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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Alsóörs and Tihany, Lake Balaton, Hungary

Alsóörs, Balaton, Hungary
The color of this lake is beyond words!
This is the view from the guest house where we stayed for 2 nights in March 2012.
It's cold out there...very cold!
The surface of that lake was frozen just a few weeks before our visit.

Another view from the terrace of our guest house...I loved the red roofs against that magnificent water.


This view of the lake is from the hillside village of Tihany...also on the north shore of Balaton.

 A slight turn from where I was standing and I get a hillside image of red roofs!
...such a charming place!

First Sighting - Lake Balaton, Hungary

 Even though we were driving and these images are far less than perfect, I still love them!
My favorite Hungarian friend, Agnes, told me over and over how she loves Lake Balaton and how I must come to visit her "swan lake".  We drove from Budapest with two other friends (not Hungarian) and this was our first sighting of the amazing colors!  I thought I was in the Caribbean someplace!
The kaleidoscope of color was truly hypnotizing!

...but, the temperature told me I was not in the Caribbean...maybe 40 F. in the mid afternoon on this 13th day of March 2012.
...and, much colder at night!
This lake is about 78km in length and 15km across at its widest point and Europe's largest body of fresh water.
a GREAT LAKE for sure!

Why does Agnes call this her 'swan lake'?
There are swans here...lots of them!

Our Last Early Morning in Budapest, Hungary

 Early Morning in Budapest
This is a view from our giant hotel window (which was open) despite the very cold temperature!
Chain Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge and Liberty Bridge

The Budapest Parliament Building and reflection looks stunning anytime of day.

This is a view of the red roofs of the city,  St. Matthias Church (Mátyás Templom) and Fisherman's Bastion  on the hilly side of the Danube River.
Buda, Budapest
The view is from a window on the opposite side of our hotel not facing the river.

Castle Hill Tunnel - Budapest, Hungary

a view of the Chain Bridge with the Castle Hill Tunnel in the background
Budapest, Hungary
March 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

St. Stephen's Basilica - Budapest, Hungary (2)

This is such a beautiful place...St. Stephen's Basilica - Budapest, Hungary.

the dome is breathtaking...

very fine detail and color...breathtaking!

a side altar

 a brief history

a gated view

I was fascinated for a short while watching people do what people do...
and, the view was most pleasing!
-from the steps of the basilica-
 checking to see if they are in the right place
-from the steps of the basilica-
It's a short distance to the Danube River from here...just straight down this street!
Lovely Budapest!

a closer view of the street straight down from the basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica - Budapest, Hungary

 I have posted numerous images of the dome of St. Stephen's Basilica viewed from various parts of the city.
It is one of the landmarks so easily seen from a distance.
One this day, March 11, 2012, Sally and I are off to find this great church at ground level and it was very easy!
We came to this archway very soon after crossing the Chain Bridge.

 Here, I turned around and put the arches on the right.

 There's the famous dome at the end of this street!
So easy!

 We knew it was going to be amazing inside...
and, it was!

and, quite amazing outside, as well.

Margaret Island Tour - Budapest, Hungary

Our young guide has a very impressive knowledge of Hungarian history.
She was great!
She is about to take us to the ancient ruins of  a 13th century convent and church.


This is our first view of the thirteenth century convent of Dominican nuns, once the home to the daughter of King Bela IV, for whom the island was named.

She tells us the history of this convent before St. Margaret's grave.

The grave is well attended with fresh flowers.

Unfortunately not all are respectful of this reverent place but choose to "ruin the ruins."

The buildings in the background are actually across the river even though they seem closer.

A closer view of the Water Tower which is very close to the convent and church ruins.

We have a moment, and only a moment, to linger before returning to the city center which is not far away downriver.
We watch a man jobbing the periphery of the island.
Once again, the buildings are across the river from here.

The last boat of the day arrives to pick us up.

And that is the end of the tour!
Only a scenic trip back to the dock which is only about 20 minutes away when the boat travels directly,
and, it did...
It was a very cold day but lovely...March 11, 2012
 We continue up-river...the light just kept getting better!

 We have finally turned around the north end of Margaret Island and we're going under the Arpád Híd (Bridge).  We will soon dock and tour the island for an hour.

 Love the light on this old bridge!

The Hungarian Flag flies proudly!

 We are on the island now...the mood is great here!
The rain appears to be over and the people are enjoying walking and jogging.

 The Water Tower is a famous landmark.
There is an open-air theater which features ballets, theater and concerts.
There are 2 luxury hotels on the north end of the island...but, no homes.

The island is mostly a vast parkland.
People from the city can easily get here via the two bridges on the south and north end.
Only taxis and one bus are allowed on the island so it is a quiet place to relax.

The sun is getting low...
...to be continued on the next post!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

River Cruise on the Danube - Budapest, Hungary

One of the highlights (and we had many) of our time in Budapest was to take an afternoon river cruise on the Danube River.
It was a rainy afternoon and we thought the view would be poor through the windows of this boat.
But, I think the rainy mood made the trip all the more enjoyable.
There were only a few people taking the cruise.  It was early March and the weather was still VERY cold and the tourism was low, which was nice for us.
First, we cruised south down the river before we turned around and headed north to Margaret Island.

 This is the Budapest Castle (Buda Castle) and Castle Hill on the Buda side of the river.
We spent the morning exploring here.
The views of the city are spectacular from the top of the hill.

This is the first bridge we went under and also the first bridge we crossed by car when Agnes picked us up at the train station.
It is the Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet in Hungarian), the third southernmost bridge from the city center.

This is the Liberty Bridge (Szabadség in Hungarian), sometimes called the "Freedom Bridge".
It is the second southernmost bridge from the city center.
All the bridges in the city are different and unique.

 This is the the Gellért Hotel and Gellért Spa.
It sits just south of Buda Castle along the river.
We had a wonderful afternoon at this spa...those photos will be posted soon.
It seems that every spa is special in its own way.
We didn't see any two that were alike,

This is the Margaret Bridge (Margít Híd in Hungarian).  
Margaret Island is now appearing on the left side of the boat.

 ...getting closer

and under!
Sally and I walked across this bridge on our last night in Budapest.
It was late at night and the city glowed in beautiful lights.
This bridge is also spectacular with its lights which we could easily see from our hotel room.

We continue north up the river towards the north end of Margaret Island.
The sky is very dark in the distance but the sun is peeking out over Budapest.
The light was spectacular!
This is enough for this post...more tomorrow!