July 20th had finally arrived and we were beginning our long summer holiday. We would be travelling by plane, bus, and train during this trip and I was excited to see how everything would come together. After a short flight, we had arrived in Budapest! There were treats waiting for us at the apartment – how nice.
After we were settled, we went for a walk to find a place for dinner. The place we wanted was booked, so we made a reservation for Wednesday. We walked up Andrássy Avenue towards City Park and ended up finding another place to eat. The food was decent and the server gave us a free shot.
Now that our bellies were full, we continued toward City Park. We were really digging the architecture so far.
Here we are at Heroes Square.
As we passed by this museum, we saw that there was a swing dance going on!
Vajdahunyad Castle looks stunning looming over the people peddling along in their beetle car shaped paddle boat.
What a magnificent structure!
Toilets this way please…
Elvis is loved by everyone…period.
The next day, we got up early to take a walk along the river.
The Budapest Parliament Building is one of the coolest buildings I have seen.
As we approached the front side of the parliament we noticed that they had just finished rising the flag for the day.
More beautiful buildings…
This bird…always makes me think of The Crow. Eric Draven??
We had a food tour booked that day, but we wanted to check out a coffee shop before we started. Espresso Embassy popped up on our radar and it proved to be a good pit stop! We always love the feel of a good coffee shop.
The lion looking fierce on the Chain Bridge!
I loved this statue.
Andrew, get your finger out of his ear!
Our nice walk along the river eventually led us to the Central Market Hall and now we were ready for our food tour!
We booked the Hungaro Gastro – Budapest Food & Wine Tour through Absolute Tours. It was a little pricey, but we enjoyed every minute of it and our guide’s name was Elza (a former model) and she was fantastic! She actually reminded me a little bit of Rebecca from FRAME.
The first treat we had was called “làngos” – a traditional deep fried flat bread with sour cream and cheese. We loved this! Talk about a comfort food!!
We also sampled a local spirit containing 40+ different herbs and spices, called “Unicum.”
Our next stop was to taste a variety of different cold cuts. Before we sampled any of these, Elza asked if anyone owned any horses…turns out we would be sampling horse meat today (see the 2nd picture). I had told myself that out of principle I would probably never try horse, dog, or cat meat…well I broke that promise today. The other cold cuts included a Pick brand “winter salami”(apparently this is a Hungarian favorite), a “devilishly hot” sausage, a mangalica ham, a grey cattle salami, and beef tongue.
There were lots of lovely products at the market.
We also stopped at a place selling paprika. You can pretty much find paprika anywhere throughout the country. It is the symbolic spice of Hungary’s cuisine.
More great products at the market…
Live fish in the tank!
It seems that the Hungarians like to pickle/preserve everything.
At our next stop, we tried pickled baby watermelon and garlic.
They even make cute little faces in the pickle jars!
After that stop we left the Central Market and headed outside. Here’s a nice shot of the market building.
On our way to the next stop, we passed by another beautiful building. I’m sure Elza told us what it was, but I do not remember.
Finally we made it to the Tasting Table wine cellar! We sampled a semi dry 2013 Muscat Blanc from Erzsebet Pince (Elizabeth winery), followed with a 2012 Egri Bikavèr (Bullsblood from Eger region) from Bojki winery and finished with a 2008 Royal Tokaj winery Tokaji Aszù, the traditional 500 old recipe sweet wine. We also had Hungarian goat and cow cheeses, bread, dried fruit, and pumpkin seed oil to taste with our wines. I enjoyed all of the wine and cheese, but not so much the blue cheese.
High water mark for March 15, 1838!
For lunch, we went to Belvàrosi Disznòtoros (Downtown Butcher would be the best translation). Here we had liver, bloody and baked “hurka” sausage with bread, mustard and grated horse radish, slow roasted duck leg with steamed cabbage and roasted potatoes, “kovaszos uborka”- a traditional pickled cucumber for which we use yeast to pickle, and I think we tried a “lecsò” which is the Hungarian ratatouille, with sausage and bacon. We also had a cold raspberry soup (I don’t think this is traditionally a Hungarian dish, but it was my favorite!).
Budapest is a beautiful city!
We finished our tour at Auguszt confectionery, one of the oldest in Budapest. We tried the traditional cottage cheese cake, Eszterhazy cake (with grated almonds and walnuts), and the Dobos cake – cocoa butter-chocolate cream-sponge cake- hardened caramel on top. All of these were good!
After the food tour, we decided to cross the Danube River to the Buda side. We are crossing the Liberty Bridge here. You can see the Central Market in the background of the second photo.
