A Day Without A Bra

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and women were encouraged to stay home, not go to work, not shop and spend money unless it was at a small business owned by another woman in an effort to create “A Day Without a Woman”. I’m all for this and fully grateful to the entire women’s liberation movement of the 60’s and 70’s but I’ve been waiting patiently for another type of liberation movement.

I say it’s time to liberate our boobs! I call for a “Day Without a Bra”! Let’s bring back the burning of the bras and torch these torturous devices that incarcerate our breasts on a daily basis. Down with the boob jails! It’s time to emancipate our breasts!

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Supposedly, bras came to be in the 14th century when somebody, decided that although the human body naturally allows for these fleshy mounds to hang and sag, they all of a sudden needed to be elevated and therefore things like bras and corsets were created to push them up. Women were relegated to spending thousands of dollars to buy bras to hoist their breasts up. Others spend even more to get surgeries to elevate their breast game. WHY? WHY did we let people tell us where we should situate our boobs? If they were meant to be up where we have come to accept that they have to be, wouldn’t they naturally be up there???? That’s like deciding eyelids shouldn’t droop down over our eyeballs and creating an unnecessary device to prop them up. What about testicles? Why aren’t we trying to relocate those with ball bras?

Here’s another question. Whose bright idea it was was to slip metal WIRE into the underside of the brassiere? I have a permanent scar in the spot where the wire always inevitably ends up poking out of the fabric after one too many wears and stabs my flesh. Don’t even get me started on SPORTS BRAS! Sports bras take things to a different level. Every sports bra I have ever tried on crushes my rib cage. I don’t know what my ribs ever did to deserve that!

I’m sure a lot of women would agree with me that one of the BEST feelings in the world is coming home after a long day and ripping off our bras. Could you just imagine if we could have that feeling ALL DAY LONG? We could. If only we all decided in unison that we were going to burn every single bra we owned.

I know this is just a pipe dream and most likely would never happen, so I’m changing my plea to see if we could at least design and create a new type of brassiere that not only lifts our boobs but also does something productive with our back fat?

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Racism is not defunct

When I moved from Los Angeles County to Orange County I wasn’t sure what I would find behind the “Orange Curtain”, but I’ve seen a lot of diversity and I live in a “blue” city. I could almost say that perhaps the tides have changed because for the first time in OC’s history in this past election this “red” county voted “blue”, but racism is not defunct here quite yet.

I’m home today because my place of employment give us two Monday’s off in February to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and George Washington’s birthday. They do this to justify not giving us a day off in January to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. day. The unions have tried many times to get management to change this not because of the racial implications but because it’s bad business but management won’t budge because of the racial implications so I feel it’s safe to say that I work for a racist agency.

We kick off our budget season the last week of January and need to have our budget submissions in by the end of February. Giving people two back to back Monday’s (February 13th and February 20th) off  essentially renders the month of February useless.  Almost every employee at our agency works a 9/80 or 4/10 schedule so when you give people that many Friday’s and Monday’s off they schedule vacations. Therefore from February 10th to the 27th  it’s impossible to schedule meetings or get things done because of the sheer number of people on vacation. From a business standpoint this makes no sense, but then again God forbid the unions get their way or this racist agency honors MLK.

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To make this day count, I spent my morning drinking my London Fog, listening to Annie Lennox’s cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” from the Serendipity soundtrack, correcting the spelling errors of DeVos supporters on Facebook, making online donations to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and doing my Hear Our Voice postcards that I got Saturday morning when I attended my first Huddle Up meeting. I’m so glad I attended this meeting. It was inspiring to be surrounded by both males and females of all ages who were both Republican and Democrat who were all simply sick of the bullshit and ready to take back our country. I have to say that it was the most patriotic and empowered I’ve ever felt. I’m looking forward to all the great work these Huddle Up groups will be accomplishing.

