DAILY PHOTO: Creepy Sweet Shop

Taken in December 2014 in Vác

Taken in December 2014 in Vác

This sweets bakery (cukrászda) was painted in a festive lime green, but with the stark shadows of a winter’s afternoon writing on the wall, it still looked a bit creepy to me.

Plus, is it just me, or is that font a bit unsettling?

DAILY PHOTO: Lion with Soldiers

Taken in Vác in December of 2014

Taken in Vác in December of 2014

IMG_2810

Vác was getting ready to install or remove a few statues and had them all grouped together in the town square. The juxtaposition of a lion with a WWI monument made for a couple interesting images.  

DAILY PHOTO: Vāci Székesegyhāz

Taken in December of 2014 in Vāc

Taken in December of 2014 in Vāc

The Vāc Cathedral (Vāci Székesegyhāz) is one of the most impressive structures in the small Danubian village of Vāc. Vāc is similar to Szentendre, which I posted about earlier in the week, but it’s a little bit less touristy because it’s not as close to Budapest.

There are some people in the above photo to give one a sense of scale, but probably a better indicator is the picture below which shows an average height female adult reaching for the door knob.

IMG_2778

9 Reasons To Freeze Your Keister Off in Hungary

IMG_2852


I’m fully adjusted to life in the tropics. I’m used to days that are almost exactly half light and half dark year round, and annual temperatures that vary less than 10°C from the year’s low to its high. However, I just got back from Hungary, and was reminded of some of the redeeming features of the great, white, whitest-of-white north.

Fortunately, we were eased into the winter experience. When we arrived, it looked like this:

IMG_2108


By the end it looked more like this:

IMG_2951


So beyond visiting family, why travel into the arctic chill?


9.) Christmas markets: If you’re tired of this year’s mass-produced doodads and gizmos churned out of massive factories in China, you can see some new and interesting wares within these markets (though there’s no escaping mass-produced tsotchkes altogether.)  In Budapest’s markets, you can even find blacksmiths to custom make your metal needs.

IMG_2462
IMG_1817


8.) Skating and winter sports / activities: In India one has three choices for viewing or participating in sports: cricket, soccer, or–did I mention–cricket. It was refreshing to see skiing, skating, etc. on TV and in practice.

IMG_2000


7.) Vivid sunsets: Something about the high latitude and proclivity for cloud cover made for brilliant colors, and you can’t miss the sunset because it happens at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

20141220_160428


6.) Street food: There are so many outstanding high-calorie food options too keep your internal furnace burning.

IMG_2758

IMG_2431


5.) Color: There’s no place that outdoes India in the brilliant colors department, but villages like Szentendre are no strangers to vivid colors–though not necessarily ones that assault the eyes. Besides the warm yellow-orange that is ubiquitous throughout the region, there are a range of colors that one doesn’t see everyday and that I–as a straight man–have no idea of the names of.

IMG_2377 IMG_2372


4.) Concerts: Music is big in Hungary, and there are bills for Christmas concerts all over the place. That said, we missed most of the Christmas music in favor of going to hear a popular Dixieland Jazz band and a New Years Concert that mostly rock-and-roll cover songs. Dixieland Jazz isn’t what one expects in Hungary,  but it’s nice to see American art forms other than Hollywood cinema and television programming that have a huge following abroad.

IMG_3175
20141228_192655


3.) Finding your inner child: If you grew up in a wintery place–as I did–the cold, colors, and lights of the holiday season transport one back to the simple and energetic time of one’s youth.

IMG_2483


2.) Hot beverages: You develop a renewed appreciation for coffee, tea, mulled wine, and hot cocoa when it’s freezing.

IMG_2351


1.) Kürtőskalács: If you don’t know what this is, it’s worth the visit for it alone. It’s one of the best wintertime snacks anywhere in the world, and is hand’s down the best cylindrical food in existence.

IMG_1834