Two Aliens in Tokaj Pt.3

There are two main museums in Tokaj. They are not like Hungary National Museum in Budapest, or anything like that. Or at least, not as big. Both of them can be visited in less than two hours, and their location are only ten minutes from each other. So, it is worth to have a combined ticket for both in a day — cheaper.

The first one is Tokaj Museum. Of course.

It is just a bit further than the church, probably a minute walk from there. Two minutes if you are taking photos as you are walking. I genuinely cannot remember if it has a distinctive sign, but I remember that you could easily miss it if you didn’t pay attention to where you’re walking.

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The building itself was the house of a Greek trader, before it was converted into a museum. It is still well maintained, but of course you could see some parts where the fixing was made — some odd bits that you are sure not coming from the original feature of the house. To be honest, I like that kind of fixing, it gives the house a new uniqueness. You don’t see that kind of renovation happen in an old listed house in the UK.

I like this museum. The last time I enjoy a museum that feels “homey” like this was the Edinburgh museum in… well guess what, Edinburgh.

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Inside you could find the artefacts and history of Tokaj and the surrounding area. They also have a collection of religious artefacts as well as numerous interesting articles in the attic section of the building. The best thing is, we could take photos, a lot of them. The museum management told us that everything is free to be photographed. That alone has satisfied the tourist soul in me.

Outside the main museum, to the back of the building there is a small garden, and a passage to a basement. This basement used to be a wine cellar — of course. I never knew that wine cellar could be so cold. I mean, it was baking hot outside, but it was cool inside, and I honestly couldn’t see any air conditioning or something like that.

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I think, being in a wine heritage region, this museum gave an extra effort to keep as many original features in the cellar, more than they did the main house itself. It was a lovely little museum. But, if you really want to talk wine, you need to go to the next museum.

Tokaj Wine Heritage Museum.

 

 

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The Budapest Adventure Part 5

One of the first things that I made sure before I went on this adventure to Hungary was to make sure that my phone would work when we were in Hungary. All of the hotel and transport bookings and confirmation was sent to my phone number, and it would make it much easier for me if I want to contact my family. Or simply, I just like being completely prepared before embarking on an adventure.

I am not being paid to say this, but I am using T-Mobile — now you probably know it in the UK as EE. Whatever they call themselves now, but this mobile provider has a good network coverage in Europe. I don’t have to buy any extra booster to get my phone fully function in Hungary. I could just use whatever package I had at that moment and use it as if I was in the UK — which means, I could text freely, call freely, and use my internet too. No roaming charge either.

I definitely have no plan to change to any other mobile provider in any foreseeable future.

Why am I talking about my phone provider? Well… apparently this very fateful day, that has become incredibly crucial to us.

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We were on our way to our next, and our last museum in Budapest, the Aquincum Museum. To get there, you would have to get a train, which unlike the metro didn’t have either air conditioning system, nor the proper loudspeaker to tell the passenger where to get off.

I realised that we should do it in few minutes when I looked at my google map, so I told Grumpy that the next stop would be ours. Grumpy made his way, but I got stuck a little behind. Grumpy got off right on time, and I didn’t make it.

We saw the train doors closed right in front of our face, took me away to the next station and left Grumpy on the other platform. Oooh… Bugger! Now… I couldn’t emphasise the importance of being well prepared, in any kind of adventure. If my phone didn’t work, I couldn’t tell him that the museum we were going to visit was between the station where he got off, and the station where I did. Technology has saved that day… But of course, I had to have a bit of a cry, because I was incredibly terrified if I lost my beloved Grumpy among the Roman ruins of Aquincum.

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Aquincum is the name of the Roman city in Budapest. Unlike the Buda Castle hill area — which has a long history of military battle, Aquincum is the more “civilised” part of the history. Nowadays, though, you can only see the ruins, and a part of what was a painter’s house, and the vast exhibit of Roman stonework, and pottery.

You could also play with an interesting interactive games in the museum, if you want to. And of course we wanted to, and we did take part of the games… badly :D. But it was fun, and we were experts in having fun. And, after ice cream in that very hot day, we definitely have forgotten a bit about the previous train fiasco.

And there… our Budapest Adventure was concluded…

 

The Budapest Adventure Part 4

Learning from our mistakes on the first day, we prepared better for the next days. We stuck to Metro as our preferred transportation method, and also brought with us enough water to see us through the day. The water bit is particularly important, because when we were there Budapest was scorching hot under the summer sun.