Ready to Speak Up Again

I’ve been silent. More so than I normally tend to be. I couldn’t see the point in trying anymore. Things are out of control and it doesn’t feel like we have the power to change what’s going on. What we want and think doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

Here in California people are busy talking about the drought and legalization of Marijuana but one of the biggest issues our State is dealing with is a massive housing crisis. There is a lack of affordable housing and a growing epidemic of homelessness. In 2012 I worked for the City of Santa Monica. We had the Housing Authority and the Affordable Housing Department. We had a Redevelopment Agency and an entire team dedicated to working with non-profit agencies to build affordable housing units. All of a sudden, overnight Governor Brown ordered Redevelopment Agencies to be dissolved. People lost their jobs, projects lost their funding and the production of affordable housing units for the low-income, homeless, the vets and the disabled slowed down almost to a halt.

Here we are four years later and homelessness is running rampant up and down the State. Here in Orange County the homeless who were living in our Civic Center were relocated to an abandoned bus depot and  homeless people living in tent cities along our river bed are being harassed and told to move. I don’t understand where these people are expected to go. We don’t have enough shelters to house them.

This problem isn’t unique to Orange County. I caught this article  in the Los Angeles Times yesterday about the latest homeless sweeps in Los Angeles.  Over a decade ago, Los Angeles International Airport began buying up the homes in Manchester Square. Manchester Square is a housing tract near LAX. Over the years the area became a sort of ghost town save for the few holdouts. Today, the area is a hotbed for homeless people in LA.

After reading that article I bumped into this other article and it moved me to tears. I’m grateful to the two journalists who took the time to highlight the plight of the sick children in our foster care system and for also turning up the volume on how selflessly this Muslim man cares for this country’s most sick & downtrodden. At a time when a lot of people’s anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric are deafening it’s important to remind the masses that this country is what it is because of ALL of the people who live here.

This story of Mohamed reminded me of the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty. The first immigrants to come this country came to find religious freedom and a better life and WILL ALWAYS BE THAT COUNTRY  despite the efforts of this unfortunately divisive, hateful and racist President. This man’s Presidency will be a blip in this Country’s history.

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Immigrants have been coming to this country for hundreds of years to build a new life for themselves and some of them, like Mohamed have gone on to become stand up citizens who embody the sentiments of Lazarus’ poem while entitled people like this President, who were born here, have built their personal wealth by denying people of race housing, by not paying their fair share of taxes, by not paying their employees fair wages, by employing immigrants and paying them under the table, by selling products that were not made in America with their names plastered all over them, by swindling students out of tuition funds and by not being philanthropic.

It was like the universe was talking to me yesterday, because I also spotted this quote in a magazine and it SLAPPED me the face!

“Hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” – Civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson

As a Libra, I find it challenging to stay quiet when my scales of justice are not in balance, but for 3.5 months I have stayed quiet. I have let myself lose hope, but after being woken up by the universe yesterday I’m ready to speak up again! I will MAKE people listen, I will be a change agent. I will do my part to not let an ignorant white man take down the country that immigrants like my grandparents and parents have built. This week I’ll be attending the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club meeting and I will join a Women’s March Huddle in my neighborhood as part of the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign.

I will follow Dylan’s advice and I will not go gently into the night and I will rage against the dying of this country’s light!

 

A Winning Objective News Source

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Tadahiro Uesugi

When and where do you get your daily news fix? Is it biased? Is it neutral?

Over the years, I’ve realized I can’t rely on television to give me my news. I don’t tune into anything consistently. I do occasionally tune into 60 minutes or Sunday morning, but I can’t stand CNN, Fox News or any other shows that have correspondents and anchors that shout and debate. I don’t care about what “they” think… I just want news with so spin or #alternativefacts.

The Week  magazine has been my loyal companion for years and I’ve relied on this nifty weekly publication to keep me up to date on what was going on with the world, but over time I realized it was taking me all week to actually get through reading the entire issue and by then the news was stale. I needed a quicker way to get informed.

My main source of information used to be the first 10 minutes of NPR‘s Morning Edition on KCRW during my morning commute, but when I switched my job, I also altered my morning routine and couldn’t get my usual 10 minute morning news fix.

I decided to give The Skimm a try. It’s an email that’s already in my inbox when I wake up. If I’m up early enough to drink my coffee at home, I pull up the email and have a quick read, but most of the time I read it after getting to work. I takes me only 2-3 minutes to read the entire email which even beats the 10 minutes I used to devote to listening to Morning Edition. Did I mention the emails are only delivered Monday – Friday and the subscription is FREE? The Skimm is my current crush. It’s funny, the writers use a sprinkle of humor and keep the information they provide void of their personal political persuasions.

