A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: elliehirch

Hungary.. the final destination


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

Let's talk about Hungary...
The last country where I have to remember random numbers for currency conversion, learn new words for 'please', 'thank-you', 'hello', learn the proper way to greet people, navigate public transit, cross the street, form queues, etc. The last place to try new candies (an Ellie traveling requirement), stuff myself with local foods, drinks, snacks and sweets. The last of 4 continents, 18 countries, 77 cities, and 94,110km in 8 months!!
I appreciate how my traveling has come full circle. On my first backpacking trip four years ago, I started out in Hungary, meeting our relatives and falling in love with the country. This trip, I ended with Hungary, reuniting with so many people, exploring places new and old, and falling in love all over again. I have also enjoyed looking back at how much I have grown, learned and experienced on this trip, as well as in the 4 years since travel became a part of my life.
Maddie and I took a train from Salzburg to arrive in Budapest just before Easter. We explored a lot of the city during our 2 weeks, in between visits to other places. We hit up the Opera House..

6BA9DD25-1..50C2AA4F54E.jpg
IMG_1090.jpg

Buda Castle..

17FC0D83-F..D3861C1BAA8.jpg

Views from the Fisherman's Bastion..

IMG_0542.jpg

Széchenyi Baths..

IMG_1254.jpg
(basically a huge hot tub!)

Matthias Church and Szent István (St. Stephen's) Basilica..

0B4C3981-A..50A65660641.jpg
71FBB5A4-E..215141FBE41.jpg
IMG_0962.jpg

Returning for my favourite rose gelato by the basilica after 4 years was thumbs up..

C336032D-E..850910E6756.jpg

And my personal favourite spot in the city is the Citadel, and view from Gellért Hill..

35CD5443-2..A89F0891ADB.jpg
747C7411-A..3FA4C8FB075.jpg
(The citadel is the home of the Liberty Statue that just turned 70 and celebrates Hungarian independence!)

Our 'cousin' Pearl (or Gyöngvér), (and her fiancée Mark) were amazing tour guides for a couple of our days there...

IMG_0944.jpg
IMG_1173.jpg

We were so lucky to be hosted by so many relatives. We celebrated Easter in Patak with amazing food and amazing company..

IMG_1008.jpg
C3931AA0-D..09238F4BB47.jpg
EE7C7241-2..0D6AD79A3B6.jpg

We enjoyed participating in the Easter procession..

IMG_1026.jpg

Trying on Hungarian dresses..

IMG_1078.jpg
(Where I should point out my sideways pose accommodates a shirt that was not made for my slightly above average sized shoulders!)

We drank many a glass of palinka (a must try fruit liquor that's strong, tasty and served before basically every meal!)..

IMG_0933.jpg

And ate many a delicious dish, including langos (or Hungarian pizza).. possibly the best fried bread I've ever eaten, traditionally served with sour cream and cheese..

IMG_1002.jpg

Easter Monday was spent in the small village of Hóllokö celebrating Hungarian traditions..

A3B245D0-E..E3FF2FB1239.jpg
IMG_1038.jpg
IMG_1241.jpg
(The boys sprinkle water on all the girls as part of a very old custom. There was also egg painting, folk dancing, dresses, and arts.)

I enjoyed walking the streets that my great-grandparents grew up on!

IMG_1032.jpg
E312C26A-D..B11A3D61699.jpg

We also enjoyed amazing countryside views..

IMG_0634.jpg
0C0AD15F-9..358EFA1BF35.jpg

And a weekend visiting a few places with relatives Bernadett and Laci, who have our eternal thanks for everything that they did for us in our two weeks!

IMG_1045.jpg

These are the streets of Eger..

1616C2A6-2..CDF0893032C.jpg

And views from the minaret that we had to coax Maddie to climb (in all fairness, I was pretty scared up there too!!)

IMG_1162.jpg
IMG_1163.jpg

After many an hour in malls on some rainy days, we also got to shop in some traditional houses in a town called Mezökövesd..

61C67CCE-6..50871CEE431.jpg
FA05E710A9F7C30C83240B97A3882D1E.jpg

Maddie and I did a bit more on our own, visiting the great view from the castle in Visegrád...

