Wednesday Write-Up: Who’s Afraid of Heights?

We are back in the travel mode and are taking every opportunity to explore our surroundings while we are still staying in Taipei. Yesterday we decided to take the afternoon and check out Maokong. Maokong is a suburb of Taipei, set … Continue reading

Flexibility

There are many situations in life that teach us that we must be emotionally and mentally flexible.

For example, I had planned on writing a wonderful post about Eslite, a fantastic chain of bookstores here in Taiwan that are known as the some of the best in the world. Zoë and I visited one earlier this week in preparation for this post. We both enjoyed it immensely.

Unfortunately, that post will have to wait until next week. If you had a chance to read my last post about Zoë’s febrile seizure (if you haven’t, you can check it out here) on Wednesday afternoon, you may understand why the Eslite post must wait. Zoë’s fever has continued and we have had to be hyper-vigilant to keep her temperature down in the normal range. So Chad and I are running on little sleep, much stress, and even more prayer. This momma is tired and I don’t want to write a “thing to do” post while my brain is running on low fuel. I am praying that Zoë is fever free as of today and that our lives will return to normal. If you would send your prayers or good thoughts that would be much appreciated!

One thing about travel of any kind, whether it is long-term or short, with or without children, you learn quickly to be flexible. This week has been an emotionally draining and scary lesson in flexibility. But in all the things that we experience on this trip, whether bad or good, I am still incredibly thankful to be on this journey.

Thank you again for following us along our adventures!

Terrific Day at the Taipei Zoo

Today we took Zoë to the doctor and got confirmation that she does indeed have heat rash (10 days now, I hate seeing my baby uncomfortable). The doctor gave Zoë a prescription of steroid cream that seems to be working well. Poor thing was up most the night last night scratching, hence the doctor visit. I love visiting a country where we can see a doctor and get a prescription for a total of about $25, but that is a topic for another day.

Since Zz was feeling better and her rash seemed to improve after applying the cream, we decided to take her to the Taipei Zoo.

When Chad and I lived here five years ago, we ventured to this wonderful zoo three or four times. We loved it and when we returned here, one of the things we were looking forward to was taking Zoë to experience it as well.

The Taipei Zoo is located in the Muzha district of Taipei, you can take the metro to the terminal stop on the Taipei brown metro line. The “Taipei Zoo” metro stop drops you off within a 2 minute walk of the zoo entrance. You can also take a taxi, but the metro is much cheaper and actually very comfortable.

We took the metro, or “choo choo” as Z calls it, and landed at the zoo this afternoon. It was raining at our house, but the weather there was beautiful and sunny. This is typical for Taipei, the storm clouds seem to pick one area and stick to it on any given day, I was glad that the storms left the zoo area alone today. We all needed some time out of the house.

Zoë was very excited to be going to the zoo, and became even more excited as she walked past the metal sculptures of animals on the way to the entrance.

Zoë loves the sculptures on the walk to the Taipei Zoo

Zoë loves the sculptures on the walk to the Taipei Zoo
(c) andthreetogo

We paid our admission fees (60 NT a person, but it was buy one get one free for adults, and children under 6 are free, so we paid about $3 to go to the zoo!) and entered the park.

The ticket window

The ticket window
(c) andthreetogo

Immediately, all three of us noticed the children playing in a fountain type water play area. We took Z’s shoes off and let her run around in the water for some time. It was a great way to cool her off before we started to walk around and see the animals. She had a blast. Not only did she have fun, but there seemed to be a Zoë fan club going on as well. There was literally a line of people waiting to take their picture with the little Wàiguó rén (foreigner). At first we relented and felt even honored, and then it got a bit crazy (probably dating myself, but think of the NKOTB fans and how they would have felt getting a picture with Jordan) so we stopped it. It felt a little like Zz was an animal in the zoo that everyone came to see and we both were worried that it would make her scared or something.

Zoë playing in the fountain

Zoë playing in the fountain

After we dodged the fan club, we started walking around the park. The wonderful and beautiful thing about the Taipei Zoo is that they have built it utilizing the existing landscape. The jungle that surrounds the zoo is part of the zoo. It is luscious and green and makes it fun to walk from habitat to habitat.

The park is large and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to see it all in one day, especially since we were being careful to keep Z cool and not exacerbate her heat rash.

