Friday, June 30, 2006

Buda and Pest

It's been 9 years since I first visited Budapest. It is a changed city from the one I remembered:

* the airport is new, or at least refurbished since I last flew into the run-down little airport guarded my military men with "oozies". No guns in sight this time.

* the city seemed cleaner...building exteriors had been scrubbed and generally seemed in better repair.

* there is a building boom going on. Cranes dotted the skyline and building refubishment or constuction was on every street.

What had not changed is that June/July is Budapest is hot and humid. I remember that all too well and that lovely hot weather greeted me again. Highs of 96-76 degrees. Remember, I was coming from the cool temps of mid to upper 70s in Germany.

And then there is that that Danube River...which is not not blue today, but maybe it was once upon a time. Still, both times I've visited Budapest (one side is the "Buda" side, the other side is the "Pest" side), it was been a memorable members awaited me on both journeys.

So, to start off the Budapest tour....the Danube River.

Budapest June 2006 039

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thanks, SB!

Travelling in Europe is enjoyable enough…just seeing new places, learning about other cultures and meeting new people, sampling the local cuisine (always a must!), and connecting history to things I have only read about. It is even more so enjoyable when that travelling also coincides with seeing a family member or friend.

Yes, as the Budman was winding down that trip to India (photos to come), I had the rare opportunity to visit my niece, SB who was in Budapest on a choir tour. She was kind enough to take time out of her schedule to visit with me, and to allow me to tag along with her on her sightseeing jaunts.

Budapest June 2006 015

Budapest June 2006 033

SB – It was great seeing you…looking forward to the “next” trip!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Budapest Bound

While the Budman was headed back from India, I made a brief weekend trip to Budapest to see my neice who travelling there on a choir tour. Having been to Budapest in '97, I did see alot of changes, mostly in infrastructure (new and improved mass transportation, renovated buildings, etc.). It was a great weekend, but it took an unexpected turn on Saturday...almost 97 degrees in the shade. Being on that Danube (which is not blue, by the way), it was VERY humid. It does not sound atypical for you Texans, but remember alot of the buildings have limited or no A/C.

Thankfully, our hotel was not one of them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

World Cup is over for some

Germany: 3-0-0 - moving on to the second round.

USA: 0-2-1 - headed home to spend the summmer apparently doing something else other than playing "football".

So, yeah...go Germany!

All things “Rembrandt”

This is a city that celebrates one of its greatest treasures, but there is a heightened sense of it this year as celebrations for the 400 year anniversary of Rembrandt's birthday are in full swing. So, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Or in this case, "When in Amsterdam...".

First stop: Viewing of the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibit. Rather esoteric, but fabulous none the less.

Second stop: A visit to the Rijksmuseum...home to many fabulous pieces of artwork, including several by Rembrandt. The museum is under major renovation till 2008, keeping the string alive of major buildings or monuments that always appear to be under renovation during our trips. Still a smaller wing had been set aside to show the "best of the best" from the museum's collections.

Amsterdam BY 0606 010

Amsterdam HY 0606 009

The Night Watch…the premier Rembrandt piece in the museum.

Amsterdam BY 0606 008

Third stop: Tour of Rembrandthuis. While a tad on the pricey side as museums go, well restored and preserved. Great audio tour…yes, we are turning into tourists who seek out the museum audio guides. Is this a sign we are “aging”?

Amsterdam HY 0606 017

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Evening in Amsterdam

Yes, we took some great evening pics in Amsterdam. Something about "illuminated historic buildings set against water" seems to do the trick every time.

Amsterdam HY 0606 061

Amsterdam HY 0606 057

Amsterdam HY 0606 055

Amsterdam HY 0606 062

Amsterdam HY 0606 049

Amsterdam HY 0606 038

Amsterdam BY 0606 055

Amsterdam HY 0606 048

Amsterdam HY 0606 044

Canals, boats, and bicycles

We've now been in 3 cities in the last month that are "canal cities". Third time is a definitely a charm; Budman and I finally took a canal tour. Partly due to the clearing weather, partly due to the need to take a rest from all the walking, we embarked on an afternoon canal excursion. Three things were obvious: this is a town of canals, boats, and bicycles.

Amsterdam HY 0606 016

Amsterdam BY 0606 043

Amsterdam BY 0606 037

The Amsterdam train station and downtown…canalside.

Amsterdam BY 0606 035

Amsterdam BY 0606 034

Typical Amsterdam canal houses.

Amsterdam BY 0606 020

Amsterdam BY 0606 027

Amsterdam BY 0606 021

West Church.

Amsterdam BY 0606 031

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Cup Continues

Germany: 3-0-0

USA: 0-1-1

Although not in the same group, it is not looking good for the men in more game left to determine whether the Yanks advance to the second round. Guess I may have to jump on the bandwagon of my host country.

Oh yea, what's going on with the Mavs????


