Look back at 2013 – travel blog


Happy New Year!

A look back at 2013…take a look below at what was covered in 2013 and sign up so you don’t miss any new posts in 2014!


Four part travel series on BUDAPEST, Hungary:

Tips for how to get around Budapest using public transportation

Day itinerary that includes the major sights including the Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, Castle Hill and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Day itinerary highlighting the famous Parliament building.

Day itinerary with lunch at Gundel restaurant and a look at the elaborate Szechenyi thermal baths.

Plus a fun post about ingenious Hungarians and what they discovered or created


TURIN, ITALY – Four part travel series on TURIN, Italy a beautiful Italian city that is off-the-beaten-path but a wonderful trip!

Travel tips on how to get to Turin with special info on the super fast “LeFrecce” train.

What to see and the main sights in Turin

Visiting the CAR MUSEUM – great for kids too!

Learn about the high end Italian food market, EATALY


DOYLESTOWN, PA – visiting Fonthill Castle and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

SAN FRANCISCO – special post with tips on riding those famous cable cars


-MILAN, Italy – New travel post and tips on what to see and do in MILAN’s canal district – click for part one of a two part series


BRESCIA, Italy – a must do trip for architecture and art history enthusiasts. Click for part one of a two part series.


FASHION – click to visit my newest blog with chic travel outfits and fashion collages on travelchicbythemonica


*Enjoy! And keep an eye on the blog for new posts or sign up so you don’t miss a new trip and fun facts about new destinations!

Innovative and ingenious Hungarians!


The innovations of the Hungarians


The innovative and ingenious Hungarians!

The Hungarian people are incredibly innovative, having created and discovered many things that you might not even realize! Below is a brief list of some of those incredible feats and inventions by the Hungarian people:

Ballpoint pen – invented by Laszlo Biro a newspaper editor

-Rubik’s Cube – invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian professor of architecture and a sculptor

Plasma television – invented in 1936 by Kalman Tihanyi, who also invented the thermographic camera (1929) and the modern cathode ray tube (1928)

Vitamin C – discovered by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who also created the first artificial vitamin

-Telephone exchange/switch board – invented in 1877 by Tivadar Puskas

Transportation – Budapest tram lines are one of the busiest traditional tram lines in the world and the metro (yellow line) was built in 1896, making it one of the oldest in the world after London’s metro which was built in 1863. (New York City’s underground subways opened in 1904).

The funicular in Budapest that goes up the Buda Castle, was the second in all of Europe, the only other one at the time in the 1870’s was in Lyon!

Wagon/Coach – the English word for wagon/coach comes from the Hungarian word “kocsi” based on “Kocs” which is the Hungarian village where coaches were first made!


See more photographs of Budapest, Hungary by clicking here for Monica Goslin Photograph.

Also to read more about what to see and do in Budapest go back a few posts and read more about Budapest!


Budapest – suggested day 3 itinerary


Day 3 – suggested day itinerary in Budapest

This day itinerary takes you to Budapest City Park, a famous restaurant, beautiful baths, shopping tips, and where to buy tickets for a cruise down the Danube river.

To see more photographs of Budapest, Hungary click here for Monica Goslin Photography


1 – Heroes’ Square and more

Heroes’ Square lies at the end of Andrassy Avenue, is flanked by two art museums and has City Park behind it. The central area of Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Memorial/Monument with statues of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century along with other historical figures. The square was completed in 1900 and was rebuilt after suffering damage in World War Two. The monument at Heroes’ Square is dedicated to those who lost their lives for national independence.

The Museum of Fine Art is located on Heroes’ Square and holds a collection of international art and is worth a visit for art lovers. Across from the Fine Art Museum is the Palace of Art (Kunsthalle Budapest), which is a contemporary art museum.

Visit the Museum of Fine Art Budapest website to see what the special exhibitions are and for updated admissions prices.


2 – Lunch at Gundel – allow for a few hours for full experience

Gundel is a famous restaurant in Budapest City Park (next to the zoo). The Gundel restaurant was started in 1910 by Karoly Gundel and his son, Janos, it soon became recognized and well-known after catering for the Hungarian party at the New York City 1939 World’s Fair. The large restaurant is popular with tour groups but you can go in small groups and enjoy an elaborate and delicious meal. The signature dish of the Gundel restaurant is their desert crepe made with a filling made of walnuts, rum, raisins, lemon zest and served with chocolate. The main courses are brought out under silver dish covers and dramatically unveiled by the waiters who clearly enjoy their jobs. The entire experience of eating at the Gundel restaurant is very fun and I would say a must!

Fun Note: The symbol of the Gundel Restaurant is a very cute pair of elephants. You can buy items at the Gundel Restaurant gift store, and if you are looking for a fun father’s day gift I recommend a tie with elephants!