We checked out the panda’s (which are way cuter in real life), the koalas, the elephants, hippos, tigers, and the list goes on. Zoë loved just stopping to watch the animals and also to pick up leaves and clean the ground with them. She definitely takes after her mama, a bit on the obsessive compulsive side.

Z hugging a panda statue (that was made to look as though it is marking it's territory)

Z hugging a panda statue (that was made to look as though it is marking it’s territory)

Zoë cleaning the handrails with a leaf Photo Taken By Jennifer Mitchell

Zoë cleaning the handrails with a leaf
(c) andthreetogo

We left as the call went out that the park was closing. We left much of the park to see for another day, but with such inexpensive entrance fees, we figure we will take Zoë back numerous times during our visit to this great city.

As we left, we again had a crowd of people following us, asking to have their pictures taken with Zoë (Justin Beiber, you have obviously been replaced in Taiwan). We kindly declined the pleas as the line of people was getting rather long to get a snapshot with her. We ran to a taxi and headed home, the metro just felt too long a trip after running around all afternoon.

Whether you have kids or not, the Taipei Zoo should be on your must do list when you visit here. It is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, a day, or whatever time you can give it. I promise you it will be time well spent!

Zoë gives the zoo a thumbs up

Zoë gives Taipei Zoo a thumbs up

Wednesday Write-Up: Welcome to the Jungle

One of our friends was leaving on a three month trip of his own, so he kindly sublet his home to us for the remainder of our stay in Taipei. And it is not just any home, it is an actual house home!

Taipei is filled with high-rise apartment buildings, one right after the other. Different apartments have different amenities, just like anywhere else in the world, but one thing that I never realized still existed in Taipei was actual free-standing houses. Well, now I know that they exist because we are renting one.

Our Taipei home is found by walking up a foot path about 3 feet wide, starting between two multi-story apartment buildings, up some stairs through the jungle type landscape and finally coming to a few one-story homes grouped together amongst the greenery. It is such a beautiful sight to see! I feel like every time we enter our walk way, we are disappearing into our secret garden. And every time we leave our little oasis, we are smack dab in the main city center, within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and Taipei 101 (the third tallest building in the world). It really is a trip, I love it.

Image

A real free-standing house in Taipei!
(c) andthreetogo

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The view of the jungle from our front door
(c) andthreetogo

We have not been doing much in the way of tourist sights lately though. Zoë got a heat rash over a good portion of her body about a week ago. After researching, I found out heat rash (or prickly heat) is very common for children in climates like Taiwan’s. So we have been following the wise and all-knowing internet’s instructions and soothing Zoë’s itching with calamine lotion and keeping her out of the heat . This means that we leave the house only to eat lunch and dinner and to visit air-conditioned places. It also means that we have to take taxis everywhere, which you will not hear me complain about. I do love to walk, but it is nice to have an excuse to be lazy sometimes.

Please pray, send good thoughts, or what ever you choose to do, that Zoë’s heat rash will clear up soon. I hate seeing her uncomfortable. Also, if you know of any sure-fire treatments for heat rash let me know! I can’t wait to take Zoë to all the amazing places there are to see on this beautiful island. Here’s to hoping that she heals quickly and we can explore more of the city for my Friday post. Cheers!

Wednesday Write-Up: And Now For Something Completely Different

Yesterday, we did something that was completely different from normal for us. We went and met with an international model agent to see about possibly getting some jobs while we stay in Taiwan.

Foreigners, especially those that are blonde and blue eyed, are desired for tons of advertising here in Taiwan. Many of our friends have done some modeling or TV work while living here , so we thought we would give it a try.

A friend of ours hooked us up with one of the agents that he gets jobs from. We emailed her some head-shots (poorly done ones we did ourselves) and she jumped at the chance to have us come in. Now, you may think that I am being conceited by saying that, but in all reality I doubt that she even noticed what Chad and I looked like. I would bet a million dollars that all the agent saw in that email was the picture of our two-year old blonde haired, blue eyed girl with rosy cheeks (someone recently asked me if I put makeup on her). Zoë may end up earning her keep after all.

The appointment was yesterday. We packed up our two outfits each (one casual, one formal) and took a taxi to Tienmu, a suburb of Taipei that is about a half-hour away drive from where we are staying.

I have to say that I was nervous. I am not the best in front of a camera, in fact, most of my good pictures were taken of me when I was unaware someone was taking a picture of me. But I was excited too, I love trying new things, and this was definitely new!

