Saturday, September 22, 2007

I SURVIVED BRATISLAVA!!!!....but not Budapest

Big Plazas and

small cakes.

Milano to Bratislava.

We arrived in Milan and waited nervously for the bus to leave

for the airport. We did not have very much time to make the
flight and the airport was about 30 min. outside of the city.
While waiting we watched a incident/fight/confrontation/deal
gone bad between an mid-twenties Italian and a Irish bloke.

While they were speaking English it was difficult to understand
what the problem was--it was sort of like
watching a soap opera, drama-filled, especially the Italian
("Noooa, don'ta goa, we cana work-it-outa!).
The Irish guy wanted to get on the bus and to the airport, but it
seemed that he owed the Italian some money or that he had taken
something from him. The best I could figure out was that it was a
"Medi Controller"? I have no idea what this is, maybe some device for
PlayStation 14 or something? Things started to get tense as the
Italian was coming on the bus to try to stop the Irish guy from

leaving. An older Italian gentleman on the bus told the bus driver
to call the Caribinary, he appeared oblivious to the situation.
The Irish bloke's friend appeared and they both ran on the bus,
followed by the passionate Italian. The Italian continued trying to

get them off the bus and saying he was going to follow them to the
airport and stop their flight from taking off. The Irishmen seemed
to be wetting their knickers while the Italian seemed to enjoy the
passionate interaction. To make a somewhat long story short, it was
an episode of As the World Turns with an international twist.
We were the last people to check in for our flight. "FLIGHT CLOSED"
the flight Nazi yelled, however, I think the Dolce&Gabbana fashion
Slovakian (you can picture it, can't you!) was able to get on after
putting on some sad faces. As we went though security they stopped
Peter and questioned him about his three Belgian beers. No

liquid! They also took the nutella and the corkscrew. Peter was
very upset they took the bier, as they were a prized treasure of
Belgium and he was just supporting the national past time. It still
hurts him to think of the security guards, drinking his beer and
eating nutella on toast.

View de Italia

We arrived in Bratislava and got mugged!!! No, just kidding, that
would have been a good story though! We were

happy to see the Slovaks were going
GREEN as it was "a day without
cars" and all public transportation was free! Free transportation
is awesome, especially when you do it legally and don't have to
pay big fines for getting caught without a ticket (that story to
come). We ran into two Aussies, Kathy and her son Matthew, who
missed their flight and had to find accommodations for the night.
The 4 of us walked around Bradislava to find a hostel. There were
only 2 beds left at the Possonium hostel, (where the slasher film
HoStEl took place, oooohhh!) and as we were leaving 4 Northern
Englanders came over to us and said they had reservations but they
were trying to get to Budapest that night and were pretty sure
they would not be staying. We waited around for the final decision

and the boys decided they were off to Hungary, so we had secured a
place to rest our heads.

After a day of travel, we wanted to move so we went for a late night run.
Ran around the city in 56 min and sadly enough really saw everything
there was to see in Bratislava in those 56 min.
The next morning we decided to give it one more shot and were not
impressed. But we were amused by the constant onslaught of American
music. As we were shopping among the traditional canned meat and
fish products we were humming to "that's the way love, goes...
it goes". We, too, decided to go and on the
advice of the Northerners and took the late night train to
Budapest, Hungary.

Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth Bridge)

We arrived late Monday night to the Pest side. After all the history
classes I have sat through and taught, I am a bit embarrassed to admit
that I did not know that Budapest is made up of two sections. The
Hills of Buda and the modern city side, Pest. We had made reservations
at the Unity hostel, because they had beds for 10 euro and that is so
in the budget. We easily found the street the hostel was on but
turned right and not left. On the right side there are many bars that
host the "ladies of the night". I was beginning to rethink 10 euro