Visit the official Gundel Restaurant website in English to read more about the history of the restaurant, see the menus, and more!


3 –Szechenyi thermal baths –you can step into the entrance and get a peak at the main pools and an idea of how grandiose this bath and spa is. The front entrance is very elaborate with frescos and statues, while the side entrance gives you a view of the pools.

Szechenyi thermal baths is a beautiful neo-Baroque style building located in Budapest City Park and it is the largest medicinal bath in Europe with water supplied by two thermal springs. The bath was constructed between 1909 and 1913, it was expanded later in 1927. The baths are named after Count Istvan Szechenyi, a politician and writer. The Szechenyi thermal bath complex has 15 indoor pools and three outdoor pools.

To read more about the Szechenyi thermal baths and to find out about hours and ticket prices, visit the official website.


4 – Metro to Great Synagogue – Dohany Street

The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, in Budapest is the largest in Europe and the 5th largest in the world, able to seat three thousand people. The Great Synagogue was built in the 1850’s in the Moorish style. The Synagogue was damaged during World War II and restored between 1991-98. The complex actually includes the Synagogue, Heroes Temple (memorial to Hungarian Jews who gave their lives during World War I), graveyard, Jewish Museum and the Holocaust memorial (a beautiful metal weeping willow with individual leaves engraved with names).

Visit the official website of the Great Synagogue in Budapest for more information, in both Hungarian and English.

*Interesting Note: The Central Synagogue in New York City on Lexington Avenue and 54th Street is similar in architecture to that of the Great Synagogue in Budapest, almost an exact-copy.


5 – Fashion street – Deak Ferenc St

Deak Ferenc Street and the surrounding area is great for shopping, both international brands and local brands. Also in the fashion/shopping district of Budapest are some interesting buildings and beautiful architecture.

Insider Travel Note: If you are looking to buy high quality Hungarian traditional items like pottery and embroidery visit the Folkart Craftsman’s House on the corner of Vaci and Regiposta streets. The store is very well organized and full of pottery, traditional embroidery and more. The folkart store is open Monday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday-Sunday 10-3. For more information on this wonderful store with traditional Hungarian items for sale, visit the website by clicking here.


6 – And lastly one of the “must-do” items in Budapest is to take a boat down the Danube, which you can do during the day or at night to see the lights. To get a boat, either a dinner cruise or just a ride up and down the Danube go to Pier 7 which is a ways down from the Chain Bridge. There is a small building right on the water walkway (across from the Vigado Concert Hall, on the other side of the tram tracks and across the streets).  Prices vary according to the length of the boat ride and if you want dinner to be included.


Budapest – suggested day 2 itinerary


Day 2 – suggested day itinerary in Budapest

This day itinerary for Budapest includes a visit to Parliament, a few museum suggestions, shopping, and the Opera House.

To see more photographs of Budapest, Hungary including the Parliament building and more, click here for Monica Goslin Photography


1 – Parliament in Budapest

The Parliament building in Budapest is remarkable in size and stunning in architecture. The Parliament building dominates the river skyline. Construction of the Parliament building in Budapest started in 1885 and was completed in 1904; the architect Imre Steindl who sadly went blind before the completion of building designed it. The Budapest Parliament is designed in the Gothic Revival style and has a symmetrical façade which extends into the interior, so there are two identical parliament halls, one is now used for guided tours and the other for government offices and meetings. There are over 600 rooms in the Parliament buildings, including over 200 offices, 29 staircases, 10 courtyards, and 13 elevators; plus there are over 240 sculptures outside and inside the building.

The guided tours of Parliament in Budapest take you up the main staircase, to see the Holy Crown of Hungary and the dome, and through some hallways to an assembly hall. When visiting Budapest, I would say having a guided tour of Parliament is a must because the building is absolutely stunning and not something you will forget. There are so many details, so many paintings, patterns, and artistry in the Parliament building to appreciate!

*Tours only for Parliament –Get there early to stand in line to right of parking lot. Bring your passport to show the guard. One person from each group goes in to arrange the tour time – each tour is based on a different language group (English, German, Spanish are common languages). If you won’t make the specific language tour, just join any group so you can see the building! Tours last about one hour.

-Fun Fact- The story of the Holy Crown of Hungary – The crown of Saint Stephens was the coronation crown, and used to coronate more than fifty kings. It is unclear when the crown was created, but it is suspected to date back to the 11th century! A notable feature of the crown is the slanted cross which is likely to have been added to the crown in the 16th century and is thought to have bent when placed in a box with a lid that was not tall enough. The tour guide will tell you that no one wanted to fix the crown, fearful of damaging it further. The Holy Crown of Hungary has been on display in the Hungarian Parliament building in the central Domed Hall since 2000 and is under constant watch by two guards.


