Monday, October 28, 2013

Vienna, Austria

Vienna. We made it. We walk to our hostel and find the owners to be big, muscular "German" men. They speak German, but they aren't actually German... I guess it sounds better than Austrian. (I'm not even sure what this means)

Funny thing... we get to talking and told them we came from Budapest, and told them our little story. One of the guys was from Hungary and left because he didn't like it! He said that our deal in Budapest most likely would not have been a problem had we been from there. But.. I will say that that is the first time I've been treated badly because I am an American. 

It was getting dark, but they told us it is pretty safe and that we should go explore. We stumble upon a festival. Wine, beer, people, music... fun!! We grabbed a beer and started walking around when these two guys asked us where we were from. (I thought it was a little weird just because I was wondering how we were sticking out so badly from everyone else?? Maybe they had just heard us talking) We stopped to talk to them.. they were early 30s probably. One guy was really into metal music and kept saying "Yeah!" In a deep rocker voice. he said he loved American music, so I asked if he was a Lamb of God fan. (Super heavy metal-screamer music) He was so thrilled that he hugged me and kissed me on the cheek!! Wow. That I wasn't expecting. I've now been kissed on the cheek by a 60 year old Italian man and a 30s Austrian rocker man.  

There were these little cabins set up with bars in them, and one of the ones we walked into were people playing music, climbing in the rafters, screaming and singing. It was kind of interesting that when you buy a beer there you have to pay a little extra and when (if) you bring your glass back you can get your 2 euros back. I had never had that happen in the US, I thought that was kind of interesting. It was a cheap couple souvenirs ;) 

We decided to call it a night. The next day we got up and wondered around all day. The hostel was so great and let us come cook our pasta before our overnight train. Which reminds me that this hostel had an really good breakfast with a few different cereal options etc! Got to love eating something besides a little bread! 

This is our hostel and notice the toilet and how it flattens out and the hole is on the opposite end. 

We leave the hostel with 15-20 minute grace period to have at the train station. We knew exactly where the station and stop was----we thought. We get to where the station should be. We ask a lady just to make sure we were in the right place. She told us that we needed to get on the subway to a stop switch subway lines and it is a couple stops away!! Oh shit. Why are there two metro stops with the train station name in them!?!? Surprise to you yet?? More panic and running. Get on the subway, ok. Switch lines... 7 minute wait. Oh, no. After what seems like forever it gets here. Ok. Sophie we have 2-3 minutes before our train LEAVES (our estimated time from when we arrive at the right stop. You just go. You sprint. Ok, on the subway they stop and go so quickly. Except this one time when we are desperately trying to make our train. We get on the subway and wait. More people are coming and getting on. Why are we still here?!?! Still waiting.... 2-4 minutes now that we have until our train leaves and we are still on the subway. We have the slightest sliver of a chance. This lady hears us talking and she explains exactly what we need to do when we leave the subway doors. Bigger station than we thought. Sophie sprints and i'm tailing behind, but hopefully she can yell wait?? We sprint to the platform and the train is just arriving. Oh. My. Goodness. 

If not for those amazing directions from the nice nice lady we probably wouldn't have made it. Our train literally stopped (you usually have time to walk to your cart number--ya know, just get on) they blow the whistle and we have to jump in a car and go. Jess and I were seated with nice men. They reminded me of my dad. I miss him. I felt safe. Sophie had to sit in a different pod. We were supposed to arrive in Prague at 4:09. I wake up at 3:45 and we are already there. My gosh. So many times, everywhere we travel we are doing this!!! Soft of frantically get off. Our last night train. Pretty happy about that even though they are so cheap. 

Hey, Prague.

Did I mention that our whole time using the metro in Vienna not a single person checked our tickets. Not once. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


We left Switzerland on a night train. We boarded a pod in the train and had 3 others sitting with us.... A man late 20s early 30s with a few missing teeth, wearing a satanic surfers sweatshirt, and drinking a beer (I'll refer to him as "dude"). An older little lady "lady" and then a "family man". Hmmm... wonder how this night will be. 

