May 30, 2017

Art Around Town: Budapest

To enjoy art you don’t have to visit a museum.  In fact, art can be seen while wandering the streets of any city you visit.  You see it in the statues, monuments, fountains and buildings lining the streets and squares.

A city that has a lot of art along its streets is Budapest Hungary where the streets are full of beautiful buildings and hundreds of sculptures.  But you better be prepared to look up to take in all the amazing art work.

Here are a few examples of the beautiful artwork you’ll see wandering the streets of Budapest!

 

Parliament Building

This icon of Budapest sits beautifully along the Danube River.  Best seen either from the river or from across the river, this Neo-gothic design was completed in 1902 and is one of the largest Parliament buildings in the world.  Look closely and you’ll see many statues of Hungarian rulers, arcades, gargoyles and spires along with other Gothic decorations.

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Stunning Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

St Stephen’s Basilica

Named in honor of Stephen the first King of Hungary, the Neo-classic basilica was completed in 1905 and, along with the Parliament Building, is one of the tallest buildings in the city.  Walk around the facade enjoying the many columns, 2 bell towers, the bust of King Stephen over the main portal, the beautiful tympanon over the main portal and statues of the 12 apostles.

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica Budapest Hungary

Wonderful western facade St Stephens Basilica

Museum of Ethnography

Originally built to house the Supreme Court, the Museum of Ethnography is housed in a 19th century palace.  The architectural masterpiece is stunning from the outside but I’ve heard the inside is even more impressive.  Look at all the statues adorning the top of this building!

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography Budapest Hungary

Art litters the top of the Museum of Ethnography

Opera House

Liszt and Erkel adorn the lower portion of the beautiful Opera House but take a look up and you’ll see statues of some of the world’s greatest composers lining the top.  Included are Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi.

Great composers line the top of the Opera House Budapest Hungary

Look up to see some of the worlds greatest composers!

Hungarian National Bank

Besides the beautiful entrance, people come to see the bas-reliefs adorning the outside of the Hungarian National Bank.  These reliefs depict trade across the ages from camel traders to tea traders.  Sitting along Freedom Square, the building is a wonderful example of the late classical style.

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank Budapest

Notice the Bas-Reliefs along the Hungarian National Bank

As you can see, Budapest is full of many examples of art around town and now you’re forewarned you might develop a sore neck taking it all in!

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures, make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Less Crowded Options for European Summer Travels

School is almost out which means summer vacations are right around the corner. If you’re able to vacation any time of year, you might not choose summer to visit Europe but many vacationers only have summertime for a European family vacation.

So how do you beat the summer crowds in Europe?

In my local Sunday paper I found a list of travel options that are less crowded than the more popular destinations. Here are their suggestions for quieter summer destinations in Europe!

Budapest Hungary instead of Paris France

Danube and Parliament Building Budapest Hungary

Budapest by ** Maurice **, on Flickr

Paris is probably one of the most well known travel destinations in the world so it’s not surprising Paris is crowded during the summer! While Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Seine River, the Louvre and the Champs Elysee bring people to Paris, Budapest also has its well known sites. People come to Budapest to see the Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament Building, the grand boulevard Andrassy Ut and its Spas. Some even say Budapest is the most beautiful city in Central Europe and with the beautiful views over the Danube River I can see why Budapest has earned this label. Budapest and Paris both have long and tumultuous histories, grand architecture covering a vast array of time periods, beautiful cathedrals and gobs of cultural opportunities!

Korcula Croatia instead of Corfu Greece

Panorama of Korčula Croatia

Panorama of Korčula by Zupec on wikimedia

Korcula and Corfu are both stunning islands that offer warm weather, crystal clear waters and beautiful beaches but the comparisons stop there. Sitting off the coast of Greece, Corfu has been the playground for the rich and famous for eons. The island also has a rich heritage dating back to 1300 BC and is full of historic monuments and museums displaying archeological finds from the temples and ancients cities on the island. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation centered on water and beaches, then Korcula may be the perfect place for you! Relax on one of the beautiful beaches, kayak around some of the other islands or snorkel in the clear cool waters of the Adriatic. Korcula also offers great views back to the Dalmation Coast of Croatia!

