(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #63: Revisiting Budapest

Budapest is a very memorable city. I remember all the places we visited as if only a few months had passed. I treasure the images I left with. Although it reminds me of other cities I’ve visited Budapest has a uniqueness that is strictly its own.

Budapest has a complex and rich history. It has been occupied by the Romans, the Huns, the Turks, the Austrians, and the Germans to name a few. Buda is the side you want to visit if you like historical places, museums, and beautiful pictures. Pest offers more of the restaurants and shopping places. Both have great views of the Danube river and parts of the city. Both places also have great food.

Budapest ranks second on my family’s top five favorite destinations list. Even the chilly February weather didn’t hamper the great time my family experienced there. A few places we will never forget:

  • Shoes on the Danube Promenade
  • Buda Castle & Castle Hill
  • Budapest History Museum
  • Matthias Church
  • Labirintus

As usual, I included lots of pictures, useful links and tips, and brief descriptions. I hope you enjoy it and hope it helps you on your travels.

https://trinlifelifter.com/tag/budapest/

Budapest

Budapest, the capital of Hungary. One of the largest cities in the European Union. It’s a city with a rich and complex history. Once you visit, you’ll never forget it.

Budapest will easily be on your on top five favorite destinations. It has an atmosphere different from other cities I’ve visited. It’s like a mixture of Prague, Romania, Frankfurt, Bremen and WĂŒrzburg. That’s the only way I can describe the vibe in Budapest.

For more information info on the history of Budapest: http://visitbudapest.travel/guide/budapest-history/

We stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental in Pest. It offers a picturesque view of the Danube river and Buda Castle.

(Hotel Intercontinental Budapest)

The image of the Danube and Buda Castle were a welcomed sight to see first thing in the morning and before retiring for the day. Our daughter stayed in front of the window admiring the view the whole time we were in the room. She preferred the view over watching television. She vividly remembers the image below when we talk about Budapest.

(View from our room)

Intercontinental Hotel is within walking distance to most of the tourist spots in Pest. It’s also near restaurants, shopping centers, the SzĂ©chenyiChain Bridge, and the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. The staff were professional and friendly. The room and bathroom were clean. I’m not a foodie but this is one of the places I remember for their breakfast. I had no complaints with this hotel.

Let’s take a stroll on the Pest side first:

We went to Budapest in mid-February so it was still cold. Most days were foggy but it didn’t matter. The fog couldn’t hide the beauty of this city.

We stopped to eat at a Brazilian place near the hotel called Fire Churrascaira Steakhouse. It’s a meat lover’s restaurant. This restaurant offers a Rodizio-style service. Meats are brought to the table for the customers choosing. They have what looked like coasters on the table. One green and one red. Place the green for the waiters to see and different types of meats on skewers will continuously be offered at your table until you place the red coaster to signal them to stop. This restaurant also offers a cold gourmet salad bar and appetizers. The best part was dessert. They have desserts they light on fire in front of the customers. A lot of fun for both kids and adults to watch.

For more info: http://www.itshungarian.com/special-attractions/restaurant-budapest/

There’s an Ice Bar if you want to experience being in a room surrounded by ice from wall to ceiling. Get ready for some cold fun. A few customers are allowed at a time and given a shawl-like hoodie before going in. Once inside, they are served cocktails in a glass made of ice.

For more info: https://www.icebar.hu/index.php?waction=home2&lang=gb

The Hop-On Hop-Off is a good way to check out the sights in the city. They also offer a boat tour if you want to see the sights from the road and the river. We took the bus tour first. Although the air was still chilly, my family enjoyed seeing the sights from the top of the bus.

Heroes’ square and Millennium Monument (pic below)

Our family took the boat tour in the afternoon. We preferred this tour. We were able to get better pictures because it wasn’t going as fast as the bus.

