cosmetic Travel Bag Price: from $60.00)

 Saved by the Strap

Capturing Couture staps

Lovely camera straps from Capturing Couture

The great inventor Henry Ford once said of his automobiles, “You can have any color you like as long as it is black.”  This adage also seems to apply to today’s DSLR cameras.  So what do you do to personalize and spice it up a bit? Our friends at Capturing Couture offer the perfect solution.  You are going to love this one…..  They offer a great collection of colorful and creative camera straps to fit just about any style or taste.  The Fighting Couple’s choice?  The Harmony of course!

The Capturing Couture camera strap is a good mix between beauty and brawn.    Take the snaps for example…where two rivets to the webbing would be ample, they put three.  Where some straps put lining on the shoulder straps, this one has lining and padding.  This is especially nice on those long days of sightseeing.   The Harmony style is a great option for traveling couples.  The colors are not too out there as to scare Mike away from packing the camera.   Our only concern is how long the beauty will hold up under pressure of Amazon mud or Thai seaweed…stay tuned. (As tested: Harmony 2” camera strap starting at $39).

The Travel Jewelry Dilemma

We are longtime fans of Keli’s Kreations.  I have taken Kelli with us to three continents now, and she hasn’t let me done once.  So what makes Keli so wonderful?  Problem:  every time you pack necklaces and bracelets, they always end up in one knotted mess by the time you arrive in country, or worse, they break.  Can I get an amen ladies? That’s where Keli comes to the rescue.  Her diva collection organizes and protects your bling.  Your Keli will fit nicely into your carry on even in your purse. Your necklaces will be protected and you won’t lose one earring.  Pick the style and color you like best and never worry about the jewelry dilemma again. Luci swears by this and she travels a lot and wants to look her best. What’s worse than forgetting your jewelry to go with the power suit: Having it break because you packed it in flimsy plastic sandwich bags.  Get a Keli! (As tested: Diva Lite Price: from $33.00)

Leather shaving kit

Leather Travel Pouch from Nomad Travel gear.com

Shave in Style

We love international travel items that hold up well under pressure, that said, we are definitely not the scruffy backpacking types.  One of my (Mike) fave items to travel with is my Nomad Travel Gear shaving bag.  This is one item that I use on every trip, overnight business trip?  Yes.  Extended Europe vacation?  It’s a must have.  Don’t let the subtle exterior fool you, this is one tough character.  I do like the touch of class with the light tan leather, red accents and heavy-duty brass zipper.  Very refined.  I do worry about the lack of lining over time.  I will keep you posted on how it holds up.  (As tested: Leather Pouch Price: from $85.00)

The Luggage Workhorse

brown suitcase

The Delsey Helium 4.0

Besides our carry-on luggage, we have two primary bags in our travel luggage fleet.  One is this heavy industrial grade plastic hard side aka “Ole Ironsides.”  Empty, it weighs roughly the same as a WWII era battleship.  Due to weight conscious airlines, all we can pack inside is a pair of socks….just kidding…but pretty close.  Bag number two is much lighter, but is a little like a Hollywood starlet….cute, but going to pieces at a very young age.  But now we have found the ultimate and our quest for the perfect bag ended with the Delsey Helium Breeze 4.0.  Sounds high-tech?  Well it is.  The case is crafted from bullet proof ballistic grade nylon.  It generous size  18” x 28” x 11” and ample pockets make it the new admiral of the fleet.

What we love about the Helium is the little extras that go a long way.  The bag includes a built in over weight indicator.  Isn’t that cool?  It’s a little handle that comes out and tells you if you are over 50 lbs.  Don’t get us wrong, we always look for a reason to fight…but over-packing and paying a hefty fee shouldn’t be the reason.  (Fight over which Michelangelo is better or who has the better Pad Thai, Bangkok or Phuket.)  The other nice surprise with the Helium is the “Easy access” compartment.  It is located at the bottom of the bag and allows for easy entry for those damp cloths or shoes. It keeps them separated from the rest of your clothes!  Genius! (As tested: Delsey Helium Breeze 4.0 Price: from $179.00)

Just so you know, some companies featured in this post were kind enough to provide samples for us to review.  Does this affect our love of these products?  Nope.  Not one bit.  Our opinions are our own.  Lets go travel!

1

Budapest in Three Days

Perched on the banks of the Danube river are the two cities that combine to make Budapest.  It has quickly become one of our fave travel destinations.   Budapest is a perfect couple travel destination.  A wonderful combination of history, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking vistas make it top of our list.  We put together a list of ideas for you to consider on your next trip.  We didn’t put them in any particular order.  Timing will depend a lot on where you stay.  Lets begin!

Government building in Hungary

The Hungarian Parliament Building

Tour of Parliament–

The Capitol of Hungary has the third largest Parliament building in the world.  Tours of the huge building are a must for any visit to Budapest.  At the heart of the building are the Hungary’s crown jewels which are guarded by two handsome and a bit unfriendly guards.  The building is equality grand for the inside as it is from the outside.  The ticketing process is a bit time consuming.  Allow some extra time as this is an extremely popular tourist stop.