The dude was really nice and chatted with the lady a lot of the ride as well as the man. The dude could understand a little English, but I don't think the other two could really. The night ended up being fine. I was a little skeptic...Ok, that sounds judgmental.  I just have learned to really keep my guard up (which I wish I didn't have to), but the phone situation and my friends purse getting cut off have told us to keep it up. So I have the attitude don't trust to easily. But it was fine. 

Sitting for 12 hours straight ended up being a little tiring and I couldn't sleep real well... but I got a few snoozes in and it was cheaper than a hostel. 
We got off in Budapest and headed for Alice's Hostel. Rudi was our host and a very good one at that. We "splurged" for a 4 bedroom private and paid for an extra bed just to have the room for ourselves. 

Best. Idea. Ever. 

It was 6 euros each (SO CHEAP). Rudi told us everything and more about Budapest and off we headed. Our first little struggle was that we couldn't find where to buy our metro passes. It was a back and forth from the metro to the train station with mixed directions about where we could actually purchase them. The people we ask (workers really) weren't so kind either, which isn't making anything easier for us. Finally we got them. A 24 hour pass. Perfect, that's about all the longer we are staying. 

We headed into town. Being women we love little markets. Budapest markets were super cute and wooden and just different than what we had seen previously. Jess bought a wooden chess set and I fell in love with a wooden box. We hopped on random trains and buses and saw random things. 

Classy right?

This is where we bought and ate our sausages... picture below.. 

All cute and wooden! Another eating place..

Hey, perfect for a little date... especially when it started raining! 

It seemed like goulash was a big deal here. 

It was so hard to pick what to buy to eat. 

But when you've eaten straight bread for a couple weeks now. Some meat was probably the best option. 

A really cool interesting church, and a castle to be most mentionable. There were giant sasuages being sold so we figured it might be a thing.. So we decided to try one.. Finally a little meat in our diet. 

Sausages, bread, and beer. What else do you need? 

We had a pretty chill day, and went back to the hostel kind of early for a nap and ended up waking up at midnight. Oops. We were planning on going out, but hey, sometimes you just need sleep. 

Building wise.. This was my favorite by a long shot.  
Matthias Castle Church

This is still part of the church. How amazing is this?! 

This was cool. We found this stairs heading up a pretty giant hill. So we took the stairs to see where they would lead. We found this um, something, I'm at a lost of words at the moment of what this is called... statue doesn't sound right... 


What the sign said it was when Budapest was split by the river one side was called Buda and the other side was Pest and this is when they decided to come together as one! 

This was an awesome, giant market.. with everything you could want! Two levels with more of the clothing and souvenir stuff on top.  

The little trams we rode on! 

The next day we finished our touring and our 24 hour pass was close to ending. We went to a market to get food for our next train ride to Vienna. We were about 10 minutes after our pass had technically ended. The men checking tickets to get onto the subway didn't look at the time or didn't care. So on the subway we got. 

However, on the way out there were women checking tickets again... the whole time we had been riding the subway in Budapest they checked our tickets on the way in, but never on the way out..... The women check our tickets and they pull us aside because the time was passed 24 hours... (by like 15-20 minutes) They called over this man who i'm assuming is the "main man" at least on duty down there at the time. He didn't speak English hardly at all even though he insisted he did. They kept yelling at us saying that we were riding the subways with no tickets and a lot of stuff that we couldn't understand. We tried to explain that they let us on when it was still in the 24 hour time, but we were coming from the other end of town so it was a bit of a longer ride and that caused us to be over our time. They didn't/couldn't understand us at all. Which is frustrating when we shouldn't have been let on the subway when our time was about to expire... we were explaining our situation and they wouldn't even listen. At this point voices are being raised and I don't even know if they know that their voices are going up (Sophie and Jess I mean) I'm just standing there because I have no idea what to do. I just want away from these people.  

That's when they asked for our passports. Once they saw United States of America everything went out the door and they just started laughing. 

