Staying near to the Music Centre was a real positive. We were also close to the main market which was a good place to begin taking a look at what was to offer food wise in Budapest.
Sam took us straight away to a great little coffee shop that was nearby. It was a great coffee as well!
We found a bread shop across the road from the apartment. It had delicous bread. We were all good for a week here!
This was an easy walking city. We did catch the famous number 2 tram to take us along the Danube. We had bought a bundle of transport tickets to enable us to get around. Great that they are transferable to trams and trains.
We found wandering along the riverside was a very pleasant way to spend an evening and there was heaps of those breweries to try the local beer. Interesting how a trend like this is a world wide phenomena and we could have been in Melbourne or Sydney – even Castlemaine enjoying the local brew.
We came across a memorial statue of an eagle and the archangel Gabrielle It would have gone more or less unnoticed except for the barbwire strung along the balestrade in front as well as significant images and personal belongings like cases and shoes. Bunches of flowers also indicated sadness. It is in fact a memorial erected in 2014 condemning the Germans for the removal of Jews, gypsies and others during the second world war. At the same time freeing Hungary of any involvement.
Protestors to this have written that it is a political monument that is attempting to rewrite social history. They say that in fact Hungary was a supporter of the regime and it is the current government’s far right belief that has put it there. The monument hasn’t been ‘Opened yet’!
We chanced upon an exhibition of Hungarian traditional crafts. This was a most amazing collection with great explanations of each of the installations. But that is another post!
To get to the summer palace we had to change a few times on the metro as line 4 was closed for work.
This was a long weekend in Vienna.
Holiday for Whit Sunday. All the shops were shut so everybody was out and about.
The train system here is so efficient it wasn’t an issue. Trains come every 4 minutes. So for us it was the U2 to U1 to U3 to U6 to get there.
I wanted to see the Orangery Garden here. We had seen the one in Potsdam, Germany, but couldn’t go inside. I had read about this one so it was on the agenda. What I hadn’t realised was that this was a special weekend.
All things citrus. So, we were lucky.
The Orangery buildings have the most glorious structures. And are kept warm by fires heating through the floor. Not hydro but a dry heating of the floor.
We had a chat with a volunteer with the organisation running the event. She was selling crepes. She had made marmalade using the Seville oranges that are grown in the Orangery.
When she found out we were Australian she wanted to talk about the finger limes. Always fun to do that!
We even found some for sale!
The crepes, served with lemon marmalade, were delicious and we happily bought some marmalade to take with us to Prague to enjoy.
We were surprised at how few visitors there were in the Orangery but I am guessing that this wasn’t the usual tourist stop. There were hundreds lined up to buy tickets to the tours of the palace although once in the gardens they all dispersed.
There were all the usual suspects in an event like this. It reminded me so much of home.
The Bee keepers, the worm farm, the pruning demonstrations along with the sellers of the different varieties of citrus, the volunteers serving afternoon tea. Even the special displays of citrus.
Good grass root stuff.
Out into the garden and the formal section where the plants (all in pots) are swapped around to be out in the open in summer and then back in for winter.
We found a small coffee shop near here which was hosted by the marionette theatre. The woman who served us has been working with the puppets for 40 years so was really enthusiastic to share her joy, information as well as cake!
It takes up to 6 months for a puppeteer to proficiently ‘walk’ the puppets, then there is the next stage of performing without tangling up with the co-actors.
You have to admire the patience to perform.
A wander through the more ‘wild’ areas and manicured hedging around natural grasses and shrubs with the odd statue popping up. A beautiful day for a wander and in and out of the green houses. It still amazes me that we can be amongst what feels like millions of people and then alone in these spaces. I just love the way that these huge cities can carry so many people around. Sam likened it to the footy crowd leaving. But every half hour????
For us it was back to the subway ending a pleasant last day in Vienna.
‘Stairway to Klimt’ February – 2nd September 2018, and ‘The Shape of Time’ 6th March – 8th July 2018.