If you’re looking for an efficient and effective way to get informed give The Skimm a try!

What news sources are you a fan of?

 

 

 

 

Lollygagging through Las Vegas

It’s been almost 30 years since my aunt and uncle took my 2 cousins and moved from Southern California to Las Vegas. Almost 30 years of visits long and short has taught me my way around the city and provided enough fodder to fuel a blog or newspaper column dedicated to the Vegas experience, but I’ll leave that to Robin Leach.

I can’t count the number of trips I’ve taken to Las Vegas over the years, but if I had to guesstimate I would say I’ve been there somewhere close to 100 times. This makes me a bit of a hypocrite, because I lambast people who travel to the same places over and over again. I have not been able to understand why people return to the same destination over and over again only to stay at the same hotel, eat at the same restaurants, and do the same exact activities over and over again instead of aspiring to try new and different things to broaden their horizons.

In all the years that I’ve been visiting Las Vegas I’ve ensured that each trip has exposed me to at least one or two places or experiences previously unknown to me. As a child visiting with my parents we stayed at the Hacienda, Tropicana and/or Flamingo. They took us to Circus Circus and later when it opened, Excalibur which quickly became my favorite. I have patronized my fair share of arcades, buffets and on trips where we would stay with my aunt and uncle we would go bowling, roller skating, to the movies, or just stay home and swim in their pool, play monopoly for hours or watch Mickey Mouse Club.

When I got older, my friends and I began taking trips and staying at the Aladdin, Mandalay Bay, Rio, Bally’s, The Hotel, The Westin, Encore, Hard Rock, Aria, Wynn, Red Rocks we even tried out Trump Tower once (wince). I also began attending concerts, shows and getting familiar with the food and drink scene.

This past weekend, in the spirit of seeking out new experiences, we decided to try using AirBnB to find a pet-friendly rental. We’ve only taken our dog to Vegas a handful of times because apart from my aunt’s house we haven’t a pet-friendly place to stay with our furry family member. The pet friendly,  2 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouse we rented through AirBnB was about $100/night, in a gated community and right down the street from my aunt’s house. The unit we stayed in was immaculate, quiet and had the most amazing bed. We slept like logs. On Saturday we even left our dog there alone for a few hours and he did great. We set up a doggie cam (yes, we’re neurotic and like to check to see how he’s doing) and we saw that he was comfortable enough in the peaceful house to relax and take a nap.  Something tells me we may be renting this place again when we don’t want to board our dog.

The reason for our visit was my aunt’s birthday so we went to Manan Bakery to pick up a cake even though she had told me they had picked up Ponchiks (type of donut popular within Russian and Armenian communities). I used Yelp to find an affordable bakery and we drove over. Imagine my surprise when I realized we had just walked into the same bakery where my aunt had picked up the Ponchiks. We purchased a Strawberry Shortcake since that’s my husband’s favorite and we try them everywhere. It was super light, airy, fluffy and delicious!

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Chocolate filled Ponchik

Saturday morning we hopped on the 215 and went into Henderson to check out Bad Owl Coffee, a Harry Potter themed coffee shop. I love that my husband humors me and goes along with my childish obsession with Harry Potter. I loved this place and was as happy as a clam here. The decorations were subtle yet perfect! We shared the croissant breakfast sandwich, he had a coconut latte and I had an iced pistachio coffee. My husband loved his drink and we scarfed down that sandwich so this place was winner.

We had to head to downtown to purchase a gift certificate at the new Eclipse luxury theater (it’s a 21 and over fancy pants movie theater with a full bar and food) While we were there I wanted to show my husband the Container Park that my girlfriends and I visited back in March, but we were turned away because we had our dog with us. I find it pretty offensive when places like this don’t allow pets but welcome children. I mean, what’s the difference? Children piss and poop and scream and yell and dogs piss and poop and bark… Same thing in my book!

We had a late lunch/early dinner a few hours later at I Love Sushi, also in Henderson. My cousin had tipped us off about this place and I trust her judgement so we decided to give it a try. This place is legit. It’s actually a very large restaurant with a lot of tables and booths. They have a huge u shaped sushi counter with a lot of sushi chefs and there are tables and booths on either side of the sushi bar. The names of some of their sushi rolls are bit out there, but the freshness of the fish and other ingredients and the flavor and texture pairings were spot on. I know a lot of people harp on Henderson and I was never a fan either, but between Bad Owl and I Love Sushi I have to say… Henderson has some hidden gems that are worth the trek.

