Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest

Back in August, 2017, I visited the biggest synagogue in Budapest, the Dohány Street Synagogue, and was told the following story by the tour guide:

During WWII there were approximately 70,000 Jewish people put into a Ghetto. The Hungarian government made a deal with Hitler that in exchange for free transportation of the Nazi army through Hungary, these Jewish people would not need to be sent to the concentration camp. However, were these people safe? No. The Hungarian army rounded up dozens of people at a time, brought them to the Danube on boats, and shot them. They then pushed the dead bodies into the river.

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The tree pictured above is in the courtyard of the Synagogue, is called the Tree of Life, and the leaves (as shown below) are engraved with the names of Jewish people who passed away.

Unfortunately, my computer crashed and I lost all of my other photos of inside the Synagogue.  However, I would definetely recommend to visit.

Things to do in Budapest: Your ultimate city guide

As always, these guys give a great rundown of things to do in Budapest! The only thing that they do not cover is the inside of the Dohány Street Synagogue. My boyfriend and I did get the chance to go inside, and I will post photos of the same, in another post.  This post was just too good not to share!

we did it our way

Welcome to the beautiful capital of Hungary, Budapest!  Split in two by the Danube, you have the hilly Buda, home to the awesome castle, and the fairly flat Pest (pronounced Pesht, so you don’t sound like a total tourist!)  Unofficially, it’s one of our favourite cities in Europe… but we say that about every place we go!  The city with a rich history, funky culture and beautiful architecture has something for everyone.  Here are just a few of the amazing things to see and do.

When to go

As always, it really depends on what you want to do while you’re here.  If you want to avoid crowds and extreme weather (either too hot or too cold), make sure you go between March and May, or September through November.

The summer months in Budapest are the hottest and wettest.  January is probably the coldest month, and the winter sees a…

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Pictures of Linz on a Snowy Day

I found a little trail by the Schlossmuseum which led me to the below view of the Donau river.

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On this little trail, there was also a statue of Johannes Kepler.  He was a 17th century German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. There is a university in Linz named after him.

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What I really like about Linz, is finding unique art on the side of buildings.

 

Linz may be an industrial city, but sometimes it can be rather beautiful.

Things to do in Vienna: Your ultimate city guide

These guys are one of my favorite travel bloggers.  I was thinking about posting my own blog post about Vienna, but once I saw theirs I knew that I would never be able to write one that was as good.  My only suggestion which would differ from the blog post would be to take the OBB train instead of the CAT train.  The OBB train ticket would be for under €5, while the CAT is €15.

we did it our way

Vienna.  The beautiful capital of Austria is said to be the “city of dreams”, for being the birthplace of Sigmund Freud.  To us, Vienna was the start of our epic train trip through Europe, and it couldn’t have been a better place to kick things off.

Without surprise, Vienna has often been voted the most livable city in the world, due to its high quality of life ratings, as well as culture, infrastructure, and many markets.  The city is often cited as a leading example of urban planning and we can totally see why.  It was such a lovely city to walk around!

Wediditourway St Stephen's Cathedral Vienna Asutria We are in awe of the St Stephen’s Cathedral

Although we managed to see everything in 2 days, we would suggest a full 4-day trip to Vienna.  Here are our recommendations for what to see, where to go, how to get around, and where to stay.

When…

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Christmas Markets in Linz

According to Wikipedia:

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“A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt (literally: Baby Jesus Market), ChristkindlesmarktChristkindlmarketChristkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries.[1] The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France.[1] The Christmas markets of Bautzen were first held in 1384.[2] Dresden‘s Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434. Frankfurt was first mentioned in 1393, Munich in 1310, and Augsburg in 1498. In Austria, Vienna’s “December market” can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.[3]

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Thanksgiving in Austria

One of the things that I miss about America, is celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an American national holiday which occurs on the third Thursday of November.

According to the History website, “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2018 occurs on Thursday, November 22. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” To learn more about Thanksgiving, click on the attached link.

Last year I hosted a Thanksgiving at my apartment, but it was super complicated. This year I decided to host a dinner at Tamu Sana, an East African restaurant in Linz. If you go with four or more people, you can order the family style meal. You can tell them whether you want vegetarian or meat.

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Importing an American Cat to Austria

Two years ago I imported my cat from America.  Before I looked into it, I thought that I would have to quarantine her for 3 months.  Luckily this wasn’t the case.  Essentially, what I had to do in short (for the detailed version please see here at the Austrian Embassy’s website.

1. Get the cat microchipped.  A lot of vets have varying opinions on whether to inject a topical pain killer into the area for insertion of the microchip, since the width of the microchip needle is much thicker than normal needles.  The vet I went to in Texas told me that it was not necessary, and just prolonged the stress of the cat, so I went with his expert advice.  From the reaction of poor Katzie (eyes bugging out in surprise, and what I can only imagine was pain), I regret listening to the vet.  I should have gone with my gut and given her the painkiller.  After insertion of the microchip she was very scared (another indication that it hurt her).

In theory, the microchip is supposed to be scanned at the border control upon your first entry into the EU to verify it is the same animal as described in the paperwork, but in my case they didn’t do it.

2. Rabies shot after microchip insertion: The rabies shot had to be given after the microchip was implanted (even if only a few seconds).  I thought it was a dumb rule at the time, but what can you do?  The rabies shot has to be given more than 21 days before entry into the EU, otherwise it is not valid — unless you have proof that the animal has had routine rabies shots at regular intervals.