Baltic Coast of Germany instead of Bavaria Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island Germany

National Park Jasmund on Rugen Island by Thomas Wolf on wikimedia

If Germany is your destination, you really can’t go wrong visiting either Bavaria or the Baltic Coast.  But if you’re looking for a quieter seaside trip, then the Baltic is an excellent option. When I wrote Warnemunde – A Baltic Beach Resort the number one comment I received was people were surprised Germany has beaches. Yes Germany has glorious beaches and Warnemunde is just one of them! The Baltic coast had been a popular resort area with the aristocrats for years and since reunification, this coastline is gaining in popularity but is still a peaceful respite from the summer crowds found in the more popular tourist destinations. Germany’s Baltic coast is full of long sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, sand dunes, popular resort islands, nature reserves and quaint seaside towns with centers that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Baltic coast still maintains a very definite maritime feel and is a great place to relax while watching sailboats or enjoy a walk or bike ride along the miles of sandy beaches!

What other less-crowded European destinations can you suggest?

Art Around Town – Statues & Fountains

I’ve got good news for those of you that don’t like museums!  To see art you don’t have to enter a museum.

Walking around a town you will run into all kinds of interesting and beautiful pieces of art.  As with all art, they can and do evoke all kinds of feelings and are a great way to learn a little history including who or what is important to the citizens.

I’ve found Statues and Fountains  wandering Europe that . . .

Honors Brave Deeds as the the Girondist column and fountain in Bordeaux France!  This beautiful column celebrates a small group of revolutionaries who banded together to save the republic.

Girondist Column Bordeaux France

Added to the peace and beauty of a garden as do all the statues and fountains found in Mirabell Gardens.  These Gardens are one of  the most popular places in Salzburg Austria and the artwork really adds to the beauty of the gardens (IMO)!

Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

Told a tale of unrequited love depicted in the lovely Matthias Fountain found on Budapest’s Castle Hill.  The Fountain depicts a hunting scene where the young King met and fell in love with a peasant girl.

Matthias Fountain Budapest Hungary

Honors a beloved ruler like  Kunigunde.   King Heinrich and his wife, Kunigunde, made Bamberg their home and are one of Bamberg’s favorite rulers.

Kunigunde Bamberg Germany

Impressed me with the artistic ability of the craftsman.   At the southern entrance to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna Austria are statues depicting “The Labors of Hercules” by Lorenzo Matelli.  I found them all to be amazing and this is just one!

Labors of Hercules Vienna Austria

Even add a lighthearted feel to a city street.  Look who I ran into on a corner in Potsdam Germany – The Green Family! No clue what the significance is, I just found it interesting 🙂

Green Family Potsdam Germany

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t feel they like art, I think we’ve all been impressed by some of the Statues and Fountains we’ve stumbled into while traveling.

 

What Statues and Fountains have impressed you?

 

These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

European Lodging – The Choice is Yours

George Bernard Shaw said “The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a great refuge from home life”. This too true statement is indicative of why the choice of hotel when traveling is so difficult and important!

Luckily Europe has many different lodging options which will add to the enjoyment of your escape! Here are a few that I’ve been lucky enough to have stayed at.Alpenrose Hotel Mittenwald Germany

Hotels can be wonderful traditional guest houses like Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Hotel Alpenrose in Mittenwald Germany. Make sure you know whether they have elevators and are prepared for stairs if they don’t! Also make sure you know whether there is a bar or restaurant on the first floor. This may mean it may be a bit noisier than expected.View Schloss Hotel Rheinfels Germany

They can be Luxury class beauties set on the shores of an equally beautiful lake as with Palace Hotel on Lake Lucerne and Suisse Majestic Montreux Switzerland or seaside in the Hotel du Palais Biarritz France or even have amazing views of rivers like the Schloss Hotel Rheinfels in St. Goar Germany. I don’t have the opportunity to stay in luxury hotels often since the price is not usually in my budget but can say I’ve enjoyed staying in luxury accommodations even if I wonder if they are really me.

