I’m just making a quick post to share a couple more trip videos…
This first one is what it’s like to ride on the back of Thomas’ motorcycle (a BMW R1150 GS). This was shot in Austria, my favorite country we’ve driven through. It was beautiful with green hills, blue mountains, and a crystal clear river running along the road.
This next video was from one of our driving breaks in the Alps when we stopped to ride a luge. We went together two times, and this time, Thomas steered, but like on his motorbike, he was a very cautious luge driver and didn’t want to go too fast.
If those didn’t make you feel dizzy, I’ve also got the rest of the Berlin photos edited and posted on Flickr. You can check them out at:
Today, we leave Munich and wander the countryside for a couple days. We’ve only got one more major stop at my cousin’s house at the end of this week, and then we return to Brussels. I’ll try and catch up on the rest of my photo-a-day posts soon. :)
Day 11 & 12: By the time we made it to Budapest, I started getting really tired of traveling – tired of living out of tiny tank bags, not having a washer/dryer (laundromats don’t exist in Budapest), and not having a clue about the language. Plus the heat was bad, and my behind was tired of sitting on a motorcycle. It doesn’t help that our hotel’s street was under construction, not to mention they were remodeling the room next to ours. Sadly, it took a bit of effort for me to actually leave the hotel room and go wander the city.
The Royal Palace across the Danube River
I sort of feel like I failed at Budapest. Other travelers say they really loved it, but there wasn’t a whole lot that I got excited about. It felt like a normal big crowded city (with some really impressive buildings), but it also felt extremely busy and run down. I spent my first day at Margaret Island, a huge park in the middle of the Danube River. I should have rented a bicycle to ride around, but I just wandered by foot, checking out the ruins, climbing to the top of the tower, and resting by the musical fountain. It was a very relaxing, but hot day. On the second day, I went to the zoo. These probably are not the recommended sights in the city, but I needed something low-key.
Baboon at the Budapest Zoo
My favorite part of Budapest was the food. I forget the names of the dishes, but my favorites were catfish wrapped in bacon, pork in paprika cream with dumplings (also in Prague), and beef and mushroom cream stuffed in pancakes. Delicious! The local sweet red and white wines were also fantastic.
I don’t mean to sound so down about Budapest. I really needed a travel break, but the next area we visited on our EuroTour was amazing and wonderful…more to come soon.
Day 9 & 10: I’m combining these two days because we didn’t have any extended stops in this stretch. First, we drove from Prague to Brno, spent the night, and then from Brno to Budapest. We wound around to some interesting stops making it so we passed through 4 countries – Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Our first stop was in a small town outside of Prague called Kutna Hora where we toured the Sedlec Ossuary. It’s a Roman Catholic church that is decorated with 40,000-70,000 human skeletons. Most of the skeletons were placed there in the 14th century after the Black Plague. My favorite part was a huge chandelier in the middle made of arm and leg bones and skulls.
We were going to try to stop by the Moravian Caves for our afternoon stop, but we arrived too late to go in. Still, the drive in that area was gorgeous and we were glad to have some rest time in the hotel in Brno.
One of the things I’m finding really interesting on this trip is the differences in the country areas we drive through – different landscape, house architecture, agriculture, etc. The sunflower fields are my favorite.
The next day, we crossed the border into Austria to tour the Marchegg Stork Sanctuary. There were a ton of storks – from the viewing tower, we saw 11 nests, but unfortunately, the mosquittos were so bad that we couldn’t stay long.
Afterward, we crossed the border again to have lunch in Bratislava, Slovakia. One of the tricky things with this part of the trip is that Czech, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary all have different currencies and different languages. When it comes to the Czech, Slovakia, and Hungarian language, I’m totally lost. I couldn’t translate a word even if I guessed.
After lunch, we hopped on the highway and headed to Budapest, Hungary where we’re staying for a couple days while Thomas works.
P.S. I’ve now met my New Year’s Resolution to visit 10 countries this year – Hungary was my 12th!
Day 8: Since Prague was the first city where Thomas had a chance to tour, he chose to do it by Segway. Let me just say — those things are cool! We did a 3-hour tour of sights around the city, and though the tour wasn’t that exciting, the Segways were really fun to play on. Segways are controlled by shifting your weight. It sort of feels like roller-blading or skiing, except you can’t really fall over on them. They go up to 12.5 miles per hour and go forward, reverse, or in circles depending on which way you shift your weight. Here’s some video I shot of Thomas on his Segway; it’s bumpy because I’m also on one. (Sorry about all the wind noise…)
Prague is a crazy city. To me, it felt like a tiny Amsterdam – not in the way of bikes and canals, but in partiers and trippy things. I loved looking in the souvenir shops in this town – among the weirdest were string puppets and absinthe. I got some Matryoshka nesting dolls. I thought they were more of a Russian thing than Czech, but oh well. :) That night, we saw a Black Light Theater troup called Ta Fantastika that my brother toured with when he was a teen. It’s hard to explain Black light theater – it’s a mix between magic and the circus. Here’s some clips from the show we saw:
Prague was a quick stop, but worth it. The food and beers were excellent, the city is beautifully ornate, and though crowded with tourists, they’re all there to have a good time.
Day 7: We drove from Berlin to Prague in a day filled with gorgeous scenery. Just look at this photo – it was an amazing view of the Bastei Bridge in the Saxon Switzerland National Park just outside of Dresden, Germany. The area of Northern Bohemia was some of the prettiest scenery I’ve seen in Europe – very green and lush. We followed the Elbe River through Germany and right up into Czech Republic without any problems.
In Dresden, we toured the Hygiene Museum. As kitschy as it sounds, it was pretty neat. The museum started in 1912 and is still going strong, though it was temporarily taken over by the Nazis and their racist ideology for a while. We saw exhibits on everything from how babies are born, to how old age effects the body. My favorite exhibit was one where you could wear various contraptions to simulate old age – sight and hearing loss, walking bent over, and shaky hands. I also found it interesting that children were encouraged to go through the museum. I don’t think all parents would be fans of some of the racy exhibits on sex or the disturbing examples of physical effects from various diseases. However, children seemed to really enjoy the interactive exhibits.