The Girl in the Mirror

This girl turned 90 years old last week. Our family was fortunate to be able to reunite, gathering from around the U. S. to celebrate her birthday. All 9 of her children and most of her grand children attended the party for this special lady.

My mom, Lillian, is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. Her mother, Ethel, sewed the dress she is wearing in the photo. She also made dresses and coats for my sisters and me when we were growing up.

The party was hosted by my sister, Alane, in her beautiful home in Berwyn, in S. E. Pennsylvania.

Berwyn, is a stunning suburban community, nestled in a country setting outside Philadelphia.

Mom and I in the entryway – Doesn’t my mother look lovely, especially for 90! She’s so inspiring. She did her own makeup for the party, a beautiful woman in every way.

Lillian’s progeny – a family so big we couldn’t get everyone in a photo. So there’s three group photos and still we missed a couple of people.

Most of the teens and young adults were congregating in another room.

My brother John with my nephews David and Marco.

Mom and I with my sisters, June and Alisa – I helped Alisa prepare one of the cakes.

Mom and Alane in her kitchen – Alane is a superb cook and hostess. She put out an incredible spread! They are both the ‘glue’ that holds our family together.

“Blessed are the happiness makers.” – Henry Ward Beecher

We also had a private celebration at Enoteca Tredici just for mom’s children and their spouses. It’s a fabulous place in Bryn Mawr, with delicious food. first class service and a chic, trendy ambiance.

Highland Orchards

Later that week, some of us explored the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and went apple picking.

Highland Orchards was a lot of fun. There was a great store with delicious treats, fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts. Outside there were fabulous gourds, pumpkins, apples of many different varieties, food trucks and activities for children.


We did some sampling, my favorite apples were the Mutsu, juicy, sweet and delicious! The Mutsu apple (also known as Crispin) was introduced in 1948 and is a cross between the ‘Golden Delicious’ and the ‘Indo’ apple.

My niece, Juliet, liked the Fuji.

My youngest nephews, two cuties!

It was a beautiful fall day, we were able to experience the late October changing of the leaves. My nephew, Jamie, and I enjoyed the greatness of nature.

So gratefulI I could experience Pennsylvania and My mom’s 90th birthday with loved ones!

Wishing you all the best of the season,

Linda

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Gibraltar and Monkey High Jinks at the Rock

After an amazing first stop in Cartagena, the second stop on our cruise would be Gibraltar. Unfortunately there was some kind of time zone change that didn’t sync with our iPhones until later, so our alarm woke us up too late for our tour. As a consolation, we received tickets to the Cable Car that goes up to view of the Rock of Gibraltar and St. Michael’s Cave. On the ride up, we caught sight of the infamous Barbary Macaques aka. Barbary Apes, the only free-roaming monkeys in Europe.

It was chilly at the top. The clouds were hovering. The first thing my husband and I did, was to buy some coffee and snacks in the gift shop since we were too rushed to have breakfast. We also purchased T-shirts to keep us warm while we were out on the deck viewing the rock.

The view was stunning but a little bit impaired by the low clouds and fog. Monkeys were everywhere, looking for handouts.

We tried to keep our distance but when I saw this cute mother and child, I couldn’t resist getting closer for a photo.

Monkey Antics

There were some nice trails to roam. It was sweet to see the tailless monkeys interacting with their families.

Then a group of juveniles arrived. It was a crazy scene of monkey high jinks as they jumped on and into cars. They were a gang of little devils, bullying the few drivers that braved the difficult drive to the top of the mountain.

The monkeys were looking for food to steal. One of the Barbary apes grabbed my husband, Steve’s, new T-shirt, still in the package. We tried to get it back but we were not successful. A passing mail man got out of his truck to help. He bribed the mischievous monkey with an apple to give up the shirt.

Another monkey continued the shenanigans and jumped into a van of tourists. While a couple of others jumped on the shoulder of a man and on to a boy who was walking with his family along with us. I think all the pandemonium started because one of the local tourist van drivers, who always has food, showed up. There were plenty of signs that said, “don’t feed the monkey’s.”

