Monthly Archives: January 2016

Tauck River Cruise, Budapest to Bratislava – Part One

Once on board Tauck’s MS Treasures we started our training at Budapest – the staff took over and provided us with a sophisticated service offering incredible wine choices and an appetising luncheon whilst we mingled with other guests.

We had the opportunity for some more sightseeing of this exquisite bohemian city with its mosques, synagogues, cathedrals and many edifices of religious worship.

Heroes’ Square is one of the most visited sights in Budapest, surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Kunsthalle (Hall of Art) on the right. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.

The Changing of the Guards is only a few minutes with a spectacular choreography – turning about the rifles, saluting and marching up and down the square. It takes place in front of the Hungarian Presidential Palace being one of the Buda Castle’s attractions each day.

Time to meet our facilitators and other industry colleagues for our Tauck Academy’s Training for Travel Agents to take place. Can’t think of a better place to be right now if I could do it all over again …

Without doubt, presentation and delivery truly make a difference. Really, just how long can one look at something so delectable before devouring it?

Time to say goodbye to Budapest and wave the Chain Bridge a hearty farewell.

Best looking Parliament building anywhere, even at night.

Time for bed and a little treat delivered to our cabins.

Cabins are spacious and comfortable with a turn-down service each night.

MS Treasures accommodates no more than 118 guests, while similar-sized riverboats average about 160. Guest amenities include 14 lush 300-square-foot suites include brocade upholstery, roomy walk-in closets with built-in drawers, spacious marble baths with full-size tubs and two French balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows which open to idyllic river views. She also sports seven 183-square-foot cabins, similarly furnished. Standard cabins (150 square feet) are cozy and comfortable and are similar in décor and style to the larger suites. 85% have floor-to-ceiling windows with real French balconies, opening onto a balcony in the fresh air; all have in-room movies, minibar, adjustable heating and cooling, private bathroom and shower with toiletries to pamper yourself with.

Budapest, Hungary Revisited. Once is not enough …

Kiskiraktlany – László Marton (1925–2008) Prize-winning Hungarian sculptor from Budapest, Hungary created the Little Princess Statue sitting on the railings of the Danube promenade. You’ll walk by her a number of times as this is one of the most stunning walks alongside the river you could ever wish to undertake. As I noted a long time ago, one visit to Budapest is just not enough.

An afternoon ride on an hour-long sojourn, up and down the Danube really is not sufficient. I’ve now spotted MS Treasures of which I’ll be boarding the next day with my Tauck Academy group to become a Certified Travel Agent selling river cruises.

Parliament Building on the banks of the river is always a drawcard. It stretches 268 metres in length along the Danube embankment – ornamented with white neo-gothic turrets and arches, it’s one of the most outstanding landmarks of the Pest side.

There’s several bridges in Budapest connecting both sides of the city which were formed in 1873 by the union of Buda, being on the right bank of the river with Pest on the left bank. The Chain Bridge is one of the favourites, especially at night when it’s all lit up.

St Stephen statue in the Castle district of Budapest.

Gargoyles galore!

Buda Castle – a must see!

Incredible views back over the city and Danube River which makes this city one of the most popular in Europe and along with river cruising.

St Stephen’s Cathedral is open to the public but there is a fee to enter. Best to go when Mass is on.


You’ll see free concerts at a number of cathedrals throughout Europe, particularly before Christmas. My best advice is go early if you’re wanting to see these performances …

Walking around the city and enjoying the warmth, architecture, street art and sculptures of which there’s plenty to admire.

Not too far from here there’s the markets and a short walk away.

The Great Market Hall is located at the end of the famous pedestrian shopping street Váci utca and on the Pest side of the Liberty bridge at Fővám square.

Traditional food and cost was about $7.50 Australian dollars. Just what I needed after all that walking. Hungary – renown for hot, spicy gulash.

Enjoying some more scenery around the city with plenty of great shopping and cafes.

Growing well even though this is the month of November.

Budapest also has an excellent public transportation system. If you glance skyward, you’ll see most of the city’s streets are lined with cables, as it has a vast system of streetcars (or trams) and trolley buses.

