Category Archives: Budapest

Thursday Doors, Budapest in Hungary

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Budapest did not become a single city until the official amalgamation on 17th November 1873 of right-bank Buda and Óbuda together with Pest on the left bank.  This was seen as a supremely symbolic event that marked a union between Western and Eastern Europe and the city became the second capital of Austria-Hungary.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Entrance Tickets, The Budapest Parliament Building

Budapest parliament (1)

The five of us debated entrance to the Parliament building.  Even with half price entrance fees (2,000 Florints) for citizens of the European Union there wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm to visit the interior and after a show of hands it was only Sue and I that paid up and waited in line to go inside while the others made their various ways back to the Hotel Gellért.

The forty minute tour took us up wide open staircases, through elaborately decorated corridors, magnificently appointed state rooms and into the debating chambers but the highlight was the central dome (ninety-six metres high, remember) and in pride of place the fabulous crown of Saint Stephen.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Eye-Spy

Durham Cathedral Door KnockerBudapest Hungary MarketBarcelona CatalunyaGermany Black Forest FasnachtIMG_0627

Anyone care to take a guess in which countries these pictures were taken?

Entrance Tickets – The Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory in Krakow

Oskar Schindler's Factory Museum After a while we arrived at the factory, which was being converted into a museum but as the project was way behind schedule there was only a temporary exhibition to look around. When Podgórze became the site of the Jewish Ghetto many Germans set up businesses in the area in an attempt to profit from the Nazi invasion of Poland. Oskar Schindler was such a man, but in the end he came to save the lives of over eleven hundred Jews that worked in his factory, often at great risk to his own life and at personal expense.

 

 

 

 

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Travel Pictures of the Year, 2014

Anonymous Pedestrians Wroclaw PolandSemana Santa Holy Week Siguenza 3Ballyvaughan IrelandThe Mallard National Railway Museum YorkCorfu TurtleHierapolis Pamukkale TurkeyBudapestCleethorpes Cloudy Sky

Travel Postcards of the Year, 2014

Wroclaw Postcard

Guadalajara Province Map

Galway Ireland

Corfu Map

Turkey Postcard 3

Map of Hungary

 

 

Looking Back on 2014

Wroclaw Arial View

January always seems to be a good time to go away if you ask me and this year I found some cheap Ryanair flights at only £50 return to Wroclaw, the fourth largest city in Poland and as we had previously been to Krakow and enjoyed it there we quickly the decision was quickly made to visit the historic capital of Lower Silesia.

We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in this charming Polish city and enjoyed it so much that we have made arrangements to go to Warsaw early in 2015.

Semana Santa Holy Week Siguenza 3

Twelve months previously in March 2013 we had travelled to the small town of Sigüenza about one hundred kilometres north east of Madrid on the road to Zaragoza and Barcelona and we liked it so much we decided to return for a second visit.

One of the reasons was to see the  Semana Santa for a second time.  This is one of the most important traditional events of the Spanish Catholic year; it is celebrated in the week leading up to Easter and features a procession of Pasos which are large floats of lifelike wooden sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion.

Ireland Dingle

There is a pub quiz question that comes up regularly and which I always get wrong, which is ‘what is the nearest country to the United Kingdom’ and the answer of course is Southern Ireland or Eire but I always forget about the border with Northern Ireland and blurt out ‘France, it must be France’.  Not surprising then that until now I have never visited the country.

2014 has been a big year for me as I reached the birthday milestone of sixty years and I was planning something special to celebrate the occasion and then some friends asked if we would like to visit Ireland with them and that seemed special enough so we set about making travel plans.

Thomas' Place Kalami Corfu

In 2004 I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with family on the Greek island of Santorini.  On the final night I treated everyone to a birthday celebration meal in a taverna and drank far too much Mythos Beer, Ouzo, and Metaxa Brandy and rashly declared that we would do the same thing in ten years time when I would be sixty.  I went to bed and promptly forgot all about it.

My children didn’t forget.  As 2014 got ever close they kept reminding me about the offer that I had made that night and so eventually I had no option but to deliver on the promise.  Sadly the Boss Bar in Santorini  closed down sometime between 2004 and 2006 and so I needed to find a suitable alternative and decided upon the village of Kalami on the island of Corfu which we had enjoyed a couple of years previously.

Turkey Souvenir Shopping Bag

The end of the Summer usually means the Greek Islands for our travels but this year we were breaking with tradition and although close by to the Dodecanese we were visiting mainland Turkey instead.

At the end of the holiday I drew up a balance sheet of our visit to Turkey.  I had enjoyed the antiquity and the ruins, the temples and the ancient cities; the long walks along the coast; the friendly people; Bodrum; our excellent apartment courtesy of our friends Steve and Kath and the weather.  On the other side of the balance sheet was the dogs, the litter and IMX Travel but overall I declared the holiday a resounding success and look forward to returning to Turkey as soon as the travel itinerary allows.

