Monday, May 24, 2010

Buda to Pest.

On Friday we set out for Budapest

Before we left the Austrian border we stopped at what can only be described as a luxury highway rest stop. Far from the smelly, fast food filled, chipped tiles, bad service variety we're used to back home, this place was clean, attractive, and friendly. Look, I understand that at this point you are asking yourself why the heck I'm rambling about some stupid rest stop. But consider that this "rest stop" had a bakery (yes, there was a man kneading dough), a nice sit down restaurant, a driving range, and even a hotel. 

Debilitating traffic is not a phenomenon limited to Atlanta or Miami. Later on the drive, the highway was closed for some reason and we were forced to take some back roads into the city. It was nice to be off the autobahn for a little while, but our 4 hour journey was extended to 6 hours.

Finally, we rolled into the capital of Hungary.

Budapest never sleeps. The city is always moving, always bustling, always loud, fast, and busy. It was a very cool experience. After our lecture, we checked in to our respective hotels and met up later that night at a nice restaurant called "Mátyás Pince Étterem". It was filled with gourmet Hungarian cuisine like wild boar, pheasant, and something called "chicken pancakes". As we dined on our delectable local fare, we were serenaded by a 6 piece Roma band. 

Later that night most students converged onto an Irish boat-pub-thing that was along the bank of the Danube. It was supposedly jazz night, but we arrived to find Salsa and Meringue music pumping from the speakers and a hoard of sweaty Hungarian couples dancing away. It was a fun night a I got to celebrate my birthday a little more properly. 

On Saturday we got an early start and experienced the Gellért Thermal Baths. The hot pools get their water from a local hot spring and the water is supposed to contain several minerals that are good for your body. As far as I could tell there was some hot water and a really nice indoor pool. Still, it was very nice and I would recommend it if you find yourself in Budapest. 

Right after we toweled off and stepped outside, we decided to climb the adjacent hill where some old statutes in honor of the soviet liberators stood. It was a tough walk, but worth seeing the gigantic testaments to communist prudence. 

After taking a shower and relaxing for a bit we walked around the city square and had a drink in one of the outdoor cafes. Later, we gathered in another Irish pub (Yes, I too have noticed the curious prevalence of Irish themed drinking establishments in every corner of the world) to watch the champions league soccer game final with Inter Milan against Bayern Munich. I was there until halftime before heading back to the room to get some rest. I had some different plans for my trip back to Linz. 

Early the next morning Ed and I walked across the street to the main train station and purchased tickets to Bratislava. Ed randomly mentioned earlier in the week that he wanted to go to there and I offered to accompany him because I would get the chance to visit an old friend. So, I asked Jenna and Jared to let the professor know that I wouldn't be coming back to Linz on the bus, and Ed and I boarded a train for Slovakia. 

I had been to Bratislava 8 years ago when I visited Europe the first time. Since then the city had changed immensely. They made good use of EU money and beautified much of the old city and added lots of high end shopping and well- manicured park space along the Danube. There happened to be a food festival at the castle that weekend so I tasted some of the city's finest food at a fraction of the cost. I'm a new fan of roasted goose. 

The trip back to Linz took us through a train change in Vienna. I am always amazed at how well the train system works. When a schedule says that a train leaves at 7:52pm... It leaves at 7:52pm. Travelling into Linz Ed and I had our own compartment that was rather nice, so I got to spread out a little and relax before we pulled into Linz Hauptbahnhof and concluded this weekend's adventure. 

The Mercedes Benz of buses. No really, it's made by Mercedes Benz. 

The Mercedes Benz of rest stops. (not really made by Mercedes)

View of the train station from the hotel room.

Becca and her wild boar. Ben gives it a thumbs up... maybe two. 

The Habsburg Palace seen from an Irish pub party boat on the Danube at night. 

Art at the Gellert. 



This was really big. 

Big Boom-stick. 

Bratislava on foot. 


  1. Sounds like loads of fun. Gorgeous views.

  2. Seriously I don't know why I bother to read this. It just makes me insanely jealous. Oh and yes I plan on making some variation of this comment on EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR POSTS. Get used to it sunshine.

  3. I have to agree. Other than saying "nice pics" I'm trying to hold back the grumbling I really have in mind lol.