Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jerry Seinfeld tells this joke in one of his stand up routines: I don't even know what it takes to get a cab driver's license. I think all you need is a face. This seems to be their big qualification. "That's the law now, no blank heads are allowed to drive cabs". It also helps to have a name with like, 8 consonants in a row.
What is that "o" with the line through it ? What letter is that ? I don't remember that letter in school. You need a chart of the elements if you wanna report the guy. "Yes officer, his name was Ammal, and then the symbol for boron... I believe. I had the periodic chart with me at the time, I'm quite certain it was not manganese".

That's how I felt when I went to Budapest.  In Spain and Italy, I had a sense of what someone was saying.  I could get some sort of feel for what they were going for.  In Budapest I had no such feeling.  However it was one of the most beautiful places I went.  I loved it there.  It was a very interesting place because you could see traces of the Soviet influences.  It helped that I started the trip with a "real" Budweiser beer.  Which was delicious.  I wish I could get one here in the states.   But you could see beauty there as well.  I had no strong expectations going into Budapest and was surprised by how much I liked it.  Granted the language barrier was very hard to deal with, but as we do, I got through.   I went to the Central Market Hall and crossed the bridge from Pest to Buda.  I was able to walk up the mountain to the Buda Castle and walk through the various different parts there and overlook the beautiful city.  The one thing I would recommend is to go to a Hungarian bath while there.  Granted, you'll see a lot of men in speedos (some who should and some who shouldn't be wearing them) but overall it is a fantastic experience.  It was strange to go from wearing my fleece and scarf to a swimsuit swimming in warm water.  It was such a relaxing and peaceful time in the midst of traveling.  My one regret (besides not moving there) is that I didn't get to go to Memento Park and see all the old Communist statues.  

Upon leaving Budapest I took the night train to Prague.  It was quite an old train.  The lock was a padlock and chain on the inside of the door.  But I met a very nice Brazilian man who was fun to hang out with.  I think that the train arrived at about 6 am so getting to the hostel resulted in going to find my bed and taking a nap for a couple of hours.  Then I was ready to go out and explore Prague.  Oh Prague.  You were the city I was longing most to visit.   And I am so glad that I got to visit you.  Prague Castle was so beautiful.  Wenceslas Square: amazing.  It was sunny and almost warm while I was there so I got to spend a ton of time outside.  I met some Americans at the hostel and we went and tried one of the world's strongest beer: x-33.  Which was really sweet - to mask the 12% alcohol content.  We went to a bar that was made up of a bunch of little rooms and all underground.  However the one thing that I would do if I went back would be to go to Bohemia.   The train that I took from Prague to Berlin drove through Karlovy Vary.  It was beautiful.  Stunningly beautiful.  

Berlin.  My favorite place that I went.  Hands down.  Berlin is a city that has such a checkered past but has transformed itself to become a beautiful, young, artsy, vibrant, cosmopolitan city.   I saw the Brandenburg Gate where the monument on the top looked towards the East during the Communist reign but was turned around to look towards the West after Communism fell.  I saw the sobering monuments to the Jewish and homosexuals who were killed during WWII.  I stumbled upon a street market that was selling so many records I nearly ran through the market throwing my money in the air asking them to take it all.  (For the record, I bought Jeff Buckley and a Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers record. Swoon.)   I went on a street art tour that literally changed how I view street art.  I had been entranced by street art before I got to Berlin but this city showed me a whole different side of it.  Alexanderplatz, the Berlin Wall, Unter den Linden, Potsdamer Platz.  I will be going back to Berlin.  One night I went with a friend to a "punk" part of town and met up with some Swedes who fed me way too many shots of Jager.  But I also made a friend for life.  I went out to a "real" Berlin club which didn't open until after midnight and stayed out dancing until 4 am.  

One day I took a day trip to Wittenburg, home of Martin Luther. I saw his house (a monestary) and the church where he nailed up his 95 thesis.  The town was so quaint and amazing to walk around and see where so much history had happened.  

Next up:  Brussels, Brugge, Amsterdam and Paris.  AKA: the rainy days. 
Slightly blurry view of Budapest at night.

Central Market.  Budapest.

Budapest street

Budapest castle

Budapest house

Budapest church

Prague.  Astronomical clock. 

Prague Castle.

John Lennon wall.  

Prague Castle. 


Martin Luther's 95 Thesis. 


Street art.  Berlin. 




Brandenburg Gate.

Jewish Holocaust Memorial.  Berlin.

Alexanderplatz. Berlin.

Parts of the Berlin Wall. 

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