When we arrived, the agent, Penny, showed us to an amazing play room that had every kind of toy you could think of. Zoë was beyond elated! She played happily while Chad and I gave our information and had our measurements taken, then it was time for Zoë’s photo shoot.

I am not bragging, but Zoë is very photogenic. We rarely get a bad picture of her and neither did the photographer at the agency. Z seemed to have fun and certainly didn’t mind the attention.

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Zoë’s First Photo Shoot
(c) andthreetogo

Chad and I had our photos taken and it was pretty uneventful. Chads pictures turned out fantastic (the photogenic gene comes from him). They kept asking me to pose and I instinctively wanted to do the typical Taiwanese pose flashing the peace sign, but I resisted. I just did some catalog type poses and tried to look natural, but I have a feeling that I just looked constipated uncomfortable.

All-in-all, it was a ton of fun for Zoë and us. There is a possibility that Z will get hired to do a high-end baby clothing catalog. Both Chad and I have some misgivings now about Zoë’s picture being used so publicly, so we are discussing and praying about what the right thing to do is. Whatever we decide though, we did try something very different yesterday and it was exciting to try something new. And who knows, this could be our big break…. The Mitchell modeling family.

Until then, I am going to continue on in my present employment, writing my blog and being a mom and wife, which I think are the best jobs ever!

My Own Greek Island Paradise

I have found my Greek Island. Admittedly, there are many other people here, locals and tourists alike, but I have decided that I want Paros to be my Greek island.

There are 227 inhabited islands belonging to Greece, and over 1400 islands in all. So when Chad and I were trying to decide what island we wanted to visit, it made for a difficult decision. We made it by looking at how long it took to get there from Athens by ferry, cost of accommodations, types of beaches, entertainment options, and of course recommendations from other travelers and friends.

Two islands had been visited and loved by different friends of ours, Santorini and Paros. After we researched both of these islands with our parameters, we decided on Paros. Paros is only a 4 hour ferry ride from Athens, it has many different beautiful beaches on the island, most of them easily reached by foot or bus, we found an inexpensive and beautiful apartment hostel on Airbnb, called Betty Apartments, and the entertainment options were beaches and tavernas. It was exactly what we wanted. We didn’t want clubs and shopping, we just wanted to relax and let Zoë play at the beach.

Upon arriving at Parikia, Paros by ferry we took a taxi to our apartment in Drios (also spelled Dryos), on the other side of the island. Drios is a small village which houses less than 10 tavernas/restaurants, a couple of markets (including one organic market) and two wonderful beaches within walking distance, Drios Beach and Golden Beach. It also has a playground at their small school (now closed for summer) which Zoë has enjoyed on several occasions. Drios does not have any ATM machines, but almost everyone takes credit cards, so you don’t have to worry too much about needing cash very often.

Drios is an hour bus ride away from Parikia (the capital of Paros) and about a 45 minute bus ride from Nassou (the only other larger town on the island). We have visited both of those towns and I feel we have been so blessed that we chose to stay in Drios as it fits what we wanted perfectly.

Our days consists of getting up, having brunch around 10 or 11 am at Taverna Agkyra (or Anchor Tavern in English) right by our apartment, heading to one of the close beaches after Z’s nap and then usually having eating dinner at the Taverna Agkyra again.

Taverna Agkrya Our home away from home

Taverna Agkrya
Our home away from home

We have fallen in love with the taverna and the people that run it as if it was their own home kitchen. Especially Margarita and her husband, Kotsiopoulos (or Bobbies), who have shown us wonderful hospitality and fed us excellent Greek food. I am not usually a creature of habit when it comes to restaurants, I like to try new places and dishes, but this taverna keeps me coming back every day and most often twice a day. We have tried other restaurants in Drios, they are all good and the people are helpful and kind, but no one compares to their flavorful food and the feeling that you are friends at Taverna Agkyra. My favorite dish so far has to be the Moussaka, a casserole of potatoes, ground meat, eggplant and a thick layer of cheese all served in a ceramic pot hot from the oven. It’s rich and wonderfully filling, and I am sure very low-calorie (it’s all how you think of it right!?). I have to say that Chad and Zoë and myself have spent probably as much time in our favorite taverna as we have the beach. Hooray for wonderful food and company!

Chad and Zoë at Drios Beach

Chad and Zoë at Drios Beach

Anyways, this wonderful relaxing and dreamy part of our trip is coming to an end on Monday as we head on to our next destination. On Tuesday evening we will be in Taipei, Taiwan. I know that this will be the toughest place to say good-bye to, even more than Lisbon. But I really do feel that I have made some new friends here and I look forward to coming back to my Greek island of Paros again. I don’t think I could stay away from this paradise for long. Hopefully I can rope my family into meeting us here for a wonderful vacation.

