Friday, May 12, 2006

Bumming about in Budapest

Considering the fact that I lost one of my favorite items just a few days ago, I find it amazing that I have completely fallen in love with this city. I've had such a great time. I even extended my stay by a day. Of course that meant I had to change hostels for this final night, but it was actually quite easy - "Buda" (the hostel guy in the picture) did everything for me. The hostels I stayed at are amazing - I definitely recommend both the Aboriginal and the Boomerang (run by the same people - the Aboriginal is a bit older and had more partying going on). It was like living in an apartment again. It's a bit quiet tonight at the Boomerang - just me and a bunch of Aussies who have just left for the pub down the street. I always had someone to hang out with staying here, but didn't have to worry about pleasing any traveling buddies - cause it's just me a Frog. If you are interested in the Adventures of Frog by the way, I've started it up at
I had some wonderful food today. Liam (the guy who manages this new hostel) recommended a pub where I could get some really good goulash. They served it to me in a kettle on a little flame. It was definitely cool.
I'm just chillin out tonight. I've been running around all week, so I decided to rest tonight so I can get up really early tomorrow morning. I want to walk up to the castle on the Buda side of the river before all the tourists get out of bed. Then I'll pack up and catch the train to Vienna at 13.10. Not the night train. I learned my lesson.
I have done so much here that it's kind of hard for me to share it all. I went to two very different bath houses. Today it was Szechinyi (I think that's how it's spelled). It's inside the city park. It's huge, with a big outdoor swimming pool. I got a bit pissed off because I had to wait in line for about an hour to get in. Quite different from the Rudas baths where I walked in. Of course, Rudas was very different. First of all, it is one of the older style bath houses - it's like walking into a cave. There are different temperatures of water that you go back and forth between, and a steam room and sauna, and you can pay extra for massages. The only thing about Rudas that I would warn against is be prepared for lots of skin. Until quite recently, Rudas was for men only. Now they have "ladies only" hours two days a week. Because it's not mixed gender, most of the women go all-naturale. I kept my suit on though - I'm such an American. Szechinyi is much more touristy - everyone's in bathsuits, though most are really tiny. Still, the atmosphere is really neat in Rudas - worth the visit, if you aren't too embarrased.
Yesterday was gorgeous. I spent most of the morning roaming around down by the Danube. Walked up and down the Buda and the Pest side, and across the bridges. Mostly I was testing out the new camera. I think I got one that will work nicely. At least until I can replace the Rebel.
Last night I ended up going to an open-air club with a couple of aussie girls staying at with me at the Aboriginal. It was really cool - right on the water and easy to get to on the night bus. And the cover was only 100 forints - that's 50 cents! I wish covers were that low in Dallas. I would definitely go out more.
Well, I'm going to get some sleep. I want to wake up early tomorrow so that I can walk up to the castle before the tourists, then I have to catch a train.
More to come later of course.

Budapest Pictures

Here are the pictures from Budapest. I'm still learning how this new camera works, so some of them aren't of my usual quality. I'll fill yall in later about my time here - it's been fabulous.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Frog had to inspect our room from top to bottom. Seven beds in this one and eight in the other. That's a lot of people in a little space.

As you can see, there's quite the theme going on in this place.

The proprietor of the Aboriginal Hostel (I wonder where he came up with the name). This is the first picture I took with the new camera, by the way.
Oh, and I fixed the settings on the blog so that you can leave comments now (so please do)!

Getting there is half the battle...

