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Budapest 2016 Revisited

Of all the countries we visited this summer I was most excited to go to Hungary. I suppose my interest was because I’d never been to a country that had been behind the Iron Curtain. I had no idea what to expect, but Budapest turned out to be exactly what I had expected.

Before going people asked why I was so interested in going to Hungary I had some amorphous thoughts but couldn’t articulate them. After visiting Budapest and riding through the city seeing the grungy buildings with plaster falling off, crumbled buildings here and there, people going about their lives, I realized this is exactly what I expected. A former Soviet Bloc country rebuilding itself. Among the decaying and crumbling buildings were of course restored and maintained places of national pride as well as new construction.

One of the points of pride we visited was Buda Castle (I had no idea Budapest was formed by the union of two towns). Below are some shots of the street leading into Buda Castle.

It was difficult to get a shot of the whole castle given the small space and increasing number of people. Moments after we arrived at the castle two tour buses unloaded.

Couldn’t resist….

Of course after taking this I noticed my group and moved on, and I had no idea where.  Oops.

The view from the castle was awesome:


From the castle we headed to the Pest side of Budapest and along the way passed this


…which looked really awesome, but alas was  not one of our destinations. Instead we went to the city center for some lunch were I found this, and did that:

…but didn’t buy this:


We also took a sweet river cruise:

We also went to a bath house which was awesomely relaxing:

The morning we departed Budapest we visited another of what would become a theme of our trip, a public market….


…where we bought some snacks for the road and last minute souvenirs like this sweet fridge magnet:


Wish I could read Hungarian 😦

And of course no trip for me would be complete with out at least one amusing sign…


…and random photos from a rest stop on the way to our next destination:


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Eurotour 2016 Revisited-Signage

Being a Geographer with a bend toward the human/cultural branch I am always alert when abroad for signs, advertising, and graffiti. This has developed a penchant in me to periodically disappear from my tour group, then reappear with few people noticing; I’ve only gotten lost once. The risk of me losing my group is a small price to pay for my forays from the flock.

I tend to look for how different cultures do the same things, just differently.  For example…


Sounds like a bit of a sticky wicket.

I particularly liked the politeness in London:




Those were on the way to Buckingham Palace as was this one:


In a post Brexit world I understand why this was only one of two indications there was going to be a vote, the other was to get out of the EU, so at the time I figured the odds were 50/50.


Good to know.

Waiting for the bus to Oxford….



I speak the same language, but what’s a food tin?

Favorite Graffiti from London; apropos given Brexit vote and carnivalesque Presidential race…


In Oxford you can buy…..


I like that a dentist is above White Stuff even more!Oxford.041Oxford.042

I’m a dog person.

Lastly, it wouldn’t have been a trip abroad without:

Bubba Gumps? Really?


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Oxford 2016 Revisited

One of the last things we did before leaving London was take a side trip to Oxford the low light of which was that the bus took longer than scheduled both ways and the second bus broke down. Still, had a good time.

Full disclosure, I usually tune out tour guides even when they’re my colleagues, sorry, but I’d much rather wander and see stuff.  Why is that relevant? Well, because I don’t exactly know what most of these photos are of, though I do know they were all taken in Oxford, England. So here are some things I saw worthy of being photographed:




Same, but diorama filter on camera


Thought it was pretty.


I call this, “Skeletor”







While in Oxford we stopped and wandered the market above, where I had this:


Yummy meat pie with mash; why aren’t these shops here?

I’ll wrap this up with some photos of the cemetery in the middle, sort of, of Oxford; creepy cool.

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London 2016 revisited

A week back seems a good time to revisit my trip, beginning with London. I kinda wish we had gone after the Brexit vote, London might have been cheaper. The trip began, as most do, with arrival:


Shortly after arrival we took Tube and hoofed it here:



Which was to be our residence for the next few days. It was a great place in a good location and even had pub cat, which I inadvertantly let upstairs. Hope they found it. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time that’d happened.

One of the first things we did, after a night of rest, was head here:


To witness the changing of the guard, the coolest part of which was the music plyed by the guards, particularly this:

Following the pomp and circumstance we wandered over here:



Where we foraged for food and saw lots of ineresting stuff like pumkinish tomatoes….


