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Shoe Money Tonight!

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Dave!For the money, the most versatile piece of furniture I've found has been HEMNES Shoe cabinets from IKEA. At just $99 each, The four-drawer version is nicely shallow... just 8-5/8" deep... and since it mounts directly to the wall and there's no rear legs to push it away from the molding, there's no wasted space. On top of that, the drawers themselves are deep and spacious so they are actually useful. Not just for shoes (though they are great for storing shoes) but for all kinds of things (the one in my kitchen holds placemats and napkins!).

Once I found out that I wouldn't be able to wall-mount my SONOS One speakers as I originally planned, my first thought was to purchase a couple of HEMNES units, drill holes in the top, then hide the SONOS cords behind them. They're the perfect height, allowing the speakers to rise just above my couch...

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

Since the table-top on these extends from the ends of the cabinet, I had to modify them slightly so I could get the two units to sit flush against each other, but they turned out great. Even more importantly, they work perfectly for giving me excellent surround sound.

And, as a bonus, my LaserDisc collection now has a home. A perfect home, actually, since they are stored vertically, but pull down at an angle so I can read the spines easily...

IKEA Hemnes Show Cabinets for Sonos One

It's kind of weird that I now have seven of these shoe cabinets in my home considering I don't own many shoes, but they're just so versatile and functional. The shallow depth also means they can go just about anywhere. Yes, quality control at IKEA is shitty and you may get a defective part that will need replacing, but if you've got a tight spot you're looking to fill, these are definitely worth a look.

Something tells me I haven't purchased my last Hemnes shoe cabinet.

   

Day Nine: AMS -> SEA

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Dave!After a week of rushing around Europe trying to condense fourteen days into seven, I was looking forward to heading home where I could have a vacation from my vacation... by returning to work! After my first relaxing morning since I got here, the DutchBitch took me to the airport and off I went.

Well, kinda.

The flight was delayed because the PA system was down. Apparently the part they needed to fix it was not on-site, which meant we were 90 minutes late taking off. Ironically, the PA system went down again just before landing in Seattle, so apparently it wasn't as repaired as they thought it would be.

And speaking of things not being fixed...

The replacement part from IKEA for their defective wood staining never arrived, and all attempts to get a tracking number failed. Their promise of "7 to 10 days" for delivery has now ballooned to 23 days, with no end in sight. I'm sick-and-tired of having half-finished IKEA sitting on my kitchen table, so I decided to brave rush-hour traffic to pick up the damn thing in person. It was all I could do to contain my rage that I was having to add 30 to 40 minutes delay to my already-delayed drive home because IKEA customer service sucks, but what other option did I have?

I finally arrived at my driveway shortly after 9:00pm, which doesn't sound bad until you take into consideration that I had been up for nearly 20 hours straight.

Perhaps one of these years I'll finally figure out how to sleep on a plane, but that was not today.

   
UPDATE: And of course IKEA finally sends me the damn part... one day after I already went and picked it up...

FedEx Tracking Number from IKEA

   
How very typical.

Oh well. I managed to get my shelving customized and assembled this morning, so at least I won't have it mucking up my weekend like I would have if I had waited.

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Day Eight: Vienna

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Dave!When I had to lop a week off my vacation, Budapest dropped from four nights to two, Vienna dropped from three nights to one. This is a tragically short amount of time in either city when you haven't visited before, but I tried my best to see as much as I could in the time I had.

When it comes to Vienna, my primary goal was to see some art by Klimt, his works having a wonderful art-deco sensibility that I love.

My first stop was to be at the gates of the Belvedere Palace Museum, home to Klimt's most famous work... The Kiss, when they opened for the day. That way I could rush to the Klimt works before people (ugh!) got in the way. As a bonus, the weather was much nicer this time around...

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum

Klimt at the Belvedere Palace Museum

The Kiss is absolutely stunning in person. It's about 6-foot square, and has a luminescence you're never going to capture in a photo, but here we go anyway...

Klimt The Kiss

Klimt The Kiss

When you get really close, the texture and construction packed into the piece is mesmerizing...

Klimt The Kiss

   
There are more Klimts, but they all kind of pale in comparison...