Budapest Travel Group

At the end of the year we travelled with friends  to Hungary and its capital city Budapest.  We had been before in 2007 but only for a couple of days which wasn’t nearly enough time to see the sights of this magnificent city so had no objections to going back for a second time.

Budapest was an absolute revelation, I had not been expecting anything so grand, it was easily as good as Vienna and in my opinion much better than Prague, the scale of the city eclipses Bratislava and Ljubljana and I liked it as well as any other city I have visited.

2014 has not been our most prolific travelling year – that was in 2007 when we managed to get away somewhere twelve times, once every month.  Airline tickets were cheaper then and we didn’t have grandchildren so I doubt we will doing that again soon.

Just six overseas trips this year and oddly, although I often say that I won’t go to the same place twice this year half of our travels were to places that we had enjoyed previously – Sigüenza, Corfu and Budapest and I think we will try and avoid repeat visits in the future if we can.

So now the serious business of planning for 2015 really begins.  We will start with a city trip to Warsaw in February and then see where the rest of the year takes us…

Budapest, Gellért Hill

Gellért Hill Liberty Monument

The next morning the previous days fog had lifted and the sun was shining over the Danube and ploughing a fiery russet furrow in the water running all the way from the east bank to the west.

Because of this we left the hotel early to take full advantage of the unexpectedly good weather.  On the other side of the Liberty Bridge was the Market Square and the covered central market building.  As with other cities that we have visited the market was filled with excellent produce, meat, fish vegetables and several stalls devoted to selling different paprika and herb combinations to be used to flavour the Hungarian national dish of goulash.  We identified potential souvenir options but decided to return for them tomorrow and then walked back over the bridge to Buda.

There was some debate about walking or taking the tour bus but the consensus view was that we should take the steep paths through the woods to the top.

Opposite the hotel there was an extraordinary church carved out of the bedrock stone of the Gellért Hill.  It was certainly unusual even if it wasn’t especially spectacular containing nothing of any special interest except for its curious construction and the visit didn’t detain us much longer than just a few minutes.

Leaving the church there was choice of several paths that meandered aimlessly through the terraced park and climbed steeply towards the top of the hill.  There were no helpful signs to indicate which would be the quickest so we each identified what we thought might be the shortest route and split into three to see who was right.  Sue and I took a route along the very edge of the cliffs and every hundred metres or so there were seats and viewing platforms that provided uninterrupted panoramic view of the city and the river below.  I remain convinced that our route was the shortest and blame the viewing opportunities and frequent stops for getting us to the top last!

At the top of the two hundred and thirty five metre high hill is the Liberty Statue which was first erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet occupation of Hungary after World-War-Two.  At the time of the monument’s construction the defeat and expulsion of Nazi forces by the Soviets was considered to be a liberation.  The original inscription on the memorial was “Erected by the grateful Hungarian Nation in memory of the liberating Russian heroes.

Pest from Gellért Hill

I suspect the Russians themselves were responsible for this and gratitude didn’t last very long.  After the country liberated itself from the Soviet Union in 1991 the inscription was changed to read “To the memory of all of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and success of Hungary.”  On the previous day in Pest we had come across a memorial in a park which commemorated Russian soldiers during the 1945 siege of the city.  There was a small demonstration there and it seems that Hungarians don’t like this memorial either and are campaigning for its removal.

The top was the best viewing point of all and from here it was possible to see both sides of the river, the Parliament building in Pest and the castle district in Buda.

Budapest The Parliament Building

Leaving the monument we passed the Citadella at the very top of Gellért Hill and then followed the path down, past the statue of St Gellért that was less impressive in daylight with a lot of litter and graffiti than it had been the previous evening from the middle of the river with its dramatic illumination.

St Gellért is the Patron saint of Budapest who died in 1046 while trying to spread the Christian faith  and there are various versions of the circumstances of his martyrdom.  Some stories say that he was stoned, others that he was hacked to death with a lance and others that he was thrown from the highest point into the river.  Most gruesome is the account that he was sealed in a barrel with nails hammered through as spikes and then rolled down the hill into the river.  Whichever it is I am constantly staggered by the inventiveness of the human mind when it comes to coming up with some unpleasant way of inflicting pain and discomfort on one other.

The route down from the top took us through wooded hills and gardens until we reached the bottom next to the river and we followed the bank side walk as far as the bottom of the castle hill.  Our plan now was to take a funicular railway to the top but this was foiled on account of it being closed for a few days for essential maintenance.

Having just walked all the way down no one really looked forward to walking all the way to the top so we found the city tour bus stop and waited for the next bus which took us the steep and road winding one stop journey to the centre of the castle district where we immediately set about looking for somewhere suitable for coffee and cake.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle – Street Musician in Budapest

Street Musician Budapest

This street entertainer in Budapest could produce a twinkling melody from those crystal glasses!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle – The Bridges of Budapest

Elizabethh Bridge, Budapest