On our second day, we decided to finish the rest of our sightseeing in Pest. We walked around town trying different foods. Try the LĂĄngos (upper corner above what looks like bratwurst, pic below). LĂĄngos is a savory, deep fried Hungarian pastry you can top with your choice of grated cheese, sour cream, Nutella and spices. You can get it sweet or salty. Both are delicious.

We also enjoyed walking inside the large indoor market. The famous Central Market Hall is the largest indoor market in Budapest.

We walked towards the river to see the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. This was a really moving experience. At the end of Szechenyi Street, you’ll find a row of iron made shoes set on concrete. This memorial commemorates the lives lost during World War II. The Arrow Cross party publicly murdered thousands of Jews all over Budapest. Shoes were a valuable commodity back then. After lining up the Jews on the embankment, they made them take off their shoes before shooting them.

For more info: http://yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/newsletter/31/shoes.asp

We ended the day by continuing our walk along the river and enjoyed the view.

We spent the next day exploring Buda on the other side of the bridge.

Buda has more to offer if you’re looking for good places to take pictures of historical sites. We decided to explore the town before heading to Buda Castle.

Matthias Church (pic below) also known as Church Of Our Lady reflects a Baroque style of architecture. It was built in 1269.

A great place to eat:

Jamie’s Italian restaurant offers fresh, rustic Italian dishes. They had antipasti, pastas, pizzas, and desserts.

For more info: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/hungary/restaurants/buda-castle/

Buda Castle is a “must-see” on your visit to Budapest. expect to spend a few hours to half a day just walking the grounds, taking pictures, and admiring the artwork in the museum.

For more info: http://budacastlebudapest.com/

Inside the museum:

After touring the museum, we were heading back to our hotel when we happened to pass by a sign that led to this street. The Labirintus or Labyrinth held a very famous prisoner. Vlad Tepes better known as Count Dracula was imprisoned here.

This is not for someone with a weak heart. I’m a big horror fan but this place gave me the shivers. It’s a long, dark, smoky passageway with many interesting (spooky) images along the way. They only give you a small lamp to light your path.

For more info: http://labirintus.eu/en/

Budapest is a great place to visit. The picture perfect Buda provides panoramic views of the city while fabulous Pest caters to the visitors’ love of shopping and great food. A mixture of old and new. It will surely be one of the most unforgettable places you’ll ever visit.

A Few Tips:

  • Best time to visit is Spring and Autumn.
  • The currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF)
  • Plan to stay at least 3 days to enjoy all the sites in Budapest
  • Don’t skip out on the boat tours of the Danube river.
  • They don’t take credit cards at the Labyrinth. Cash only.
  • The Budapest History Museum inside Buda Castle is worth a visit.
  • The Hop-on Hop-Off is a great way to check out the sites and save taxi fare.
  • Be wary of unreliable and dishonest taxi companies. When in doubt, ask the hotel staff to call one for you.
  • Carry backpacks in front when walking through crowded areas of the city. This will allow you to keep track of your valuables and take pictures at the same time.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets.
  • Important numbers to have handy: Police 107, Ambulance 104, Emergency 112.
  • For more great tips check out this link: https://www.budapestbylocals.com/

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #62: Mother’s Day

Life, Love,Mother

Words that go together

An everlasting love

Enduring, endearing

Selfless and true

Tough love and devotion

she’ll do her best

To be there for you

Protective and fierce

Unnerving, unblaming

Guiding, providing

Relentless, unceasing

Caring and nurturing

The words just go on…

She is so many things

A word or sentence will not suffice

How can I easily describe

her love, her sacrifice

There’s no one like her

No one can compare

Her comfort and warmth

On days when I’m weak

The gentle touch of her hand on my cheek

Friends and partners

Come and go

But there is only one of her

No one can compare

No one can replace

her smile, her love

… My Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all the selfless and dedicated Mothers in the world who would do anything for their children.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #61: Castle and Caves

Since tomorrow is Mother’s Day, my husband and I decided to make today, our daughter’s day! First we had croissants and sweet baked bread from our favorite bakery. Then we headed to Lichstenstein Castle. It’s a short 22 minute drive from Herrenberg.