Tiny potatos….


Pretty flowers….


Great photo ops….


And Applebees….?


Other touristy things we did, besides eating fish and chips, was visit the Tower of London where I was determined to find the exit hole for the “bathrooms” in the tower. Which I did; can you?


There were also animals formed from chicken wire:

And great view of this….


We made time for the Eye:


Westminster Abbey:


(Love catching people taking pictures.)

And Trafalgar Square where I played with my cameras’ filters:


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Attempting to Divine Beauty From the Unthinkable 

Line 2 for Orlando et. al.

Grateful for this trip.

Grateful to be in a German hotel bar blogging.

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Of Walking, Walking, Walking 

Day 10 began with an

Late start, which was welcomed after the previous day’s bus ride. First stop today was Prague Castle where something was going on:

Involving this archbishop:

And likely some other muckity-mucks. There were also great views of the city

Someone’s armor 

A lovely nearby park

With a white peacock

As well as a regular one

And a faux cave wall with lovely foliage in front 

After the castle we spent the rest of the day wandering the old part of the city which had a market

The Astronomical clock

And many, many photo ops

Oh, and I had fried cheese for lunch

Though many miles were covered and I got a bit sunburned, ’twas a good day. Tomorrow, on to Munich!

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Of Long Ass Bus Rides and Too Much Jesus

Day 7: After breakfast we headed to a local public market which looked like this:
The downstairs had mostly food vendors and the upstairs had textiles, ceramics, tourist stuff and a restaurant or two and looked like this

After the market we boarded the bus and headed to Vienna where a few of us climed the 343ish stairs to the top of St. Stephens cathedral tower and were rewarded with sweet views of the city:

The quote of the day came from one of the students I passed on my way up. I asked her how making it to the top was and she responded, “There’s too much Jesus up there.”

“Odd; for a cathedral.” I added.

Our first day in Vienna wrapped up with some schnitzel then the Belgium vs Italy Euro Cup game and some beers at a cafe hotel.

Day 8

Today began with a tour of Schonbrunn Castle (story note; there should be an umlaut over the ‘o’ but I don’t know how to do that on my iPad.) First, the grounds of the castle are gorgeous.

Second, this is the first day I’ve really missed my dad on this trip. Knowing he had studied in Vienna I’ve been wondering which places I’m visiting that he visited also; he had to have been here, no way he’d pass up seeing the gardens.

Following the castle was a bus tour of the city then some free time which I used to visit the Albertina Museum:

Then we had dinner and walked to city hall to watch the Austria vs. Hungary match on the giant outdoor screen; but it was crowded.

So we found a bar instead 🍻⚽️.

Day 9 began with what would be about a six hour bus ride broken in half with a stop at the medieval Czech town of Cesky Krumlov (see previous story note regarding accents; the Czech language has a LOT.)

Lastly, we arrived in Prague:

Today = Prague tour!

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Of Long Days and Moist Kiddos

(I think I might be setting the bar a wee bit high on the titles.) As the title begs explanation, here it is: I learned yesterday that one of the students on the trip doesn’t like to be called kiddo, so of course I call them that as often as possible. At one point I asked, “What about moist?”

“Oh, I hate that word too!”

<Brief pause>

“Well, then moist kiddos must be the worst!” I said with a huge smile on my face. I’ll let the reader take that wherever they want.

(Story note: it’s really been several days since I started this post, so I’ll try and summarize those days to catch up.)

Day 2

Visit to Harrod’s to grab some breakfast and be amazed at the amount of awesome stuff neatly presented, then headed off to see the changing of the guard, which was a lot like one would expect; a huge crowd of people, police keeping them wrangled (incidentally, British police are very polite), and lots of eating for a few moments of cool.

From there we headed to Borough Market which was full of all manner of cool things to see and yummy stuff to eat.

After some grub and gawking it was over to the Tower of London, to learn of torture and moats; so I of course took a picture of some chicken wire baboons.

Oops, forgot, on the way to the Tower of London we also visited the Tower Bridge.

From the Tower, we mosied over to Oxford Square for a little shopping and dinner. 

Day 3 we headed to Oxford to visit the town and schools which was quite nice save the bus rides to and from which took longer than the bus company said they would, and caused us to miss riding the London Eye at night.

