Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Winter)

 by Marion Ueckermann

How good it’s been to be in Budapest again these past five days and to show my husband, Noel, the sights of this beautiful city. A city of lights, of statues, of amazing architecture, of incredible interiors, of history, of culture, of tempting aromas, and of fun. Truly a fascinating city offering far more than I had ever imagined. Go right now and put a visit to Budapest on your bucket list—you won’t be sorry.

City of Lights: Christmas lights line the city streets, aging buildings, and trams, while spotlights illuminate amazing architecture, bridges, and statues.

1 City of Lights

City of Statues: Heroes, Heroines, Saints, and Kings are forever entombed in a brazen hue.

2 City of Statues

2b City of Statues

City of Amazing Architecture: Castles, Chapels, Basilicas, Hotels, Houses of Parliament, Synagogues, Museums, Stations … they all feature exquisite craftsmanship.

3 Amazing Architecture

City of Incredible InteriorsAlmost every building you enter, whether it be a coffee shop, hotel or basilica has a unique interior. Of special fascination are the roofs. You would have seen some of those from the Basilica photos in last week’s blog. The interior below is from a wonderful coffee shop called Lotz Bookcafe where we each had a speciality hot chocolate…which was literally like drinking melted chocolate.

4 Interiors

City of History: Budapest is a city filled with history but what intrigued me most was the amount of Jewish history. Not surprising though as, prior to the holocaust, Hungary had the largest population of Jews outside of Israel. A huge percentage of these were murdered during the holocaust. Many memorials to the victims have been erected. We saw the mass graves at the Great Synagogue. The thing that touched me most though was the Shoe Statues along the Danube River. During the holocaust, Jews were lined up beside the river, told to take their shoes off, and then shot. Their bodies would be swallowed up by the river below.

5 - Statues 1

5 - Statues 2

City of Culture: Opera is huge in Budapest and very affordable (depending where you sit, of course). The Nutcracker was showing this past week but unfortunately tickets were sold out. We were fortunate though when we visited the Basilica to have an orchestra playing live there.

6 Culture

City of Tempting Aromas: Budapest is alive with aromas. Two of my best were the Chimney Cakes sprinkled with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, almond, cinnamon, walnut, and hot mulled wine in a variety of fruity flavors. Another tempting aroma was chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

7 Tempting Aromas

City of Fun: Christmas markets, an ice rink in the park, Ferris wheel, Segway city tours, Horse drawn carriage rides, Danube River cruises…just a few of the fun things to see and do.

8 Fun Christmas markets

8a Fun Ferris Wheel

A Fascinating City: Budapest is simply fascinating. We went to the Invisible Exhibition where we saw…nothing. For one hour we went about blind as we lived the life of a blind person. We felt our way in pitch darkness through a virtual apartment, then out into the “street” to the market to get fruit. After that we walked through a forest to a woodcutter’s cottage, then to a museum and finally a pub where we ate chocolate and drank a coldrink (if we had coins with which to pay). And of course, our guide was…a blind person. It was a real eye-opener into the world of the visually impaired.

Another fascinating concept we were introduced to was the ruin bars. We visited the most famous one, Szimpla. All over the city, ruined buildings have been “renovated” to be used as bars. As you can see, the ruined look is very much part of the theme of this enormous multi-level, multi-roomed city bar where nothing goes to waste. Bicycle tyres are used for tables, and carrots are sold and served by the bunches instead of peanuts.

Ruin Bars 3

Ruin Bars1

Today, as you read this blog, I’ll be making my way from Helsinki to Lapland, home of Santa Claus. There’s still so much Noel and I want to still see and experience in beautiful Budapest. The fascinating sweet shop I wrote of in my blog last week, the chocolate shop, the drinking chocolate bar, the Peanut Bar (which is actually called “For Sale”), the Turkish Baths, Buda Castle, the Great Market … Thankfully we’ll be back shortly after New Year and we can finish what we started last week—discovering as much as we can of this amazing city.

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Hungary – Beautiful Budapest (Summer)

By Marion Ueckermann

1 Budapest -Heroes Square

For weeks I’ve been singing the Budapest song by George Ezra. My heart’s in Budapest…na, na, a doobie doo. The first two lines were all I knew for quite some time (and I’ve discovered incorrectly too). The closer today has come, the more I’ve learnt of the song. Heart is actually house, and doobie doo is actually I’d lose it all.

I’m so excited! Tonight I wing my way up the continent of Africa, and after a brief stop-over in Doha, Qatar, it’ll be only a few more hours until my husband and I land in Budapest. But the Budapest that waits will be very different from the one we visited for a few hours in the summer of 2012. No doubt, the snow covered city (please let there be snow…apparently they’re experiencing a warm winter) will be equally as fascinating, and even more beautiful.