a night deal. Not Peter, though! Ladies of the night and 10 euros
a night, what a combination! When we readjusted our compasses we
found ourselves in the correct area, where we discovered a lovely hostel
in an old weathered eastern European building (On a side note if you
are ever in Budapest you should stay at the Unity Hostel, it was
amazing and the people who work there and own it could not have
been better). It was late so we decided to sleep and explore in
the morning. We loved Budapest! It is a beautiful city with amazing
character. We walked around in the morning, got some gourmet
finger sandwiches of caviar, salmon, egg and Greek salad. Things in
the city were so inexpensive that we were living like a king
and queen. Peter found an shop off the main street that sold
accouterments from small villages around Hungary. The owner of the
store would go to these small villages and buy things like old wool
jackets, communist army medals, family antiques from people's attics.
We felt like we were back in time looking at all these old relics
and wondering at what price they were able to part with their
keepsakes and family heirlooms. Over homemade cakes and
cappuccino we decided that one day was not going to enough to
explore the Buda and the Pest. We went back to the Unity got a
room for another night and then changed our flight to Thursday. We
got some peppers in paprika, the traditional spice in Hungary, and
made some yummy pizzas for dinner.
We chatted it up with our Canadian roommates, the ever-talkative

Brandon and Eric. As the night went on we enjoyed the company of
Huw and Ben from England. Laura, another Canadian from Saskatchewan,
and Ken from the good 'ol USA (aka. The States, America, that Big
Place that controls everything). We all enjoyed the night,
comparing trips and home countries. Peter, Brandon, Eric, and
Laura ventured to the 0-24 store to get more pivo. They walked
the wrong way and ended up going on a pivo chase. 0-24 is an
interesting concept, not 24 hours, but 0-24. The universal would
be "Never Closes".

...through the looking glass of a leather tote

The hills of Buda.
Tuesday, September 25th. Walked around the city more. Over the
Danube to the Hills of Buda. We went up into the park around the
citadel and enjoyed a picnic in the grass. The view from the hills of the
river, the castle district and the city itself was worth the hike
up. We went back to the small shop and purchased more things,
Moscow Olympic pins, Communist medals and boxes. I love what we got,
but part of me wonders where it came from and if it was come about
in honest ways. I do like that we did not shop at a tourist spot
though. We were found ourselves Hungry in Hungry and wanted to find
some traditional Hungary food. We located Csulok Csardo or Pig's
Foot in English. A small restaurant down stairs. It was dark,
smoky, it was full of long wooden tables and benches, one fat
man behind the bar who took your order and brought your food.
It was perfect. Peter decided to go the very traditional route and
ordered the Goulash. I had the chicken and in mushroom sauce. We
also ordered a plate of homemade pickles. The meat in the Goulash
was so tender that Peter cut it with a spoon. And the mushroom
sauce was to die for. I am pretty sure there was entire stick of
butter in that bad boy but I licked my plate clean. Butter be dammed.
I am a pretty huge fan of picked anything but these were the best ever.
While I love the picnics in the park and will never tire of bread and
cheese, there is something nice about treating yourself to some
traditional food. Our stomachs were somewhat full after that large
meal so again we did the Hungarian thing. Got some Unicum, a
liqueur made of herbs that is good for digestion and enjoyed it
on the walk home.


Wednesday. We were unable to stay at Unity hostel, but they booked
us down the street at Homemade Hostel. A very cool and fun
ky place,
that is decorated in non-traditional ways. Suitcases for book shelves,
etc. Again we tried to be responsible and purchased some bus tickets
back to Bratislava for
the morning since we had to get a flight to
Bremen. We have not yet been to a museum where you had to pay
admission but we decided to break that streak for the Terror Museum.
It is housed in the former Nazi headquarters in Budapest. When you walk
in the first thing you see elevated to eye level is a huge tank
sitting in a pool of motor oil. The oil is dripping down and off the
platform into the basement. You are st
uck at how similar it is to
blood. The museum is dedicated to the "dark" part of Hungarian
history under the Nazi's and then the rule of the secret police.
The museum on a whole was the most disturbingly creative place we
have ever seen. You start on the top floor and are attacked by angry,
loud German metal music. You listen to this while viewing images of
survivors speaking, bodies being loaded into mass graves
and children saluting Hitler. You make your way th
rough offices and
rooms of leaders. In the basement you see the cells and the torture
rooms. This part of the building had to be recreated from the
memories of survivors since the original was destroyed in an attempt
to cover up what happ
ened here.
Overall a very powerful Experience.

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