Thermal Baths–

The largest medicinal bath in Europe, Széchenyi Bath, is also located in Budapest.  There are over 80 geothermal springs throughout the city.  Szechenyi Baths Budapest is in our opinion the best for couples.  (Some baths do not allow coed bathing… apparently Budapest women like to bathe without men?)  Make sure you get the details on with whom, and when you can, bathe.  Széchenyi has several indoor and outdoor pools.  After a hard day of sightseeing, letting the warm/hot water sooth your weary legs is heavenly!

Spa Budapest

Szechenyi Baths in Budapest. A relaxing place to spend an evening.

Make a Love Lock

Are you looking for something really romantic to do as a couple in Hungary?  No…not that.  The second best thing to do as a couple in Budapest is to make a “Love Lock”.  Simply find a store that sells locks and head to the love lock park (Erzsébet square) not far from the Chain Bridge along the Danube.  Couples declare their love here with inscribed love locks.  Write your names on the lock and walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river.

Lover's lock

Couples leave locks as a sign of their love.

Eat some Goulash

One of the must do’s in Budapest is to eat the national dish: Goulash.  Our favorite purveyor of this yummy goodness is located just down from the Synagogue: Kadar Restaurant.  A warning, this place is uber popular with the locals, be prepared for a crowd.  Trust us, the wait will be soooo worth it.  Goulash is a sort of stew with meat and vegetables.  Then a truck load of spices are added, with emphasis on paprika.  Delish!  Please let us know what you think.  Are you scared of trying a new food?  Check out our post: “I am a Menu Coward.”

Goulash Budapest

Hungarian Goulash. Soooooo yummy!

The Dohány Street Synagogue

Our next stop in our little tour of Budapest is the second largest synagogue in the world the Dohány Street Synagogue. It can accommodate 3,000 worshipers and was a built between 1854 and 1859.  You can take thought provoking tour with an English speaking guide for a small fee.  You are required to dress modestly and men must dawn the cap, one is provided for you.

Communist statues

Memento Park, Budapest

Memento Park–

If you have a car, an interesting stop is located a few minutes from downtown Budapest: Memento Park.  When the communists left Budapest, the locals wanted to change things up a bit, so they took down most of the Soviet themed décor.  They ended up putting it all in a park just outside of city.  There are statues large and small.  Memento park can easily be seen in an hour.  The designer of the park, Ákos Eleőd, said this about his creation: “This park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship.”  Seeing these statues helps give insight into the communist chapter of Hungarian history.

Hospital in the Rock

One of the off the beaten path sites is located on the backside of Castle Hill, the Hospital in the Rock (Sziklakórház Múzeum).  The hospital doubled as a nuclear bunker and was created for use in WWII.  I then say extensive renovation and use during the Cold War. There are over 6 miles of tunnels and rooms.  On display are the original surgical tools in the makeshift emergency rooms.  The hospital was completely self-sufficient. There are water storage tanks, ventilation systems and nuclear decontamination rooms.  There is a quality guided tour every hour on the hour.  It was fascinating.  Well worth the hike up castle hill.  One bummer is that they don’t let you take pics inside.  Not sure why?

If you can came all of this into three days without a couple fights….we salute you!  Have you been to Budapest?  Did we miss something?  Please leave us a kind comment below.  See you in Budapest!

6

Talking to Goats

In this installment of our “7 Questions” series, we want to introduce you to the traveling couple: Nick and Dariece of Goats on the Road.

Nick and Dariece have left everything behind in search of cultural experiences, beautiful beaches and off the beaten path adventures. They call themselves Goats On The Road.  Their website for budget backpackers encourages others to pack their bags and leave the ordinary behind.

How to give them a follow:

Blog:  Goats on the Road

Twitter: @goatsontheroad

Facebook: Goats on the Road

Sadly, this traveling couple lost everything they owned in the recent Alberta floods.  Read about their experience here.  They are so brave to face this challenge with such grace and perspective.  Lets learn a little more about this traveling couple.

beach coupleFirst off…tell us a little about the two of you. How long have you been together? How did you meet? Ect.

The two of us started out as friends. We grew up in the same small town, but it wasn’t until we moved to the big city that we actually met. We were friends for about 3 years until one fateful day on a road trip we got stuck and had to spend the night in a hotel. That was it, from then on, we have been inseparable! We recently celebrated our Six year anniversary together here in China. We’ve been on the road for 4 out of those 6 years and have really grown together as a couple.

Not only have we been travelling together for so long, but we are currently working together as well! We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to get along so well and to actually really enjoy spending time together. We really think that travel can bring couples much closer and can be a very enriching experience. In a year of travelling you would probably learn more about your spouse than you would after 10 years of marriage!

1) How many countries visited between the two of you?

