Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Long Journey Home

We didn't rush out in the morning, but just woke up when the little kids woke us.  We packed up our overnight bags, retrieved the van, and grabbed breakfast on the go.  We stopped for a late lunch at a favorite spot of Brian's when he's been in the area without us.  The boys enjoyed a construction "show" as we piled out of the van to stretch our legs.

The food was truly incredible.  The Spargelcremsuppe (white asparagus cream soup, in season at the time) was the best I've ever had, and I've had many.  Brian bought some beers to ship back to the states with our household goods.  And even Picky Pants Judah found something he liked, Spatzle with brown gravy.

We were all happy to be home when we arrived, and Trinity was thrilled to have us back as well.  She followed us around the whole next day mewing like mad.  She said it was too long of a trip, and I tend to agree with her.  These trips are exhausting, and after about 4 days I am done.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Vienna, Austria

I was wanting to stay in Budapest longer at first and not do Vienna at all, but Brian really wanted to go there.  It turned out to be an exceptional day.  Well, truth be told, it wasn't even a full day.  We left our apartment in Budapest that morning to make it to Vienna for Mass at St. Stephen's.  We had looked into taking the kids to a marionette show, but it was too far out of the city center and would've taken up most of our only day in Vienna.  So we opted to try to tackle Brian's bucket list for Vienna, and we killed it.

1.  St. Stephen's Cathedral
2.  Sacher Torte
3.  Cafes
4.  Concert
5.  Wienerschnitzel

When we arrived in the city, we just parked and walked to our new apartment to get settled and then went right out to get to Mass.  It was, of course, a grand cathedral with a stunning apse.  During Mass, a large choir sang all the hymns.  It was really spectacular to have Truth and Beauty tied together on so many levels during this Heavenly feast.

The choir sat for a while after Mass, so Brian went and got a photo of them.

After Mass, we were ravenous and headed straight to the restaurant that Brian had picked out from a list of where to get the best Wienerschnitzel.  This was an excellent choice.  We sat outside and everyone of us shared giant schnitzels since we had big plans for coffee and cake all afternoon.

The true and original Sacher Torte is only served at the Sacher Cafe.  We waited for less than half an hour outside to be seated.  The experience was just so so in my opinion.  They were very busy, the service was quick, but not as warm.  On top of that, we were seated downstairs due to the size of our group and how crowded they were which wasn't as elegant as upstairs.  Then there was the torte.  It was good, but has hints of apricot in it and I usually don't like to fruitify my chocolate.  I'm okay with chocofying my fruit, but the other way just seems like a waste.  In conclusion, this was my least favorite part of the day.  Brian loved it, though he was disappointed about our seating.

My Bob, patiently awaiting his torte.

The famous Sacher Torte and my outstanding cup of coffee!

Cafe Central, one of the many famous cafes with fancy decor and accompanying piano music.  This one was towards the top of the list and we had to wait outside in a line with a "bouncer" letting people in as tables became available.  It was hot and sunny, so once we got close to the front we thoroughly enjoyed the air conditioning blowing on us as they opened the door each time.

The cafe experience was memorable.  We ordered three desserts to share and got lemonades and coffees.  Pretty sure that everyone agreed that the chocolate one was the best, and if they didn't they are crazy.

 We walked around a bit before our concert was to begin.  I love that it feels like you are in a museum as you just stroll along the streets of the city with so many statues and fountains everywhere you turn.

Concerts!  The first concert was the pianist in the crypt of St...  We all went to that one, but the audience was small and Brian was very conscious of every noise our crew made.  I thought they did fine.  The guy was amazing and our oldest three, all budding pianists, were pretty impressed and awed by his playing.  It even inspired Drew to start learning to play when we got back from our trip.  Isaac promised to give him lessons and he's been teaching him very patiently.  The pianist was a little quirky and the moment he finished the concert, he bolted out the door, and we only saw him again once when he was speed walking out of the church when we walked out a bit later.  An introvert, perhaps?

The crypt

After the concert, we went up to briefly look at the church, but they kicked us out pretty quickly.  I think a different concert was starting there and if you didn't have tickets you had to leave.  We went searching for a quick meal and found a hot dog stand.  It fed us well with super-duper long hot dogs stuffed into a hole in the baguette made by a contraption that looked like nothing more than a metal pole that they shove the baguette on. 

We took the kids to the apartment and the girls happily put the boys to bed for us and babysat while we went back out to another concert, this time a string quartet.  We accidentally got the time wrong and we were about 20 minutes late to it, but that just scored us a reduced rate.  Annakirche was my favorite of the churches in Budapest and Vienna.  That may just be because I had so much time to soak in all the details from my pew while I listened to some seriously angelic music.  I am a strings girl myself as for my classical music tastes.  A string quartet makes such a divine sound.  I am so very glad we went, and glad it was alone so I could just sit back and relish it all, the church and the music.

Getting a closer look at the statue that caught my eye the most during the concert.

On the walk home, Brian decided to surprise me with a stop at a cocktail bar where I had my first Moscow Mule, and I liked it.

We stayed up entirely too late, but it was a day and night to remember.  The next day we woke up and hit the road again, but this time to go home!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Budapest, Hungary

From Garmisch, we drove seven hours to Budapest.  The very first thing we experienced was the lemonade.  Brian dropped us off at the apartment to get settled and he ran out to get lemonade for us.  Apparently, lemonade is a big thing in Budapest.  We went out and walked down the main shopping street.  We had ice cream before dinner because, you know, vacation and all that.

We had dinner at a Jewish restaurant called Fulemule.  We were double checking the menu outside and a woman walked passed us and told us it is a great restaurant.  Judah was happy that he got to order a giant bowl of hummus with pita bread, his favorite food ever.  At first he said it was different and he didn't like it, but he quickly changed his mind and finished the whole thing.

The next day was to be our only real full day in Budapest.  We started with putting a smile on everyone's face when we ordered pancakes and flavored lemonades for everyone.  Brian and I had fancy Viennese coffees instead of lemonades.

We had a list of things to see, but mainly we wanted to get a feel for the town and enjoy some of the cuisine since it was such a short trip.  We started with St. Stephan's Basilica, the largest church in Budapest.  The impressive door has the twelve apostles on it.

We stopped in first for adoration before exploring the attractive church.

Love this one!

 We began the ascent up the steep road to the castle.  It was a sunny, warm day (read: hot, to my children).  We stopped to look at all kinds of architecture and statues as we walked through this beautiful city.  It has a similar feel to Prague.

Unfortunately, our timing was off because just as we got to St. Matthias Church, they were closing it for a wedding.  We ended up sharing a couple pizza's to tide us over at the top of the hill before going across to St. Margaret's Island where we ate ice cream and watched the fountain show.  It is choreographed to music and the particular show we caught was the children's hour.  They played some familiar songs and the water danced for us.  

We crossed the bridge again and went to a Hungarian restaurant to have goulash.  After that we walked by Parliament and saw the ending of the flag ceremony.  That really made me appreciate the USA and our reverence for our flag.

In front of Parliament, the kids played in an infinity pool, or rather played behind it while I took pictures.

We ended the day seeing the Holocaust Shoe Memorial by the Danube.  It is a row of metal shoes quietly reminding passers by of when the Jews had to take off they're shoes before they were executed.