Category Archives: City

Budapest in water

 

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This was a trip in panic.I work for a company that have some contacts and work in Hungary and last Spring we needed to go and help out with some things in Hungary. And suddenly I was told: “Two more weeks, you need to go!” And I went. I spent two weeks in a little town about 1 hour outside Budapest returning home for the weekend, since it was a holiday. The last day and a half of the second week we had time to go and see some of Budapest. It was really an express visit that made me just want to see more of it. Just a first taste.

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It was in Spring, just after flooding in Hungary and Danube slowly started to sink. Slowly. When it was as highest it was 9 meters above its normal level, so some streets, pavements and some parts of the tram were under water. We don’t have much protection against nature, so when it wants to let us know who is the boss we are very much made aware of it. Wandering around the town we were made very aware of the situation as soon as we got closer to the water. There was lots of water, even if it was not as much as few weeks earlier.Shouls I call it luck? I don’t know.

One evening and one morning go by pretty fast. We checked in to our hotel, in the middle of Budapest, had some quick gin and tonic and went out for a walk, me and a colleague.The other guys set out for drinks and planned a party night. That doesn’t really appeal to me. I prefer nature, culture and sightseeing. Call me boring or snobbish, but that’s the way I am.

 

 

 

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We walked trough some tourist street, looking at cute shops and restaurants. Almost every place was serving gulash and other Hungarian specialties. I like food in this country. I really do. When you go out to a restaurant you get lots of it and it is  very good. You never walk hungry in Hungary. Besides gulash there are all different sausages, pork, beef, lamb. There are all different sorts od pepper, some very spicy, some very mild and everything in between.

We also passed different sculptures, some more modern, some more classical. I guess, like in every city. Walking through a city is always better then taking the bus, since you get closer to it, you can explore better, you can watch people. And of course stop for an ice cream. That day in Budapest was perfect for that, since it was a wonderful and warm spring day.

 

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We crossed one of the bridges to the Buda side, after a while. We saw the Zero kilometers sculpture stone, located just beneath the castle hill. Well, it’s interesting in theory, but in reality it was just some kind of modern stone sculptureand not much.

We, of course took the mountain train up to the castle. We didn’t go in, but we walked around and looked at the view. Beautiful! I have to come back here, for sure!

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After viewing the beautiful surroundings, we walked down, crossed the flood and met our workmates for a drink. Danube felt a little more friendly, compared to other floods. There were some restaurants close to it, maybe still not perfect, but better.

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After the drinks we had some food, pretty good Hungarian food with peppers and Hungarian wine. Happy! The place was nice, staff friendly and we sat outside in the mild evemimg. We talked mostly about our job, but that’s fine.

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The following day we visited the market looking at places selling all different kinds of sausages, spices and other traditional stuff. I bought some salami and spices of course. And it was time to go back home. Did I like this place? Yes!

Link? Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue

Grade? Three, maybe four. Three, for this time.

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//Monika

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Water Flowing through Amsterdam

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Welcome back to this travel blog! It’s been some time. We’ve had bathroom renovation in our place, what a mess! We stayed at my mom’s during the ten messy weeks, while she was in Poland. Otherwise we would have to pee in a bucket in the kitchen, take a shower in a shed in the yard and cook… no, no cooking. So we took the cats, some clothes, cameras and went exile. It was better then the staying at home option, but not sleeping in your own bed for over two months is not nice. And when we got back, the internet was dead. What a joke!

Now we are back, the internet is back and the bathroom and fresh, new and nice. Pretty good. And I’m back on the blog! Have we been travelling, while on exile? Have we seen some world heritage sites? Oh, yes! We went to Amsterdam and visited several sites in Holland and I was to Budapest with my work for a day. So let’s go!

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Water everywhere

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City of cheese

Amsterdam, what a city. We went there quite early this Spring, considering Spring being pretty late this year. I think it was the first weekend with sunshine and you could actually eat outside and just enjoy the warming rays of the sun. With a jacket on, but still. We decided what we wanted to do and see, we bought a flight ticket and friends told us where to stay. And all the nice, cozy and cheap places where crowded, booked, finito. It was some kind of youth event in town and some concert. And all the cheap hotels? Forget it! But after some searching we fond a five-star hotel close to the train station with one cheap room left. It was supposed to be a small room, a shead, but still a room.

