Christmas lights on Mackenzie Avenue at the Embassy of the United States.
I am back in Canada for the Christmas break but I wanted to share a few photos of Budapest during the month of December. Christmas markets pop up in squares throughout the city, with little wooden huts selling traditional foods, hot wine and gifts.
This was my first time in Europe during the winter months. In Canada, it is customary to hang Christmas wreaths on our doors and in our windows. In Central Europe, advent wreaths are also prominent but instead of hanging on doors, they are laid down horizontally with a candle at each corner. The wreath and its candles symbolize the passage of the four weeks before Christmas. With each passing week, a new candle is lit.
The Christmas market at Vörösmarty tér, at the northern end of Váci Utca, gets very crowded. In the most busy areas it can take minutes to move just a few metres.
For more photos of Budapest at Christmas time and throughout the year, visit my newly launched tumblr blog, http://budapestography.tumblr.com/. I started posting the backlog of images I’ve taken from during my first five and a half months in the city. In under 30 days, I’ve been able to post 86 photos and I still have some more images to share. My goal, starting in January when I return, is to be able to offer up at least one new photo a day. This means going out once a week (likely on the weekend) with my camera in hand and getting at least seven quality shots. It’s doable, especially in Budapest.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was able to take a quick trip to New York City just before Christmas. I was able to book a cheap train from Montreal to New York. It’s a convenient option, as the train offers wifi, which allows me to work while traveling, and the final destination is Penn Station, right in the heart of Manhattan.
This time around, I used AirBNB to find a place to crash, locating a cheap room in an apartment on the Lower East Side. I can’t recommend AirBNB enough to the traveler. It gives you another viable option to keep your budget in check. It also helps you make a decision about just how good the “deals” are on sites like Hotwire or Priceline. If you can’t find something to your liking, you can go to AirBNB.
I was only in NYC for a couple of the nights, but was able to see quite a bit of Manhattan, most of it on foot. The weather during my visit was outstanding, with temperatures soaring to plus 23C with lots of humidity. It was a welcome break from snowy Ottawa.
This was my second visit to NYC, my first since 2009. After mentioning that I had found the city to be too intense, I heard from people who live/grew up in the city that it’s best to stay away from Midtown Manhattan. I took their advice and had a much more relaxing and enjoyable trip this time around.
I spent most of my time walking around in some of the quieter neighbourhoods, such as the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown and spent the bulk of an afternoon exploring Central Park. While I did make a few stops in Midtown (NHL Store, Rockefeller Christmas Tree, Grand Central Station), I made sure to keep my visits to those crowded, loud places brief, so not to get to drained. It’s really intense on the senses. Your brain has to process a lot, I’m not sure how healthy it would be on a daily basis.
I want to explore New York some more in the coming months. I still have lots of Manhattan neighbourhoods to see and I should probably check out Brooklyn as well. I plan on returning in the near future.