Subway (Metro) – Budapest has three subway lines and the fourth one, Metro 4, is currently under construction.
M1 or Millennium Underground (yellow line) – runs under Andrássy Avenue in Pest, between Vörösmarty tér and Mexikói út
M2 (red line) – runs east west, between Déli pályaudvar and Örs vezér tere
M3 (blue line) – runs north south in Pest, between Újpest-Központ and Kőbánya-Kispest
M4 – will run between Kelenföldi pályaudvar and Keleti pályaudvar

The main junction where all three subway lines meet is at Deák Ferenc tér in the city centre and it’s about three stops to Keleti palyaudvar which is the main train station.

Window cleaners near my hotel – not sure I’d be wanting to do this but I’m certain they have some of the best views everyday.

As for me the view is not so good, especially when you’ve been in Canada, New York City and about to board a Tauck River Cruise as they are all inclusive – sometimes it’s really hard to ward off the kilos!

Stay tuned for my next post and see what’s on offer.

New York City, New York USA – Part Two

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Need a ride? The Langham Hotel offer its guests on a first-come basis, a short ride from Langham Place. Of course, I need to go down town and have a look around.

Times Square always busy 24/7 and very much central to all the theatres at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Lots to do and see here and the line up for last-minute Broadway Show tickets can be quite long – go early if there’s a performance you’ve been eyeing off.

Mid October and mid week, not really seen Seventh Avenue this quiet, but enjoying it while I can.

I’d imagine being in NYC, you’d be trying to outdo all the others, especially when you’re at that age when testosterone rules! Glad he pulled up in time for the pedestrians to walk!

Grand Central Station always a drawcard with passers-by generally fixated by looking up at its ceiling while walking along the Concourse. As one New Yorker said to me years ago, you can always tell tourists as they’re busy looking up at everything!

One of my favourite outlets in NYC is the Grand Central Market just inside the station. Fragrant and colourful produce makes it a popular shopping experience for locals as well as tourists.

Lots of choices and this is only the tea section.

Pershing Square, hosts an array of eateries whereby you can admire the best views. In particular, the Chrysler Building which obligingly sparkles at night with its shiny automobile-inspired curves and radiator-cap gargoyles.

I said I wouldn’t leave The Langham without taking some photos of the water towers, nicely gathered together at a height which makes it a little more up-close and personal. All I have to do now is convert them to black and white, making my own personal series … Another project of mine!

Air travellers to New York City may depart/arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA), both in Queens or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in neighbouring New Jersey. LaGuardia primarily serves domestic destinations and also offers flights to select Canadian and Caribbean destinations. Kennedy and Newark both serve domestic and international destinations. Visitors can reach Manhattan from all three airports by using taxis and buses. No subways and/or commuter trains from/to LaGuardia, but the other two airports are serviced by AirTrain and rail.

Now heading off to JFK and a trip to Budapest to commence training with the Tauck Academy for Travel Agents from Australia and UK.

Happy New Year, 2016

Yes, another year ahead is now upon us for 2016,
Let laughter, tears, travel and safety set the scene.
Even at times when our lives are just simply chaotic;
This year, take time out to enjoy the curious and exotic.

Amongst our busy lives, there will always be an element of danger.
Never, ever let your friends and close ones to you be a stranger.
You may at times feel life is forging you to feel adrift …
And, it’s important to seek those who enlighten and give you an uplift.

Me? I’ll be equipping myself trying to coiffe and tame the frizzy mane,
And, looking for an out this year to experience another bus, train or plane.
Whichever way we wish to direct our wondrous life,
Don’t forget, not to perpetually judge those who aren’t always in tune and a bit rife.

Although there may be times we feel astonished and life’s a mystical fog,
Come what may, I’m just happy to take off, write and blog …
To all my friends I hope you enjoy life’s roller coaster till you’re blue …
And, in the meantime raise your glass to those who appreciate a toast or two!

Happy New Year.

Written by Grace Lech (c)
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