Lichtenstein Castle has been called the “fairy tale castle of Baden WĂŒrttemberg.” There are scheduled group tours available for visitors. It took us a few hours to walk the grounds and take pictures. Since it’s still early in the afternoon, we decided to see a few caves nearby.

The first cave we went to is called Nebelhöhle which translates to fog cave or mist cave.

We entered through a large doorway and descended 25 meters below the surface. It took more than 140 steps to get here.

It’s about 10 degrees Celsius. Too bad we left our sweaters in the car. We moved through the different chambers quickly and was back to the surface within an hour. We watched people ascend from the doorway out of breath and some were panting. Yes, it’s a workout down there! My daughter spent a few minutes at the playground near the parking lot and then we headed to the next cave.

BÀrenhöhle or Bear Cave is only a ten minute drive from Nebelhöhle. We waited for other visitors to come before the tour guide opened the gates. The tour was in Deutsch so we were allowed to move ahead of the group.

This cave was much brighter than the last one. It also has more colorful lights. Human and animal bones, as well as jewelry and flint tools thousands of years old were discovered in this cave. Stalagmites and stalactites covered the halls and the floors were wet and slippery.

We spent a little less than an hour inside the cave. Our daughter wanted to spend more time outside than underground. She was excited about the last place on our list for the day.

The small theme park was conveniently located next to the exit of the cave. Traumland translates to Dream Land. It’s a family oriented park with rides designed for small children. There seemed to be a Grimm fairytale theme as we first walked in. There were rides, slides, and snack bars throughout the place.

Over 10,000 steps later, we decided to end the day with her choice of place to eat dinner. What did she want? McDonalds! Well, it’s her day after all. So off we went for burger and fries. After dinner, we parked the car and walked across the street. Dessert consisted of two scoops of gelato. What a great way to end the day.

We celebrate all kinds of holidays (national and religious) and special days (Valentines, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day). There is no specific day for our children. My daughter said my husband and I get to celebrate our day twice a year (birthday and mother/father’s day) but she only has one day. To make it easy for us to remember it next year, we decided May 12 will officially be her day. Every member of the family is equally important. It’s only fitting that she also gets to be appreciated on her special day.

To our daughter, enjoy the few hours left of your special day. Remember that you are important, loved and appreciated.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #60: Adventure in Calw

Once upon a time, there was a blogger who came to a fairytale-like town called Calw. This is where her adventure began…

Today’s PPOD is perfect for describing the day. It was a random meeting of three different people from three different places. What was the story? And did it end well for all the characters? Where is this magical place? The picture above was taken in Calw. Calw is part of Baden WĂŒrttemberg in Germany. It’s a gorgeous town with a lot to offer.

Since it’s Friday and I just dropped off my daughter at the bus stop, I had all morning to wander around. I wanted to finish taking all the pictures for my next travel blog entry. I decided to head to Calw. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Herrenberg. The sun is shining and I’m ready for an adventure.

I got in my car and started driving. “Despacito” was playing loudly inside the car and I was dancing to the beat as I drove. I was feeling the sunshine, the music, and the gorgeous view of the countryside. When I reached the town before Calw, the sun disappeared and was replaced by fog. I told myself “Nothing’s gonna get me down. I WILL enjoy today!”

When I reached Calw, I parked at the first parking lot I saw. I got out of the car, umbrella at the ready, and I started to walk. I walked about half a block before I saw that there was nothing there except houses. So I drove a few more blocks and parked at the next parking structure. Yaaaas! Jackpot! I found the old town. The sun was peeking in and out. Again, I picked up my umbrella (just in case) and prepared myself for a wonderful day.