Saint Michael’s Cave

Following the trail, we arrived at the cave entrance and a restaurant and bar. The walk was enough excitement for Steve, so he waited at the restaurant while I visited the cave. They were pretty expansive with well lit trails and stairs to accommodate a wide variety of ages and fitness levels.

An ever changing kaleidoscope colored lights, cast different hues on the stalactites and stalagmites. Lively music accompanied the splendid light show.

We spent half a day at the top and the other half walking through the charming town. Gibraltar is unique in the fact that it is attached to Spain but it is a territory of the U. K.

We saw the English influence in the classic phone booths.

We walked a lot and enjoyed the sights in spite of the fact that we missed our ‘best of’ tour. We headed back to the ship, the Royal Princess, to dress for dinner, anticipating another sumptuous meal.

I hope to blog about the next stop on the cruise, Marseille, in the near future.

Happy travels, Linda

See also the previous cruise stop: Cartagena Spain

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

Cartagena Spain

We had an exceptional stay in Barcelona but it was time to head to the port and board our cruise ship. The boarding process in Barcelona was very smooth. The Royal Princess was a mega ship, spectacular inside and out. The first evening, we enjoyed exploring the ship’s elegance and viewed a lovely sunset as we cruised on to Cartagena.

CARTAGENA – City of Ancient Treasures

The next morning we were in Cartagena. Our half-day tour began with a strenuous walk up a hill to the Concepcion Castle. Beautiful peacocks delighted us as we walked. The panoramic views from this 13th century castle were fantastic from the top. We overlooked some ancient Roman ruins.

On another side of the castle, was the harbor. This certainly was a great spot for the ancients to watch and guard the city from invaders. Our ship, the Royal Princess dwarfed the other boats in the harbor.

The Punic Wall and Crypt of Cartagena

At the Punic Wall Interpretation Centre we saw the remains of the original wall the encircled the city during the pre-Roman or Punic period. The Centre also housed the remains of the funeral crypt belonging to the hermitage of Saint Joseph, built during the XVI and XVII centuries. Within its plastered walls there were human bones, which gave an eerie a glimpse of a distant past. 


Inside the City

A wonderful part of our half- day tour was the city center. An outdoor market extended in through the city walls that revealed a bustling square.

The plaza was alive with people, shops and outdoor cafes. It was a hot August day, we were relieved to sit down and have something to drink. At once, we were serenaded by a strolling accordion player. It was very festive.

We were encouraged to try Cartagena’s famous 43 Licor, a secret family recipe made from local citrus fruits and infused with botanicals. It was very sweet. The side streets were also inviting and led the way to some interesting architecture.

One of the most impressive buildings on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento was the Palacio Consistorial or town hall.

From there we made our way to the Roman Theatre and Museum. The tour was fascinating. The theatre is the crown jewel of Cartagena.

The first remains were discovered in 1988; this archeological find put Cartagena back on the map, attracting tourist from around the world! Renovations were completed in 2003.


The Roman Theatre museum had many well preserved artifacts, columns and other architectural pieces from the site.

The Theatre was built between the first and fifth century BC. I took a souvenier photo with the ‘Roman guard’.

My husband and I spent some time there, taking in the theatre’s imposing scale and allowing it to come to life, imaging this world long ago.

It could accommodate over 6,000 people. If there’s only one place you have time to visit while in Cartegena, the Roman Theatre should be it.

Next stop on our cruise – Gibraltar!

Happy adventures, Linda

You can read my previous blogs on Barcelona by following these links.

Barcelona and Park Guell

Barcelona and Sagrada Familia

“You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” – Psalm 18:36 NLT

© Copyright: All materials contained within this blog may not be used without written permission.

International Yoga Day

Doing a split on a split rock in Greece

This month, I had the chance to practice yoga internationally in Greece. My friend, Robyn lives on the island of Ikaria. While I was visiting, she took me up to the Pezi region, the highest plateau on the island, to show me the incredible rock formations, practice yoga and take some photos. Today happens to be International Yoga Day, a perfect time to celebrate yoga and that special day we had together.

The scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health. – National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Research on yoga and wellness

Studies have suggested that yoga benefits several aspects of wellness including: stress management, mental/emotional health, promoting healthy eating/activity habits, sleep, and balance. Yoga can reduce the impact of stress responses and increase relaxation response. Adding yoga stretching and breathing into a wellness routine may be an appealing way of controlling both anxiety and depression.

Yoga increases endurance and lowers blood pressure. It is now being included in many cardiac rehabilitation programs due to its cardiovascular and stress-relieving benefits. There is also evidence that doing yoga helps increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress with more resilience.

Working on my split with a quad stretch in Ikaria, Greece

The fitness benefits of yoga are numerous. It’s a wonderful modality for improving back health and alleviating low back pain. Yoga also lubricates the joints and promotes strong, flexible muscles. These are all wonderful things I want to invite into my life. How about you?

Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new fitness work out. 

Best in health, Linda

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

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A Winter Wonderland, Vegas Style

It seems to me, that in the past few years I’ve been seeing less Christmas decorations so I especially appreciated this beautiful display I saw in Las Vegas at the Bellagio. Pictures can’t adequately capture the splendor and grand scale but you’ll get an idea. Take a look.

The amazing thing about the decorations was that a lot of them were crafted from fresh flowers. During the holiday season or any time of the year, Las Vegas is a fun and festive destination. There you can see some of the most fabulous shows in the world!

From our hearts to yours Steve and I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!

Many blessings, Linda

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

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Barcelona and Sagrada Familia

Our Barcelona adventure continues from my previous post with a visit to the Waterfront, Gothic Cathedral, Plaza de Catalunya and Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada-Familia_

Sagrada Familia

We almost missed seeing the inside of this extraordinary Basilica because we did not buy tour tickets in advance. It is the most visited monument in Spain. Luckily we were able to get one of the last tours of the day. More about the Sagrada Familia in a moment but first let me tell you how our day of seeing the sights started.

in the morning we took a short taxi trip to the Barcelona waterfront. It reminded me a little bit of Santa Monica beach, except I was surprised to see men and women sun bathing in the nude. There were families with children around but no one seemed to mind.

waterfront-Barcelona

The W Hotel punctuates the background of the Barcelona waterfront.

Steven and I didn’t bring our bating suits but I did wade in the water a little. It was a lovely beach day but we didn’t stay too long because we had a lot we wanted to see.

Next on our list was a stop at the Gothic, Barcelona Cathedral. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries. The details adorning the Cathedral were dramatic.

Gothic-Barcelona-Cathedral

We came upon at a cute little place for lunch while we waited for our tour to the Sagrada Familia. We learned a little too late in our stay that we were hugely over tipping. Tipping is not expected in Barcelona and if you do, it’s usually only about 5 to 8 percent.

Finally the Sagrada Familia, words cannot describe this wonderful work of art.

Our tour started by the entrance of the Passion Facade. It depicts the end of Jesus’s life, with the crucification and resurrection. Architect, Antoni Gaudi meant the rows of columns at the top to looks like ribs. The slanted columns remind the viewer of Jesus’s stretched muscles.

Sagrada-Familia-Passion-Facade

There is so much symbolism and geometric perfection contained in every angle, window, and artistic biblical representation of this masterpiece. Gaudi also uses the forms found in nature. This interior photo reminds me of trees in a forest, reaching for the sky.

Sagrada-Familia-interior

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” – A. Gaudi

The blue stained glass windows on the east side of the Basilica face the sun rise.

blue-windows-sagrada-familia

The west side, where the sun sets, the windows have warmer hues that turn the walls and interior structures a dazzling yellow-orange when the sun hits it.

Sagrada-Familia-west-side

Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic. – A. Gaudi

Our tour ended outside the Nativity Facade. The Nativity Facade prominently features the birth of Jesus. It is also filled with other biblical representations and characters. This work of art depicts many keys to understanding the Christian religion. There is also a third important facade, the Glory Facade.

nativity-facade-sagrada-familia

Several architects contributed to the building of the Sagrada Familia, the most notable being Antoni Gaudi who constructed it combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. It is distinguished as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This Church of the Holy Family has been under construction since 1882. It remains unfinished and still under construction.

