Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Last Day - Parliament Tour

Tuesday morning we wanted to quickly fit in a Parliament tour before we had to head to the airport. It's a gorgeous building and I was so excited to go inside and hear a little bit of history! However....the "English" tour was led by a Hungarian lady with an extremely heavy accent. Forgive me if any of my facts are wrong, I'm repeating what I think she said. haha!

Beautiful! Remember that 896 year I mentioned earlier? Well that's 96 steps, and Holly and I carried a stroller up alllllllll of them! It was the first time that I thought having the stroller was a pain!
No building in Budapest is currently allowed to be taller than 96 meters, the height of Parliament and St. Stephen's Basilica. These stone columns are 6 meters tall and weigh 4 tons each! The stained glass windows are original, they were taken out and stored during WWII. This building was hit by over 300 bombs during that war.

The Holy Crown of Hungary. These guards did this cool little "routine" around the crown. I don't know what you call it, or maybe they had been changing guards. We walked up just as they were finishing. This crown has been through a lot with all the Nazi and Communism mess that's gone on in Hungary. It somehow ended up at Ft. Knox and was returned to them after Communism fell.
This is where their government meets. They have a huge number of representatives compared to the population of the country. The current government has agreed to reduce the number of the next 2 years. Holly says the Hungarian's talk about how they have way too many people all the time.

And our last Hungarian meal. Truly Hungarian!! Goulash! It was DELICIOUS!!! Tastes a lot like what I would call Beef Stew. The other choice on the lunch menu was rather odd, deep fried cheese (like cheese sticks only a giant wedge of cheese!) steamed rice and cranberry sauce? Who came up with that?
I'm not sure if I've said this already in my posts...but going to Hungary is like stepping back in time about 20 years. They were only freed from Communism in 1989. With that said, the fashion is pretty funny there! MC Hammer pants are IN! Seriously we saw them everywhere, for sale on stands, on many many girls and lots of shops. These might have been the most atrocious!
This was an AMAZING trip!! We missed Trent soooooooo much but we are very thankful for the opportunity to get to see these beautiful places, and get to spend some much needed time with Holly!!!

Monday June 20 - Vienna Day 2

Monday morning we set out for Nachsmarkt. This is a market that has little cafes on one side and fresh produce and other gourmet foods on the other. This is where local gourmet chefs come to get the freshest ingredients. It was soooo cool!

This is a vinegar bar....who knew?
.This was a little soap shop that we LOVED! That had so many neat handmade soaps!
And an explosion of heaven in your mouth!!! Those things back there in the back corner are almonds covered with Tiramisu. Words cannot describe how delicious they were!
And typical German food.....a barrel full of Sour Kraut. Ugh!
And pickles....
More asparagus...have you ever seen asparagus this big....or white?? I hadn't!
Next up was St. Peter's Church. This church was built in honor of Leopold I who got down on his knees and begged for God to spare Vienna from the Plague. It was unheard of for someone of his status to get on their knees in public.
The statue representing the same....
This church was incredibly colorful and ornate inside....another beautiful sight!

And take a look at that smiling face and an INCREDIBLE metro!! When I say clean...I mean CLEAN!!! New York is really the only other public transportation I have to compare these cities to, and NY is DISGUSTING compared to these.
And the disaster begins. Levi was HORRIBLE on the train ride home! He had enough I guess....he screamed until he finally went to sleep for about, oh, 30 minutes. Then he woke up and "talked" very loudly and made all the new noises he has discovered his mouth can make. I'm sure everyone on the train hated him!
We were waiting on our train and realized that the monitor said "cancelled." When we asked they said oh it's just been moved to the other station. Luckily we were only a couple of metro stops away so we rushed over to the other station only to wait on a delayed train. We found out that 2 empty trains had run into each other at our original station so they rerouted all trains through the other one. I'm sure that didn't help Levi's attitude towards the train ride. :) But nonetheless, we made it home safely about 11pm Monday night!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday June 19 - Train to Vienna

I forgot to add this pic to the Szecheyni Baths post...normally I would NEVER let him leave the house like this. He had fallen asleep before we were ready to leave so we let him finish his nap before heading out....therefore we were late! I decided he could look like a white trash baby on the metro...but is this not the cutest picture ever? Look at those curls!!!