After we had experienced our summer cottage vacation in Finland some thirty months ago, we flew to Budapest where we caught a bus to Romania and spent a week helping to build houses for the Romanian gypsies. But that’s a story for another blog. On the way back to Finland for our long-haul flight home to South Africa, we had a layover of several hours in Budapest. While my hubby stayed at the airport to look after our luggage (he had a sore leg and didn’t want to go sight-seeing), my son, Kyle, his wife, Tiia, and I caught the bus and train into the city center along with two of their missionary friends, Samuel and Sara. I’m so glad we did—not only was it such a beautiful city to see, but it was that visit that drew Kyle and Tiia to set up their office for Re-birth in Budapest.

It is said that Budapest and Prague are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe because they were not damaged by the wars.

Here are some places we saw (unfortunately I don’t know the names of many of the places, but perhaps I’ll get to know some of them on this trip).

The statues on the buildings were fascinating…magnificent works of art.

2 Budapest - Statues

3 Budapest - Statues

I loved the intricate lamp posts, curved streets and paved alleyways.

4 Budapest - Lamps and alleys

This is the beautiful University that my daughter-in-law attended.

5 Budapest - University

A fruit shop, flower shop and pharmacy (yes, that’s what that strange word means).

6 Budapest - Shops

From the moment you spot its spires in the distance, St. Stephen’s Basilica has you spellbound.

7 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - outside

The artwork of this cathedral is breathtaking—from the large mosaic paved area that greets you outside, to the carvings, sculptures, paintings and pipe organ inside.

8 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - artwork

One cannot help but stand and stare in awe once inside St. Stephen’s Basilica. The craftsmanship of the architecture and all the trimmings surrounding that is almost inconceivable. It’s simply, beautiful.

9 Budapest - St Stephens Basilica - inside

In one part of the outer area, colorful stained glass windows let light into the room that houses them.

10 Budapest - Stained glass windows

They’re so exquisite that one almost doesn’t notice the strange phenomenon in the room their beauty brightens.

11 Budpaest - Stephen's hand

Inside this glass reliquary lies the right hand of Stephen, the first King of Hungary, in whose honor the basilica is named.

In closing, what would this blog post be if I didn’t post a picture of the famous Danube River. Da-da-da-da-da, la-la la-la… What is it about this city that makes me want to sing all the time?

12 Budapest - Danube River

I trust that you’ve enjoyed taking an escape with me to beautiful Budapest. I am so looking forward to visiting the following places that my son and daughter-in-law have discovered during the time they’ve been living in Budapest: the colorful sweet shop; this death-by-chocolate coffee shop—Noir ChocoBar; the outdoor ice-rink in the city park; and the love lock park at Erzsébet square. Here couples inscribe a lock with their names. The lock is chained alongside a myriad of other locks and then the couples walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river.

13 Budapest - Things to do

I plan to visit one of the 80 geothermal springs (medicinal baths) in Budapest this coming week so hopefully I’ll have some photos of those to show in next week’s blog – Winter Budapest.

14 Budapest - Heroes Square K&T

But more than all the awesomeness the beautiful city of Budapest has to offer, I’m looking forward to seeing this beloved sight tomorrow – my son and his wife (who are also my cover models for Helsinki Sunrise).

HelsinkiSunrise_w11668_300 (2)

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

 

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

 

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:

Website / Amazon / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Blogs: A Pebble in my Pocket / Foreign Affaire

 

Permission to use images obtained.

Friday Weekend Escape to Pokhara, Nepal with Melissa Gijsbers

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my Aussie author friend, Melissa Gijsbers, to Nepal. Melissa is sharing her memories of Pokhara, where she lived for a few years when she was younger. Enjoy!

~~~~~

I haven’t been there for nearly 30 years, but join me on an escape to Pokhara in Nepal. I would like to take you on a tour of the places I remember most.

First stop on our tour is the place we used to live. Back then, it was a two-bedroom, single storey, unfinished house. I shared a bedroom with my three siblings. We would play on the roof and have BBQs with buffalo steak that had been marinaded overnight to help it be tender enough to eat!

houseinpokhara

The house may have been small, but there were spectacular views, especially from the outside toilet!

viewfromhouse

Down the road in one direction, it will take you to the “Shining School”, the two room primary school where I was a student. It is also the school mentioned in Swallow Me, NOW! as Sam’s favourite primary school.

shiningschool

Going in the other direction from the house, you will end up at the bazaar. You can buy all sorts of things from little shops and carts. I used to go there with my mum. Doing the weekly shopping in Pokhara was different than going to the supermarket here in Melbourne!

bazaar

It has been a long time since I’ve been to Pokhara. My parents went back earlier this year and told us it has changed a lot. The house we lived in has been finished but the bazaar is still there.

swallowmenow-2001

All Sam wants to do is to fit in at her new school.
Feeling alone, and desperately trying to find her place in the world, she concocts an AMAZING story –
BUT it backfires on her, and she becomes known as the ‘Evil Genius’s Daughter!’
Can her life get any worse?

melissaatelearning-200

Melissa Gijsbers lives in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, with her two sons and pet blue tongue lizard. Between 1983 and 1986, her family were missionaries in Nepal. She enjoys catching up on the events of the day over mugs of hot chocolate with her sons after school.

Website: www.melissagijsbers.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaGijsbers
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissieK