A Travellerspoint blog

Danke Schoen Wien

Thank you Vienna in German. Suzy, I hope you're proud.


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Thursday, July 30th:

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We head out of Budapest early in the morning and train it east to Vienna. Our hostel is right around the corner from the station, so we throw our bags into the packed storage room and head out to explore!

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Our first stop on Suzy's guided tour includes a walk down Mariahilfer street, full of shops and restaurants. It ends at the Hapsburg palace. A massive "winter" residence for the Kings and Queens. We also check out St. Stephen's, Vienna's main church. The interior is overwhelming with a vaulted and ribbed ceiling. We ride a tiny elevator up to the bell tower to get a full view of the city. The church's roof is covered in colorful mosaic tiles and is stunning.

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We walk back through the palace into Museum Quarter and the Leopold Cafe. We grab our first beers of the day: Radler. It's a lemonade beer and delicious!!! We sit along a shallow pool in the piazza and watch naked kids splash each other and play.

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Now that we're refreshed, we head into the Hapsburg rose gardens and then across the street to Rathaus, Vienna's city hall. A music film festival is going on so we wander over to a food booth for another round of Radler and a pretzel, obviously.

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At night we train it over to the Bermuda Triangle. An area of Vienna that has over 30 bars in a very small area. Perfect. Again, we search and search for our restaurant suggestion, but Frommers never disappoints. We eat at Salzmat, a cozy restaurant with a hand-written daily menu only in German. Our friendly waiter translates and the food is delicious. The meal is, of course, followed by a house shot of palinka. Will we ever learn?

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We end up at a local bar, Krah Krah and enjoy some more beers outside. The cards come out, again, and we play some rounds. Time flies by, and before we know it, we're running back to the train station to catch the last run of the night. We make it and head on home.

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Posted by BlakeSims 05:50 Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Buh Buy Buda!

Our last day in Budapest.


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Wednesday, July 29th:

After a relaxing day at the spa it's time for some physical activity! We begin by climbing Gellert Hill, the sun is blazing and the roads and stairs are steep! We take frequent breaks, but the view is worth the climb. For the rest of the day we keep looking up at the Freedom Statue atop the hill and are amazed we actually climbed that!

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As we head towards Buda Castle, we come across lots of construction, ie lots of men that blatantly stare as we walk by. We also learn the hard way how important it is to be aware of bike paths! Watch out!!!

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We ride the Funicular to the top of the Castle and roam around the streets looking at buildings, statues and ruins. We pause for some beers and delicious pizza at a cute spot where we meet more Americans. Our tour concludes with St. Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion.

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After a nice Dutch dinner at Amstel River, we end up at a bar around the corner from our hostel, The Panic Pub. This whole in the wall reminds us of the dive bars we love back home. We head in early to prepare for our morning departure. Vienna here we come!

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Posted by BlakeSims 05:29 Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Szechenyi Baths

aka Heaven


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Tuesday, July 28th:

Spa Day!!!! The ladies and I hop on the yellow metro in Budapest and head towards Central Park. This train is the oldest underground in Europe and it's quaint decor and rickety car get that point across. We explore Hero's Square, Euroing of course, and walk through the castle and church en route to the Baths.

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Reality check inside: NOTHING is in English and we realize how good we've had it up 'til now. We finally get our tickets and head in. There are dozens of baths and saunas inside, some as hot as 28C and some as cold as 10C. We make our way through the building and then head outside. It's amazing! The yellow buildings, blue water, shooting fountains, and men in speedos is overwhelming at first. We spend most of the afternoon lounging and people-watching.

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On our way home we stroll down Andrassy Avenue and check out the Terror Museum, an interactive new museum focusing on the torture techniques during fascism and communism in Hungary. Each room has at least one typed page of background info.

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As we get closer to our hostel we begin combing the streets for a recommended Frommers restaurant. We go up and down and walk in circles. Just when we give up and decide to try a cute restaurant ahead with umbrellas and lights we realized that it's what we've been looking for! Basically sums up how we explore each city.