Gasthof Fraundorfer Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany

Gasthof Fraundorfer by Q-BEE, on Flickr

There are 4 star large basic properties conveniently located for train travel such as the Intercity Hotel in Mainz and Hotel Excelsior Erfurt Germany. Not usually my first choice but I really did enjoy how close they were to the train station and the city centers of both were easily reached.

Green hotels like Hotel Victoria Freiburg Germany which boasts they are the “most eco friendly hotel in the world” and they just might be! All electricity and heat come from renewable sources like solar, wind and wood pellet heating. The thermal solar panels on the roof and the natural materials used throughout hotel make for a wonderful experience and the Victoria is also convenient to both the train station and city center!BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany

Historic architectural treasures in perfect locations – Old Town city centers – but not completely convenient for train travel BarockHotel am Dom Bamberg Germany and Kasererbraeu Salzburg Austria. The beautiful building housing the Barockhotel dates back to 1520 while the Kasererbraeu is from 1342 and was once a monastery and brewery before becoming protected by UNESCO!

Hotels I’m glad I read the online reviews of so I wasn’t completely frightened by the entrance, Panorama Central in Budapest. A wonderful oasis once you got inside but honestly a little unsettling getting to! Moral to this story, READ online reviews!

Known for its history and spa, Schwarzer Bock Wiesbaden. I’ve been lucky to stay here two times and can say this is one of my favorite hotels. Dating back to 1486, the Schwarzer Bock is a classic beauty- luxurious and yet very comfortable. And in a wonderful location!

Hotel I fell in love with because there was a heat wave and it was air conditioned refrigerated, Grauer Baer Innsbruck! I would stay at this property again because it was very convenient to Old Town and train station.

While my preferred type of lodgings are guest houses and architectural and historic beauties, in some way, all of the hotels I’ve stayed in have added to my enjoyment and experience I had in their cities and villages.

What do you look for when choosing a hotel for your trip?

Europe’s Natural Monuments

While traveling we all visit monuments erected to honor those who have helped shape our history, but sometimes it is the world’s Natural Monuments that leave us speechless.

I am no spelunker but I am intrigued by caves and the underground world created by a Karst landscape.

A Karst is a unique landscape formed by the weathering of water soluble rock like Limestone, Marble and Dolomite. Rain water trickles down through openings in the rock and over time erodes the rock creating passages. Some of the larger passages we know as caves or caverns. Obviously this process takes eons to develop but it is this process that makes the beauty that lies beneath the ground.

Skocjan Caves Slovenia

Skocjan Caves Slovenia by Jabbi

The Karst landscape is identified by a lack of surface streams and a network of openings below the surface. The openings can be sinkholes, disappearing stream, springs and even caves. This fragile ecosystem is home to many plants, bacteria, fish and spiders that flourish in a dark and static world.

Domica Cave near Slovakia and Hungary

Domica Cave by jojo

It is estimated that 10% of the Earth is composed of a Karst landscape and although it is the underground wonders that we are most familiar with, I’m sure you would recognize some of the above ground Karst landscapes too!

El Torcal near Malaga Spain

El Torcal near Malaga Spain by Jakub Botwicz

Karst Landscape Minerve France

Karst Landscape Minerve France by Hugo Soria

Here are a few below the surface natural wonders you might want to visit while wandering through Europe.

Moravian Karst
Moravia is a well known part of the Czech Republic but this natural beauty sits in 120 square kilometers of landscape that includes caves, caverns, underground lakes and rivers. There are 4 caves that are open to the public but the Macocha Gorge is the most famous. The gorge is over 500 feet deep and includes 2 ponds and the Punkva River which runs underground for part of its journey. During your visit to the caves you can explore both on foot and by boat and you will be thrilled by the beauty and serenity of the cave which includes many stalactites and stalagmites. There is even a chair lift to the top of the gorge allowing amazing views across the landscape.

