February 23, 2018

Honoring D-Day

Earlier this week was the 67th anniversary of D-Day, so here are some pictures of  Normandy in honor of all the men and women  who so bravely fought for our freedom!

Today, the beautiful idyllic beaches belie the horror that was experienced here many years ago.Normandy Beach France

What amazed me was the amount of German Artillery and other military armaments that are still in the area.German Artillery found in Normandy France

Pont du Hoc was the sight of a awful battle which resulted in the land being pockmarked by all the bombs that were dropped.  The craters can still be seen today and many are more than 6’ deep!Pont du Hoc Normandy France

One of the most amazing and serene places to visit is the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.  This somber place overlooks Omaha Beach and the English Channel.

There are 9,387 US service men and women buried here.American Cemetery Normandy France

At the center of the cemetery is the The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves statue.Normandy Statue at American Cemetery France

Etched on the inner face of the arc surrounding the statue are the words:




For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Langauge: A Necessary Part of Travel

Language is an interesting and integral part of traveling.  The lack of communication can cause fear, trepidation and frustration but also offer some humorous moments.

To help alleviate some communication issues, I always try to learn a few important words or phrases of the language(s) I will experience before departing.  For example:

Hello/Good Day: Guten Tag, Hola, Bonjour
Good bye: Auf Wiedersehn, Adios, Au revoir
Thank you:
Dankeschön, Muchas gracias, Merci
Do you speak English?: Sprechen sie englisch?, Habla ingles?, Parlez-vous anglais?

I even try to make sure I know what to avoid on menus:

German menu by olishaw, on Flickr

German menu by olishaw, on Flickr

Liver: Leber, Hígado, Foie
Fish: Fisch, Pescado, Poisson

Plus a few food items that I know are sure things!

Cheese: Kase, Queso, Fromage
Suppe, Sopa, Potage
Salat, Ensalada, Salade
Huhn, Pollo, Poulet

And I always know how to ask for the ever important beer/wine please 🙂

One beer please! Ein bier bitte! or Una cerveza por favor!
One wine please!
Un vin s’il vous plaît

I realized on my last trip in Switzerland that I am more comfortable in German speaking countries.  During this trip I spent time in both the French and German speaking regions of Switzerland.  As the train made it’s way from Montreux to the Zurich airport I saw the signs switch from French to German and noticed that I immediately felt more comfortable!

This was a new revelation for me and I can’t really explain it.

French exit sign by kalleboo, on Flickr

French exit sign by kalleboo, on Flickr

I don’t remember being uncomfortable in France or having more communication issues. I do recognize more German words than French plus on my very first trip to Europe I took a train from Germany to Paris and found the German conductors much nicer and more helpful than their French counterparts.  Could this be why I’m more comfortable with German?

This leads me to the main point of this post.  Some of you know I will be visiting Budapest this summer.  What you don’t know is I have been feeling a little apprehensive about the visit. I am traveling solo this year, which I have done many times before.  I am traveling by train, which I have done before.  I don’t ever remember feeling any trepidation prior to foreign travel, so why now?

Spanish sign by arvindgrover, on Flickr

Spanish sign by arvindgrover, on Flickr

After giving this some thought, I feel the reason for my angst is because the Hungarian language is so different than any other language I have been exposed to.  I don’t recognize any words or terms.  When looking at Hungarian websites, no words pop out so I can even take a wild guess.  This language is completely foreign to me!

Hungarian sign by lorentey, on Flickr

Hungarian sign by lorentey, on Flickr

For better or for worse, I speak English.  I am not bilingual by any one’s definition!  But on all my trips I have always been able to muddle through and have successful trips.  Despite my uncomfortable feelings, I know everything will work out fine on this trip too.  Trust me, I won’t starve!

German dinner by Conanil, on Flickr

German dinner by Conanil, on Flickr



Are you more comfortable with one language over another?

Have you felt nervous prior to foreign travel?

Do you have a humorous story relating to language to tell?

A Budapest Wine Adventure

After my Beer Extravaganza in Bamberg Germany I figure it will be time to look for something else to drink.

Doing a little digging, I found that Hungary has quite a wine history.  Bingo, looks like wine will be on the menu while in Budapest!

Tokaji Wine Hungary

Tokaji Wine by Uzo19

Hungary’s wine history goes back to Roman times and has had some very tall highs and some very low lows.  The wines of Hungary are indeed legendary and were favorites of Popes, Royalty and “stars” of the time like Schubert, Goethe, Haydn and Liszt.  In fact, Tokaji wine was the first wine to receive a formal classification and this was even before France!

With all this popularity, when did it change?

Hungary’s history has included a lot of turmoil but none affected the wine industry as much as the events after WWII.   With the end of World War II, communism took over governing Hungary.  During the communist rule, the government claimed all vineyards and turned them into state owned farms.  With competition gone, the goal was quantity not quality.  This is when Hungarian wines went from being revered to trash.

A breath of fresh air was pumped into the wine industry with the collapse of communism. Since then, Hungarian wines have been trying to restore their once held supreme status.  The process of reclaiming this wine producing area has been slow but Hungarian wines seem to making some headway!