EFAACA9F-D..F0550F98E6D.jpg
IMG_1182.jpg

We took a trip to the Gödöllo palace, beloved home of Queen Elisabeth (Sissy) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire..

3E4EDDF6-3..18B262905F1.jpg
7B67B014-B..8B3E1412F1A.jpg
CD01F2DE-F..2FFABD57D51.jpg
(photos not allowed inside but I prefer not to listen to silly rules when no staff are around and they refuse to give me an audio guide.. I'm quite the rebel, I know!)

Also enjoyed was the biggest Basilica in Hungary found in Esztergom..

E3A4CE14-0..9B724CF0707.jpg
94E686B4-F..F6DEDE788F5.jpg
E9BE4546-5..E58EA1F58DB.jpg

With amazing views from the basilica's dome..

IMG_1187.jpg
IMG_1195.jpg

And the bridge that borders Hungary and Slovakia..

9D541ECF-B..5E6503F2DDE.jpg
IMG_1197.jpg

Lastly, we hit up the cute streets of Szentendre...

IMG_1247.jpg

Our final sister tourist activity back in Budapest was a beautiful dinner cruise on the Danube..

04BF3B93-6..E64EA3E108D.jpg
4C2F26E4-E..A69350024CA.jpg
D71E8AA0-F..EA2215C9BDE.jpg
9BEBE6BB-3..E7810E50266.jpg

All smiles to end this amazing adventure..

7EF498DC-4..4CFAFACF5B5.jpg

I've learned a lot on this trip, about myself and about the world. I'm full of a million recommendations both specific and general about everywhere that I've been. And as I seem to only be able to talk about my trip these days, anybody that has any questions or wants some travel ideas.. you know who to ask!!

It would only be fitting to end my 8 month long blog by saying thank you! Thank you first of all to all the relatives in Hungary for an amazing final two weeks! Thank you to everyone I met along the way! I was blessed with so many encounters, both brief and lasting, people who helped with little things when I was a confused tourist, people I spent tours, day trips, meals, drinks, and many other activities with. People who I will never see again and people who will be friends for life! Thanks to everybody who was a part of this trip in one way or another. Thank you to everybody who took time to read my blog. And of course, thanks to my loving friends and family at home, supporting me with texts, emails, phone calls, Facebook, Instagram, social media etc. I'm so lucky to be coming home to all you wonderful people. Canada, I'm coming home!!

"It's intoxicating to strip away the excess: it's just me, my backpack, and the world" -Rachel Friedman, The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost

IMG_1289.png

Posted by elliehirch 18:55 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

The hills are alive with the sound of music!


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

If you haven't guessed the next city we visited based on this entry title.. we probably can't be friends. The Sound of Music was a favourite of mine growing up. So a visit to Salzburg was... pretty amazing!
The hotel we stayed in was a quaint place in the countryside..
IMG_0808.jpg
6796BC93-0..D875C941725.jpg
Clearly happy about these views!!
5254532D-A..BDC2BDC7C05.jpg

And clearly happy about the Wiener schnitzel.. (well for me.. veggie dumplings for that veggie sister of mine) ..

925E5794-B..58766894DE0.jpg
A2E91DA2BF3E1CCE919578313BF48BE0.jpg

We saw most of the sights through a Sound of Music bike tour..

IMG_0823.jpg
IMG_0824.jpg

Through the city streets..

IMG_0827.jpgBC6C1311-6..D87FACC650A.jpg

Up to great viewpoints from Maria's abbey..

5C6AB9E8-1..5FCCBA83D2E.jpg
1F11D0FB-4..D2379006666.jpg

To various film set locations..

50EF3D92-0..7C132D76B1B.jpg
BB8704B8-6..175D4636898.jpg
11C063C2-A..DDF1D8EA2C9.jpg

Through the countryside..

38218E1C-B..2F475CE31CB.jpg
BDC81D9F-A..2D3252A3AC9.jpg

Smiling all the way..

7EC592CA-A..991EDA50217.jpg

We also enjoyed some more time wandering through the beautiful springtime flowers..

