Just after the turn of the 18th century, however, another church was built here: the present Peterskirche. It was begun in 1701 and consecrated in 1733. It was the first domed structure in Vienna, and its towers are said to have been inspired by the tents of the Turks during the siege just a few years earlier.

One neighborhood name I’d like to know the story behind is Prague’s Malá Strana, or “Lesser Town,” because for the life of me I can’t tell just exactly what’s “lesser” about it.

We’ll head back to Bohemia, to a picturesque mountainous region just east of Prague, where there sits a small town called Kutná Hora. Now it is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and at such close proximity to Prague, easy to visit.

We didn’t mean to visit Santa Maria, or Our Lady in Trastevere, when we did; we were just looking for good food in the Trastevere (“across the Tiber”) neighborhood. Eventually we would have found our way to it, but hungry as we were when we walked by, I simply couldn’t help myself. I had to go in.

One of the definite must-dos in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a wonderland of forests, cascades, and lakes. It has a series of nature trails throughout the park. The trails will take you past 16 lakes of various sizes, numerous waterfalls, and beaches. There are even a few ferryboats to give you a pleasant ride over Lake Kozjak.

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, one of those mysterious eastern European countries that we typically associate with vaguely Russian accents, lots of potatoes, and that charming style of Soviet architecture that I like to call “cell block chic.”

The church as it stands today closely follows the plan of the 13th century Gothic church, and its interior paint, frescos, and organ have been completely redone. It is this interior decoration, however, that really seems to set Matthias Church apart. Instead of the stark stone found in most Gothic churches, Matthias Church is almost entirely painted, largely with geometric and floral motifs, and with a pretty blue “sky” above it all.

Today, Hvar is a rock star of the tourism scene. Need a private anchorage for the megayacht you use to transport your harem? Hvar has plenty.

I will admit to some trepidation about it when I actually looked down at that river from the middle of the bridge. I measured it out and that’s about the same as jumping off a sixth or seventh story balcony. Not something I do every day. But hey, people aren’t killed from jumping that often.

Budapest is a hotbed of history, from Roman Aquincum onward to 2000 years of tumultuous fortunes. But whatever the causes, that history has left behind a truly beautiful mark. I like to say of Budapest that it’s like someone crumpled up Paris and then tried to lay it out flat again. There’s an old saying […]