Archive | July, 2012


30 Jul

Old town Bratislava.

“New” town!

We spent 24  hours in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on our way to Prague where we will spend three days.

We like Bratislava – especially the old town and its architecture. Bratislava is “recovering” more slowly than Budapest and Prague from the 45 years of occupation by the Soviets. But there is a lot of investment going on with dozens of major international corporations, like Volkswagen, building manufacturing facilities.

There is a lot of graffiti, some “organized” as above, but too much of what I would describe as vandalism  tagged on beautiful old buildings . And it has not been removed! There is more litter here compared Budapest and Vienna, both of which have little to none. The outer parts of Bratislava look unattractive to me with buildings like the second one above.


Buda and Pest

22 Jul

Budapest was originally two cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube. And, when the cities combined into one, it was first named Pestbuda!

The above photo was taken from the Citadel with Buda on the left and Pest to the right. Buda is much older and more residential today – the preferred place to live and more expensive than Pest (pronounced Pesht). Pest is flat and more commercial with Parliament, universities, the national theater, national museum, parks, and monuments. Pest was devastated by a huge flood in 1838 and rebuilt using the design of Paris as a model. So, the buildings in Pest are relatively new compared  to the 500 and 600 year old buildings in Buda.

View of Parliament building from the west.

View of Parliament building looking north.


21 Jul

Sopron is a delightful Baroque Hungarian border town with Austria where we stayed on our way back to Budapest from Vienna.

Szentendre, Hungary is about 20 miles up the Danube from Budapest. We took an hour and a half boat ride to visit this small arts community.


17 Jul

Juxtaposition of old and new – 14th church and 21st century modern building

We are in Vienna for three days and today followed the advice from a Rick Steves guide book – Tram ride around the old town, walking tour and lunch followed by a visit to the Hofburg Palace – the home of the Hapsburg dynasty for 600 years, ending in 1914 with the outbreak of WWI.

Scene in front of our pension – Pension Nossek – Starbucks!

Mozart lived here for about a year in this same building as our pension where he composed the Abduction from Seraglio.

Budapest – Jewish Quarter

15 Jul

Dohany Street Synagogue

We visited the Jewish Quarter today including the Great Synagogue, the Tree of Life, the Jewish Museum, and a bit of the Jewish Quarter (Jewish ghetto of WWII).

The Tree of Life is a Memorial to the Holocaust victims with a name on each leaf.


Budapest Exploration

14 Jul

It has been hot and we are somewhat tired from the heat – so we take short afternoon naps after venturing about in the morning and early afternoon. We certainly are on European and vacation time,  eating dinner at around 8:30 – 9:00 PM – much later than at home. 

The first couple of days here we picked up a monthly transportation pass good for all methods of public transit, negotiated Metro to get to a large shopping mall – at one time the largest in Hungary – where we found the T Mobile store to procure a SIM card, shopped for groceries, visited the Great Hall (a Pike Place Market kind of place), eaten ice cream on Vaci Street (Budapest’s pedestrian friendly shopping street), and walked around our immediate area (only getting lost once!).  

We  have been back to the Great Hall several times, now, to purchase fresh produce and fruit – it is only a five minute walk from our apartment

Each day we venture further away from our Raday Utca (street) apartment. Julianna, Emily’s sister, is visiting for two weeks, and we are exploring with her. Today we walked the full length of Vaci Street, stopped for refreshments, went down to the Danube River to scope out the Danube River boat tours which we will take today or tomorrow.

In preparation for our trip Emily and I took Hungarian language lessons for four months. Our teacher, AnnaMaria Winters, is a native of Hungary and teaches ESL at Shoreline Community College. We were fortunate to learn a lot about Hungary in addition to our weekly language lessons. Later in August we will visit with AnnaMaria and her mother in Szeged – located in southern Hungary.

Getting ready for Budapest

7 Jul

Leaving on Monday, we are organized, ready and almost packed. We are taking only the amount of clothes that can fit into one carryon suitcase for each of us, two laptops (I will be teaching my online class while in Hungary – Emily will keep up with her authoring and publishing), an iPad, two cameras, photocopies of all of our important documents, cash in euros, florints and dollars, as well as credit and debit cards. We have arranged to be met at the Budapest Airport and taken to our apartment. Emily’s sister, Juliana, will be arriving two days later and will spend two weeks with us, including a side trip to Vienna. And in August, our friends from France, Alain and Roseline, will be with us for a week.