Thursday, 21 June 2018

Visiting Sydney and the Vivid Lights Festival

I've just returned from a 5 day visit to Sydney to spend time with hubby who's working over there and also to visit the Vivid Sydney Lights Festival that ended on Saturday 16th June.
The sun setting on the way to Sydney
I flew out on Wednesday afternoon after work, landed at 8,30pm, and managed to catch the 9pm train to Circular Quay, (a 17 minute trip) where Jose was waiting for me.
We decided that since we were right there where the action was we would see the lights around the harbour. 
It was a dazzling spectacle and of course my favourite show was the Opera House and the dozens of projections on it's sails.

The amount of people walking around was phenomenal, we were almost bumping into people as we walked around the harbour - families with young kids, elderly people, etc., all were out having a good time even though the night temperature was around 10C.
It was difficult to hear, but a lot or probably all of the shows were accompanied to music, such as the one on the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Museum of Contemporary Art
Cadmans's Cottage, built in 1816 in the suburb of "The Rocks"and one of the oldest buildings in Sydney, was illuminated with thousands of colourful balls and creatures popping out of the sea of balls - Ballpit.

On the 1885 heritage ASN Co Building on "The Rocks", the Mystery Gateau celebrated the 10th anniversary of Vivid Sydney as well as the 10th season of the well known cooking show - Masterchef Australia from Channel 10.  Here mini construction chefs undertook a cooking journey working against the clock as it ticks down to the final reveal.

Next to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, this suspended Earth globe measuring 3,75mt in diameter had detailed images from NASA.

Luna Park in the distance, even some boats were decked out in lights, illuminated trees in the Rocks
On the other side of the bay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was fully visible, and the city centre buildings could be seen bathed in their bright colours.

A few random works of art caught my attention - Visible dynamics - a structure made up from different geometric shapes like a kid's stacking toy, Come fly with mea series of airplanes in a flight trajectory drifting up into sky, changing angles and colour , or Fragmented - a rotating 2,4 x 2,4 cube made of steel and stained glass. 

Visible dynamics, Come fly with me and Fragmented

In between one side of the harbour and the other we stopped for a snack at one of the restaurants  - it was already 10,30pm and we didn't want to risk the kitchens closing before we went home -  I had a very fresh and tasty plate of fish and chips.

It was almost midnight when we finally got home, after an half an hour bus ride from the city.  
We really enjoyed our first Vivid Lights festival!  Which projections did you most enjoy?

Monday, 18 June 2018

Monday Mural - Soul Food mural

When I entered the Soul Food restaurant at Kazinczystreet 32, where we had dinner on our last night in Budapest, I was excited to see this bright mural on the way up to the first floor dining area.
I have no idea who painted it or when, but I think it's a fun mural.


The sign says "Order at the counter"

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Last day in Budapest - Dubai - Perth - day 16 and 17

After sleeping for about 6 hours without being interrupted by coughing, I woke up feeling a little better. 
Friday 13th of April, was our last day in Budapest, and we got busy packing our bags.
By 10am we left our luggage at the reception of the Avantegarde Apartments, and walked a couple of blocks to join the family for a late breakfast.
My daughter had bought some more anti-histamine and gave me a few tablets and I took another one with breakfast as they had helped with the cough the previous night. I certainly didn't want to be coughing during my flight to Dubai and then the long flight to Perth, so during one of the flights when I started coughing again I took another tablet and it helped!

Blue Bird Cafe - right next to the Sissy mural

The family sat around chatting , until it was time to return to the apartment and collect our 
bags from Reception.
We waited in front of the building for a short while and soon the Taxi that we ordered for 12,30 pm was there to pick us up, and we bade farewell to the family.
The ride to the airport took about 30 min, and after we checked-in, my husband went to the Lost and Found department in another part of the Airport to collect his tablet.

When we had arrived from Lisbon a few days before he had left his tablet on the plane, in the compartment in front of the seat, and only realized it the next day when he wanted to use it!
Our very enterprising daughter called the airline who said they weren't aware of it but that she could call the Lost and Found office. They suggested she send an email with all details of the tablet and after a while replied that it was there and she could collect it upon identification. As she was the one corresponding with them, she then had to write a note to her Dad to allow him to be given his tablet. But it all worked out and I'm sure he will pay more attention in future!