If you are looking for a Greek island stay that is all about beaches, sun, food, and relaxing, come to Drios, Paros. Stay at Betty Apartments and eat at Taverna Agkyra. You will be happy that you did!

Wednesday Write-Up: A Visitor! Opa!

After we left Athens, we took a four hour ferry ride to the island of Paros in the Cyclades. We are now settled in a wonderful little apartment just a 5 minute walk from the beach! We found our apartment on airbnb.com and have fallen in love with it. It is called Betty Apartments, and Betty has been an amazing hostess. For one thing, she does our laundry! She also cleans our room everyday! It has been a real vacation so far for us. We have had very busy days consisting of brunch, nap-time (for Zoë, although there have been times I wished it was mine), time at the beach, dinner and then some relaxation after Zoë’s asleep. Chad works in the mornings and while Zoë naps and I do my writing or cleaning then too. This life is amazing! This trip is amazing, and I feel so very blessed to be here. God is good!

Zoë hanging out on our back porch

Zoë hanging out on our back porch

Chad and Zoë walking back to our apartment

Chad and Zoë walking back to our apartment

We have been on the island now for 10 days. And as of two days ago, we now have a friend from Sonoma County staying with us! (We have tried harassing everyone to come and see us, but with the price of plane tickets these days…whew). Our friend, Nathan, has been traveling himself for the past half year or so. He was planning on being in Greece the same time as us, so, here he is! It has been so nice to see a familiar face thats not pixelated on skype or facetime. Both Chad and I have enjoyed having someone new to converse with, and hearing about his travels and what God is doing in his life. Hopefully, he is just as happy to be here as we are to have him here!

As it is whenever one has visitors, whether you are in your home or traveling, there are hiccoughs along the way, but the stories you will tell later about your time together will be even better because of them. For example, Zoë being over-tired at dinner last night and pushing her glass of water over so that Nathan had to make a quick dodge before getting deluged… well, that will be funny in the future right? And Chad getting the flu today and being bed-bound and unable to keep anything down except cola… we will laugh about that someday too.

God has impeccable timing for teaching us things that we didn’t realize that we needed to learn, and what I have learned in the past two days, is that I need to stop sweating the small things (I cringe at being so cliché…I’m sorry).

I need to see God blessing me with patience when Zoë screams as if I am water boarding her every time I have to wash her hair (we use tearless shampoo, the water’s a good temperature, I have tried every trick, she just hates washing her hair). I need to see that God is blessing me with a merciful attitude, when she accidentally punches me in the face while having a public melt-down. I need to see that everything around me, God has blessed to me. He has given me this opportunity to see the WORLD! I need to stop worrying about the small, insignificant things that will be forgotten or laughed at later and try laughing at them or forgetting them now.

How hard that is. When I have it down perfectly, I will let you all know. Until then, I will just keep trying and keep praying. God is good.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Wednesday Write-Up: And It always Come Back to One Thing

Food. That’s right, I love food. While we have been traveling if I do not find some good cuisine, my desire to be in that place lessens. I am all about food. Although I would not call myself a foodie, as I do not need to have the most gourmet or delicately prepared fare. If it happens that the food I get is tasty, fresh, and keeps me going back for more, that is enough for me.

Budapest was difficult for me at first. The good food was not so easy to find. But sometimes the trouble and adventure of finding good food makes it all the more special when you do find it.

There were a few places that I wanted to recommend to you, and although they are not all classified as Hungarian food, they are places that I think you should try.

 ARRIBA TAQUERIA

Photo Courtesy of Arriba Taqueria Website

Photo Courtesy of Arriba Taqueria Website

I love mexican food, in fact in one of my earlier posts I talked about how I would miss my family and friends, but leaving Mexican food behind while we traveled, well that was too painful to think about. It sounds a little callous now as I look back, but for those of you that have had authentic California Mexican food, you understand, right?

Well, imagine my surprise, excitement, and trepidation when we found a flyer for Arriba Taqueria in our place after we got settled that first night. It was like it was meant to be, for us to find and have mexican food again. After three long months of being burrito-free, I could lavish my palate again with yummy Mexican goodness.

