Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Budapest Afternoon

Here are a few random shots of Budapest from yesterday afternoon, just to give a bit of a feel for the city.

This is my third visit here, after spending the summer in 2009, and then June to November in 2011.  It's a great place to write, with good cafes, a terrific city library, and a generally pleasant ambiance.  This year, alas, I've decided to head back to the U.S. for the summer so I've got one more week left here.  I'll try to make the most of it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

View from the Cafe

I'm back in Budapest now after six months or so away, and it's been nice catching up with old friends and revisiting my favorite haunts in the city.  Today I spent the morning writing at the Massolit Bookstore cafe, a quaint and charismatic place tucked into an old building in the Jewish district.  This was the view from my seat:

This woman was hanging out on her balcony just across the very narrow street, watching the goings-on.  After I took her picture I loaded it on my laptop and had to turn it away so that she didn't see her own image on my screen.  Something about her hanging out up there just seemed quintessentially Budapest to me, though...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A few shots of Porto

One of the places I visited on my trip through Portugal was Porto, the second-largest city in the country.  This place has tons of character, but is really run down at the same time.  It's located on the Douro River, just downstream from the Douro Valley, which is famous for its vineyards, and yes, its Port wine.

One of the places I stopped in at was this great cafe, built in the 1920's and largely unchanged since.  This is definitely a place that would get the Hemingway seal of approval.  I could just picture him hanging out here with his notebook and some pencils.

The outside was nice as well, and it is aptly named, The Majestic Cafe.

One thing that is striking about the city is how many buildings are completely abandoned.  In some parts of downtown it seemed like about 70 percent, even near the water, like this one above.

A throwback to old times and they heyday of the city comes in the form of these boats, with wine barrels strapped on top.

And then there is the bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel himself.

Overall it is a beautiful spot to visit.  Perhaps better to visit than to live, but I'm glad I made the stop.  A few more days writing in that great cafe might have been just the ticket...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Road Trip in Portugal

It's been over a week since my last post and I've been busy bouncing around.  Now I need to start catching up here and posting some photos of goings-on!  First off, I took a road trip with a good friend through the Portuguese countryside, up the eastern border and through the Douro River Valley.

With all of the rain in Portugal lately, the hills were nice and green and flowers were blooming everywhere.  I guess April showers really do bring May flowers.

One of the nicest spots that we stopped in was Monsanto, a hard-scrabble little village built among giant boulders.

People seem to live here as they have for centuries.

And all of the old men wear these cool hats.

This woman opted for a hat made of flowers.

There was some sort of ceremony going on at the church.  A wedding perhaps?  I asked someone but got a blank stare in return.

One thing is for sure, in these villages it's all about life in the slow lane.

Internet?  High Definition TV?  Forget about it.  Some of them don't even have cars yet.

Next up I'll post some photos of Porto, a very atmospheric city on the Douro River, where it seems that 70 percent of the buildings in the downtown area are completely abandoned and falling apart.  And this is the second largest city in the country!  A bit like the twilight zone, really, but it has a charm all it's own.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Photo of the Day: Library View

I did some writing in the municipal library here in Lisbon today, up in the Bica neighborhood.  It's just a small library, but with a very nice view.  This is looking out the window towards the river:

It's hard to tell from the photo but the street below is quite steep.  There's actually a funicular running up and down it, which is a favorite of the tourists here.  I'm in Lisbon only through the weekend and then it is off to Porto and then Barcelona.  I'll try to post more photos as I go.