Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3rd - Travel Blog

Hi, it’s Christina –

The bottom right is Anika
Greetings from the Danube River, somewhere between Budapest and Bratislava. Although the two cities are only 200 km apart, because we are going against the current, it is going to take us a total of 18 hours to get to Bratislava.

The bottom left is a cemetery on the
grounds, and the bottom right is the tree. 
We left last night, and we should get there around two this afternoon. It figures, doesn’t it? The one country I would like to spend the most time in is the country we will be at for the shortest amount of time. I will be taking the tour bus to the palace, but then I’ll be breaking away from the group because I want to see if I can get to the hall of records and find my grandfather’s birth certificate. Although he was born four years before WWI started, he didn’t leave his country until 1928, so there may be a chance some records are still intact. Fingers crossed…

Yesterday started drab and rainy, and we even got spritzed on a little at our first stop on the tour – Hero’s Square, but after that the day was lovely. Anika was our guide for the tour, and she was an absolute delight – funny, informative, and so incredibly knowledgeable. Her English was excellent, so there was no problem whatsoever understanding her.

After we left Hero’s square we rode around Pest for a bit. Our trip took us past the second largest synagogue in the world (the largest is in NY). I wish we were able to stop for a little bit because I really would have liked to see the willow tree in the courtyard up close. It’s a monument, and on each of the leaves are the names of the people who did not survive the Holocaust.

We crossed over the Elizabeth Bridge and headed to District 1 – the Castle District – in Buda. The sun came out as soon as we got there, so the stroll through Buda was quite enjoyable. The formal tour did take us to another church, so sorry, you’ll be getting more stained glass pictures. However, you will also be getting pictures of the intricately painted walls. I have never seen anything like them.

Check out the guy in the center -
his drawing is incredible!
There is a wall, or maybe I should say parapet, near Matthias Church, and from there I was able to take some amazing panoramics, and some artsy-fartsy architectural photos. I love the photo of the man on the stairs. If you look closely, you will see he is doing a pen and ink drawing of the church.

The ornate building is the Parliament
We got back to the ship around one and had lunch (and I tried to finish up yesterday’s blog but kept getting interrupted). Around three we set out on foot to explore the Market, it was only a few blocks from the ship, but if you’ve ever tried crossing a street in Budapest, you’d know what a challenge it was. There is absolutely NO jaywalking, and for a very good reason; most of the turns are blind and drivers are traveling at a fairly good clip. In the park across from the Market, Mom found her namesake cafĂ©, so I had to take a picture.

Top left is the freedom monument
The Market is your typical European market, it’s a little frenzied, quite loud, and something wonderful to see around every corner. The one thing I liked about this market was the vendors didn’t harass you in the least. If you entered their booth, they would ask if you needed help, if you said you were just looking, they backed off. Very courteous, no pressure – it was refreshing.

I got my paprika - yeah!
Last night our ship finally moved, and I got some incredible pictures of Budapest at night. Before I left, Dani asked if I wanted to take the tripod, and I said, “What do I need that for?” I should have listened to my daughter, because last night I must have looked the sight – leaning on anything I could to help steady myself to be able to get a clear picture. I even tried sniper breathing techniques. LOL. I took over a hundred pictures, and what you see are the ones that came out clear. You’ve got to love digital photography!

I wish more of the photos came out,
but the ones that did are truly
Okay, I am off to participate in a strudel making lesson – with sampling of course, so I will have to close for now. Tomorrow I’ll tell you how I fared with finding my grandfather’s papers. Wish me luck!

Until next time, have a WONDERFUL day & happy writing.