Eastern Europe, Hungary, Travel

Budapest- Memento Park

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to post about <Memento Park> of Budapest. It’s a park full of statues of communist dictatorship such as Stalin’s boots, Lenin, Marx and Engels, etc. It’s a place to feel and experience of the communist history.

The Stalin’s boots will welcome you when you arrive the park. The boots are much bigger than it looks, so don’t be surprised. After seeing these huge boots, I could imagine how powerful the communism was in the past . There are many statues in the park, but the park itself is not that big. Thus, one hour will be enough to look around the park.

On the other side of the entrance, you would see the statue of Marx and Engels who are the most well-known communists in the world.

There’s also an exhibition salon of pictures and short movies in the communist era. However, if you expect a lot for this place, you may be disappointed. To be honest, I don’t recommend to visit here if you don’t stay in Budapest for more than three days. It’s an unique museum(park) for sure, but you will need at least for three hours including the travel time. Plus, it’s not that tourist-friendly place in my opinion. I thought that visiting this place would help me understand much more about the Communism and the historical background when it appeared, but not enough explanations were provided. Thus it was difficult to understand its meanings and history unless you already have some background knowledge on it.

It can be more touristic place if the government put some effort into it, ironically it would lose its color if it’s full of tourists in my opinion.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to the Memento Park with Marimonda. See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : Budapest, Balatoni út – Szabadkai utca sarok, 1223 Hungary

Hours : 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Ticket : 1500 HUF (adult), Free of charge for Budapest card holders

Eastern Europe, Hungary, Travel

Budapest

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. I already posted my accomodation review before. If you’re interested in, click here.

Brief History

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. The city used to be three different areas : Buda, Obuda, and Pest, but they were united in one (Budapest) in 1873. Today, it’s one city but still people call the west side of the Danube for Buda and the east side of the river for Pest. It can be confusing which side is east or west, then simply think where you can find the Buda castle is Buda area. If you are on the side of the Parliament, you’re on the Pest side.

The city provided the metro service in 1896 (the 2nd metro in the world after London). The public transport system seemed very well organized and worked efficiently. Budapest near the Danube river became Unesco World Heritage in 1987 under the name of < Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue>.

Where to visit?

There are many things to enjoy in Budapest. From historical buildings to modern ones and variety of food will satisfy your all senses. The view of the Budapest is well-known, esp. the night view is amazing. You can see the astonishing views not only from the Buda hill, but also all around the city.

I intended to get lost here, thus I didn’t look for a map in the city except I went to cafes and restaurants where I planned to visit before the trip. Looking back the trip, I think I should’ve participated in the free walking tours provided to the Budapest card holders to get to know the city better. I enjoyed the city, but I feel like I missed many parts of the city. But that’s what a travel should be. You always miss something, which will make you visit the place again.

Walking around the Buda area. I saw Matthias Church, which is a mixture of different cultures for sure. With the sharp tower, it’s like a Gothic style church but the mosaic roof made this church be unique. I also found Fisherman’s Bastion, where offer me a breathtaking panorama view of the city from the Buda district. In some photo spots, I had to wait to take good pictures, but it was worth it. The building itself is a picturesque place, too.

The view was also amazing. I felt as if I were in a painting. The sky, river and the city harmonized like a picture. In Budapest, there were many colorful buildings caught my eyes. Amongst them, I loved this post office. The tone downed yellow and greenery blue colors gives a strong impression with the intense red-colored post box. It’s colorful, but not too bright, I thought it somewhat reflected the characteristic of the city.

The night view of Budapest is famous, and it didn’t let me down. The illuminated buildings in the dark and the reflections on the river were unbelievable. You can take a river cruise to enjoy the view or simply sitting down on a good spot and wait until the sunset. A bottle of Tokaji wine will make your night perfect.

The Parliament is a must see place in the Pest area. You can participate a guided tour inside of the parliament. You should make a reservation in advance. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the spot, thus I couldn’t have the opportunity to get in. The building itself is outstanding and enormous day and night. The official website of the Parliament to reserve a visit, click here.

You shouldn’t miss out the statues on the streets. Most of them are placed in the Pest section. From the famous <Shoes by the Danube> , which modelled on 60 pairs of shoes from the 1940s to commemorate people who were shot into the Danube by the Hungarian Nazis. It’ll be remembered by all visitors. You can also find the Fat Policeman and the Newsboy, etc on the street of Pest.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Budapest with Marimonda. More posts on Budapest will be continued.

See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Budapest Card

Budapest card is a simple way to enjoy Budapest. It includes unlimited public transport and many places such as museums and spa including walking tours. Various types are available, thus you can choose depending on your stay in Budapest. It’s slightly cheaper in Hungarian Forint to Euro.