The Budman and I decided to take the last remaining German holiday until November and extend it into a 4 day weekend in Amsterdam. Well, not actually 4 days, rather like 3, since the Budman left for India on Sunday. Still, we looked forward to a few days of R&R, so we were a bit caught unawares by two things:

First, it’s hard to believe by the some of the early photos that it’s June. It was downright cold, drizzly, and wet on the first day or so. No worries as the last day was gorgeous. Here’s Bud in Dam Square…

Amsterdam HY 0606 001

Amsterdam HY 0606 029

Note: Could it be the 2006 Christmas photo???? At least we have one in the running....

Secondly, the Dutch were ecstatic over their second win in the World Cup and advancement to the second round. It was a sea of orange everywhere, with people (and I mean TONS of people) celebrating the entire weekend. At first, I said, "Why orange as the team color", since the Dutch flag is red, white, and blue. Ah, then I learned a bit of history...the Dutch Monarchy and the House of Orange...ahhhh....

Using a tried and true approach for sightseeing in the rain, we decided on a change of venue and visited two of the finest museums in the world to see the artwork of two of Amsterdam’s most treasured sons: Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekend in Amsterdam

A long weekend in Amsterdam, saw us once again sporting coats, long sleeve shirts, and jeans. By day 3, though, we were trending towards that summer weather. Nothing like what you guys in Texas have, but summer weather none the less. The Budman is now trading in this cool summer weather for the hot and humid temps of Mumbai for a week or so.

Amsterdam photos coming this week.

World Cup versus NBA Finals

You know you are acclimating to another country when you can spout the latest in World Cup games, but are surprised to learn that your own Dallas Mavericks are in the NBA finals.

Yes, Germany is 2-0 and is heading to the second round; USA currently stands at one loss and one draw. It is still up in the air whether the boys will advance, but they played a valiant game 2, down one man most of the second period.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


We've been busy at work, and we've been travelling alot. Still, the weather was so nice a weekend or so ago that we simply could not stay indoors. So a daytrip to Bruhl (near Bonn), a lovely palace of many, was on our roadmap.

Schloss Augustusburg - Bruhl 0606 014 (1)

Buddy in front of Schloss Augustusburg, Bruhl, Germany.

Schloss Augustusburg - Bruhl 0606 003

Holly in front of Schloss Augustusburg, Bruhl, Germany, from the gardens and park.

Schloss Augustusburg - Bruhl 0606 010

It was still a nice spring day, cool, and breezy, as you can tell by the apparel. No worries, it is in the low to mid 90s today...remember no A/C.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Belgium Trip Comes to an End

Wouldn't you know it? The most absolutely beautiful weather awaited us on Sunday, as we made our way back to Dusseldorf from Belgium. All in all a great trip, even with the weather.

Two stops enroute back to Germany: Laarne Castle and Antwerp.

Laarne Castle, also know as Kasteel van Laarne, is a one of the best preserved medieval strongholds in the country. This 14th century castle, located about 8 miles south of Gent, was having a “castle-tour” this morning (think Gingerbread Trail but only with a castle, not Victorian home). Sadly, no interior photos were allowed, although the rooms were filled with Flemish tapestries, antiques, and tons of potted shrubs, flowers, and plants. Simply breathtaking!

Laarne Belgium 0506 003

Laarne Belgium 0506 001

Laarne Belgium 0506 005

Laarne Belgium 0506 029

Laarne Belgium 0506 032

Our next stop was Antwerp, if for nothing more than a bite of lunch in the market square, people watch, and check out the fabulous church we’d read so much about. Yes, there are 4 Rubens paintings in this church, 3 of which were painted especially for the cathedral.

Antwerp's Stadhius and market square.

Antwerp Belgium 0506 022

Antwerp Belgium 0506 020

Buddy standing in Antwerp's Grote Markt.

Antwerp Belgium 0506 001

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerps' finest Gothic church.

Antwerp Belgium 0506 012

Antwerp Belgium 0506 036

Antwerp Belgium 0506 028

Gent Belgium 0506 070

Antwerp Belgium 0506 015

Note #1: Even with GPS, we almost couldn’t get out of Antwerp. Every road, bridge, and tunnel seemed to be under construction, had a noted detour, or was now a one-way street. Thankfully, we survived and found a way out.

Note #2: Please note that the travellin’ “red jackets” have now been retired. For you veteran readers of the blog, you'll know of what I refer (smile).

Gent by Night

The rain held off long enough one evening in Gent to allow an evening stroll, snap some night photos, and get the feel of this city at twilight.

Nightfall settles in along the canals in Gent.

Gent Belgium 0506 039

Graslei guildhouses.

Gent Belgium 0506 024

Night view of Sint-Niklaaskerk, Belfort, and Sint Baafskathedraal from Sint-Michielsbrug (bridge).

Gent Belgium 0506 027

Gent's Gravensteen's Castle.

Gent Belgium 0506 038

Gent's St. Niklaaskathedraal.

Gent Belgium 0506 032

Gent's Stadhius; a mixture of various architectural elements.

Gent Belgium 0506 035

Night view of Sint Baafskathedraal.

Gent Belgium 0506 033

Gent's Belfort (bell tower).

Gent Belgium 0506 031