travel

Weekender – Toronto

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St. Stephen’s Day

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The August 20th National Holiday is a public holiday for all Hungarian, most shops and offices are closed. It is the annual celebration of the foundation of the first Hungarian state more than a 1000 years ago, it is also our first sainted king and founder’s, Saint Stefan’s name day, hence the date. The new bread is blessed on this day too.

The programs start on the day before, the 19th and continue on to the 20th, they consist of commemorations organized by political parties, family programs, concerts of folk and children bands, street and gastronomy festivals such as The Street of Hungarian Flavours (Magyar Ízek Utcája) along the Buda Riverbank where the country’s annual cake contest winner’s dessert is presented, craft festivals such as The Festival of Folk Arts and the festive mass at the Basilica in the heart of the capital (the mass includes a pretty important procession around the Basilica with a relic of Saint Stefan, his right hand). The festivities are closed officially by the grand finale of fireworks.

The fireworks start at 9pm and last a half an hour. You can see them from the high points of the city (mostly on the Buda side) or from the river bank. I do have to caution everybody that it is a huge event, for safety reasons there are a lot of road blocks and it’s really crowded. Basically people start gathering 1-2 hours before so it’s packed by the start, also there’s no way of sitting down. It’s not comfortable but it well-worth the effort. To be truthful most Hungarians don’t go see it live, because the Hungarian public TV channel broadcasts it live every year, so you can enjoy it from the comfort of your home beautifully edited with music. Last year I did go out however with friends… we had an insider at the Basilica so we could see everything from birds view on the topmost balcony… it was a once in a lifetime experience! Once again, a hundred thanks to a dear friend, Laci for arranging it! I even got a little bit teary eyed because I knew I was heading out from Hungary and not returning for at least 1.5-2 years. Now, teasers. These weren’t taken by me so see the credit down below. This photographer has awesome pictures of Budapest!

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Photos by Gábor Haszon

If you are close to Hungary I suggest to head over and spend the day of August 20th there… and for all my compatriots: Happy August 20th! Let’s hope that the fireworks will be up soon on M1’s Media Library, here or on Youtube.

See you soon!
♥Eszter

Weekender – MarineLand

Deer Park:

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Belugas and a killer whale:

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Bears:

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See you soon!

♥Eszter

Canadian Shopping Experience #2 – The Pampered Chef

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I was lucky enough to get invited to join one of my friends friends Pampered Chef Party and I was impressed.

Pampered Chef is a company selling high-quality kitchen and grilling tools through the Internet (mainly Canada but they ship to the U.S. too) and independent consultants. It reminds me a little bit of Avon. The consultants are invited to house parties with a bunch of women and they present the products by showing them in use. You can try the kitchen and grill tools and you chat with the girls… It’s all very relaxed. You are among friends so you are not awfully pushed to purchase, or else… Also the hostess shares in the proceeds in form of major discounts. I find this an everybody-wins situation and the quality is really top notch.

We were treated to a Margherita cocktail and a garlic dip with all kinds of veggies all the while she was talking about the brand and showing other favorite items. I had fun and in the end spent money on only one item (I am on a budget…), a pastry blender. I loved making cookies at home and can’t wait to start baking pies but I hate the chore of working the flour into the cold butter. There were countless other inviting and clever tools to make your life as a Master Chef much easier and enjoyable but I really restrained myself!

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Here’s their website.
See you soon!

♥Eszter

Canadian Shopping Experience #1

If you haven’t heard about this yet I’ll spend the whole summer in Canada with friends and my sister. In this series I will talk about shopping experiences and stores that are rare or not available in Pennsylvania or the U.S. See past Canadian shopping tours in this post.

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In the first installment I wanted to write about thrift shopping in Value Village. I know there are thrift shops in the U.S. too… I’ve been to Salvation Army before but the two cannot be paralleled. Value Village is one hundred times better:

  • Better quality for clothes and accessories
  • Clothes are less smelly
  • The home ware and book section is paradise with beautiful things that are all in good shape

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Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5 – 5.6G ED VR lens review

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I bought this lens approximately 3-3,5 years ago. It acted as my main and only lens for years until recently I started investing into photo gear once again and purchased a 35mm prime lens. To make an informed decision I managed to try out the kit lens, read countless reviews day and night and listened to several YouTube photography gurus. Especially Jared Polin made a big impression on me, he suggested buying better lenses than the standard kit lens. My choice in the end fell on the Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85mm f3.5 – 5.6G ED VR lens that was an ideal high-quality walk-around lens for my D90 with a moderate enough price tag.

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Budapest, Budapest, You beautiful!

Buda and Pest devided by the DanubeYesterday, I received a package from home (more on it on Sunday) and there was this beautiful calendar in it with shots of Budapest, my birth city. This inspired me to write a little bit about Budapest, the capital city of Hungary and share some of my best pictures of my favorite city ever.

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Fun Curling in Canada

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I love the sport! I think it is a delight to watch on TV (though others sometimes call it boring…) and even better to participate. I love that you need a lot of skill (good aim, perfectly calculated strength, stamina) and a good sense of balance on slidy ice to play well. I’m definitely lacking on the balance front but it gave life to a lot of hilarity that I took good-naturedly and just laughed with the crowd. I also tend to keep my mouth open wide when I concentrate so I apologies in advance for the weird pictures of me.

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My Travel Beauty

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As I mentioned before in my Beauty Packing for Travel post I’m staying with my family and only for a week so I packed really light clothes wise. This meant enough space for my considerable travel stash in my fav toilette bag with tiny whales (yeah, you read right!!!) and hearts from Women’s Secret. Be forewarned, this is not the lightest I have ever packed I could definitely downsize more but this time I didn’t have the space constrains so I was able to pack a little bit of everything however no make-up brushes this time. I decided to go with the hands are your best tools approach… it’s a first but I’m not complaining yet.

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Beauty Packing for Travel

traveling on a busIt’s Spring break and I left my not so sunny American small-town and headed for an even less sunny Toronto. Part of my family, my sister, lives there, on the outskirts of Toronto, only 35 minutes away from the center.

My break will last only one week but there are two things in favor for the quick visit:

  1. It is refreshing to be with family who care so much. Having friends is great but nothing like family so Toronto is more like a retreat, a place to charge up my batteries and arm myself against being lonely or homesick. It’s not perfect but the closest thing there is to home, Hungary.
  2. I’m a big city girl, I was brought up in a capital city, Budapest so to spend time in a city as big as Toronto is like being in a candy shop after months of dieting. I love and miss the busy streets, the bustling life and easily accessible shops.

CN Tower, TorontoToday’s post was mostly prompted by my general dilemma of what to take with me. I love to travel and enjoy the feeling of going somewhere but packing is always really hard. I’m a natural klutz (I frequently forget or misplace things) and I am really attached to all my possessions in general so I had to work out a way to logically weight the importance of every item. I would call my method as a gradual down-sizing: I always start out with too much and then step by step pick out the things that I really need with me.

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Here are my steps for beauty packing:

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