From Airport to Downtown

On the day of arrival, I bought a sim card (vodafone) first to get me connected. I knew there was an express bus to the center of the capital (Deák Tér and Kálvin Tér), but there is also a regional bus that goes to the city. When you ask to the travel info at the airport, they usually tell you the express one (100E, 900HUF- slightly more than 3 USD) which you can’t take with your Budapest card. Since I purchased the Budapest card which allows me to free access to public transport, I decided a regional bus (200E) and it wasn’t that take longer than bus 100E. Though we were the only tourists in that bus. If you don’t have the Budapest card, you should think well. The single ticket costs 350 HUF, and with 200E you need a paid-transfer to get to the downtown.

Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Metz

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today I’d like to share my visit to Metz, a city in the Grand Est region near the border of France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Brief History

With its long and rich history, Metz has been submitted its name on France’s UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (2014). You can feel its history once you arrive at Metz. Used to be a palace, the train station welcomes you with its antique and unique feature. The windows and the doors are preserved very well, thus you can see how the architect style was in the past. Metz used to be German territory and and reverted to France. The city went through this process repeatedly, and this complex history made Metz be more culturally rich.

Where to visit?

There are many places to visit in Metz such as the Metz Cathedral (Gothic Saint-Stephen Cathedral), Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Centre Pompidou, Opera House, etc. Also during the summer, Metz Plage is going on (which is an equivalent of Paris Plages), so you can enjoy the summer with more activities near the river. This time, I visited Pompidou center and Metz Cathedral including old city. The city seemed to have a good public transport system, but since most tourist attractions are accessible by foot, I didn’t use any transport.

Pompidou Center

Like Paris’ Pompidou center, the center has very outstanding architect. Located next to the train station, this white mushroom-like building holds many cultural events of the town. The entrance fee is based on the number of the exhibition spaces open on the day of your visit (very unique but reasonable), so I paid €10 for three exhibitions.

It took me about three hours to look around the exhibitions, on average one hour per space. Depending on your speed, you can spend less or more time here. The receptionists said, it usually takes 2-3 hours to look around the center. Even if you don’t have a map, you can see the sign on the street telling you the direction to the Pompidou center and the Cathedral. Or since it’s one of the landmarks of the city, anyone in the street would know how to get there unless they’re tourists.

Metz Cathedral

The Metz Cathedral is a must visit place in Metz. Well-known for its architect, the cathedral has larger stained glass than any other cathedrals in the world. Three of them are designed by Marc Chagall, a famous painter with his genius understanding to colors. Those three are distinguished from other stained glass, so you won’t have difficulties to find them.

Metz City Pass

The city also has a city pass for €13,50. With the pass, you can access to Pompidou Center, Cour d’Or Museum, and one audio tour within a day. For €16, you can also unlimited access to the public transport. I didn’t have enough time in Metz, thus I didn’t purchase the pass, but it’s a good option if you’re thinking of visiting Pompidou and Cour d’Or Museum. The official website of the city pass is as following : Metz City Pass

I visited Metz because it was on the way to my trip to Luxembourg. I spent only one whole afternoon (about 7 hours) there, but I feel like I should’ve spent more time in Metz. The city has more things to do and enjoy. I loved the the peaceful atmosphere of the city with classy architects. They’re very distinct from those of Paris. I am pretty sure you would love this city. One thing I regret is that I couldn’t try local food since most of the local restaurants were closed due to the summer vacation and Assumption day. I’d like to go back and check out other places that I missed this time in the near future.

Hope you enjoy the Metz with Marimonda! See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Pompidou Centre Metz website

Address : 1 Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, 57020 Metz

Hours : 10a.m. – 6p.m. (Mon/Wed), -7p.m. (Thu.-Sun.) , Closed on Tuesday

Metz Cathedral website

Address : Place d’Armes, 57000 Metz

Hours : 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. everyday

Eastern Europe, Hungary, Travel

Hotel Gellert

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to share my experience at Hotel Gellert in Budapest.

Brief History

As a member of Danubius Hotel Group, Hotel Gellert is known for its architect and thermal baths. The building broke the ground in 1912. The construction took about six years due to the World War I. The hotel welcomed its first guest in 1918. It’s been more than a century, now the hotel itself is a worth-to-see building in Budapest. Its gorgeous art-nouveau and neo-baroque style draws people’s attention. The Spa Gellert is connected to the hotel, which helps guests access easily inside the hotel. Also, they offer some discount for the spa if you’re staying in the hotel. Considering the fact that Budapest is a city known for its spa, it will be nice to stay here one day to enjoy the spa. I couldn’t take pictures of the spa and the swimming pool, but the decoration was stunning. What I liked the most was I could go there in a swimsuit with a gown(offered by hotel) from my room to the place and come back to my room to shower after. I would say it’s a perfect place for a weekend off!