The two exhibitions we saw at the Fine Art Museum in Vienna.
The most wonderful part for me was that I was going to see the Durers and the Bruegels. As well as Vermeer.
So when I saw that these other exhibitions were on I thought that I might miss out. Galleries often put works away when there are specials on but no!
As we walked in Sam said they must be doing some renovations here but it wasn’t renovations it was scaffolding to assist us in walking up to get close to the Klimt that are ‘staircase’ to the museum. He was 27 years old when he was commissioned.
These paintings were completed oil on canvas and then stuck to the wall.
What a great opportunity to be able to climb those stairs to view the works up close. You would need binoculars otherwise.
There was another Kilmt in the Greek and Roman section of the gallery and it was a treat to see as well.
Klimt certainly challenged his contemporaries with his work and it was interesting to read the information about him.
The text on the painting “Nuda Veritas” (1899) is a poem by Fredrich Schiller and it reads
“If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art,
Here was an exhibition that slipped into the whole of the first floor of the gallery.
It shows 16 paired artworks of modern and the old masters.
The particular chosen pieces, placed side by side yet ‘scattered’ throughout the floor. A great information panel was placed there for us to read after making our own decision about why these art works are paired.
If you are interested you can go into the link that I put there which talks about them.
I was excited to see some Australian involvement with some of the modern pieces.
Fiona Tan, Nursra Lati Qureshi, (her work was from the piece in the Venice Biennially) and Ron Mueck.
The other truly special part about today was that we wandered along being able to really take our time to study the works . There weren’t any tours going through, there weren’t any school groups and there weren’t the masses all trying to get to see a famous work.
We were just there savour
ring every moment of the quietness and the time to enjoy.
With our rain coats on we set out to Farfa. It was great to have Peter with us as we headed down the track.
As I mentioned in the last blog I was really on the lookout for wild asparagus. Alex was with me with this task.
I had been watching out for it every day on this journey and I now know that I was looking for the wrong thing. In fact we had seen masses of prickly stalks everywhere and probably as we were headed south we getting further and further away from the season.
I was looking for the asparagus that pops up like a weed in my garden. It isn’t like that at all (except when it shoots and this is what we eat)
I had hoped to be able to ask someone on our journey and it wasn’t until we reached Le Mole sul Farfa that I saw it in a vase on a table that I knew I was in the right place to ask.
Alex and I found some fresh ‘buds’ as we walked along. We had a taste and agreed we were successful.
Interesting that when others tried it they thought it bitter but I think that is because we were gradually picking ones that were a little older. Mystery number one solved.
Mystery number two: On our walk from day one we had noticed these interesting growths on the oak trees. Because there were so many we decided it must be a different sort of oak tree. Even though when I googled Italian oak trees at night I didn’t find it.
In fact Stefano explained that it is a ‘gaul’ Such a gorgeous specimen. Another mystery solved.
The walk today was a pleasant one. There was the downhill walking on concrete paths that were made a little more tricky because of the wet but not really a problem.
We passed through a Roman oil and flour mill. Great place to explore and think about how it worked with the various rooms as well as being amazed that even the round mill stones were there. We are talking about ruins from over 2000 years ago!
Then it was on through the light woodland then through a small town and then on to Farfa where we had lunch in the Trattoria da Lupi and enjoyed watching the chefs work with the wood fired oven. There were lots of family groups here enjoying their Sunday together.
From there we went on an adventure with Stefano who took us to his Roman Villa and explained how he was excavating this amazing complex under rubble and dung. He has done an amazing job with the assistance of friends and others who come to work for keep. (He is working up to another month of this work)
We didn’t have to climb down into the pit we walked around past an old farm house and went through a tunnel (cave entrance where he began his excavations which you can sort of see on the chart I photographed of the Lazar scanned system.
He showed us the Romans had used wood to build form work to make the concrete walls with. The most interesting section was where he showed how olive oil was produced all those thousands of years ago. I did video him talking but the video is too long for this blog!
