Posts Tagged 'traveling'

Places worth revisiting – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary in the 1980s was an amazing mashup of historic buildings, hills in the distance, and armed Soviet guards in the subways. The subways had massively steep inclines, which were miserable in the snow of January. The electric trolleys were a different shape than they are in the States, with speedy reflexes on your part being your only hope of jumping safely on and off. No one seemed to speak English, and German was the only common language I had with the shopkeepers.

The city was beautiful, the people seemed friendly, and it’s just one of those places that is worth a revisit, even if it’s only in my daydreams.

  1. Fabulous monuments like the Fischerbastei. Here’s an aerial view (from the sky: look at the turrets hugging the cliff)
  2. Amazing churches that show the blend of historic influences on their walls, like Matthiaskirche
  3. A Dominican cloister preserved within the walls of the local Hilton hotel (we stared at the ancient well through the windows)
  4. Hotel Gellert (I really don’t know how the tour afforded to book us here, but we loved gawking at the spa and mineral baths,but weren’t brave enough to go in among all the businessmen in towels)
  5. The Central market, with its garlic vendors, rabbit hutches, and more fruit pyramids than I’d seen before
  6. And of course, the Hungarian National Gallery in the Royal Palace

So, if you could go back to someplace you visited in your youth — where and why? (Yes, this is the sort of stuff I think about while commuting. Much better than thinking bad words at people who don’t use turn signals.)

Travels on the bookshelf: Czechoslovakia

Melnik, the wine town of Czechoslovakia, lies due north of Prague, and about a hour away by road. We left town by way of Karlin and Kobylisy, skirting the bend of the Vltava, and climbed out of the valley to rolling upland villages, leaving the military airfield away on our right hand. The factories of the north-eastern suburbs slipped behind us, and there was the true Bohemia, the clean, colour-washed houses, the ponds and greens and orchards of a garden and meadow country, made for the sun and the summer; and the day was opening in warm splendour, the very day for which the land was made. Strips of poppies, white and red, the white tinted at the roots of the petals with mauve, made gay patterns across the fields; geese were encamped in the stony beaches of ponds like miraculous drifts of fresh snow.” — Edith Pageter, The Coast of Bohemia.

It took me a while to get “into” this book’s writing style, since it isn’t like other books of Edith Pageter’s that I’ve read (the Brother Cadfael series). But now I’ve come back to the read it again, and to read it less like a history book of what Czechoslovakia was like right after WWII, and more like a time travel book. It’s worth reading, if only for the stories of misadventures (such as a tall fellow traveler who suffers when they can’t get seats on the bus because he scrapes his head on the roof while standing unless they’re lucky if it’s a “tall” bus). Or descriptions of what people at the time thought were important “sights” to show the author when she visited.

So, what books are you traveling through on your bookshelves? Are you getting any ideas for actual travels, or are you “revisiting” places by rereading books or novels?

I think next on my list is a Victorian travelogue about the Isle of Scilly, if I can find the book.


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