How to get there?

Located in the center of Budapest, Hotel Gellert is easy to access by public transportation(Szent Gellért tér, metro line 4). There’s also a tram station right in front of the hotel which help you look around the city more easily. You can also ask the hotel to arrange a taxi for you. It takes about 30-40 mins and costs 9,000-10,000 Forints (30-35 USD).

Room

From the reception to the room, it reminds me of the movie < The Grand Budapest Hotel >. The construction was well balanced with tone on tone style. I reserved a standard room and got a one with the riverview. (There are two views available : river and hill). The room was not that spacious, but it was cozy and comfortable for two people. Seeing the facilities, you can tell the hotel has a long history, but all of them are well managed. I loved the its symmetry style and the mixture of the colors in the furniture. Based on the gold, brown and dark green I felt very relaxed and peaceful. The room was quiet, but if you leave the window open you can feel the busy capital city of Hungary.

Service & Price

The receptionists are very friendly, but always busy. Various options are available at the breakfast buffet with the riverview. Price is vary depending on the date and the room-type. A standard room will cost about €100-120 per night.

Hope you enjoyed the Hotel Gellért review with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : Budapest, Szent Gellért tér 2, 1114 Hungary

website

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Naranzaria

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to review of a restaurant in Italy. Naranzaria is a restaurant in Venice next to the Grand Canal in the center of Venice. I feel bad to post on an Italian restaurant following another Italian restaurant in Paris (Al Caratello), but in Italy I only had the local food.. So probably I will update few more italian restaurants later.

Coperto (table cover fee)

In Italy, it’s a common practice to charge a coperto (table cover fee) per person in a restaurant. Usually it costs €2 and it is said that it’s for serving bread and tap water. But most of the restaurants don’t offer water(especially when you’re a tourist). You should order it. In this sense, the Coperto is kinda forced tip. It will be automatically charged in your bill. Don’t be surprised if you’re charged extra few euros under the name of coperto. Even though it’s cover the bread and water(supposedly), most water is also for pay. Some mean servers brought the water and opened it without asking. You can stop them and argue about it. As a tourist, however, it’s not that easy to argue with natives. One of the things that I liked this place was at least tap water is already included and you can choose between still water and sparkling one in this restaurant.

Atmosphere

Next to the Grand Canal, Naranzaria is less than 2-3 mins away from the Rialto Bridge. However, it’s very quiet and less touristic compared the other places near the Rialto Bridge. Terrace seats are great to chill out and enjoy the view. They fill up very quickly. Seeing gondolas passing by, it is very exotic and this might be the only experience you can do in Venice.

Menu and Price

The restaurant offers various options from pasta to risotto. Considering Venice is an island, we ordered seafood plates (european bass) and octopus. We were expecting them to be fresher and cheaper than Paris. The answer is yes and no. The fish and the octopus were very fresh and delicious, but quite expensive (€21 for each plate). We paid €57 for two glasses of wine, two main dishes and the table cover. It was expensive for me, but the price seemed quite on average in Venice, though. If you order pasta, it’s much less expensive (€5-6 less per dish). No wonder why there’s not many residents in the main island. If I live in Venice, it will be my place only for special occasions such as birthday. The rest of the meals in Venice I had take out pizzas or sandwiches. Otherwise it’s just too expensive in Venice. The food was delicious and the servers were very friendly. I would go back if I ever visit Venice again.

Recommendation

Before writing this post, I googled the restaurant to see what others think of it. Well.. I was surprised that there were so many people unsatisfied with the service and food. When I went there, everyone was friendly and the food was good. So I can’t recommend this place to you. However, the reviews are based on very personal experiences including mine. Thus, you may have a pleasant moment like me or you may not like it. What I liked the restaurant was the atmosphere and delicious food. Servers were ok and I would be happier if the price were a bit down to be honest. Overall, I liked this place.

Hope this review help you to choose a restaurant in Venice. See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : Sotoportego del Bancogiro, 130, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. / 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Monday.

website It says the webpage is in English, but it seems like there’s no English website.

Europe, Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my experience in Venice Airport Marco Polo Lounge where you can access with PP card. If you’re interested in my previous review of Nice Lounge, click here.

