In the second weekend of my time in Japan, I did some very intensive travel.  I started in Hiroshima, and on Saturday afternoon, I hopped over to Osaka.   I took the rail directly into the center of town, dropped off my bag at the hotel, and immediately set out to see stuff.

One of the first things I checked out in Osaka was the Castle.  On my way there, I walked past this building and I really wish I had paid more attention to what it is.   All I know for sure is that it’s attached to the Osaka Historical Museum, the curved building to the left.


Osaka Castle is in a very large green space with ascending walkways spread out over fifteen acres.  I wasn’t expecting the way to the castle to be quite so twisty.  You walk through several large gateways to get there, and this was the first one.   This is Otemon gate.


This charming fellow with the Samurai’s top-knot is Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of the Edo period.  He’s the ruler who built Osaka Castle.  The original version of this statue was destroyed during World War II, and this one was remade in 1943.


I quite like these little Samurai guys.


This is the castle itself.  According to local legend, Godzilla destroyed it in 1955 by pinning another giant monster against it.  It has since been rebuilt.


Every once in a while, I have to stick myself in here so you can see that I was really there.  Truly!


I kept walking through the grounds, past the keep, only to discover that the walkway to the castle from the other side was significantly less shorter.  Much less scenic, however, until you get to this side, just past the moat.


With my mission to see Osaka Castle completed, my next task was to find Amemura, or Little America.  “Amerikamura” was founded in the 1970s in Shinsaibashi, where it was a central place for the import of fashion from the United States.  It has since become a place with a trendy nightlife, and a rather interesting blend of American culture into the area.    I knew I was getting close when I saw this giant kitchsy bowling pin.


The most well-known landmark of Amemura is arguably a scale model of the Statue of Liberty atop one of the buildings.


This is how I knew for certain that I was in the right place, because there’s not really much else to indicate that you’re in Little America.


Before returning to the hotel for the evening, I had one more thing on my to-do list.  I wanted to go to the Umeda Sky Building, sometimes referred to as the Floating Garden even though it isn’t really a garden.  That tall building with twin towers in the center is the building in question.


When you get closer, you can almost see why it’s called the Floating Garden.  Two tubes contain the escalator up to the very tall observation level.


At the top side of those escalator tubes is a round open-air observation deck with amazing views of Osaka’s skyline.  While this isn’t taller than some of the other places I’ve been on this trip, it’s still pretty nifty.


“Over Macho Grande?”  “I don’t think I’ll ever get over Macho Grande.”


I’ve pointed out Love Locks in Regensburg, Cologne, and Paris, and here they are again in Osaka.


I digress.  Here’s the amazing view to the other side of the observation deck.  If you look carefully, you can see my reflection near the center bottom, as I took this photograph.


Osaka contains over 19 million inhabitants, which makes it one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.


It’s still not as crowded as Tokyo, though, or at least that’s how it feels.


I want to say that this is the Dojima-gawa river, but I have no clue if I’m reading the maps correctly.    Pretty view, though, don’t you think?


By the time I was done at the Umeda Sky Building, I went back to my hotel room near the train station.  I had a very nice room, and the view from my hotel room window was pretty nifty.


In the morning, I took a little side trip before getting on the train to the next destination.  On that side trip, I happened upon a giraffe made of Lego.    The building over the giraffe’s shoulder is the Osaka Aquarium, but that will be the next post.


Have you ever been to Osaka?

Tokyo’s Tallest, or Getting High In Japan

Given my well established love of very tall places, it is probably no surprise to anyone that I pointed out the view from Mori Tower in my Star Wars Visions post and the view from Granpark.  Mori Tower is the 12th tallest structure in Japan, and Granpark is the 25th tallest.

In Tokyo, there are many, many tall buildings.  During my time in Japan, I made certain to stop at as many tall places as possible.  Three of the tallest in Tokyo are Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, and the twin observation decks of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Center.    This post is about my visits to these three.