She Said: Before we started dating, Nick had only been to Disneyland when he was 5 years old, other than that, he hadn’t traveled outside of Canada. I had been to Mexico and the Dominican Republic on the typically North American holiday: The all-inclusive resort package. Since being together we’ve been to 32 countries. It’s a running joke between one another that I’ve been to one more country than Nick, it drives him nuts! We’ll be adding 7 more countries to that list in July, can’t wait!

He Said: I’ve devised a plan to equalize our “countries visited” rivalry. I’m going to schedule a trip to the Dominican Republic and then we’ll both have been to the same amount of countries. Before, I had this plan I was just going to sneak out in the middle of the night and quickly visit a bordering country that Dariece had never been to.

couple turkey2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be? (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: I suppose if I could travel with anyone other than Dariece, it would be me. I would travel by myself and although it wouldn’t be nearly as fun as travelling with the person I love, I do see some benefits of such an adventure. I would be able to look over the edge of high cliffs without someone saying “hey, get away from there”, and I would be able to walk down the beach without hearing “why don’t you take a picture, it lasts longer” (when really I was checking out her iPad). Other than that, I can’t imagine travelling without Dariece. Not having someone to share the experiences with would leave a gaping hole in the experience itself.

She Said: Hmm, it would be really hard for me to travel with anyone besides Nick, he’s probably the only person who could put up with me! But if I had to choose, I’d probably say the guys from the t.v. show, Departures, they were our initial inspiration for giving it all up at home to backpack around the world.

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

She Said: This is a hard one! I have many top choices each for a different reason. But if I had to choose, I’d probably say India or Egypt. India is such an assault on the senses and so insanely different from anywhere back home, which is why I love it! Egypt is also an unbelievably awesome destination. We were there when the revolution was just about to end and had the country to ourselves. The people we met, the villages we went to and the experiences we had will be forever thought about, and talked about!

He Said: Ya this question is always nearly impossible to answer. On our first trip I could answer it without much thought: Indonesia. But after visiting more places and having new experiences, it’s really hard to choose. I would have to agree with the places Dariece listed above. Everywhere has something that sticks in your heart for a different reason.

bartending-kapas-island14) Ok…we have to ask. Tell us about the name. Goats on the Road?

She Said: For two reasons. The first being that wherever we travel there seems to always be goats on the road! They are everywhere. In Morocco, they were even in the trees! The second reason being that we started calling each other “goat”, and since we are on the road, we are called Goats On The Road!

He Said: Yep, what she said!

5) Looks like you two have focused you travel in Asia. Conventional wisdom is that couples travel to Europe. What does Asia offer couples?

He Said: Asia feels like home away from home for us. It was the first place we really traveled together and that gives us a special bit of sentiment for us. Asia offers an incredible vibe and laid back atmosphere. It’s can be an extremely romantic place, but it still has so many cultural experiences to offer. Asia may always remain our favorite continent for these reasons.

She Said: For us, the draw to travelling to Asia when we were in our early 20’s and part of the reason why we have continued to go back is that it’s a very budget friendly region. Couples who travel to Europe will spend considerably more than if they were to travel to Asia. Apart from the great value for money, we absolutely love the culture, the food, the jungles, the beaches and the friendly people. This can be a very romantic part of the world for traveling couples. Watching the sun set with a bottle of wine on the beach makes for a great date night. Asia is the perfect place to rent scooters. Whenever we rent them, I ride on the back, holding on tight to Nick. It’s a fun way to spend the day together.

6) Tell us about India. We are considering a trip there next year. What were your highlights? ….And Luci wants to know if you got sick..

She Said: That is one of the questions we’re always asked! Yep, Nick got sick a few times. I had food poisoning only once though, which is amazing considering we always eat on the street and since we’ve traveled there for a total of just over 5 months. Ok, as for the highlights, there are so many, but mine are spending 3 weeks in an ashram in Rishikesh doing meditation and yoga, sailing down the Keralan backwaters on a houseboat all to ourselves and going on a Camel Safari with just us, our guide and 3 camels! We spent 3 nights out in the Thar Desert and loved every minute of it.

He Said: For me, the highlight of India is India itself. In other places, you go to see the sights and meet the people, and you do this here as well, but in India, you can just sit on the street and let India come to you. People watching is brought to new levels in this dizzyingly chaotic sub-continent and we spend hours just sipping chai (Indian tea) and watching the world go by. You’d be amazed what you can see on the streets in India. We’ve seen a cow give birth on a busy backstreet in Jodhpur, and we’ve seen 2 dogs fighting over a human hand in Varanasi.

7) You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

He Said: I know Dariece is going to talk about our fight in South India. I must admit, I’m a real ass when I’m hungry. Luckily it doesn’t happen anymore because she carries sufficient food supplies and makes sure I’m properly fed (like a pet). There was one time when she was really mad at me though. We had just started our first trip and we got pretty intoxicated on Koh Chang in Thailand, I went to 7-11 to get us more beer and in my drunken state I was drawn to some live music like a fly to a light. I ended up rocking out in the bar by myself for about an hour before I realized that I had left Dariece behind. When I finally found her she was pretty peeved as she had spent the hours scouring the beach for me, thinking I may have gone on another one of my drunken swims.