They offered free delivery, from either of their locations (one on the Buda side by us, and the other on the Pest side), and also had online ordering. The online ordering was the so helpful! It was our first night in Hungary, we knew none of the language and we were both a bit daunted at trying to communicate over the phone at that moment. We placed our order and 20 minutes later, a gentleman on a scooter delivered the most authentic, fresh tasting mexican food we had had in months. The flavors were excellent and tasted just like the mexican food back home. Chad and I decided that the owner must be from California, because the food was spot on.

We went back to Arriba’s three or 4 more times before we left Budapest. Each time the food was spectacular, the service was wonderful (everyone that worked there spoke english!) and I left feeling happy and satisfied. I am so happy that we found this restaurant, because that was probably our last chance for Mexican food until we visit back home. Thank you Arriba!

RING CAFE
Photos of Ring Cafe and Burger Bar, Budapest
This photo of Ring Cafe and Burger Bar is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A good hamburger is not hard to find while traveling, but the hamburgers at Ring Cafe, were simply amazing! I had just a normal burger and was taking the tiniest bites to make the burger last longer, it was that good. The hamburger meat was seasoned and cooked perfectly, the home-made ciabatta buns were soft and flavorful, and the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh and crisp. If you are looking for a hamburger that will leave you wanting for more, try out the Ring Cafe on the Pest side of the city.

TRÓFEA GRILL
Photos of Trofea Grill Etterem, Budapest
This photo of Trofea Grill Etterem is courtesy of TripAdvisor
We found out about this buffet from one of those books that every city has, you know, the ones where restaurants pay to advertise to tourists (and most of them are a little iffy or over-priced). Chad noticed this buffet because it had an international fare, and also because it was all you can drink wine and beer (as well as the normal non-alcoholic beverages as well). The price was really reasonable for all they offered so we decided to check it out.

We arrived at one of the Trófea Grill locations (the one on the Buda side near the Margaret Bridge) and I was impressed with the cleanliness and design of the restaurant. I immediately went to load up my plate with what the buffet had to offer. The food was lovely and fresh, unlike many buffets I have been to. They had many choices of stews (which seem to be Hungary’s specialty), delicious side dishes, meats and seafood that they would grill up for you, and yummy deserts. Oh they also had salads, but I decided not to waste space on that stuff. The wine was pretty good as well. This restaurant’s food was very good. Also, for all you parents out there, it was a fantastic place to take a toddler. Zoë had a great time eating from her own plate, with food that we got that we knew that she would love. Toddlers want variety, too. She was great the whole time.

All-in-all this buffet was great. They did end up overcharging us somehow (I didn’t look closely enough at the tag and realized it a bit later that it just didn’t add up), but it was worth the extra for good food and relaxing times.

We ended up craving the buffet pretty much the rest of our time in Budapest, so on our last night in the city, we went to another one of their locations. The location we went to was out of the tourist area and was cheaper. Their service was excellent and the food was even more delicious than the other location. I even got to eat Foie Gras for the first time ever (it was wonderful, I can see why people rave about it). I honestly do not remember the address of the more “local” buffet, but it was about a 25 minute walk from the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and City Park.

Both times and locations, I was impressed with the food, the cleanliness and the service at Trófea Grill. I would definitely eat there again if we end up back in Budapest.

EDENI VEGAN RESTAURANT
Photos of Edeni Vegan Etterem, Budapest
This photo of Edeni Vegan Etterem is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Obviously, you can tell that I am not a vegetarian or vegan of any sort. I enjoy the freedom to eat animal products when I want to. I have found that much of the vegan and/or vegetartian food offered in restaurants tastes like cardboard, or a poor interpretation of food containing animal products. I enjoy vegan/vegetarian food that is so tasty that it makes you feel as though you are eating real food, not an imitation of something else.

Edeni Vegan Restaurant does just that. The flavors and spices in their food were perfect and left me so full, but craving more. The restaurant is set up cafeteria style, where you choose your dishes and they serve you massive portions of their savory fare. If they had not told me that their dishes were vegan, I would have never thought that they were. I really cannot express enough how good the food was. The restaurant was close to the river on the Buda side of Budapest, with lovely indoor and outdoor seating areas. The service was excellent and they spoke enough english to explain the dishes and serve us perfectly. We went twice and both times were extremely happy with our meals. Whether you consider yourself herbivores or carnivores, try the food at Edeni’s.

