Posts Tagged ‘church’

First Sight Out of the Subway: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

Since we would have been transferring at the Notre Dame metro stop anyway, we decided to get out and check it out — how couldn’t we, really?

The outside looked just as I’d expected it to, though its clean, light stone makes it look like a much newer building than it is. The stone carvings are wonderfully intricate, but since they’re all in one color, very symmetrical and very formal, Notre Dame looks quite restrained compared to a lot of other Cathedrals I’ve been to.

Once inside, the place is light and airy, with extremely high vaulted ceilings, some very impressive stained glass and towering stone support columns. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt there. I usually find Catholic churches quite scary — they can be so dark and have so many wounded and bleeding icons that I find it hard to relax and really enjoy what I’m seeing. Thankfully, there was no gore here, and a surprisingly lax policy about letting visitors wander about while a service was going on, which was a little odd, but nice that we weren’t shooed away.

We wanted to climb the towers, but the line was very long, so we decided to move on, but not before walking around the whole building and getting a view of all the flying buttresses and rose windows.

Notre Dame Cathedral Interior

Our Last Day in Budapest

Saint Stephens Cathedral, BudapestOn our last day in Budapest, Evan and I tried to accomplish items #2 and #3 on our list, so we went down to Saint Stephen’s Cathedral (photo taken in July when I visited the first time), and we tried to get a ticket to climb the towers, but it turns out that that’s a warm weather activity — it’s closed until April. We went into the church briefly, but we couldn’t go into the room with St. Stephen’s desiccated hand, either.

Later that night, we had a reservation at Taj Mahal, which was great as usual. I know, not terribly Hungarian to spend our last night at an Indian restaurant, but it’s really delicious.

And we got one more kurtos kalacs in the afternoon. Couldn’t leave without having our favorite winter treat one more time!

Only One Week Left in Budapest

This trip has gone by fast! I’ll be heading home to California after this week, though I’m off to London in the new year, so the travels shall continue.

This weekend has been pretty relaxing. We did a lot of holiday shopping and hanging out at home playing Scrabulous (if you’re up for a game, let me know, I’m sort of obsessed). We’re also thinking about all the things we’ll need to do before we leave. No, not packing, but all the things we haven’t gotten around to seeing or doing, or the things we like so much we want to do one last time. Our list:

  1. Go to the Gellert baths. I went there over the summer with Cybelle, but most of the complex was closed, including the main pool, which is supposed to be the nicest. Evan hasn’t even been at all.
  2. Climb to the top of St. Stephen’s cathedral. I’ve been inside, but haven’t seen the view. It’s supposed to be interesting and different from the views you normally get from the hilly Buda side because, well, it’s in Pest.
  3. Eat at Taj Mahal, our favorite Indian restaurant here. The food is great, there are lots of veggie options, and though none of the employees — or at least not the waitresses — are Indian, they still manage to look absolutely fantastic in their saris. Great place.
  4. Eat at Cafe Bouchon. ‘Nuf said, right? We even stopped in there just to warm up with soup on Saturday afternoon since it was really cold outside. We had some more celery soup with carrot chips. Mmmm.
  5. Have one last group dinner. Gotta show off my cooking skills! Just kidding. We’ve just been meaning to do it for a while — a real dinner this time, not just latkes.

Anything else we’re forgetting? I’ll put up a list of all the things we have done soon.

Vienna: Saint Stephen’s Church

Vienna: Saint Stephen’s Church

We arrived in Vienna after a three-hour train ride from Budapest and headed straight for the middle of the city–our hotel was in the Innere Stadt. Stop number one after dropping off our bags was Saint Stephen’s Church, a massive gothic church that’s even more striking and spooky looking because of its mostly charred exterior (there was a big fire there in 1945, I believe).

We went inside, and took a look around the dimly lit interior with its tall columns and vaulted ceilings. Apparently in the crypt, which we didn’t visit, are the organs of all the Hapsburgs (they liked to be dismembered when they died).

There was a huge line of people trying to get in and it was crowded inside, so we didn’t stay long. And since it was so dark, none of our indoor pics turned out great, but you can see all the pictures on Evan’s site in the Vienna gallery.

And one other note on taking the train over–I’ve never really traveled anywhere by train. I went from NYC to DC in the spring and slept most of the way, and I was just in a standard car that felt more like a bus than anything else. Anyway, on our trip, we got a whole little six-person compartment to ourselves. It felt like we were going to Hogwarts! Boy, am I a nerd or what? The first thing I thought of while sitting in a train compartment was Harry Potter…