She Said: You’re probably going to hate us for this answer, but we don’t really fight! The only time we have any sort of disagreement or argue is when Nick is hungry, or I’m tired. We don’t handle hunger and fatigue all that well. There’s one time that sticks in my mind though: we were in the South of India, it was like 40 degrees celsius (seriously), we had our heavy backpacks on and were walking around looking for a room. We had been on a train and a bus for many hours and had only eaten a few snacks. We were hungry, sweating buckets and were so annoyed that we couldn’t find a room. We yelled for a few minutes out of frustration, found a room finally, showered and went out for a nice meal. Fight over.

 

**A Note From The Goats: We are packing up our lives here in China and taking off on a 5 month backpacking journey! We will be camping, trekking, fishing and exploring Mongolia, Central Asia and Iran. Follow our adventure for tips, photos, videos and cool stories from this off-the-beaten-path region. We look forward to having you along for the ride!

A huge thanks to Nick and Dariece!  We cant wait to hear about the fights!  What a great inspiration to all of the traveling couple out there!

3

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia: The Beauty Lies Within

Have you ever worked on a project that you had such a grand vision for but it becomes an obsession?  Yes. I am raising my hand.  There are certain posts that we have written that we keep coming back to.   We keep adding and adding and in the end it becomes this huge garbled mess.  What was once a slim and sleek read has hit the buffet line and swelled to a 2000 word monstrosity.  We feel that one of the most noted Catalan modernist architect Antoni Gaudi may have had the same problem with  his  masterful creation the Sagrada Familia Basilica.  The good news?  While Gaudi may have overdone the exterior, the inside of the Basilica is close to perfection as we have found in our travels.

Barcelona church

The Sagrada Familia from a distance.

A Little History

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is better known by its familiar name: the Sagrada Familia.  Construction the on basilica began in 1883.  The principle visionary behind the project was none other that local Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (25 June 1852–10 June 1926).   Gaudi literally poured his soul into this project.  He labored 40+ years on the structure, which was only a quarter of the way to completion at his untimely demise.  The construction was plagued by work stoppage, lack of funding and a civil war.  The Basilica continues to be a work in progress as the cranes in the photo above reflect.

Gaudi is interred in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia.  His grave stone reads:

Antonius Gaudí Cornet. Reusensis. Annos natus LXXIV, vitae exemplaris vir, eximiusque artifex, mirabilis operis hujus, templi auctor, pie obiit Barcinone die X Junii MCMXXVI, hinc cineres tanti hominis, resurrectionem mortuorum expectant.

The life of an exemplary man, exquisite  designer of this wonderful work, the author, died piously in Barcelona on 10 June 1926, from the ashes of such a man, the resurrection of the dead are waiting.

 Barcalona cathederal

The Beauty

The capstone of our visit to the wonderful Spanish city of Barcelona was the Sagrada Familia.   Walking into the main nave of the Basilica is a spiritual experience regardless of which direction your faith points you.  The inside of the church is best experienced on one of those days when the Spanish sunshine bathes Barcelona.  It’s light filled nave fills the huge room with warmth and glow.  Towering columns draw the eye skyward.  Beautiful stained glass shower the entire nave with warm light in a myriad of colors.

 Barcelona stained glass and organ

Basilica of Gaudi

Towering columns of the interior of the Basilica.

The Beast

With the good there is always the bad.  The exterior of the basilica is nicknamed the bird’s nest.  It is plastered with every biblical illustration imaginable.  Way over done in our uneducated and untrained eyes.  It feels like a project that lacked a good friend to say, “ok…that’s good.  Time to move on.”  Every inch of the exterior is covered, in some areas, there are three and four levels of figurines.  Candidly the longer you look at it, the more you feel it went over the top leaning more kitsch than moderiste.

George Orwell thought it to be one of the dreadful buildings he had ever seen and was said to have “wondered why the Anarchists hadn’t wrecked it in the Civil War”.

Picasso also had some choice words for the design that are not fit for print.

What are your thoughts?  Too much?

ugly Sagrada Familia

Too much?

Opening Hours and Getting There

The basilica is open to the public from 9am till 9pm.  Please visit the basilica’s website to get the latest details on opening hours.

 

Getting there:

By metro:

L5 and L2 Sagrada Familia

 

By bus:

19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24

 

 

5

Get Laid Over in Amsterdam

Two hours here, four hours there. Frequent travelers abhor layovers. With the continuing downsizing of the number air carriers, layovers are becoming a way of travel life. The truth is after 30 minutes to go the bathroom, grab a snack, there is just nothing to do but look at overpriced chatskis and sit on those uncomfortable green faux leather chairs.

woman in Amsterdam

I Amsterdam. I am also tired because I just stepped off a 10 hour flight.

