Friday Photography

Facade - In the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, brick and plaster building facade in decay made cheery with light blue windows and palm tree. Read more about our trip to Charleston here

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A Picturesque Day in Salzburg

From Budapest we went to Salzburg. We choose to use the most recommended method of traveling between European cities, trains! Before we jump into the Salzburg I want to take a minute to talk about the trains.

While there are many websites selling train tickets, most forums pushed to purchase directly from OBB the Austrian Federal Railway. The website was not too hard to use.. the tickets were not too expensive. It was a 5 hour journey from Budapest to Salzburg and we paid $23 per adult. Both children rode for free. Now here's the tricky part. After reading many forums there was a divided view on seat reservations. It cost $10 to reserve a seat, most said the trains are empty and you can just sit wherever you want until someone with a reservation for your seat shows up.. then just find another spot. This did not seem appealing with children and luggage.. plus what if we got on that particular train that had no empty seats! So we made reservations. But now here's the next tricky part.. while both children ride free D gets a seat and H who is five doesn't!? It never occurred to me that I should have gone back and changed H's age. So when we got to the Budapest train station (which by the may was in decay and made me a bit concerned about all future train stations) the kids and I squished ourselves into two seats while M sat with a fellow traveler. And just like we had feared the train was packed! Not a fun five hours. Towards the very end a few seats did open up and I got to move to a seat of my own but that was not how we wanted to spend our other train journeys. Otherwise the train was fine.. nothing fancy but not bad. And like in an airplane and attendant with snacks and coffee roamed the aisles.

Moving on.

Now for those of you who don't know.. the Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg. Confession - I have never watched the Sound of Music. I know what it's about and have seen pictures from the movie but that is it. And while the resident of Salzburg don't really care about the movie they do have plenty of Sound of Music tours and even a small museum.

Yikes.. that was very word heavy.. lets get to the pictures. 

We arrived in Salzburg around 1pm and were surprised to find how modern and nice the Salzburg train station was especially compared to the Budapest station. We grabbed a taxi and headed to our hotel, Cityhotel Trumer Stube. The inner city was a no car zone, the taxi drivers had a remote that lower the metal barracks so they could enter. Our hotel was lovely, the set out a table of juice and sweets for the guests and were extremely nice. 

We checked in and then had a quick lunch at  Kapuziner Imbiss, it was supposed to be a quick vegan hot dog but considering it was a one man show as both cook and waiter it took a tad longer than we hoped. He was extremely nice. Once we were done we headed toward the water in search for a taxi to take us to Schloss Hellbrunn. The palace was built in 1613 for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Our main reason for being there was to see the Trick Fountains, which can only be seen via a tour. While we waited for our tour to begin we roamed the gardens.

The trick fountains are a lovely example of Mannerist architecture and are the only surviving example of the water fun parks that used to be a common status symbol among the Italian aristocracy. Hellbrunn’s first owner the famed Archbishop Marcus Sittikus enjoyed delighting his many guests with watery surprises. At all of these games there is always a spot which is never wet: that was where the Archbishop stood or sat.

We didn't come with too high an expectation.. we thought it might be a little watery fun for the kids.. but considering that these fountains were made in the 17th century they were a delight indeed. The kids were soak 5 minutes into the tour when all the kids sat at the Archbishop's outdoor dining table. Water shot out of all the seats except for the one at the head of the table where the archbishop sat. Even though M and I were on alert we too go wet. The tour had everyone laughing.

While wandering the grounds we spotted a hike to an overlook and decided to explore. The hike was much longer than we had expected and the views not as stunning as we had imagined.

Time to head back to the inner city. We walked around.. grabbed some gelato at Cafe Habakuk. 

While I expected to Salzburg to be a quaint village I was surprised to find it's streets lined with designer stores. But of so many fabulous street signs.. 

Can you believe this McDonald's sign?

On the hunt for dinner we made a major rookie mistake. I check reviews for everything.. but we were tired and we spotted an Asian restaurant called Tokyo Japan and had one of the worst meals ever. It was a plate of noodles just floating around in a salty brown soya sauce concoction! Horrible!

The next morning we went to the famous Sacher Cafe for breakfast. Very fancy. And the home of the Sacher Torte. The first and original Sacher Cafe was founded in 1876 in Vienna which we also visited and ate the famous Sacher Torte as well.. but more on that later.

That morning for breakfast we ate eggs and the boys shared a french toast and they both got hot chocolates :)

and then with only a couple of hours before we had to head to the train station we hit the streets. We crossed the Makartsteg Bridge more commonly know as the Love Lock Bridge over the Salzach River.

and wandered the streets especially Getreidegasse and it's beautiful store signs.

The Salzburg Cathedral behind us.. we did not go inside.

and then we took a funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.. the views from their were stunning.

Before we knew it it was time to head to the train station. While we had purchased the Budapest to Salzburg tickets in advance we had planned on buying the Salzburg to Vienna tickets the day of. It was a simple process. A train goes to Vienna about every 30 mins ago. While there M straightened out the whole H having no seat situation and for all our next journeys we had a great seats with a large table :)

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Giveaway with Canvas Factory

Recently I was contacted by Canvas Factory about hosting a giveaway. I was offered one for free as well. Immediately I got to thinking of the picture to use and where to put it. M and I pretty quickly knew the perfect picture, taken on our trip to Morocco.

The 16x20 canvas arrived over the weekend and I think it looks amazing and I am so excited that one of you.. my amazing readers will be able to get one too.

Open only to US and Canada Residents.