Our flight only departed at 4pm and we still had plenty of time in the departure lounge and decided we should spend our last Forints (Hungarian currency) buying a coffee for my husband, a juice for myself and a packet of crisps. 

We really enjoyed our visit to Budapest and I leave you with a few more photos from the city:

Just a block or two from our apartment was the Kazinczy street Orthodox Synagogue, with the Art Nouveau facade. Because it's in the middle of a narrow street you can't take a photo that encompasses the whole building.

Some of the beautiful buildings around the city.

My obsession with unusual doors and windows meant I took lots of photos of these around Budapest!  I also have lots of them from Lisbon...

 Quirky stuff:
Top left - One evening on our way to a restaurant I noticed this plain looking building  that faced a park, and had one single balcony and this gentleman was enjoying a meal outdoors. I thought it was quite funny.
Top right - My generation and older will remember the LP's. I saw this LP sculpture outside a music store.
Bottom leftIn many parts of the city I saw pigeon feeders - I wonder if they have special "anti-conceptional" feed? 
Many years ago pigeons were a pest in Lisbon and the only way to control them was for the Lisbon Council to feed pigeons with a special feed so they wouldn't procreate as much. It worked, as I haven't noticed as many pigeons around Lisbon.
Bottom right - I didn't realize the Hungarians had a good sense of humour, but obviously this pet owner has!
Much was left unseen of course - we didn't go to Hero's Square, which my daughter visited as she and her in-laws stayed one more day, or we didn't get to see the Castle, Parliament, or Hero's square all lit up at night.  Karina has sent me some photos and they are beautiful!
Hero's square - statues

Gellert Hill - St Stephen's church, Fisherman's Bastion, and Parliament on the other side of the Danube

Goodbye Budapest - the family in front of the sign

The only downside I encountered in Budapest was seeing so many people smoke - on the streets, in demarcated zones in cafes and restaurants, outdoor esplanades... The rate of smokers is also high in Portugal, but I found in Budapest there were a lot more smokers, mainly young people.

Cigarettes can only be sold in licensed shops, and apparently sales have fallen 40% in the last couple of I can imagine it was a lot worse before!


                                                     * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In Dubai, my husband and I took different flights - he was flying to Sydney and I was flying to Perth. 

His flight departed about 1 hour before mine, but we sat outside my departure lounge for a while (it was just 2 lounges down from his).
We were chatting in Portuguese and a lady about my age approached us and asked if we could help her. She was Brazilian, travelling overseas for the first time, couldn't speak English and was trying to send her daughter a message on Whatsapp to notify her she had arrived safely in Dubai, but she couldn't get the airport wi-fi working.

She was also travelling to Perth, and I told her it was 3am in Perth, not to worry as her daughter would most likely be asleep.
Jose tried in vain to connect to the wi-fi but couldn't either, so I offered for her to send the daughter a message with my mobile.
A short while later I went with my husband to his departure door to say goodbye and then returned to my lounge again.

I spotted the lady again, sat next to her and we chatted about our jobs (both in medical clinics), our children, life in Brazil...
Inside the plane we sat almost in the same row but on opposite sides of the plane. The flight wasn't full and I managed to get the seat next to me to stretch a little bit and managed a few hours sleep.
When we were given our disembarkation cards I walked to her seat to make sure she knew how to fill it in, but her daughter had sent her a photocopy of what to fill in. 
On the A380 flight home we have 2 hours of free wi-fi and I had sent the daughter a text to say we would be landing 30 minutes earlier.

At the Perth airport, I stood in the queue behind her in case she needed help and when she was asked if she had anything to declare she turned back to look at me, I asked her and I answered the agent.
I had brought cheese with me from Portugal, so had to declare it and had to go stand with a few other people while the dog came to sniff our bags and we were then allowed to go out.
Outside the lady was waiting for me with her daughter who wanted to thank me personally for helping out her Mom.  