The oil from the crushed olives poured through a hole in the roof into one pit with water and because oil is lighter than water with more water coming in from the side the oil would flow off into another tank. This would have been repeated to assist with the purification of the oil.
Then it was off to visit the olive trees. One carbon dated to be thousands of years old.
Such a privilege to listen to a man who is working to ensure that these hills and their history can be preserved.
This was the end of our walk and we have now headed to Bologna and now about to leave Budapest.
Casperia was our designation for our rest day. Another hill top town with amazing views.
We stayed in a residence that had been occupied by some sort of high ranking family as noted from the frescos around the main sitting room.
Again it was steps, steps, steps everywhere!
This place seemed to be less religious than previous towns. We weren’t summoned to church at all – the bells everywhere else had called us each morning and evening – and we couldn’t find a way to get into one. The only evidence was on Sunday morning we watched a lady giving students a bible study lesson.
Roberto and Maureen, the couple who own the place where we stayed, were Italian and Welsh. They retired to the town 20 years ago to run this accommodation place with a cooking school and links to another restaurant in town. He was an architect and award-winning chair designer. There were some curious chairs in the house. As he said to us “the design is interesting but comfort is not a priority.
We enjoyed our pasta making as well as making ‘parmesan cups’ (melting and forming a cup over an upturned bowl). Great for adding anything.
I had loved learning the Lecce style pasta with Anna in Lecce two years ago.
The difference with this pasta was learning about the style of cutting and marking. This dough was made with egg and Jennifer showed us how to make garganelli which is like penne for us. The other thing they did was to make a sauce using fresh artichokes. So delicious. That is certainly going to be on our menu.
On with the walk.
Sam and I headed to the supermarket/deli just outside the city walls to get our lunches. It was interesting to note how the prices of the lunches was going down! We had paid €16.60 in Spoletto on our first day for 5 lunches. We were now down to €12.00 in Casperia. It had been getting cheaper every day!! (Always ordering the same food). They must do this a lot as the girl serving didn’t hesitate in preparing the rolls for us all with a gorgeous smile.
This was to be a gentlish day with a slow rise to 700m then bumping away down to 300m where we would finish at an organic farm and the most delightful time with Stefano and Elisabeth.
This was a much easier walk than we have been doing and there were lots of nice strolls through gorgeous oak forests and then meandering river streams. Beautiful views across the hill tops. As we looked across the colours reminded me of Kaffe Fasset designs and how we were so impressed with the way that he knitted the landscape.
I don’t think my photos captured that tone that he was able to achieve; my knitting didn’t either.
Then we got lost! Not in a bad way but we did. We think that the reason we were off the path was because we were headed through a field or two and the farmer had knocked over some pegs.
Still with our trusty compass in the phone, the maps and instructions and a check on the path that was on the GPS app on the phone we were all good. It was sensible to have battery backup for our phones. It was quite special walking around the growing wheat though and then to stumble through the stony fields to cut across.
This journey was so like the story of ‘We’re Going On. Bear Hunt’ Across the river through the grass etc. “…stumble trip, stumble trip.”
We had more small creeks to cross before we came to Le Mole sul Farfa Stefano and Elisabeth’s organic farm. Our home for two nights.
As the week passed we saw less and less of grapes and more and more olive groves. And the trees seemed to be getting older and older.
Elisabeth was bottling her elderflower cordial as we turned up so it was great to be able to compare notes on the way we make ours. It was so lovely to talk about her links to Sydney as she follows the Cornersmith people using their pickling methods and ideas. This place is just around the corner from Robyn, Peter and Alex. Small world.
We ate olives from their trees, oil as well.
Elisabeth prepares vegetarian meals so this was a delight as well in fact we enjoyed the most wonderful pasta sauce I think I have ever tasted. A quite sweet tomato taste with her passata. But maybe we had just been away from this fresh taste for a while.
