THERE'S A SPRING IN MY STEP
Now that travel is opening back up in Europe, I got to cross a few more countries off my worldwide tour that were postponed due to coronavirus. I was able to visit Budapest a few times this year which is pretty unusual for me as I typically travel somewhere then move on but with it's proximity to Zagreb (my home base), combined with the beauty and charm it made an impression (not to mention all the great Ethnic food here – like Pho!) Every time I’ve gone back I've discovered something new and amazing so I’m only going to touch on the highlights otherwise you'll be here forever.
The capital of Hungary is in fact two towns, Buda and Pest with the river Dunabe separating the East and West and is connected by numerous beautiful bridges like the Chain Bridge, Liberty Bridge etc. Along the shores are the most famous buildings and points of interest in this Metropolis, one of which is the Buda Castle; a UNESCO world heritage site that was built by numerous Hungarian kings so it’s a mix of different architectural styles like Medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau. One of the most visited parts is the Fisherman’s Bastion, which looks straight out of a fairy tale and offers the best panoramic views.
Across on the eastern bank sits the monumental Parliament building, built in the neo-Gothic style and is the biggest Parliament building in Europe. Budapest is also the spa capital of the world with over 120 hot springs that supply the impressive selection of thermal baths, many of which were built in the 16th century. It was a luxurious experience to spend the day in Széchenyi Thermal Baths enjoying the outside pools as well as the Vulcan hot saunas.
Among other stuff to see here are the Heroes Square statues on Andrássy Avenue, Vajdahunyard Castle in City Park, the Dohány Street Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter and many other historical parts of Hungary that were rebuilt after WWII.
THE EMERALD ISLE
One of the largest reasons for my travel to Europe was to explore the land of my ancestors, namely Ireland. I was fortunate to spend a month there and managed to see Dublin, Galway, Howth and Kilkenny. Ireland’s rich history and culture means you will never run out of interesting places to visit and many of the National Galleries and Museums are free. Since I was based in Dún Laoghaire, I was able to spend a couple weeks exploring many of the interesting sites such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol, the Temple Bar district and visited many wonderful pubs, and of course one of the oldest and favourite was the “Brazen Head Pub” where I had my first taste of Guinness.
I then took a train to visit an old friend in Kilkenny and was given a grand tour of Kilkenny Castle, Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Woodstock Gardens and Kyteler's Inn (established by the notorious Dame Alice de Kyteler in the 13th century who was condemned for witchcraft.)
I also managed to explore one of the most intriguing jewels of the West of Ireland, the city of Galway. It’s wild and bohemian, full of culture, artistry and of course traditional food and music. It was a joy to visit cobblestone streets, colourful facades of small shops and local pubs. It also marks the halfway point on the Wild Atlantic Way and allowed me to take a day trip to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Kinvara and The Burren (hauntingly sad as it’s littered with famine walls that were built by downtrodden and starving people in return for food or remuneration.)
The Long Walk ▪ Watercolour on Paper. 8x10 inches
YOU HAD ME AT HALLO
My next destination I had the opportunity to pet sit for 2 weeks in Berlin and the city captivated me with the overwhelming amount of art not only in National Museums and Modern Art Galleries but also amazing street art on every imaginable surface (apparently the more dangerous the location, the more respect and street credibility you gain.)
Berlin was impressive, though not only because of the diverse style of buildings but also because of how much they embrace and acknowledge their history. I experienced the Berlin Wall monument, Hitler’s bunker, the Jewish Museum, Checkpoint Charlie as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (an imposing and immersive conceptual concrete art installation.)
Afterwards I spent a few days in Frankfurt (they have the largest airport in Europe) and enjoyed walking along the riverbank, had coffee on the Römerberg Square, visited Bad Homberg Castle, and saw the timber frame houses in Höchst.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Paris is depicted in so many movies and TV shows that it’s hard not to have unrealistic expectations about a city but to me, it was just as spectacular in person as it was on the big screen. I met up with a lifelong friend and we took in the Musée d'Orsay, famous for its collection of sculptures and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Auguste Renoir to name a few. We then drank wine by the Seine and watched the sparkling display of lights and had a late dinner of local delicacies.
I spent a week immersed in art, romance and glamour that I found myself in awe just walking around looking at so many incredible opulent architectural details and amazing local sights. It’s hard to put into words the grandness of the Eifel Tower, the overwhelming collection of artifacts in the Louvre Museum, the devastation of the Notre Dame or the vastness of the Palace of Versailles. I was enchanted by the small (petite) restaurants and coffee bars crowded next to each other in charming districts between elegant bridges and parks full of cherry blossoms and hedonistic Parisians. The decadent indulgence of fine food, excellent wine, glamour, and laissez faire attitude was an appealing combination.
A GIFT OF PURE JOY
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Thank you for joining me on another installment of my blog full of art and wanderlust. I'm very grateful for your continued support of my career and enjoy interacting with all of you over email, and social media.
I wish you all a joyful and adventurous Spring full of inspiration and time with loved ones.
Stay safe and much love,