There was a sweet cemetery too, but those pics are on my camera which has a dead battery; so you’ll have to wait for t

Day 4 & 5 (they blurred together for me) caught the London Eye prior to the gauntlet at became our journey to Hungary. Though our travel to Hungary was harrowing and delayed my arrival at the hotel made up for it when I turned down the hall toward my room and there was a tall attractive blonde in the hallway; in her underwear. Unfortunately I discovered the next morning that said siren was part of an Italian high school team, #awkward.

Soooo, Hungary, loving it!

Nearly forgot, London Eye!

Day 6 Hungary tour. We began at the Buda Castle, had a casual kebab lunch in the city center and finished up “swimming” in the pool fed by hot springs. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was a giant public pool with all manner of people enjoying the water and watching soccer on a giant screen.

Then a nice dinner and an early return to the hotel where I am now enjoying a beer and the Germany/Ukraine game.

Tomorrow, we wrap up Budapest and head to Vienna!

Whoops! Forgot today’s Danube cruise.

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Of Travel and Poorly Drawn Penises

Day 1 began VERY early, before 4:00 am CA time for most of us, and ended VERY late, 8:00 p.m the following day, London time. I checked in to my hotel the evening before departure and received a room key with the number 13 on the fob and thought, “Huh, that’s interesting.” Interesting because I was wearing a German soccer jersey with the same number that I had purchase in my last trip. I bought it because our Fat Tire bike tour guide in Berlin was wearing the same jersey and explaine that he chose it because The player with that number had an average German name, Muller (like Smith in the United States), and was the teams most average player; which I found amusing. Wasn’t sure how arriving in London wearing that shirt would go over. (Story note: as I was listening to Albert King, “The Hunter” as I was writing and just as I wrote “London” he sang the same word!)
The next morning, we began our journey with a flight to JFK with a short layover then on to London. The flight was uneventful save for the terrifying turbulence coming in to JFK (one kid threw up) and another odd coincidence. I decided to watch a movie from the in flight choices and picked ‘Sisters’, which was not a wise choice. The only detail pertinent to this story from that movie is that at one point a giant penis was painted on a wall of a house.
After the movie I was looking around at what other people were watching and on a screen not too far from me was another large penis painted on a blue van; which I discovered was in the movie “Vacation”, which was also not a good choice. What are the odds?
Then we arrived in London:

And answered many questions that were surprisingly difficult to answer from customs officials, questions that seemed to have obvious answers yet the person I had clearly doubted my sincerity.

“Purpose of your visit?”

“Uh, leisure.”

“What are you going to do while you’re here?”

“Oh, tourist things, see the sights.”

(Rolls eyes) “What sights are you  going to see?”

“Um, Wesrminister Abbey, Trafalgar square….”

*sigh* “Are you travelling alone?”

“Nope, I’m with a group of students and teachers.”

“What kind of group is it?”

“Holy crap lady, let me in!”, I thought but did not say, but that is pretty much how it went, with MANY more questions.

Once we all ran the interrogation gauntlet we mosied to the Underground, walked several blocks and checked into our temporary residence, where we saw this:

Can’t come to England ant not get a photo of one of these. After about an hour though very tired, we hit the town. First stop was the Houses of Paliament:

Followed by Westminster Abbey:

…where this happened:

…and through us Californians for a loop! From here we headed to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery to round out our day:

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T minus 2ish

Part of living in the house you grew up in is that you put off sorting through the boxes of family photos, movies, and slides for extended periods of time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps you’re meant to go through the records of yours and your family’s’ life at the “right” times. The trick is to recognize those times.

Rummaging through one of the plethora of boxes documenting my family’s life I came across this:



…which is apparently part of the record from my Dad studying at the Mozarteum in Austria one summer; note the tuition. Discovering this of course conjured up memories of the tales he would tell of that time including the time he taught his landlady how to make “American” hamburgers. Before he could he had to go to a butcher to explain how to grind the meat, then to a baker to describe how to make the bun. Too bad he didn’t have a cell phone; coulda just shown them photos!

Since one of our destinations this summer is Austria, I’ll be taking this with me so Pops can “travel” with me.

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