February 23, 2018

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.

Impressive Augustiner Museum

I’m not what you would call a “museum person”. Nope, it doesn’t take me hours or days to explore the Louvre in Paris and I don’t visit a city just for the museums.

I do like looking at pretty pictures and have actually found a type of art I like, Impressionism. I also love gazing at glistening gold and shiny gems you find in Crown Jewels! Museums housing vintage cars are another favorite of mine.

So I was a little surprised that while in Freiburg I found a museum I really liked, the Augustiner Museum.

While I was in sunny Freiburg Germany, it rained. So I decided to visit this museum as a way to escape the rain for a bit. 

And I’m so glad I did!

Walk in the museum and the very first room you come to smacks you with a first impression you won’t forget! The atrium contains many of the Prophet statues that once stood on top of the Minster that dominates Freiburg. The prophets line the sides of the room and the gargoyles peer down at you from above. This awesome sight left me feeling very small. These statues are huge – 13 feet of stone was standing in front of me! I don’t know where you can get more up close and personal with statues that usually stand so high up on cathedrals.

Augustiner museum Sculpture Hall Freiburg Germany

Augustiner museum Sculpture Hall by Gerhard51

As you wind your way up the remaining floors of the museum, this atrium remains the focal point. All the other floors are built around this center room so that it seems everything revolves around the sculpture hall. The dramatic design allows visitors to see the statues and gargoyles in a unique perspective.

Looking down on Sculpture Hall Augustiner Museum Freiburg Germany

Augustiner Museum_1964 by sbamueller, on Flickr

The former Abbey church has been remodeled into a wonderful museum housing a great collection of medieval art, stained glass from the Minster, carvings, tapestries, gold and silver treasures, a 14th century crucifix, altarpiece by Grunewald and paintings from the 19th century.

Stained Glass from cathedral in Augustiner Museum Freiburg Germany

Stained Glass from Cathedral Augustiner Museum by sbamueller, on Flickr

While on the top floor make sure to notice the exposed wood beams that are very impressive. The skylights on this floor offer a wonderful natural light to view the art!

Madonna with sleeping child Augustiner Museum Freiburg Germany

Madonna with sleeping child by Hans Baldung Grien ca 1520 from wikimedia

The designer has infused the museum with his style which includes a gift for the dramatic! The impressive architecture and interior design work has created the perfect place to enjoy the historically significant pieces on display.

Berg Kristallschnitt Augustiner museum Freiburg Germany

Berg Kristallschnitt Augustiner by Joergens.mi

Regardless of how you feel about museums, I think you’ll leave the Augustiner Museum very impressed.


How do you feel about museums?


Many thanks to Historic Highlights of Germany for organizing this trip and to the wonderful people with the Freiburg Tourist Office! If you need more information on Freiburg, please visit their websites.

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.

Germany, Bavaria, Munich – Need I Say More?

If you’ve read many of the post here, you know how much I adore Germany and especially Bavaria!

I have shared with you how much I enjoy small Bavarian villages (like Mittenwald), Kind Ludwig’s Bavarian castles, beer and my joy at visiting Bamberg with all its breweries. Yes, I’ve probably bored you by going over the top in Bavaria, Bavaria How do I love Thee and if pushed to pick a favorite it would be Bavaria.

Munich Skyline Bavaria Germany

Munich Skyline by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

In looking back, I realized I’ve never told you about one of my favorite cities in Bavaria – Munich. What is it about Bavaria’s capital city that makes it so wonderful and why should you visit?

Here are 11 reasons to visit Munich!

  1. Galleries full of European art, Bavarian sculptures and can be found in the many Pinakotheken (Picture Galleries) that call Munich home. The oldest is the Alte Pinakotheke and the newest is the Moderne Pinakotheke with the Neue Pinakotheke in the middle. Together these galleries hold so much of interest they will keep any art lover busy for days!
  2. Nymphenburg Palace was built in 1664 to celebrate the birth of a son to Ferdinand and Maria. The summer palace is gorgeous and famous for its Gallery of Beauties, the carriages and sleigh that belonged to Bavarian rulers and wonderful palace gardens.

