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Budapest: Part Two

St. Stephen's Basilica, State Opera House, Matthias Church

Greetings! To round out our visit to Budapest we visited, St. Stephen's Basilica (and opted to do the panoramic view of the city), the State Opera House, and Matthias Church. There is so much to do in Budapest. We had a hard time figuring out how to narrow down all of the sites we wanted to visit in the few days we were there.

St. Stephen's Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica in Budapest, Hungary. It is named for Stephen, the first King of Hungary (975–1038), whose right hand is housed in the reliquary. On Thursday evenings, there is a concert in the Basilica, which we opted to buy tickets for and it was FANTASTIC! I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in classical music. There was an organist, flutist, and vocalist. St. Stephen's is one of the most beautiful Basilicas I've been in so far.
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Panorama view of the cit of Budapest.
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The Hungarian State Opera House located in central Budapest, was originally known as the Hungarian Royal Opera House. Construction began in 1875 and opened to the public in September 1884. We were treated to a mini performance at the end of our tour.
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We crossed the river and went to the Buda side of the city to visit Matthias Church. The church is Roman Catholic and located in the Holy Trinity Square, in front of the Fisherman's Bastion in the heart of Buda's Castle District. Matthias Church was beautiful in its own right and I really enjoyed the painting all over the church.
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Budapest is an absolutely amazing city. We really enjoyed our time there and cannot wait to go back. There is so much to do and see and it is a really beautiful city. I would definitely rank it in my top five most favorite cities I've visited so far.

On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 00:32 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest church basilica house opera hungary st state matthias stephens Comments (1)

Nuremberg

Old Town and Christmas Market

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Nuremberg, Germany. Germany was high on our list of places to visit and we decided on Nuremberg not only for the history of the city, but we were told Nuremberg had one of the best Christmas Markets in all of Europe. We also decided to take the train up to Bamberg for a day to visit and to check out Schlenkerla, the world famous and historic smoke beer brewery. I'll talk about Bamberg in a separate post as well as more of the history of Nuremberg.

We had a relatively short flight with Ryanair right into the Nuremberg Airport. We then took the wonderful German trains to our AirBnb. The trains in Germany were fantastic and very easy to use. We got a Mobi card which allowed us unlimited use for the few days we were there for about €26. Germany uses the euro(€) for its currency and it can be tricky in Germany because a lot of places are cash only. After arriving, we set out to go into Old Town Nuremberg for a tour of the Imperial Castle and to take in the city.

AirBnb Nuremberg: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/16068041?source_impression_id=p3_1576997220_A9y0H3N38Tx2TxIN

Views of Nuremberg:
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Church of Our Lady - Frauenkirche:
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White Tower:
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Schöner Brunnen is a 14th-century fountain located on Nuremberg's main market area:
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This a a picture of Albrecht Dürer's house. He was a German painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance in the 1400-1500s.
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Imperial Castle of Nuremberg: https://www.kaiserburg-nuernberg.de/englisch/castle/
The castle was really interesting as it sat on a hilltop at the top of Old Town. Its history dates back to the 1050s.
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We opted for a demonstration of the deep well at the castle. The well reportedly dates back to the fourteenth century and was dug 50 meters down into the rock. During the demo, the guide poured a pitcher of water into the well, it was so interesting to hear the water splash down eventually as it took several seconds due to the depth.
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The Christmas Market in Nuremberg was AMAZING! I caveat this statement with the fact that I'd never been to a Christmas Market before and have no comparison, but I had heard many things about this market and it did not disappoint. There was food and drink and local artisans and it was such a neat experience. You can definitely pick up some one-of-a-kind momentos there. We also definitely felt safe as there was a strong security presence.

Christkindlesmarkt: https://www.christkindlesmarkt.de/en/

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We came across this duo playing music. Their instruments were interesting....yes, those are PVC pipes and yes, she is "playing" them with flip-flops.
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Did a little car shopping while we were there...could not resist!
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We also had some amazing food in Nuremberg.
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Nuremberg was a fantastic city and I would love to go back. We had such a great experience there!

Onto Bamberg...

Posted by LCP 00:05 Archived in Germany Tagged church market christmas castle imperial nuremberg Comments (1)

Romania Part 1

Bucharest

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Bucharest, Romania! Like Vilnius, Bucharest was not originally on our must visit list, but again, we had heard from several colleagues who really enjoyed Romania. Bucharest is in southeastern Romania and is the capital city. The city is probably most famous for the Palace of Parliament, which is the second largest building in the world; second only to the Pentagon. Bucharest was a very cheap city to visit, most of our meals were under 80 RON (Romanian leu), which was about was $20. Romania is part of the European Union, but retains its own currency the Romanian leu.

We stayed in a lovely AirBnb situated behind the National Theater Bucharest. We also walked everywhere in the city and used Uber to and from the airport.

AirBnb: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/plus/15984949?source_impression_id=p3_1572181231_j9Azw27So9aO0IVY

National Theater Bucharest
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Some fun facts about Romania:
-The Romanian language is 1,700 years old.
-The first ever perfect 10 awarded in the Olympic Games went to Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, for her performance on the uneven bars in Montreal, Canada in 1976. She was also the only person allowed to marry in the Palace of Parliament.
-According to legend, Bucharest was named after a shepherd called Bucur who was in love with a young lady named Dâmboviţa, like the name of the river that flows through the city.
-The name “Romania” comes from the Latin word “Romanus” which means “citizen of the Roman Empire.”

