A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Hungarian Hovering

Slovakia and Hungary in a week

semi-overcast 20 °C

We left Czech in a blaze of glory and headed into Slovakia to rest up for the Easter Weekend in a town called Nitra. It is on the south western side of Slovakia and is the oldest city in the country. Being the Easter weekend though, everything was closed. We had a relaxing bottle of Slovak wine for dinner and then to the Irish Pub which was only serving nibblies because of the public holiday. The Slovaks were extremely friendly and practised their English on us, thank goodness. Our hotel was the best yet though, the shower alone was worth the visit. We know what you are thinking, shower whoopee doo but this shower talked to you when you switched it on, had blue lighting and sprays coming out from all directions. You could listen to the radio or turn it into a spa bath. We had lots of showers over the two nights as in some ways it was the only thing to do. These Europeans take their public holidays seriously, as well as their ice-cream and their pizza. I think there are more pizzerias than traditional restaurants.

After two slow days in Slovakia, we crossed the border, again without any fanfare, into Hungary and headed for Budapest. Our hotel was easy to find but when we arrived the front desk person told us we were early before he even knew who we were. On further investigation he had no booking for us let alone be early for anything. He fussed and frazzled for awhile until realising that out of the 300+ rooms there was easily one for us. We think the hotel used to be a hospital, wide corridors and a real hospital feel. The shower was the complete opposite of Nitra and caused us to be fussed and frazzled. Lets call it a disaster.

Out to explore Budapest on the public transport, like the locals. For the next three days we traipsed and hiked all over the Buda and the Pest side looking at castles and other historical doo dahs. Adam learnt that in Hungary they have a special move that we have dubbed the "hover" which involves the waiter handing you the bill and then hovering over you until you give him a tip. Obviously we did not realise this delicate manouevre and it had to be explained to us. We learnt after that and even think we can turn the "hover" into a dance move. Angela was taken by a brochure for a labyrinth, never one to pass up a puzzle, we headed for it. We decided it was a big fat rip off and a severe OH and S issue with all the dark tunnels and trip hazards. It was by no means a labyrinth. Hungary is known for its thermal baths so we decided to treat ourselves and head to one in the big inner city park area. It was very relaxing and fun to be swimming in cool weather right next to people wearing shower caps. After a big busy day we dined at a cafe by the Danube. Angela got violently ill from the tuna salad, who would have thought getting seafood in a land locked country could make you ill. Due to Angela's weakened state the last day was one of R and R.

The one specific place that deserves a mention is the Museum of Terror. It is in the actual premises of the Nazis headquarters and then the Communists headquarters. It still has the cells and torture chambers that were used against the Hungarians and really evokes emotion. We took a good two hours to work our way through the history of the building and the Hungarians. It depicts the atrocities towards the Hungarians in such a way that it feels eerie and gives you a real sense of the cruelty and suffering. The final room is a name and shame room which has pictures and names of the people that committed these extreme acts of violence. It has their birth and death dates as well and it looks that a lot of them are still alive. Very Very moving.

A town called Sopron (Shop-ron) was our next destination. A two and a half hour drive towards the Slovenian border. Lonely Planet called this town "Little Prague" so we were immediately sucked in. It is a pretty little town that still has its medieval wall around parts of the old city. We are staying in a great little pension which finally has a comfortable bed as am not sure how mcuh more our backs can take. We are thinking about visiting Tesco (or the like) to get our own pillows. They are all flat and lifeless. Adam is still LOVING his goulash and we have found ourselves a rhythm which is great.

Tomorrow we head for Slovenia, a new country and a new adventure. Enjoy the photos!!

Posted by Ange and Adam 12:03 Archived in Hungary Comments (1)

Get Some Pork on Your Fork

sunny 25 °C

So each day we become more and more knowledgeable about the world. Here are some things we have learned this week:

1. Prague is like the european version of Bali - there are people everywhere here for Easter. Imagine being at the Easter Show and squeezing past people to get to an open space. There is also the situ when you feel like everyone is walking the other way, swimming against the tide so to speak, so you feel it is just easier to turn around and go with them. In saying all of that, yes Prague(Praha) is beautiful. Charles Bridge has great sculptures every few metres along on both sides, surprisingly though a lot of them are quite demonic and seem to have an evil subtext. None of the plaques have any English at all, so unless you commit your first born for a guide book then you just have to infer and speculate (which is actually more fun). There is one section where people were queuing to rub som statue of a fat man thing and we had no idea why, but when in Rome, he felt good. We spent three days walking kilometre after kilometre visiting every possible nook and cranny we could find, the best ones had pots of gold (also known as .3litre Gambrinus).