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The evening's plans include a boat tour and pub crawl organized by the hostel. We meet some Brazilians and more Belgians on the boat. Seeing the buildings along the Danube lit up at night is amazing. Our first bar is a salsa club, so Suzy shows us her moves. We move on to a second bar, where I befriend a strange looking Hungarian Fashion designer. More shots of Palinka and I'm donzo!

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Posted by BlakeSims 04:26 Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Buda, Buda, Buda, Buda, Buda, Buda...Pest

And, you have to sing it.


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Monday, July 27th:

Warning: a long entry, but worth the read.

What a train ride: loud and sleepless! We arrive in Budapest to a whole new vibe. It's amazing how different cities here feel. After a brief walking tour, we ditch the group to consult Frommers. Our first official stop is the Central Market Hall. Inside are rows and rows of produce, meats, cheeses, danishes and breads, souvenirs (especially paprika and lace). Downstairs is a grocery store, just in case you didn't find what you needed above. After perusing the aisles we find some goodies for a picnic. The highlight is Suzy and Marie getting yelled at for grabbing the peaches directly out of the box. Oh, and old people are mean and pushy, so watch out.

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We grab a beer upstairs before hopping on the #2 tram north to Margaritte Island. The island is a large park. Just inside the entrance is a cool fountain that rises and falls to the sounds of music. We head to the banks and down some stairs to wash our feet in the Danube. We break into our picnic goodies, including more beer, duh.

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After a quick nap in the park, we head back towards our hostel. En route, while crossing an underpass, we stumble upon a group of break dancers. They are awesome and we stare for a good twenty minutes, absolutely mesmerized. Next stop: Parliament, the second largest next to Westminster Abbey.

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The guy at the hostel recommends a place for dinner and we check out Green's. We decide to start off the meal with a shot of palinka, a local liquor. We order tomato, orange and strawberry, imagining how strong and delicious they will taste. Since we don't know Hungarian, our palinka turns out to be wholesome juice. Oops. The meal is delicious, and we ask the waiter about palinka, which he delivers in three shot glasses. It was so strong it gave Marie goosebumps, three times!

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The young locals in Budapest all gather at night at Elizabeth Park, so we grab some drinks and head to join them. It's packed! With skateboarders, live musicians signing Oasis, and some crazy fashion. We also check out St. Stephen's all lit up at night.

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En route to another bar, we meet a group of Belgians. They are boyscouts, and major cubs, except for their slightly older troop leader. We all go to Szimpla, an awesome renovated building with an outdoor garden and patio, mix-match furniture and decor. I convince them that it is also Suzy's birthday, and they lead the entire bar in multiple rounds of singing. The night ends with new facebook friends, and Suzy and I in a bathtub turned into a couch. Welcome to Budapest.

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Posted by BlakeSims 08:50 Comments (0)

Bye Bye Prague!

You've been good to us.

Sunday, July 26th:

Our last day in Prague, and it is filled with even more things to do and see! Using her handy-dandy Frommer's book, Marie leads us on a walking tour around Old Town and we explore some hidden gems. Our tour includes St. Nicholas Cathedral and the Jewish Quarter. We park it at a bar on the main square and spend some decent time people watching. Beware: bloomers and manpris (a mixture of pants and shorts on men) may be hitting the US fashion circuit soon.

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Next stop is a food stand where I grab a much anticipated #1 meal: Bratwurst!!!!! Suzy buys some awesome yellow Greek sandals on Wenceslas square. Time for more beers at U Pinkasu where we finally remember to have cards and play some golf. We continue our tour and pause at Globe, a coffee shop where we play a competitive game of Trivial Pursuit with beers, of course.

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Frommers recommended a vegetarian restaurant so we head in that direction. The interior is amazing with a grotto ceiling covered with tiny shining stars and tables made to look like wood but lit up from the inside. The food is amazing!

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On our walk to pick up our bags to head out we stop at the Baby statues. That's it, time to leave Prague on an overnight train. Luckily we get a car all to ourselves, and give a nasty stare down to anyone who even looks our way. We've got enough wine and chips to last the 7 hour trek. The only problem: one tiny train car and Marie's flatulence issues.

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Posted by BlakeSims 14:55 Comments (0)

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