After a quick round of bowling with the family at The Orleans we were off to the strip to cross off a few more things off our “to do” list. Although valet parking at the strip isn’t free anymore, you can still get your parking comp-ed with certain levels on your player’s cards. Since our destination was White Castle for the New Jersey husband to get his fix, I opted to park at the Linq High Roller Valet because most people don’t know there’s a valet under the High Roller so it’s never busy. As we were walking through the Linq promenade I spotted a Honolulu Cookie Company store! My coworker who is from Hawaii had just given us all some of these cookies for Christmas which she told us she picked up at the Honolulu Cookie Company store in the Canal Shoppes. I loved the cookies, but I dread going into any of the malls on the strip so I figured it would be years before I got to have these cookies again. WELL…. I was wrong. I went in and assembled my own box of 5 cookies for $5.95!

As we continued on I saw a Wyndham timeshare guy starting to approach us with his opener. I quickly threw out a “we live here” and he turned away. Motivated by my fib, or hoping to carry on with the charade, when the White Castle employee asked where we were visiting from my husband responded with “we live here” so the guy gave us a 10% locals discount. I personally don’t get what the appeal about White Castle is, but watching my husband devour his sack of 5 I could tell he was enjoying his nostalgic meal.

On our way back to the car we walked through the Linq hotel which I quickly decided is right up there with Palazzo and Venetian on my list of hotels with bad signature smells. Every hotel in Vegas has a signature smell and these 3 hotels smell like old lady underwear drawer! You know what I’m talking about! Old ladies put satchels of potpourri in their drawers that have an overly floral scent.

My husband had also never been to the Flamingo so we ducked in there to use the restroom. We stayed at this hotel a lot when I was a child we even got comp-ed suites overlooking the strip and we even got placed in the Presidential suite which felt more like a villa since it wasn’t attached to the main building. I used to know every nook and cranny of this hotel, but it’s changed a lot. It’s a shame that this place has gone downhill despite the remodel. Our little pit stop allowed us to peek in and see the actual flamingos. Gotta love these pink creatures!

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After jumping back into our car we were off to the Cosmopolitan to search for Secret Pizza. The queue to pull for the Cosmopolitan valet was absurd so we opted to valety at Aria and walk over to Cosmopolitan through the high end mall  that leads you to the outdoor walkway above the strip connecting the two hotels. It was a quick walk, and after exploring around we located Secret Pizza. The line wasn’t long but it moved slow. My husband loved his pizza and I was just happy he got to cross yet another place off his to do list.

The next morning, we went to breakfast with my family which has become a Sunday morning pre-return drive tradition. We used to go to Eggworks or Egg and I but my family has been going to Black Bear Diner lately which is hilarious since they recently opened a location here in Orange County and we have been going there lately. It was like our two worlds were colliding.

All in all, I would consider this a successful first 2017 visit to Vegas.  A few places on the “to do” list for our second 2017 visit include:

Have you been to any of these? Know of any Pet-friendly Vegas Hotels that you would recommend? What are some of your favorite things to see and do in Las Vegas?

 

 

 

Best Year Ever

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It’s starting to die down. All the harping people are doing on 2016. It was warranted. I too thought it was an overall craptastic year.

In an effort to stray from all the negativity and to focus more on the positive things in life, I challenged myself to think of 5 things about 2016 that I was grateful for and here they are in no particular order:

  •  I had surgery in March and survived
  • I got to see my father who lives overseas in March and in September
  • My husband found a new job and got to leave the job he had grown to dislike
  • I traveled to Austria, Hungary and Armenia
  • I got to spend yet another year living in the place with the greatest weather on earth

Lost in this train of thought, my mind began to wonder and I found myself pondering about what I would consider my “Best Year Ever” and the answer surprisingly was 2009!

In 2009, I was 29 years old, knocking on 30’s door, still single, living in Hermosa Beach, driving my beloved Acura TSX and living life like I wasn’t guaranteed tomorrow because I was all out of fucks to give.