"This isn't USA this is Hungary, blah blah blah.... We follow rules here, this isn't USA" they were very rude and soon we were surrounded by 3 subway workers and 3 policemen. 
Wow, ok.. we understand we are a little past our time limit but we are 3 young girls. I don't think we are much of a harm. They kept yelling at us and wrote us tickets. 8000 Forints each. At this point we have no idea how much that even is. I don't care. We have a train to catch... we were already in a hurry to get back and head to the train station and the longer they keep us here the more likely we are going to miss our train to Austria. Ahh!!! 

Sophie has her credit card and just has to sprint to an ATM that is up 2 stories of stairs and across the block in the train station. She has to take 24,000 Forints out. Can you imagine withdrawing that much cash from an ATM? Luckily it was only about 150 US dollars. Jess and I are waiting down there with a sharp eye on us. I am still in my crutches and a boot so I don't think i'll be getting away from them too quickly. I keep looking at my watch as the minutes tick by... My heart is beating faster... where is Sophie?!... What is plan B if we don't make this train? Is our hostel booked are we going to be able to stay another night? Is there another train to Austria heading out a bit later in the day? 

I hear loud footsteps.. it's Sophie!! She has our "bailout" money and is here to save the day. It takes them for what seems like forever to finish writing out our tickets and having to sign them and whatnot. 

WE ARE FREE............ NOW SPRINT. 

We are at the right stop for our hostel, but we still need to go the 4-5 blocks to get there to get our backpacks, and then run the 4-5 blocks back to the train station to catch our train in 17 minutes. 

I am sprinting with my boot, crutch, and groceries. Everyone is staring at us. (They say as tourist you don't want to draw a lot of attention to yourselves...yea.....)

We finally get to the hostel but it feels like I just got done running a marathon, and i'm ready for a break.. nope have to do it the whole way back to the station now.... with an added 50lb bag on my back. 
We grab our bags and go. We make it back to the station with 2 minutes to spare, but we have to find our platform and get to the train! I say Wien to remind Sophie and Jess that we are looking for that word instead of Vienna... a man hears me said Wien aloud and yells at us.. that train there (and points)! We don't have time not to trust him... we run to that train and see Wien flash across the destinations. Hey thanks! Finally someone nice in this town! 

We barely make it, again. Sweaty and out of breath is not how I wanted to board every train. It is a 3 hour train ride to Vienna.  

We had bought these little cinnamon sugar and dough things that were also everywhere. They were a little smashed after the whole police and running ordeal. 

But still yummy. 

I fell asleep (like I do everywhere) and I wake up and look at my watch. About 25 minutes til we are supposed to arrive. We are stopped at a station now... I look out my window and read what the platform says...




We REALLY need to get our act together. 

I wasn't sad about leaving Budapest one bit. Rudi was great. Our hostel was great. The woman who sold us our stuff was great. But other than that.. the people weren't nice and Budapest wasn't as great (in my opinion) as everywhere else we had been. 

Bring on Vienna.  

Now that I am looking back I did like things about Budapest, but I was a little cranky the 24 hours we were there... so that may have biased my opinion. It was still probably at the bottom of my list of all the countries... but what does that mean.. I went to SO many great places.. it is almost impossible to pick. 

We were tired. We had been going for right around two weeks straight. We had had a lot of issues. I did start a count down of days we had left of traveling. Not that I didn't want to finish out the trip, but I was starting to get a little "homesick" and by homesick I don't really mean missing Logan. But more missing a bed to sleep in and the feeling of "safety" where I wouldn't have to keep my guard up so high, and where I wouldn't have to wear a money belt any longer... and have all my valuable belongings taped to my body anyway I could have them because someone could grab them from me at any moment. 
I was completely tired, wearing dirty clothes (that still had another two weeks left), wanted my own bed, wanting safety.. I wanted England.  I wanted my roommates back.  Traveling for so many days straight turns out isn't the easiest thing I got myself into. 

So again.... Bring on Vienna. 

Oops one more thing! 
Let me know if anyone tries it! I have yet to make it..