Views of Old Town Bucharest:
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Famous Bookstore in Old Town Bucharest, Cărturești Carusel:
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Food from Bucharest restaurants:
Caru' cu Bere, one of the most famous restaurants in Bucharest.
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Traditional Romania dish of Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls):
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Trofic:
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Boutique du Pain:
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Sushi Room:
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Palace of Parliament. Palace of Parliament took over 13 years to build (1984–97). The palace was commissioned by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last communist dictator of Romania, for his family to live at, but communism in Romania was overthrown in 1989 and he never used the building. Most if not all, of the materials used to construct the building came from Romania, including all of the marble. The palace has over 2800 chandeliers and cost $3 billion to build. Michael Jackson infamously said, "Hello, Budapest!" from the balcony in 1990. Today, the building is used by parliament and I think spaces in the building can be rented out for events. For instance, a wedding expo was underway while we were on our tour.

Back of Palace of Parliament
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View from Palance of Parliament balcony looking onto the promenade (modeled after the promenade at the Palace of Versailles).
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A few of the many churches around Bucharest:
Kretzulescu Church
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Saint John Chrysostom Church
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Stavropoleos Monastery Church
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Cișmigiu Gardens:
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Izvor Park:
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Memorial of Rebirth (commemorates the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, which overthrew Communism):
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Onto Siniai, Brasov, and Bran...

Posted by LCP 23:43 Archived in Romania Tagged church palace of national romania parliament cu care theater bucharest bere grandees Comments (0)

Dublin - Day 1

Christ Church Cathedral and Guinness

Since we got into Dublin a little ahead of schedule, we decided to drop our bags off at our Airbnb and take advantage of the extra time. The first stop on our tour of Dublin, we decided to go to Christ Church Cathedral. We had purchased tickets ahead of time for a guided tour. Our tour guide at Christ Church Cathedral was FANTASTIC. He was very funny and really knowledgable, which made the tour more interesting.

Christ Church Cathedral, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was originally built around 1030 and has undergone rebuilding and renovations over the years. St. Laurence O'Toole is the patron saint and was also the second archbishop of the diocese. The heart of the patron saint was stolen in 2012, but recently recovered and returned to the archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson.

Christ Church Cathedral exterior:
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Christ Church Cathedral Interior:
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Archbishop's seat:
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The wall slightly leans to the right here:
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Interesting floor tiling throughout the cathedral:
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Laurence O'Toole Heart:
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View of the city:
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The tour included the Belfry, where you could ring the bells:
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Window in Belfry:
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After the Belfry experience, we went underneath of the cathedral to the Crypt. This was a really interesting area of the church. There was a copy of the Magna Carta here as well as the famous "cat and rat" who apparently were found in the organ pipes.
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Magna Carta, copy:
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Cat and Rat:
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We really enjoyed the cathedral and would certainly go back. After Christ Church Cathedral, we walked to the Guinness Storehouse for the tour. I was underwhelmed by the Guinness Storehouse and tour. It was rather expensive (ticket price included a pint of Guinness) and I didn't find it interesting, granted I do not like Guinness, but I figured the tour would go into the history of the family and the beer process, which I would have been interested in learning about. I didn't feel as though the cost of the ticket was a good value for what was offered and it was overcrowded, naturally. The most entertaining aspect of the tour was probably the fish on the bicycle display.
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"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
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We finished up the day, having dinner at Wuff, which was fantastic. And then called it a night. Onto Day 2...

Posted by LCP 09:21 Archived in Ireland Tagged fish church on ireland dublin a cathedral bicycle christ guinness wuff Comments (0)

Slovakia

Off the beaten path

Slovakia was an interesting and fun experience. I quite honestly didn't have this country on my initial "places to visit list" and I can't really say any of Eastern Europe was on my list, but Slovakia changed my mind. And again, I have to thank my friend who planned this trip and showed me some off-of-the beaten-path places. I must give her credit for the castle and cave pictures below. These were two places we had to pay to take pictures. We drove to Slovakia on the third day of our Poland-Slovakia trip. From Zakopane, the trip to Slovakia wasn't that long, maybe a few hours. We turned down one road and a little ways up was a "Slovakia" sign, very underwhelming. Not, "Welcome to Slovakia", but just a blue and white small sign.

Slovakia sign:
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When first driving across the border:
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Our first stop was Orava Castle which dates back to the thirteenth century, when Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. It was constructed high above the Orava river in the village of Oravský Podzámok, Slovakia. And yes, very high up...it was a hike up to the castle and a hike around the castle. There were so many steps and stairs, and as one who falls both up and down stairs, I was a little nervous, but it all worked out. The castle was quite impressive and had three distinct areas. Unfortunately, the tour was given in Slovakian, so I didn't understand much at all. I think I caught the word "Catholic" once when were were in the dungeon, but I'm not certain. We took quite a few pictures and the views from the top were fantastic.

Orava Castle:
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After the castle, we went to find Wooden Articular Church of Leštiny, Slovakia which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the broader category of Wooden churches of the Slovak Carpathians. The church dates back to the 1600s and is made completely of wood. This church was off the beaten path for sure, I think we drove by it three times and there was definitely no parking. Unfortunately, the church was closed, but we were able to get some pictures from the outside.

Wooden Articular Church of Leštiny:
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Following the church, we went on a tour of a cave. We took an hour long tour of the Demänovská Jaskyňa Slobody cave, which sits below the Nízke Tatry Mountains. Unfortunately, this tour was also in Slovakian, but my friend has a lot of knowledge on caves and pointed out some interesting things to me and took some great pictures. The drive to the cave was also pretty interesting.

On the way to the cave, the drive was beautiful:
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The cave:
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My overall impression of Slovakia is that it is a hidden gem in Eastern Europe. It is part of the European Union and uses the euro for its currency. I plan on returning at some point, to go to the capital, Bratislava. After the cave, it was back on the road to Zakopane to finish up the Poland-Slovakia trip.

Border sign returning to Poland:
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On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 09:53 Archived in Slovakia Tagged church world cave heritage castle unesco slovakia wooden Comments (0)

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