Layovers are real time wasters or they can be an opportunity to see a city on a time limit. You choose.

The Fighting Couple likes to purposefully plan layovers to maximize seeing and doing.  Our favorite layover spot is Amsterdam.    Most destinations offer cheap flights to Amsterdam.  Flying in and out of Schiphol International Airport makes it easy to see the sites of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. 1000 Fights has laid Amsterdam two ways: quick and overnight stay.

Quickie: Minimum time 5 hours (1 hour to get too and from destination combined, 3 hour touring, 1 hour to wait at the airport)

Once you fly into Amsterdam, Schiphol has lockers you can store your luggage. So if you are a “carry-on” everything you own traveler, it’s lame to carry everything around town. Store your stuff in a locker and take just the necessities for the day. There are storage lockers throughout Schiphol. It will cost you a minimum of 6 euros for a small locker and up to 11.50 euros for a large locker for 24 hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The front of the Anne Frank Musuem and House and the line to get into it.

Next purchase tickets at the train station, Schiphol Plaza, which is in the airport. It’s a 15 minute ride into Amsterdam. Once you get to the city, Amsterdam has a fluid bus system. Pay attention to how long it took you to get there and the train table to get back. While an Amsterdam quickie is exciting, it wouldn’t be fun to miss your flight.

On our first Amsterdam quickie, we had just five hours. We arrived in Amsterdam at 8 a.m. and moved through the airport and train to get to the Anne Frank Museum and House. The Museum is a 20 minute walk from Central Station, but we chose to take a bus to get us closer. We found the Museum just as it opened at 9 a.m. and waited in line to get in. Plan on a line. It’s one of Amsterdam’s most popular museums. We advise getting online tickets in advance. Having read Anne’s diary multiple times, seeing the bookcase covering the stairway and Anne’s room plastered with magazine pictures like it was 70 years ago was gut-wrenching. After walking through the House, the museum concludes with her diary. If you aren’t weeping by the time you leave, you have no heart. For more information on the Museum, see the excellent website: http://www.annefrank.org/en/.

After the Museum, head back to the train station and catch your flight to your next destination. You’ll feel like you’ve seen and done something meaningful other than just biding your time in the airport.

Overnight Stay:

Amsterdam fireplace

Beautiful inlaid fireplace from the Willet-Holtuysen House.

If you have less than 24 hours to stay in Amsterdam, use your time wisely. Go through the same drill as before, store your luggage, take the train, and get started on seeing the city! 1000Fights likes to find a site that is uniquely interesting to us. In Paris, it’s LaFayette’s grave. In Amsterdam, it’s the Willet-Holthuysen Canal House Museum. Our last name is uncommon so when we see a name similar to it, we jump at the chance to learn more. The Willet-Holthuysen House provides visitors the opportunity to step back in time when elegance and wealth joined to create homes that were more like museums than living quarters.

Abraham Willet and his wife, Louisa WilletHolthuysen, were collectors of everything fine and fabulous and the home is littered with art, silver, china, and sculpture and smothered in fine silks, marble, and furnishings. The ground behind the house is a mini-Versailles and the home reflects the French aristocratic style. The museum’s website gives visitors a sneak peak of all the beautiful furnishings, but a visit inside is much better than pictures. We liked the museum because it wasn’t crowded and we felt a special connection to the place.

Amsterdam Gardens

Mike in front of the Willets gardens. Our home garden in Idaho look just like this. Not.

A five minute walk from the Willets-Holthusysen house is the Museum of Bags and Purses. Yes, there is an entire museum dedicated to my first love: handbags. It’s the largest museum in the world of purses. Housed in a 1666 canal house, the museum boasts more than 4,000 items dating back to the Middle Ages. You’ll see the delicate designs made with silk, silver and ivory.

Handbag collection

Luci couldn’t be happier to visit the world’s largest collection of handbags!

There are handbags from the 17th century and as recent as 2007 made by Alexander McQueen, Prada, and my favorite the “Cupcake Bag” featured in Sex and the City Movie designed by Judith Leiber. The museum combines art and fashion. You’ll leave wanting several of the handbags. Save up ladies! Just buy some postcards instead to show your friends.

Finish your layover with a good meal. We highly recommend the Greetje.  You’ll be back eating airport food the next day.  Hey, you may even want to forget the layover and take a Amsterdam city break.

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Two Days in Vienna

It must be said: two days is not long enough to see Vienna.   There are so many things to do in Vienna!  Vienna food, history and charm offer traveling couples adventure at every turn.  One could spend an entire lifetime as a student of Vienna.  For those of you looking for a two day itinerary for Vienna, here are our recommendations.

Vienna churchVienna:  An Overview

Our first recommendation upon arrival is to get a quick feel for the city.  We typically recommend the hop on and hop off buses when we see a city for the first time.  We ran into a problem with this in Vienna.  All of Vienna looks the same.   There is no Eiffel tower, No arc de Triumph to help with memory points.   We found a great solution on our last trip to Vienna:

Instead of the bus, we recommend an Iphone app called Gretl Goes.  Using Gretl’s handy app you can hone in on a quick walking tour that gives you a much deeper intro into what you will be seeing.  Vienna is one of the easiest cities to traverse on foot.  The metro and bus system is really second to none.  Armed with the maps and insights of this handy app, you will become a Vienna pro in no time.