I started with Tokyo Tower.  Tokyo Tower is painted white and international orange, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  This Eiffel Tower inspired structure was built in 1958, with a total height of 333 meters.  I visited the tower on an overcast day, approaching from the Akabanebashi station of the Metro.


The Tokyo Tower has two mascots.  Older Brother is wearing the blue outfit, and Younger Brother is in the red.  They were introduced on December 23, 1998 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tokyo Tower.

It is not at all clear to me why Older Brother has a bandaid on his head.


Inside the tower, there are many shopping and tourism opportunities.


A thick glass floor is set into one area of the tower so that you can reach the parking lot in a hurry if you need to.


From the observation level of Tokyo Tower, I had a clear view of the Zojo-ji temple, less than a kilometer away.   I visited Zojo-ji on the same day, but I’ll be putting those photos in a separate post.

Anything further out than this was too hard to see, because of the very hazy air.


Fans of the popular anime “One Piece” have a special exhibit to see on one of the lower levels of the tower.


Distant viewing was useless during my visit because of the haze, but that didn’t stop other people from visiting.  The sign over this man’s head is pointing to Tokyo Disneyland, which I will also cover in a later post.


Tokyo Tower shaped water bottles- pure marketing genius.


The next tower in this post is Tokyo Skytree.  To go there, you will most likely see the Tokyo Skytree station, which has an advertisement for a Moomin Hosue Cafe.  I never had a chance to find the Moomins, but I wish I had.


Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan.  At 634 meters, it’s the tallest tower in the world, and the second tallest structure.  (Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world, with nearly 200 meters of height over Skytree.  Still, this is damned impressive, don’t you think?)


I waited for a sunny and clear day for my first three attempts to get into Skytree.

On the first try, I arrived later than I had planned and the line was insanely long.  I parsed several hours of waiting, so I opted to try again on a day that wasn’t a weekend.

On my second attempt, the line was also too long.  I needed to get to work, so couldn’t stay.  I decided to try to get there much earlier in the morning, closer to the tower’s opening time.

The third attempt was closer to successful-  I arrived much earlier in the day, and the lines were not so long.  However, the tower’s elevators had been closed due to high wind.  Strike three.

After my first three failed attempts to get into Skytree, my manager told me about the special foreigner line which is designed to allow tourists to bypass the longer lines by paying a slightly higher rate and showing their non-Japanese passport.  This turned out to be moot, though-  on my fourth and final attempt to see Skytree two days before leaving Japan, the weather was overcast and hazy so the lines weren’t very long anyway.


Skytree has mascots, of course.  The girl is called Sorakara-chan.  I’m not sure about the dog or penguin.


Tokyo Skytree has a glass floor panel as well.  This is definitely not for people with acrophobia.


Despite the haze, you can still see Tokyo Tower in the distance, nesteled in amongst some other very tall buildings.


The view was great, but I wish I’d managed to get up here on a clear day.


My third and final tall building for this post is the ninth tallest structure in Japan.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is split into two separate towers above the 33rd floor.  The elevators to the observation level are free, which was a nice change after spending money at Tokyo Tower and Skytree.

The day before I visited this building, it had rained a great deal.   There were moderately high winds, which blew out much of the haze from my other tower visits.


In fact, the air was so clear over Tokyo that I was able to catch sight of Mt. Fuji!


Don’t be deceived by my amazing camera zoom, though-  Fuji-san is still a long way from the center of Tokyo.  This is the same view as the previous picture, with significantly less zoom.


The Kanda river.



A longer view of the river.


Tokyo is a very dense city, with many very tall buildings.


They still manage to squeeze a lot of green spaces in,though.  I think this is Shinjuku Central Park.


What’s the tallest building you’ve ever visited?


Regensburg Tourism

Earlier this month, I spent an afternoon checking out a bunch of the touristy things I can do without leaving Regensburg.  There’s a lot to see and do right here, and I didn’t want to leave it all unseen before I moved back to the US.  I started with a river cruise.