AND we found wild asparagus. I will write about that tomorrow.
I looked out the window and saw the tough part. It was straight up!!
The first hour (this usually means two for us) in full sun.
The first climb was from 700 metres to 1110 metres.
When we first read this we also read that if we wanted we could avoid the first half of the walk by getting a lift then walking the second part. Alex suggested that the first half looked the most interesting. We could get a lift at that later spot to get to Casperia.
We agreed that we would do this and we did!
The poles helped and the fact that we had been walking for three days REALLY helped.
I was surprised that as we got moving we were really much stronger than we thought.
I am glad that I was not carrying my overnight needs, and I was really happy with the way I had looked after my feet.
You hear of people with all sorts of issues with blisters and trouble spots but we were fine thanks to ‘compede’ and these lovely gel tubes that slipped onto the toes to provide the comfort of ‘slippers’ for the toes as we walked.
This day provided the most wonderful of views across the hills as well as the forest walks. Just so beautiful and quite breathtaking at times with just how special this part of the world is. Again, we were heading for a hill top town.
At one point we were wandering through what was very much like an English country scene, an oak forest, then there was more steep climbing before we came to the most amazing part of this day.
We came over the horizon to see this fantastic sight. Communal grazing for sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and horses There were no fences. The animals were all co-habitating the area. The sheep were being looked after by maremma dogs. There were two flocks that we could see. One lot had white dogs the second had black and white ones. This is the original area for these dogs. (Maremmano, is a breed of livestock guardian dog indigenous to central Italy, particularly to Abruzzo and the Maremma region of Tuscany and Lazio. It has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves. The literal English translation of the name is “The dog of the shepherds of the Maremma and Abruzzese region”.
There were the remnants of a few houses here – in the notes they were talked of as shepherds houses
The lead cow had a bell on.
We all commented on the bucolic nature of the area.
As we wandered through we decided we had to stay longer to watch how it worked. We sat awhile enjoying this special moment (or hour)
We felt so privileged to be part of this scene.
Reluctantly we moved on. Through gentle woodland and down to a stream. However here we came to our first issue of erosion. The bank of the river had broken away and we had to get around it somehow!
We couldn’t go up – too steep – We couldn’t go down – the same issue. So we clambered across one at a time clinging on to the roots that were exposed. So exciting to make the other side. All in the day’s adventures!
The walk flattened out after this and we arrived at the town of Contanello.
Here we enjoyed a beer, called for a ride to Casperia where we were to stay the night and then have the whole next day off. We are on holidays. We deserved the ride.
Today my legs told me that it should be a day off. Being in a medieval town atop a mountain is not an easy place to be with sore calf muscles. Sam felt much the same. Then to have to read that we would be going downhill for 300 metres then to rise up to 750 metres didn’t help.
The owner of the house we were staying in in Labro suggested that we might be keen on a ‘flower’ holiday. New to us and on further enquiry he described it as staying in one spot and venturing out to various places from there.
His establishment was suited more to staying in the one spot and not going very far as it was quite beautiful and peaceful. We thought of it as a place to write or draw from. And wished we were!!
Before leaving we climbed to the church at the top of the village and enjoyed yet more frescos.
We were ready to go at 10.30. It would be another 2 days of walking before we would have a rest day!
Our attempts to buy our lunch (roll with prosciutto and cheese) failed at the village, but we were told that we could purchase at the next hill top town.
The delightful part about the next small village was that not only were we able to buy our lunch we also found a great spot to have a coffee. The shop keeper generously gave us cake to eat as well.
We meandered through the town, along a canal embankment where we admired fish swimming then on through the forest and grassy fields. We enjoyed our lunch around 3pm!
The pleasures of this walking trip was that we were never in a hurry. There was always time to stop for the view! The biggest drudge was up the hills then to go down. Often we talk about zigzagging paths but this felt more like ‘N’ing the path; going straight up then down before rising up again!
