Tag Archives: Travel

What happened to late nights?


Budapest Danube Panorama

A couple of weeks back my wife started suffering with a bit of toothache that started getting a little worst so after an unsuccessful trip to a local dentist we bit the bullet and took a trip into the Big City! Budapest is an incredibly beautiful city and a place that we used to enjoy visiting a lot, however our 3 1/2 years in our rural paradise has turned one of Europes most vibrant, beautiful and interesting cities into a noisy, smelly and sprawling monstrosity. As you can see from the image above, the beauty certainly has certainly not left the city so I guess the changes must be within us, despite both myself and my wife being bought up and living in and around large Towns and Cities for most of our life trips to the big city are now viewed with a sense of trepidation rather than excitement!

St Stephens Basilika Budapest

The major difficulty that we had with our local dentist is that of communication, the English language is rarely spoken in the East of Hungary and even less so in rural communities and although our Hungarian has vastly improved in the time we have spent here we still find it difficult and as neither of us have found a need to converse with a dentist it proved very difficult. However Budapest has a thriving “dental Tourism” market with many dentists catering to British visitors due to the cost of British Dental treatment, so we made an appontment at a dentist recommended by a friend booked our favourite budget hotel and left home a stupid o’clock tohead to the city to get my wifes tooth fixed up, get some Christams shopping done and by chance, catch up with an old friend who was in Budapest on business.
After spending the morning shopping and consuming a cheeky pint in my favourite Budapest pub we went along to the dentist followed by a brief trip to a walk in X-Ray centre, which can only be described as an oddity. The X-Ray place was fairly well hidden and when we went in everyone who worked there seemd to be dressed in “scrubs” and had an average age of 15, boy does that make me sound old! However the process was exceptionally quick and the surroundings whilst sparse were comfortable, clean and modern, I think I did work out why the staff were so young though, the staff took the patient into a room and then zapped them with an xray and stood just the other side of a plain wooden door. The entire process took just 10 minutes and we were out, there was a steady stream of folk coming in to get the teeth X-Rayed and it got me wondering how many of these things they would do each day; hundreds, probably more like thousands… I guess by the time the staff have reached their twenties they have grown an extra arm!

Budapest Christmas Market

The day and shopping done and refreshed after a pitstop at the hotel we headed into the City for a night of food and drink and obligatory photographs, our first target was naturally the Christmas Market, we have incredibly fond memories of the Birmingham Christmas Market in the UK and in comparison the one in Budapest is a little disapointing, the food though is remarkably good and a meat eaters paradise! From the superb array of Hungarian sausages through to whole smoked ham hocks, of course all this needs to be washed down with lashings of Gluhwein and mulled apple cider 😉

Csülök

Of all the scrumptious goodies on offer at the market, the smoked pork knuckles or Csülök (pron: chewlook) pictured above are my absolute favourite, we use them all year round and as well as being cheap and tasty they are incredibly versatile. We ambled around the market munching and drinking and of course taking photographs, I had restricted myself to my 50mm lens as it handles low light situations so much better but had also taken along a flash gun to try and light the shots a little better, I found the focal lenth in the market itself a little restrictive and reinforces how much I would like a fast lens in the 30-35mm range but I do quite like the shots I took, I have posted a selection below but if you click on any of the pictures you will be taken to my website where you can peruse at your leisure.

Christmas Market Food

We then took the short trip from Vorosmarty Ter down to the River and my 50mm really did me proud, I had bought my tripod and set up on the banks of the Danube as I wanted to take some long exposure panoramic shots, it took a while to get used to a much longer focal length but once I had my composition sorted it was a revelation. I had previously used much shorter focal lengths for my panoramas (18-20mm) and always been disapointed with the results, using the longer focal length allows objects much further back in the shot to become prominent like the Matyas Templom behind the Chain Bridge (Lanchid) in the image below or the full panorama at the top of the page. The image sizes when you are processing them are ridiculously large but the results are fantastic and they are images that I am really happy with and because of the file sizes they could easily be printed out at 2 meters wide, infact I am thinking of having the top image printed to go above our bed as the tones match the furniture in the bedroom!

