oh man, i don't know much else to say. i think that we went to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and we have been to paris. budapest, it is simply amazing, but i am getting too ahead of myself. lets start from the beginning,
our trip started out good, save lyala's boots falling apart as soon as we left the apartment. it turned out to be no problem at all though, who needs tread anyways! the train was pretty packed when we got on, so i was scared that we were not going to have our own compartment (there are 4 to a compartment), but it eventually thinned out enough so that we would get our own. most of the train trip to transylvania i have already been on and talked about when i went to bulgaria. a couple of notes: we stopped at a town in ukraine for about 20 min, enough time to get out and look around the train station. we were on a mad search for romanian money, cause we had to buy tickets at a non-touristy romania train station that probably would not have atms, money exchangers, ect.. i was also on a search for local beer, with the pregnant woman's approval of course. here, in ukraine, i have found a very unique brew of beer. it is called live beer. it is only sold where it is brewed because it only last 2 weeks. it has no preservatives and is sometimes made with things that spoil like green tea. we were successful, but we didn't find any money. the snow was falling and the station had a very fifties feel to it.
the next day we traveled through romainia. it looks a lot different under snow, our car was turned around so we saw the other side than what we saw through our window last time(make sense?). i was really hoping to catch this
it is a two piece set
now, kinda like monet's haystacks
(i am not comparing myself with monet, just telling you that i stole his idea about the same scene over time, something i learned from that art and physics book to the right).
we got to our stop at about 6pm, since it was a non-tourist stop, the train only stops for like two minutes, so we hopped off in our first romainia town. now we were warned about gypsies, tramps and thieves(yes that damn cher song was stuck in my head forever in romania) many times before we went, so i am proud to say that lyala and i only spoke russian to each other (cause english speakers would be more of a target to pickpockets). we had just enough money that we got from a peddler on the train to buy our train ticket to the next town, brosov. brosov is a beautiful town tucked in the transylvania carpathian mountains. it is an walled town settled by the germans in the middle ages. here's a half-panorama i put together.
we stayed in a hostel in brosov, which was great! we met lots of cool travelers from all over the world backpacking their way through europe. we did a lot of walking around the town and went to some of their small museums.
one day we went on a tour of peles palace, a bran's castle and a fortress. peles palace
was absolutely amazing. i liked it better than versailles. they had a library with a secret passage behind the books, a turkish smoking room, a dining room with indian furniture that took 100years and three generations to make, and one of the largest armories in the world. do you remember the first batman movie with bruce wayne's armory? well like that except a lot more weapons, including full horse armor too. it also had an executioners sword mounted on the mantle (it looked like a big meat cleaver, which i guess that is what it was). sorry no pics inside. you have to go yourself i guess. but here is the outside.
next was the fortress. it was built for the peasants to escape the constant turkish and mongol raids. it had an interesting museum and a cool layout, nothing very picturesque except for the view from the top. i was going to do a full panoramic here, but my camera ran out of batteries.
the last of the tour was bran castle, which is advertised as dracula's castle, but it isn't really. they think he might have been held there for a couple of days. but that doesn't stop all the shops from selling cheap chinese made dracula shit outside. there were some cool things in the castle, but nothing really worth wasting bandwidth on.
next destination: sighisoara, dracula's(vlad teres) real birthplace, and the area where he was a voivod. for those of you familiar with the band, it is what the band is named after, a transylvania lord or prince (there were no titles of count). this town is mostly off the beaten path, but it is everything you think it would be. very gothic, darkish, coldish, lots of graveyards, and crumbling churches, and lots of (medieval)guild towers. here is a spooky, cemetary gates pic.
old vlad himself (i love the irony of this pic, email me if you need an explanation)
dracula's home town as you would expect it.
we loved this town so i have lots of pics. streets of the old town at night.
next we hoped on a train to go to budapest, hungary. yah! we made it out of the cher song without getting ripped off, but wait! we had to buy a sleeping cart on the train after you get on the train, that is where we got ripped off, so it is not the gypsies that you have to watch out for it is the conductors on the sleeping carts and what they charge that you have to watch.
Budapest, i know i don't capitalize things often, but this is one of the only instances that i think that i should. it is made up of two towns, buda and pest. like most towns in eastern europe (they consider themselves central) an old town(buda) and a new town(pest). they had a golden age at the turn of the 19th century, you know the austrian-hungarian empire. during this golden age they built many many museums and monuments and i guess most weren't destroyed by the nazi's since they joined the nazis, and it was the soviets that took them over and they didn't have the same bomb everything into oblivion attitude that the rest of the allies had. (stalin's people were cheaper than bombs is my guess). we spent a lot of time in museums and walking around town. this town is very modern for what i am used to nowadays. coffee shops everywhere and even some 'subways'. you know the sandwich shop. by the way, they boast the first subway, you know the underground trains, in europe. one of the lines stations, still has an antique feel. with the subway and the trams, it is very easy to get anywhere you want to go.
in buda they have a castle, that was rebuilt after the red army destroyed it. the church in the castle was not destroyed, and is one of the most pictured building in budapest
it was useful to those armies as a stable. in other wars with the turks, the turks took over budapest and change the cathedral into a mosque over night. they didn't want to desecrate the madonna so they just walled it up. in later wars with the turks, after this story was forgotten. a bomb dislodge the wall and poof! appears the virgin mary. that scared the turks, in the converted mosque, enough to leave the cathedral alone.
there is a very elaborate wall that goes around about a twenty city block area that is the buda castle
a view from the wall, across the brown danube river, to the parliament building that is modeled after the one in london, all the way down to being next to the river.
a cool hunting fountain at the palace on the castle hill
hero's' square in city park
i particularly liked this hero. a google search for 'hungarian hero deer antler bridle' doesn't really come up with much though.
another palace inside of central park. there are so many of these, we were just able to walk around and look at them from the outside.
a true hungarian hero
parliament at night
i cant say much more. i have a lot more pics of budapest, but i think i hit most of the highlights. the art and history museums were outstanding. the people speak a really funny language that is more impossible than russian, i mean for god sake, they have a different word for passport(that is about as an international word as i can think of). but luckily most everyone that we came in contact with spoke english, except at the american sandwich shop that was previously mentioned. our trip back was great. and here we are in the now.