There are two airports near Venice. One is Treviso and the other one is Marco Polo where I used this time. Treviso is on the mainland, thus it’s a bit further from Venice and it’s a hub airport for budget airlines. Marco Polo airport, on the other hand, is closer to Venice and it’s a base airport for the most major airlines. Both of them are easy to access to the Venice island using public transport ACTV.

How to get there

There are many options available depending on your place, time, and budget. I took the Alilaguna, a water transport to the airport since the station was nearby my hotel. It cost €15 for one way, €27 for round trip. Be careful, the ticket is somewhat tricky (you can’t take Alilaguna with your Venezia Unica card but the station is the same, thus it’s easy to be confused), and they don’t check the ticket when you board. They check your ticket in the middle on the way to the airport. On our boat, there were four people who didn’t have the proper ticket (I am not completely sure whether they knew it or not). The driver asked them to pay €16 or they should take off the boat. If you have a Venezia Unica card, you can get discount or you can go to Murano island and take the Alilaguna since it’s cheaper from there to the airport. You can also take an express bus from Piazzale Roma next to Santa Lucia station ( €8). Water taxi is the most expensive but the fastest way to get to the airport. It takes less than 30 mins and it costs €120.

Marco Polo Lounge

I could access to the lounge with my PP card. Without the PP card, you can pay and enter the lounge and it costs €40. You can stay for two hours. The lounge is very big and quiet. It is divided into many sections such as a business section, shower, TV, comfortable couch, etc.

Food Station

At the food station, hot and cold foods are available like lasagna, bread, or fruits. Cocktails are also available upon request. I tried lasagna and fruits accompanied with aperol to chill out. Then I had a cup of espresso as a dessert. I usually don’t drink coffee before the flight in order to get good sleep. However, after seeing the server making a fresh coffee upon request I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t miss my last opportunity to drink coffee in Italy, and it was amazing like other coffees I tried in Italy.

Overall, it was a pleasant experience at the lounge. It made my trip to Italy complete. But I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t have my PP card. The price is quite expensive, I would spend that money to have a substantial meal instead of snacking. Don’t get me wrong, the bread and drinks offered in the lounge filled me up enough. The place opens early in the morning and late at night.

Hope you enjoyed the review of Marco Polo Lounge by Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info.

Address : Venice Airport, Viale Galileo Galilei, 30/1, 30173 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Website

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Siena

Hi, it’s me Marimonda! Today, I’d like to share my visit to Siena, the capital of the province of Siena.

Brief History

It is said that Siena was founded two sons of Remus who was a twin brother of Romulus (founder of Rome). When they ran away from Rome, they brought the statue of the she-wolf which became the symbol of the town since then (wikipedia). The town wasn’t center of the development in the beginning, but later it became the center of the trade and the path of pilgrims in the middle ages. After the The center of the Siena is Unesco World Heritage Site. After losing at the war against Florence, the development of Siena was declined. Ironically, that helped Siena preserve its characteristics in medieval times. Now Siena is one of the most visited city in Italy.

Siena Cathedral

One of the most important places in Siena would be its cathedral. The cathedral itself is an impressive feature, the bronze middle door. Siena is a small city but the cathedral seems very big compared to the size of the city. That’s because the Sienese wanted to build the biggest cathedral in the world. This big dream couldn’t come true due to the Black Death which caused the death of the two-thirds of populations and properties. Still, this Romanesque Gothic style cathedral has been loved and possess a lot of important art pieces.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo is a plaza in front of the city hall. Located in the center of the city, it was also the center of the city in the past. This site is famous for its unique seashell shape divided into nine sections to commemorate nine governors in the middle ages. Piazza del Campo is a historical medieval plaza and it’s one of the biggest plazas in Europe. It was a marketplace where people could gather together and a place to celebrate political and civic holidays and events. At the end of the plaza, you can see Fonte Gaia (The Fountain of the World). This space is also known for twice-a-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, which is one of the famous traditions in Siena. There is also Mangia Tower where you can see the view of the town.

Local Products

Like other Italian cities, Siena is known for its extra-virgin olive oil and truffles products. It’s a good place to shop compared other small cities I’ve been to because it’s not super crowded with tourists, but you can find many stores with wide arranges of products. There are some leather shops, too.

I only had one afternoon in Siena due to my busy schedule. I really liked the city and I want to come back someday. I participated in the group walking city tour. It took about one hour and finished inside the cathedral. If you’re in short of time, it’s good to join those programs to see the city’s highlight.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Siena with Marimonda 🙂 See you soon!

Practical Info

Siena Cathedral website prices and times are vary. (adult, individual €8)

Mangia Tower €10 (adult, individual)