I disliked my job, well…not so much the job, but I really disliked my supervisor and manager and that’s enough to make a person unhappy. My weeknights were spent walking or biking over to the bars down in Pier Plaza and meeting friends for Happy Hour, drinks and to watch Lakers games. This back when the Lakers still good and winning championships.

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There were lots of trips to Las Vegas that year, interesting trips where lots of memories were made. I don’t think any of my future Vegas weekends will ever compare to those 2009 Vegas trips!

I saw some epic concerts that year including UB40 at Mandalay Bay beach in Vegas, Prince (may he R.I.P) and Chaka Khan and Adele at the Hollywood Bowl.

The best thing about 2009 however as that my grandmother was still alive (she passed away in early 2010). We spent a lot of quality time together binge watching HBO’s Weeds on  Demand.

I spent my 30th birthday with a bunch of my friends. We had dinner at Mediterraneo then we went bar hopping, we danced, we laughed, we drank, we were silly and I’m so glad I have those memories and pictures from that evening because 2 people from that night’s crew have passed away since.

I spent 2009 living it up…It was as if I knew that as my 20’s were winding down and I entered my 30’s that I would be moving away from Hermosa Beach, losing some people near and dear to me and meeting the man whom I would marry and start a new chapter of my life with.

The main thing that was so great about 2009 was that I was all out of fucks to give…. so I just rode the wave of life, went where it took me and enjoyed myself so I’ll be taking that sentiment with me as I enter 2017 in hopes of making this my next “Best Year Ever”.

What year was your “Best Year Ever” and why?

Four Food Blogs that Make me Drool…

With four days left until Christmas I wanted to give shout outs to four food blogs that have inspired me to up my food and beverage game in the coming year.

I shouldn’t start with the The Food Charlatan because if you click on the link you will get lost on her site looking at recipe after recipe. What I like about this blog is her style of writing. It’s so conversational, down to earth and real. What I dislike about this blog is that despite having 3 kids she still manages to cook and bake and blog. I have a total of zero childrens and I can’t seem to get my act together to cook for my husband. He pretty much does 98% of the cooking in our household. I can’t wait to try her recipe for Blackberry Ricotta Pizza with Basil. It looks SO GOOD! Can she just open a restaurant so we can go order this stuff and eat it all up?

Here’s another blogger who juggles kids, a career and her blog Thoughtfully Simple. What drew me to this blog is her affinity towards cocktails and keeping things “simple”. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas I like to enjoy cocktails that use seasonal ingredients like pumpkins, apples, cranberries and cinnamon. Since Moscow mules are currently super popular and so lots of people have been going apple picking the last couple months and bringing back apples and fresh pressed cider I thought this Apple Cider Moscow Mule was genius.

Planks, Love & Guacamole offers healthy paleo recipes that are all grain free, refined sugar free, soy free, chemical free and dairy free (she does use butter). I’m 3 for 3 on picking blogs of mom’s who astound me with how they are raising little humans and finding the time to feed them delicious things. Read this bloggers “about me” page and check out her choice of photo. That’ll tell you a bit about her playful sense of humor. When I think about grain free diets I worry about not being able to enjoy pizza but this blog has a great recipe for a NY Style Pizza. Pizza is one of my favorite comfort foods. I didn’t even realize that I had unconsciously picked two pizza recipes to feature on this post until I just typed all this out just now.

Make that 4 for 4 because the Chef in Disguise is also a career woman and mother who miraculously is still finding time to blog and cook. I find these three female bloggers inspirational and plan to do better because they are showing me that if they can find the time and make food magic happen… so can I. The Chef in Disguise is a chef after my own heart. What I love about this blog is that she’s Palestinian but grew up in Jordan and now lives in the Emirates so she features a lot of recipes of things I grew up eating because although I’m Armenian, my maternal grandmother was born and raised in Lebanon, my mother was born and raised in Iraq and my father was born in raised in Syria so my palette is accustomed to all the middle eastern dishes on this blog. When I was a child on the weekend my parents would make Fool (aka Fool Medames) but I didn’t like it back then (I love now) so my parents would make my sister and I Mamounia instead. I think I’ve made this a total of two times as an adult because now it’s a little too sweet for me, but I have been craving it lately so I’ll be having some over the holidays. We put Armenian string cheese on top of the hot mamounia and let it melt and then sprinkle some cinnamon on top, but seeing the Chef in Disguise’s use of pistachios blew my mind! I love pistachios and had never seen mamounia served up this way! That’s what I love about her blog! It helps me see these dishes that I’ve grown up on in a whole new light.  Guess what I’ll be eating this weekend!

