15 things I learnt about the Czech Republic

I’ve been to the Czech Republic only twice in my life. First when I was 12 and spent 3 weeks in Austria, I visited the nearby Český Krumlov and České Budějovice. Then a couple of years ago I went to see Prague. In these couple of days I grew to like this country a lot and I can’t wait to go back someday!

  1. The Czech Republic can be found in the middle of Europe surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland.
  2. It was as many citizens as Hungary (approximately 10 million people).
  3. Prague, the city of a hundred spires and the historical center of Bohemia is the capital of the country.
  4. Its currency is the Czech Koruna.
  5. Most of the country’s income comes from tourism.
  6. It is one of the most non-religious countries of the world.
  7. Although Czech is the second hardest language to learn, Czech and Slovakian people can understand each other easily.
  8. The oldest university of Europe, Charles University can be found in Prague. It was founded in 1348.
  9. Hungary and the Czech Republic had many mutual rulers while they were both regulated by the Habsburg Dynasty from 1526.
  10. Famous Czech people include Bohumil Hrabal, Franz Kafka, Antonín Dvořák, Alfons Mucha, Miloš Forman and Ivana Trump.
  11. Contact lenses and sugar cubes are Czech inventions.
  12. Czech beer such as Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser, Kozel and Staropramen are famous worldwide.
  13. Traditional Czech food include roast pork with bread dumpling and cabbage, beef stake tartare, fruit dumplings and deep fried cheese.
  14. The most common souvenirs you can find in shops are made from Czech glass or crystal, Mucha or beer related.
  15. One of our tour guides told us if people want to shoot movie scenes that takes places in Venice and want to spare money, they shoot in Prague. If the same situation happens with Prague, they go to Budapest. Hellboy, Immortal beloved, The illusionist and Casino Royal were filmed in the Czech Republic.

And Budapest again

I’ve been to Budapest again… 3 times in 3 months is more than I visit this city in a year!
This time I visited the Buda Castle region. It is located on Castle Hill and served as the residence of Hungarian kings from the 13th century. It is part of World Heritage Site.
In Castle District you can also find Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, they are next to each other. Matthias Church (also called as Church of Our Lady of Buda) was built in the 11th century. It had to survive a lot off attacks (for example the Mongols destroyed it completely) and it had to be rebuilt many times until it became its final, Gothic styled form. It was named after King Matthias, the Just.
In front of Matthias Church, you can find Fisherman’s Bastion, which is basically a terrace that was built in neo-Gothic style in the 19th century. It gives a wonderful view to River Danube and the Hungarian Parliament. It atracts tourists even in the coldest weather. There is also the statue of St. Stephen, the first Hungarian king and you can take pictures with a falcon if you are brave enough.

Pay attention to how beautiful the roof of Matthias Church is and how many shades of blue Budapest has!

Favourites of February 2018

Book experience of the month:
This month I read Short stories: The happy prince by Oscar Wilde. The book teaches a lot about the true kind of human nature and every story holds a moral lesson.
Then I read Klimt: Women, that is a short book about the muses of the painter Gustav Klimt and women’s situation in the 19th and 20th century. I got this one from my mummy when she went to see The Kiss last year in Belvedere, Vienna.

Audiobook experience of the month:
Of course I followed Harry’s adventures and fights with Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It starts to make me feel sad that his adventures will be over in two books…again.

Movie experience of the month:
First I saw a very unusual family story of Winnie, the pooh’s writer, A. A. Milne, called Goodbye, Christopher Robin. I finally got to see The murder on the Orient Express! It was very monumental. I also saw a Hungarian movie, 1945. It’s about a small town, where one day two Jewish people turn up after the war. People have to face their guilt and re-evaluate their old decisions. Then I watched Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which is about the psychologist who wrote the comic in the 1940s. It was very interesting to see Ryan Gosling in a sci-fi movie. Although Blade runner 2049 may seem slow, it really gives you a special feeling. But altogether my most favourite movie this month was Lion! Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman play the main characters of this emotional journey.

Cinema experience of the month:
Yesterday I went to see the new Marvel movie, Black Panther, introducing Wakanda’s king, TChalla played by Chadwick Boseman and his love, Nakia by the Academy Award winner, Lupita Nyong’o.