I started taking pictures as soon as I walked out of the parking structure. I took a left turn and took pictures of fountains snd houses. I particularly liked the church. I walked further up the hill and had to turn back a little because it didn’t seem like there was anything else ahead. Anyway, I can always go back and check it out if I find something worth returning to. I took the first staircase heading down to the huge parking lot of a well known grocery store called Kaufland. It also led to a large road.

I wasn’t sure where I was going. I just felt like I needed to go down this staircase which led to the road below. When I reached the bottom, I found a huge wooden door with a sign Giuseppe’s Feinkost LĂ€dle (Giuseppe’s Delicatessen). A man of average height came out. He had a shaved head, beard, and dark jacket.

I asked if he owned the place and he said yes. I asked if I could take pictures for my blog and again he said yes. He invited me to take pictures inside. The interior was so different from the exterior of the store. It was better than I expected. We exchanged introductions and I started clicking away.

After a few minutes, a customer came in, right as I was taking my shot. He striked a pose and I took the picture. What a great way to break the ice. He came over to where we were, ordered prosciutto to go and then we started to chat.

Giuseppe opened his business in October of 2016. He sells goods from Italy such as prosciutto, wine, cheese, bread, and olive oil. All fruits and vegetables in his store come from the Stuttgart region. I like the vibe in this store. It feels like a cellar although it’s on the main floor of a house.

The customer’s name is Didier. He’s French. Just imagine a charming Italian store owner, a tall well-dressed French man, and a petite forty something Asian-American woman. All having a good time talking in this amazing store. I only know basic Deutsch, Didier can speak English. and Giuseppe speaks some English. We all understood each other with no difficulty. The atmosphere was light. I loved the white textured walls and ceilings. There was a tinge of bluish light emanating from the ceiling. My eyes were overwhelmed by the array of vibrant colors from the fruits, vegetables, and delicatessen surrounding me.

Giuseppe offered me an espresso and we continued to talk. A woman came in and said hello. Didier jokingly said that all the women in town love Giuseppe. Giuseppe quickly nodded and laughed as he chimed in and supported what Didier just said.

After a few more minutes of getting to know each other, we said our goodbyes. I promised to return with my family and try some wine and cheese. Didier mentioned that he stops by the store about 4 times a week to buy goods. Maybe we’ll see each other again too. Giuseppe gave me a honeydew as a parting gift. Dankeschön Giuseppe! (Thank you).

All I expected today was to take pictures of a town. The sun come out for a few hours just enough for me to accomplish my task. I didn’t expect to make new acquaintances. Hopefully, this leads to good friendships in the future. What’s happening? Who am I becoming?

The old me would have kept on walking past this place. The PPOD is slowly changing me. It’s turning me into a more positive person. Thus, allowing more positive things to happen in my life.

My parents taught me to be nice as a child. It’s a life choice. I wish I had chosen to be nice many years ago. Events in my life made me distrust people. I became jaded and guarded so I closed myself off from everyone. I had a wall around me that only allowed certain people in. I’m ashamed to say that there were many times I could’ve been nicer in the past but chose not to be. The past is done and regret is moot.

All I can do now is to continue to change for the better. Being nice is easier than being the “B” word. It takes less energy and it doesn’t cost a thing. It does more good than harm. I know I can’t trust everybody I meet. I also know I have to, at the least, give them a chance. If I could do it all over again, I would definitely choose to nicer and kinder.

A planned adventure in an unknown town came with unexpected results. I’m glad I got off my old grey couch, and started this blog. Another life lesson re-learned today. Although we can’t be naive and trust everyone we meet, we have to be willing to meet people halfway. We have to remain open to new experiences and new people in order to create a richer, fuller, happier life.

Back to our story… and so the Italian, the French, and the Asian-American all went their separate ways. A valuable lesson was learned and new friendships were forged.

The End.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #59: Colors in the Rain

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day… Wait… No! Stay rain, stay! This morning was gloomy and rainy. All I wanted to do was stay in bed under the warm comforter. Unfortunately, it’s a weekday and a school day. Time to do mom things.