What food blogs do you follow that I should know about? Share the love!

 

Blog Plugs

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I feel it’s justifiable for me to say that 2016 has not been kind to a lot of people. A few of the bloggers I used to follow who would write about thing going on in their lives  stopped blogging early this year, because they got busy and overwhelmed by stress. As a casual reader it left me with a void because when I have some spare time I like to settle in to scroll through my reader and catch up with the blogs I follow, and my feed isn’t as exciting and interesting anymore.

In an effort to be proactive and fix this…I’m using this post to tell you about 2 blogs I follow and enjoy. It is after all the season of giving and sharing. However, I’d like you to return the favor and use the comments section to recommend a blog or two that you subscribe to or follow so I could check them out and find some new fun blogs to add to my repertoire and make my revive my reader for 2017.

After Orange County : The OC Housewife Who Ran For the Hills. capture

I can’t recall how I bumped into this blog, but I love it! The author was a typical OC Housewife with a husband, 5 kids and a dog who pulled the trigger and successfully traded her OC beach lifestyle for a Lake Arrowhead mountain lifestyle. I love reading her posts about how she flipped a property and now rents it out (sounds like she’s doing it again), she even started an ironworks business and still manages time to be a wife, mother and excellent entertainer and cook! I’m planning on making this pesto mold for my next get together. Maybe I was drawn to this blog because I live in Orange County or because I’m always tempted to ditch this life and move to a small town, but whatever the reason, I admire her courage and sense of adventure and how she balances it all.

Reviving Charm : Cultivating a Charming Lifestyle

I also don’t know how I came to find this blog, but once again the author is from Southern California. If I had to describe this blog in a nutshell I’d say it’s a design & style tips providing beacon. I loved her post about holiday wrapping paper and also the one about the Obama Family in the White House.

I didn’t intend to plug two SoCal blogs, but it just worked out that way. What blogs are you currently hooked on?

 

 

Euro Trip – Part 2 Budapest

Part 2 of my Euro Trip extended into Central Europe and commenced with an easy 2.5 hour train ride from Vienna to Budapest.

Arriving at the train station in Budapest we immediately felt the difference between Vienna and Budapest. There was no doubt about the fact that we were in a different country now! It has to be said that arriving at the Budapest train station and leaving the Budapest station are two very different experiences. They don’t exactly put their best foot forward at this train station for arrivals. My first impressions of Budapest was that Vienna seemed more how should I put this? Kempt? and Budapest had more…charm? We’ll go with charm. I know that’s expected but I guess I just wasn’t ready for it.

I was so excited about finally being in Hungary! As a freshman in college I worked in an office with a Hungarian woman. She had the coolest demeanor and interesting accent and the stories about her annual trips back home to Hungary piqued my interest about the country and its history.During the early 2000’s I studies abroad and Budapest was THE place for students to travel to party it up, but I opted to visit Prague instead (glad I made that choice since a few years later the Czech Republic picked up the Euro and became less affordable). Budapest had managed to allude me for decades and finally I was there! Albeit my visit was going to be just a brief 24 hours I wanted to make the most of it.

We made our way from the train station to the Corinthia Hotel near the Grand Boulevard. The Cornithia Hotel is a 5 star luxury hotel but we didn’t stay in the main hotel building. We were shown to our “Grand Residence” which was located behind the hotel across a small service alley. I just kept claiming we were staying at the Grand Budapest Hotel.

