European Grand Tour 2014

Budapest, Hungary - Days 1, 2 & 3

Chronicles from the Empty Nest

Many of you know that I love to travel and just got back from a River Boat cruise through Eastern Europe.  I fully planned to blog every night on my trip and share with you my experiences from the road and my traveling art journal!  Unfortunately, I had little or no internet the entire trip (which was probably a blessing) so I will try to share a little here on the blog in the next few weeks.

Our trip was a 15 day cruise from Budapest, Hungary to Amsterdam, Netherlands aboard a Viking Longboat. It was my first river cruise and I was a little unsure of whether I would like it or not.

What convinced me to take this cruise was the opportunity to see a part of the world I haven't been to and the ability to cover 5 countries in 15 days.  The hubby and I never thought we would be "cruisers," but I have to admit it is really nice to leave the luggage in one place and wake up in a new city everyday.  This way, we can spend a little time in each place, then decide where we want to come back to one day to explore at length!

We arrived in Budapest a few days before the cruise so we would have time to tour this beautiful city - I'm so glad we did.  When I stepped out onto the balcony of my hotel room and got my first, breathtaking view of the Danube- I was captivated!  We overlooked the beautiful river, Chain Bridge (the oldest bridge in Budapest) and the Castle Hill District and Buda Castle. We slept with our balcony doors open at night to take in the fresh air and city lights!

We spent the first day roaming the city and getting our bearings - we typically walk the streets and try to get away from the touristy spots and find where the locals hang out - like the marketplace - everything was walking distance - my kind of town!

Beautiful Hungarian hand made cut work, embroidery and crochet.  The women sometimes take as much as two years to complete just one table runner!  Yes, I am the proud owner of one of these!

Beautiful Hungarian hand made cut work, embroidery and crochet.  The women sometimes take as much as two years to complete just one table runner!  Yes, I am the proud owner of one of these!

We crossed the bridge to the Buda side of the city (still on foot) and climbed the hill of the castle district for breathtaking views of Pest (pronounced PESHT).  The magnificent building across the river is the Parliament, easily the most beautiful building in all of Hungary.

Atop Gellert Hill, The views were captivating.  This hill and memorial commemorates Hungarian's liberation from Nazi rule.  It is a city rich in historical significance and full of spectacular sights everywhere you turn!

A little further up the hill we walked around the Fisherman's Bastion which looks like a giant sandcastle to me.  We toured St. Mattias church and saw the changing of the guard in front of the Presidential Palace.

The colorful tile roof was incredible!

The colorful tile roof was incredible!

No, that is NOT ME in the far right!

No, that is NOT ME in the far right!

Our final day in Budapest, we drove an hour outside the city to the picturesque town of Gödöllô to the Lazar Equestrian Park to see a performance by the famous Hungarian Horseman.  The Lazar brothers are champion horse and buggy riders and have a beautiful farm where they perform with their magnificent horses riding bareback and cracking their leather whips in the air.  It was an enjoyable afternoon and fun to see this age old technique of riding.  We had to start the experience with "Pogaesa" - a salty, doughy bread and a shot of "Palinka" which is nothing more than Hungarian moonshine!  All in all, it was a fun afternoon and lovely to see the countryside!


A few quick sketches from my art journal . . . ideally I would love to sketch and paint in place, but most of the time I have to sketch quickly, then paint later!  I journal on my sketches as they are a diary for me and our family and the work is quick, loose and imperfect!

And so we leave Budapest, board our longboat and ease on down the river . . . more Chronicles from the Empty Nest next week . . .