Sunday, August 2, 2015

Budapest to Vienna...

We're having a wonderful time on the beautiful Danube! We enjoyed a city tour of Budapest (pronounced Buda-pesht) this morning with another wonderful, knowledgeable guide - a passionate Hungarian who did not sugar-coat the often tragic history of her country. A few sights from the morning:

Heroes' Square...

The selfie stick returns!

St. Stephen -- converted Hungarians to Christianity and was the nation's first king. 

Beautiful city views from atop Fishermen's Bastion. 

Matthias Church...

Peggy and Dorothy take in the sweeping views...

June and Marlene with a gorgeous backdrop...

Pastries and coffee in a Budapest cafe...

Enjoying wonderful coffees! 

Of course, we had to try the Hungarian goulash at lunch back on board our ship!
Delicious! (June and I purchased some Hungarian paprika while shopping in town!)

Safety first! (Don't worry--it was just a briefing! We're in excellent hands with Captain Gabor...far right)

The ship (the Viking Njord) is equipped with all the latest technology -- but keeping it level? They use a one you'd buy at Kiper's! See it? 

"A level?" I asked. 
"When the bubble is in the middle, the ship is level," Captain Gabor explained. 
"I know how a level works, I just can't believe you're using the same tool I use to hang pictures straight," I said. 
"It works perfectly," he said.

We sailed past Hungary's largest cathedral in a town beginning with an A... (Sorry - Hungarian is a really complicated language!) St. Stephen was born there and crowned there. His mummified right hand is back in the church bearing his name in Budapest. (He's a pretty big deal around here!) 

The ship is perfectly lovely. Here's a glimpse of our room...

This view shows the shower with an opaque glass wall. (There's a kind of a funny story about that -- ask me in person if you want to hear it!)

And the view from our balcony...

We'll be sailing through the evening and arriving in Vienna tomorrow morning. We're looking forward to a city tour in the morning and some free time in Vienna tomorrow afternoon, then a visit to the opera! (I know, I know -- I'm not a huge opera fan either, but when in Vienna...) 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The beautiful Danube...

Well it's been a whirlwind 48 hours for the Young girls! On Friday, Dorothy and I left home around 6:30 a.m. and headed for West Monroe where we picked up June and Peggy, then traveled on to Ruston to pick up Marlene. 
Five women. Eight days in Europe. And we managed to pack in carryon luggage!

(It was kind of a miracle!) We drove on to Shreveport to catch the first of several planes that would transport is across the world! 
Let me back up a little -- taking a European river cruise has been a longtime dream for our sweet Mama D. When she was recovering from heart surgery last fall, Daddy Ray promised he'd make it happen. It was June's brilliant idea to turn it into a girls' trip -- and thanks to the generosity of Dorothy and Ray -- we are now in Europe!!!

Dorothy chose Viking's Romantic Danube cruise -- it originates in Budapest then winds through Hungary, Austria and Germany. After a long, long, looong travel day, we arrived! 
(On the plane...)
(Language barrier in Amsterdam. Somehow Starbucks changed Leslie, Marlene and June to Henry, Maureen and Jill.)

From the moment we arrived, we've been treated royally by everyone on the Viking staff! They are warm, charming and helpful! 

We took a quick walking tour of the Budapest central area with a really funny guide. I love the turn-of-phrase employed by people from around the world.
"From up here? The view? She is good and excellent!"

This is the largest church in Budapest - St. Stephen's Basilica. "It says 'I am the path, the truth and the life,'" our guide said. 

Back on the boat, we tried desperately to stay awake to beat back the jet lag and enjoyed one of the best meals ever in the ship's restaurant! Here's just a glimpse of  the wonderful steak...
And delicious desserts 
Oh, and this was the view from our table...

Once the sun went down, we cruised around the gorgeous river. Here's a few scenes
The Chain Bridge...
The parliament building...
Buda Castle...
It was a lovely ending to a wonderful (emphasis on "full") day! Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds! 

(Disclaimer - I'm "blogging" from my phone for the first time ever -- I have no idea what this is going to look like! Just trying to preserve and share the memories!) 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Our big adventure!

Well, Jesse and I just got back from a wonderful adventure -- and since he didn't think it was wise to post to instagram and Facebook along the way, I used this little blog as a journal of sorts. If you're interested in hearing about our trip to Paris (and the Normandy countryside) and you're not opposed to lots of pictures and random minutiae, you can read our posts from France here! Here are the links in the order I posted them:
Day One -- Hello from Paris!
Day Two -- All the beautiful things…
and…A few quick things…
Day Three -- Another beautiful day in Paris…
Day Four -- An anniversary adventure…
Day Five -- Greetings from Normandy…
Day Six -- Blogging, 1070s style
and -- Guest Post -- A simple oaf (by Jesse!)
Day Seven -- Back in Paris, the view from our room (quick video post)
Day Eight -- Il a été grand, Paris!
(And, for anyone interested -- a bonus post on my boots!)

It's been a wonderful adventure and we're so thankful and blessed to have experienced a completely different part of the world. I love traveling with my very best friend and look forward to more (31 more years, maybe?) of adventure!

Now -- this is a true statement -- there's no place like home!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A bonus post…a word about my boots...

Just had to pop back on for an unsolicited endorsement of my footwear. These boots have been all over France and they have been the most comfortable shoes ever! I'm usually pretty cheap when it comes to shoes, but I'm about to the age where it's important to wear well-made shoes -- and these were worth the price! 

They've tromped through airports, cobblestone streets, metro stations, ancient cathedrals, fields, crunchy leaves, climbed down to Omaha beach and up and down thousands of stairs…(we averaged around six miles a day while here!)

(taking a well-deserved rest on a fluffy rug back at the apartment)

(The Gilly boot by Born. I highly recommend. Nobody asked me to say anything nice about them. I'm just thrilled that my feet have been happy all week).

Il a été grand, Paris!

It's our last night in Paris and you can just put a fourche in us because we are fini! We are cozy and warm in the apartment, looking out on the lights of this neighborhood that has begun to feel like home and admiring the Eiffel Tower one last evening. 

The packing is about to begin and we'll be navigating the metro and train stations to make our flight out of Charles DeGaulle tomorrow! It's going to be a weird day -- we leave Paris at 1:55 p.m. Sunday and somehow land in Monroe at around 8:30 p.m….on Sunday. Long day. But we're ready to be home and see our people!

Today, we squeezed into the world's smallest elevator…

 and squeezed in a few more Paris highlights, starting off with chocolate chaud at Angelina's! 
(Elisabeth, you never steered us wrong. Not one time!)

And, because we trust you, we ordered the Mont Blanc as well. (Have I mentioned that I've basically been off sugar for the five months leading up to this trip? I've made up for it in the past week!)
A nice bonus to cafe' stops are nice bathrooms!

Another thing on our list -- a little shopping (not my thing, believe it or not) and strolling and people-watching on the Champs Elysee -- (much more my thing!) We walked the length of this amazing boulevard, which is being transformed into a Christmas carnival of sorts with booths selling everything under the sun. 

Another item on our list - crepes from a street vendor!
 (Yes, Kevin, we did it!)

Paris is a city of two million people -- and most of them seemed to be on the Champs Elysee today!

Taking a break to watch the world pass by…

Jesse, channeling Mitch Hedberg: "Wearing a backpack is like there's a midget on your back all day, trying to bring you down…"

(He was a really good sport about it, though!)

Hydration is key...

And we triomphed!!!

The Metro system is so cool here, for a lot of reasons, including random things like this:


Merci pour les souvenirs, Paris!