Series experience of the month:
I want to catch up with the 4th season of Gotham, so that is all. Seems like Big Bang Theory and Vikings went on a holiday. 

Travelling experience of the month:
I went to Budapest twice this month to visit friends! I always find new things to discover there.

Photography experience of the month:
The ones I took on my trips and some shots of my friend at Buda Castle. Can’t wait to start taking portrait pictures more intensely.

New Budapest photos

Last weekend I went to Budapest to visit a friend and I didn’t want to miss the chance of taking new pictures of the capital, so I went to River Danube between Margaret Bridge and Chain Bridge to photograph the Parliament with the statues around it.

Hungarian Parliament Building

Located on Kossuth Square the Parliament Building was built in neogothic style in 1904 by Imre Steindl. It is 268 meters long and 123 meters tall and was built only from Hungarian building material. Inside visitors can see the Holy Crown surrounded by the coronation jewelry, Settlement of the Magyars painted by Mihály Munkácsy and the changing of the guards. Fun fact is that Freddy Mercury liked the Parliament so much, he wanted to buy the building in 1986 when he came to Budapest for a concert with Queen. He was performing in front of 75 thousand people and he was so kind that he learned a Hungarian folk song, Tavaszi szél (=spring wind).
The statues I took photos of around the building are of the Count István Tisza Monument, Attila József’s statue, Lajos Kossuth’s statue and the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography.

Shoes on the Danube Bank

‘To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-45’-says a memorial tablet next to the bronze statues. The horrible story behind it is that the victims had to stand alongside the river before being shot, but they had to take their shoes off, because those were of great value at that time. The statues were created by Gyula Pauer in 2005 and they attract a lot of people. There are always candles and flowers next to this heartbreaking memorial.


My travelling year of 2017

2017 has been amazing! I’ve been to 6 countries (counting my own, Hungary as well). Pictures speak more easily than words, so without further ado, here are my journeis of the last year:

In my town, Szeged, I went to the Lavender Days, the Zoo and the Salvador Dalí exhibition:

I went to see Nandafalva hindu temple in Balástya:

I’ve been to Siófok (Lake Balaton) twice, for a one-day trip and for a long spa weekend. On the way I also saw Simontornya and Ozora Castles.

I went to Balatonfüred for a conference and took a boat trip to the other side of Lake Balaton to visit Tihany:

I saw Hungary’s second biggest town, Debrecen for the first time:

I took a one-day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Can’t wait to go back to the most beautiful natural sight I have ever seen.

6 days is not enough for Slovenia, but it is a great start. Maribor, Ptuj, Postojna, Predjama, Piran and Portoroz, it was nice to see all of you!

I faced my fear and took the very first plane ride of my life to Barcelona and saw my favourite architectural wonder, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia:

And of course no year can pass by without me visiting as many Christmas fairs as I can. Here is Szeged…

… Budapest…

… Kecskemét…

… Bratislava…

… and Castle Hof in Austria:

I don’t know what 2018 holds for me, but I’m ready for all the new adventures to come!

New Year’s Eve in Hungary

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a great time last night and are ready to see what 2018 holds for you. Here is how we celebrate New Year’s in Hungary:

In the old days this has been the day of superstitions and predictions. Some of them still exists, but most of them are gone. For example we don’t make love forecasts anymore but the remaining habits are all in order to bring luck for the next year. The main symbols of luck are clovers, coins, pigs and chimney-sweeps.  These usually appear as decoration, small ornaments or toys. People usually go to house or organised parties this evening. There are some beliefs like you shouldn’t borrow money this day or at least you have to pay it back till midnight. And of course everyone sums up his or her year and makes resolutions for the next one.

Eating habits are also organised to bring luck. The only meat you can eat is pork, because this animal digs his nose in the ground so he can ‘dig out the luck from the ground’. Pigs are often cooked in whole this day or they are eaten as sausages. Stuffed cabbage is also a New Year’s dish, it is made of pork mixed with rice, onions and spices and they are coated in sour cabbage. You can not eat poultry because they ‘scratch out the luck from the soil’. Fish depends on where you live, because if you are living next to a river, it will bring you luck but if you don’t, then it will swim away with it. Leguminous plants such as beans or lentil symbolize money so they are highly recommended. Sometimes people put some dry ones in their wallets as well. Eating something sweet can make you next year sweet. And of course champagne to clink glasses with at midnight.