The last 24 hours have been ... interesting, to say the least. All of my camera equipment was stolen right out from under my nose while I was on the train to Budapest. It is a shame, because this is such a wonderful city.
As is this hostel. It is basically a little apartment with about 16 beds squeezed into two rooms. That may sound aweful to some of you, but I love it - I've met so many cool people just in the last day. It's a lot more social than the place I stayed in Prague. And the lady does our laundry for free!
One of the girls staying here sort of showed me around - we tried to go one of the turkish baths but got the time wrong, so we climbed to the top of the largest hill in Buda (that's the west side of the city), which over looks the Danube and all of Pest. We ran into one of the guys staying with us at the top, so we sat and had lunch with him, then we wandered back and we to the big local market just on the Pest side of the green bridge (that may sound funny, but the bridges are conveniently color-coded).
I think I'm going to go find an electronics store in a bit. I'm going to buy some cheap digital camera so that I can take snapshots, and I'll replace my Rebel later on. And I'll be a lot less stupid from now on (though, for the record, I don't know how they got to the camera stuff - I am very protective of my bags - there is some talk of gas canisters being used for very similar thefts on that same night train, but I don't want to jump to any conclusions).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Plzen, the home of Pilsner

Seeing as how I had to be out of my room at 10 and the train for Budapest doesn't leave until 23.05, I decided to take a little trip. I hopped on a train to Plzen, about an hour and a half from Prague, to visit the birthplace of the Pilsner beer. All others are apparently copies of the Pilsner Urquell (or the "Pilsner original").
The tour was definitely neat. The old lady guiding us had the funniest accent - it sounded more German than Czech. My favorite quote from her - "For us in Czech Republic, beer is not liquor, it is bread. I drink my beer everyday, and I am 95 years old, so it cannot be bad."
So now that I'm back in Prague, I have about 5 hours to kill. I think I'll walk back over to the Charles Bridge and find something to do.

Even more stuff in Prague...

The pub crawl was interesting – definitely a success. Evelyn did come and it was a good thing. Otherwise I would have been the only person besides our guide under the age of at least 40. And we were the only two Americans. Anna (the guide) said it was the smallest and youngest group she’s ever had for this tour. It was nice though – we had some good conversations. There was a couple from Wales, a couple from outside of London (sorry, don’t remember what city), and a couple from Northern Ireland (who I ran into again today on the Charles Bridge – they were getting ready to go back home). We went to three different pubs and had a free beer in each, and dinner in the second one. Everything was tasty. And Anna made sure Evelyn and I got to the train station alright, being that we are two little American girls traveling by ourselves. Hehehe.

When I got back to the hostel, I had a new roommate in addition to the three Brazilian girls. Leona is from Australia. Since the others left this morning, we have the room for six all to ourselves, unless some more people show up later tonight. It has been rather quiet in the hostel since I’ve been here. Maybe more people are having as much trouble finding it as I did. :-D.

We actually hung out a lot today. Both of us walked down to the Charles Bridge again so that we could go on one of the river boat tours. The guide/captain was very good looking. And they had free beer. And a man playing an accordion. Very lovely.

With that done, we decided to walk up towards the castle, and then to the observation tower, which is like a miniature Eiffel Tower. It was a wonderful walk and a wonderful view. The path went winding through this massive garden, complete with families and couples enjoying each others’ company. Of course, unlike the tower in Paris, there was no elevator – we climbing 249 steps to the top. Woohoo. I feel strong.

We witnessed a fight (a real fight) as we sat outside the train station eating our 23-Kč (about a dollar) bagettes. Don’t really know what it was about but one guy was beating the crap out of another, who was simply taking it, making no attempt to fight him off. We did develop a few theories as to the reason for the fight. Mine – the guy being beaten impregnated the other’s fiancé. Leona’s – the guy being beaten drank the other guy’s wine (all the guys standing around us were drinking wine from these little quart-size boxes). Both are equally valid. We may never know the real reason.

I bought a ticket today for tomorrow night’s train to Budapest. It doesn’t leave until 23.05 but I have to check out of the room by 10.00. Hmmmm. I think I have a problem to solve. Should be another interesting experience.

The Keens gave me a blister L. But I have my Chacos with me as a backup, so it’s all good. I’m gonna have to wear them instead tomorrow. Not like it’s a big sacrifice – they are equally comfortable.

Enough rambling, I need to edit some of these photos (I took way to many, once again).