Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 15 - Saturday

I can't believe Saturday is almost over, which means tomorrow is our last full day here! So sad. I would stay here forever. Ahhh 

Today we slept in. It was nice to have an unhurried day. 
I had paprikish chicken for lunch. Jer had Wiener schnitzel. 

We tried to tour Matthias Church, but it had closed to visitors. Hope to walk through it tomorrow. We walked over to Buda Castle. Our hotel is within the castle wall, but today we finally got to browse around the actual castle. Wow!

We have been blessed with such great weather here! It has clouded up a few times, but has never actually rained while we've been out and about. 

Inside the castle are various museums. We went into an art museum. We enjoyed some of the art there for sure!

We did more walking around the castle...
I love this fountain. One of the dogs is getting a drink! :-)

I love the texture in the cobblestone roads!

We arrived at the most fabulous smell... Another booth of those chimney column cinnamon bread pastries. We stood in line and as I took this photo, they both turned and said "no photos!". Whoops! Their expressions say it all! Oh dear.

Next up: souvenir shopping in one of the bazaars. 

After stashing our goodies away at the hotel, we took the bus, then Metro to the downtown Pest area. We were surprised at all of the young people drinking from and carrying bottles of wine everywhere. I think the smoking here would really get to me after a small while. I'd say we are definitely in the minority of non-smokers. It was so sad to me the other day seeing kids 14ish years old smoking. 

We stopped here for a lovely supper. Note the blankets on the chairs. I just love that! 
The metro going back to the Buda side of town. The escalator is so long since it goes under the Danube. I try not to think about that fact! :-)

Once we bought our bus/metro passes, getting around has been a breeze!  We've also felt very safe here, especially on castle hill. Anyone driving through the castle walls has to have a special permit, so it really limits the amount of people in the area. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 14 - Friday

Today was a big day, and we are tired! We got up early to catch the train to Vienna, Austria. Traveling by train in Europe is something we've always wanted to do. 
Many beautiful fields in the countryside.
(Through my water bottle) haha

We made it! Once we got off the train, we had no idea where to go! We went to the information/tourism desk and the man there definitely would not win a customer service award. He said the only way to get downtown was by metro. We needed to exchange our money to Euros to do that, but unlike Budapest, there were no currency exchanges anywhere around there. So after being completely bewildered, we set off on foot in the chilly breeze. We went into a couple banks to see if we could exchange money, but no. Finally we found a post office on our walk who helped us. We definitely noticed a difference... In Budapest everything is written in Hungarian and English. In Vienna, it's only German. My very small amount of German didn't get us far. :-) After consulting our map numerous times, we found a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Yay! That was a life saver! 

(For my sister!)

Funny, and slightly creepy! Lol

Opera House

Horrible photo, but towards the right is a small brown church with a steeple. It was built in the 700s. Not 1700s! Wow!

(The 4th house is where Beethoven lived!)

I can't remember what all these buildings were. We were mostly interested in getting to the palace. 

(More opera house)

Made it to the Schonbrunn Palace!  The most visited sight in Austria.
Street performer Mozart.
Another selfie.

We did an indoor tour too, but weren't allowed to take photos. We got to stand in the room where a young Mozart played piano for Emperess Maria Theresa. Amazing to think of! This city is SO rich in musical culture. We would love to come back some day to spend more time exploring.

We caught a taxi back to the train station... We weren't sure if our tour bus would get back in time. The train departures sign said "canceled" under the Budapest destination.  We thought we might have to spend the night there! We went to our lovely info desk guy again  and asked what was going on. Apparently our train was not going to be going through that particular station. He said to get on the metro across the street and take it to a different train station. :-) We were nervous we might not make it before the train left! We ran through the terminal, outside, to the metro, took the metro to the other station, ran through to the train platforms, and found our train. It was delayed a couple of minutes due to the change. Thank God! Haha 

The 3 hours back "home" to Budapest was thankfully uneventful! 

Our friends flew out to the States today and will be back in Boise in a couple of hours! 

Looking forward to our Saturday plans. Stay tuned. :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 13 - Thursday

Today we ventured over to Vajdahunyad Castle (also referred to as Sleeping Beauty Castle). Oh my word, it's the most gorgeous place. A few photos on the way...
On the right is the Prime Minister's house. On the left is a place where Beethoven played.

We walked by one of the baths. I'm in love with the architecture.

Here's the castle. It was so fairytale like!!
I could have stayed all day! 

Next up: Hero's Square.

We met Ed and Heather for lunch. We just love them!! 

We all went to the Budapest Zoo together. One of the best zoos I've been to. The animals were so active! 
The elephants were putting on quite the show for us! The baby had so much personality! I took some adorable video too.
It seemed like a lot of the enclosures you could still pet or feed the animals. So funny! These giraffes were awesome. You could easily feed them through the fence.
The tiger exhibit was cool. This truck was partially in and out of the enclosure. You could climb inside, and be inches away from the animal. 

The funniest part of all??? This guy right here! We thought they were tame because the fence was so open. I stuck my hand out and petted its snout. But! Shortly after, it grabbed Jeremy's shoe! Thankfully he was able to squish his toes back in time, or that would have really hurt. The hog chomped down and didn't want to let go! Lol We learned that just because you can easily pet the animals, doesn't mean they are safe. :-) Very different than in the US! 

We bought one of these Hungarian desserts, which is a chimney column. Ours had cinnamon. It's pretty much a spiral piece of bread that you tear off. It's called a kurtoskalac.

At this time, Shane and Melissa went back to the hotel. Brian, Jeremy, and I went to Ed and Heather's for a bit. Heather graciously walked us down to the train station to buy our tickets to Vienna. I'm so thankful she directed us where to go! It was a huge help! 

On the way, we walked through what is called the nicest McDonald's in the world.

We rode with Heather back to our hotel area and said good-bye. I'm so sad! I pray God will have us cross paths again. The Durham's have been a highlight of this trip, and feel like family for sure.

The three of us got goulash at our hotel restaurant. While in Hungary, eat goulash!

I love that outdoor caf├ęs here will give you a blanket when you sit down! 

Brian, Shane, and Melissa leave super early in the morning to go back home. Jer and I are here for a few more days. Pray for good travels for them. Tomorrow morning the two of us leave for a day trip to Vienna. Is this a dream?! Just so you don't get the wrong idea and think the church is paying for this wonderful vacation, this Budapest and Vienna part of our trip is paid for by us. ;-)

Good-night all!