2 – Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum is across from Parliament and houses exhibitions of Hungarian traditional costumes, pottery, jewelry, textiles and more. It is an excellent museum that I highly recommend if you are interested in cultural artifacts and folk culture. Plus the Ethnographic Museum in Budapest has a wonderful museum store!

Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10-6 (closed Mondays) and tickets cost 1400 HUF (price as of summer 2012).


3 – Suggestion of coffee at House of Hungarian Art Nouveau museum café – located on Honved Street near Szabadsaf ter plaza. This is a funny little “museum” that feels more like a store, crowded with art nouveau furniture, artwork, jewelry, and even more amusing is that items are for sale! If you like Art Nouveau architecture and art, this is fun stop to make and the little café has good coffee and fresh snacks which you can eat at mismatched tables and chairs decorated with old postcards, giving the feel of an Alice and Wonderland set. If you visit the museum it is 1,500 HUF (prices as of summer 2012) for a ticket and the hours are Monday to Saturday 10-5, closed Sunday (hours are for the café as well).


4 – Walk through Szabadsag ter park – note the fountain at one end of the park. The fountain is flat and imbedded in the sidewalk and while it looks like a box outline of water, if you approach the wall of water a section in front of you drops down and you can enter the box!


5 – Walk down Sas St and turn when you see St. Stephen’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic basilica named in honor of Stephen I of Hungary, the first King of Hungary. St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the tallest buildings in Budapest (96 meters or 315 feet) and took 54 years to construct (completed in 1905) and it is the largest church in Budapest as well, seating about 8500 people. In fact, to this day there is a building regulations law in Budapest, that a building cannot be taller then 96 meters. The basilica is beautifully decorated inside with marble floors and columns, painted ceilings and a large cupola.

*Note-You can go into St. Stephen’s Basilica during services, but stay at the back.


6 – Andrassy Avenue – locals refer to as the Champs Elysees of Budapest

The Andrassy Avenue is a long street in Budapest that links Erzsebet Square with Varosliget (park with Heroes’ Square) and was constructed in the 1870’s. The avenue is lined with mansions and grand buildings, including the Opera house, and beneath this grand avenue is the first underground railway line constructed on the Continent in 1896 making it the second oldest in the world after London’s metro which was built in 1863.

*Get to by walking behind St. Stephen’s, turn right and walk one block to Andrassy Way


7 – Hungarian State Opera house on Andrassy Avenue

The Opera House in Budapest is the largest Opera building in Hungary. The Opera House was completed in 1884, it was renovated in the 1980’s and reopened on September 27, 1984 which was 100 years after the original opening. The horseshoe shape of the theater was ingeniously engineered and said to have the third best acoustics in Europe after La Scala Opera House in Milan and Palais Garnier in Paris! Andrassy Avenue was named a World Heritage Site in   2002. The Opera season in Budapest runs from September to June, however if you miss the season you can go on a guided tour, which is offered in six languages! The Opera house also houses the Hungarian National Ballet.

–      Guided tours for the Opera House in Budapest are at 3 and 4pm; tickets can be purchased at the Opera shop on the right hand side of the building (it is suggested that you buy tickets for the next day).


Budapest – suggested day 1 itinerary


Day 1 in Budapest, Hungary

-Suggested day itinerary for Budapest. If you don’t have many days in Budapest and you want to see the main sites follow this one-day itinerary to see the Chain Bridge and the Castle Hill area.

To see photographs of Budapest, Hungary click here for photos by Monica Goslin that are available as prints.

>> Plus for a travel outfit suggestion, for what to wear in Budapest, click here for blog by Monica Goslin that combines fashion, travel, and design for travelchicbythemonica


1 – Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge in Budapest has a lot of history; it was the first permanent bridge across the Danube River in Budapest when it opened in 1849. The Chain Bridge was designed by William Tierney Clark, an English engineer; in fact the bridge was designed in sections and shipped from the England to Hungary where it was assembled! William Tierney Clarke also designed the suspension bridge over the Thames River in Marlow, England and there is a plaque on the Pest side of the bridge, commemorating the Chain Bridge as one of two surviving bridge designed by Clark. The Chain Bridge was severely damaged during World War II; and it had to be repaired, reopening in 1949. You can walk across the Chain Bridge, there is a sidewalk on both sides allotted just for pedestrians and safe from traffic, where you will have some of the best views of Budapest!

To read more about the history of the Chain Bridge in Budapest click here.


2 –  Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest across the street from the Chain Bridge. The Gresham Palace is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau architecture with flower details and mosaics on the façade and an elaborate interior, with swirling patterns on the polished floors, stained glass windows, and wrought iron gates. The palace was built in the 1900’s and passed through many stages from being home, office, apartments, and finally bought by the Four Seasons hotel company in 2001.

Visit the official Four Seasons Budapest hotel website here.