Klimt

   
The museum houses other wonderful works as well, and it sure was nice to see them without people (ugh!) mucking about. Well worth arriving early...

Belvedere Palace Museum

Belvedere Palace Museum

Belvedere Palace Museum

   
The palace itself is magnificent. And turning it into a museum is a far better use than an endless parade of sitting rooms...

Belvedere Palace Museum

   
After exploring the Belvedere, I took a tram to the other site I really wanted to see before I left... the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. To mark the 100th year since Klimt's death, they have constructed a massive "Stairway to Klimt" which spans the main atrium and allows you to see his paintings there at eye-level. It's pretty incredible...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
The opportunity to see these works in this way is akin to magic...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
As if that weren't enough, Nuda Veritas from a private collection is on loan while "Stairway to Klimt" is running...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Stairway to Klimt

   
The museum has a lot of different works, but I didn't have much time to spend with them... instead breezing through most everything. I did spend a little more time with their Egyptian artifacts though...

Kunsthistorisches Museum Egyptian

Kunsthistorisches Museum Egyptian

   
As I was headed back to my hotel so I could pack up and catch my flight, the weather was really getting nice. Such a shame I couldn't stay and enjoy it...

Vienna

   
And, just like that, my time in Vienna was over.

One subway stop and a 16-minute "City Airport Train" ride later and I was winging my way back to DutchyLand.

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Day Seven: Vienna

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2018

Dave!Vienna is a city with historical significance that I have long wanted to visit. When it got a Hard Rock Cafe 2-1/2 years ago, I finally had the excuse I needed to plan a trip. That being said, Vienna is a hard sell if you don't like classical music and horses, as they seem to be the life-blood of the city. Neither of those things interest me, so I tended to focus on the architecture and art, both of which interest me very much.

By train, Vienna is a swift 2-1/2 hours from Budapest. I always spring the small amount extra for a First Class ticket, which seems to result in less hassle during border crossings. I left at 7:30 in the morning and was surprised that there were only two other people in my coach...

On the Train to Vienna

   
As expected, the city is incredibly well-connected with public transportation, including a system of trams and subways that makes navigation a snap. Walking to my hotel, the first photo I snapped on this dreary Monday encapsulated Vienna pretty well...

Horse-Drawn Carriage in Vienna

   
I hadn't eaten breakfast, so my first stop was the Hard Rock for a quick bite. It's nice, but one of the fairly boring new "hipster chic" properties I'm not a fan of...

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

Hard Rock Cafe Vienna

   
My first stop after lunch was to run out to Schönbrunn Palace. Don't ask me why. I always end up regretting it after visiting palaces, and this was no exception. It's all "Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a sitting room. Here's a bedroom. Here's a sitting room." Which begs the question... exactly how many places did these people need to sit down? I didn't spend much time after I saw that Schönbrunn was just more of the same thing I've seen a dozen times before...

Schönbrunn Palace

   
Back in the city proper, I decided to wander around and look at architecture, which could keep me occupied for days. There's just so much to see...

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

Vienna City Central

   
There is, of course, a cathedral. It's pretty much par-for-the-course when it comes to gothic European cathedrals...

Vienna Cathedral

Vienna Cathedral

Vienna Cathedral

My final stop for the day was the Albertina Museum, where I knew there was a "Monet to Picasso" exhibit that was definitely worth my valuable time to visit. What I didn't know was that there was also a new Keith Haring exhibit, which was just icing on the cake...

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Vienna Albertina Museum

Phenomenal exhibit. Fantastic museum.

   
After spending way too much time looking at art, everything was starting to close, so I decided to track down a falafel shop for dinner...

Falafel in Vienna

   
And now? Time for sleep. I have two very important stops to make tomorrow before flying back to the Netherlands, and I want to be sure to be rested up.

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Day Six: Budapest, Part Four

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!And here we are at the end of my busy day in Budapest. Since I have to be at the train station by 7:30 in the morning, there ain't no more after this.

Odds are if you've ever been looking at photos of Budapest, you'll undoubtedly run across that classic shot of the Hungarian Parliament Building all lit up at night. The city is kinda famous for it, and I wanted a shot of my very own.

