Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jana Jazz


The Jana Nyberg Group is in the process of cutting a new album. Sample some songs from the album here. If you like jazz, you must try to make it to one of their gigs. Jana's low, soulful voice and the talent of the band behind her makes every show entirely enjoyable. And the girl definitely has style...


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Laura & Tom

Laura and Tom recently got engaged and asked me to do the honors of taking their photos. This beautiful couple displayed some of the most honest affection and I've seen. I never once had to ask for a smile, kiss, lean or look. It's clear that they make each other very happy.
Tender Kiss
Ring Kiss
Close Up

Luckily, they were up for anything--from lying in the wet grass...
Green Kiss

...to copping a 'tude...
(I have to quick thank Laura's sister (and my rockin' friend) Kristen here for art directing/assisting the whole shoot and coming up with this sunglasses idea)

...to jumping around in sandals.
Jump 3
Jump 2

And Tom came up with the idea to use the bean in Millennium Park to reflect them.
Reflective Kiss

We took several stage/theater shots, as Laura and Tom are both very musical. In fact, I believe the proposal was on stage and involved music.
Playing for Keeps
Stage Door

I wish Laura and Tom all the best as they begin their future together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Budapest: Odds & Ends

I tend to take a lot of photos that seem cool to me, but have little to do with the actual trip. So, this is the post that holds all things random. For example, I saw these guys walking down the street, and it was straight out of a movie or something.

And at the castle, we saw this statue. I'm sorry, but when do you ever see dogs in old statues? Gods? yes. Angels? Absolutely. Famous military men? Of course. Dogs? Not so much.

I mentioned it in my last post, but I REALLY liked the graffiti at our favorite little bar. The contrast was amazing.
Flower graffiti

Jake and I were enjoying pizza* and this woman was cleaning her windows. I was very distracted.
*speaking of pizza, we tried a mustard/sour cream based pizza over there and O.M.G. It was amazing. I've since made it 3 times at home. I can't believe it hasn't caught on over here yet. Try it. You'll thank me later.

When I travel, I like to do dorky things like freeze in the same shape as the statues. Since I had the camera, Jake had to do the honors from time to time.

And finally, a cool tree "fruit" that we ran across.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Budapest: Baths, Beer & Beauty

After about 12 hrs of traveling, I was happy to arrive in the Budapest airport. At least I was until we went to the ATM and faced choices ranging from 10,000 forint to 200,00 forint with no idea what the translated to in dollars. The fear of wiping out our savings accounts at the push of a button must have been written on our faces, because a nice Hungarian man came to the rescue.

Anyway, I was right to be happy about our arrival. Budapest is surprisingly fabulous. Historic buildings. Quaint streets. Spanning vistas. I'd put it at the top of the list on this trip.
The river Danube

We walked up a million steps to get to the castle at the top of the hill. There we saw some views and found a church that eerily resembled the corn palace in South Dakota.

We never made it to the terror museum (about communism), but it sure looked interesting from the outside.

The baths were half swimming pool - half medicinal spa. I have trouble believing the medicinal part, since I got sick 2 days later. But, they definitely smelled like minerals...or something. That said, there were about 40 different pools (big and small) ranging in temps from steam rooms to 18 C (BRRRR). Gorgeous place/day...

Here's a list of the minerals we were treated with...

Budapest also had, in Jake's words, "amazingly cheap beer." After walking all day, every day, they sure tasted good. We tested it at this place twice (day and night). It is a local bar that is essentially squatting (the police turn a blind eye) between two buildings.

Eg├ęszs├ęgedre! (Cheers)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Budapest Wedding

Bill and Julcsi got married in Budapest and Jake and I made the trek to celebrate it with them (and continue on a short tour of Europe). Budapest was gorgeous - probably my favorite stop on the trip.

I love traveling because of all of the random facts you learn about a city or culture that you wouldn't have learned otherwise. For example, did you know that Buda and Pest were two separate cities (divided by the Danube) and only became "Budapest" upon construction of a bridge?

I assume Bill and Julcsi will follow the city's lead and, since they united on the river Danube, join names to become Bilcsi.

Look at how happy Bilcsi looks!

Their ceremony was on the river Danube, on the hottest day in the history of weddings. My sweat was sweating. Seriously. In fact, neither of their rings fit due to the heat. But despite the temperature, they exchanged some of the sweetest vows I've ever heard - and in true American fashion Bill read his straight from his iphone.

This was the lovely view from the boat.

The reception was gorgeous as well.

A highlight of the night might have been the toasts. Bill's dad gave a nice, 5-minute toast (including translations). Julcsi's aunt gave a nice, 28-minute toast (detailing the history of the bride's life), which was ultimately cut short by a friend of Julcsi's (see below) breaking into song (the rest of the audience was quick to follow). Apparently toasts aren't common in Hungary.

Julcsi's aunt also made her a traditional Hungarian outfit to wear for part of the reception. It really upped the fun-factor. The minute it came on the singing and clapping and dance-offs began. Their version of the dollar dance included Julci dancing with everyone who stole her away, until Bill finally scooped her up and rescued her.

Jake bought Julcsi a shot of Palenka, a Hungarian alcohol that - in my humble opinion - tasted strongly like rubbing alcohol.

Julcsi's family made all of the desserts and cake for the wedding - and there was nothing "potluck" about it. It was the most extravagant, rum-filled dessert spread I'd ever seen.

At the end of the night Bilcsi presented their parents with roses, as is the Hungarian tradition.

I wish the best to the lovely couple and can't wait for Bilcsi Wedding Part II to take place in the States in a few weeks.