BAMBI PRESSZÓ

Breakfast is important in our family. Well, not to Chad really, but it is to me. I am one of those people that has to eat pretty soon after I get up, otherwise my blood sugar plummets and I turn into a raving lunatic I can be a little cranky. Zoë seems to take after me and needs to eat pretty much as soon as she gets out of bed. Her first words in the morning are often “ice mean” (yogurt), “nana” (banana) or “baby cracker” (crackers). Poor Chad always has to appease the hungry women in his life and get up and going early if there is no food in the apartment.

Bambi Pressźo was a great option for breakfast, about a 10 minute walk from our apartment on the Buda side. The breakfasts were basic but good, the espresso was strong, and the prices were inexpensive.

The cafe had a spacious outdoor eating area and was very kid and dog friendly. There were kids and dogs walking around freely, having fun exploring. This made it a nice relaxing place for us. We could eat our breakfast while letting Z play. It was exactly the kind of cafe I imagined going to when we decided to travel in Europe. A relaxing place where we could start out our day slowly.

We would have gone there everyday probably, but with Chad working, we usually ended up eating breakfast at home. It was a great place though. I would highly recommend you try it out.

I wish I would have had more time and energy to try out more restaurants in Budapest. Seven days was just not enough to fully grasp and enjoy the varied cuisine on both sides of the Danube River. Are there other places that you would recommend it Budapest? I would love to hear all about them so I could try them next time we venture to this beautiful city.

Beautiful Budapest

Budapest, Hungary is an intensely beautiful and interesting city. The city consists of two sides of the Danube River, Buda and Pest, that are connected with eight very distinct bridges. We stayed in an apartment we found on airbnb.com on the Buda side. Buda is a more quiet and less touristy than the Pest side. Pest has streets lined with restaurants, shops, and museums. Buda is more suburban feeling, but does have some little aggregations of tourist restaurants by the river. Both sides are great, and have government buildings, castles, churches, and apartment buildings that are amazing architecturally.

Unfortunately, jet lag caught up with us when we arrived so we spent the first three days we were there resting and getting acclimated. It is really odd that we were so affected, as there was only an hour difference between Budapest and Lisbon, where we had been for the past month and a half. Our bodies thought we needed a break I guess.

Anyways, we were left with four days to see and do everything we wanted to. We started with our old stand-by, a sightseeing bus. This time we took the green sightseeing bus that included a guided bus tour of both sides of the city, a panoramic pink bus (we didn’t take that one, so I am not sure what it would have shown us) and a river boat trip to Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube River. The ticket was a 48 hour ticket, so we took the bus one day and then the boat trip the next day.

We somehow planned it just right , Z was happy the whole time, and we were able to ride the bus from the first stop to the very last. It was fascinating to see all the different architectural styles and monuments and especially the views from the Citadel on the top of the hill in Buda. It was well worth the 18 euros each that we paid for it all.

View of Budapest from the Citadel

View of Budapest from the Citadel

The next day we took the river boat trip to Margaret Island (which can also be reached by the bridge on the far left side of Buda, aptly named the Margaret Bridge). The island is one huge park, filled with playgrounds, eateries, a hostel or two, a water park, and a couple of baths. There are also ruins of some sort on the island but we didn’t get the time to go check them out. Margaret Island was one of Zoë’s favorite places for sure. I never see her so excited and happy as when she gets to play at parks.

 

Cotton Candy on Margaret Island

Cotton Candy on Margaret Island

One of the stops on the bus tour was the Szechenyi Baths and the adjacent City Park, Budapest Zoo, amusement park, and circus. We decided to visit the zoo the day after we went on the river cruise.

The Budapest Zoo was a ton of fun. It was our first time taking Zoë to a zoo and I am glad that this was her first one. The zoo is laid out by continent and has all the normal zoo animals, but has many different species in a habitat together. For example, the giraffes also had gazelles, a couple of different types of birds and some gnu’s (at least I think thats what they were, I didn’t see the sign on that pen). It made it feel more real and also that the animals might be happier as they are surrounded by animals they would be near in the wild.

There were a few neat things that were great for young’uns (or grown up young’uns). There was a petting zoo, which was about 30 goats of all sizes that you could feed, pet, and hang out in their pen with them. You could feed the camels and pet them, and you could also pet the prairies dogs and sloths. It was awesome to interact with these animals up close. They zoo was very clean and safe (all the dangerous animals were locked up in habitats behind thick glass and fences, etc.) and fun for all ages.