Our final day in Barcelona, I took a walk alone up to the other end of Las Ramblas after having a sumptuous breakfast at the Le Meridian where we were staying.

Barcelona-Las-Ramblas

The heart of Barcelona beats in Las Ramblas, a wide boulevard that leads from Plaza de Catalunya in the center of the city all the way down to the sea.

placa-de-catalunya

A rich tapestry of human interaction characterizes Placa de Catalunya (Square of Catalonia).

Catalonia-Square-2

As I stopped to take a photo at the beautiful fountain in the plaza, an intriguing building in the background caught my eye. I went in for a closer look.

building-off-Las-Rambles

My eye for interesting architecture lead me to some good shopping near the building on Las Ramblas. I wish I could have lingered longer but it was time to continue our travels on board the Royal Princess. Our first port would be Cartagena, Spain. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Happy adventures, Linda

More about Barcelona here: Barcelona and Park Guell

“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” – Exodus 31:3-5

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Barcelona and Park Guell

The beautiful Le Meridian hotel on Las Ramblas was the perfect location to take in the sights and sounds of Barcelona. Our first night in Barcelona, we decided to walk from the hotel and explore on our own. In the small center, right outside our hotel, an acrobatic street show was going on and a cheering crowd had gathered. Their energy put us in a festive mood.

Barcelona-street_

 

The buildings along the way were beautifully adorned with interesting architectural details.

Barcelona-bridge-between-two-buildings

 

Las Ramblas was packed in the early evening. The street was teeming with the overflow of people.

Las-Rambles 2_

 

PLACA REIAL

After walking about 15 minutes and turning down aside street, we came upon the coolest place, Placa Reial. It was an expansive plaza with a dozen or more restaurants circling the inside perimeter. There we saw more talented acrobats performing. The street artists entertained the crowds as they dined. I was amazed at the dare-devil tricks they did on hard cement. 

Barcelona-street-acrobats

 

Watch this clip of the street performers as one of them does a flip over four people selected from the crowd.

 

A lovely, large fountain accented the center of the Plaza Reial square. my husband, Steven enjoyed people watching from his position at the fountain.

Steve-fountain-Placa-Reial

Steve also loved perusing the restaurant menu’s that were prominently displayed outside of each restaurant.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the stunning sunset in the Placa Reial.

Barcelona-Placa-Reial-sunset-copyright-Linda-Eichberg

 

PARK GÜELL

Our second day in Barcelona, we met some family members who joined us on vacation. Our first stop was Gaudi’s Park Güell.

Park-Guell-entrance

 

Park Güell features lovely gardens and architectural wonders by Antoni Gaudi. 

Park-Guell-gardens

 

The buildings reminded me of gingerbread houses. I love Gaudi’s creative liberty and imaginative, ornamental creations.

 

park-guell-barcelona-linda-eichberg_

 

Gaudi put into practice a series of new structural solutions rooted in geometry. His works acquire a structural richness of forms, free of the rational rigidity or any sort of classic premises. In the design of Park Güell, Gaudí unleashed all his architectonic genius and that would become the symbol of his organic style.

Gaudi-bridge-Park-Guell

 

My nephew, David peeks his head out of the window.

David-Gaudi

 

Charming, like a fairyland! Gaudi’s fantastic mosaic work was incredible. My photos couldn’t capture the amazing detail.

Gaudi-Park-Guell

 

We bought our “skip the line” tour tickets to the park weeks ahead of time on Viator. I recommend doing that during high tourist seasons.

Part two of our adventure continues here: Barcelona and Sagrada Familia

Gratefully yours, Linda

 

The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. – Psalm 32:8

 

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Hiking China Flat

It was early evening on a hot day in May when I headed out with my two friends and two dogs to see the last of the wildflowers on the China Flat trail.

china-flat-deb-betsie

The hills were still green from the winter rains. The peach and pink mountains created a lovely backdrop for the green and silver scrub.