Walking along the river on the other side…
We eventually made our way to the Fisherman’s Bastion. Look there it is in the distance!
Wow, look at the Parliament! I love this picture.
One of many lion statues in the city – I love this face.
Here we are at Fisherman’s Bastion…finally after trekking for what seemed like so far in the blazing heat. It was worth the pain.
Matthias Church is also up here.
Cool reflection of Fisherman’s Bastion…
There were great view points up here, but we were so tired of walking and the heat had made it worse. So with all of those factors, we decided to head back across to the Pest side to our apartment. We crossed the Margaret Bridge to get there.
That night we decided to have dinner at a place close by. We had the traditional pancake starter there – it was good.
I don’t remember what our main courses where, but they did carve little horns on the orange wedges.
On Wednesday, we got up early to go to one of the bath houses. Below is an interesting piece of art we encountered along the way.
We chose to visit the most popular bath house, Széchenyi Thermal Bath, located in the city park. Andrew and I are both not the biggest fans of pools, but we are glad we had this experience. There were many pools to choose from…some warm, some hot, some cool, and a few ice cold!! The saunas were so hot! It was much hotter than any others that I had been in, at least that I could remember. I could only stand a few minutes at a time. We learned to be a little less modest at the pools.
One more thing…definitely no cake in the pool… I’m not kidding.
After the bath house, we walked over to see the Vajdahunyad Castle in the daytime.
We came across Anonymous and touched his pen…it is supposed to give you creativity with words…we shall see…
We went up in one of the towers. It was just okay up in the tower. It only cost one euro, so not too expensive.
Then we grabbed lunch. We had to get more raspberry soup and làngos. I love it!
St. Stephen’s Basilica in the distance! We had no time to go inside.
On our walk back to the apartment, we came across a statue of Ronald Regan. It was unveiled in 2011 honoring him for his role in helping to end communism.
That afternoon we made our way towards the Hospital in the Rock. Hitchhiking through the tunnel…
Before we made it to the hospital, we had a quick detour at the Labyrinth, also known as Dracula’s lair. We didn’t have time to go through the caves there, but it looked cool (and was a cool treat from the blazing heat outside) – we will definitely take the time to check this out if we ever return to Budapest.
Finally we found the entrance to the Hospital in the Rock!
This hospital was concepted before WW2 and was originally intended to house only 60 patients. After WW2 started, there were as many as 200 patients and I think at one point (perhaps during the siege) there were as many as 700 in this hospital. The hospital was built into a system of caves in the mountain. The caves were connected and that is why the area covered is so big now. During the cold war, they also came up with a plan in case of a chemical attack. Thankfully they never had to test this plan. The tour was interesting and really does take you back to a different time. They also sell supposedly authentic souvenirs from that time period. I really wanted this gas mask, but Andrew said no. He pleaded with my practical side ha ha. It was so cool though! Maybe one day…
The Hungarian State Opera House.
That night for dinner we walked back to Bock Bisztró. We had goose liver sushi, duck, rabbit, and bizarre ice creams (miso, sausage, and tobacco). The entire meal was excellent!
The Parliament looks great at night.
On Thursday morning, we woke up early to pack and had breakfast at Kino Cafe. Hungarian eggs, Hungarian sandwich, cheesecake, and lattes make for a breakfast of champions! The sandwich was so good!
After breakfast we took the metro to the bus station to make our way to Vienna. Thank goodness the bus is air conditioned and has wi-fi!!!!
Vienna has interesting ash trays.
Our flat in Vienna is nice. However, it is still hot and no ac. We were told that a fan might arrive tonight or tomorrow…fingers crossed. After we are settled in, we decide to go for a short walk. We pop into a popular cake shop, Demel, for a snack. The cake and hot chocolate was excellent.
These sculptures in front of the Hofburg Palace/museum were very neat. They each feature a scene with Hercules.
This door handle really belongs at my sister’s place 🙂
We were approached by a guy about seeing a show with Mozart and Strauss music. We ended up buying the tickets for the show on Friday, even though we knew it was a tourist trap – we really wanted to hear a little classical music this trip. That night we had dinner at Pürstner. The staff was very friendly and the food wasn’t bad either.
Oh, and we had to try the apple strudel.
After dinner we went for a walk in Stadtpark. There was a statue of Johann Strauss. This made us more excited for the concert tomorrow night.
We found some classy street art down by the river…right up my alley.