2. Buy your coffee far far away from tourist spots. After visiting Prague castle, and deciding not to see the Midday concert which started at 1pm (??), we felt in dire need of a caffeine hit. We sat down at a lovely looking kavarna (cafe) because greedy guts we are noticed they had bowls of chips on the table. Beauty, free feed!!! WRONG! Written in tiny writing on a sticker on the side of the bowl facing away from the chairs was the price of 45kroner, which is about $3. So fingers off, who needs junk food anyway? So dva cappucino prosim (2 capps please) and leisurely sat there drinking and when we said uchet prosim(cheque please) we found we had been charged 110kroner for 1 coffee. The other side of the bridge was only 45. Thieving so and so's. So after stern words about how we were not happy and were going to tell all our friends (consider yourselves told) not to go there, we flounced away. You should see us flounce, we are good.

3. Karlovy Vary is better than Prague, or at least we thought so. It is a town west of Prague on the Ohre River and a population of 60 000 and is totally devoted to spa and health retreats. We took a day trip out to there and another small village called Loket. Karlovy Vary (KV) had a feeling of opulence and wealth but not intimidating. It is based on the thermal springs that are all around that area. These are supposed to be healing waters and all through the town are little fountains where you can fill your spa cup. A spa cup is a little tea pot looking thing ranging in size from 60ml to 1/2 litre. You sip the sulphury tasting water from the spout. To balance the taste you buy a optlaka which is a big wafer thing. We were too tight to buy a spa cup so we were feral and just cupped our hands under the running water. We also noticed while walking the streets we were getting a lot of up and down looks fromso people passing us by. I know what you're thinking, its because we're so good looking. Angela thinks its because we were more tanned than anyone is a 1000 mile radius, Adam thought it was because we looked like movie stars. What do you reckon?

4. Toilet visits can be free if you are clever!!! After eating our poor mans lunch in the park we went into the Elizabethan pool set up place in KV. We wandered through the halls and stumbled upon a toilet. Eureka!! We grabbed the opportunity to get a freebie and went in. I have never felt like so much of a criminal in all my life. I imagained a scary nurse looking woman waiting for me, hands on hips, on the other side. I'm surprised I didn't get stage fright.

5. Czech drivers are Crazy!! They overtake with minimal space, We're talking cutting it so fine that Adam and I are bracing ourselves for their crash. Speed limits are not obeyed. Surprise surprise. By the way we bought a TOm Tom so we are global again.

6. Hotel Rooms waste space. The last couple of hotel rooms have these random entry areas that completely inhibit the bed space area. Not interesting I know but annoying when it is happening to you.

7. Olomouc is not exciting. Its a bit like a test cricket match, boring, boring and more boring and then BAM something exciting happens. Today we wandered around Olomouc wondering why Lonely Planet included it, (lucky we are only here for one night) when all of a sudden policie cars were everywhere. About 1000 bikers were in the old town square and then did a ride through of the streets with the policie as an escort. It was impressive, which is lucky because otherwise we may have fallen asleep in a doorway.

We are in Olomouc tonight, another small Czech town and then tomorrow off to Slovakia. We are boycotting the capital Bratislava in favour of a small town called Nitra. We will be there until Tuesday and then off to Budapest, very excited about that. Angela will be the Buda and Adam is the pest.

Happy Anzac Day!!

Posted by Ange and Adam 09:42 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged olomouc karlovy vary Comments (0)

It pays to poo

Learn your 1's and 2's

sunny 18 °C

So everything is going along smoothly......until......turns out our GPS that our lovely German Peugeot man gave us (yes those dam germans again) doesn't work outside of Germany and Austria. ARE YOU JOKING!!! Heres a challenge for you...driving into a capital city with no concept of the language and absolutely zero idea where you are going. One way streets, cobblestone and a million (not exaggerating) tourists. Adam handled it beautifully, Angela hadto keep counting to ten in her head to calm down so she didn't peg the stupid, useless, noisy, useless, annoying, did I mention useless thing out the window. Anyway we will sort it out so stop worrying....next.....

So Cesky Krumlov was fantastic. As we were driving the back roads there were prostitutes standing on the side of the road. Now we're not talking about busy streets or highways but deserted country roads with no line markings that looks like the kind of place you would dump bodies not grab them. Weird. So these women are all rugged up and they were by no means lovely to look at. I am sure though that they would tickle someones fancy (and their bits).

Our hostel was great, quaint and we had a room in the attic. Adam took a big chunk out of his head while heaving our bags up the small, narrow, skinny, claustrophobic spiral staircase. NOt a happy boy..Our bohemian feast for lunch was by the Vtlava (fast flowing) river in the sunshine. Man these eastern europeans like their meat. However for $4 for a litre of beer, we weren't worried. We entertained ourselves pre-dinner at 'The HOror Bar' complete with coffins for tables, nooses hanging from the ceiling and coroners tools in the cake cabinet. The place was underground and was probably where the morgue or bomb shelter was. Nevertheless we partook in a beverage and soaked up the cigarette smoke that had nowhere to go but our lungs. yum yum.