At midnight people listen to the Hungarian National Anthem and then wish each other a Happy New Year. The American habit of kissing your partner at midnight also starts to become popular. In bigger towns their are always huge fireworks as well.


Favourites of December 2017

We are getting very close to the end of this year. It is the time to think and remember. Let’s see what I was up to this month.

Book experience of the month:
I was finally able to read Dan Brown’s Origin and it was worth the wait! Most of the story takes place in Barcelona and it even has a Hungarian character. If you are interested in art, science or artificial intelligence, I truly recommend this book for you! There were 5 twists at the last pages and I couldn’t really put it down.
The other book I read this month was about my favourite Hungarian actress, a true legend, Mari Törőcsik. Written by director László Bérczes in an interview form, it was very interesting to read.

Audiobook experience of the month:
I continued with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling, but I’m not finished yet, because I wasn’t travelling by tram every day, I am at home since 21th December. So Harry, see you next year as well!

Movie experience of the month:
Fortunately I was able to watch a lot of movies this month, but I’m only gonna list the ones that are not Christmas related, because I made a blog post about them earlier (click here!).
First of all my family’s old time favourite, Much Ado About Nothing. The movie is only one year older than me and it was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the main role of Benedetto. You can see other actor icons like Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves and Kate Beckinsale. I consider it the best Shakespeare adaptation ever.  ‘Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner;’ there’s a double meaning in that…” /Benedetto/ Hilarious!!
My other favourite movie this month has to be Tulip fever. It reminded me a lot of Girl with a pearl earring, because both of them takes place in the Netherlands, have a painter in the center of attention and gave me the same mood after watching them. Alicia Vikander continues to amaze me.
The Lost City of Z is based on the true story of Percival Fawcett, a Britisch explorer. After King Arthur and this movie, Charlie Hunnan made a good impression on me, I consider him a great actor. Fun fact: the new Spiderman, Tom Holland plays the role of his son.
Inspired by the book about Mari Törőcsik, I decided to watch her first movie, Merry-go-round from 1956. It was nominated for a Golden Palm and has been named one of the best Hungarian movies of all time.
I was very curious about Beguiled, Sofia Coppola’s new drama/thriller movie from 2017, but it wasn’t that exciting as it seemed in the trailer and the scenery was sometimes so dark it was hard to see the characters.

Cinema experience of the month:
I went to the cinema yesterday to see the new Star Wars movie. It was hard to be on the internet with no spoilers or opinions, but somehow I managed. The movie is 2,5 hours long, but time flies fast if you are having fun. I really liked the new creatures, especially the little half bird-half hamster cuties. It’s hard to believe that the last Star Wars movie was the very first role of Daisy Ridley, she is very talented. Since that she appeared in the new Orient Express movie that I unfortunately missed in the theatres. Kylo Ren’s character is also very interesting and it was lovely to see the darling Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, R2D2 and C3PO as well. I’m looking forward to the next movie, which is promised to come in 2019.
I also saw A Viszkis (I checked, there is no English title of the movie yet, it means someone who drinks whiskey). It is the movie of Nimród Antal and is about Attila Ambrus, a robber who became very famous in the 1990’s. It has been an awesome year of Hungarian movies (Sing, Kincsem, About body and soul, Budapest noir) and this is also a great one.

Series experience of the month:
The 5th season of Vikings started and it is as amazing as usual! I thought it would be wierd not to have Ragnar in the cast, but I still love this show. I’m very excited about Ivar, the Boneless’s character.

Travelling experience of the month:
I went to see Bratislava for the first time, you can read my thoughts about it here.

Photography experience of the month:
It has to be all the Christmas fairs that I’ve been to this year, and fortunately there was many of them.

Music experience of the month:
Besides Richard’s Clayderman‘s Christmas music, it was Camila Cabello’s earworm partysong, Havana. It always makes my legs move.

Food experience of the month:
!! And the minestrone soup I ate in my favourite restaurant for my birthday dinner. 

See you soon in the new year!