Friday morning, on the suggestion by our host, we had a little breakfast (well more like dessert) at the coffee shop, Café EL.AN, across the street. Andrew tried the syphon coffee.
This lion statue outside the Hofburg Palace cracks me up…that tongue.
Andrew enjoyed the entertainment provided by the man with the horsehead.
We eventually made our way down to the market for a food tour of the Naschmarkt. I was hoping to taste more Viennese cuisine, but this tour highlighted the market and the market is very diverse with many types of spices and cuisines.
Some of the people on our tour asked us if we had seen all of the red carpet the night before. We told them no, and come to find out, Tom Cruise had been in town for the premiere of his new Mission Impossible movie at the Opera in Vienna. We are extra excited to see the movie now since part of it was filmed in Vienna! I’m skipping ahead in my pictures, but here is a picture of the Vienna State Opera.
After the market, we walked over to see Karlschirch. They were doing construction on the outside, so we couldn’t see it very well.
Juice break, s’il te plaît.
We walked across town to the Sigmund Freud museum. This place used to be his apartment and office before he was forced to emigrate by the Nazis in 1938. It was very interesting to see where he came from and hear about his life. We used his toilet while we were there so we could say that we had used Freud’s toilet.
For dinner, we went to Cafe Central. This was a place that many famous people, including Freud, visited in their lifetime. The place was beautiful inside with big columns and there was someone playing piano.
The food was good. We tried the sachertorte for dessert. The frosting was a little too sweet for me.
After our bellies were full we walked over to get our seats for the concert. The concert ended up being great for us. We aren’t music experts though, so maybe this type of show isn’t for everyone. You can watch very short clips below.
That night when we got home, we discovered that we had a fan in our room! Victory!!
I convinced Andrew to visit something a little out of the ordinary on Saturday. We would be going to the Narrenturm. However, we needed a little nourishment before the museum. We stopped along our walk at Café Stein.
Nice view from the café.
Then we continued our journey. Beautiful buildings everywhere you look!
This was our first glimpse of the building known as the fool’s tower. Someone tagged the door “don’t open dead inside” – how appropriate.
The Narrenturm in Vienna is continental Europe’s oldest building for the accommodation of mental patients. Built in 1784, it is next to the site of the old Vienna General Hospital, and is now home to the Federal Pathologic-Anatomical Museum Vienna. We ended up on a tour with a big group. The tour was pretty interesting. However, we only got to cover the animal pathology instead of the human pathology as well. We were supposed to tour 3 levels of the building with a guide and ended up only doing one since the group complained that the guide wasn’t going into enough detail or allowing extra time to look at the specimens. I understand their frustration (I think this was their field of study), but we were hoping to see the whole tour. We were not allowed to take any pictures inside, but Andrew snuck this picture of the entrance to the museum on the 2nd level.
This museum shows how unethical methods were in the past and how far we have come in terms of medical care. They didn’t really talk about any of the patients that were there in the past; mainly it was about the diseases and deformities of that time. I’m really glad that we went. It was interesting, even though it was mostly all in German.
We headed back to the market for some lunch. We ended up just getting a few things to snack on. I loved the stuffed courgettes. The walk and don’t walk signs in Vienna are super cute! No walk = Hands on each other’s shoulders. Walk = Hold Hands! They ended up being the same in Munich too as we would find out soon.
The Terror Museum was next on our list.
The museum was inside of an old bunker from World War 2. That was pretty cool! Apparently there are many other bunkers throughout the city that have yet to be uncovered. The museum was interesting and horrifying at the same time. It is sick to think that people used to do these things to others and most likely still are doing similar things!
Torture apparently makes us hungry, so we decided to once again go to Demel for hot chocolate and cake. Andrew tried the hot chocolate with cardamom and it was great.
My beautiful niece, Eloise, was born today! We kept seeing “Send Her A Postcard” written on some of the mailboxes…so we decided to do just that!
On Sunday morning, we got around early and walked to Salzberg for breakfast. They had a nice little buffet!
Then we walked to the train station from there.
I kicked a guy out of Andrew’s seat. The train took about 4 hours from Vienna to Munich. We were both pretty tired on the train and dozed off here and there.
Once we arrived in Munich, we walked 20 minutes to our new home for the next 3 nights. Our host, Minna, was very friendly and helpful. That night, we walked over to check out a festival going on near the apartment. Sampled a brat and listened to the entertainment for a while.
Afterwards, we decided to take a walk. We saw St. Peter’s Church, Andrew rubbed Juliet’s breast, and we saw the New Town Hall in Marienplatz.
