Barcelona … small pics of a big city

My wife and I went to Barcelona last week. We did a lot of walking and looked around. The sunnier and warmer than home weather was nice. And the coffee … I miss that already.

Check out what I saw.

In my next blog post I’m going to try and capture my new found like for that famously tasty and just a bit addicting Spanish ‘jamon’. You may have heard about it 😉

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Happy Cadaver Day

It’s a holiday today. It is also a Thursday. That means that some of my work colleagues are using a bridge day (Bruecken Tag) to build a longish weekend. I forgot to plan ahead and  hence I  work tomorrow.

Frohnleichnam – Corpus Christi (it’s a feastday I hear, but unsure what to eat) 

It is only a holiday in the Bundeslaender of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Northrhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate und Saarland.

Corpus Christi (feast)

Celebrated 60 days after Easter Sunday.

Not too sure what the feast consists of. But am pretty sure that most Germans I’ve spoken to and I presume many others as well do not have the faintest notion as to what this holiday actually means or represents. Now I belong to that select group of ‘don’t know’ people. I will try to enlighten you and myself.

It seems that Juliana de Cornillon, living in a convent style arrangement in Liege, Belgium kind of wished for another holiday after lent, one especially dedicated to the ‘Blessed Sacrament‘ for which she had a particular groove on.

Perhaps she did or did not have repeating ‘visions’ of Christ for 20 or so years; which she kept secret, in which she allegedly had been instructed to plead  establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi. She managed to convince those with some special clout and there you have it, Bishop Robert instituted the new holy day in 1246.

I leave it to you dear reader to delve deeper into the who what where and why of this feast dayhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessed_Sacramenthttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessed_Sacrament.

Note: Not to be confused with the city of same name in the US state of Texas.

 

 

 

Random Saturday

these images are a few of the things that grabbed my attention yesterday

Three Days in Budapest & riding the retro metro

It was wet, grey, tiring and dingy in places. Not at all the way I’d imagined a January. I imagined it colder, much colder. However that is the kind of weather that awaited my wife and I on a recent short city holiday into Hungary. Budapest to be exact.

A cheapo Easy Jet flight three nights including breakfast at a reasonable price in a well situated and well appointed Hotel in the midst of that large city was just the thing.

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Not that the weather where we live on the German side of the Swiss/French border was any better as we were herded through the airport gate like so much documented cattle. It could have been worse, much worse. The city could have been held in the frosty clutches of mean old man Winter. But it was not. And so a little bit of wet weather didn’t seem all that depressing when we stepped out into the Hungarian rain for the first time.

We arrived mid afternoon and  it being a Sunday and us not having planned anything touristically urgent as far as activities go, we located our hotel via our helpful little and later much used city/map book and my suddenly in demand sense of direction (albeit a bit confused with having to read/decipher a new language neither one of us was face with before). Then we set off and rather embarrassingly our very first jaunt  took us to a pretty big mall. Say no more, say no more.

January darkness fell more rapidly than we had anticipated and as the rain had let up a bit, we took advantage to look at the city lights from Margit Hid bridge over the dark Danube at the southern tip of Margaret Island. Nice.

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Very glad to have a guidebook/map along for this trip. Knowing and figuring out exactly where we were or exactly where we wanted to be/go wasn’t all that much fun all the time but it certainly made getting around easier. The locals we approached were very helpful when asked for assistance in either German or English. Thanks kindly you friendly Budapestians.

tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

Tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

There were tips on good eats in the guide booklet at several, actually two indoor market halls where various delectables from all over could be sampled and I had set my mind and stomach for an afternoon stroll of deliciousness in silly proportions/portions. I was really looking forward to the culinary experience and the usual list of local eats such as goulash and … well, goulash was the only culinary dish I knew of. But we were open to new things too. After wandering down a canyon of tourist shops lining the Vaci Utca;

