Stratford-upon-Avon in England

With the birthplace and gravesite of Shakespeare, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and historic Tudor buildings, Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town in England to visit. It gets its name because it is located on the River Avon and is sometimes simply referred to as Stratford. Located in the county of Warwickshire, there is also the Warwick Castle nearby, which is definitely worth visiting as well. Although it is definitely a tourist destination, we went during the off-season and enjoyed sharing the streets with more locals than tourists.

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Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Swan Theatre
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Gathering Around City Hall

Obviously, seeing the birthplace of Shakespeare is a highlight of any visit to Stratford-upon-Avon. The house where Shakespeare was born in 1564 is located on Henley Street, which is part of the historic section of the town. The timbered house has been restored and looks very much today as it might have in the 16th century when Shakespeare was a child. There is also the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre where performances still occur throughout the year, but especially over the summer months featuring many famous actors. With over two million visitors per year, Stratford-upon-Avon can be quite busy.

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Storefronts in Town
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Christmas Market in Stratford-upon-Avon
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Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon

We were in Stratford-upon-Avon during the holiday season, so there was a Christmas market and the town was decorated for the holidays. We also were there to watch the mayor kick off the holiday season as people gathered around the town hall. There were also many stores that featured holiday gifts as well as other typical shops selling items for tourists. Perhaps even better were the various pubs that were offering mulled wine to keep us warm on a cold autumn evening.

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Punch and Judy Show
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Tower at Warwick Castle
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English Countryside in Warwickshire

We spent a couple of days in Stratford-upon-Avon visiting the historic town and seeing the impressive Warwick Castle before catching a train to continue on to Manchester. Seeing the English countryside and the historic buildings was certainly one of our favorite parts of our trip to England several years ago.

Hungarian National Museum in Budapest

There are several museums in Budapest that are worth visiting and the Hungarian National Museum located near the Inner City district is certainly one of them. With three floors of exhibits, the museum focuses on the history of Hungary, which includes many different interesting periods of time. For many reasons, Hungarians are both proud of their history as well as embarrassed by certain aspects of it as well. The building, with its murals and decorative dome, is as impressive as the exhibits that it houses.

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Ceiling in the Museum
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Transylvanian Tomb
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Desk on Display
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Historic Painting
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Paintings of Famous Executions

We visited the museum on a rainy afternoon, making it a perfect way to get out of the rain while enjoying a trip through time as we walked through each of the floors. Hungary has a rich history and was one of the most powerful and influential countries in all of Europe for many centuries. The museum embraces that history with many displays of the royal families, battles, invasions, and more. There are a variety of paintings, statues, as well as historical garments and furniture located throughout the Hungarian National Museum.

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Hungarian King
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Painting of a Historic Battle
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Ancient History
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Garments and Other Pieces
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Stone Carving of a Battle

We talked to several local Hungarians during our time in Budapest and their commentary regarding the history of the 20th century were all pretty much the same. It was a time of poor choices and a period of decline and occupation until the late 1900’s when the country regained its independence. The museum does not shy away from that part of its history, but instead has displays depicting each phase of that era. It starts Hungary’s involvement in WWI, which resulted in the country being divided into small Nation-States that left Hungary itself a much smaller country than its previous size. Then in WWII, Hungary once again sides with Germany in attempt to regain its former glory, only to end up being occupied by Germany towards the end of the war. Even the liberation of Hungary by the Soviet Union turned into another occupation and a dark period in the country’s history.

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WWII Display
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Typical Living Conditions
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Remains of a Fallen Statue in the Museum
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Bitter Memories
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Hall in the Museum

Eventually the country regained its independence and is now once again a proud country, albeit still much smaller than it was during the previous centuries. The Hungarian National Museum is definitely quite interesting and worth at least a couple of hours to see.

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Many Invasions in Hungary’s History
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Murals on the Museum Wall
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Dome in the Museum Roof
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Decorative Ceiling
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Another Painting on the Museum Ceiling

 

The Street Art of Budapest

We love finding interesting street art in cities around the world, and Budapest was certainly no different. We find it interesting that there are often sites now where you can find maps of all of the street art in a city, which is great for people that enjoy seeing all of the variations of street art that a city has to offer. Much of the street art in Budapest is located in the Old Jewish Quarter where trendy restaurants and shops are now really popular. We didn’t use a map during our trip, so the art we found, we found somewhat randomly. As with most street art, it was colorful and sometimes whimsical. Here are a few of our favorites.

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It Almost Looks Like She is Peeking Through the Trees
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Just Outside a Ruin Pub
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Pastel Colors
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Very Colorful Street Art
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Geometric Shapes