During the summer of 2008, we visited my father for two and a half months while he was living and working in Budapest, Hungary. It was the summer before we moved back to New York (something we found out at the beginning of the vacation itself), and we knew that we would probably not have a chance to visit Europe, especially Eastern Europe, as a family for a few years, so we made the best of it and went to as many places as possible – somewhere new every weekend.
1. England – London and Cambridge
Mum took us to all of the tourist sites in the city – we hadn’t really done that before, and also the last time we had been in London as a family before that was when I was 10, Priya was 6 and Prachi was 2, so there wasn’t much of a point for the little ones to go to the sites.
Baker Street (on the way to Urmidida and Sagoredadu’s where father called us and told us the NY news), The London Eye, Madame Toussades, the Nostalgia tube tour courtesy of Makosha (we still called her that back then).
When my dad joined us from Hungary, we drove straight to Cambridge. He was really ill that day and it was Ma that actually drove us! (When I started writing this six years ago I wrote: Cambridge is a magnificent place, I would do anything to go to University there.) We were there visiting a friend of my parents’ who teaches there. She took us on a little tour of the city, we went punting.
The next day, we dropped her off at a wedding at one of the National Heritage Sites, and then drove to Stratford-Upon-Avon and stood in line for standing tickets for the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We actually got five tickets! It was especially exciting for me to watch because I had performed in our school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream only one year before, so I knew all of the lines, and it was interesting to see the RSC’s take on it.
(Stopping point on 11/28/2010)
2. Hungary – Budapest, Nagymaros, Estergom, Szentendre
Since it’s been a really long (oops) since we actually went to these places, I guess I’ll just write a little bit about these places. First of all, the picture above was taken in Szentendre, we ended up visiting Szentendre quite a bit because it was so close to Budapest and because one of the restaurants that we liked to take visitors to was there.
Nagymaros – “is a town in Pest country, Hungary” (Good job Wikipedia, but I got some info that I translated from Hungarian) It is considered as one of the country’s most beautiful settlements, it’s located on the Danube bend, about 50 km from Budapest. We took a ferry to the right bank – to Visegrád, which is a small castle town which is famous for the remains of the Early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias Cornivis of Hungary and the medieval citadel.
Esztergom – a city in Northern Hungary that forms the border with Slovakia there. We saw the Esztergom Basilica, the largest church in Hungary, and crossed the border over the Slovakia for lunch. I remember the ice cream was amazing! (And during the 2010 World Cup, my younger sister was assigned Slovakia as the country that she had to give a presentation on and the country she was to support, and she very casually said ‘oh, yeah I had lunch there once’)
Szentendre – riverside town in Pest county, near the capital city. It is known for its museums. “Due to its historic architecture and easy rail and river access, it has become a popular destination for tourists staying in Budapest” – definitely 🙂
3. Czech Republic – Prague
4. Austria – Salzburg
(means salt forest)
We stayed in a family hostel and they recommended a restaurant to us for dinner on our first night, it was walking distance (I think), I remember it was near a square where we went back to a couple of days later. It was up a hill and it was really sweet and relaxing and the food was very good as well!
Hellbrunn Palace, park & trick fountains – Wasserspiele (loved it) Prince Archbishop’s private passion
Sound of Music Tour (this was the same year the Jula and Iain and I sang 16 going on 17 together) – took us back to Hellbrunn Palace, next to which is the road where the kids were cycling and also where the above picture was taken as the Gazebo was relocated there in order to keep trespassers off of Schloss Leopoldskorn, which we were shown from across the lake. Nonnberg Abbey (the nunnery in the film). St Gilgen – Lake and Mountain District (breathtaking, where the panorama shots and scenes of the picnic were filmed). Mondsee – Wedding Chapel (where the wedding scene took place + where father picked us up from – he had been following in the car LOL)
Pizza and Kebab picnic next to the highway
5. Switzerland – Geneva
Drove to Geneva from Budapest (13 hours drive). Priya got stuck in our favourite gas station toilet in Austria.
6. Hungary – Balaton Fured
This picture is after the open air concert we went to on our way back to Budapest from Balaton (Beethoven Museum, Martonvásár, Brunszvik utca 2., 2462 Hungary).
Fun fact: ‘“I have seen almost all the countries of the world but I saw nowhere such a beautiful harmony of the sky and the water than that I had the privilege to enjoy on the shore of Balatonfured filling my soul with rapture.” It was Rabindranath Tagore who had famously said this while visiting Hungary! He had been invited to Budapest for a poetry-reading convention and its gruelling schedule is said to have taken a toll on his health. Doctor advice brought him to Balatonfured’s State Heart Hospital, where he spent a few weeks on his way to recovery. […] He has a sculpted bust installed under the linden tree he is said to have planted. It’s in an open garden parallel to another dedication to him: the leafy Tagore Setany (promenade) running along the banks of Lake Balaton.’
7. Austria – Vienna
We went to Vienna when the parents’ friends were visiting so it was a full-car and I got to sit in the trunk, which was definitely the best seat ‘in the house’.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Belvedere – mum taught me about Klimt
Vienna State Opera – we watched an open air concert outside
St. Peter’s Church – Peterskirche
Klimt Villa Wien
KunstHausWien and Hundertwasserhaus (I chose these two places and they were the last two places we went to and the ones that I remember vividly): The first is a museum designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser – “the only permanent exhibition of his works which also hosts regular temporary exhibition of other artists. The entire building is designed in typical Hundertwasser style, with wavy undulating floors and a notable lack of straight lines. Bright, glaring colours are used throughout, and foliage abounds. There is a fountain in the foyer, and a restaurant with abundant plant life reminiscent of a winter garden. An unevenly winding staircase leads to the main part of the exhibition on the upper floors. To keep the rooms flooded with daylight, Hundertwasser, who was said to be fond of sunlight and therefore windows too, had a glass frontage built in front of the facade.” The second is an apartment house built after the idea and conception of Hundertwasser with architect Joseph Krawina as a co-author. Hundertwasser initially rejected the preliminary drawings and a Styrofoam model presented by Krawina as “representing exactly the leveling, straight-lined modular grid against which he had consistently fought” Krawina was replaced by Architect Peter Pelikan who became Hundertwasser’s long term partner, working with him on numerous other building projects.
8. Hungary – Szentendre, Budapest (actual tourist stuff)
Father’s favourite ruin pubs
Our favourite Pork Fat (Oaky) restaurant
Our favourite Bangladeshi “restaurant” with amazing Mango Lassee
Central Market Hall – had some tasty Lángos
Bathhouse – we went to Szechenyi Bathhouse
(we had already been to Andrássy Avenue and Heroes’ Square but they both deserve a mention in here as they are part of the reason Budapest is sometimes called Paris of the East)
Fishermen’s Bastion (purely decorative)
Gellért Hill + Citadel + Budapest’s Statue of Liberty– night and ice cream in the double decker bus
Shoes on the Danube – located in Pest – memorial that commmemorates the victims of the Holocaust with 60 pairs of iron shoes forming a row along the river in memory of the people shot into the Danube during WWII
Margaret Island (visited during the months a couple of times – basically Central Park on an Island)
Hungarian National Museum + Budapest Opera House (two places that we visited when we went to Budapest for the first time 6 months prior to this summer trip, and we watched the Nutcracker)
Pécs to see Plácido Domingo
9. Bangladesh – Dhaka
10. India – Kolkata
11. USA – NY, NY
“completed” on 31/05/2014