I was going to get a taxi home, but the young lady insisted she would take me home, as she lived in a suburb further south from me and taking the same freeway that would bring me home, so eventually I accepted.
Once in the car she mentioned she would have to drop off her Mom's carry-on bag to a friend as it contained party stuff for a small child who was celebrating a birthday the following day.
I said it was ok, but they basically unpacked the small bag and then got the big bag from the boot as well and there was more stuff there in between the clothes....anyway I eventually got home one and a half hours later, when it would have taken me half an hour by taxi!
On the positive side I saved the taxi fare!  

At home my cats awaited me, at first looking at me from afar to make sure it was really me, and later they just wanted to sit on top of me and get patted.

At Dubai airport - taking over from Dubai and landing in Perth

                                      From left to right: Fluffy, Shelley and Twiggy

And so ended our 17 day holiday! It was a short holiday, but we managed to see a lot in such a short time and didn't feel rushed or tired from it all.

Strangely enough my husband's idea of a holiday is just sitting somewhere on a beach sleeping, people watching on an esplanade and not having to walk from monument to monument or to be dragged to visit one more church, or mural 😊 ...
My idea of a holiday is to see as much as I can from the city we are visiting, allowing for a few stops to eat and rest my feet - but on this trip Jose never once complained about all the walking we did, maybe because he was busy chatting away in French with the in-laws.  
There were a lot of coffee and food stops during the day though, and he didn't climb Gellert Hill due to his knees, nor did her go into the Synagogue, preferring to sit at the cafe across the street with our son in law drinking coffee and people watching.

Hope you enjoyed my final post about Budapest.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Budapest V- Views and Spas in Buda - day 15

After crossing the Chain bridge we took one of the paths up the GellĂ©rt Hill which starts just to the right of the bridge. 
Gellert Hill with the Liberty Statue at the top

It was a steep climb up the 235mt (771ft) high  dolomite rock, step upon step with a couple of stops in between...but it's a popular destination for it's fantastic views over the city.
The hill was named after St. Gerard (an Hungarian bishop) who was thrown to his death down the hill in 1046.
My husband stayed at the bottom as his knees get sore when he climbs a lot of steps, and the 6 of us climbed to the top. On the way up we encountered two kid's playgrounds and a lot of kids enjoying themselves.

Flowers were also abundant on the way up.

Midway up we stopped at a stone cross which was erected there in 2001, having replaced a prior wooden cross which marked the entrance to the Cave Church below that area.
Sadly there are no signs on the various paths up the hill and we totally missed visiting the apparently beautiful Cave church as we didn't realize it was there.

She can be seen from almost all of the city and has become the symbol of Budapest, so it was with excitement when we finally reached the top of the hill that we saw the beautiful 14mt/46ft high Liberation Monument (or Liberty statue) that sits atop a 25mt/84ft pedestal lifting a palm leaf towards the city as a symbol of peace. 
Built in 1947 to commemorate Hungary's liberation from Nazi rule during WW II, the monument used to be surrounded by Soviet themed statues, but when Communism fell in Hungary in 1989, those were moved to Monument Park (which we didn't get to visit).
The inscription in the Liberation Monument was changed to read: "To the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and success of Hungary".

Liberty Statue
The two other supporting statues on the side are a female figure holding the torch of progress and a young man killing a dragon which represents the defeat of fascism.

Behind this area is the Citadel, a fortress built by the Hapsburgs  in 1848 to demonstrate control over the Hungarians, with cannons that could destroy both Buda and Peste and silence any uprising.
The Hungarians despised it and used to call it the Budapest Bastille.

We were tired from the climb and still had the descent to do, so didn't go around the back to the Citadel, but there are outdoor exhibits - Soviet artillery guns, there is a Museum with bunkers and a prison yard and the Citadel Cafe with a terrace overlooking the city and the Citadella Panorama restaurant is the best place to be before dusk with the city lights come on.  