After sprinting across the Danube... or, to be more precise, under the Danube on the subway... I sat on the bank across from the building waiting for night to fall and the magic to happen.

The lights start off small at first. Just little glowing dots appearing across the exterior...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

But before too long, the whole building is flooded in golden light. It is most certainly a pretty sight...

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Bulding at night in Budapest

   
Continuing down the West bank of the river, I make my way back towards the Chain Bridge...

Chain Bridge at night in Budapest

   
I had purchased an extra funicular ticket on my first ride up Castle Hill because I wanted to look down on the city with all the lights on...

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

Budapest at Night from Buda Castle

On my previous funicular rides, I didn't have very good angle to film the experience. This time I did, and here's what that looks like...

   
And that's all she wrote, folks. Time to head back across the river so I can get some sleep before heading out in the morning...

Budapest at Night

Until next time, Budapest...

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Three

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!I would have wanted to visit Budapest even if there were not a Hard Rock Cafe here, but since there is, I definitely wanted to drop by for a shot glass, T-shirt, and a couple pins. And a late lunch. Just enough to tide me over until I found some kind of awesome Hungarian vegetarian meal for dinner.

The Hard Rock Budapest is a fairly small property, but has a good assortment of memorabilia...

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

It also has a nice view of the square below...

Hard Rock Cafe Budapest

   
Wanting to get the most out of my 24-hour public transit card, I headed to City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle. There's a museum about agriculture inside, but I didn't have the time to spend visiting it...

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest

   
Behind the castle is Hősök tere, which means "Heroes' Square" in English. In addition to housing Hungary's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there are statues of various important Hungarian leaders at one end. As you could probably guess, this has been the site of many political demonstrations over the years...

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

Heroes' Square - Hősök tere Budapest

   
As I was speeding my way back towards the Danube, I saw this funky piece of art in one of the subway stations and had to get a photo. No idea what it means...

Dog Leads Man Sculpture in Budapest

   
The Hungarian Parliament Building is famous for the way it lights up at night, but it's not quite getting dark yet. Doesn't stop me from pulling my camera out as I pass by though...

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

   
At the river, I eventually find what I'm looking for... the "Shoes on the Danube Bank" memorial. During World War II, people (mostly Jews and Romani) were brought here to the river bank to be shot by the Nazi-inspired fascist regime of the day (called The Arrow Cross Party), but were told to remove their shoes first...

Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest

Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest

   
Exhausted from running around like a madman all day, I headed back towards my hotel to get some dinner and rest up for some night photography. I didn't know what might be available for vegetarians, but thought my best bet would be at a collection of food stands in the square nearby. Sure enough, I ran across "Lángos" or "Hungarian Flatbread," which is pieces of deep-fat-fried dough that's slathered in sour cream then topped with a mountain of grated cheese...

Hungarian Flatbread Lángos in Budapest

Hungarian Flatbread Lángos in Budapest

Pretty close to heaven for somebody like me!

And... one more entry left to wrap things up...

   

Day Six: Budapest, Part Two

Posted on Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Dave!From Buda Castle I walked to the area known as "Halászbástya"... or "Fisherman's Bastion" in English. The reason that this end of castle hill has that name is because the local fishermen's guild was responsible for defending it. The bastion itself is pretty nifty, with great views across the Danube River to the Pest side of the city...

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest

   
Fisherman's Bastion is home to the incredible Matthias Church. If I were to make a "must-see list" for Budapest, this church would unquestionably be at the top of it. It's a painted church (though not the Painted Church) which is my favorite kind of church (probably because I've seen so many gothic cathedrals in my time that I welcome the opportunity to see something different). The outside is kinda familiar if you've seen a lot of European churches, but the pretty tile roof and awesome moon and star weather vane give you a hint what you'll find inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
And speaking of inside...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

I took a lot of photos of those painted walls... fascinated that so many disparate patterns ended up looking so amazingly awesome together...

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

Matthias Church Painted Walls in Budapest

   
Meanwhile, back to my tour...

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

Matthias Church in Budapest

   
I could have spent a couple hours here easy, but hadn't eaten all day and needed to grab a bite before more exploring. So I headed back to the Pest side of the Danube, which you can read all about in Part Three!

   

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