Budapest Christmas Market

All made up we ambled back in the direction of the hotel thinking we would spend a couple of hours in a lively and friendly, though not too loud bar before we headed to bed ready for the journey home the following morning. In the UK both myself and my wife were no strangers to late nights out chatting and drinking and it was a rare night out when we got home before 1am but things seem to have really changed, walking back to the hotel we were discussing our options as to where we were going to set up camp for the evening. I guess country living really has changed us as neither of us were ready for anything other than an early night, the party folk seem to have become the stay at home folk and we were tucked up in bed at our hotel before 10pm…

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Public Art-How do you like yours?


Stockton Infinity Bridge at sunrise

If you read my previous blog you will know that I recently took a trip back to the UK and thought I would take an opportunity to take some photographs of something a little different! Unfortunately due to travel delays, a lack of a Tripod and typically depressing weather I did not spend much time taking photographs however I did stumble upon something that came as somewhat of a surprise.


Temenos by Anish Kapoor

The image at the top of the page is the sort of thing I had planned to photograph whilst I was in the North East and it is the glorious Infinity footbridge in Stockton on Tees, however the marvelous Temenos (above) by Anish Kapoor took my by complete surprise! I have to admit I had no idea what it was at the time and stumbled upon it, if it is possible to stumble upon something that is longer than a Jumbo Jet and taller than Nelsons column, whilst I was taking some photographs of the 100 year old Transporter Bridge in Middlesborough. I have to say I was captivated and took dozens of images of this piece of work it is huge and dominating but in its own way almost delicate in its appearance. Anish Kapoor may not exactly be a household name but he is a tremendous and well known Indian born British sculptor who is arguably most famous for the Chicago Cloud Gate or Chicago Bean (pictured Below).


Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor
© Clio85 | Dreamstime.com

Whilst I was processing my photographs it got me thinking about the role of public art,this piece, Temenos is the largest piece of public art in the UK (for the moment) and will form part of the worlds largest public art project once the other four installations are complete. Naturally something this big and costly is subject to a great deal of criticism, this for me is what Public Art really should be, there should be no ambivalence, there should be no way for it to be ignored. How many times do we amble around the towns and cities that we live in and not really notice what is around us, I guess it is just the “modern” way of being and things need to be loud, proud and brash to be noticed and this wonderful piece will certainly not be passed without you being forced to at least acknowledge its existence if not pass comment.


Temenos by Anish Kapoor

The only thing that is a real shame about this wonderful imposing piece is its location, sandwiched between the riverside Stadium, home of Middlesborough FC and the Transporter Bridge in an area of the city that would not make you feel warm and fuzzy after dark is a terribly shame. The area is apparently up for renewal and should look great eventually however this piece would look amazing perched in front of the town hall in Birmingham City Centre or spanning Trafalgar Square, but no it is hidden in a part of town that only gets visitors when a football match is on! I am sure many would disagree and prefer their “street art” to be a lovely statue of the good and the great of which ever particular town and city that it is positioned in, for me I find that sort of thing lazy it may very well be a fitting tribute but it certainly does nothing to challenge and engage the average passer by.


Temenos by Anish Kapoor

For me Temenos is beautifully proportioned, it fits right into its environment, it is surrounded by huge things like cooling towers, the Riverside Stadium and the wonderful Transporter bridge (below) and in its environment it is the thing that stands the proudest and shouts the loudest and I for one would love to see more of this and less of the lazy public art that swamps the towns and cities of the UK. Anish KapoorA has also been commissioned to produce a work that will dominate the London 2012 Olympic skyline that will no doubt draw more disapproving tuts from the naysayers and to Anish I say well done and more of the same please kind sir… I do however doubt that our little Hungarian backwater will be getting a Kapoor piece at any time in the future.


Middlesborough Transporter Bridge

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The Prodigal Son

As you may have noticed I have not put up a new blog in a couple of weeks, I received a little bit of bad news from the UK about an accident my mother had; she is OK but has two broken wrists to contend with now so I decided to make an overdue trip to visit!