Are you into WWII?  Take her WWII walking tour and hit the high points in roughly 3 hours.   (We are begging Gretl to make a WWI tour!)

If you are a foodie, skip to the gourmet walking tour.  It includes visits to the Kipfelhaus the birthplace of the Croissant, a pop in at the Sacher café and what food tour would be complete without a visit to the Naschmarket.  The foodie tour ends in our fave gelato joint in all of Austria, Zanoni & Zanoni.  Grab some lunch in a café and your gelato and get moving!  We only have two days!

Schonbrunn Palace

Once you have your bearings, lets dive into the must see of Vienna.  Your afternoon will be spent at the imperial summer residence: Schönbrunn Palace.   When you purchase your tickets, make sure and pick up a helpful Schonbrunn Palace map.  Schonbrunn ranks right up there with Versailles, Fountianbleau and Dolamache.  It is simply stunning and thus a must see for any visit to Vienna.   The humble abode boasts 1,440 rooms!  You could easily spend two days seeing the mansion and strolling the gardens.  A complete afternoon will offer you the highlights and are a great primer on the Hapsburg Dynasty and a little Austrian history.  We recommend that you take the helpful audio guided tour of inside the palace followed by some wandering in the parks.

 

Oldest restaurant in EuropeDinner: Griechenbeisl (The Greek Inn)

Dinner for your first night in Vienna will be at an establishment that opened in 1447!  America hadn’t been discovered by the western world yet!  The Griechenbeisl caters to tourist for the most part now, but the food is actually really good.  On the evening we dined there a piano player churned out some great tunes and the wait staff were very attentive.  We highly recommend the filet of beef with green beans.   The prices are affordable and the portions sizable.

The Spanish Riding School

Since you are only in Vienna for short time, we recommend seeing things that are uniquely Viennese.  The Lipizzaner Stallions of the famed Spanish Riding School fits that bill.  Seeing an evening Lipizzaner performance is quite expensive for those of us that are “Euro-challenged”.  A much more affordable option is viewing the practice session held in the morning.  It is open to the general public for a reasonable fee, check their website for specifics.  We do recommend that you get there early.  The early birds get the best seats. http://www.srs.at/en/  Hit the gift store on the way out and get your brood some Spanish Riding School swag.

King's crown

The Imperial Treasury

Just down the road from the stables is the Imperial Treasury.  This impressive collection of state offers the highlights of both the Hapsburg and the Holy Roman Empires.    Highlights of the museum include:  the crown of the Holy Roman Empire,  the Holy Grail (yes, it could be that one), as well as Napoleon II’s crib.  There are also vestments of royalty, gaudy jewel encrusted gloves, and historical arms and armaments.  We would skip visiting the royal apartment tour.  The Schönbrunn Palace tour you took yesterday is better organized and frankly more impressive.  Keep moving!

family statueZentralfriedhof (The Central Cemetery)

For your last afternoon in Vienna, we recommend that you visit some of Vienna’s best and well know composers and musicians.  No, we are not sending you to a concert.  We are sending you to their final resting place.  This last stop is a bit morbid, but for us it was one of the most interesting stops in Vienna:  the Vienna Central Cemetery.  We did an entire post about our visit there:  Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof: the Intersection of Beauty and Remembrance.  Visiting the central cemetery is a lesson is history as well as a Viennese tradition.

Trattoria da Angelo

This recommendation is going to sound a little strange…but hear us out.  We are going to send you to a Italian Trattoria in Vienna.  The Trattoria Da Angelo is a wonderful little (there are only a handful of tables) place just behind St. Stephens Cathedral.  The fare is southern Italian with really good seafood dishes.  The scampi dish is to die for!    The best part is that it is owned by a great couple!

Enjoy your visit to Vienna!

 

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Why I Love a Traveling Girl

I recently stumbled across a blog post by a young man bemoaning dating a girl who loves travel.  The post outlined the aggravating draw backs of having her being gone “all the time,” and always thinking about the next place she was headed.  Once I got done yelling at my computer screen, I started to write this post in my head.  Here goes:

Love Traveling GirlOne of the greatest pieces of advice my beloved grandmother, (who loved to travel by the way), gave to me was to marry a girl that you can sit across the breakfast table with for the rest of your life.   Somehow I followed this wise advice and found just that person.  Travel definitely played a role in why I asked Luci to marry me.  Travel makes you smart, interesting and sexy!  So what makes a traveling girl so great?

Are you a traveling girl….or love one?  Give us a follow on Facebook.

