Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Budapest + Vienna + Sun burns + Amazing

So I just got back from a week away. An amazing week away at that.

Last Thursday, Ingrid and I embarked on yet another journey. We left class a little early (after bonding with our teachers), and headed to our favourite airport ever, Malmo Sturup. We were once again delighted with Wizz Airs state of the art planes, but were comforted by a nice man describing the delights of Budapest to us. We touched down in Budapest and weren't exactly wooed by the airport. There were various men yelling "Taxi Please!" at us, but we knew the train cost about 30 cents and ventured on to find that.

After walking to the train station, and then to the other platform (as the ticket machine was broken), we discovered that none of our credit cards were being accepted. Cue brainstorm. We decided to go back to the airport (and through the taxi men) to find some change. We bought our tickets at a tourist booth and were again on our way. We had to sprint to make the train so we ended up in a weird section of a car that was first class. And because we obviously aren't first class citizens, we stayed in this little compartment near the bathroom. The start of our adventure.

PAUSE, my mother is currently about to board her flight to come visit me and I am so excited. Ecstatic even. Annnnd resume.

We got to the centre of Budapest near our hostel and clumsily found out way there eventually (after calling and asking for directions). We were greeted by friendly staff and an adorable cozy hostel. We got settled and immediately found a place to eat. This is when we were introduced to how delicious, meaty, and cheap Budapest is. We had an appy, entre, half-litre beers, and a dessert - for 12 Canadian dollars. Truly amazing. We were stuffed and tired so headed back to do some planning for the days to come and get some sleep.

The next day we started off with a walking tour of Budapest. We saw a lot of major sites and got tipped off on the things to see and do as well as tips to have the best time in Budapest. One of these was to go to the central market to have cheap, delicious lunch. Of course we complied. We were joined on this excursion by an American girl on exchange in Paris. We had some eats and browsed the wares at the market. After we parted ways, Ingrid and I decided to head to the famous bath houses. We wandered to a big city park full of museums and attractions to Széchenyi Baths. We dove right in (literally) to all the pools, steam rooms, and saunas. There's even a big outdoor section. We spent a couple of hours there relaxing and trying everything out. As well as taking some great pictures, obviously.

We were quite relaxed but decided that going out was essential. We went to a ruin bar (bars that were built in old, delapitated buildings) and had a great time taking in the atmosphere with some girls from out hostel. All and all a good first day.

The next day we decided to check out the shopping scene and went to a local mall. After getting some goods (including a new spring coat weee!) we headed back to the central market to browse some leather goods. Ingrid and I both purchased real leather bags for a screaming deal. We also had some Hungarian treats. Yum! We then scaled a large view point and spent a bit of time at the top admiring the view, taking photos, and sketching. It was so nice to be somewhere so green as Malmo isn't quite there yet. We hiked down and up another hill on the Buda side, to the castle. We checked out the Budapest history museum and then went into the labyrinth. Which is literally a maze below the castle, that you navigate with a gas lantern. It was freaky. And cool. But weird. Ha. We watched the sun set from the top then walked along the Danube and watched all the city light up.

The next part was a little tricky. We were on a quest for a restaurant that was recommended to us. And we didn't have a map. We wandered a bit as we were told it was by the Opera house. When we found ourselves at the Parliament we decided to try to find some help. First suitable people we found? Police officers. Unfortunately, they didn't speak much English, so I had to sing Opera to get them to understand me. I'm sure they were impressed. I'm actually surprised I didn't get scouted at that moment. We got pointed in the right direction, but decided to find a hotel to get some proper directions. After finally finding the restaurant, we were happy to find out it was delicious and a table had just opened up. Yay.

We then headed back home and were whisked out again by a group at our hostel. We went to another sprawling ruin-type bar with tonnes of rooms and types of bar/club styles. There was really something for everyone. All and all a good night.

The next day was when I was heading for Vienna. We checked out some monuments, the parliament (for real this time), and finished off by having lunch at a cafe, on the patio of course. It was so sunny and delightful. After that, I was off to the bus depot to find my way to Vienna. The bus ride, about two hours, was going smoothly until we passed the Austrian border and the bus was stopped for a passport search. A burly police officer came aboard the bus and took everyone's passport who wasn't an EU citizen. I had to refrain from saying "BUT I NEEEED THAT!" He took our passports off the bus and returned, but not with all the passports. Luckily, mine was returned. But after about 40 minutes, one man didn't make it back on the bus. That was awkward. But we were on our away again and I was closer and closer to seeing Jen!

I arrived in beautiful, sunny Vienna to beautiful, sunny Jen. We headed back to her place to collect ourselves and find a place to eat. This started the common thread of our visit - food. We were recommended an Asian restaurant by one of her local friends and were both more than excited to have some oriental cuisine back in our lives. We both pretty much died. This cute, modern restaurant delivered true asian delights. Considering we hung out at the restaurant till closing, we headed back home and crashed hard (she had just returned from a tour around Ireland). The rest of our trip basically consisted of the following: eating, touring, seeing sights, sitting in parks, drinking, eating, eating, eating, sun bathing, drinking, eating, eating. Yum. We had gelato, pastries, deli delights, sushi, Austrian cuisine, and much more. We checked out a lot of parks, a market, shopping areas (necessary after spilling sangria on white shirts), and some bars. We met up with Kristin and Daniel (a local Austrian) one night and it was really great to have someone who spoke the language and knew the city. Vienna is absolutely beautiful. Sunny. Great transit. Could be a contender in the list of European cities Emily would live in. And of course, the cherry on top was sharing it with a good friend from home. Did I mention we sun tanned, and got burnt? Sorry, is it snowing at home? Oops.

Now I'm practically dying of tiredness in bed. I flew from Vienna to Riga, Latvia and had a layover there. I just about missed my flight because apparently Latvia is on a different time zone. But it's okay, I'm here now. And tomorrow my lovely mother and aunt will arrive. And shortly after is my birthday. Oh and it's supposed to be 17 degrees tomorrow. I guess you could say I'm looking forward to this week. Oh and I don't have class until the 28th. Woo.

Facts for your amusement:

1. Being in Hungary makes you feel like a baller. Their one unit of currency is worth 0.005 of a dollar. I took out 40,000. Gangsta.
2. I'm done my Swedish course round two. Had my exam last week. We shall see how we did, I'm not fluent, but I'm way better than before. And after being away, I've realized how much I miss the language when I'm gone.
3. I'm going to be old in a few days. Tragic!
4. I know this may be obvious, but the food culture in Europe is just far superior to Canada. I'm going to miss the inexpensive freshness and quality.
5. Gelato is delicious everywhere. I've had marzipan, pistachio, and coconut. Yum. More flavours to come.
6. It's finally spring here. Trees are almost green. How I've missed it.
7. These facts aren't fun. Forgive me?


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