Ok so next up was Vienna! We didn't really have "plans" when we got to Budapest, but Holly and I had talked about taking a little side trip somewhere. Vienna is closest and we decided that might be easiest with our tiny world traveler. We left really early Sunday morning, Levi is super happy to be on the train! These are a little blurry...I don't think I had woken up enough yet to realize my camera was still set from the night cruise. He's waving at mommy. :)
Our best attempt to get a pic....Levi was wild!

Vienna is a BEAUTIFUL city!!! It's extremely clean and every single building is gorgeous. It's hard to pick out the "important" ones because they're all so pretty. This is headed towards Hofsburg Palace.
And the palace!!!! This was the residence for the Habsburg Royal Family who ruled over this area of Europe. And go figure, there's scaffolding on the front. Grrrrr....
This first "museum" was the royal serving pieces. It was rooms and rooms and rooms and rooms and rooms of china. Right up mom and Holly's alley....me and Levi could have done without it. :)
This was cool...one of the kings would choose peasants once a year to come to the palace and be treated like royalty. The tub was for he and the Empress to wash the peasant's feet.
And maybe my favorite picture from the trip!!! Levi sitting on the grassy knoll in front of the National Library of Austria on the Hofsburg Palace grounds. Just gorgeous!
The courtyard of the Palace. The weather may look nice but we were freezing our tooshies off!
Then we went to the Sisi Museum. Empress Elizabeth is highly regarded in that area. (Budapest as well, they have an Elizabeth Bridge.....except they say Erzsebet) She lived a tumultuous life that ended with her being assassinated. She did not like all the hooplah that came along with being Empress. You'd never know it by going through the Royal Apartments....she seemed to be pretty high maintenance if you ask me! We couldn't take pictures in the Sisi Museum or the Royal Apartments. :(

Then we made our way to the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer.)

Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Austria
These were linens used for royal baptisms. They were INCREDIBLE!
ooooohhhhh....sparkles!The Crown of the Holy Roman Empire

This bowl supposedly caught the blood of Jesus Christ as he was crucified.
Getting VERY cold!!! Levi all bundled up.

And now it's raining. :( We were dressed like we were sight seeing in hot Texas weather, it was like 60 and raining. Good job checking the weather girls. Thank goodness I packed the rain cover for the stroller!
Next up was St. Stephens Church. WOW. Is all I can say. All of these old churches sort of look the same, yet they are all beautiful in their own way. This one is MASSIVE!!! What do you know....scaffolding again?!?! At least they attempted to make this scaffolding pretty, haha!

Amazing pipe organ. They were having mass while we were there and the organ was playing, it was awesome!
Hey sweet cheeks!
I found this quite hilarious. This is the general "emergency" exit sign in Budapest and Vienna (and probably other places.) It's not all politically correct like in the US. It's more like "get the H$L* outta here!
Opera in Vienna
Ok so on our way to this next landmark we took a little detour. :) AKA...Emily was in charge of navigating. We didn't know where we were going, I looked at a map and said we need to go THAT way, and started walking. On the upside we got to see Belvedere Castle! (Which I didn't take any pictures of)

This is St. Charles Church.

Freezing our tooshies off still...but styling in our new "I heart Vienna" sweat shirts!

Some DELICIOUS Vienna Sausage! I'm not sure how that disgusting mystery meat in a can came to get such a great name, but this was yummmmmmy!

I love this picture of these two sweet peeps!

So that wraps up our really cold day in Vienna! We got to see some cool sights and got some cool new sweatshirts in the process!