There are many great river cruises on the Donau (Danube) river, but I specifically wanted a short touristy river ride.   I found one that runs every hour or so during tourism season and runs about 45 minutes for the cost of eight and a half Euros.  At a touch after 11 in the morning, I set sail on the good ship Johannes Kepler.


It’s rather interesting to see the Stone Bridge from this perspective.  I’ve been all over the surface and around the temporary construction walkways, but this is the first time I was ever underneath the bridge.  By the way, pay attention to that tower with the clock faces on it.  We’ll climb that later!


Being on the tiny river cruise showed me things about Regensburg that I had never seen before.  For example, I didn’t realize that the villa of King Maximilian II was just walking distance down the river.


I don’t know who Klara is, but I really hope she had a nice birthday.


After we docked, I walked a short distance down the riverfront to the Schiffahrtsmuseum, or shipping museum.  Entrance was just three Euros.  The museum itself is contained inside two very old and beautifully restored ships.   The one pictured here is a paddle steamer.


What would a museum be without tiny models?


This is part of the engine room of the Ruthof, the paddle steamer which houses this part of the museum.  This stuff is absolutely huge.


Once back on land, I finally managed to get a photograph of the Boat Captain.  I don’t know this gentleman’s story, but I see him walking around town from time to time.  He’s usually wearing all white, and he’s always  got epaulets on his jacket.  I’ve always wanted a photograph of him, but he was always walking in the other direction.


I took a very brief detour at the Historic Wurstkuchl to grab some sustenance before I continued on my tourism day. So tasty!


Next, I went to the museum next to Regensburg’s famous Stone Bridge.  Most of this museum is free, but there’s a tower here which can be climbed for another two Euros.

“Historic stairs” means they’re really old and rickety and made of wood, I guess.


The top part of this tower used to be someone’s living quarters.  These are the rooms inside.


The benefit to living at the top of the historic stairs is the view-  this is looking East from the tower.


This is the view North from the tower.  When the bridge is not being renovated, this must be a fantastic people-watching view.


Here’s the Western view.  This picture was taken during HerbstDult, hence the ferris wheel visible in the distance.


One of the more interesting things about climbing the tower is seeing the mechanism that drives the clocks.  This tower has clock faces on three sides, and they’re all driven by a single mechanism.  This amazing little gearbox has long rods which connect to each clock face, and the electric motor beneath.    One motor for all three clocks.


After climbing down from the tower, I walked around the free part of this museum for a few more minutes.  I’ve always liked that the Wappen, or coat of arms, for Regensburg is a shield with two crossed keys in it.


Next on my tourism day was  walk up the street to the Kepler Memorial House.  Johannes Kepler lived in Regensburg at the end of his life, and he fell ill and died in this city.  His old house is a museum now, with an entrance price of two Euros and twenty cents.

J-Kep says science is cool!


They could probably stand to give his bust a good cleaning.


The entire museum was in German, so I didn’t get much out of the description cards, but I still liked seeing the old equipment in glass cases.


This globe is utterly fantastic.  Back in those days, they really took the whole “here be sea monsters” thing very seriously, I think.


After I was done at the Kepler House, I walked over to the Dreieinigkeitskirche, one of Regensburg’s many, many churches.


Here’s that key logo again.


…and again with the keys!


I’m always a little bit fascinated by the incredibly old glass you find in places like this.  These windows are not as crystal clear as modern glass, but the effect is kind of charming.


While the inside of this church is nice, that’s not why I was here.  I came to the church because for another two Euros, you can climb the tower.  I’ve been meaning to do this one for three years.  This is another place that wasn’t built for tourism-  they actually taped Styrofoam to one of the beams to prevent tourists from knocking their heads.


This is another historical stairway, I think.


Near the top, there’s a sign asking that you don’t touch the bell.


It’s quite tempting, though.  This is an amazing old church bell.