Delayed Again
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It has been three and a half years since I have been to the UK and whilst excited to be catching up with some friends and family I was a little anxious about the journey as I knew that I would miss my wife terribly, however I packed my bag and left home at midday on the 9th of November at arrived at the airport just as planned! From there on in the journey went downhill, I would say rapidly but nothing happened rapidly over the next 6 days! I was sat at Budapest airport and the delays on the departure board just kept on racking up, with a connecting flight to the UK booked for that evening things were not looking good. Well my fears proved to be correct, we landed at Munich and I raced off the plane to find out that, whilst also delayed, my ongoing flight to Birmingham had left 10 minutes before.


Sleepover

As you can see from the image above, I was certainly not the only person left in the unenviable position of having to spend a night on a put me up in the departure lounge of Munich Airport. I should have landed at 22:40 UK time however I was still in a queue at the Lufthansa service desk at 1am Munich Time, eventually I got transferred to a flight the following morning and given 2 €10 vouchers for Mcdonalds, I have spent 3.5 years eating the freshest of produce and wonderful home cooked food and now my dinner for the evening and breakfast was to be the joys of MaccyD’s, joy of Joy. However I was starving so I joined the impossibly long queue and got myself a burger and some drink and returned to the airport hoping to grab me a bed that the fire brigade were delivering, what do you know I was too late for that too… So I spent the night not sleeping perched on a bench reading my Kindle trying not to think about how on earth I was going to plan my onward travel. I got to about 5am and returned to the “M” place for some breakfast before getting into the internet cafe that was due to be opened at 6am, despite my frustration and lack of sleep I even managed to do my civic duty and feed a homeless guy who was sheltering inside the square in front of the airport as it was bloody cold. He approached me for money or cigarettes, having neither I explained in broken German/English that I had a Mcdonalds voucher that I can not get any change from but he was welcome to spend what ever was left over from my breakfast (it turned out to be more than I actually spent), I certainly did not feel quite so generous in a couple of hours time!


Breakfast
© Gualtiero Boffi | Dreamstime.com

I returned to the terminal went to the interweb cafe type thing as I do not have one of the uber-duber phones that take your blood pressure and access the internet, infact our telephone makes phone calls and sends SMS messages and in all reality is only used as an alarm clock to let us know what day we need to take our bins out! I managed to get on Facebook and update a few people on how things were going and essentially moan a lot, I also planned my onward travel based on my new departure time. I passed through customs again managed to get out the duty free shop only to discover that my transfer flight was also delayed due to fog… There was only one thing to do and that was have a beer, it was just after 7am however I had eaten and as far as I was concerned I had not slept and therefore it could not be morning and to early to drink!!! My plane was delayed by 3 half litres of beers and fortunately that enabled me to sleep quite well to my final flight destination of Birmingham. You may think that sounds like a terrible trip but it gets worst, I got to the coach station shwre my trip to the North East was booked only to discover that the next available coach was an hour off, “excellent” I thought, wrangled a bit with the management staff and managed to pursuade them not to charge me for a new ticket, sat down and all of a sudden… You guessed it delayed aghain, another 2 bloody hours. I finally arrived at my my hotel at 22:00 hours a full 35 hours after leaving my tranquil home.

It was great to see friends and family again and was really good to spend time with my Mom although I do wish it was under nicer circumstances and I even managed to take some half decent pictures when I was not at the hospital (which I am sure will appear here in the near future). However the journey was anything but fun, in fact I would go as far as saying it was the most horrendous journey I have ever had to make and to top off the 6 day trip back to the land of my birth I also experienced two delayed flights on my way home although I did manage to reduce the 35 hour journey to 21 hours and managed to split that with an evening chatting with good friends in a pub in Birmingham City Centre!


Breakfast

The good news is that I am back home now, the bad news is I have spent all of our money as someone seemed to have doubled the cost of everything since I was last in the UK over three years ago! So now I am putting my feet up with a glass of home brewed wine hoping for snow, because when the snow comes even if I tempted to go away again I cannot 😉

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