“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Budapest” (Day 1)

April 18

grand european tour

[The title is our house logo, so I knew it would just be a matter of time before the Supervisor whisked me away again in increasingly successful efforts to make sure we have nothing to leave our heirs.  We met with our crack travel agent, the HQ, who abetted our 15-day river cruise with extended days at the beginning and end creating a 21-day disappearance from hearth and home.  But seriously folks, Skads Travel has always done a bang up job for us, and I’m not saying that just because Kathy and I have been friends for about 63 years.  😉  ]

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[Our trip began Sunday morning when we hopped on board the shuttle for the trip to MSP.  Despite all news reports to the contrary, we were unbelievably at our gate within 15 minutes of arrival at the airport.  This will likely lead to several congressional investigations as to how this could possibly happen?  With hours to kill before the flight, I discovered the airport offers up free iPads to help us while away the time.  Now we have all PC stuff at home, but after some trial and error and muttered profanities I was able to send out status reports.  We would be meeting Tom Kiehne and Pam Mathison (Pam kept her name after their marriage, preferring “Pam” to “Tom”) of Austin, Texas, in Budapest, Hungary.  Helen and John Etnier of Ashby would be joining us there the next day.  We were the “A Team,” from Alexandria, Ashby, and Austin!  Our first photo of the trip is of the Super at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, our transfer point for our flight to Budapest.  We have been through Schipol several times now and have always wondered how it’s pronounced.  On the way to the airport for our trip home, we asked our South Asian cab driver how it’s pronounced.  He said, “ski pole.”  Whatever.]

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[We had some difficulties getting to our hotel in Budapest – our driver wasn’t there?  We asked other drivers and found a young man who said he worked for the company we were waiting on.  He called and reported our guy would be there shortly.  While waiting for our guy, the first guy asked about the election season in the U.S.  Everybody asked us about it – since we all obviously look American (?), Europeans would go out of their way to come to talk us about the U.S. elections?  Anyway, this was our first photo in Budapest as we approached our hotel – Liberty Statue is holding a palm frond on Gellert Hill above the city on the Buda side.]

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[And if you followed our reports from last year (yes, there were a few of you) you may remember this view?  Almost exactly a year ago we were also in this Marriott Hotel on the Danube River where every room has a view of the river and of Buda Castle on the far side.  I never thought when we left last year that I’d ever be in Budapest again.  Life, whatta concept?]

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[Well, what do you do when you’re standing in the hall waiting for the elevator?]

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[Pastries!  (Not fair putting these in the middle of the hotel lobby.  Why yes, we did partake on the last day – thank you for asking.)]

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[Having met up with Tom and Pam, time to go on a walking tour of the city in search of food!]

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[Gelato!  Well, not before dinner.]

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[Why I love old European cities – pedestrian only streets!]

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[Hey, we found a place!  Well, a young man with a restaurant sign found us.  We decided, why not?  So here we are, our first night resolving hunger in Hungary.  FT’s, Hungarian currency, on the left; Euros on the right – we all got the 3-course for about $14.00.  Such a deal!]

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[Our host – a character!]

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[This is the picture our host took – a bit of an artsy effect?]

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[And then dessert – as I recall, it was set on fire!]

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foodlove

[Just like last year, it was Spring Festival time!  Here we are in Vorosmarty Square, just a couple blocks from our hotel, on our walk back from the restaurant.]

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[I noticed this last year too.  Took a photo, laughed, and said I’d try it if we ever came back.  Well, I’m baaaccckkk!]

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[Party time on the square.]

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[And we’re back to the river with the amazing night time view of Buda Castle.]

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[Our hotel bar – never stuck around long enough to try it?]

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[Back in our room.  Night-night, tomorrow when begin our explorations.]

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Globetrotting destroys ethnocentricity, helping us understand and appreciate other cultures. Rather than fear the diversity on this planet, celebrate it. Among your most prized souvenirs will be the strands of different cultures you choose to knit into your own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop, and Back Door travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry.  ~  Rick Steves

Up Next:  Hey, so far it’s just been one day.  That means still 20 days to go.  And once again I hit upon my average – it seems I take about 100 pictures per day when we’re on a major trip.  I don’t count or ration, it just works out that way.  This time I’m just a tad short of 2,100 photos – that either happens as a result of astrology or . . . coincidence?  Now you don’t have to look at them all – please feel free to go watch a ballgame or something instead.

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4 Responses to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Budapest” (Day 1)

  1. Bill And Barb says:

    Thanks Tom, fun to see the pictures and share your adventure. Bill

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Kath says:

    Thanks Tom for the “thumbs up”.
    Much appreciated, both friendship and business! Hugs to your better half 😉

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