Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

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From high places, part 5

Almost a year and a half have passed since the last “From high places” post was published. Since then, I’ve been back in Europe – specifically the UK – and certainly have visited more high places throughout my travels. I think it’s time for a part 5 😉 (List in alphabetical – not chronological – order as usual. Check out the previous posts on the “Series” page.)

Budapest (read about it)

The “Pearl of the Danube” is a place that made me feel something special. Budapest is one of those places that is not only exciting for travel, but one of the few cities I’ve been to where I think I’d actually enjoy living. The view of Budapest from Gellert Hill exposed the grandeur of the Hungarian capital, and the winter chill embellished the beauty hidden within its sad histories.

Český Krumlov (read about it)

Český Krumlov is the stuff that fairytales are made of. Thanks to a suggestion on my travel checklist, the little Czech town has been on my list of destinations to visit for years before I finally got to it in the winter of 2014, just in time for the first snowfall of the winter! The little town glistened in the snow and exposed its beauty flawlessly – how exquisite!

Edinburgh (read about it)

As one of the many cities with the name “City of Seven Hills”, there is no shortage of high points from which to gaze upon Edinburgh, the lovely Scottish capital. So far I’ve only climbed Arthur’s Seat (where the above photo was taken) and strolled around Castle Rock, though Calton Hill is definitely to be visited soon.

Königswinter

I left my group of friends and took a spontaneous detour from Cologne last year and headed to Königswinter. From there I ascended Drachenfels, a hill at a height of ~300 metres. It was a hiking break from a mostly city-oriented trip. From the top of the hill, the town of Königswinter was clearly visible along the Rhine river.

Leipzig

In Leipzig, my friends and I stayed in an apartment on the 4th (or 5th?) floor, high enough to get a good view of the city from the windows (the only location in this list that was indoors).

Lisbon

Another “City of Seven Hills” is Lisbon, a city that has a special place in my heart because one of the most influential teachers in my life came from Lisbon. Third visit to Lisbon recently, and the city was still as charming as ever with vibrant colours dotting its prominent hills. The many “miradouros”, or viewpoints, required a lot of legwork through winding streets and up steep steps to reach, but these views were worthy of the sweat!

Madrid

I went to Madrid this year to see a friend who was studying there. This would be my second visit, but my first time seeing the city from a high place – Cybele Palace, which is also the city hall and my favourite building in Madrid. Looking west (I think it was west), I saw snow-capped mountain ranges in a distance and wondered where that was. Could they be the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain ranges?

Oxford

Oxford used to be my dream university in high school for no valid reason at all, other than the reputation that attracted me when I was still a teenager. Well, I never got to study in Oxford, but at least I finally got to see what it’s all about during a visit two weeks ago. I constantly compared Oxford to Cambridge during my walk around the city mostly because of the well-known rivalry between the two universities and the fact that I had already visited Cambridge. Still, to me both places are just tourist destinations – let their rivalries entertain themselves 😉

Prague (read about it)

I had high expectations for Prague and while it was a lovely destination, it felt a bit underwhelming after the visit to Budapest a few days later. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Prague – I just liked Budapest a lot more 😛 What’s undeniable is that the view of Prague’s old town from the Petrin tower (where this photo was taken, if I remember correctly) was nothing short of spectacular!

Note: This post didn’t include hiking destinations in Scotland, such as Callander Crags, Kinnoull Hill, Conic Hill, and so on. Obviously hills are high places, but most hiking adventures have already had their own dedicated posts, deservingly so 😛

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Thermal baths in Budapest

In case you were wondering from the previous post, yes, I did go to a thermal bath in Budapest (Széchenyi). I wasn’t going to, but I gave in to a combination of curiosity and continuous persuasion by my friend.

What did I think? Well, these thermal baths were largely overrated. I don’t regret having done it though. For me it was something completely new and out of my comfort zone, a step towards conquering fear. My fellow blogger was right, the aspect of anonymity did add some mystery to the whole experience.

Two things merited mentioning and made the experience worthy. First of all, doing a spa surrounded by gorgeous buildings that you would normally think are part of a palace or a museum…that was really cool. Also, stepping out into freezing air (-7 degrees Celsius that day in December!) and dipping into warm water, rinse (literally) and repeat – that was an unforgettable feeling. It was almost like a freeze/thaw cycle…in real life! And OK, it really was quite cheap, and the rented bathing suit was rather nice, actually.

So, while overrated, I thought the whole process was interesting and unconventional for me. I wouldn’t say whether I’d recommend it or not. Some people may be very much into thermal baths and spas and would enjoy this a lot more than I did, but personally I would probably avoid it next time.

Budapest, Hungary, December 2014 – The only photo I took of the interior of the Széchenyi baths, looking up at the lobby. Certainly felt more like a museum than a bath 😛

Budapest, Pearl of the Danube

Just a note before the actual post begins: Almost a whole month without a blog entry… 😦 Seems like the new life in Glasgow has kept Annie quite busy. As a result, I’ve decided to try a different way of blogging, focusing more on imagery than on words, which often take more time to formulate than I could afford. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. I do want to keep up with the blog, but it simply takes too much time to write, and so I will compromise. There will still be text, but the descriptions won’t be as elaborate as those in previous entries. Of course you can click on the images for the full view and a short caption of each. I hope you will still enjoy the photos 😉


Budapest, another city whose name begins with the letter “B”. If you didn’t know, I tend to end up liking cities beginning with “B”, for the most part – Bordeaux, Bologna, Brussels, Bratislava, BarcelonaBruges is the exception. Though it is all coincidence, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that Budapest deserved to be visited with high expectations. Aside from the fact that it is yet another city beginning with the letter “B”, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Hungarian city from my friends who have been there. (Come to think of it, it was the same with Barcelona.) So then, this was Budapest…

Budapest by night

Prague had a castle; Budapest had a castle. Prague had bridges; Budapest had bridges. Tell me then – how could I not compare the two cities when I had just travelled from Prague to Budapest? Sorry to fans of Prague but Budapest beats Prague in night scene, hands down. Charles Bridge, you have nothing on the Chain Bridge in Budapest ❤ And the parliament building – need I say more other than that it was one of the most stunning structures I've seen?

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