China-Flat-shades-of-green-and-pink

The hike started out with a gentile rise that gradually grew steeper. We would be going up to an elevation of 1,081 feet.

china-flat-vista

As we rounded the bend, the mountains gave us some much-needed shade. Mornings or early evenings are good times to hike this trail because it can get very hot.

china-flat-mountain-shade

We were starting to break a sweat from the climb; the shade felt good. My two Maltese were also very happy to cool down.

Maltese-on-the-trail

I wasn’t long before we were greeted by an oasis of yellow wildflowers, natures rock garden!

yellow-wild-flowers

As we traversed higher we began to get a good workout. Hiking is a great way to keep your heart healthy. My friends and I were beginning to see some amazing views of Oak Park.

oak-park

It was about here where one of my dogs put the brakes on and stopped to rest. After a few minutes, I picked him up and continued on.

Linda-China-Flat-hike

We came across some yellow-orange Monkey flowers. I paused to admire their natural beauty.

monkey-flower

Hiking in nature always refreshes my mind. The panorama was stunning up this high, looking over towards Agoura Hills!

Oak-Park-Vista

On the way down this lollipop shaped trail, we saw more wildflowers, like this pretty Wild Lilac.

wild-lilac

The hike up China Flat is 4.1 miles out and back. This trail in Oak Park, California, is a good one for beginners, if you go at a leisurely pace, and it offers lots of natural beauty to entertain your eyes along the way.

wildflowers-Oak-Park

Happy trails, Linda

 

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth the heights of the mountains are his also. – Psalm 95: 3-4

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LotusLand Adventure

Gana Walska Lotusland is a whimsical and uniquely designed collection of many different styles of botanicals and landscapes formed over decades by creator Gana Walska.

Lindsay arch_Lotus Land

Entrance to Lotusland

The spectacular assortment of exotic plants throughout the 37-acre property are a very personal expression of Walska’s penchant for the dramatic and the unexpected.

My daughter Lindsay treated me to this magical day in Montecito!

Japanese Gardens

statues_Lotus-Land

Fern Garden – Check out that giant stage horn fern, this one probably measured over 8 feet across!

stagg-horn-and-tree-ferns

Vibrant Flowers

orange flower_Lotus Land

A giant clam shell fountain that led to a quirky faux beach and pond.

shell fountain-lotus land

beach-Lotus land

Water Garden – Our guide told us the best time to view the lotus and water lilies in bloom is June and July.

water-lilies_

Expansive Cactus Gardens

cactus-garden-Lotus-Land

Giant Cactus two stories high

giant cactus_lotus land

Desert Scape – over 300 different species of cacti!

cactus collection_Lotus Land

Interesting mosaics, pebble patterns, glass borders and even a semi-precious stone garden.

pebble-pattern

I loved the blue glass stone paths.

blue glass stone path_lotus land

There were succulent gardens and blue gardens and great stretches of laws with topiaries.

succulents_blue garden

With the distinction of being one of the “Top 10 Gardens in the World”,  lotusland includes exotic trees and plants from different parts of the globe.

tree_exotic

Local wildflower and butterfly gardens were featured.

California natives Lotus Land_

Look at this fantastic lemon arbor. I’ve never seen anything like it!

lemon arbor_Lotus Land

One of my favorites was the tropical garden.

Lotus-Land-hanging-tropicals

lotus land tropical flower_

For a moment, I felt like I was in another world.

tropical jungle lotus land

pink tropical flower lotus land_

Cycad Garden – Lotusland botanical gardens holds rare and endangered species of cycads, including some that are extinct in the wild.

cycads_

Koi pond in the cycad garden

Koi pond_lotus land

I learned a lot about cycads from our knowledgeable guide.

sago-palm-male-and-female_

Male and female sago

After two plus hours of absorbing such beauty we ended our tour back where we started, at the Japanese gardens.

Japanese-garden-Lindsay

Lindsay in the Japanese gardens

So grateful to be the beneficiary of Gana Walska’s eccentric love of gardens and all things beautiful.