The continent surely know how to do summer properly, Britain needs to learn from it.

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Our next museum was Hungarian National Museum. I think it would be silly if we don’t visit this museum, purely because it is the Hungarian National Museum. It is like going to London, and not taking a moment to see British Museum. But I have to say, Hungarian National Museum is no British Museum, I personally think the Hungarian National Museum is much much better.

They have a wonderfully organised exhibit with a focused theme — all about Hungary, and a lot of interesting articles — lots of blings! But nothing impressed both of us more than the building itself. The museum interior was beautiful, with high, painted ceiling, and well maintained decorations. They’ve got a clean, and friendly cafe on the lower ground floor, which sold a really tasty Dobos Torte and a cup of high quality coffee that even a Grumpy coffee connoisseur like my travelling companion would appreciate.

One thing, though… you are not allowed to take photos inside, unless you pay for the photo permit. I am not sure about it, but we didn’t get ourselves a photo permit… sorry, I think you should visit the museum yourselves.

From the museum, we took a walk — under the shade — to see the Danube.

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I mean, I would be a seriously lousy tourist if I didn’t see the Danube while in Budapest. However, I have to be honest with you, going to the Danube during the day might not give us the same kind of magic as going there during the evening. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay too long there. Maybe we should come back some times in the future?

As we’re walking along the Danube on the Pest side of Budapest, we could see the Buda Castle, and its furnicular. Apparently the furnicular is one of the “things to do” in Budapest, but I see it as I see London’s Eye. If you have extra cash on the budget, please be a generous tourist. We didn’t, so we skipped that bit for this time… like I said, maybe some times in the future?

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What we wanted to see as we walked along the river is the shoes. Shoes? Yes! I am talking about pairs of copper shoes on the river side. It is the artwork as a remembrance of the holocaust victim who were killed and thrown away to the Danube, during the wartime.

We did take our time there, not too long because none of us did well under the sun. We walked away, having a little discussion about the war.

From where the shoes are, we went to the Hungarian house of Parliament. I wanted to go inside, as I went inside Holyrood and loving it. But, the entrance fee to enter the building was a bit steep for a non EU citizen like myself — while an EU citizen (at least for now) like Grumpy could get a half price discount. So we just enjoyed the building from outside.

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This place is definitely worth visiting. Even if you are skint like me, and couldn’t afford to get inside, sitting outside and enjoyed the court was very much enjoyable. The parliament building is a magnificent architectural piece, and the court with garden and fountain is clean, quiet, and refreshingly calming. Best of all, there is no closing time for the court and garden, so you can visit anytime.

 

The Budapest Adventure Part 2

It was a very hot day, and we were very inexperienced about the European continent. After buying my third bottle of water (we don’t drink from the tap, because nobody told us if we could), I promised myself to buy a huge bottle from Aldi and equipped myself with such tool of hydration. It is definitely annoying to buy water from touristy area, knowing that you are paying eight to ten times more than you should, but you had to do it anyway or else you would die of dehydration.

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When you see this, you are in Buda Castle Hill. Houdini Museum is just on the left…
Don’t let my stinginess ruin the holiday, that’s a part of being a penniless traveller.

Where were we? Oh yes, Buda Castle.

Our first visit is Hungarian National Gallery. If you have Budapest Card, you can get in for free. You would have to keep your rucksack in the cloakroom, which is free, so it would be handy if you have a smaller pouch like Grumpy’s tourist bumbag, or my little useless milk carton bag to keep valuables, and the essentials.

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small sling bag to keep your passport, phone and some credit cards with you

The gallery housed a lot of… well… art stuff. We were really not that kind of people really. We enjoyed walking around, but honestly none of us actually understand what we were looking at. We knew some stuff are good because they were quite pleasing to look at, but some other “artistic installation” is kind of bollocks.

However, a few minutes away from the sun was always welcomed.

Not so far from the gallery, you could find the Museum of Budapest History. It is also free with Budapest Card. And you have to keep your rucksack at the cloakroom too, I am pretty sure it is more to keep the sticky fingers away from the artefacts. The museum though, was more for us.

