Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Our flight home on Lufthansa was great, especially considering how long we were on the plane! We flew on a new plane and each seat had its own screen with the capacity to watch movies, sports, TV programs, news, etc.

Allyn and I were both in aisle seats and right across from each other. The eleven hours went by quite quickly as I spent time reading the Book of Mormon (I finished it!), rereading my favorite General Conference talk, watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, standing at the back of the plane looking out the windows at the scenery, etc. It was interesting to pick out certain landmarks as we flew over areas in America that we were familiar with. We actually arrived at LAX twenty minutes early but spent thirty minutes waiting for permission to pull into our spot at the terminal! 

Andrew and Erica were there to pick us up at the airport and it was good to see them! We were a bit worried about how the yard had fared because it had been so hot while we were gone but it looked great and the house was really clean. Thanks Andrew . . . and Erica!

Now it is back to everyday life . . . laundry, cooking, cleaning, work, etc. and waiting for Aimee to come home in a week! We feel very bless to have had the opportunity to spend time with Aimee in Romania and see the children she touched and the country she has learned to love. Our experiences have given us a continued appreciation for America, the country that we live in, and a desire to safeguard the rights and freedoms that we have because we are a democracy. It has also opened our eyes to the difficult circumstances that many people throughout the world live in and a desire to help where it is possible to do so. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Our Last Day

We decided to take it easy our last day and just spend some time in the area around our hotel. Since it was Saturday there was a street fair nearby. I did a little shopping and bought two scarves and a necklace which was handcrafted by local artisans.

We also had some Langos. It was kind of like pizza but made on pita bread and baked in a wood burning oven. We both loved it!

Here we are in front of the Chain Bridge.

Almost all of the cars in Europe are small economy sized but this Toyota was the smallest of them all!

When we got back to out hotel they had the Cake Buffet out. This was the Marriott's all-you-can-eat dessert buffet that ran from 12 noon until about 8 pm. For about ten dollars you could sample any and/or all of the desserts. We tried the buffet once, but saw it everyday since it was set up across from the lobby in the only place you got WiFi.

We ended our day and our trip with the Jones Farewell dinner. It was served buffet style and their was a wide variety of food to choose from. We ate, visited, and got our departure instructions from the travel guides.

It has been a fun trip but I know that I am ready to be home. As nice as it is to travel there is truth in the saying "There's no place like home."

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A Rainy Day in Vienna

Since Budapest is relatively close to Austria we thought it might be fun to take an excursion to Vienna and see a little bit of what the city has to offer. We took a three and a half hour bus ride to Vienna (including a half hour "technical break" to use the restroom and get a snack) and then had an hour bus tour of the city. The bus tour helped us get our bearings and see where the main points of interest were. When the bus dropped us off for a short walking tour we were ready to see the city. Unfortunately, about fifteen minutes later it started to rain and continued to do so for the rest of the afternoon. We spent our four hours of free time trying to keep dry while experiencing as much of Vienna as we could.

Here are a few historical things that we saw:

Saint Stephen's Cathedral which is situated in the heart of the city and is the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.

The Royal Palace of the Hapsburg Family who ruled Austria for many years. The portion on the right is being touched up and repaired.

This wall which was uncovered when some digging on the palace grounds was being completed dates back to the time of Christ.

This is a sculpture of the Royal Crown of Austria which is on part of the Royal Palace.

This statue is of Franz Joseph who died in 1916 and was the emperor of Austria for almost sixty-eight years.

We also saw some non-historical, but still interesting things:

This wedding dress was made entirely out of sugar.

This was a shop filled with wooden toys. Oops! I lied . . .

Not much business at the flower shop on such a rainy day.

This is a sandwich shop and Allyn noticed the "Frisch" written on the menu board. "Frisch" is fresh in German and was the last name of Allyn 's ancestors when they immigrated to the United States. They changed their name to Fresh in an effort to Americanize themselves.

Someone ready for and enjoying the rain!

Since Bryon had visited Vienna a few months ago with the BYU MBA Program he gave us some "must have" food suggestions. The first was to go to a Wiener Wurstl for a Kase Kriener which is a bratwurst with cheese inside.