Dancing in the Theatre Garden

Linda-Eichberg-Lotus-Land-gratitude_

Santa Barbara is only a few minutes from these botanical gardens in Monticeto, CA. After our tour, we had a fabulous lunch at Carlitos in SB.

I loved LotusLand! Reservations usually need to be made months in advance.

http://www.lotusland.org

Be blessed, Linda

 

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11

 

© I own all photos contained within this blog. They may not be used for any purpose without expressed written permission.

 

European Adventure Part 4 – Hungary

BUDAPEST

Budapest at last, the final stop on our Danube river cruise. I was very excited to see the homeland of my maternal grandparents and walk the streets where my Magyar ancestors walked. My great grandfather was a judge in Budapest and I was eager to experience it’s history and culture.

Budapest-Parliament-on-Danube-by-Linda-Eichberg_1

One of the most striking sights on our cruise in to Budapest was the incredible Parliament building shooting up from the bank of the Danube! The Gothic style exterior, coupled with the Renaissance Revival style of it’s dome, gave promise of the wonderful visions to come.

Our first land tour was a bus ride trough the city, a very interesting overview where we saw memorials, statues, parks, the Turkish baths, famous buildings and more. It wet my appetite to see more. I was so glad we extended our stay in Hungary. We did some shopping near our docking spot and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

After dressing for dinner, I took in the perspective from our balcony. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics was sparkling on the water. It’s the oldest institute of technology in the world.

Budapest University of Technology and Economics

 

Our first night, we were treated to an amazing night cruise on the Danube. Budapest is stunning at night.

Liberty Bridge

 

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the crew of the Avalon Expression and checked in to the very chic InterContinental hotel. Within walking distance of our hotel there was a lot to do and see. As I came around a corner to the sight of Saint Steven’s Basilica, I was awed by its monumental presence in the distance.

saint-stephens-basilica

 

This Neo-classical wonder drew me in like a magnet to take a closer look.

saint-stephens-basilica-budapest-by-l-eichberg

 

My travel companions had no desire to see the inside of another church so I ventured inside alone. It was stunning!

saint-stephens-interior-budapest

 

Budapest Jewish District

I enjoyed the walking tours best, especially the Budapest Jewish quarter tour. I recommend it for anybody who wants to get an insight to Jewish Budapest. During the tour, you will also discover the cool party district of Budapest and the “Ruins Bars”.

While we walk my companions and I learned about Jewish memorials, fascinating old buildings and experience the unique, special atmosphere of this multicultural district of Budapest. Especially interesting was hearing the history of the Budapest ghetto and the Hungarian holocaust from an expert in Jewish history.

I thought The Great Synagogue or Dohány Street Synagogue was spectacular. My photo only shows a small portion of the exterior so you can see the architectural detail, topped with copper onion domes. The Great Synagogue, in Moorish revival style, is one of the largest Synagogues in the world!

the-great-synagogue-budapest

 

The interior of the Synagogue was also very grand and impressive. It can hold nearly 3,000 people with it’s two levels of seating.

the-great-synogogue-interior

 

The Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Center

Next to the Great Synagogue is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Here we saw Jewish religious objects and historical items like the uniforms worn by the Jews in concentration camps. It’s heartbreaking, almost 600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis and Arrow Cross Party.

From there we made our way to the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Park, named after Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. The park honored Jewish and non-Jewish alike, righteous heroes who sacrificed their lives or put their lives at risk to save victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The memorial also reminded us of all of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish martyrs and labour-camp inmates who died unknown. It was clear that Hungarians were ashamed of their past alliance with Nazi Germany. The persecution, suffering and murdering claimed over half million Hungarian citizens. 

tree-of-life-holocaust-memorial

One of the stand-out’s in the park is a large metal sculpture, the “Tree of Life.” Also called the Weeping Willow Tree Memorial. Engraved on each individual leaf is the name of one of 5,000 victims or families. At the front of the Tree is a black double archway memorial with the words – “Is there a bigger pain than mine?”