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich Bavaria Germany

    Nymphenburg Palace Munich by www.schloesser.bayern.de - Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

  3. The Olympic Stadium was built for the 1972 Olympic games that were held in Munich and include the pool where Mark Spitz won his 7 gold medals! The grounds were built on a former airfield that was transposed into a state of the art Olympic venue including a large hill made of rubble from WWII.
  4. The Residenz is the former residence of Bavarian Kings and the Wittelsbach Dynasty until 1918. Today you will be amazed at the Renaissance building with Rococo interiors. On display are the jewels and crowns of the Wittelsbach along with many silver and porcelain artifacts.
  5. The center and heart of Munich is the Marienplatz. This mostly pedestrian only area was created by Henry the Lion and is a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a beer and bratwurst! It is also home to the world famous Glockenspiel sitting on top of the Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus. Kids and adults of all ages will be charmed by the lovely chimes and dancing figurines retelling Bavarian stories.
  6. Churches have been the center of communities for eons and Munich has its fair share. The best known symbol of Munich is the Frauenkirche. Built in 1468, it is the largest Gothic basilica in Southern Germany and home to the tomb of Ludwig IV of Bavaria. For the grandest views over the city climb the tower of Munich’s oldest church, Peterskirche. The Baroque jewel, Asamkirche, houses a very ornamental grotto and wonderful ceiling frescoes while the largest Renaissance church in Munich, Michaelskirche, houses the crypt of Maximilian I and Ludwig II.

    Munich City Centre Bavaria Germany

    Munich`s city centre by BAYERN TOURISMUS Marketing GmbH

  7. Beer Halls and Beer Gardens are a staple in Munich and probably the first thing people think of when thinking of Munich. The passion for beer is definitely alive in Munich and there are many options for enjoying your favorite brew and singing along to Bavarian songs. But if you’re in Munich during the summer or warmer weather do not miss the Beer Gardens! This is where Munichers go after a busy day at the office and a great place to feel like a local.
  8. The Viktualienmarkt has been supplying fresh foods to residence since 1807 and is one of my favorite places to wander! This wonderful food market has over 140 stalls full of fresh fruit and produce, handmade jellies, bread, pastry, meats and more. Yes, there is even a beer garden!
  9. If you’d like something a little more relaxing maybe some time in one of Munich’s many Gardens & Parks is needed. Munich is home to palace gardens of Hofgarten and Nymphenburg palace as well as a wonderful Botanical garden. The largest and most popular garden, Englischer Garten, is the place to stroll, ride bikes, rent a paddle boat or even surf!

    Englischer garten Munich Bavaria Germany

    Englischer garten by LuxTonnerre

  10. Don’t even get me started on the Food! I can’t get enough wurst, frites, schnitzel, spatzle, pork knuckles, sauerkraut . . .
  11. Munich has many Museums to enjoy but the grand daddy of them all is the Deutsches Museum, the oldest and largest science and technology museum in the world. Sitting on an island in the Isar river is a huge museum that has amongst its displays an Enigma machine built during WWII and the first automobile. There are displays dedicated to transportation, aviation, mining, energy, physics . . .
  12. If this isn’t enough then go for the people. They are open, gregarious, smiling and the real heart of this wonderful Bavarian capital! 

    What’s your favorite thing to do in Munich?

The Bizarre World of Swarovski

Swarovski Kristallwelten is a place you just have to see to believe!

Before leaving for Europe, I knew I wanted to visit Swarovski Kristallwelten while in Innsbruck Austria.

I’ll admit I am a huge fan of jewels and have spent a fair amount of time visiting the crown jewels in more than one city! So it was with great anticipation that I set out to discover more about crystal making and to feast my eyes on some beautiful gems! I was expecting a display much like the gems section of the National History Museum in Washington DC or the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London or even the Bavarian Crown Jewels housed in the Treasury of the Residenz in Munich Germany .

Crown from India by googlisti, on Flickr

Boy was I wrong!

On my first day, I hopped on the bus to the Crystal World in Wattens, which is about a 20 minute ride from Innsbruck.

The grounds of the Swarovski Kristallwelten are beautiful and include a very nice park with playground equipment for children plus awesome views.  Upon arriving you will be greeted by a giant complete with crystal eyes and a waterfall flowing out its mouth.Giant at Swarovski Innsbruck Austria

Swarovski Crystal World is free with the Innsbruck Card, so I was able to pass through the turnstiles entering the giant’s world and embark on my journey through the universe of crystals.