3 -Funicular up to the Palace – The funicular up to Castle hill in Budapest was originally built in 1868, opened to the public in 1870, was completely destroyed in World War Two and rebuilt and opened again in 1986. There are two pedestrian bridges that cross above the railway tracks, which are a unique feature.  * Ticket Price for the funicular ride in Budapest: one-way ride is HUF 900  (price as of summer 2012).

Fun Fact – The funicular in Budapest was the second in all of Europe, the only other one at the time in the 1870’s was in Lyon, France!


4 – Matthias Church

Matthias Church was built in the late 14th century in late Gothic style. The church is officially named the Church of Our Lady but is more often referred to as the Matthias Church after the 15th century King Matthias. The church was the site of many coronations and where King Matthias’ two weddings took place. During the 158 years of Turkish occupation of Hungary, the Matthias Church became Budapest’s main mosque and frescos were covered and interior furnishings removed. After the fall of the Turkish occupation, the church was restored to the Baroque style but only regained its full grandeur at the end of the 19th century under architect Frigyes Schulek. The extensive restoration in the 19th century also added a few new elements, which have now become iconic to the church, such as the diamond pattern colored roof tiles. There are many details inside Matthias Church, with every inch of the walls and ceilings painted in colorful patterns and covered in beautiful murals, it is certainly a wonderful site to visit!

*Fun Insider’s Note: The Matthias Church bells can be heard at noon.

You do need to buy a ticket to enter the church, the museum, and the Fisherman’s Bastion. The Matthias Church is actually undergoing extensive renovations now as well, from improved lighting to cleaning murals, to repairing stained-glass windows.

Opening Hours for Tourists for Matthias Church:   Weekdays 9-5….Saturday 9-1…Sunday 1-5

Read more about the history of Matthias Church by clicking here for the official website (the website is available in English, German, and Hungarian.


5 – The Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace and walkway built between 1895 and 1902, around the Matthias Church on Castle Hill in Budapest. The name is due to the fishermen who defended the city walls in this area in the Middle Ages and the seven towers represent the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century. The neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style of the Fisherman’s Bastion gives it a sandcastle like look and a fairytale book addition to the Castle Hill area.

*Stephen I of Hungary – statue of man on a horse – was the first King of Hungary from 1000-1038 and regarded as the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary.


Where to eat on Castle Hill in Budapest:

Do stop for lunch in one of the various cafes on the side streets and have a typical Hungarian meal. I recommend the Pest-Buda restaurant or café which actually has two locations right down the street from Matthias Church on Fortuna U. street.  Or try the Pierrot Café and Restaurant located away from the mass of tourists at 14 Fortuna street.


6 – Buda Castle and Castle Hill

The Buda Castle and Castle Hill area is a large area with some main sites to see. Buda Castle or Royal Palace history dates back to the late 13th century with numerous reconstruction periods and many key elements redesigned and reconstructed during the 18th century. However in the 1950’s the palace was completely gutted inside and many exterior details were demolished and the remaining facades were simplified. Buda Castle became a home to three museums and the National Library in the 1980’s.


To get to the next destination – walk or take the funi down followed by a tram ride along the river to Gellert Baths and Hotel – tram 47 or 49 from the Deak Ferenc ter or tram 19 from Margaret Bridge

7 – The Gellert Hotel and baths is one of the most recognized baths in Budapest, built in the early 20th century in the Art Nouveau style. You can enter the main entrance and get a glimpse of the main hall and baths and pools on either side. The thermal baths receive water from the Gellert hill’s mineral hot springs.


Budapest, Hungary blog travel series


Budapest, Hungary blog travel series

This is part one of a five part travel blog series on Budapest, Hungary. I have been to Budapest twice and each time I went back to the main sights and on my last trip I discovered some new places to visit. Read this post for some transportation tips and stayed tuned for a new post on Budapest every week in February 2013!


Getting around in Budapest

Budapest, Hungary has an extensive public transportation system with buses, trams, metro and trains all of which are easy to use. In fact the Budapest tram lines are one of the busiest traditional tram lines in the world and the metro (yellow line) was built in 1896, making it one of the oldest in the world after London’s metro which was built in 1863. (New York City’s underground subways opened in 1904).

Most of the main sites to see in Budapest are within walking distance of each other, however if you go to City Park, I recommend taking the metro. When riding the metro or trams in Budapest you can buy one way tickets at ticket booths or newsstands and make sure to stamp you ticket (small red boxes by metro and tram stops) before getting on the train as tickets are often checked.

Also when riding the metro in Budapest pay attention to when your stop is and exit the metro car quickly – I noticed that the metro doors in Budapest are only open for about 10-20 seconds!


*Insider Travel Tip for visiting Museums and Sites in Budapest – When buying tickets for museums and sites in Budapest you can buy a photography ticket, which allows you to take photographs within these sites.


For photographs of Budapest, Hungary click here for stock photography by Monica Goslin, and you can also buy prints!