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Friday Photography

Unfortunately not all photographs do well as just photographs and when I see them sitting in my shop getting no love I give them something new to do. This particular photograph I took almost 12 years ago I think.. it was a school trip to Iran and this is an abstract of a tree bark.

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Two Days in Budapest

For spring break we spent a week and a half in central Europe. Our first stop was Budapest, Hungary. We took a red eye.. it's our new way of travelling. Since our trip to Morocco last year we have started to take evening flights that enable us to sleep on the plane and get to our destinations bright and early in the morning ready to start the day.

Budapest is divided into two sides with the river Danube running through it, there is the hilly Buda and the flat but bustling Pest. We found a hotel, D8 (yup that's its name) on the Pest side close to the river and the famous Chain Bridge. The hotel was wonderful. Highly recommended. We got there around 9am and while check in was hours away they said they could have it ready in half and hour. We left our bags in their care and headed out to grab some breakfast.

We ate at À la Maison which was a short walk away. The breakfast was delectable!

After breakfast we came back to the hotel to check in. Afterwards our first stop was Dohany Street Synagogue. We are walkers and wanders.. so on our way there we wandered to a square that had set up stalls and shops.

We purchased a beautiful dried fruit wreath from here the next day. 

The synagogue was closed so we headed towards St. Stephan's Basilica. On our way there we stumbled upon Gozsdu-udvar a sort of covered street market. 

We finally made it to St. Stephan's Basilica and got in line to go inside. There was an entrance fee and we paid to go up to the tower. While there was an elevator to take you half way up my crazy kids wanted to climb the 364 steps.. else it would just be boring, D exclaimed! We huffed and puffed all way up to find ourselves starting at a stunning view.

After that we decided to skip the interior of the basilica and headed straight to the gelato place, Gelarto Rose across the street. There was a line. Now the questions was, is the line crazy long because Instgram made this place and their pretty rose gelato's famous or is this gelato going to blow my mind.. we took a chance and it...  

blew our minds.. so so so good. The flavors were so.. flavorful! We tried the lemon, strawberry, cinnamon, chocolate, pistachio and raspberry. Amazing!

Next we crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and headed over to the Buda side of Budapest.

That's me on the Buda side with the bridge behind me. It was not as impressive as I had imagined.. and so so crowded there was barely any room to walk. It was our mistake in not grabbing some lunch before we left Pest as the options on the Buda side were a lot more limited. In the end we sat down to grab a meal at YBL Bistro. The whole experience was okay. The service was so slow. The food was fine.. not bad. We were able to try a Hungarian specialty, chicken paprikash. 

Afterwards we headed to Buda Palace. We skipped the funicular, the walk up wasn't hard.. we didn't go inside the palace.. we wandered around for a bit then walked a short distance to Matthias Church which has a lovely tiled roof. We didn't go inside. Right around the corner was the Fisherman's Bastion (Halaszbastya) a panoramic viewing terrace with fairy tale towers. It was very picturesque. But thanks to the age of the selfie it becomes so much more difficult to get a decent picture.

We headed back to the Pest side of town. It was our first day and we had planned on having an early dinner. We ate at the Aurum Bistro close to St. Stephan's Basilica. We had another chicken paprakish and a beef goulash with buttered noddles and the most amazing lemonades I have ever had.

The next day we headed to one of Budapest's main shopping streets, Vaci which was minutes away from the hotel and had breakfast at Cyrano Etterem.

After breakfast we continued to walk along Vaci st. which was lined with eateries and branded stores. Not too interesting.. we walked till be reached the Central Market Hall. It was mostly meat and cheese vendors, some produce and lots of touristy souvenirs. Meh.

We didn't spend too much time there and soon found ourselves heading towards the Liberty Bridge. A much better bridge than the Chain Bridge.. still picturesque and without the hordes of tourists.

The rest of the morning we spent exploring the Gellert Hill breathlessly walking the many many steps to the Citadel and the other various scenic view points. Many many steps!

And look we found a playground too

With our stomachs grumbling and I craving some more of that magical Budapest lemonade we made our way down the hill.. walked over Elizabeth Bridge and back to Vaci St. We ate pizza's at Vendetta Pasta e Basta and lemonades!!

Bellies happy and full we grabbed a taxi to Margaret Island. Its a small island situated on the Danube just 1.6 miles long. It is a recreational island with a musical water fountain, parks, a pool etc. We opted to rent a surrey bike and took a tour of the whole island.

Instead of a taxi we opted to walk back from Margaret Island enabling us to walk by the Hungarian Parliament Building. The building is enormous and magnificent. There are millions of photographs of it on the internet but they can not convey the grandness of this building.

For dinner we came back to Vaci St. and had Italian food at Cucina. The next morning we were catching a train to our next destination!

Notes -
The is no Uber in Budapest.
There are plenty of taxi's who are supposed to take payments via credit card but refuse to.. so you need to have cash.
Hungary has its own currency for Hungarian Forint and it's a little discerning because everything costs hundreds of fornit.
All the menu's list allergens in the food which is great when you are travelling with someone who has allergies but they also will tell you that they cook openly and particles may transfer. So eat at your own risk. Thankfully D's allergies are mild and we were able to get through all the meals problem free.
The portion sizes were refreshing.. it was enough food to finish in one sitting. But we did miss the unlimited coffee refills at breakfast time. The teeny tiny cups of delicious cappuccino just didn't pack enough of a kick.
While it seems like we walked back and forth and all over the place but all the main touristy places are very close to each other and very walkable.

We had one regret.. we couldn't find enough time to be able to visit one of Budapest infamous thermal baths. I thought we would be able squeeze in a few hours but we couldn't. :(

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