When we arrived at the hotel we were told: “We’re really sorry, your room was taken we have to upgrade you to our luxury site. No extra cgarge”. To bad breakfast was not in the price. But minibar was with free refills. And Nespresso machine with as much coffe as we could drink. Pretty good deal.

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Pretty city

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City of bikes

We started out with visiting the tulip fields. I’ll write another post about it. In Amsterdam we strolled around a biit. We had some beer, coffee and food. Mostly meat, nothing special and the most wonderful pancakes. And more beer. One night we found an African restaurant and had kudu and springbock and Savanah Dry. Oh, how I long for Africa! We passed several shops with cgeese and had to try some. Great cheese!

In Amsterdam there were bikes everywhere. The city is pretty flat, so it was easy to ride a bike, but we didn’t. We walked. And walked, and walked. It was a very cute city with old buildings and smiling people. The building were often leaning and were not straight at all. I wonder why?

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City of channels

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City of weed

We took a boat tour, of course. We saw the city from the water, going through the channels, exploring the city. We looked at the leaning houses, beautiful places and seeworthy museums. Places to visit on foot and places that could be good. The tour was very nice and we met an American couple, that was travelling around Europe. Some people say that Americans are stupid that go to several European countries in a few weeks, but I think that’s a perfect thing to do. If you don’t have much time, you should still make the best of it. Take all the best gems, the rest is for later if more time and money would show up. All my respect to these eople!

More walking in Amsterdam took us to the red light district that was more sad then happy, coffee shops and shops with weed. Maybe I’m too old but I was not impressed. I was not really impressed by people that was stoned and gone. And the smell of weed was not so nice either.  Some things are magnets for wrong kind of people and that’s nothing to be proud of. That’s my opinoin.

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Gay city

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Amsterdam by night

We visited also a cat gallery. It was a wonderful place with paitingsof cats, sculptures of cats and three living, attention demanding cats. So cool! We didn’t visit any more museums. It was just a lazy weekend. We walked across the town day and night. We walked across the channels, streets and squares. The city made us feel good and embraced us, made us feel welcome. We found gay streets with rainbow flags in every shop, pub and hanging from every house, showing that everyone was welcome here, no matter who he or she liked.

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Another night view

Amsterdam is a pleasant city. You can walk or hire a bike and public transportation is cgeap and every where. I liked it!

Link: Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht.

Grade for the Amsterdam channel system:

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History of Ages Hidden in Westminster Abbey

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The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, most commonly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large church, taht is mostly Gothic. It was built in 1042 by Edward the Confessor and the current church’s construction was strted in 1245 by Henry III. The Abbey is located in the City of Westminster, London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronations, Royal weddings and burial site for English, later British monarchs. The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1540 to 1550.

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Moving back in time?

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October was still pretty green in England

While in London, in October last year, we just had to visit the Westminster Abbey.But before getting there we passed a beautiful park, where birds were flying around, ducks and geese swiming in the water and fat squirrels were chasing each other and food from happy tourists. It was a beautiful Autumn day with sunshine and blue sky. So far. We walked passed theBuckngham Palace and to the Westminster Abbey.

We decided to take an audioguide tour of the church, since the last tour with a real guide had left 10 minutes earlier. The Abbey was closing early that day, bad timing. We walked and walked and walked with the audioguides. We listned to a story about the Abbey, the old kings and queens, war and peace, blood and friendship. We listned about old heros and great scientists. The place is huge, but the history hidden here is even greater.

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Waving flag

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Timeless time at the Big Ben

We walked among memorial places, graves with well recognized names from the history books and in the poets corner.

The place it huge. All the parts started to get mixed up. The Kings, Queens, heroes. The great history of the people here, the country and the church. I think it is fair to visit this place several times, in order to be able to remember just some of the information given here.

