Monday, December 12, 2011

One place I never imagined visiting...

I have a list in my head of places I would love to travel to, and we've had the amazing opportunity to check a lot of those places off the list in the last year and a half.  But there are some places that just aren't on my radar.  Places I have little to no background knowledge about, places where I'm not even sure exactly where they are on the map...they are places I don't imagine ever visiting.  Because of a trip Dustin had to take for work, we had the chance to travel to Budapest...definitely one of those cities that never had really entered my mind before. 

All I knew about Budapest prior to our visit was that it was in Hungary, and that it had been under communist rule.  And I had heard something about goulash...

Budapest (which is actually made up of two cities, Buda and Pest) really surprised me.  Until our visit, I had no idea that it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The Parliament Building on the river Danube

Megan came with us!

Statue of Ronald Reagan, symbolically walking against communism.

Inside the Parliament Building

Hungarian Crown Jewels

 Parliament at night!

On our last day, we visited the 2nd largest synagogue in the world (second to one in New York).  There was a touching museum to Jewish people living in Budapest during WWII. 

Inside of the synagogue.  We got to listen to their contemporary band practice!

On our last evening, Megan and I went to see Rigoletto in Budapest's famous Opera House.  Good thing we read up on the opera before going - it was sung obviously in Italian, but the subtitles were in Hungarian.  We had no hope of understanding!

Overall, it was an amazing experience to visit this part of Eastern Europe.  The people were friendly, the architecture was stunning, and the goulash was delicious!


If you ever want to visit a quaint, beautiful city in Europe with some of the best chocolate, fries, waffles, and beer in the world, then you have to go to Bruges!! It might be one of my favorite places we have been in Europe!
Getting ready to go on a canal cruise!

On the canal cruise with our friends Dan and Lauretta.

From our boat, we could see this dog that is always sleeping in the window!  Too cute!  We went back the next day, and sure enough, the dog was still there.  :)

One of the yummy chocolate shops that we visited...

After a day and a half in Bruges, we took the train to nearby Brussels.  It definitely does not rank as one of my favorite European cities, but we still got to eat some yummy fries and waffles. 

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Brussels is the Mannekin Pis.  I was pretty disappointed in him.  I mean, what's all the hype about?


And I will leave you with this...Don't you wish this was your bus to and from work? :)

Cambridge, NFL game in London, and MEXICAN FOOD! has been quite awhile since I have had time to post!  With traveling, working a couple of jobs, and volunteering, life has gotten pretty busy!

At the very end of October, Dustin and I went to London for a long weekend. I actually went a day ahead of him with my friend Megan. We wanted to be sure to get some major shopping in!  It was fun to see the city getting ready for the olympics.  And it was also fun that I could actually read the sign about getting ready...I LOVE ENGLISH!  :)

Another perk of London (besides English), is a fantastic selection of Mexican food.  Of course, Megan and I stopped for lunch at an amazing (and amazingly expensive!) little was HEAVEN ON A PLATE!  And there was even real sour cream!!! 

On my first evening in London, I went to see Billy Elliot.  Although there were a few British jokes I didn't quite understand, it was absolutely fantastic. 

Dustin arrived the next morning and we set out for a day trip to Cambridge University.  It was beautiful.  Dustin and I decided that if we were wearing black robes and carrying broomsticks, we would fee like we were in Harry Potter. 

This is an old dining that a portrait of Professor Dumbledore?

On Sunday, it was time to head to Wembley for the Bears vs Bucaneers.  The great thing about seeing an NFL game in London is that fans wear whatever NFL jersey/apparel they happen to own.  We tried to see if all NFL teams were represented.  I was thrilled to see this Manning jersey as we were heading in...
 Before the game, we met up with Simine and Martin (yay Hanover friends!) and John (one of Dustin's coworkers) at the NFL tailgate party.  It wasn't exactly what Americans think of as tailgating, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless!

At the game with Megan...maybe I shouldn't be smiling with a Patriots fan so close?

One of the highlights of the game was this squirrel who ran around the field for several minutes during play.  It even prompted the crowd to start chanting "squirrel, squirrel, squirrel" as it ran toward the endzone.  I also experienced my first streaker at a sporting event...he ran out onto the field and tried to get the players to give him a high five.  Hysterical!

On our last day in London, Dustin and I explored The Royal Courts of Justice.  We saw an actual trial going on...did you know that lawyers and judges still wear traditional robes and white wigs (think George Washington) during trial?  I thought what we were seeing was a historical reenactment.  Apparently, it was not.  Crazy!

We ended our time in London with a trip to one of the oldest pubs in the city.  It had the most amazing fish and chips!

I have decided that I need to figure out a way to move to this fantastic city...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera

Phantom is one of my favorite musicals of all time.  I saw it as a high school student in London, then again while in college, and one more time since then.  It is absolutely enchanting...the music, the set, the lighting...

The Garnier Opera House in Paris is the inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera, and almost as enchanting as the show!  There actually is an underground water source (although you can't take a boat ride on it) and a piece of the chandelier actually fell, killing one person in the audience.

Directly inside of the main doors, this is what you see on your way to the theater!

That famous chandelier...

A reception hall, modeled after the hall of mirrors in Versailles.

View from the balcony on the front of the opera house.

Although Phantom has not actually been on stage at Opera Garnier, it is amazing to think of how many amazing operas and ballets have played in this very spot over the last century.  It is especially fun to imagine the opera house bustling before a show in the late 1800s...carriages pulling up front, and women in fine dresses on the arms of handsomely dressed I would love to travel back in time just for a glimpse.