Smart Women Travel

The most dynamic and interesting women I have met in my life have been travelers.  Call me crazy, but travel really makes people interesting.  One great example is the Evelyn Hannon, the Jouneywoman.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, you must.  She continues to criss-cross the globe in search of adventure and fulfillment.  I hope she doesn’t kill me for saying this,  while she is advancing in years, it hasn’t stopped her from her mission to explore and discover.  Now she supports and encourages other women to follow in her footsteps.  What a great example.

Smart women travel.  One attribute that comes shining through with traveling women is their ability to delay gratification.  They are willing to scrimp and save for 6 months to spend two weeks in the Tuscan country side.  Sacrifice is a critical life lesson for relationships.  It is a cold hard fact: the best things in life take time and effort.  As poor newlyweds putting ourselves through college, we had to be creative in our travel destinations.  We both did internships in areas that had interesting places to discover.  Every weekend we would map out where we wanted to explore next ….on one tank of gas.  Traveling women find a way to make it work because discovery is so important to them.

Peru woman travelTravelers tend to be readers.  Another appealing aspect of finding yourself a traveling girl is they tend to be well read.  As many of you loyal Fighting Couple readers know, we do extensive trip prep.  This involves reading about interesting angles of our trip.    Yes, my traveling girl reads Frommers and Rick Steves.  But she also read, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” before we visited Savannah, GA or “1453” about the fall of Constantinople before visiting Istanbul.  The potent combination of reading and exploring makes living exhilarating.

Traveling Girls are Dreamers and Doers

The travel industry has marketing the dream down pat.  You are bombarded by these high gloss destination magazines of white sandy beaches and cool breezes blowing the palm trees.  They offer the eyes of the beholder an escape and a dream.  The thing about traveling women is, they see these dreams…then they make them happen for themselves.   One of the quirky things about Luci is that she wants a destination to look just like the dream.  We have a good laugh occasionally when we both say…this doesn’t look like the brochure.  On the other hand, we have visited places that we will never blog about because they are just that pristine and amazing and we want them to stay that way.  Traveling women make their own dreams come true.  For those of us that are lucky enough to love these women, we are invited along for the ride.

woman travelTraveling Women are Selfish?

Traveling women are intriguing to me.  While family is undoubtedly important to these wander lusters, they elect to leave home and family behind occasionally to focus on their own self-improvement.  Many mistakenly view this as selfishness.  Dive a little deeper and you see a person investing in themselves to be a better mother, wife, sister or friend.    How is this selfish?  Reaching out, and understanding the world around you is the exact opposite of self-focus.  Taking the education that travel can dish out: appreciating beauty, understanding diversity, experiencing first hand real poverty, making friends, learning the difference between needs and wants are all lessons learned on the road.  In turn these lessons are taught to our children.  How much more powerful is a lesson on valuing diversity to a child coming from a person that has visited the Soweto or Auschwitz?  Likewise a lesson on poverty having slept in a grass hut in Swaziland?

Travel is Hard

Traveling women know how to do hard things.  I am not naive enough to believe that  intercontinental travel is for everyone.  It is certainly not.   It is exhausting, it can be expensive, and certainly takes a lot time.  Travel at times means learning a new language, culture and adjusting to unfamiliar cuisine.  It means dealing with ambiguous situations.  The dangers of travel are real and common.  One of the dividends of travel is that it makes you stronger and helps you to exercise common sense and problem solving. How are we going to find the right train to Fontainebleau or how am I going to find my wife I left at the Louvre because I was hungry?  As you face a challenge, meet it head on and achieve your intended goal, you become resilient.  Would we have been bitten by leaches staying home and working in our cubicle?  Not likely.  Travel can be fraught with disappointment and difficulty.  At the same time there is something reassuring about getting yourself lost and working your way out of the situation.

woman beach thailandWhere Do You Find Them?

The travel blogging world is dominated by women!   It really is.  Us guys are way too slow to value the education that can come from leaving the home port and discovering the globe.  Maybe we do travel but, we just don’t write about it.  Traveling women are easy to spot.  They are constantly posting pictures of food and interesting road signs on their social media sites.  Pinterest pages of “traveling girls” are cram packed with green Peruvian jungles, rolling Tuscan vineyards and Irish blessing memes.  Traveling girls have a twinkle in their eye when they talk about the next road trip they are planning.  Guys, go get them!

Candidly, finding a traveling girl has changed my life for the better.  Regardless if we are in remote Africa or climbing Machu Picchu as we explore together, I continue to be impressed with my bride’s passion for the new and unknown.  She chooses the path less traveled, and that has made all the difference for us.

40

Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof: the Intersection of Beauty and Remembrance

Finding a place that strikes you on two levels is rare, finding a place that appeals to the eye, soul and mind is exceptional.  The Vienna Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof), located just outside Vienna, Austria  is one of those special places.  Traveling as a couple, we enjoy visiting cemeteries.  We can see you shaking your head….I know, we are strange.   We enjoy celebrating those that have gone before us.  We love learning what contributions our ancestors made to mankind and paying tribute to their lives.  Most importantly, visiting sites like these gives us a chance for self-introspection.    We want to explore one of the most intriguing cemetery we have ever visited.