Instead of a grand display I found flying mannequins, strange art, legs suspended from a device while tap dancing and a mechanical theater hosting a very strange fashion show. I actually felt that I was in the middle of a Tim Burton movie! The displays and art were created or inspired by artists including Brian Eno and Andy Warhol, which should have been my first hint that this was notgoing to be what I was expecting.

Cone head dress Swarovski Innsbruck Austria











To be fair, not all of the sculptures, jewelry, dresses and other crystal inspired exhibitions were strange.  Some were actually quite beautiful.Octopus Swarovski Innsbruck AustriaBeautiful Horse Swarovski Innsbruck AustriaChandelier Swarovski Innsbruck Austria











What you will find at Swarovski Kirstallwelten is a mixture of art, music and magic that is supposed to trigger all your senses.  If you like modern art, this may be the place for you.  To me it was just bizarre.


Is Swarovski Kristallwelten a place you would like to visit?

Montmartre a retreat in Paris

Paris is one of my favorite cities.  When visiting France, I always make an effort to spend at least a day in Paris discovering a new neighborhood or reliving a past find!

One of my personal favorite neighborhoods in Paris is Montmartre.

Montmartre Street Paris France

To me this is what Paris of old must have been like!  I love the winding cobblestoned streets, the central square, the views of the city below and Sacre Coeur.  Even though it is usually busy, it feels so remote.

Montemartre Paris France

Montmartre was a haven for painters like Monet, Modigliani, Picasso, and Van Gogh.  Today, it is still a haven for painters.  Maybe a famous painter of tomorrow is painting there right now.


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.



Art Appreciation in Auvers sur Oise

We all know that France and, in particular, the area outside Paris are full of sights related to famous painters. I want to tell you about an experience I had that really opened the world of art to me. First, you need to know that I am not an art or museum person. I am not the one spending hours and hours in every museum in town but this experience made be rethink art and museums.

A few years back I had the opportunity to visit France with the French Government Tourist Bureau. Part of the trip included the most exciting and enlightening 2 days of art appreciation I have ever experienced. The first part was a trip to a sleepy little village about 15 miles northwest of Paris, Auvers sur Oise. Auvers sur Oise is a French village that was popular with many 19th century artists including Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh spent his last 70 days in Auvers and, in fact, during this short time painted 70 paintings of Auvers and the surroundings.

We started our tour of the village at the Auberge Ravoux or House of Van Gogh. This is where Van Gogh stayed while in Auvers and is also where he died from a self inflicted gun shot wound. You are able to view the room where he died, room 5, but my favorite part of this visit was seeing the short film on Van Gogh. After seeing the film about his life and depression I felt as if I had a little vision into his mind and could see why his paintings are so dark and skewed. His paintings are a true reflection of what he was feeling and what was in his mind.

Restaurant Auvers sur Oise

After touring the House of Van Gogh and seeing the film we went to Dr. Gachet’s house. Dr. Gachet was an art lover and Van Gogh’s doctor while in Auvers. Van Gogh spent a fair amount of time painting the grounds of Dr. Gachet’s home. I vividly remember seeing the gardens and a copy of Van Gogh’s interpretation on a stand next to it. It was amazing to be able to alternate between seeing the actual subject and the painting at the same time!

Walking up to the cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother are buried we passed the Romanesque/Gothic church that was the subject of another of Van Gogh’s pieces. Here also is another opportunity to view the subject and the interpretation. Later, we had a wonderful lunch at Le Cordeville restaurant, which is a place Van Gogh frequented while in Auvers sur Oise.

Van Gogh Gravesites

The next day we visited the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Even if you do not spend time viewing the art, you should visit this museum for the architecture alone! I digress, during our visit to the museum I enjoyed viewing the Impressionist art collection including artists like Monte, Manet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. Again I was really mesmerized by Van Gogh’s art, in part, due to the insight I had gained in Auvers. While viewing Van Gogh’s pieces I could feel his despair.

So, as a non-art lover I highly recommend a visit to Auvers and then the Musee d’Orsay. Visiting these two locations was very exciting and informative for me. I had never experienced art come to life but it did due to the insight I gained in Auvers sur Oise about Van Gogh. I really didn’t (still don’t) know very much about Van Gogh’s art but after visiting Auvers I am a fan!

Do you have any “art appreciation” stories??