Dinner was authentic czech cuisine complete with whipped cream on your beef (yes thats right whipped cream on beef).

All this action brings us to a quiet Monday night in a Prague hotel in what looks like a housing commission area because everywhere else in town was booked out. The lift is as big as a coffin and so we have to take separate trips, one person at a time.
Important Things to remember:
If you want to do a wee in a public toilet it will cost you 10c (2 kroner) or 30c (5kroner) for a poo. Angela didn't realise what they were asking and so paid poo rates for a wee. Ripped OFf!!
Oh Yeah and don't interrupt the receptionist when she is trying to explain something....she doesn't like it.
We are having fun.....seriously.

We will put more photos up when Adam gets around to labelling them. xx

Posted by Ange and Adam 13:07 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged toilets krumlov cesky Comments (1)

Its a Small World

sunny 16 °C

So here we are in Salzburg, there was no border crossing to get excited about just one big traffic jam that added an hour to our travels. Adam is getting the hang of right hand drive and our windscreen wipers are going on less and less and the blinker is being used properly. (being on the opposite side and all). We found our hotel, Hotel Turnerwirt, no problems and the parking situation is strict, that is park wherever you want. Our room is tiny, quaint, quirky all those kinds of words but we really like it. There is however one interesting situation in the bathroom. The toilet has a platform in it for your number two's to land on. It is awkward and quite confronting really. Adam thinks its great and Angela is not so sure. He have put on a photo.

Salzburg is busy and like a fairtytale. You can imagine hans christian anderson (yes I know he's danish) or someone like that writing about cinderella while sitting in one of the cafes/piazzas. It is all set in a valley and the mountains stand somewhat ominously around like a warm blanket. There are fortresses and castles up on the mountains that are there from the war and napoleonic times. Salzburg has heaps of tourists and yesterday proved what a small world it is.

We were feeling peckish and found an underground restaurant that looked like an army bunker and sat down and sampled some authentic austrian culture and red wine. Adam mentioned loudly to Angela about testing the bed (given our sore backs from Munich) and the diner across the aisle started laughing. Turns out he is an ex-gymea bay public school teacher and lives in Cronulla. He knows acquaintaces such as Don Winstrom. He was in Salzburg for an Opera Australia tour and had been in Munich the day before also. What are the odds?????

The red wine deserves a mention because of its silkiness and ability to get you relaxed quickly with its (very) moreish qualities. We continued wandering but everything was shutting up about 6pm. We had another quick coffee. Small this time but still big enough to fit your fist in with room to spare. We will master this coffee situation soon, hopefully.

Posted by Ange and Adam 22:23 Archived in Austria Tagged salzburg Comments (1)

The Long Haul

28 Hours without a shower.....mmmm nice

Well we arrived in Munich safely. The plane trip was uneventful which is a good thing considering all the nasty things sitting in close confines can bring. When you are sitting at the departure gate and you see smelly oversized gents or guys wearing orange shoes doing push ups on dirty carpet it can be a concern. However because of Adam's good karma we got a lovely skinny girl on her way to Morocco. Next.....well stop in Bangkok..uneventful....Dubai......crazy busy.....Munich Hallelujah. Although we did spend mmmmm about an hour wandering around their large (but clean) terminal looking for the Peugeot Hire Desk. After pestering a rude german woman ( I know shocking isn't it that a german wouldn't be helpful), who worked at the information desk, to ring for us it turned out the poor guy had been waiting upstairs the whole time and we had walked straight past him....typical.

Munich....beautiful. Much prettier than we expected. We cruised, as only we can do, up the main street and just took it all in. Munich has a very young trendy vibe. It is really clean and that means no graffiti, litter or unsightly things, although ugly people are still free to roam. We stopped for a coffee, ordered a medium because we were feeling caffeine deprived and received a mug bigger than our heads to drink..Note to self ask for small coffee next time. We also learned pretty quickly that you have to stay out of the bike lanes. The footpaths are divided up into bike lane and footpath and whoa if you be so brave as to cross over than be prepared...bells ringing, heads shaking and language (inappropriate and offensive i'm guessing) comes out of all directions.

Early to bed as we felt we deserved a restful night sleep and wanted to be fresh and clean for our drive to Salzburg. After waking up feeling like we had slept on a plank of wood all night we were dressed, eager and fresh to hit Austria. Let the roadtrip begin!!

Posted by Ange and Adam 10:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]