Lets begin our tour of the Zentralfriedhof!

Dr. Karl Lueger

The Dr. Karl Lueger Gedächtniskirche

The Eye

Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.  Once you enter the main gate, what a beauty to behold!  The cemetery is in a park like setting with 2.5 square kms of manicured fields of grass, flowers and shrubbery.  To help you find your way around, the entire cemetery is divided up into sectors.  There are helpful free maps of the sectors at the main gate of entry.  Lanes, sections, and paths are marked clearly, so finding the headstone you are seeking is fairly simple.  Paved and gravel lined paths take you to different sectors within the cemetery.  Our visit was in early spring, walks were free of snow.

Our visit to the Zentralfriedhof held a surprising first for us.  At the heart of the cemetery is the Dr. Karl Lueger Church.   This wonderful shrine, built on the eve of WWI in 1910, is designed in the Art Deco style.  Trust us, we have been in a number of churches of all shapes and sizes, but this one is truly unique. We had never stepped foot into an art deco church or cathedral.  As you enter the nave your eyes are drawn up by the stately lines to the dramatic blue cupola.  The woodwork and glass inside the church is truly impressive.  The pews, alter and of course the glass are the result of master craftsmanship.

Dome of Vienna Central Cemetery church

The Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche Dome

Unique Tombstones

As you stroll through the endless tombstones, you take in the beauty and the art of the stone work.  Each stone is a work of art.  The Viennese take great pride in the construction and adornment of their burial sites.  Some of the elaborate tributes include chubby cherubs,  weeping nymphs, and marble and granite of every flavor.   Noteworthy physicists and chemists have their marquee chemical compound or formulas engraved on their stones!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Memorial

The Mind

While you are taking in the beauty of the Zentralfriedhof, hone in on some of the names chiseled into the stone.  At every turn in the cemetery, you come face to face with the names of artists, geniuses, villains, and poets.  Visiting the cemetery is a wonderful academic exercise!  At your feet lie some of the greatest minds in history.

Some of the notable permanent residents include:

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), composer

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), composer

Ludwig Boltzmann ( 1844-1906), Physicist. His famous equation on entropy is engraved on his memorial stone.

Richard Réti (1889–1929), chess grandmaster

Franz Schubert (1797–1828), composer

Johann Strauss (1825–1899), composer

Siegfried Marcus (1831–1898), invented the modern automobile

Kurt Waldheim (1918–2007), UN Secretary-General

Mercedes Jellinek (1889-1929), the inspiration for Mercedes Benz

Falco (1957–1998), rock singer

Mozart?-Nope.  There is a monument dedicated to him, but his grave is a bit of a mystery.

Did Mike really dance the Waltz on the ‘Waltz King’ Johann Strauss II’s grave?  YES!

Ludvig Von Beethoven

Ludvig Von Beethoven

The Soul

For the Fighting Couple, visiting this sacred spot is incredibly inspirational.  One cannot but question your own existence by visiting places like these.  You see the finite dates on the stones: born on such and such and Died on this date.  There is a finality about reading these stones.  Then you reflect on how much they accomplished during their sojourn on earth. It is so refreshing to connect the generations to see the impact one person had on humanity, both positive and negative.   A visit such as this makes you question your own mission, asking questions: “What have I accomplished?  Why am I here?” While these difficult questions are challenging to answer, the process is inspiring.  You walk out of the cemetery with a renewed sense of purpose and perspective (and a hunger for some Viennese  sachertorte.)

One of the most intriguing things about the layout of the cemetery is that it includes sections dedicated to different religious, political and social groups.  It is a melting pot of human history.  Sections include: Protestant, Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Bulgarian and Coptic), Catholic as well as two Jewish sections.   There is also a sizable Muslim section.  Zentralfriedhof is also home to the first Buddhist cemetery in all of Europe.  Most recently, a section was dedicated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons.  We were struck by inclusive nature of the cemetery.

How to get there:

With Vienna’s amazingly easy to use public transportation system, getting out to the cemetery is simple.  From the city center take the suburban railway (Vienna S-Bahn) to the Zentralfriedhof stop.  Just outside the main gates there are a number of flower vendors.

Vienna Cemetery directions

Click on map for larger view.

Address:

Gate 2 (Main entrance):  Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234 , 1110 Vienna

*You may drive into the cemetery with your car at a cost of EUR 2.20 (except on 1 November (All Saints Day) when no traffic is permitted).

The dedicated bus line for the cemetery (number 11) runs every half an hour from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and also at 4 pm and 4:30 pm on Saturdays.

Hours:

Click Here

Prices:

Entry to the cemetery is free, but you can rent an audio guide, by providing a valid photo ID and paying a rental fee of EUR 7.00 at the main gate.

Website:

www.friedhoefewien.at

 

We need to offer a hearty thanks to the Austrian Tourism Board for assisting with our visit.  Their help made the visit possible.  Danke!

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