Looking forward to seeing many of our wonderful clients tonight!
Looking forward to seeing many of our wonderful clients tonight!
While it’s nice to speak at least a few words of the language used where you are traveling, sometimes the signs just say it all!
Cruising on the Danube river in Budapest past the stunning parliament building is a special treat both day and night. Did you know that the Danube flows over 1700 miles passing through 10 countries on its way to the Black Sea? You can travel almost all of it on an amazing river cruise. How much time do you have? 1 week? 2 weeks? More? Let us know and we can design the perfect trip for you.
Certainly one of the great things about cruising is you are always close to destinations with amazing seafood. Last month in Halifax, Nova Scotia we had lunch at McKelvie’s Restaurant – a short walk from the cruise pier and not very far from another favorite spot – Halifax Distilling Co. You can tell from the photos below that we had a great lunch and would definitely go back on our next trip.
What’s your favorite food stop when cruising?
The pop art LOVE image was first created by Robert Indiana for print in the 1960s. The sculpture version can be seen in dozens of places around the world and in several different languages. The one below is in front of the L hotel in Montreal Canada. One can always use a bit more amour!
If you have never seen the Aura music and light show inside this cathedral it is definitely a must see. However, Even during a normal daytime visit the lighting provides an amazing scene. Just check our photos from our visit last month. Montreal was the final stop on our Canada New England fall color cruise. We had great time and highly recommend this itinerary. More photos coming soon!
Day 1 – Boston
I’ll admit it. I’ve been lots of places all around the world, but have never been to Boston. Two things I know about Boston: First is Sam Adams. Jim Koch believed that beer drinkers deserved a better American beer than what was available in the 1980’s. And was he right! Look at the proliferation of craft beers and breweries all across the US. Samuel Adams Boston Lager had a huge impact on the future US landslide of flavor packed beers. Second thing I know about Boston is Boston Rob from the CBS show survivor. Rob and his wife Amber both individually won different seasons – her in 2004 and him in 2011 after his fourth appearance! As a couple they both appeared on Season 7 of the Amazing Race – they were masters of the game, and finished in 2nd place, just short of the big prize.
For this trip, we’ll be in Boston a couple days early and will visit Freedom Trail sites in the downtown area. The city was founded in 1630 and got its name from an English village. Many of the events that led to the American revolution including the infamous Boston Tea Party in 1773, started here In 1775, Paul Revere helped spread the word that the British were coming (no tweeting in those days). The next day “the shot heard round the world” was fired, signaling the start of the American Revolution. And the rest as they say is history.
Looking forward to another great trip – Cheers!
How many of these sites can you identify?
It’s up and at ’em today with a goal of seeing as much as possible. First stop St. Stephen’s Basilica. Located in a very nice area, the church is surrounded by many shops and cafés so after the visit you might want to grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine and enjoy the square.
St. Stephen’s is dedicated to the Hungary’s king who was the founder of the Hungarian State. Construction started in 1851 but the church was not dedicated until 1905. During WWII, the church roof, towers and external walls were badly damaged however visitors today will find that even the beautiful mosaics have been successfully restored. Like many churches & Basilica’s in Europe, St. Stephan’s has it’s precious relic. Here (in the chapel) you will find the mummified hand of the church’s patron saint, the first king of Hungary. I’ve seen quite a few mummified parts in my travels but no matter how many, I can’t quite get over the concept – and yes, in every church I do seek them out….go figure!
If you are ambitious (we were not) you can walk up the 364 steps to the cupula for a panoramic view of the city, or do it the easy way and take one of the 2 elevators – either way, its worth the effort on a clear day.
Next stop on our whirlwind tour is Buda Castle. We took public transportation for an easy jog over to that part of town. Located on what is referred to as Castle Hill, the 18th century Buda castle is a 200 room palace built to protect from Mongol and Tartar attacks. The castle was quite damaged in World War II however today many parts of it have been restored and now house the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. The entire complex is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site and it is worth taking the time to explore.
Take the historic funicular up to the top and be sure to marvel at the views from the top. Stay for a changing of the guards ceremony and be sure to throw a penny in the fountain. While we were exploring a festival was being set up in the castle square and we are glad we hung around until the stalls began to open. This was by far the best Hungarian food ever! The cabbage roll was to die for, the grilled chicken was moist and tasty and sausage….well with a cold Hungarian brew, what could have been better??
Onward we went – in search of one of the “most scenic tram rides in Europe”. AKA Tram #2, on the Pest side of the river is according to National Geographic, one of the most scenic trams in the world but I think we missed its beauty. Don’t get me wrong, out the river side of the tram there were some very pretty sights – when you could see them. However, the tram is crowded and used for local transportation so if you can get a seat on the scenic side you are lucky…heck that is if you can get a seat at all!
Now a word about this and other trams/public transportation options in Budapest. You must buy a ticket and you MUST validate it upon entering the tram. We bought a 10 pack and got on. One of us validated and the other 2 did not, as our main goal was seeking out a seat. Well it seems that the one who validated did not actually validate the ticket itself but rather the ticket cover….and folks that doesn’t count when the tram police step on board and check your tickets. Let’s just say that the 1 Euro tram ride ticket became about a $35 per person fine – yep, even though we had attempted to validate according to the nice lady checking tickets, we had done so incorrectly and it simply didn’t count! You see, she doesn’t “make the rules, she just follows them” thank you very much and pay on the spot! It did not matter that we had some 8 unused tickets that she could have easily stamped …nope….tourist hand over the money! And so we did….but here is the good news (according to her), we could now ride the tram the rest of the day for free! Well we rode it all right, to where we found a wonderful little wine bar to toast our contribution to Budapest tourism!
