Sunday, 29 May 2016

Omaha Beach Memorial Day tribute 2016

In the past I've often shared photographs of our Sunday beach walks taken down at Vierville sur Mer or Colleville sur Mer.
A pair of small coastal villages with views across the Channel to England on the opposite shore.
What some of you may not know is that together these beaches are also known as Omaha beach.

Today we celebrate la Fête des Mères in France and Memorial Day in the US
with a visit to the 172 acre American Cemetery situated high on the cliff above Omaha Beach.
The final resting place of 9387 Americans.
The natural footpath that leads away from the dunes is strewn with wildflowers.

As we left the beach we decided on the spur of the moment to visit the cemetery to pay our respects on this auspicious day.

What we didn't realise was that the Memorial Day ceremony organised by the American Battle Monuments Commission was taking place.
We joined the hundreds of visitors from around the world, mainly from the US, Germany, UK, Belgium and France, to listen to the speeches and the benediction before the wreath laying ceremony began.

You might find this article posted on the website interesting, I know I did.
Why a Walk Along the Beaches of Normandy is the Ideal Way to Remember D Day
I learned so much more about the events of that time despite having lived here for almost 20 years.

I'm afraid the quality of the photographs isn't brilliant, I was standing at the very back of the crowd and only had my point and shoot camera with me today.

Joining Judith @ Lavender Cottage
for Mosaic Monday

and the gang over @
Our World Tuesday

Monday, 23 May 2016

Budapest's Great Market Hall - foodie heaven

We chose the Marriott Millennium Court Apartments as our base whilst in Budapest.
Centrally located just around the corner from Váci utca
a lively pedestrianised shopping street
 brimming over with boutiques, souvenir shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Budapest's Great Market hall sits at one end of Váci utca, close to the Freedom Bridge 
 and that's where we headed to begin our Cultural Culinary Tour with local tour guide Gabriella.

 I hope you're wearing comfortable walking shoes, we don't want anyone falling over today.
The Great Market Hall was built in the late 1890's,
 sadly neglected since the 1950's
it was completely restored to it's former glory in the '90's.
There are three levels.
The basement is where the butcher shops, fish market
and wonderful spicy, pickled vegetables stalls are located.
The stalls on the ground floor are laden with fruit and vegetables or garlic and paprika.
This is also where you'll discover delicious pastries, Hungarian Pick salami
 and luxurious caviar.
Gabriella introduced us to several stall owners and bought local delicacies for us to taste.
In the photo below Gabriella and I are enjoying a delicious strudel
whilst the man inside the kitchen behind us
stretches and rolls delicate pastry ready for the next batch. 

On the second floor are the souvenir stalls and restaurants offering freshly cooked food
such as Hungarian Goulash soup and Budapest's favourite street food lángos.
 "Lángos is a deep fried flat bread made of a dough with flour, yeast, salt and water Lángos can be made with yoghurt, sour cream or milk instead of water, a dash of sugar along with salt and sometimes with flour and boiled mashed potatoes, which is called potato lángos. It is eaten fresh and warm, topped with sour cream and grated cheese, garlic or garlic butter, or doused with garlic water. Lángos can be cooked at home or bought at markets and street vendors around the country. The name comes from 'láng', the Hungarian word for flame.
 Traditionally, lángos was baked in the front of a brick oven, close to the flames. It was made from bread dough and was served as breakfast on days when new bread was baked. Nowadays, lángos is deep fried in oil."
Thanks to
for this explanation and recipe for

After all that walking, eating, shopping and tasting a small glass of
 Hungary's national drink - Unicum was in order.
Enjoyed (?) as either a digistif or apéritif Unicum is made to a secret formula
and contains more than 40 different herbs.
Like other herbal liquers such as Jägermeister or Underberg it's an acquired taste
and just between you and me I'd be happy never to drink it again!

Michael  Lee @Rattlebridge Farm for
Foodie Friday and Everything Else


Travel Notes & Beyond

Thursday, 19 May 2016

culture club - Budapest Opera House

Getting around Budapest is extremely easy
it's a great city to walk around but you have to watch where you're going.
We had only been there a few hours before yours truly tripped and fell flat on her face
 in a very busy public square.
So embarrassing.
Luckily I didn't break anything
 although I did develop a beautiful black eye and swollen knee a little while later.
It didn't slow us down though or stop us from doing all that we had planned.