We eventually made our way to the Englisch Garten where the trees have faces and apparently in some areas it has signs that say the water is toxic! That doesn’t deter many people…maybe it isn’t that bad.
We also grabbed dinner at the Chinesischer Turm biergarten.
On our walk back to the apartment we saw Feldherrnhalle with a statue commemorating the Franco-Prussian war.
Monday was our big day of tours. We had 3 booked! But first, breakfast!
This is the Old Town Hall, but it looks newer than the new one…weird.
What we have here is a maypole. The Maypole carries figurettes displaying the trades and crafts of this part of Munich. Maypoles date from the ages of general illiteracy and served to represent a village. Maypoles are common to Celtic countries and therefore also to Bavaria. May 1st is maypole day in Bavaria. New maypoles are created every few years (the one featured here is from 2012) and the hoisting of the maypole is a very important part of the spring festivities. If a neighboring village manages to successfully steal another village’s maypole, then the village must negotiate for the return of their pole. This usually involves large quantities of beer and food as ransom.
These are the breweries in Munich. I think there are now only 6 brewing inside Munich.
Now we are back to the Juliet statue from Romeo & Juliet. Apparently if a single man rubs Juliet’s breast it is supposed to bring him luck with the ladies or if he brings her flowers it may bring him luck in love. A lot of people have touched this statue.
These are the four statues around the Mariensäule (a Marian column topped with the Virgin Mary). The four putti are each depicted fighting a different beast, symbolizing the city’s overcoming of adversities: war represented by the lion, pestilence by the cockatrice, hunger or famine by the dragon and heresy by the serpent.
This is the Fischbrunnen Fountain. The original fountain was almost completely destroyed in 1944, but was reconstructed in 1954. The fish market was once held here, however, it was also the site of an initiation ceremony called the Metzgersprung (Butcher’s Leap). Now in current times every Ash Wednesday the Lord Mayor washes out his purse by dipping it in the cold water.
Our tour led us to the Hofbräuhaus.
Locals can keep their own personal beer mugs at the beer hall. These lockers are usually passed down from generation to generation.
Tour number two was a Bavarian Food Walking tour (I think we booked through Viator). I don’t remember the names of everything we tried, but we definitely did not leave hungry! I loved the pretzel and mustard.
All of these dips were wonderful with the different types of meats and breads.
They sell fig mustard here.
We tried the schmalznudel at Schmalznudel – Café Frischhut.
I’m checking you out…you look good…yep, I’m going in…yummy…
After the food tour ended, Andrew and I decided to go to the top of St. Peter’s Church. We are coming for you, St. Peter’s Church!
The climb up was not too bad…only 299 steps…but there were so many people at the top we didn’t make it all the way around, but we still got some good pictures.
That big workout deserved a treat and we decided to head back to an ice cream shop we had seen earlier called Eissalon.
No, we aren’t teasing this kid with our ice cream…
I love the fact that in pretty much every city we visit there are good street performers.
Now we were ready to start tour number 3 – the beer tour!
These are the six breweries in Munich.
The metros in Vienna and Munich are so clean…wtf, Paris?
Continuing our beer tour…going to tour the brewery at Paulaner. This ended up being Andrew’s favorite beer.
I’m more excited than I look…I just like making faces.
This was a room at the Hofbräuhaus. Our guide said that it reminded some people of the room from Harry Potter and I would have to agree.
Cute restroom signs.
For breakfast on Tuesday morning, we went to Hungriges Herz. They had a good breakfast and cute tables.
After breakfast we met our tour group in Marienplatz. We were going to visit Dachau today. Dachau concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany and it lasted the entire 12 years. Other concentration camps were modeled after this one.
The door going inside says “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Work Sets You Free.”
Pictures of the grounds inside…it is hard to imagine that this place was so horrifying. I believe this area was part of the “roll call” area. Everyone had to stand until each person was accounted for, and if someone was missing they had to stand there until that person was found. Supposedly sometimes it could take hours.
These are reconstructions of what the living quarters were like for the prisoners – it changed 3 times over the course of the camp. They placed a shelf above the bed, but didn’t allow prisoners to have anything on the shelf…someone actually thought of doing that to them, to remind them that they were nothing…how awful. The last version of the beds left no room for personal space…
These are the foundations for the other prisoner bunks that were torn down.
Here is a memorial sculpture commemorating the victims.
I believe we are inside the administration building now.
More pictures of the grounds.
This was the Crematorium. Prisoners were brought here, killed in gas chambers (disguised as showers), and then the bodies were burned in the furnaces. Some prisoners were also hung from the rafters in the furnace area.