After checking in and putting our bags in our rooms we went out for a bite to eat and ended up at Café Vian where we sat outside and enjoyed an al fresco meal. I ordered the chicken paprikash with dumplings. It was about $8-$9 and delicious. I think I would easily be able to eat that meal every day and be a happy person. We chatted up the young waiter who was equal parts friendly and helpful. He shared with us that we should never hail a cab in Budapest and opt to call for them and to pay our fare with exact change because some sneaky taxi drivers take advantage of unsuspecting tourists and return their change in Serbian currency instead of the Forint. Looking around as we sat outside I kept noticing how beautiful all the buildings were. The architecture is so historic and impressive, but it seemed the grandeur of the paint colors wasn’t coming through on a lot of buildings due to years and years of grime and dirt. I kept saying I wanted to take a power washer to the facades of the buildings. After our meal I to walk down to see the Parliament building and the Danube.

 The Parliament building in Budapest is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful buildings and Europe’s oldest legislative buildings. It’s the largest and tallest building in Hungary. I’ve seen the Parliament building in London and a few others in other cities, but this was the first one that made me say WOW!

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parliment

As we approached the river the sun had begun to set. It was breezy and cool, the city was bustling behind us and the boats were making their way up and down the river. I  likened the scene to standing on the shores of the Vltava river in Prauge looking across the Charles bridge, up towards Prauge castle, but Prauge felt more still. I felt more in tune with the scene in Budapest because of all the movement around us. Cars with their headlights on were driving across the bridge and on the banks of the river, a café was playing lounge music while cars were honking. The city felt alive.

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Views over and across the Danube

On our walk back to the hotel we walked past street vendors selling Kürtoskalács but since we just had eaten there was no room in our tummies. Looking back in hindsight I wish I had purchased one and saved it to enjoy the next day on the train ride back to Vienna.

After a short rest in the hotel I wanted to get back outside and soak in Budapest by night so my friend and I decided to go for a walk. We noticed a chain of coffee shops called California Coffee Company and couldn’t resist ourselves. I mean how cliché are we? Tourists from California going all the way to Hungary to patronize a place called California Coffee Company! They had a poster of some kind of popcorn coffee in the window that drew us in, but we chickened out and didn’t try it. We just grabbed coffee and tea and continued on with our walk not sure where we were going. We somehow ended up walking down the tree lined Andrássy Avenue, past the Opera house and the high end shopping stores. Since it was after 10pm the shops were closed, the Opera House looked closed and the street was quiet and abandoned. Having visited the Opera in Vienna I was far more impressed with this Opera House because since it stood alone the details stuck out. The Opera House in Vienna felt shoved in among other buildings and I couldn’t really take in the structure as a whole.

Next on our walk, we bumped into the Gozsdu Courtyard which was a little walk street or alley jampacked with bars and restaurants. ( later learned this area used to be the Jewish quarter.) It felt as though this is the place locals go at night. It was bustling!  We didn’t intend to find this place but we did so I grabbed a Hot Dog and got my Vegeterian friend Chips on a Stick from Hot Dog Cold Beer and we snacked and walked and kept exploring. Our next stop was for gelato and then we made our way back to the hotel.

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The next morning we walked over to Café Gerbeaud and enjoyed a fancy breakfast then walked over the bridge over to the Buda side of the city where we got lost. I had wanted to take a certain bus line that would have looped us around the entire Buda side of town, but we had trouble finding it. Here’s a picture of us with our maps and tourist book trying to get ourselves unlost.

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Since we were limited on time (I had to get back to the hotel and get my bags and make my way to the train station) we took a bus over back over the river and just walked around Vaci street aimlessly and of course we unintentionally bumped into St. Stephen’s cathedral. I can’t even begin to compare this to the cathedral of the same name in Vienna. They’re both build in such different styles but both are worth seeing.

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After concluding our walk at our hotel. I grabbed my suitcase and backpack and bid farewell to my friends who would be staying on in Budapest an extra day to check out the public baths, the ruin bars and a random street festival before going to Prauge and then Munich for Oktoberfest. I took the train back to Vienna and then took a taxi to the airport and boarded an airplane to go see my father in Armenia! It was bitter sweet leaving my friends. I was having such a good time with them, but I am always excited to see my father so I was eager to get to him.

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I finally got to visit Budapest, but my 24 hour trip was just an appetizer. I would love to return with my father and my husband and maybe do a Viking River cruise since we kept running into people from these cruises in both Austria and Budapest. There is still so much to see, do and eat in Budapest. I would love to explore Buda, check out the ruin bars, taste the Karavan street food offerings and try the Kürtoskalács. Until we meet again….