Why do I climb all these towers?  For the views, of course.    This is what the city’s main cathedral and the other clock tower look like from this church tower.


Panning a little bit to the left, you can see another very, very old tower.   This city’s full of ’em.


On my walk to the next touristy location in my day, I stumbled across some furries having a date.  At least I think that’s what was going on here.


For my last stop of the day, I went to the Regensburg Historisches Museum, for an admission price of five Euros.  The last time I was there was the first full day I was in this city, back on November 13, 2011.  At the time, I knew absolutely no German at all, so I was completely lost.  It turns out that even with some knowledge of the language under my belt, the museum didn’t seem all that different to me.

I didn’t remember seeing these stained glass windows last time, though.


I did remember seeing the Jewish headstones before.  There have been several Jewish settlements over the centuries in this city, and most of them have been forced out or simply eradicated.  Some of the old headstones survived and were brought to the museum.


A big medieval city demands big medieval swords.


I said before that museums love their models, and this is another fine example of that.


Here’s what I spent on my tourism day, not including food:

€8,50 – River Cruise
€3,00 – Schiffahrtsmuseum
€2,00 – Museum and tower next to the Stone Bridge.
€2,20 – Kepler Memorial House
€2,00 – Dreieinigkeitskirche Tower
€5,00 – Historisches Museum

Grand total:  €22,70.   Not bad for an entire day out, with sun, boats, stairway climbing, history, and culture.

Have you ever been a tourist in your own town?  What did you see?




For my last trip outside of Germany before I move back to the US, I chose Cairo.  I have a very long list of places that I still want to go and see, but the pyramids have long been near the top of my “gotta see that!” list.  Egypt has had a rough time with their tourism industry since the revolution a few years ago, so I took advantage of the amazing prices and set up the trip to my 26th country.

Between the hits to Egypt’s tourism, the fact that July and August are the low season there and the exchange rate in my favor, everything was very affordable.    I booked four nights at a luxury hotel with a balcony overlooking the Nile river for about $750 US dollars, and booked tours of the pyramids and whatnot before I set out.

Arriving to the Cairo airport is somewhat chaotic.  If you’re a US citizen visiting just to be a tourist, you have to pay $25 in US dollars for the entry visa that they stick in your passport.


I’m glad that I chose to book the tours with hotel pick-up, because it turns out that navigating Cairo woud have been extraordinarily difficult for me.  For one thing, the Metro stations at Tahrir Square and Giza are both closed and have been for quite some time due to the revolution.   For another thing, I don’t speak Arabic.  I also can’t read the Arabic numerals that are displayed on signs there.  The first time I saw an Egyptian license plate, I thought it was hand-written.  Then I saw a dozen more and I realized this is just how they look.


Traffic in Cairo is absolutely insane.   The white lines on the highway are seen as a casual suggestion, and drivers weave in and out of each other’s lanes with abandon.  The drivers use their car horns constantly, almost like a form of echolocation, like bats in flight.  The car signals told other drivers where they were at all times.

People on foot cross the road- even the highways- without a care for the cars that are moving past.  People stop in the right-most lanes and get out of their cars.  There’s rubble on the outer edges of the highways, and random smoldering piles of rock that might have been fires a while before I got there.

I’ve never seen anything like it.  Here’s a YouTube video that showcases it pretty well, I think.  For more, just search YouTube for “Cairo traffic.”  It’s absolutely amazing.

Once I was checked into the hotel, I had about two hours to try to shake off my usual travel headache before I was picked up again for my first event.  I took some time to thoroughly enjoy the view from my balcony overlooking the Nile.  After dark, the Nile river comes alive with activity-  neon trimmed party boats, loud music, and street vendors are everywhere.


My first touristy event was a Nile river dinner cruise, with entertainment.  The food was very good.  I liked the sea bass quite a lot.