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Part of the Abbey

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Entrance to the Westminster Abbey

Burials and old graves

  • Henry III rebuilt the Abbey in honour of the Royal Saint Edward the Confessor whose relics were placed in a shrine in the sanctuary.
  • Henry III himself was interred nearby, as were many of the Plantagenet kings of England, their wives and other relatives.
    Until the death of George II in 1760, most Kings and Queens were buried in the Abbey, some notable exceptions being Edward IV, Henry VIII and Charles I .
  • From the Middle Ages, aristocrats were buried inside chapels.
  • Monks and other people associated with the Abbey were buried in the Cloisters and other areas. One of these was Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Other poets, writers and musicians were buried or memorialised around Chaucer in what became known as Poets’ Corner.
    Abbey musicians such as Henry Purcell were also buried in their place of work.
  • Other national figures burried in the Abbey started with Admiral Robert Blake in 1657.
  • The practice spread to include generals, admirals, politicians, doctors and scientists such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
  • Another was William Wilberforce, the man who abolished slavery in the United Kingdom and the Plantations.
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Another part of the church, the place is huge.

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Yard inside

Very special Place

Having passed so much history, so many famous names that have changed to course of the history and science, in many cases, is quite special. I liked the tour, I enjoyed the place and its dignity. And yet the seriousness, the dignity and the history weights quite heavy. You are not allowed to take pictures inside. Is it because of the dignity of the place? Is it because of the security? Or maybe it’s because of its age and the facts that many tourists would use flash? I have no idea, but I gon’t have any pictures from the inside.

There were very many tourists here. The place was litterarly crowded and it was low season. I wonder how it looks in June? We walked through the whole Abbey, peeking into the monastery and its gardens and listening to birds there.

On the day we visited Abbey there was supposed to be ceremony of some kind with military veterans. The place closed early, the tourists left and the soldiers arrived. The tourist site made place for seriousness, ceremony and quiet, just as it is supposed to be.

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The Westminster Abbey on the outside

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House of the Parliament next to the Westminster Abbey

Links and Globes

The Westminster Abbey have benn a World Heritage site since 1987. Link: Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church.

The site contains of Palace, Abbey and Saint Margret’s Church. We visited only the Abbey. I was thinking about grade two globes, because of so many tourists amd a five, because of the history hidden  here. I finally decided for four globes:

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//Monika

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Strong Wind, Windmills and Spring in Kinderdijk

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As I wrote in my previous post we went to Amsterdam to welcome Spring and make our annual visit-a-European-city-in-Spring-weekend. It was some kind of youth festival in town, so all the hostels, cheap bed-and-breakfast places and hotels were taken, but we found a good deal on a five star hotel, Amrath, near the central station, so it was pretty OK. We booked, of course, the cheapest room we could find.

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Windmill and yellow flowers

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Detail on a windmill

 

When we arrived at the hotel we were told that our room was taken, and they were really sorry, but they had to upgrade us to luxury suite. No extra cost. I wasn’t sorry. The room was great with huge bed, huge bathroom, free minibar and remote for the curtains, but we were not planning on staying in the room, anyhow.

The spring was slowly waking up, sunshine was pleasant, but it was still pretty cold and the tulip fields in Keukenhof were still pretty empty, although the park was nice. I’ll write more about it later, in another post.

On the second day we decided to leave Amsterdam and visit Kinderdijk and see the windmills, a UNESCO world heritage site. Staying almost next to the train station made it easy to just leave. Breakfast was not included in the hotelprice, but coffee in the room was. So we drank coffe and ran off, buying a sandwich on the way.

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Nineteen windmills draining the area

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Windmills and canals

We took a train to Utrecht and a bus from there. Bus went thruoght really cute villages. The roads were narrow and we could not understand how two cars could pass each other, but it worked. And there were of course canals everywhere. And the landscape is flat, really flat. I think when the earth was made, someone came up with Norway and all the fjords and mountains and all the mountains were used, so when it was time for Holland there was only flatness available. No wonder they bicycle everywhere, there is no hills, what so ever.

Finally we came to Kinderdijk and saw the windmills from far away. What a great sight! Nineteen beautiful windmills, some of them still working, one for turistic reasons, as a museum. We visited it, of course, and it was really interesting.

Guess what, it was blowing there. The land is, like I said, flat, and nothing stops the wind, so it’s blowing. I think it was a pertty warm and quite sunny day, but I was freezing. The winds were still cold.