Moravian Karst Czech Republic

Moravian Karst by YuKengShih, on Flickr

Skocjan Caves
These UNESCO listed caves are part of an amazing limestone plateau that is full of stunning caves and tunnels near the tiny village of Skocjan in Slovenia. The landscape has been carved over time by the Reka River which actually disappears underground near Skocjan and reappears 27 miles away. While underground, the river carves through rock leaving behind amazing scenery! Near the exit you will hear the rushing river from below and see the huge Murmuring Cave, which is actually the largest underground canyon.

Škocjan Caves Slovenia by Ramon

Škocjan Caves by Ramon

Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
Located near the border of Hungary and Slovakia is another UNESCO listed site that is also the most explored Karst area in Europe. To date, there have been 712 caves identified including an Ice cave and one known as the Fairy Tale cave. This area shows both tropical and glacial climatic affects which allows for an even greater variety of wonders! The caves in this area offer a glimpse into evolution, archeology and local cultures. The Baradla-Domica Cave system actually connects Hungary and Slovakia and is home to the world’s highest stalagmites!

Domica Cave near Hungary and Slovakia

Domica Cave by Jojo

All these caves are beautiful, distinctive and breathtaking. Touring them will leave you marveling at these Natural Monuments!

What Natural Monuments do you enjoy?

 

Honoring Heroes in Budapest

Monday we celebrate Memorial Day in the United States.

Originally began as a day of remembrance for fallen Union soldiers from the Civil War, today it is a day to remember and honor all those who have died during military service fighting for our freedom and independence.

While thinking about Memorial Day I thought about European countries I’ve been in and their memorials to service men and women.  This reminded me of Budapest and Heroes’ Square.

Millennium Monument Heroes Square Budapest Hungary by Paul Manniz

Millennium Monument Heroes Square Budapest Hungary by Paul Manniz

In the center of Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Monument.  This grand monument depicts various historical elements of Hungary and honors those that lost their lives fighting for freedom and independence.

Collonnade with War Heroes Square Budapest Hungary

Colonnade with War

In the back and to each side are colonnades that form a semi-circle.  Each is adorned with figures from Hungarian history.  On the inner edges and opposite each other are statues depicting War and Peace.

Column at Heroes Square Budapest

Column with Gabriel at top

Moving towards the front is a column with the Archangel Gabriel on top.  Gabriel is holding the crown of Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen.  At the base of the column are a group of mounted figures representing Magyar Chieftains who helped found Hungary.

Magyar Chieftains Heroes Square Budapest Hungary

Magyar Chieftains

At the front is an empty tomb that is dedicated to the heroes of Budapest who gave their lives fighting for freedom and independence. 

Chieftains and War and Peace at Heroes Square Budapest

Chieftains with War and Peace on each side

 

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

Architectural Gem in Budapest

Even though Budapest left me feeling Bleh, there were some amazing architectural gems I found in the city by the Danube.

One of these is the State Opera House. 

Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House

Built as part of the Hungarian millennial celebration of 1896, the Opera house was designed by one of Hungary’s most important architects, Miklos Ybl.

The building itself is a Neo-Renaissance beauty that also exhibits many Baroque elements.  Across the top you will notice many statues of the world’s great composers including Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi and Tchaikovsky.

Liszt Budapest Hungary Opera

Liszt

Adorning the front are wrought iron lamps and 2 sphinx statues that seem to be guarding the entrance.  You will also notice a statue on either side of the main entrance.  These are two of Hungary’s most famous composersFranz Liszt is on the right and the first director of the opera, Ferenc Erkel is on the left.

Sphinx Statue Budapest Hungary Opera House

Sphinx Statue

With all the detail in this building, you can see why it took almost 10 years to complete! 

Side View Budapest Hungary Opera

Carriage Way

These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.
For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

A Photo Essay on European Statues

Oh the places you go and the characters you’ll meet while traveling!