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From the museum’s window looking out to the one of the castle’s courts… Just to give you an idea how massive the building is…
We loved it

The first thing you see in this museum is how the castle itself has changed over time, depending on who was in charge of the area. Not surprised that many buildings in Budapest has more than one architectural characteristics, as it has been influenced by the Ottomans, the Germans, and the Russians.

I have to confess something though, that the best thing I saw in this museum was Grumpy’s reaction when he saw something that interests him. The old living room set, for example — complete with a working black and white TV set. I don’t blame him for being so fascinated by it, my dear Grumpy must be so happy to remember the days before he had grown grumpy like he is today.

To be continued…

We Went East!

After days and days of waiting, finally the holiday came. I couldn’t wait to get on that aeroplane and fly to Hungary, but I think Grumpy would love to just skip the flying bit to the arrival. But anyways, I was so excited, I couldn’t even go to sleep at night — I ended up googling places to go to, and how to go there, and by the morning I have got a list.

The flight itself was smooth, I think the good weather both in the UK and the European continent helped a lot. We didn’t have any delay, or any incidents — which is good, because we surely didn’t need any more stress at that time.

We left Norwich just after lunchtime, a few hours transfer in Amsterdam, and arrived in Budapest just before midnight. We went on a complete tourist mode, and got excited at the sight of anything remotely British — like Tesco.

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We arrived at this guesthouse. I didn’t expect the guesthouse to look like that, as it looked completely different from one one I saw online. I won’t recommend this place if you are expecting for a British standard B&B. This guesthouse is pretty basic, and slightly rundown — it amused Grumpy greatly to see how the toilet seat was installed in the shower room.

The lift was slightly dodgy, we only used it to get up to our floor in the end of the day because our legs would be incredibly tired by then, but we always pick stairs in the morning. Just because.

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The best thing about the guesthouse we went to is its location. It is very close to Keleti Railway Station, which means it would make it easier for our next trip to Tokaji (where the wedding would be held the next few days), and transport to the whole city. It is also very close to ALDI, which is very handy as we chose the guesthouse which don’t offer breakfast at all (ALDI there opens from 7 am to 11 pm). It is close to an ATM, a Kebab Shop, and a pub/coffee house too, which means…. we were sorted.

Come to think of it, it is our first time going abroad together just the two of us. Usually, we went abroad only to my home to see my family, or going around in the UK. It was an incredible experience, and we are definitely looking forward to going for another holiday together like that.

 

The Holyrood…

If you do believe that you have to go to Westminster when you visit London, then for the same reason you should believe that you have to go to Holyrood when you visit Edinburgh. I am not comparing London and Edinburgh, although I did mention that originally I thought Edinburgh is just the Northern version of London.

Of course it is not, for example… as mentioned in the previous post, people in Edinburgh are kinder, and friendlier.

But if you think Westminster is important, it is not fair if you don’t see the same kind importance of Holyrood. Of course, I am talking about the two houses of Parliament. Uhm… is that how you said it? What is the plural form of “House of Parliament“? Is it “Houses of Parliament” or “House of Parliaments“?

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This is the Parliament House looks like if you approach it through Royal Mile
Anyway…

I think I made it too obvious before that I kind of interested in politics a bit. So, I made it my mission — weeks before my visit to Edinburgh, that I had to visit the Scottish Parliament Building. Since on BBC it’s been called Holyrood so many times, I made the assumption that it is located in Holyrood road. I mean… deduction process, hello?

BUT, to be honest, it is easier to find it if you get there through Royal Mile.

BUT, BUT, I think, if you decide to visit the Parliament House, you should still do it through Holyrood road. And this is why…

The Dynamic Earth

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I am not really sure why it is called so, but I think it is one hell of a modern architecture. It is an amphiteathre, and I kind of think it is meant to be used to host big events. When I was there, it was a little bit too early in the morning, so I don’t think it was open for public yet. The bright side: an obsturcted view, perfect for panoramic mode photoshoot.

Dynamic Earth is located in the end of Holyrood Road. It might seem like a dead end, but if you go further, you could see a little passage that would take you closer to the Parliament House, which would be just on your left hand side.

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And this is what you’ve got if you approach through Holyrood Road. Massive difference. You’re welcome…
But this is why I said you should approach the Parliament House through Holyrood Road, because, if you didn’t go straight to the left, you would see a kind of ampitheatric-ish garden where you can sit and nom your snack. Please do enjoy some view there, especially when the sun is shining, and you realise that you are protected by the massive range of mountains around you.