One of the lesser shopping display along the Vaci Utca

One of the lesser shopping displays along the Vaci Utca

…pretty much all of them selling pretty much the same wares. Hmmm. At the end of that Utca we suddenly came upon the Nagycsarnok or Central Market Hall. Halleluja I thought; well maybe not thought so much as I felt something akin to that expression as we pushed our way through the heavy dirty darkish green woolen curtain flaps that separated the winterish outside from the warmish interior. Let the fun begin.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

One stall sold fresh and colorful vegetables, the next sold honey, various sized bags of Paprika both sweet and hot along with different alcoholic souvenir bottles along with nuts, dried fruits and trinket sized wooden scoop spoons. Along the lines of ‘Souvenir’ accoutrement. Noted. The next stall sold meat: poultry, pork, beef, various cuts and meats in differing states of deconstruction depending on what the butcher was doing. These stalls also stocked huge supplies of the ‘Pick’ salami that I also was keen on purchasing to take back and sample in the comforts of home. These salamis came in different sizes and the different stalls appeared to apply differing prices for these same wares, depending on where they were located in the hall. The wife made note of that fact. Nevertheless we bought some. In a nutshell, a large market hall with many stalls but all stalls basically selling the same things. And upstairs arranged around the outer walls, more stalls with traditional embroidery and more tourist trickery. Bummer. The whole thing could have been condensed into four shops based on goods sold. Nothing for my belly other than a couple of excellent spicy dried snack sausages. We did not go into the basement for further my disappointment.

National Spice of Hungary is Paprika ... ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

National spice of Hungary is Paprika … ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

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Nope … didn’t eat here. Why not? Well, the name implied certain culinary danger. No matter that the hustler out on the street touted the menu to be “just like your mother home food”.

We did however stumble across the ‘Strudelhaus‘ on October 6 Utca. Wow, who knew Strudel could be so good. This restaurant also offers other traditional Hungarian fare but we spoiled our appetites with mouthwatering late afternoon goodness. Absolutely recommend this establishment for a delightful and very tasty visit.

Below is a sample of the sights and personal impressions:

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Parliament building besieged by constructionism

Solitary tower view point overlooking Budapest

One of the towers of the Fishermans Bastion overlooking Budapest

Bronze Aged Police

Bronze Aged Police on Zrinyi Utca/Oktober 6 Utca. Budapest

Wooden restaurant facade

Wooden restaurant facade on Vaci Utca

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Post christmas blues in the city

from there to here (camera viewpoint)

Rokford restaurant on the corner of Honved St and Szalay St. Didn’t eat there either.

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Seriously guarding the Hungarian Presidentat Sandor Palota

Looking across the Danube river  (beside the 'Chain Bridge')

Looking across the Danube river beside the Széchenyi lánchíd or Chain Bridge

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Detail of historical graphic context

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The unintended monumental asphyxiation of statues in an unnamed square somewhere in downtown Budapest

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Two tram cars as seen from Vemezo Way

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Yup Unicum … tastes exactly like ZWACK

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Still in rail service to the nation at Nayugati Railway Terminal

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Lonely morning street with retro VW bug

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Cool colors and wheels

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Dekagrams of decadent goodness

We can imagine how Budapest might look like in spring time.

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tired tourist feet

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Good’bye’ Budapest. Thank you kindly for the hospitality.

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wrong-way adventures on the M3 Blue Line to get to the airport

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Captain, please start this engine for takeoff

Playing the Tourist Card

Heidelberg a very old and romantic city, also very easy on the eyes; the old part that is. That was one of the reasons running through my head when I formed the idea to visit there with my daughter who was visiting Europe/Germany for the very first time.It’s a city in Germany. You may have heard of it. It’s kind of popular with the tourist crowd. It’s also renowned amongst the academically minded for it’s institutions of higher learning. Heidelberg is Germanys  oldest university town.