Experiencing the Synagogue, museum and memorial park was a deeply moving experience. If it wasn’t for the uplifting stories about the many Holocaust heroes, our professional guide disclosed to us, it would have been very depressing.

Kazinczy Street

The neo-renaissance Orthodox Synagogue was another landmark we saw. It stood imposing on Kazinczy Street along with the old buildings. We ended our tour experiencing a ruin pub or ‘ruin bar’. That was fun and memorable.

ruin-bar-budapest

Szimpla Kert, Ruin Bar

The rickety furnishing, multi colored interiors, and hipster crowd make these ramshackle properties popular.

ruin-bar-szimpla-kert_

The legendary Szimpla Kert is the best-known ruin pub in Budapest. It holds a mix of eclectic styles and an a vibe of urban life. The dilapidated edifice also boasts a distinct charm.

Nightlife in Budapest

The ruin pub phenomenon is a big part of Budapest’s unique nightlife. Fine dining and music is also plentiful. What I enjoyed that night was right at our hotel. We had a fantastic location on the Danube.

gals_intercontinental_

Debbie, Alison and I, enjoying the night life

The InterContinental had a stylish bar and restaurant with a spectacular views of the Buda Palace and Chain Bridge.

guys-intercontinental

Peter, Steven and Joey at one of the InterContinental restaurants.

 

In the background, Castle Hill and Saint Matthias looked magical in the shadows of dusk.

 

The glow of the Buda Castle at night

 

The half day tour of the Buda Castle complex offered wonderful vistas and photo opportunities. The famous Chain Bridge spans the Danube below.

 

Castle Hill is a great place to pick up souvenirs. I bought a lovely table cloth for my mother that was embellished with colorful embroidery. The Hungarians do excellent needlework and embroidery is a popular textile art in their communities. My Hungarian grandmother use to make beautiful clothes for me and my sisters.

 

Take a closer look at the gothic details in the architecture of Saint Matthias!

 

Inside Parliament

The day before we left we took a fantastic tour of the interior of the Parliament building. The guide was filled with fascinating historical information. I enjoyed the stories about how the Hungarian crown jewels were lost or stolen a number of times. For a while they were held in the U.S. at Fort Knox.

The National Assembly of Hungary was not in session so we had the unique opportunity to see their legislative chambers.

Assembly hall of the House of Magnates

 

The council chambers were gilded with gold so was the Main Hall and it was magnificent!

Steve and I standing at the Main Staircase of the Parliament building.

 

Across from Parliament is the Budapest Museum of Ethnography. It was a beauty with astounding artistic and architectural appointments!

 

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade.

Shoes on the Danube Bank Memorial

It was a stark and sickening reminder of the cruelty of the Arrow Cross terror where 3,500 people, 800 of them Jews, who were shot into the Danube River during the dark winter of 1944 -1945 at the end of World War II. That winter the Danube was known as the Jewish cemetery. ¹

“…what I saw was worse than anything I had ever seen before, worse than the most frightening accounts I had ever witnessed. Two Arrow Cross men were standing on the embankment of the river, aiming at and shooting a group of men, women and children into the Danube – one after the other, on their coats the Yellow Star. I looked at the Danube. It was neither blue nor gray but red. With a throbbing heart, I ran back to the room in the middle of the apartment and sat on the floor, gasping for air.” ²

This trip unveiled so much of man’s inhumanity to man during World War II but also the courage of the many brave hero’s who overcame the evil. There was an abundance rich history, local color, art and beauty. I highly recommend this European river cruise down the Danube from Prague to Hungary. Avalon Waterways was marvelous!

See also:

European Adventure Part 1 – Czech Republic  

European Adventure Part 2 – Germany and Cesky Krumlov

European Adventure Part 3 – Austria

 

Many blessings, Linda

 

“I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.” – Psalm 13: 5-6

 

References:

1. T. Zane Reeves, Ph.D., Shoes Along the Danube: Based on a True Story (Durham: Strategic Book Group, 2011)
2. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, “From Country to Country: My Search for Home” in Alvin Rosenfeld, ed., The Writer Uprooted: Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008)

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