Besides being works of art, history can be experienced through the statues or monuments dotting a city or village.  Through them we come to know who or what was important to the citizens.

Here are a few of the statues and monuments I stumbled upon while visiting Europe last summer.

Neptune Statue Bamberg Bavaria Germany

A great meeting place in Bamberg Germany is the Neptune statue locally called Gabelmann.  Standing near the Gruner Markt in the pedestrian only area of Bamberg, the statue is also a popular place to enjoy an afternoon ice cream.Matthias Klotz Mittenwald Bavaria Germany

This homage to Mittenwald’s native son, Mathias Klotz, indicates the important role he played in the village.  Mittenwald is a picturesque village nestled up against the mountains in southern Bavaria that is known for its violin and string instrument manufacturing.  It was Mathias Klotz who brought this esteem to his home town which continues to this day.Statue near Inn River Innsbruck Austria

I ran into these little guys while exploring Innsbruck Austria.  While they sit near the river Inn, I never did find out what this statue represents but it did intrigue me.  To me they look like they are sneaking into the city.  Are they just having fun or about to engage in something more nefarious?Water Statue Mirabell Gardens Salzburg Austria

The beautiful Mirabell Gardens should not be missed on any visit to Salzburg Austria.  Besides the amazing flowers, fountains and gardens Mirabell is home to equally impressive statues.  Some are whimsical and others depict history and lore.  One of these is this statue by Ottavio Mosto representing water through the abduction of Helen by Paris which in turn started the Trojan War.By Virtue and Example Statue Vienna Austria

With the little time I had in Vienna, I decided to spend it exploring the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum at the Hofburg.  Finding the extra large Hofburg was not a problem but finding the Sisi Museum took a bit more effort.  Wandering I passed many architectural delights and an abundance of statues.  Finally I arrived at Michaelsplatz and the entrance to the museum.  I found this lovely statue waiting for me.  The motto below means “By Virtue and Example”.Kossuth Memorial Budapest Hungary

In Budapest, the Kossuth Memorial sits near the Hungarian Parliament honoring a man who was a prominent figure in the War of Independence from 1848-1849 and later became President of Hungary.  In this national symbol Kossuth can be seen pointing towards a brighter future.  Alas, it was many years before Hungary’s future became brighter.

“Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”  Dr. Seuss

 

Tell me about some of the interesting characters you have run into while traveling.


These photo’s are shared as part of Travel Photo Thursday.  For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

A Year at European Travelista

Today is the first anniversary for European Travelista!!!

It’s Been a Year and What a Year It’s Been!

As I looked back at the year, I discovered that during this time I’ve written 134 posts which received 2,868 comments.

Together we’ve visited 18 of Europe’s countries!

The countries we’ve visited include France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Along with those we’ve also touched ground in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland and even Estonia.Views walking up the hill to Gruyeres Switzerland

We’ve looked at food, aperitifs and experienced European wine beer and beer festivals!

Our journey has been by train, feet, bikes and post bus crossing rivers, bridges and scenic routes. We’ve taken a look at the awesome waterfalls in Europe along with some festivals, even if they are a bit crazy!Budapest and Danube River

Because I had a hard time telling the difference between Baroque, Gothic or Romanesque, we spent some time learning a bit about all that wonderful architecture found in European capitals.

I’ve shared my love for Germany and in particular Bavaria.  Heck one of my first posts was titled “Bavaria, Bavaria How do I Love thee?”.  That should have been your first clue 🙂

Hohenschwangau Bavarian Castle

View from Hohenschwangau

Together we delved into my passion for those small little quaint charming picturesque mountain villages.  Yes you know that I am a mountain girl!

We’ve spent time in castles, feasted our eyes on jewels, taken drives and just dreamed.

Cesky Krumlov Castle Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov Castle by Docsj

Yup it’s been quite a year!

And it’s not going to stop yet!

I have many more adventures lined up for 2012 but I also want to include some of your interests.

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to get there and what do you want to do once you get there?