It’s been sunny all week until this morning. Armed with her umbrella, my daughter walked briskly towards the bus stop. I walked behind her and took a picture focusing only on the yellow umbrella. When I looked at the picture, I noticed more colors around her. I modified it a little to make the colors more distinct. I love how reality blends into a modern art-like background. I also love the yellow reflection of her umbrella on the dark, wet street.

Although I prefer sunny days, I don’t mind the rain. We needed the break from the heat anyway. Everything needs to be balanced. Water and fire, rain and sun. The rain helps keep the Schönbuch forest around our town lush and green. It washes debris off the cobbled-stone streets and keeps me at home to accomplish more cleaning.

We came across our friends at the Marktplatz (Market Square) and I asked my friend’s son to walk with my daughter under the umbrella. I snapped a few pictures and picked my favorite one. Both my friend and I loved the picture above. I love the silhouette of their heads under the umbrella. The brightness of the yellow umbrella gives a good contrast to the light colors of the houses on both sides. The picture makes it seem like they’re walking from darkness towards the light. Something to look forward to.

A day that could have been gloomy and depressing, instead brought happiness and color. This is what I chose to see today. How we look at things can make a difference in our lives. We can choose to see the grey and the darkness that the rain brings. Or, we can choose to see the different colors in the rain.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #58: Train Tales

Germany has an outstanding public transportation system. It’s easy, fast, economical and clean. I often take the train with my family on trips. My husband usually has our trips already planned out. This includes purchasing the tickets and having a list of trains and buses we need to take to get to our destination. Today, I took it alone to meet a friend for lunch at another town.

I walked to the S-Bahn or Schnellbahn in our town of Herrenberg and began my adventure. I was a little worried that I would get lost or hop on the wrong train. What if I needed to get on the U-Bahn? S-Bahn, U-Bahn, what’s the difference? I remember the little tip for us Americans to differentiate the two:

  • S = Suburban
  • U = Underground.

I quickly found out that getting from one town to another town was easier than I thought.

First, I needed to find the track for the train that will take me to where I want to go. I headed to track 2. This will take me to Vaihingen. There’s a ticket machine in the middle of the divider where people usually wait. It offers options for different languages. There’s one for English which is great. It asks for the starting place and destination. Then it gives several choices such as: a single day ticket which takes you there and back on that day (this also allows you to take the buses). A one way ticket (usually good for 3 hours) and a group ticket (for families). Prices differ for adults and children. After buying a single-day adult ticket, all I had to do was wait and make sure I get on the right train. The S-Bahn lines are usually marked with the “S” and then a number. I needed to board the S1. The train arrived and I boarded. Seven stops later, I was in Vaihingen. Easy breezy! I feel like a kindergartener that just got through the first day of school.😁

For more info: http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/stadt.shtml#sbahn

In the United States, taking the train is not as common as in Europe. Americans still prefer to drive (except in cities like NYC or Chicago where it’s more convenient to use public transportation). I lived in California for most of my life and never took the train. The closest I got to riding one, was on a trolley in San Diego and San Francisco. The only time I took a train was during a visit to Portland, Oregon. Most people in California drive. We take our cars to stores which are five minutes away from our houses. A 30 minute to 1 hour drive to get somewhere is considered a short drive. The public transit system is definitely more appreciated in Europe.

In Germany, people prefer to take advantage of the efficient transportation system. The trains are clean and most commuters are considerate. They avoid being loud or obnoxious. During family trips, I usually use this time to catch up on my reading. The only exception to the usual silence on the train is during fest and game season. Nobody seems to mind because people coming back from the fest or games actually make the ride fun and interesting with their songs and laughter.

Today, I appreciate the excellent transportation system available to us. This includes the colorful trains that stop through our town. Any day I don’t have to drive and get stuck in traffic is a great day!