The entertainment was a band, then a Tannoura dance show, then a bellydancer.  The Tannoura is vaguely related to the Sufi Whirling Dervishes, and the man never stopped spinning.  Here’s a short clip of the show.

The next morning, I woke up early for my tour of the Giza Necropolis, including the pyramids and the Sphinx.    I also took a quick daytime picture from my balcony.    That tower in the left third of the picture is Cairo Tower, which has an observation deck at the top and a revolving restaurant just below that.  I’ll come back to that later in the post.


I ganked this map of the Giza Necropolis from Wikipedia, because it shows a lot of important detail.  The first thing that I didn’t realize before this trip is that there are more pyramids in Giza than the three big ones that everyone notices.  If you look carefully, there’s three smaller ones next to the Pyramid of Khufu, which is referred to as the Great Pyramid.  There’s also another three smaller pyramids next to the Pyramid of Menkaure, and several other smaller pyramids in the Necropolis.  There are 138 known pyramids throughout Egypt, and a whole bunch of them are right there in Giza.

Also, each of the three largest pyramids is connected to a temple by a causeway.  One of these is still intact today and is visible to the naked eye.  The others are a little harder to spot.


Here’s the Great Pyramid, also known as the Pyramid of Khufu.  This is the largest of the three on the Giza plateau.  The Pyramid of Khufu was the tallest man-made structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889.


On arrival, I sat with my guide Khaled for a few minutes at the base of the Great Pyramid while he discussed the construction and history of the pyramids with me.  This picture is looking straight up the North face of the Great Pyramid.


This photograph is looking back at the city of Giza from the base of the Great Pyramid.    Giza comes very, very close to the pyramids on one side.  The other side is the start of thousands of miles of Sahara Desert.


The Pyramid of Khafre is the only one of the pyramids in Giza to still retain a portion of its limestone casing.  Supposedly, all three of the big pyramids were at one time fully covered in this polished limestone, with gold capstones.    That must have been quite a sight.

Khafre also looks larger than Khufu to the naked eye, but that’s because it’s on a higher elevation.  It is actually smaller in both height and width.


I had the chance to descend into the burial chamber of one of the smaller pyramids next to Khufu.  The attendants were happy to take my picture as I climbed back up.  They’ve mounted handrails into the tunnel because the pathway down is not steps; it’s a ridged wooden plank to give you traction as you climb or descend.    This photograph is only moments before I whanged my head coming out of the entrance:  The Curse of the Pharaohs takes many forms.

You can choose to go into the Great Pyramid, but it’s another 200 Egyptian Pounds (about $30) and I decided that one musty burial chamber was enough for me.


Khaled took me into one of the smaller structures near the pyramids- this was a small structure supposedly built for one of the architects of the pyramids.  Here, Khaled is pointing out the cartouches-  the symbols inside the oval with a crossbar on the left side.


Each cartouche is the name of someone royal.  In most cases, it refers to those who are buried inside the pyramids.  I do not recall which was which here.


Khaled made me do traditional silly tourist pictures with the pyramids, but I steadfastly refused to do a jumping picture.  I’m not a fan of pictures of people jumping in front of landmarks.


One of my options was a camel ride from behind the Pyramid of Menkaure around the outer edge of the Necropolis to the Sphinx.    I’d never been on a camel before, so I was game.  My thoughts are as follows:  1) It’s a damn good thing I brought sunscreen, because this was actually a camel ride in the desert.  2) Camels are not a smooth ride.  It takes a little while to get used to the rhythm.


I think this is how camels say hello.


One of the advantages of taking the camel ride was that I got a really phenomenal view of all the pyramids lined up.   This photograph contains nine pyramids.

From this perspective, the Pyramids of Queens are the three small ones in front, with Menkaure right behind them.  The Pyramid of Khafre is next to the right, and the Pyramid of Khufu is just to the right of that one.  You can also make out three of the smaller pyramids to the right of Khufu.