Feeding the Camels Photo By Jennifer Mitchell

Feeding the Camels
(c) andthreetogo
Meeting a Sloth  Photo By Jennifer Mitchell

Meeting a Sloth
(c) andthreetogo

We wanted to go to one of the famous Budapest baths the next day, but upon further research we realized that the baths are off limits to little ones under the age of 14. And the regular heated pools that some of the baths have especially for children are only for potty-trained kids. Yes, Zoë is two years old and still in diapers. (She doesn’t seem interested in changing that and neither do I at this point. Diapers are just too easy while traveling). So, anyways, no baths for us. We will have to return to Budapest for those when Z is diaper free.

We spent the following day at City Park  on the Pest side since we could not visit the baths. The park is immaculate and is a huge 1 kilometer square. It houses a man-made lake that in the winter is an ice rink. In the summer, they rent out boats so you can paddle around and enjoy the nature (or restaurants really) surrounding it. The lake is also bordered by The Vajdahunyad Castle, that was built in the late 1800’s and is made up of “castles” of many different architectural styles throughout it, such as renaissance, turkish, etc. After we paddled a canoe around the lake for a half hour, we headed to the castle to check it out.

 

Zoë's Favorite Thing To Do, Play in the Sand at the Park Photo By Jennifer Mitchell

Zoë’s Favorite Thing To Do, Play in the Sand at the Park
(c) andthreetogo

 

Now, honestly, after seeing a few castles, they start to mold together in ones mind. Not that I do not appreciate the beauty and wonder of any specific castle, but I feel like I have seen a lot in the last three months. It was nice to see many different types of castle all in one place.

The park is massive and has many restaurants and playgrounds and kiosks selling everything from toys to bathing suits. It was a great last day in Budapest.

I know that I told you in my previous post that I would let you know about my favorite places to eat in Budapest (just one small hint, they include a mexican restaurant!), but it would just make this post too long. I will tell you all about them in my Wednesday Write-Up. It will be a food filled post! Until then my hungry friends (no pun intended, I promise!)…szia!

Wednesday Write-Up: So the Days Float Through My Eyes

Well, here it’s Wednesday again, and we are leaving for another country tomorrow. The last 8 days felt slow, but went so fast. I am just starting to acclimate and love the amazing city of Budapest, Hungary.

It is interesting that none of us three had been affected by the time changes very much or culture changes either for that matter until we arrived here. We had very few issues in Lisbon, a bit more in Disneyland Paris, and many more here in Budapest it felt like. It felt like a daunting task to be here and now I am sad to leave as it feels as though I have just let the realness of the city in.

There were a couple of reasons that it was hard to get used to being here. The first was the jet lag. For some reason, all of a sudden, the time changes caught up with all of us and the hour difference in time from Lisbon, set us back a couple of days. All three of us struggled with exhaustion, crankiness and headaches the first three days we were here. It was really a bummer, we thought that our mutant powers made us invincible to jet lag.

Secondly, it was the language. Hungarian is…well…a really foreign language. There is no connection to any other words that I know unless they are words that we all have transferred from another culture, such as buffet or manicure. But it took me this whole week just to master saying köszönöm, which means thank you. Its a tough language to understand and speak, I wish I had had more time to practice.

Third, the food here was just okay. We did find some great restaurants, such as a bavarian place, a vegan place, and a buffet that were really good. But these were all not really hungarian places and I am not much of a soup person so I didn’t even venture to try the Hungarian Goulash (I know…shame on me). I will write more in my Friday post about the wonderful restaurants that we did find and love.

Fourth, and last, the prices here are much higher than we expected. Mind you we have been blinded by the wonderful cost of living in Portugal, so it is probably not as bad as say, Paris or London, but it was a bit more expensive for the things we love than we had planned. For example, in Lisbon I paid 20 Euros for an exciting new haircut and here I just had to pay 32 Euros for a trim. (I chopped off all my hair and now sport a pixie cut..who would have thought I could have pulled it off?! But I love it!). Also the food costs her are significantly more than I am used to, about 30-40 euros a meal. It really isn’t that bad, I know, but my stupid expectations get me every time.

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

My New Haircut and Zoë on the Chain Bridge in Budapest

Now, after I have said all these things, I want to tell you that I love Budapest, I love the architecture, the weather has actually been sunny for 4 out of 8 days we have been here, and the people are very helpful and friendly. I want to come back and experience some more. Until next time Budapest… viszontlátásra (good-bye)!