Walk straight ahead.

“But… But the Parliament House is on the left…,” I heard you say. Yes, Dear… a little detour won’t hurt. Afterall, like I said, there are good reasons why you took Holyrood road earlier, didn’t I?

Yes, you are heading to The Palace of Holyroodhouse.

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To be fair, I am taking photos from a locked gate… I can’t make it better even if I tried… Sorry…
Or Holyrood Palace, in short. And if the name hasn’t given up the clue for you yet… It is a palace. Like Buckingham, or Kensington, or Sandringham… but this is in Holyrood, and it is open for public. Not for free, and for some extra you can even get an access to The Queen’s Gallery.

 

Me? I had a mission, remember? So I just took some photos, and get back on track.

I was lucky, though. I didn’t look up the opening times for the Parliamen House. Heck, I didn’t know that it was open for public. Yes for general plebs like you and I. Even for some lost aliens like me. I came a bit early, but apparently I came when it did open early. Like I said, I was lucky.

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From the Parliament House, looking out. There you go… the Queen’s Gallery…
It is pretty understandable that the security process was tight. I am not surprised that it is going to be even tighter after the explosion in Manchester last week. There is a guided tour there if you want, but since I was alone, I thought it would be a bit silly to ask for a guided tour. You can see the exhibition in the hall, but not all sections of the building are open for public — obviously.

I was kind of hoping that I would see, or even take a selfie with MSP Ruth Davidson, but apparently I wasn’t that lucky. Maybe next time…

 

The Museums…

You bet! I am going to talk a lot about my trip to Edinburgh in this blog, so if you really don’t want to hear about it, you can come back next week. You know.. like when you go decide to avoid going to any shopping centre until Christmas is over because you can’t stand listening to Jingle Bells in the background. Yea… more or less the same.

Anyway, Edinburgh… Like I said in my previous post, Edinburgh has plenty of museums. It is with my deepest regret — and I do blame the timing, that I cannot visit them all. I tried to visit those which is located near where I stayed, the ones that I though is interesting, and was open when I visited, and also… without entrance fee. Yes… interesting enough for me to take the walk, and accessible (close, open, and free of charge). Sadly.. it means I didn’t go to the Surgeon’s Hall Museum, and Edinburgh Castle, because they’re not free. I’ll save it later when I go there with Grump, or my siblings.

I visited there five Museums. I only have three days there, and also an appointment in the visa application centre as the priority in my itinerary. So, five museums, I think it is good enough.

 

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It doesn’t look like that in reality, but the panorama mode with me standing in one place makes the photo looks slightly bendy…

The first one, is the National Museum of Scotland. It is a massive stone architectural structure — I deliberately said that because “building” doesn’t cover it. It’s so massive, I don’t think you can finish looking at every single item in it in one day. Note if you want to visit this place, come early and bring something to eat if you don’t want to spend money on the cafe (hey, I am telling you how to have a fun travelling with minimum budget!).

It is like the British Museum in London, but with an awesome Scottish twist in it. There is a section dedicated for the history of Scotland and the kingdom of Scotland. So yes, if you went to British Museum before, you can now imagine how big the place is. If you like this kind of museums, I suggest you allocate a whole day in this place with rest in between. I believe they have a cloakroom, so you can have your heavy rucksack stored while you’re taking your time there.

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The next one is The Writers’ Museum. Of course! We have to go there, don’t we? It is a little bit of an effort to get to this one. The location of this little museum is a little bit hidden behind the crowded shop, just off the bustling street of Royal Mile. You could easily miss it if you don’t have your keen eye… or your trusted Google Map with you. Like I said… an effort.

Having this dream of one day being a writer myself, I made it my quest to visit this museum even before I set my foot on Edinburgh soil. I thought, I might learn something, or get myself possessed by a great writer, or something like that… However, I think it is a little bit cheeky to say that this is the Writers’ Museum, isn’t it? Because, to be honest… it is actually The Scottish Writers’ Museum — mainly three biggest writers Scotland has — Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I went to this place, but definitely more than three writers (which works I haven’t even read).

My goodness I am rambling again. I think I need to save the other museums for next one, as I do really need to rest my finger to some good stuff with food. See you around.