After about 45 minutes on camel-back, we arrived to the Sphinx.  This is the interior of the Temple of the Sphinx, with very old alabaster flooring.  Supposedly, this temple had a roof at some point.


The Sphinx is missing forehead ornamentation, a beard, and its nose.  I’ve seen the beard in the British Museum in London.  It’s not clear what happened to the forehead ornamentation.  As for the nose, one popular theory says that it was accidentally shot off by French soldiers.  Damn you, Napoleon!


The pyramid over the left shoulder of the Sphinx is the Great Pyramid.    The Great Pyramid is so large that I didn’t see the Sphinx at all until late in the day, despite walking around the other sides of the pyramid.


The Giza Necropolis was the highlight of my Cairo trip, but that didn’t stop me from seeing other things.  I mentioned the Cairo Tower earlier-  this is the front entrance.


Here’s a closer view of the entire tower.


From the viewing platform on the top of Cairo Tower, the views are fairly spectacular.  Here’s one view along the Nile.


Cairo is a very dense city.  It  has an estimated population of 12 million people, and when you include Giza and the remaining surrounding metropolitan area, it has a population of nearly 22 million people.  That’s roughly a fourth of the residents of the entire country.


On a clear day, you can even see the pyramids from Cairo Tower.  On a hazy day, you can still see them- just not clearly.


This is Tahrir Square.  It’s not really square, as far as I can tell. This is where  the most well known protests of the Egyptian revolution took place.


This is an area of the city adjacent to Tahrir Square.  The reddish building is the Egyptian Museum.  I’m not sure what the burnt out building next to it is.


Here’s a closer picture of that burnt out building, taken on my walk to the Egyptian Museum.   There were quite a few burnt out buildings in Cairo, signs of the struggle there over the last few years.


When I was walking to the Egyptian Museum, I walked past four tanks and some barbed wire.  This isn’t a very good picture because I was trying not to be super obvious that I was taking a picture.  My goal here was to attract as little attention from the armed soldiers as possible.  There were a lot of armed soldiers around Cairo, and it was disconcerting.    To get into the museum, or the Cairo Tower, there were security checkpoints with metal detectors.  To get into my hotel, I had to get past the bomb sniffing dog and a metal detector.

I never really felt comfortable or safe while walking around Cairo.  I only felt safe in the touristy areas, behind  the metal detectors.


On my third night in Cairo, I went to the Pyramid Sound & Light Show.  It was somewhat cheesy, but they used lasers on the Great Pyramid, so I liked it.   The whole thing is done from a very comfortable deck overlooking all three pyramids and the Sphinx.


I will close this post with a picture taken from a moving car on my way out to the Pyramid Sound & Light Show-  this was taken just before sunset with an iPhone.  I rather wish I had taken the dSLR out for this part of the evening.


Have you ever been to the Pyramids in Giza?


Budapest, Part I

Chris and Janene, good friends from back in Florida, told me that they were going to be in Budapest, so I timed one of my own trips to spend a few days hanging with them.  They flew in from Florida, and I took the train into Keleti station on the same day.


One of the first things I learned as I arrived in Budapest was that the city is much, much, much larger than I thought it would be.  The next thing I learned is that Budapest is actually made up of two cities- Buda and Pest.  The cities are separated by the Danube river, and were united into one larger city in 1873.

I spent much more time in Pest than I did in Buda.  Keleti Station, seen below, is on the Pest side.  So was my hotel, and many of the other things seen in this post.


There are a large number of photographs in this post, in no particular order,  Starting with the Budapest Opera.


This is one of the stations in the Millennium Underground Railway, or M1.  Built between 1894 and 1896, this is the oldest line in the Budapest Metro, and the second oldest underground metro in the world.  The oldest metro is in the London Underground.


This is Heroes Square.  If you take a good tour, you’ll get a lot of very interesting explanations for each of the statues.


We kept seeing Budapest information staffers-  they were always around to help tourists find their way.  Stylish wheels, too!


