Wednesday, May 13, 2009

World Travelers!

We had a very exciting moment this weekend - we booked our first trip to Europe! Neither Eric nor I have ever been overseas. The only times we have left the country have been to go the Cayman Islands (many times), and the Bahamas (for one college spring break). Usually we're total beach bums on our vacations (which you probably figured out by my very short list of countries we have visited), so this will be a real change of pace for us! Lots to do, lots to see!

We have been wanting to visit Europe for quite some time now, but the aforementioned beach-bum-ness has held us back. I think we just really needed a concrete reason to make it happen. The impetus for this trip was my cousin Jacob's upcoming nuptials. Jacob has lived in Hungary for quite some time now, and during his stay, he fell in love with a lovely Hungarian girl named Zita. They will be tying the knot on July 11, and we're going to be in attendance! I haven't met Zita yet, but am excited about that. Just another thing to look forward to!

So, Eric and I decided not only to attend the wedding but also to make a longer trip of it. We weren't sure where else we wanted to go, until we attended the Scottish Tartan Parade last month. Some of the marchers handed out fliers about winning a golfing trip to Scotland. That piqued Eric's interest, so he started looking into it. I have always wanted to visit Scotland, so I was on board.

We have spent the last month researching cities and accommodations in Scotland, as well as going back and forth with my mom and sister about the Hungarian leg of our trip. This is what we have finally come up with:

We will be accompanying Mom, Heather and my Uncle Peter (Jacob's dad) for the first portion of the vacation. They're flying into NYC before going on to Hungary, and we're going to be on their flight to Budapest! We will fly out at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7th. It will certainly be the longest flight we have ever been on. We will arrive in Budapest around 11:30 a.m. (Hungary time) on Wednesday, July 8th. We're all going to be staying in the Best Western Premier Parliament Hotel, which apparently is very close to many of the attractions we will want to see.

***NOTE: Obviously, we have not yet been to these places, so the photos in this post are not ones we have taken ourselves. I will post a link to each of the locations I mention, and unless otherwise noted, the photographs following come from the location link - in case you want to check out the source for yourself!

The Hotel

A sample room at the hotel

We're still working out the details of what all we want to see in Budapest. We're even considering an evening cruise on the Danube. Despite not having all these details nailed down yet, I'm pretty psyched. Judging by the pictures below, it will be gorgeous. Credit for the following pictures goes to my cousin Molly (Jacob's sister) and Aunt Debbie (Jacob's Mom). They visited Jacob and Zita last summer, and these pictures are from their trip. (Hope you ladies don't mind me stealing your photos!)


St. Stephen's Basilica

Chain Bridge

View from the top of Gellert Hill (I think). Molly's photo captions tell me this photo includes the Chain Bridge, Margaret Bridge, Margaret Island, Parliament and the Danube. Wow!

We will stay in Budapest until Friday, July 10th before moving on to Györ, which is about an hour outside of Budapest, if I understand correctly. Györ is where Zita is from, and where the wedding will be held. I can't wait for that part! I love weddings to begin with, so I'm extra excited about a wedding in a foreign country. This is going to be awesome. And I'm so happy for Jacob and Zita!

The groom and bride
(photo stolen from Molly)

In Györ, we will be staying at the Amstel Hyattu Inn. The wedding will take place on Saturday, July 11th. We will stay in Györ until Sunday the 12th.

The Inn

Sample room at the Inn...doesn't it look so homey?

After leaving Györ, we will part ways with the rest of my family and Eric and I will continue on our own. We will return to Budapest to catch a flight to Glasgow, Scotland. We won't be spending any time in Glasgow, however. From Glasgow, we will take the train (and a bus) to St. Andrews. There we will be staying in a bed and breakfast called Six Murray Park.

The front of Six Murray Park

Sample room at the B&B. Isn't the wallpaper adorable?

Sunday (the 12th) will basically be taken up with travel. We will probably arrive in St. Andrews, grab some dinner, then call it a night because...the next morning, Eric is going to try to play golf at the world-famous Old Course. To do so, he has to get there EARLY in the morning to see if they can fit him in as a single. Hopefully he will be successful!

The Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course
(photo from here)

While Eric golfs, I will 1) sleep, and then 2) explore. I will wander the town, check out the beach, whatever my little Scottish heart desires. When he finishes, we'll meet for lunch and then do some more exploring together. On Tuesday (July 14th), Eric will play golf again, this time at Kingsbarns Golf Links. This time, I will walk with him while he plays, because the course is supposed to be one of the most scenic in the world. Take a look at this sample:

The 18th Hole

Isn't that beautiful? So, I'll be the designated cheering section/photographer/scenery-enjoyer. After that round of golf we'll grab lunch, then catch the bus/train to Edinburgh, which will be our home base for the rest of the trip. In Edinburgh, we'll be staying at the MacDonald Roxburghe Hotel. It is located in New Town (which is a funny name to me, because although it's called "New Town," it was built in the 1700s), and is walking distance from all the major attractions we want to see. We're still working out a plan of attack for Edinburgh, but we have some good ideas of what we would like to see.

The obvious attraction we'll be making a stop at is Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle
(photo from here)

We have tons of other things we want to do and see in Edinburgh, including climbing Calton Hill, wandering through the Princes Street Gardens, visiting cathedrals, taking a ghost tour, sampling Scottish fare, and visiting a whiskey distillery (hopefully with samples). Another thing I really want to see is the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a notoriously loyal dog who continued to guard the grave of his master in Greyfriars Kirk (church) for 14 years after the master passed away. Now there is a statue of this little dog at the church! Awww.

Greyfriars Bobby statue
(photo from here)

In addition to all of our planned activities in Edinburgh, we're planning to take one or two day trips. We would like to visit Stirling, to see Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument.

Stirling Castle

Wallace Monument

We would also like to make a trip to North Berwick. This would give Eric another opportunity to golf, this time at the North Berwick Golf Club, and I could explore yet another adorable seaside town. There is also yet another castle nearby (Tantallon Castle) and another high peak (North Berwick Law) for us to climb for beautiful views.

A shot from the North Berwick Golf Club
(photo from here)

Tantallon Castle

View from the top of Berwick Law

Even though the pictures above are beautiful, this is the photo that made me want to visit North Berwick.
Is this not the most adorable little pharmacy you have ever seen?
(photo from here)

Somehow, we'll have to fit everything we want to do in Edinburgh plus our desired day trips into three full days. Hopefully we'll have some time in the evening when we arrive on Tuesday the 14th, as well. We will be in Edinburgh until Saturday, July 18th, when we will catch our flight back to NYC. I'm already sad to leave!

In case you can't tell, I'm so unbelievably excited about this trip. I cannot wait to visit these places and see these sights. I can't wait to have new stamps in my passport and new memories with Eric. Now, we'll just have to hope the next two months pass quickly!

1 comment:

Dad said...

Turas math dhut/dhuibh!

Don't ask me to pronounce it but that is Scots gaelic for safe journey. I am so excited for you both to go both to Hungary, and to the land of the grandest, most friendly people I have ever met. Keep your eyes open for those small towns of our family on your travels. See you this weekend!!!