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rail lines

Driving there from here was not an option as although there is a rapid route of travel known as the Autobahn here in Germany, it is also plagued with congestion issues that do not make for rapid travel as one would reasonably expect. Instead we opted for the logical alternative, the train. Even that option offers various modes from the normal commuter train to the high speed ICE experience. In this Bundesland/state/province of Baden Württemberg rail tourism is encouraged with discounted tickets offered at attractive prices (on the normal trains). For those with deeper pockets and less time the highspeed rail transit costs considerably more. We did the math and picked the rediculously low cost return ticket for two persons at 26 Euros as compared to the nearly 200 Euros for the high speed option.

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train waiting

The drawback to cheap travel are certain restrictions such as not being able to ride until 09:00 (a civilized time to begin anything), however when one considers the nearly four hour travel time to get to Heidelberg and adding in the equally long return trip and realizing the remaining available time between arrival and departure if one doesn’t want to get home too late, things begin to feel compressed.

Add to that that I forgot to take a look at Google Earth to see how the city was laid out. Erroneously I had assumed that Heidelberg might be similar to Freiburg (im Breisgau) ala step off the train, walk out of the train station and straight into the interesting bit of the city. I was wrong in that assumption, ill prepared and as blind as a wide eyed tourist set adrift in a strange new place.

In short time we realized the error of our pedestrian ways and jumped onto the next available bus in hopes of getting to the good parts of town quicker. With success. And only a vague feeling of confusion. But we had to make a choice, would we try to get to see the Schloss (romantic castle) or check out the ‘Alt Stadt’ (old city). Time was like mercury, running out if we were to keep our return schedule. Not a fun situation to be in when there is lots of cool things to see and I tried as best as I could to banish the thought that this little sightseeing jaunt was going to turn out to be a long train ride with a stop-over in Heidelberg.

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Heidelberg castle above the academy sciences

As fortune would have it the rail line up the the castle was broken (technical issues we were told). That decided things for us and we relaxed and took it easy as we strolled the narrow streets of the old town on our way to the picturesque bridge spanning the Neckar river. From there we got a lovely touristy view of the castle up on the hill and mingled with the new invading hordes/tourists from nearly every corner of the globe.

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tourist in orange

Honestly, I don’t much care for being a ‘tourist’ but no matter how I look at it, even though I live in Germany, I am a tourist when it comes to seeing new places. It can’t be helped I’m afraid.

We spent our time enjoying ourselves and after viewing the typical sights without wasting the little time we had, we stopped into an quaint old Brauhaus for something to eat and some local beer. As the tables along the front outside in the laneway were all occupied we sat inside with a view to the outside. The unexpected surprise of this lunch stop was a beer with the insane alcohol content of 33% touted as the strongest beer in the world.  A rather sweetish treat on a warm day.

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Vetter 33 beer

The rest of our remaining time was spent walking back to were we left the first bus that dropped us off at Universitaets Platz (not my own video; voice is not myself).

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retro tour guide Heidelberg style

Just  thinking about our return rail trip makes me tired and suffice it to say that you should take more than three hours to visit this charming city to really absorb some of the atmosphere and sense of it all. We rather enjoyed it and would gladly come back.

But we would want to do it without the three train there and three train back bit. To say that we were tired when we got home that night would be an understatement.

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tired feet

Yester Day

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Old Fence Old Window

Sunny Park Day East Vancouver, BC

Aging Darkly

 

Morning Hour, Day Time & Late Night ©2012myronunrau

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Closed until morning on E. Hastings©iphoneographythis,2012©myronunrauChinatown Meat store before business hours©iphoneographythis,2012©myronunrauThe edge of Chinatown©iphoneographythis,2012©myronunrauBright night lighting©iphoneographythis,2012©myronunrauOld deli store on main street©iphoneographythis,2012©myronunrauVan China morning light

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One last sunset for a pear

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The Red Apples’ apples

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Waiting for tomorrow

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Woven Persian merchandise

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The Heights Landmark Neon

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Pre bustle Chinatown