Sunday, November 27, 2011

Budapest, Hungary

A few weeks ago, Anthony and I had an opportunity to take a short retreat away from the kids.  This was our first time away from them together.  Although it was difficult to leave them for 4 days, it was really nice to have my husband all to myself! 

View of Budapest from the citadel - Buda on the left with the castle grounds and Pest on the right with the Parliament building.  Margaret Island is in the middle of the Danube river beyond the second bridge. 

This retreat was provided by The Christian Hospitality Network and Christ Fellowship Church and was such a blessing to us.  We stayed in a nice spa hotel on Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube River.  The retreat was created to care for missionaries on the field and the group was so thoughtful about our needs.  We were treated to great lodging, two filling meals a day, massages, gifts, and medical care.  Both Anthony and I were seen by doctors who were helpful and encouraging and who offered solutions to long-term medical needs we have had.  The team of individuals who sponsored the event were so encouraging, thoughtful, and loving.  They even contacted Stateside friends to deliver notes of encouragement to us from them.  In the evenings, an optional time of worship and devotion was offered.  It was such a beautiful window into heaven as missionaries from dozens of countries representing many ministries came together in fellowship to worship the living God.  And, of course, my social husband made friends with the team and connected over discussing music ministry.  This led, at the end of the week, to them giving him the brand new acoustic/electric guitar they had brought with them.  Anthony was stoked and has been using it at youth group every week since. 

Besides the blessings of the retreat itself, we were able to really get some needed rest.  Without kids to interrupt a good night's sleep for the first time in nearly 5 years, we were able to catch-up on some sleep.  It was also awesome to get  uninterrupted time with my man!  It was so fun to connect and get a large quantity of quality time together. 

We even got great exercise as we experienced Budapest on foot.  We really enjoyed the city with its interesting history and eclectic influences on architecture and culture.  One afternoon we hit the hop-on, hop-off tour bus to get to see the sights further out.  The best time to view Budapest, though, was at night.  We would walk down to the bridge at the end of the island and see the parliament building, the castle, the churches and the citadel all lit up. 

Military amphitheater remains from Roman times

Roman ruins on Margaret Island

Budapest at night - Parliament building on left and castle grounds on right

The kids did great without us for a few days.  Many thanks goes out to our co-worker, Heather, for taking them on while holding down ministry programs for the week! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Best 18 Euro We Ever Spent

The Gartenshau in K-town is a unique place that I have not seen the likes of anywhere else.  We have visited it from time to time over the years and the kids really liked it.  So this year we decided to get a season pass for just 18 Euro and it has been so worth it!  We went at least twice a month this summer.  The Gartenshau closed at the end of October for the year, so we will be anxious to go back when it opens back up in the spring.  I saved-up lots of photos of our many trips to "Dino-Land", so here is our photo tour of the park for you...

It is a short walk over a bridge to get into the park.  We got smart half way through the summer and started bringing the kids' bikes for this part.

First of all, there are dinosaurs!  What kid doesn't like a park full of random dinosaurs?  It starts with these smaller statues at the entrance and progresses to life-size dinosaurs throughout the park.

 And then there is the sand...what kid doesn't like to play in the sand?


The several playground areas...What kid doesn't like a good slide? 



A fort that you can climb up to

And the water playground....what kid doesn't like to play in the water?

And the creek...

one afternoon when we had friends join us

 Sometimes we get lunch...what kid doesn't like dinosaur shaped chicken tenders and a dinosaur toy with their lunch?

we have collected quite a herd of dinosaurs

The park is actually a garden center, so they always have a beautiful display of flowers.  The summer garden display was the theme of the world, so they had flower beds to represent different continents.  This fall they began a fairy tale theme with all kinds of gourds.  See if you can name the fairy tales below....

2nd, 3rd, & 4th place for biggest pumpkins

We often end our time with a little ice cream...cause what kid doesn't like ice cream?  (Well actually me when I was a kid.)  Alethia always went for the pink Hello Kitty ice cream bar.