This sign was very amusing.  We expect signs to point us to attractions and restrooms, but free Wi-Fi?  Amazing.


Thermal baths are located in various places around the city.  This is the front entrance to Széchenyi Baths.


This is the view inside Széchenyi BathsSzéchenyi is reportedly the largest spa in Europe, with multiple pools and saunas.


This… was some delicious freshly made strudel from the First Strudel House of Pest, just down the street from St. Stephen’s Basilica.  One of them is apple, the other rhubarb.  So, so delicious.


The streets around the Basilica are lined with places to eat.


Here’s a far view of the Buda Castle Funicular, taken from the Chain Bridge.


This is the Chain Bridge, locally named Széchenyi lánchíd.  The large building to the left is the Buda Castle, which has been converted to a museum.


Here’s a close-up of the Funicular I showed earlier.


This is the view from the top of the Funicular, looking back over the Chain Bridge into Pest.


This is another area on the Buda side of the river, Fisherman’s Bastion and lookout terrace.


The Fisherman’s Bastion provides amazing views of the Pest side of the river, including the Hungarian Parliament.


This church at Fisherman’s Bastion is called the Matthias Church.  Several coronations occurred here.  It’s under reconstruction at the moment.


Many religions are represented in Budapest.  On the Pest side of the river is the Dohány Street Synagogue, a Jewish synagogue built in the 1850s with 2,964 seats (1,492 for men and 1,472 for women.)


The most well known of the churches in Budapest is St. Stephen’s Basilica, known locally as Szent István-bazilika.


Yes, you can climb it.


From the top, there’s a pretty fantastic view back toward Buda.


I never did figure out which building this is, but it’s nifty looking.  I thought perhaps it was the Museum of Applied Arts, but they’re not quite the same patterns.


This is the inside of St. Stephen’s Basilica.  We went there for an organ concert.


Here’s the organist, Miklós Teleki.  He was pretty good.


When we left the concert, this is how the Basilica was lit up.  I did absolutely no color processing to this photo- I simply cropped and resized it.  This is how it looked without the camera.


There were lots of interesting statues around Budapest.  The man standing on the bridge is Imre Nagy. Nagy was chosen by the people to become the new Prime Minister during an uprising in 1956. When the Soviet troops invaded he was arrested and executed along with thousands of others.


When we walked past the Hungarian Parliament, we caught a changing of the guard ceremony.  It was very ceremonial, with lots of spinning rifles and whatnot.


When we were at the top of the Funicular, we caught a similar changing of the guard ceremony, but this was a different set of guards.    The dark uniforms above are at the Parliament, while the light brown uniforms seen here are at Buda Castle.


This giant bird is a Turul.  The Turul is considered a divine messenger, and it’s heavily woven into the origin mythology of the Magyar people.  I was looking for this Turul statue because on the train into Budapest, I saw an enormous Turul statue on a mountain near Tatabánya.  It was so large that it was easy to find information about it- it was the last of three giant Turul statues.  It’s the largest bird statue in the world, and the largest bronze statue in Central Europe.

This Turul, sitting in front of Buda Castle, is not nearly so large as the one on the mountain.  It was still pretty big though.


In one of the earlier photos showing the city, you might have noticed a ferris wheel.   This is how it looks at night.


This is how St. Stephen’s Basilica looks from that same ferris wheel during the daytime.


The love locks phenomenon is everywhere.  The “Big Nose Hearts Big Face” one made me laugh.  And the big silver one next to it says “Michu Pich & Laddi Waddie,”  which is kind of great.


I have a difficult time believing they can really transport a patient with this ambulance.


While we were walking toward our evening entertainment, we briefly followed this pair of children.  I couldn’t resist snapping a photograph on the sly, because these two look like the flashback sequence of every buddy comedy movie I’ve ever seen.  In a movie, this night would surely be followed immediately by a “fifteen years later” caption.


Have you ever been to Budapest?  Which side did you prefer, Buda or Pest?