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Close-up

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It’s a world heritage site, yes it is

 

Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands. It is situated about 15 km outside of Rotterdam, in a polder. To drain the polder, a system of 19 windmills was built around 1740. This group of mills is the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the best known Dutch tourist sites. They have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Are the Dutch people proud of this site? I think so. But still they don’t make it super-commercial with pop-corn and candy and ballons, and that’s very good. But the UNESCO world heritge sign is hidden in one of the mills and I don’t know about it, I think it should be more visible when you arrive. And I’m still undecided if I think it’s good or bad that the information is there for those who want to find it, and not right in everyones face.

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Nice view

We loved this site, we were walking, looking at the windmills, looking and small yellow flowers. There were some tourists at the site, but I imagine that there are much more summertime. Do I recommend a visit to Kinderdijk? Yes, I do, for sure.

We left Kinderdijk through Rotterdam and it was not pretty as on the way there.

Link: Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout.

My grade is a very five globes:

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Blood, Polar Bears and Cravens in the Tower of London

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Time for another world heritage site: Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress that we saw in London in October last year. You don’t know it? It’s more commonly known as the Tower of London. It is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies  by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 . The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.  The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

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London Bridge, leading to the Tower of Lpndon

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Part of the Tower of London

In October last year Jany and I took our mothers to London. We wanted to listen to Carmina Byrana at Royal Albert Hall, see a few World Heritage Sites and just get away for a while. The idea to take our moms along seemed like a good one at first, but wait they actually never met before, so this could end anyhow. My mom is by the way talkative, she always has an opinion and always wants to convience anyone that she is right. Jany’s mom is calm, doesn’t talk too much and is more quiet. And now the four of us ended up in London.It was pretty OK after all, even if I was nervous and my mom tried to talk everyone down.

On the third day in the afternoon we decided to go to Tower of London. It was Halloween weekend, so we were passred by ghosts, vampires and werewolves, but when we got to the tower there were atually mostly normal people here.

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The building is huge, so this is another part

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We were not alone

We walked around the castle fascinated by its size. We listened to one of the guides at first, but then we decided to go on our own and read, look and listen to guides when we passed them, or they passed us. Maybe not as good, but we were quite late and we tried to be effective. It was still too much information for one visit, so I guess that I have to get back here.

As I wrote before the place is really old. It was cadtle, it was prison, it was treasury. It’s fascinating to see all the different time prints from different eras, different purposes and different kings. Like walking inside a history book. The oldests parts were more simple, the newer more fancy, but all the parts fit together really well and they still look like one whole piece.

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Inside one of towers

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Beautiful glass

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Fancy building in the yard

We walked in the different towers, all the different parts and you could almost feel the ghosts, the soul of the place, the glorious history and the less bright. The power struggle was pretty obvious as well. Not always criminals were thrown into the prison. Sometimes brothers get rid of each other in order to take, or protect their power, their crown and their money. And sometimes the luck turned.

The old kings had they pets from around the world. They had imported lions, elephants and evebn a polar bear that used to swim in a special pool in the castle. How did they got it there ? Poor animal, there was probably not enough snow there, it must have benn too hot, but imagine that impression of power. I gueass the guests were amazed.

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One of cravens

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This is the ledend of cravens

There were also cravens in the Tower. The legend says that as long they are there the kingdom and the crown will live in prosperity and wealth. When they go the disaster will struck and the power will shift. It’s importrant to keep the cravens there. Well, they solved it by cutting the birds wings, so they can’t fly away. It’s cheating in my eyes.

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Royal guard

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A couple of guides

The guides were dressed up in old clothes (I guess) and played often roles, pretending to be from back then. It was quite interesting and yet another story. I think it’s good for the imagination and makes the tour a little more special and theatrical.And it was fun for the kids and tourists to photograph the guides and themeselves with the guides.

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More Tower

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Old and new

We went also into the treasury to look at the royal jewels. No photography inside there, so I only have great memories. Inside the treasury there was automatic band, that we stood on aand rolled by the treasures. The jewwels, crowns, spears were beautiful. Gold, diamonds and other presious stones. Just beautiul, really worth seeing. I think that both mothers were really impressed. We were as well.

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Protecting cannon

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Detail

The Tower of London became world heritage in 1988. Link to the site: Tower of London.

My grade is three gloves. There is almost everything here: history, blood, treasure and beauty, maybe too much people.

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