All in a days fun…and something to talk about for a long time to come!
Starting in Budapest, Hungary, we made our way down the Danube River on the Uniworld SS Maria Theresa and oh what a time we had.
We arrived in Budapest a few days earlier and checked into the Boscolo Budapest Autograph Collection Hotel aka the New York Palace Hotel. This city center hotel is truly an extraordinary experience where historic combines with contemporary comfort. Marble bathrooms, plush bedding, silk wallpaper and Murano chandeliers make you feel as though you are royalty.
The service is fantastic and a visit to the world-famous New York Café located within the hotel is a must do.
Although tired, we grabbed a bite to eat while we waited for rooms to be ready and then our first stop of the trip was the famous natural hot spring baths. It was a short stroll from the hotel to the underground that took us right to the baths.
There are many hot mineral bath options in Budapest but we chose to visit Szechenyi Baths. Szechenyi is the largest in Budapest with 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor options. Each pool has a different temperature, our favorite was outdoors pool because of the size and temperature. It was the warmest and together with the sunshine it revitalized our bodies, minds and spirits after that long overseas flight. Onsite, one can also take advantage of steam and sauna cabins, massage therapies and even a beer spa! We rented a cabin which afforded us a private change area and a place to store our things. This experience is highly recommended on your next trip to Budapest, there is just something about floating around in deliciously warm water while surrounded by a Neo-baroque palace!
Feeling refreshed we headed back to the hotel knowing dinner and bedtime were just a few hours away. Tomorrow was to be a full day of sightseeing….stay tuned!
Nijmegen (pronounced nine megan) is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is located just a short distance from the German border. It was the first city to fall to the Germans in WWII due to its proximity. In September 1944, resistance troops from Nijmegen were an integral part of Operation Market Garden, the main objective was to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges so the Allies could invade. Nijmegen is also one of the warmest cities in the Netherlands and believe it or not, some of the northernmost wineries in the world are found just outside the city.
But you didn’t decide to read this blog for the history or weather, did you? So, what’s the deal – why should I visit Nijmegen? Well that really depends on what your interests are but here are some highlights we enjoyed. If history is your thing, the Valkhof Museum offers Nijmegen from Roman times to the present. On my visit, I decided I’d go another route. On my list was Grote (Great) market; St. Stevenskerk and bell tower, and of course the Brouwer café (brew put) De Hemel. And if you need the famous pot licker, this is the place to get one!
Let’s start with the main square, or the Grote Market. Nothing really to see inside the buildings but they are wonderful to admire from the outside. I personally love a city stroll, you can absorb the feel for the town by wandering the streets and admiring the architecture.
Next up is St. Stevenskerk (church)with its beautiful organs. St. Stevenskerk, located in the historical city center, was built in the 13th century with additions through the 15th century. It was hit by bombs during WWII, destroying a large portion of the church. Thankfully, it was restored in 1969. When you visit, be sure to check out the monument to Catherine of Bourbon, candelabra, organs and frescos all which date from the 16th, to the 18th century. Did you catch that I said check out the organs? St. Stevenskerk has 4 of them, but the one of interest was built by Ludwig Konig. There are only a few of his organs still left to enjoy. Organ and music enthusiasts will love its unique sound.
Once you have visited inside, spend the few extra Euro’s and climb the bell tower for a fantastic view of the city from the top. It is a twisty little climb but so worth it. There is a gentleman from town at the top who is full of amazing little facts about the church, the town, and the bell tower. Be artistic and take a picture of the big clock from the tower. This exercise is well worth your time and effort!
Well, you’ve climbed and now you need a little pick me upper, right? If so, head over to De Hemel Brouwery (brewery). Located in a medieval monastery building just a short walk from the church, you will find De Hemel. It is a restaurant, home brewery, home distillery and even a home roastery. Something for everyone in your party for sure. Upstairs you’ll even find a little chocolate shop (open on certain days/times). Our little gang tried the beer sampler – again something for every taste – and it was well worth it. There is a lovely little patio of the weather is nice but inside you’ll find all sorts of quirky things….so go inside for sure!
You’ve spent the day in Nijmegen and it’s time to be going but wait…..you need that pot licker right? Never heard of a pot licker, well I’m about to turn you on to THE most useful kitchen tool ever. Stop in at the Hema in town (yes, I know you can shop online but its way more fun to visit in person) – go upstairs (same floor as the bathrooms) and look for these handy little gadgets. They are like 1.75 Euro a piece (way cheap) and they work wonders to “lick” the pots clean. Think peanut butter jars here…they are like mini squeegee’s. We bought every last one of them they day we visited and so glad we did. The following day we saw the exact same items for 5 Euros each…bargain hunting is my game! And even if you don’t have to rid yourself of a little beer by this time, check out the sign for the bathrooms…worth a good laugh.
Keep traveling….the world is a wonderful place to explore!