We left Labro at 600metres, dropped down to 350metres and then steadily rose to 750 metres. Oh, to be a bird!
The paths that were used to climb up the hills were very stoney. The same for the decent. We were so glad to have the poles as well as the instructions from Sam on how to hold them and work them.
We walked through the Sabine hills. Quite spectacular, especially the wooded areas. The tricky bit on the climbs in the forest was that we couldn’t stop as there were so many mosquitos. No good opening your mouth for an inbreath either or you would be sucking them in. and no time to stop and put the ‘bushmans’ on!!!
The beauty of the cyclamens and other gorgeous flowers around us made the tough bits not so bad.
When the notes said ‘gird your loins’ you knew that it was going to be tough!
I kept thinking if this is tough what is tomorrow going to be like as it is listed as a tough walk. This day was listed as ‘easyish in the morning with heart pumping on occasion in the afternoon!
Some of the walk which we did follows the pilgrimage route of St. Francis. His route in Italy goes from La Verna to Rome. And Greccio is a significant stop as there is a sanctuary to him there. The St Francis’ way is a pilgrimage that ‘intends to reintroduce the Franciscan experience in the lands that the Poor Man walked through on his travels’.
We made it and enjoyed a hot shower, a pleasant beer and then a quiet dinner, off to sleep thinking about ‘the hard climb to begin tomorrow!
Again we enjoyed spectacular weather. It is so good that it hasn’t rained.
When we read the forecast earlier, rain was predicted but luck was with us and not the locals who desperately need the rain.
We haven’t experienced temperatures above 28º so far and although it is tough when walking uphill in the full sun, there are enough spots to get to in the shade. Then there are the oak forests where the leaves are just beginning to unfold.
At the beginning of the walk, Alex, Sam and I took the chance to visit the Mummy Museum in Ferentillo
An intriguing place.
The bodies in here were preserved through the special conditions that they lay in. It was thought that the mummifying occurred naturally because of the conditions. It was suggested that it was a fungi in the ground.
In the 50’s the scientists in the area experimented by reconstructing the conditions and used an eagle to observe.
That eagle has been mummified.
We couldn’t find any evidence of the practice continuing and we were unable to take any photos!
What was intriguing was a Chinese couple who were visitors to the area in the 1850s and died of Cholera.
From there we were guided through winding paths following the contours up and down. We passed through a town, along a gorgeous river where rafting is a really popular pastime.
The colour of the water was an emerald green. Quite beautiful. We loved seeing the red poppies on ANZAC day spread through the fields as we walked.
We had some really hard sections to walk through. Mostly the harsh uphill stretches of really steep and rocky surfaces. As well as some down hill horrors!
It was interesting to get up close to agricultural activities such as how the grapevines were pruned and tied.
We ate our baguette beside an olive grove with what looked like ground cover of queen anne lace.
It was quite tricky to rise again and walk as our legs are beginning to tighten.
The instructions we follow are quite clear but we lose time when we need discussion to locate a sign or path.
It helped to have a GPS system on the phone to match the path we are taking (as well as ‘maps me’ – a really good app. to have to locate oneself anywhere in the world offline that is if you have downloaded the maps when on line) How did we ever do it before this. I remember when Sam and I were in Wales walking in 2000. We came across a couple with a GPS system. We thought they were cheating!! – not so now!!
Towards the end of our walk we passed through canola crops and a much easier down hill walk to a huge lake.
We stayed in 10th century restored villa in the hill top village of Labro. Labro is considered one of the most intact Medieval villages left. It has been restored under the guidance of a Belgium architect. The parents of the current owner were also Belgium, saw an article in an architectural magazine and decided to buy into the project along with many other Belgiums.
There have been some constants for us on the walk. The strongest are the sighting of the Apenine Mountains. Still with snow on the highest peaks they have been visible on the horizon when we look back after each tough climb.
Another is the cyclamen flowers often as a carpet in the forests – such glorious cover.