In an attempt to dry off we found a little restaurant called Heyferl. It was small with quaint decorations and seemed to be totally populated with locals. Allyn had schnitzel with parsley potatoes, and I had creamy tomato basil soup with pretzel bread. We had apple strudel with real whipped cream for dessert. It was all delicious!

I bundled up to venture out in the rain again. Actually the only place I was wet and cold was my feet . . . I had sandals on!

We finished our dining experience with gelato from Zanoni and Zanon. It was kind of weird eating ice cream in the rain, but it still tasted good!

On the ride back to Budapest we warmed up, dried out, and took naps!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cruising Down the Danube

We spent part of the morning walking around the town and one of the places we visited was the Market Hall. It was in a large building with booths which each sold a different type of food. For example the following pictures show the vegetable both and the poultry booth.

This was an older lady leaving the Market Hall with her grocery purchases in the reusable shopping bags she brought from home.

That evening we went on a Duna Belle dinner cruise on the Danube River. The boat was very open and had clear plexiglass side/roof panels which remained pushed back until it got cold. The views were fantastic and we were served a delicious four course meal. There was a couple which provided live music, all songs from back home. This picture is the dock for the cruise with the Elizabeth Bridge in the background. The boat we went on is just barely showing on the right hand of the dock.

This is us at our table before the boat shoved off of the dock. We were right against the side rail which gave us a wonderful view of the shoreline as we sailed.

There are nine bridges in the Budapest area of the Danube River and we cruised under six of them. This is the Chain Bridge and was the closest bridge to our hotel.

These pictures show the Parliament Building which is on Pest side of the river and the Royal Palace on the Buda side.

The sunset was beautiful. This is the Arpad Bridge and the shore on the Pest side of the river.

It eventually got dark and lights popped out all over the city. Budapest is known as "The Pearl of the Danube" because the many lights that come out at night seem to glow. This building is the Gellert Bath where Allyn went to swim yesterday.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gellert Bath and Lazar Equestrian Park

Budapest has held the title of "City of Spas" since 1934, and has more medicinal and thermal water springs (119) than any capital city in the world. Allyn decided he wanted to visit the Gellert Bath which has springs that date back to the 15th century. He spent several hours there and enjoyed a variety of pools at a variety of temperatures. There was a even a "wave" pool which was very popular. On thing that was different from pools back home . . . everyone had to wear a swimming cap. He bought one for about 35 cents, which was basically a hotel shower cap!

In the evening we had a Jones activity to the Lazar Equestrian Park. It is a working farm and had lots of animals another than horses. We started our evening off with a wagon ride. This is the wagon behind us, and Allyn standing by our wagon and horse.

Here ate some of the interesting animals we saw:

Bronze Turkey - the male is the flashy one!

Hungarian Domestic Goose - along with a few chickens

Racks Sheep - their horns were unusual and looked like they had been twisted

Hungarian Common Goat - the baby was hungry for dinner

Mangalica Pig - these were huge and very smelly

Hungarian Sheep Dog - cute dogs with lots of hair

Hungarian Common Donkey - these looked like the burros in our fields back home

Hungarian Fan Tailed Dove - made a pleasant cooing sound

Hungarian Miniature Pony - were really small, maybe two feet from shoulder to ground

We also saw the horse stables and there was a very young foal in the corral.

The riders performed a horse show with lots of fast riding and tricks. We were sitting in the front row and even got some mud splashed on us!

We posed with one of the horses and riders when the show was finished. He kept trying to nibble my arm and had very hot breath!

There were some farm games for the children and adults that wanted to participate. Allyn was particularly good at the pitchfork toss.

The grounds were very pretty and immaculately taken care off.

We also had a delicious meal of traditional Hungarian food. This was the main course but by the time we got to it I was full!

There was also a group of musicians playing traditional Hungarian music and some children doing Hungarian folk dances. The pictures are a bit blurry because they are moving so fast.

It was a really fun night and a good chance to see a lot of different aspects of Hungarian culture.

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