Archive for the ‘Fabulous Friday Photos’ Category

But who cares how you spell it when you can buy chocolates like this?

Notice that not only can you buy a “mini-set” of three, you can also purchase an even smaller size, perfect for midafternoon nomming.

And does anyone else notice the slightly disgruntled cherub looking down on them?

Ahh, Brugge. European Disneyworld.  I watched the movie the other day, by the way.  The one that made Brugge famous, called In Brugge.  Don’t watch it. It’s crap and everyone dies for stupid reasons.


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Fabulous Friday Photos is back…as long as the program continues to cooperate.

Prague. The problem with Prague is that it’s so touristy, and so gorgeous, and has too much history to possibly take in.

Mid-November Christmas market in the central square

I loved Prague. I’m not sure that I would want to live there; I showed up about ten, fifteen years too late for that. But to visit, it’s spectacular.  It really does live up to its reputation as the prettiest city in Europe. However, I thought it did lack some kind of personality — too many tourists, I suppose.  I wish I could have been here ten years ago.

This is a city I’ll be coming back to – often – when I live in Hungary. They’re not very far away, after all…

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Has been having technical difficulties. WordPress apparently feels it is no longer necessary to upload my photographs.

And Fabulous Friday Photos without photos is rather more challenging, as you may be able to imagine.

Fabulous Friday Photos is on hiatus until I can figure out an alternative to this rather problematic issue.

It could be my computer, it could be my admittedly shitty internet connection, or it could be WordPress.  Since nothing on my end of the line has changed, I’m going to blame it on WordPress.

Free servers anyways, what are they thinking, not working correctly?


In the meantime I suggest you read An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser; we shall reconvene soon to discuss this fine piece of literature, and until then I bid thee a fond adieu.

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View of the Duna (Danube) river from the Citadella on Gellert hill. Buda is on the left, Pest to the right.

This wasn’t the loveliest day–in fact, it started snowing while I was out–but this is what Budapest looks like in the winter.

This is probably “the” shot of Budapest.  Most cities have one photo that is the stereotypical image. Paris–Eiffel Tower; Prague–Charles Bridge, possibly, although Prague has so many great things it’s hard to pick just one; Rome–the Coliseum; etc etc.

The second bridge is the famous Chain Bridge, the first bridge to connect the separate cities of Buda and Pest.  Until 1849, the two cities were quite different: hilly, stately Buda on the west side of the Danube; and flat, industrial Pest on the east bank of the river.  Then the chain bridge was built and they were finally connected permanently, only a hundred and sixty years ago.  That’s quite recent as the history of this city goes.  The first settlement on the current site of the city was built by Picts before 1 AD and called Ak-Ink, which allegedly means “Abundant Water.” Later, the Romans occupied the area and called it Aquincum.  Later still, the Bulgarians took it over when it finally became the two cities of Buda and Pest.

Then the Hungarians occupied it and in the 10th century officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary.  In the 1500’s, the Ottomans took over and occupied the city for nearly 140 years, during which time they constructed the Turkish baths that are still popular today.

The Austro-Hungarian empire was formed in 1867.  But it wasn’t until 1873 that the three parts of the city–Buda, Pest, and Obuda, or ancient Buda, were combined officially into the one city of Budapest–long after the chain bridge was built.

In 1918 after WWI ended the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed and Hungary declared itself an independent republic.

After many complicated fiascos through WWII, which you are welcome to read about somewhere else if you are really interested, Hungary became a Communist People’s Republic.  However revolts and more shenanigans soon followed.  The Soviets rolled some tanks in and managed to kill over 3,000 people in the confusion.

While in the Eastern bloc, Hungary apparently became known as “the happiest barrack” due to lighter restrictions than most of the other satellite nations of the USSR.  Stubborn Hungarians being stubborn, they managed to rebuild most of the city in this time.

In 1989 Communism fell and Hungary developed a capitalist economy, representative government, and other trappings of the free Western world.

Budapest is also notable for building the second underground train system in the world.

Imagine if New York had a history like that.


Today, Budapest just so happens to be the best city in the world.  if you like coffee, Budapest has great coffee from the Austrians.  If you like Turkish baths, it has those.  If you like drinking, you’re definitely in luck.  If you like delicious food being delivered to your door for convenient nomming, you got it.  River cruises?  Got it, if you can stand the bajillions of other tourists.  If you like cool old buildings, you will be happy.  It has an outstanding cathedral replete with the mummified hand of King Saint Stephen, founder of Hungary (overachiever) on display, and for 200 forints you can get the lights to turn on in the case for two minutes.  W00t!

If you enjoy climbing stairs then this city is really your dream city.  Caving, really good caving where you get to squiggle through cracks the size of a toaster, is also of course available (these caves under the city are some kind of record, but I don’t remember which one and I’m not going to look it up. They’re memorable, so remember that.)

Plus, Budapest is cheap.  Quite cheap.  You can always spend a lot of money, but it’s easy to live well on a very reasonable budget.  It’s definitely not as cheap as Latvia, but if you’re just coming from Western Europe you will be quite pleasantly surprised.

Special note for Americans: Communism and other evil things died in the city twenty-one years ago.  It’s a lovely safe city and you’re not going to die or get robbed unless you’re extraordinarily stupid.  I mean really, really extraordinarily stupid.  This is not some bombed-out ruin of the former USSR. This is a European capital, part of the EU, and boasts 1.7 million people in the city proper.  It is generally considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Hungarians may be reserved, and sometimes may even seem slightly distasteful of you non-Magyar speaking foreigner, but I have found that a winning smile and a badly pronounced “kőszőnőm” is usually enough to at least get them to stop glaring at you long enough to roll their eyes.

No, really.  I like Hungarians.  I’m delighted by them.  Their language is so foreign, their history and capital city so interesting, and their sometimes disdainful-seeming attitude somewhat misleading.  Hungarians probably aren’t going to run up and be your best friend right away, but they’re good people, solid, down-to-earth, and they’re not going to waste anyone’s time being fake or flippant.  Not to make generalizations or anything *cough cough* like I just have most certainly not been doing, but I’d trust a Hungarian over an Italian any day.

Of course, I’d probably trust just about anyone over an Italian.  But that’s a different story.

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Hairy Coos

Scottish Highland Cattle pose before their bloodthirsty attack

When in the Scottish Highlands, be sure to look for these fluffy, cute little horned devils. Then stay the hell away from them.

This adorable couple are full-time inhabitants and guardians of the ruins of an old soldier’s garrison.  As cutely as they posed for a picture, it was only a trap to lure us in closer–when the male (in front) charged us and sent the entire group of us scampering down the steep hill to safety.  Luckily, he didn’t catch anyone, but those horns look sharp.

Later on, funnily enough, I saw a baby Highland cattle (hairy coo) in Paris at a Christmas market.  It was in a petting zoo display for small children.

Conclusion? French people want their children to be gored by hairy Scottish cows.

Merry Christmas.

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For your viewing enjoyment ladies and gentlemen, I present to you weekly Friday photos.  Please don’t make me explain. They’re photos. One a week. On Fridays.

This is a canal. In Venice. It really is this color and no it didn't smell bad. There were no gondoliers, this being December and bloody cold.


And this week’s feature is Venice, that rotting heap that took all my money and in exchange gave me a moldy pizza.  Don’t be fooled by the pretty pictures, Venice is just trying to lure you in so it can beat you with a lead pipe, take your wallet, and leave you gasping in some smelly alley (that probably smells like moldy pizza.)

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