Central Europe was rather warm last weekend. We could either be hot in Vienna, or be hot somewhere else. Budapest won the coin toss.

But first. En route to Budapest , Tony and I visited Bory Castle in Székesfehérvár (Hungarian village names are tongue twisters, just go with it.) Jenő Bory, an architect spent almost four decades building this whimsical structure for his wife; the myriad of design styles might cause angst for a purist, but we found it all romantic. Gardens and arcades, and painted spiral staircases to the towers made for a beautiful little detour.

Afterward we sat for quite possibly the most luscious Paprikash Chicken at a small restaurant in the village before continuing to Budapest. My guy, like Jenő, knows how to make his wife happy.

Then, Budapest. An Instagram city. Its trams are adorable; its Metro is the oldest in Europe! We felt like the hipster cool kids in the ruin bars of the Budapest VII, too.

And of course, the Hungarian Parliament at night never fails to impress. If you examine the photo closely, you’ll note the flickering “lights” above the building. Not drones, but bats!

The following morning we arrived promptly at Parliament for our tour, to include the Hungarian Crown Jewels!

Prague and Budapest are the most well-known capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after Vienna, of course. The Imperial Crown of Austria is on regular display in Vienna; the Bohemian Crown Jewels make an appearance at Prague Castle every five years, and last year Tony and I traveled to Prague to see them. And to eat great Czech food and drink superior Czech wine (let’s just be honest about our real reason for traveling to Prague.  )

The Imperial, Bohemian, and Hungarian Crown Jewels are among the oldest in Europe (the oldest is the Iron Crown of Lombardy). Twice Tony and I have tried to secure tickets to see the Hungarian Crown Jewels, the last of the big three. This weekend we were finally successful, hence the inspiration for our always-a-good-idea Budapest overnight.

We arrived at Parliament for the first English tour at 0845, and in time to see the flag ceremony. A little different from raising the Stars and Stripes at sunrise in America.

The crown, orb and scepter are protected by continuous security at the Hungarian Parliament. Being that they are Hungary’s most treasured possessions, photos are not allowed of either the jewels, or the room in which they are presented. Trust me when I write that the crown jewels looked pretty spectacular at 1.047 years old in person!

During the People’s Republic of Hungary, this red star sat atop Parliament. It was removed in 1990.

Fun Fact: The Hungarian Crown Jewels were handed over in 1945 to the U.S. Army by the Hungarian Crown Guard for safekeeping from the Russians. From 1945 to 1978 the crown jewels were kept safe in Fort Knox!

After our tour we departed Hungary for home via Slovakia, because the border crossing from Hungary into Austria had at least a 2 kilometer queue for the not-really-permited-by-the-EU-but-still-happening-border-‘checks’. That, and Slovakia is open on Sundays so we could drop into the grocery for a few dinner provisions before crossing back into the Sunday Shutdown of the country we call home.



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