dinsdag, april 11, 2006

It's finally spring in Holland!


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My eye

I may write about it a little later, but last week's minor emergency found me being rushed by my opthamologist's orders to a university hospital to investigate the possibility of a detached retina. They took pictures, and it looks good - see for yourself.


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donderdag, april 06, 2006


Now that the Budapest posts are up, an ad that is primarily for Bente.

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woensdag, april 05, 2006

Budapest, Hungary

One of the first things I learned on this trip is something I'm sure most Europeans learn as a child; Budapest is actually made up of two cities -- Buda and Pest. The cities are split down the middle by the Danube river.

Buda and Pest, as seen from Castle Hill, in Buda.

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St. Stephen's Basilica

Szent Istvan bazilika in Budapest has to be seen to be believed. It is the height of spiritual ostentatiousness, carried out by good Catholics after the Holy wars and persecutions were over (although some of us aren't quite sure the persecutions are really over yet) and they had some free time on their hands. Never mind that the people are starving, this building isn't about the people. It's about the POWER (and material wealth) OF GOD.

In case you think the entry fee to the main attraction doesn't leave your wallet light enough, you can always leave your bank account number and have a donation direct debited from your bank account, once you've sprinkled yourself with holy water and entered the chapel.

And if it's a freak show you're looking for, step right up! How about the "Chapel of the Holy Right Hand"? Uh . . . yeah. It's the petrified severed right hand of some dead holy person clutching a wad of jewels. Now if looking at THAT doesn't make you feel Holy, I don't know what will.
Looking at it, you can almost hear the former owner of the hand saying, "Don't even think about it, Your Holiness. If you want this back, you are going to have to pry it out of my cold, dead hand!"

All in all, this place made my head swim.

Once the organ started plaiying, the only thing missing to make the experience completely terrifying was a clown.

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Buda, Hungary

Buda is arguably the most picturesque of the two cities - especially its skyline as viewed from Pest.

Buda is also the oldest of the two.

Castle Hill in Buda, across the Danube as seen from Pest.

Castle Hill, seen from the Buda side.

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Pest, Hungary

Pest was (and is) the more industrial of the two cities, but has its own beauty.

The Hungarian Parliament is undergoing renovation, but is an incredible complex.

This last picture is a pan (that I haven't cleaned up) of the other side of the Parliament. Click on it to see a bit more detail.

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Budapest, City Streets

The streets of Budapest are best seen on foot.

Or maybe scooter...

Every turned corner revealed a surprise.

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Budapest - Castle Hill

Castle Hill is probably the most recognizable and visited place in Buda. It sits on top of a limestone plateau high above the Danube and is home to medieval monuments and museums.

The old town on the hill is filled with quiet retreats and beautifully painted old storefronts.

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Budapest -- The Church of Our Lady in the Buda Castle

Matthias Church,

aka The Church of our Lady in the Buda Castle is amazing.

Parts of it date back 500 years.

There is an incredible amount of handwork in the church - but it's not all gold and gilt. It's more intimate than imposing. (It's Protestant)

The entire interior of the church is painted with elaborate designs.

The old floor of the Church (below) helps create the environment of calm that pervades the place. (It also makes a great Windows desktop background.)

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Some Budapest Building facades

Again, this is a great city to walk in. Although the city is becoming more Western and modernized, there are reminders everywhere of the past.

This pic is for Mom. The present (which she'll eventually get) came from this little antique shop above.

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