Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Teszlers, especially the constant laughter of Sonja and Panni.
The view of Buda's hills from the flat.
Experiencing Hungary's unique history through all the sites.
The girls teaching us Hungarian potty-humor.
The cafe on every street corner (and the lack of Starbucks).
Istvan's daily lectures.
The compact European cars.
Listening to the Hungarian language.
All our time together.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tomorrow we will begin the long trip home, but only after a difficult goodbye. We worked so hard to get everything possible out of this adventure. Today was spent rough-housing with the girls and taking the last walks around the neighborhood.
When the evening rolled around, we made our way to the Papp László Sportaréna to enjoy an unexpected visitor in concert. B.B. King and his band just so happened to be touring through Europe this month. To keep the story short, he was quite the lively 83 year-old.
I think everyone in the flat tonight is feeling waves of sadness. Our departure will not be easy. Oh, if only we could stay longer!
Last goodnight from Budapest,
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I can't believe tomorrow is our last full day in Budapest, Hungary.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
We stayed in Balatonfüred, located on the northern shore, at an apartment-style hotel (pictured above). We had everything from a garden to a kitchen. Down the street were shops, the beach, parks and the collosal lake.
We rented a rowboat for thirty minutes with Sonja and Panni, before it became too dark. The lake was coated with swans and ducks on the banks. After the sun set, which is surprisingly extremely late, we checked out the wild night-life of Lake Balaton. We witnessed a lot of interesting things. Just ask one of us for the details.
On Monday, we visited Tihany, a small lake village sprinkled with stores, ice cream parlors and an inviting church that was built in the year 1055! On both sides of Tihany, the peninsula, you could get a real sense of how massive Lake Balaton is no matter where you look.
What we really like about Hungary is how traditional it is. It is famous for paprika (pictured above), the Rubik's cube, lace, wine and dishes, and all the little shops show how appreciative they are of the culture.
Today, we checked out of our hotel and drove to Szigliget. Enormous, green hills masked the scenery, with only a narrow road to drive on. We parked for a while to look at the Ruins Castle and met up with one of Gabi's colleagues, Maria.
Maria owns a pizzeria in town, but lives in a century-old wine cellar, converted into a home. It rested within a series of terraces overlooking the rolling hills and the great blue Balaton.
After the reunion, we chose the longer route to Budapest, making a full loop around the lake. The extra hour was a nice trade-off for the scenic view, even though the ambiance was interrupted by two singing girls in the back seat.
Lake Balaton served as our little vacation from a vacation. Everything exceeded what we could have imagined. Hungary is truly a special place.
Sorry for the wait,
Joe and Sophia
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Szentendre was absolutely gorgeous. The cobblestone streets were littered with little shops and artful cafes. An extremely narrow staircase lead to an old church overlooking the entire town. Sophia really enjoyed the picturesque Szentendre. An evil lady lived there that did not take too kindly to our doggy companion, Stracci. She was yelling in Hungarian, but the 'tude is universal.
Nevertheless, we had a wonderful day.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The second museum was the Holocaust Museum, commemorating the Jews and Gypsies. Through a maze of maps, slices of life, and dark images, it became a memento of how many daunting hardships Hungary has endured.
On a lighter note, the sun peeked out momentarily and a rainbow dangled over Budapest. It was the third rainbow I've seen since I got here and it was so alluring, especially after a very dismal day.
It's late and I'm sleepy. Good night everyone.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Today we awoke early to make the meager two-hour drive into Vienna, Austria. I could not believe how much money seemed to go into each building. Although Vienna was much more crowded than Budapest, everything seemed pristine and orderly. Truth be told, I prefer the more modest downtown Budapest.
As it is almost midnight here, I forget about the seven hour time difference back home.
Good night all,
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
After a refreshing walk, we toured the gothic Parliament building. Agnus, our ancient and stern tour guide, gave us historical lesson about the different eras of Hungary. We saw the changing of the guard, the Crown Jewel (or as Mr. Tessler calls it, the Hungarian Hat), and the House of Lords (pictured above). To be polite, Agnus was politically charged and very adamant about people listening to her lecture.
After the Parliament, we went to St. Stephen's Basilica (pictured above). Inside the cathedral was his right hand in a box, but Joe and I didn't see it. For such a quaint country, it has a rough history.
Tomorrow, we're off to Austria for a day! :)
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Afterwards, we walked along the narrow sidewalks. We went around numerous cafes , but not one Starbucks. We saw the Jewish ghettos from the 1940s and toured a gorgeous synagogue, filled with breath-taking images from that time period.
And tomorrow the whole thing starts over again!
Good night (although you are eating dinner soon).
Monday, July 6, 2009
Right after that, we drove to the Citadel: a fortress with a motif about war and freedom. The drive wasn't very long, but the balcony view at the Teszler's flat makes everything seem so far apart. We walked uphill to the monuments, the small shops that sold Rubik's cubes and Hungarian lace, and the sights of both Buda, Pest, and the Danube. A lot of the architecture reminded me of my sister and Robert.
This is the beautiful view from the balcony. Every window of the flat has a breath-taking view. We've had a little rain here, but the weather is nice and cool. The city stretches for miles and miles.
This trip has been nothing short of incredible.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
My cousins' flat is absolutely perfect. These Teszlers are so loving and hospitable. Their balcony overlooks the historic Buda Castle and the many winding roads in and out of downtown. I'm already stuffed with delicious local food and pampered with espresso from a real European bistro.
Despite our undeniable jet-lag, we took an evening drive through the most narrow roads, packed with parallel parked cars (nothing but sub-compact sedans) and weaving around pedestrians and oncoming traffic as if it were a video game. We stopped for a lovely stroll atop the castle's barrier walls and the surrounding area, all while enjoying a light rain shower.
So much has happened in a single day. Will I even make it through the two weeks? :D
Instead of spending our eight-hour layover in JFK, we took a trip through Queens with Mr. Tessler's childhood friend, Mr. Jerry. Mr. Jerry just had this rare, positive aura and in a city that's notorious for its hustle and bustle, it was refreshing. I wouldn't have wanted to spend that layover any other way.
The flight to Hungary was much better than the one to New York. Less turbulence, friendly people, and plenty of time to anticipate the landing.
Hope everyone is doing well. :)
We love you,
Friday, July 3, 2009
In 24 hours we will NOT be in Hungary, but enjoying our eight hour layover in JFK international. It will be a long day.. and night of traveling... and waiting.
This little white netbook will be our modern-day journal. I will carry it everywhere with me, ready to blog anything interesting Sophia or I see.
I hope you all enjoy reading about our trip.