Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Unexpected Day in Budapest

  Our tour today was a bust.  We understood it to be a boat on the river with time to explore three charming little villages, and then possibly a bus back since it's winter.  When we arrived we were told it was 10 hours in a bus, with free time in only one village, and that they never spend more than an hour on the river, even in summer.  We didn't want to sit all day since we are flying home tomorrow, so we abandoned ship (so to speak) and spent another day in town.
  We went to the Christmas market again for more souvenirs, and I found a booth selling prints by one of my favorite artists on Etsy.  I had no idea she was from Budapest!  So I got my favorite picture of two foxes, directly from the artist.  What fun!  I also saw the funniest-looking pug, peeking out at me from a lady's purse.
  Some of us went to the Hard Rock Cafe and sat between Janis Joplin's purse and Jimi Hendrix's poncho-shirt.  A very fun international travel experience.  The rest of our party went back to the Great Market Hall for lunch.  Allie spotted a very funny pig, and great fun was had by all.
  We all met up and went to the Big Ben Teahaz for a nice spot of afternoon tea.  Then Allie and Marc went to the turkish baths.
  Tomorrow morning we fly home.  As soon as I get back I will fix all the mistakes on this blog and take a sledgehammer to my tablet.  So check back in a few days and it should be all fixed.  All is fixed and rearranged.  Please enjoy, thanks for following our adventures, and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Buda and Pest

  This morning we wandered around the old part of Pest.  We saw the beautiful Parliament building- the largest on the continent, various monuments marking Hungary's 1000 year civilization,  and lots of beautiful buildings.
  We had lunch at the big Market Hall, and then walked across the Chain Bridge to the other side of the Danube, where Buda is located.

  We rode the funicular to the top of the hill where we saw the changing of the guard at Buda Castle, and from the Fishermen's Bastion we watched Pest light up as darkness fell.

  We recrossed the Danube and had a memorable Hungarian dinner.  Tomorrow we are off on a boat tour!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Budapest- Gateway to the East

  We (barely) caught the train to Budapest today, and traveled through the Austrian and Hungarian coutryside, which was lovely, but didn't have any wolves.  The train was late coming in to Vienna, so it only paused for about 2 minutes, barely enough time for us to jump on board.
  We arrived in Budapest, and it is the most exotic city we've seen so far.  We were reminded of the quote in Dracula when Jonathan says that upon arriving in Budapest, he felt like he was leaving the West.
  The main Christmas market was amazing, with live music, and the most beautiful crafts we've seen so far.  It felt just like something out of Harry Potter.  We even saw a vender in a top hat, and a man in a plaid cape roasting chestnuts on the corner. So Dickensian!  Tomorrow we are going back to the market, and then setting off to explore the city.

A Vienna Weekend

 We've had a whirlwind tour of Vienna for the last 2 days.  We saw the Opera house, the Spanish Riding School, and spent an afternoon at Schonbrunn Palace, where some of us toured the Carriage and Sleigh Museum, while others sampled wild boar at the Christmas market. 
  We've had more schnitzel then we ever imagined (the portions are huge).  We went to the vineyard district near the Vienna Woods for Dad's birthday. 
  We went to choral concerts at the Rathaus both evenings.  They were held in the prettiest room I've ever been in.  We've had a great time, and now we are off on a train to Budapest.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Train to Vienna

    Yesterday we left our lovely hotel in Prague and took a train to Vienna.  We had a private compartment, and the views were amazing.  We passed frozen rivers, little villages with smoke rising out of tiny cottage chimneys, and big community gardens.  We saw lots of deer in the snowy fields, swans and pheasants, and even a wolf, running through the woods on a snowy hillside.  Amazing!  My favorite sight was all the mistletoe in the trees.  When the sunlight hits it, it looks golden.  Very beautiful.  Now we are in another wonderful hotel, and are about to spend the day exploring Vienna.