The views from the hill are amazing of course - the various bridges over the Danube, the Market hall, Parliament, the modern train station...
 Chain bridge
Elizabeth bridge 
Panoramic view with the platform where the cross is and the Chain bridge in the distance

We descended the hill and met up with my husband who had even managed a nap on the grass. We all picked our backpacks that we had left with him and crossed the street to go to the GellĂ©rt Thermal Baths which is attached to the GellĂ©rt Hotel.
Deep inside the hill are hot thermal springs that supply water for the spas.
The complex was built in 1918 in the Art Nouveau style, with outdoor and indoor swimming pools, thermal pools, saunas, and other nurturing facilities like massage, pedicures,  and even a hairdresser.

Gellert Thermal baths
The spa and hotel

We paid our entry fee which included the hiring of a towel, were given a bracelet to log in and out through a machine, looked for individual lockers to store our gear which also operates with the bracelet and went to the changing /shower rooms to change into our costumes. We wrapped ourselves with the towels, put our flip-flops on and started by going into the outdoor pool.
The water was a bit cold for my liking, so my daughter and I moved to the thermal pool where the water was super hot. A few minutes in the sauna next, and a tepid shower next.
All that heat made us very thirsty and we all ordered a water/juice or beer from the bar and sat outside sunning ourselves in one of the terraces furnished with sun-loungers.
I saw a lot of people had their mobiles or cameras with them, so I went downstairs to grab my mobile to take some photos.
Art Nouveau details around the outdoor pool and the bracelet
The outdoor pool

We didn't get to use the indoor pool, which at one stage had a lot of elderly people taking a water aerobics class. The indoor pool is supported by Roman style marble columns.
The GellĂ©rt Baths are open from 6am to 10pm. They seemed to be popular with locals and tourists alike.

Outdoor and Indoor pool

We left the complex at around 6pm and walked across the Chain bridge back into the Pest side. Just by the entry to the bridge and below the Gellert Hill is the Pauline Monastery, which sadly we didn't get to visit as we were running out of time for our dinner reservation.
The Pauline monks took over the Cave Church, and the first tower gives the monks private entrance into the Cave church, while the larger building is the Monastery itself.

Pauline Monastery at the bottom of the Gellert Hill
Upon reaching our apartment we changed for dinner and met up with the rest of the family in the lobby at the arranged time.
Just down the road from us at Kazinczy street 32 was the Soul Food restaurant.
We were seated on the first floor of this small restaurant and the stairs wall was painted with a big mural.
Food was tasty - I had a Seafood Gumbo -  and reasonably priced, the waiter on his first day was a bit slow but that was to be expected. 
Throughout the day my throat was getting worse, and I was now coughing quite a lot but  had reached the limit of lozenges and sprays for the day.
At a certain stage during dinner my cough got so bad that it felt as if I had asthma as I was having trouble breathing with the prolonged coughing fits!
It was scary and embarrassing having everyone look at me when that happened.
My daughter wondered if it could be an allergy and offered me one of her anti-histamines that she was taking for hay fever.
Somehow it actually helped as soon after I wasn't coughing as much. I think I might have been allergic to that throat spray.

Soul Food restaurant

Right across from our building was the Szimpla Kert, at 14 Kazinczy Streetknown as the first ruin pub in Budapest.
We had already popped in on our first evening, but didn't stay, but being our last night in Budapest, we went there for a drink and to experience the atmosphere. 
Even though the place was crowded, and there were a lot of tourists and a young crowd outside it wasn't rowdy.
The delapidated building that used to house a stove factory was facing demolition in 2004, and the four owners of the Szimpla Kert bar decided to move into this building as it provided the environment they were looking for. The large courtyard at the back was used as an open-air cinema to show Indie and underground films.
Most of these "ruin bars" are located in the District VII (the Jewish quarter), an area that was left to decay after WW II, so it was perfect for the underground bar scene. From the 0utside they look like normal homes, no loud music or drunken people, but once inside the areas are artsy and funky.
From the photos you can see that the furniture doesn't match, all the rooms are decorated differently, lots of art on the walls, pipes or electrical wiring on show... I guess this would certaily not pass inspection in any other European country!  But it's certainly unique! 

Szimpla Kert bar

And to end today's post you might enjoy this short Youtube aerial video of Budapest that starts with the Citadel and Gellert Hill.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it.