627578B8-7..872CDA8DC64.jpg
IMG_0822.jpg
IMG_0836.jpg
961E0AB9-A..E3049841A4A.jpg

And loving the city views..

7E1FED75-3..D23E3ED4920.jpg

Not a day went by that some song from the musical wasn't stuck it my head! It was glorious.

A21D8C4C93B27CCD0403438524A0E117.jpg

Posted by elliehirch 04:30 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Stopover in Strasbourg


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

A quick train ride away from Paris and we stopped for a couple days in the dreamy town of Strasbourg. Enjoyed a lot of time wandering between adorable, colorful houses..

IMG_0756.jpg
IMG_0754.jpg
IMG_0761.jpg
IMG_0769.jpg

River views not to be missed..

4D57F72F-9..5E1A3DFFB14.jpg61482465-5..F81ACDA310E.jpgEA7C4317-D..DEDB3321661.jpg

Special favourite was our afternoon napping spot...

5F7CEE9F-1..B113B78FB7F.jpg

The trussed roofs and streets of Petite France were absolutely adorable...

IMG_0752.jpg
IMG_0798.jpg

Last activity was a visit to the huge gothic Cathedral of Strasbourg..

EFA099CC-4..5E67245FA66.jpg
IMG_0791.jpg
D90FAAD1-9..EBCAC16BC63.jpg

Beautiful inside and out and home to a huge astronomical clock..

B972C2BB-7..7BF55600F07.jpg
E237EA6A-9..96B2F9C4F08.jpg

Despite Maddie's protests for climbing anything more after the Montmartre steps and Arc de Triomphe in Paris, I managed to convince her to tackle the 300+ steps to these beautiful views..

F5A6D808-8..0AF23D31010.jpg
89DFA547-A..1521BCD3622.jpg

Another busy couple days, still managing smiles by the end!
97FAC6FD-9..65E20C02264.jpg

Posted by elliehirch 03:31 Archived in France Comments (1)

Paris in the Spring


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

My 8 month adventure can definitely be called a round the world trip. Landing in Paris was the fourth and final continent of my journey. I met Maddie for her first trip outside of North America to tour around the city of love. We had a jam packed three days because I wanted to make sure I could show her all the highlights!
From Notre Dame,

IMG_0528.jpg

To the locks of love,

IMG_0554.jpg
IMG_0552.jpg
IMG_0543.jpg

Views on the Seine,

C09596E4-D..90D26DBB92F.jpg

The Louvre,

279E6D2F-5..3967201D427.jpg

And Basilica Sacre Coer,

EE3EC1D5-F..A710EFFDE02.jpg

To the Moulin Rouge,

7207E914-7..B7B504EDEEB.jpg

Views from the Arc de Triomphe,

IMG_0193.jpg

And of course... the Eiffel!!

IMG_0568.jpg
IMG_0084.jpg
16822832-9..F162C8A9076.jpg

My favourite thing about being back in Paris this time was the season. Spring looks good on this city!

13A710C9-D..6AE84EF440A.jpg
31B00FD7-3..B5D23C0451F.jpg
5E791E29-D..39AD9AF1D21.jpg
IMG_0575.jpg

We took a bus tour,

IMG_0519.jpg

We wandered the streets,

IMG_0534.jpg

And we even managed to see the Tower sparkle every night. Without a doubt it was Maddie's favourite thing. Making it totally worth it for me to visit the city a second time to share in all her excitement.

IMG_0158.jpg

A highlight for me was a visit to L'Orangerie, my favourite gallery of impressionist art and Monet's water lilies..

IMG_0588.jpg
IMG_0589.jpg
IMG_0586.jpg

We also spent a day at the Chateau Versailles..

816AFA51CEABE168D450E2A9D8161D46.jpg
IMG_0662.jpg
IMG_0669.jpg

Seeing the palace for the second time I was no less impressed with the grandeur and I enjoyed a second opportunity to marvel at the extravagance in the details..

BFB8FB98-2..9829F4CCECA.jpgED230877-D..32B9AFB9046.jpg3C003BC7-0..7E39B7878D1.jpg

We finished the trip off with a walk and picnic in the gardens.. not a bad lunch spot!!

