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Budapest: Part One

Danube River Cruise, Parliament and of course, Christmas Markets

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Budapest, Hungary! We had heard many wonderful things about Budapest and decided it was a must see. Budapest is the capital city and most populous city in Hungary. Budapest combined three former cities to make one city: Buda, Óbuda, and Pest in 1873. It is famous for its thermal baths, has the third largest Parliament building in the world, and has the oldest subway-line on continental Europe. One thing I would recommend in Budapest is getting the Budapest Card, it gives you free access to the public transportation system (which was fantastic) and free entry into some sites and discounted entrances to others. You can purchase these cards ahead of time or at the airport.

After arriving, we dropped our bags off at our AirBnb, which was in an excellent location near Fashion Street and close to the metro, and decided on an evening river cruise on the Danube. I would highly recommend a river cruise at night. The city looks absolutely amazing.
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We also wanted to see the Hungarian Parliament Building. The building is situated in Kossuth Square, in the Pest side of the city and was conveniently located across the street from an underground stop. There are 691 rooms in the building. I would recommend buying tickets in advance as they sell out quickly and at Parliament, only "day of" tickets are sold.
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We really enjoyed the Christmas Market. There were local artisans and some excellent food choices. Scenes from the Budapest Christmas Market:
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We had some excellent food while we were in Budapest. Here are a couple of restaurants we enjoyed and some of the wonderful dishes.
Zeller Bistro: Zeller Bistro: http://www.zellerbistro.hu/
A la Maison: https://www.alamaisongrand.com/
Mokka Cukka: https://mokka-cukka.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral
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On to Budapest Part Two....

Posted by LCP 22:43 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest danube river cruise parliament hungarian 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)

Edinburgh

Scotland

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Edinburgh, Scotland for a few days. For those of us who are pronunciation-challenged Edinburgh is pronounced E-din-burrah. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. We took the train up, which took about four hours in total. One could also drive to Edinburgh via the A1. I'm a fan of the trains, so I will always choose the trains over driving! The train ride was quite scenic. On the ride up we stopped in Durham and Newcastle, which both looked like really cool cities to visit. The train paralleled the shore as we crossed over to Scotland and we had some fantastic views of the North Sea. The topography in Scotland was much different than in England. Scotland definitely had more dramatic landscapes and was much hillier than anything we have seen in England so far.

We had quite a bit packed into the few days we were there, so I will probably break out each major site separately. Our first day, we went to The Royal Yacht Britannia. The second day we went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. And on the third day we went to Edinburgh Castle. Here I will focus on our exploration of the city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the second most populous city in Scotland the seventh overall most populous city in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh has been recognized as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century. The earliest human habitation of Edinburgh has been dated back to 8500 B.C. Enough of the history lesson, let's get on to more exciting things!

After arriving, we had a 20 minute walk from the station to our hotel. We stayed at the The Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. The hotel is on Royal Terrace and was designed by William Playfair around 1820. Royal Terrace connects with Regent Terrace and Calton Terrace to form the longest continuous building of Georgian architecture in Edinburgh. Our room was quite spacious and we had a beautiful view of the gardens at the hotel. The location of the hotel was great for getting to all of the different sites on our list and near restaurants. It was definitely a quieter part of Edinburgh, which I enjoyed. The breakfast at the hotel was good and the staff were very friendly (it was a family run hotel). From the hotel, it took about 20 minutes to get to most of the sites. The only time we didn't walk was to get to the yacht which was at Ocean Terminal. For that, we used Uber, which was fantastic. We had great experiences with Uber drivers in Edinburgh. We also could not have gotten nicer weather during our trip.

Terrace Hotel: https://www.terracehotel.co.uk/index.php

Hotel cupola
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View from room
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View of the North Sea from Leith Docks
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We were able to get to several famous Edinburgh sites. The first full day we were in Edinburgh we had tickets to Palace of Holyroodhouse (a separate post will follow on that site). On our journey to the palace we walked past the Burns Monument which is a nod to Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, and the Scottish Parliament building. The Scottish Parliament building is across the street from the entrance to the Palace. After the palace, we walked through Holyrood Park and saw Arthur's Seat, but unfortunately did not make it up to the top. That just means we'll have to go back, ha! Arthur's Seat is the highest point of the park and is part of four hill forts dating back over 2000 years ago.

Robert Burns Monument
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Scottish Parliament
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Holyrood Park
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View from Holyrood Park looking over towards the palace. The Nelson Monument is in the background atop Calton Hill. The monument was erected to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson and his victory over the Spanish and French fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It was constructed between 1807 and 1815.
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Edinburgh city views
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Greyfriars Bobby in Old Town. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier famous for guarding the grave of his owner for 14 years...talk about loyalty. You are supposed to rub his nose for good luck. He is so famous, Disney made a movie about him. Please excuse the random humans invading the picture.
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Some things Scotland is known for: whisky (obviously, and in Scotland it's spelled without the "e") and wool and cashmere. You can find some really good deals on wool and cashmere on the Royal Mile, which is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. There were also two excellent whisky shops along the Royal Mile: Robert Graham and Cadenhead's. The staff in both shops were extremely helpful and were very knowledgable and enjoyed educating shoppers about whisky. There were tons of restaurants on the Royal Mile, and we really enjoyed the staff and food at The Royal McGregor. The were very helpful, service was excellent and the food was fantastic. Some other lesser known Scottish things are Scottish marble and the quiach. Scottish marble is a greenish compound formed during the metamorphosis of limestone in the Highlands. It has been revered since the sixth century for its sacred and healing powers and prized by jewelers since the Victorian era. Scottish marble can be found on the facade of Westminster Cathedral in London. Quaich, pronounced "quake" is a two-handled drinking cup or bowl used for guests for welcoming drinks.

Views from the Royal Mile
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The Royal McGregor: https://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk

Whisky Shops:
Rober Graham: https://www.robertgraham1874.com
Cadenhead's: https://www.cadenhead.scot

We also managed to make it to the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Galleries. Both places were free, but a small donation was appreciated. The museum was near the Greyfriars Bobby monument was extremely large and reminded me of the London National History Museum. It had a lot of family exhibits, but I most enjoyed the exhibits on Scottish history, which were nicely done. The National Gallery was located near Edinburgh Castle. It was smaller and cozier, but the artwork was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the small room of Nicolas Poussin paintings.

Two other restaurants worth noting were: The Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh and The Brass Monkey. Although cliche, the Hard Rock Cafe had excellent service and the food was good. And who doesn't want to collect all of the Hard Rock t-shirts! The Brass Monkey was very eclectic and the best part was they allowed dogs inside of the pub!

Our train ride back was interesting. We had seats next to a very nice Scotsman from Aberdeen, who talked the entire train ride home. He was very nice and I quite enjoyed his Scottish accent, but my introverted self was worn out after four hours of non-stop chatting.

Overall, I really enjoyed Scotland and cannot wait to go back. The people were so friendly and helpful. There is so much to do and see and it is a gorgeous country. I am looking forward to going back to see more castles and do some tours of the Highlands.

Onto the Britannia...

Posted by LCP 10:48 Archived in Scotland Tagged whisky edinburgh castle parliament nelson yacht royal mile wool marble cashmere bobby holyrood burns britannia greyfriars Comments (1)

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