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Jægersborggade, Copenhagen

Once ruled by gangs, this cute little street in Copenhagen has been taken over by unique shops, including artist galleries, second-hand clothing stores, organic eateries, and cafes.

My boyfriend and I spent hours on this street, just popping into the little shops and browsing.  On the weekend there are limited hours (sometimes only 11-2pm), so if you plan to visit, you should pay attention to the opening hours.

Some of our favorites:

1. The Coffee Collective: Roastery and Coffeebar

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Copenhagen is much more expensive than in Austria.  In Austria, a good latte can be purchased for around €3-€4 at a cafe.  In Copenhagen, we spent around €6 per latte.  Since I cannot eat gluten, I left it to my boyfriend to try the Danish pastries.  The one depicted below is basically a cinnamon roll, which I am told was delicious.  And, since I am addicted to Kombucha, I had to try the coffee Kombucha.  It had a very unique flavor which I will definitely have to try to recreate at home.

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Barnegat Bay, New Jersey

View from Mantoloking Bridge, in Mantoloking New Jersey.

Mantoloking / Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, down to Pt. Pleasant Beach is a great place to run.  There is a small park before the bridge where the ReClam the Bay, a local non-profit organization is “reclamming” the Bay, or in other words, is trying to regrow the population of shellfish.  According to the signs located in the Park, there used to be millions of clams and oysters in the Bay.  However, due to various reasons (runoff (i.e., fertilizer) from the watershed (i.e., an area of land that drains to a common body of water), lack of management, and reduced habitat), there are only a fraction of them left.

Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program. There are clams growing inside the tank.

As also mentioned on the board standing next to the clam grow tank, the organization starts in July with baby seed clams, about 100,000 per upweller. Each is only about 2.5mm. By the end of the season, the clams have grown up to 20mm. In the fall, the clams are then planted in the Bay under protective screens to keep them safe from predators. They stay there for a full season, where they are then transferred into the Bay.

Statue provided by Brick High School Art Club

If you are ever at the Jersery shore, this little park is a great place to visit.  Not only does it have the cool clam box, but it also has a playground for children and a runner’s track. Currently living in the landlocked country of Austria, it is always great to run around the water front.

 

Top 10 at the Jersey Shore

1. Kohr’s Frozen Custard. If you like icecream, you will love Kohr’s. It is so thick and creamy. The best flavor by far is the orange / vanilla twist. You can find it at the Pt. Pleasant Beach boardwalk, down by Jenkinsons.

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Left: Pumpkin / vanilla twist. Right: Orange / vanilla twist

2. Mueller’s Bakery. Around since the late 1800’s, this place is great for baked goods. It used to have much better coffee (when it was brewed fresh). I guess due to supply and demand issues, the coffee is brewed and put into “self-service” pots against the back wall of the bakery. If you don’t come just when it was brewed, you could be disappointed.

Mueller’s Bakery

3. Martell’s Tiki Bar. This place is super fun during the summer months. On the weekends they usually have live bands. There is a bar conveniently located at the end of the pier, so you can enjoy a drink and watch the waves crash against the shore.

Tiki Bar Pier

4. Jenkinson’s Sweet Shop. This sweet shop is open year round, and is a great place to get homemade fudge and New Jersey saltwater taffy.

Ask for a taste test of the homemade fudge. My favorite is the peanut butter chocolate.

Homemade Fudge

Taffy comes in all sorts of flavors and makes a great gift!

Salt water taffy

5. Jenkinson’s Aquarium. Located at the end of the commercial portion of the boardwalk, this place is really fun for kids (and even if you are an adult). The animals are really nice to see, and there are shows (like feeding the Penguins) that you can watch. We would always take my niece and nephew here on the weekends–especially if it was a rainy day.

Aquarium

6. Running on the Boardwalk. The boardwalk is about 1 mile long, and is a great place to run (in the off season). Since it is super croweded during the on-season, I cannot recommend this as a good place to run, unless you come either really early in the morning or really late.

The View from the End of the Boardwalk

7. Bayhead. Bayhead is a cute little town near to Pt. Pleasant Beach. It has quaint little shops (e.g. Coffee at Noon) and is an overall good place just to walk around and see the sights.

Walking Around Bayhead

8. Sushi. Living in Austria, American style sushi is hard to come by, so whenever I am in town I love to go out for sushi. My favorite place is a small restaurant in Normandy Beach called Blue Sushi. The food is fresh and tasty. The restaurant is BYOB. Price for Amazing Roll was $17, and 3 pieces of sashimi was $6. A normal roll like Spicy Tuna was about $7. If sushi is not your thing, they also had typical Japanese restaurant food, like Udon noodle soup and teryaki.

Amazing Roll and White Tuna Sashimi

9. Spikes: My family and I have been going to spikes for decades. It is a small fish market and restaurant with wooden tables and benches.  The food is always fresh and consistently good.  If you go in the summer time, expect to wait up to an hour for an available table as they do not take reservations.

10. Local Urban Kitchen. This little restaurant has great food (vegan and gluten free options available), great coffee, and homebrewed teas. I meant to take a picture of the blackbean burger on gluten free bread, with raw kale chips, but I was so hungry and it looked so good that I totally forgot.  After lunch, I had a non-fat latte. My tastebuds thanked me.  Being a kombucha homebrewer and general kombucha enthusiast, I had to try the kombucha on tap.  It was lavender-mint flavored, and was very crisp and refreshing. Kulture Kombucha is a local NJ brewery.