If you’re able to spend some time in Hungary then visiting the countryside including the regions famous for wine would be a great way to get to know Hungary and its wines.

Vineyard near Eger

Vineyard near Eger by Themightyquill

The Lake Balaton region is about 2 hours from Budapest and is famous for its white wines and outdoor activities.  This large, shallow lake is home to many recreational pursuits including windsurfing, golf, and horseback riding but this summer resort is also known for its sandy beaches, thermal baths, medieval ruins and Festetics chateau.

Lake Balaton Views Hungary

Lake Balaton Views BlackTigerHUN, on Flickr

Since Eger is only about 30 minutes from Budapest, it is a very popular day trip.  This beautiful Baroque city is home to a Prison museum, castle, thermal baths and the most northern Turkish minaret.    This region is famous for its red wine known as “Bulls Blood” but now days is also producing some very nice whites.

Eger Hungary

Eger by Aqwis

Villany is known for its rural atmosphere which is full of picturesque villages and rolling hills as well as its superb red and rose wines.  There is a Wine route which make it’s very easy to taste the wine and some vineyards also offer overnight stays.  Other than the thermal baths, medieval castle and pilgrimage church make sure to spend some time in Pecs where you will find Baroque houses, medieval monuments and Roman burial vaults.

Villany Vineyard Hungary

Vineyard hills of Villány by access.denied, on Flickr

The Tokaj region is a UNESCO World Heritage region due to its formal classification received in 1770 – 100 years before Bordeaux!  This is the most famous wine region in Hungary and is up in the far northern part of the country.  The city of Tokaj is at the confluence of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers and offers many architectural wonders from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Vineyard in Tokaj Region Hungary

Vineyard in Tokaj Region Hungary by Susulyka

During my trip I will not be able to visit the Hungarian countryside but I will be enjoying a Budapest Wine Adventure just from a seat in a tasting cellar!


Have you had Hungarian Wine?

Suggestions for a wine cellar to visit?

Mystery Picture Take 2!

Today’s entry into Travel Photo Thursday is actually a re-posting of a blog I wrote back in February.  I have a picture that I can not identify and am hoping someone out there can help me figure out where this is!  I’d post it in Budget Travel Adventures  “Where in the world am I?” but I don’t know where I am 🙂  So now it’s your turn, do you know where I am?

How many of you have gone on a trip, taken tons of pictures,  come home and are not able to identify one or more of them?  It seems that no matter how many times you go over them or retrace your every step, you still cannot figure out what or where that picture is.  Frustrating?  Very.  Happen often?  Unfortunately, too often!

I sure hope I am not the only that has this issue and I hope someone out there can help me with a dilemma.  Recently I was going through some pictures and found one that I just cannot identify.  I know it is in France, somewhere between Bordeaux and St. Jean de Luz.

Below is a picture of a lovely garden but I have no clue its name or the city it is in.  Can anyone out there help me out?

So did you figure it out?



For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

A Merry Cemetery in Romania!

Where ever I travel, I love wandering through cemeteries.  Strange as this may seem, I find it interesting looking at the tombstones marking the graves, seeing how far they date back, how old the person was when they died and sometimes the cause of death.  It’s interesting to combine the dates with history to understand more about the times they lived in. Cemeteries have quite a genealogy of the surrounding area!

Europe is full of great cemeteries dating back for eons.  If you find cemeteries as fascinating as I do, then I have found one you will want to visit!

Cemetary of happiness by glenmcbethlaw, on Flickr

Cemetary of happiness by glenmcbethlaw, on Flickr

Cimitirul Vesel (MerryCemetery) is in Sapanta Romania and is full of tombstones that are not only colorful but are decorated in a way that characterize the person buried below.  A story of their life is usually portrayed and most include a little poem.  On the tombstone you may find women weaving or baking bread or men plowing or tending sheep.  The beautiful color on the tombstones is known as “Sapanta Blue”.
Merry Cemetary by glenmcbethlaw, on Flickr

Merry Cemetery by glenmcbethlaw, on Flickr

This optimism towards death and the colorful headstones are thought to be attributed to the Dacian’s who believed in eternity and that death leads to a better life.  The poems included are written as a message from the dead to the living.

Sapanta Cemetery by Gabi Agu, on Flickr

Sapanta Cemetery by Gabi Agu, on Flickr

The Merry Cemetery was founded in 1935 by Stan Ioan Patras who was a local artist and the sculptor of the first tombstone.  When he died in 1977 his apprentice Damitru Pop Tincu took over making the tombstones for the village.

As an example of the poems on the tombstones, here is the one on Stan Ioan Patras’:

Cimitirul Vesel de la Sapanta by Pixi

Cimitirul Vesel de la Sapanta by Pixi

Since I was a little boy
I was known as Stan Ioan Pătraş

Listen to me, fellows
There are no lies in what I am going to say

All along my life
I meant no harm to anyone
But did good as much as I could
To anyone who asked

Oh, my poor World
Because It was hard living in it

When I stumbled upon the Merry Cemetery in Romania, I was completely taken in by its beauty and its message.  I hope you feel the same.



To get a better vision of Cimitirul Vesel, here is a short video I found on youtube


Do you like exploring cemeteries?

What is your favorite cemetery?