As over 65's visiting from another EU country the SP and I could travel free on all public transport and we had no qualms about heading to the Metro station and boarding a train to here.

One of my favourite places to visit during our stay,
 the Hungarian State Opera House.
Originally the Hungarian Royal Opera House
 it was designed in the neo- Renaissance style by Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl.
Funded by the city of Budapest and by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary,
 it opened in 1884.

waiting for the tour to begin

The beautifully gilded horseshoe shaped auditorium seats 1200 people.
The acoustics are said to be amongst the finest in Europe.

One of the reception rooms where the great and the good of Budapest
gather before and between performances.
The walls, doors and cornices are all handmade from richly carved wood. 

The stunning central vaulted staircase
where we enjoyed a short concert before the tour concluded. 
Interestingly whilst the columns are made from pink marble the walls are not.
They are faux, made from a materiel intended to replicate the marble.
Whilst the columns are cold to the touch the walls are warm.
Our guide revealed that this is the only way to tell the difference!
Then it was back to the Metro - this is our stop.

Come back soon for more culture and some foodie treats - Hungarian style.

Linking this post to the following travel inspired blogs

 Ruth @ Tanama Tales
Travel Photo Thursday

Anda @ Travel Notes and Beyond
 Travel Notes & Beyond

Jen @ Pierced Wonderings
Pierced Wonderings

Rhonda @ Albom Adventures
Weekend Travel Inspiration
weekend travel inspiration

Saturday, 14 May 2016

City break - Budapest - as seen from the water

After the trauma of the chimney fire it was good to get away from everything
for a few days doing all sorts of touristy things in Budapest.

Our first sight of the River Danube from Elizabeth Bridge.

Our first full day in Budapest
was May 1st - May Day
 the city streets around downtown were closed because a classic car road race
 was due to take place in the afternoon.

We decided that it would be a good idea to take a boat trip along the Danube River,
 to see the sights from a watery perspective, before things got too crowded.

The weather had turned cold overnight
so you might want to grab a sweater before we get on board.

The Hungarian Parliament building on Pest side is 268m long,
 has 690 rooms, 10 courtyards and 27 gates.
It houses the Hungarian Crown Jewels
including the Crown of St Stephen

The SP enjoying the cruise

The Royal Palace originally established in the mid 13th century on the Buda river bank
 is home to 2 important museums.
We visited the National Gallery later in the week and were amazed at the number of Old Masters within.
The Danube River has eight landmark bridges linking Buda and Pest together
Detail of one of the huge supports holding up the Margaret Bridge.
The four most important bridges are Margaret Bridge by Margaret Island,
Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge and Liberty Bridge.

The Elizabeth Bridge, seen from the river, formed part of the route
of the classic car race later that day.
After that fascinating but chilly mini cruise we headed to the nearest kávézó for coffee.
My first ever latte served in a mason jar!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

the latest news from Normandy

Since last I blogged there's been a drama which caused quite a bit of stress and a very wonderful trip to a fascinating European city.
Friday 22 April started off cold and wet so around lunch time the Senior Partner decided to light the wood burner and make the house warm and cosy for the afternoon.
Little did we know.
Quite shortly thereafter we had a raging chimney fire due to nesting birds dropping all sorts of twigs and debris down around the chimney flue which then combusted.
911 (US), 999 (UK) or in our case 118 are the telephone numbers that bring help and support quickly when needed.

Within a very short time the fire services from Bayeux, Isigny sur Mer and Le Molay Littry (14 firemen and 1 firewoman) arrived to save our beautiful 16th century Presbytery from going up in flames!

The fire caused no significant damage although the wood burner had to be removed and manhandled outdoors and the chimney opened up so that they could put out the fire.
The rug and parquet floor weren't too badly affected by soot, it may look messy but we were so lucky, it could have been so much worse.
The fire chief told us that with houses as old as ours if the fire had reached the attics there could have been a very different outcome.

The smouldering remains of the fire removed from the chimney.

What a great team effort, thanks pompiers/sapeurs!

Once the danger was over M'Selle Fleur was allowed outside to meet the teams.

Thanks again but we really do hope not to see you again soon!
It took a couple of days to get the room clean again, the insurance assessor will come in the next few days to make their report.
The stove fitter has ordered the parts required to reinstall the wood burner once that is done.

Hopefully very soon the sitting room will look like this once more.

So where did we head off to as an antidote to all the excitement?
First clue.

Buda castle
Second clue.

Parliament buildings on the Pest side of the Danube