This was the Statue of the Unknown Prisoner. The words on the base mean “to honor the dead, to admonish the living.” The man has his hands in his pockets and is looking up – prisoners were not allowed to do that.
Visiting Dachau was a very moving experience. It felt wrong to take pictures, but at the same time this is something that we need to acknowledge happened, look it in the face, never forget, and make sure that it never happens again.
Once we were back in Munich, we had a snack at a café.
A guy passed by in a rooster costume…kind of random.
That night for dinner I think we went to Augustinerbräu. I was really digging this creamy mushroom dumpling dish (I had also had it in Vienna).
Sparkasse means “savings bank” in English. This is an interesting statue for a bank, right?
Here is a better picture of the maypole.
On our last day in Munich, we had breakfast at Man Vs Machine and I worked on our postcards. I liked how the seating in the coffee shop resembled the beer hall tables.
After breakfast we went for one more walk before we had to catch our train.
Train time! We will miss you, Munich! Onward to Lucerne, or Luzern as they spell it there! We were more alert on this train ride.
It was pouring rain when we got to Luzern and we had no umbrella, also we were too stubborn to buy one. By the time we arrived at our Airbnb, we were completely soaked!
The next few days in Luzern proved to be beautiful, and we were okay not buying an umbrella. We made our way from the apartment into town – it was about a 50 minute walk.
This is the Kapellbrücke, aka the chapel bridge.
A little snack at Soprano’s Café.
I loved this boat!
This lion looks like he is going to sneeze…
There were wooden masks all over town. These are typically worn during the Lucerne Carnival in February. The wearing of masks in Lucerne is a tradition that goes back centuries. This is a very interesting and cool tradition!
We walked around the portion of the city walls that are left (the Musegg Wall). There were pretty good views up here!
This is the Spreuerbrücke or Mill Bridge. The paintings inside the bridge form a Danse Macabre. The images and texts of the Lucerne Danse Macabre are intended to highlight that there’s no place in the city, in the country or at sea where death isn’t present (text taken from Wikipedia).
Another picture of the Chapel Bridge.
That afternoon, we indulged in some fondue. It is typically a winter delicacy, but we knew we may not be back in the winter anytime soon.
Once we got back to the apartment, we were able to take out our host’s canoe on Lake Luzern. They had private lake access – awesome!
The next morning, we woke up early to watch the sunrise.
Some ducks cracked us up – click here to watch the video.
In Luzern, when people have babies they announce it like this! Of course, me being who I am had to stop and think that this could backfire if someone creepy were looking for a newborn baby… Yep, I just ruined something cute.
That day we decided to do the round trip adventure to Mt. Pilatus. We are on our boat leaving Luzern. This place is stunning.
I think that is Mt. Pilatus?
There is the lake access point at our apartment!
This is so gorgeous…
On the boat!
Coming up to our stop…
Mt. Pilatus here we come!
These were our views along the cogwheel railway (apparently the world’s steepest).
Up at the top! It was so cold up there…I wish I had brought warmer clothes. The views were amazing!
Is that a secret lair?
Now we are headed back down – taking the aeriel cableway first.
We are going to have a little fun on the Fräkigaudi Toboggan Run! Next time I go on this, I will definitely go faster!
The cows have bells! I know you can’t see it, but trust me.
Gondola ride up next! Click here for a video of our ride – sorry, Karen.
Here are a few pictures from the ride.
We finally made it back to Luzern. The buildings and murals are beautiful.
The craving for fondue was hitting us once again so we decided to find a new place to try.
After we had satisfied our stomachs, we went for a walk. This is the Church of St. Leodegar.
This is the weeping lion monument.
Again…this is cute, right?
That night we enjoyed the wine given to us by our host.
Saturday, August 1st had arrived, which is also The Swiss National Day. If we had had time to do it properly we would have went to the farm for brunch as tradition dictates, but alas we had to make our way to the train station. We spotted another beautiful building on our walk.
We also heard cannons going off near the lake. When we went to inspect they had already finished (we think it was coming from a boat). However, we did manage to spot some really cute ducklings.
To celebrate The Swiss National Day, we picked up some pastries. We loved the vanilla custard pastry.
While we were waiting for the train, we noticed that you could purchase some peculiar items in the vending machine. Do you see anything peculiar? You can purchase a pregnancy test, lighters, and a cannabis ice tea drink in the same section. I guess we are pretty much covered.
The trip was so much fun, but we were happy to be heading home! Onto the next adventure!