Where or where in Europe shall we go during 2012?  Help me out by leaving suggestions in your comment!

 

Before I go, I want to send out a BIG thanks to you all for making 2011 such a great year!

Gracias.Köszi.Merci.Takk.Grazie.Obrigada.Danke.

 

Travel:The Best of 2011

Jeremy from Budget Travel Adventures started an awesome year end event about Best Travel of 2011.  Ben from AdventuresWithBen asked me to participate and I thought it was a great time to reflect back on the good, bad and ugly before setting off on this year’s adventures!

Best Domestic Travel Destination 2011Our Little Cabin Sorensen's in Hope Valley California

Over Memorial Day we spent the weekend at Sorensen’s Resort in the Hope Valley and completely fell in love with this area. . . again.  Sorensen’s is lodging comprised of little single cabins but without TV or internet although you can get internet access in the restaurant if you really need!  Being Memorial Day weekend, we expected warm dry weather so much that we didn’t even check the weather prior to leaving home!  At least we were better prepared for the 4+ inches of snow than those that were out in shorts and capri’s!  If you haven’t been to the Hope Valley, I highly recommend it!

Best Travel Experience 2011

Another area I loved was Mittenwald Germany but my favorite part of my stay was the Goatherd Encounter along the Lautersee above Mittenwald!  I wouldn’t have been at Lautersee if it weren’t for the suggestion of my hotel, the Alpenrose.  Yes trying to cool off allowed me this amazing encounter!

Best International Destination 2011Innsbruck Austria in Altstadt

As I mentioned in Innsbruck You Captivated Me, I am in love with Innsbruck Austria and can’t wait to go back to explore the city more before stretching into the surrounding area.  Armored Schloss Ambras, The Bizarre World of Swarovski and Worlds 2nd Largest Tomb is in Innsbruck are just a few of the reasons  I fell in love with Innsbruck.  I would love spend more time in the city exploring the nooks and crannies more fully and walking in the mountains plus discovering the nearby quaint villages and the Oetz Valley!

Worst Travel Experience 2011

I would have to say Budapest Hungary was my worst travel experience of 2011.  Budapest is one of the Cities that Leaves Me Bleh!  I am completely bummed about my feelings because I really wanted to love Budapest!  But I didn’t.  As I was watching Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol I was struck by the beautiful views of Budapest.  Yes while I was in Budapest I found the beauty along the river but not elsewhere but the views shared in the movie has left me knowing I will return and give Budapest a second chance.Pariliament Building Budapest Hungary

Most Embarrassing Travel Moment 2011

Fortunately or unfortunately my personality doesn’t allow me to have ‘those’ embarrassing moments.  During the past year I have enjoyed reading AdventuresWithBen partly due to all the amazingly crazy pictures of himself he shares with us all!  I find his smiling face infectious 🙂  So a New Year’s resolution to allow myself ‘those’ silly moments and share them with you has been made!

Best Local Destination 2011Columbus Day Parade San Francisco California

By far, I’d have to say San Francisco is the best local destination!  We have enjoyed exploring the city more as our children have left home.  This year we biked the Bay Bridge, enjoyed a free walking tour of Nob Hill, wandered the Haight and spent a very pleasant day watching the Columbus Day parade pass us by while being entertained by the jets flying over hear during Fleet Week.  We have spent more time using the rapid transit system and shared that with my brother’s family over Thanksgiving weekend.  The ‘colorful’ people you run into on transit is worth the price of admission 🙂  Yes being less than an hour away from San Francisco is a very enviable place to be!

Best Travel Lesson from 2011

Four inches of snow over Memorial Day weekend taught us a lesson!  Oh did I mention that the windshield wipers on our car stopped working too?  Yup not checking the weather made for an interesting and fun weekend but taught us to always check prior to leaving home.

To continue the Best Travel 2011, I’d love to hear from:

EasyHiker
Country Skipper
The French Way Blog
Traveling With Sweeney
Pinay On the Move

 

 

Moving forward, tell us your travel plans for 2012!