Saturday, May 18, 2013

CE Euro Vacay - Budapest

A couple of weeks before our daughter's second birthday we took off across Central and Eastern Europe for a wild and crazy touristic adventure en famille.  My lovely wife graciously accepted my minimalist packing challenge and we fit all of our essentials for 10 days into 3 small day-packs.  Prague - Vienna - Budapest - Belgrade - Sofia.  5 countries/cities in 10 days.  Planes, trains, automobiles.  Couches, air mattresses, hotels, sleeper trains.

Today I'll share some memories from Budapest (pronounced 'Budapesht', or so I'm told).

Budapest was a much needed breakpoint in the middle for us.  While Budapest, Hungary is a more eastern european city and country than the ones we'd previously visited, we stayed with some wonderful American hosts who cooked for us and shared American goodies and generally made us feel right at home.  The city also had an international feel with all variety of restaurants, embassies, and shopping.  Although not everything translated quite right:
Math must be different in Hungary. 100 years old?
Hard Rock Budapest. Well-played, son.
Budapest is a city known for its bridges.  Not because of their particular grandeur or beauty, but because of what they represent.  One side of the Danube river is hilly, inhabited, and full of Castles: 'Buda'.  The other side is flat, full of commerce, administration, and housing: 'Pest'.  We were told that for years, the two sides remained essentially separate cities, with little connection.  In the middle of winter, the river would freeze and people would throw down straw, walk across, and trade/shop for the coming year.  Then finally someone had the bright idea to build a bridge and the city would be forever changed.  Thus the connected city we know today.

A bridge. Not especially significant. Unless you consider free trade within a city significant
Pest. The section of the city, not the nuisance.
The old market. Still a market. So maybe it should just be called, 'the market'.
We had a fun time in Budapest. To be honest, there's plenty we missed - like the baths, the castles, the monuments. We needed a break from our vacation, so we took it by visiting parks, watching movies, and chowing on comfort food (including the best mexican restaurant we've visited in Europe - Arriba's). We'll try and go back someday perhaps!
Fun times with E: hummus, slides, and bubbles.
S's adventures.
Re-hydrating.
The Gellert Hotel. It's important and notable. 
The Hungarian Parliament building. Really big, prized by the city.
This building was built for the World's Fair.
A cool concept, each section replicates and represents different notable buildings throughout Hungary.
Saved us plenty on gas money. 
A biiiig church. Every European capitol needs one.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CE Euro Vacay - Vienna

A couple of weeks before our daughter's second birthday we took off across Central and Eastern Europe for a wild and crazy touristic adventure en famille.  My lovely wife graciously accepted my minimalist packing challenge and we fit all of our essentials for 10 days into 3 small day-packs.  Prague - Vienna - Budapest - Belgrade - Sofia.  5 countries/cities in 10 days.  Planes, trains, automobiles.  Couches, air mattresses, hotels, sleeper trains.


Today I'll share some memories from Vienna.

While Prague was my favorite city we visited, Vienna was perhaps my favorite stop on our trip.  My reasons for enjoying this stop had less to do with the city and more to do with our experience.  While in every other city we visited we knew someone local to give us insights, tours, and an air mattress, in Vienna we were on our own to explore.  And explore we did!

Found a big park near our hotel.  We loved it.  Slides contoured to hillsides, obstacles with increasing difficulty, and even a zip line!


We marched onward and came to an amusement park.  Big ferris wheel, Elsie's first roller-coaster (complete with authentic native american d├ęcor, strobe lights, and fake smoke), and all sorts of crazy carnival attractions.


We arrived in the city a couple days before the Vienna marathon, so the city was abuzz with runners.  There's nothing quite like eating round 3 of a breakfast buffet in the window of a downtown hotel while every other visitor to the city is jogging by on the sidewalk.  Thanks to the marathon timing, we happened to have some friends in town and thus someone to explore with!  We hit the zoo, one of the oldest and best in Europe.  Animals everywhere and beautiful scenery.

Orangoutang faces!
My little lion.


I always love visiting German speaking countries, mostly for the quality signage we see.



 It turns out there's more to Vienna than banks and parks.  There's also a palace.  To be honest, it sorta looked like a big country clubhouse to me.  Or maybe a Lexington, KY horsebarn :).  But there were a lot of people there, so it must be a big deal.


 Also churches, opera houses, war monuments.  And pizza and ice cream.

Thanks for a fun visit, Vienna!



Monday, May 6, 2013

Our little girl is 2!

Our precious daughter is 2 years old today.  She's been a joy in our family since the day of her birth.  Narrowing down pictures to share from the past year was hard, and well I failed, thus the explosion of photos below.  I love you baby girl, excited to start this 3rd year together!!















Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bluhb Bluhb

I interrupt these European adventures to share a conversation my son and I just had in the car.  I love his creativity, even if nonsensical.  His words are in bold, mine in italics.

Bluhb bluhb, bluhb bluhb.

Bluhb bluhb, bluhb bluhb.

What's that, son?

Bluhb bluhb, bluhb bluhb.

Yes, I heard, are those words?

I'm just talking to my arms, Dad.  That's how I talk to my arms.  They understand.

Oh, they understand.  Well I'm not sure I do.  How is it that you talk to your arms?

I just talk to them.  They got married yesterday, when I was a baby.  So they understand.  It's important that I talk to them.

And what do you tell them?

Bluhb bluhb, bluhb bluhb.

Right, that.  And what does that mean, exactly?

Phlergn.

Is that another language you made up?

Yes.

And what does "phlergn" mean?

It means, like, that I'm telling my arms to rest.

Ahh.  Well my arms are tired, can you tell my arms to rest?

No, I'm not connected to your arms.  I can't talk to them.  But Elsie can, she can talk to your arms.  You should ask her to tell them.

Right, thanks.