IMG_0303.jpg
IMG_0679.jpg

While I can't say I had ever planned to make a second trip to the capital of France, it started our sister trip off right! Busy, beautiful and...... fun. (I couldn't come up with another 'b' word to complete the alliteration :) )

IMG_0572.jpg

Posted by elliehirch 13:03 Archived in France Comments (1)

Thai #2


View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

So... I returned to Thailand for round 2 starting in Chiang Mai. After the unexpected difficulties encountered in Laos, I decided to console myself by starting with my #1 anticipated activity in Asia... Elephant sanctuary!! OMG. AMAZING. My love for elephants was uncontainable. I hugged them. I fed them. I bathed them. I tried not to cry the whole time. Magical.

B78CA08E-E..C64493283DE.jpg
625976B1-A..CF7C696A4E6.jpg

Seeing how happy the elephants were out in nature, being fed and cared for made my heart feel so big.

52266E3B-D..DD8023EEC84.jpg
A28A42E1-7..24471D41C0B.jpg

This little guy above, Dumbo, kept reaching in my bag before I could even pull out a banana! He was literally the cutest animal I've ever met. I wish he would fit in my suitcase back to Canada.
Getting a couple hugs definitely made my day..

8331259F-1..0B7F5979A9A.jpg

And the mud bath and subsequent river shower were probably the most fun I've ever had with animals..

IMG_0801.jpgIMG_0802.jpg

Ok, just a couple more of these beautiful creatures..

E303A4A7-3..4245ED75580.jpg52A4A8B8-E..E7190250308.jpg

After eating so much in Vietnam and learning about their cuisine, I figured it would basically be a crime not to do the same in Thailand. Spent the day in an outdoor kitchen in the cutest garden..

CEF0C56E-2..741B7384AB4.jpg

So if anyone wants some Thai curry when I get home... hit me up!

B736A70F-5..131A9F9575E.jpg

Also.. couldn't forget to visit one more Buddhist temple..

742BEAC7-C..660F8638F1C.jpg

My next city was the small, hippy, chill town of Pai. I loved my time there.
Took in a beautiful sunset at the canyon (not quite a 'grand canyon' but it'll do)..

C172CC69-5..45AC8AD2EA4.jpg
5040EB29-5..E30A1F1FDDA.jpg

The White Buddha..

1E0FD13A-4..423988E1778.jpg

And a great viewpoint..

D857A372-A..36BA81ACEA3.jpg
784E0AB8-E..4707FCAFADD.jpg
78A5AA9A-A..8D4685AC09D.jpg

All accessed by scooter. My new favourite form of transportation.. look how happy I am!..

683BB0CC-2..C21AE15323B.jpg

Aaaaand now.. the last spot in Thailand and Asia!!! Chiang Rai.
First the interesting design and detail of the White Temple (Wat Rhong Khun)..

8E31C6DD-A..3A394389F4C.jpg
5BD35DEF-8..9B2B4AA71C3.jpg
EC6D3C58-5..E5C367FB12B.jpg
61FD527F-0..AFF81AB5C72.jpg

And buildings and art of the Black House (Baan Dam) ...

052BA64F-4..9598CC9AD87.jpg
98CC3EDC-4..0140E578E15.jpg

The beauty of the Choui Fong tea fields...

870ACDD9-C..DDF7C603269.jpg
6C0FD6AE-6..D82650C873A.jpg
F262667D-D..2C4194F0855.jpg

Green tea everything!!

ECD922D1-E..21013EE4300.jpg

And the colours of the Maeh Fah Luang garden.

FF85DF69-A..915914ABAEB.jpg
80F354E1C2C73C486A8B25A5145CB8A2.jpg

Orchids to die for!

F012CF8E-2..F144CCA21A5.jpg

Not a bad bit of sightseeing to finish off the Southeast Asia exploration. The relaxing and beautiful days were just what the doctor ordered.
So, I left Thailand and Asia with a happy heart, still dreaming of elephant kisses but ready for the final chapter.. 3 weeks in Europe with my favourite sister.

98F8161E-0..194323DFA9D.jpg

Posted by elliehirch 13:52 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 48) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 »