Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Glasgow, Scotland

Descending into Scotland the area is beautiful! Lots of shades of pretty! Reminded me of a puzzle of green patchwork. Upon arrival, we had to take a train into Glasgow. We were going to stay about 24 hours there and Paul had organized accomodations for us at the Hilton.

For dinner we had a recommendation to go to The Ubiquitious Chip in the west end. It was a nice restaurant. I had a beer that is brewed locally for the Chip---an ale called Chip 71. Paul had told the waiter to surprise him with dinner and I ordered off the menu. I had shellfish bisque, an Aberdeen steak with stovies (mash with beef and veg inside--totally yum!), and shortbread for dessert. Paul received crawfish as a starter, followed by a trio of mutton, and jelly for dessert. It was an amazing meal and experience. Paul also had a whisky that was 24 years old....Port Ellen. It was ok to him, but rare and not being made anymore. Our whisky loving friend was jealous of him! After dinner we went next door to the Chip's Wee Pub. It was another fun experience. I had another pint of Chip 71 followed by a bottle of Innis and Gunn which is beer that spends time in whisky casks before bottling. It is sweeter and has interesting flavor. Very Scottish, I am told. Paul had a Laphroaig 10. It was a great night. We got a taxi on the street and then got back to the hotel.

Then, we realized Paul's iPod touch was missing. Oh no! We immediately spoke to the hotel's front desk and the taxis put out a message that it was missing. The chances of finding it....slim! We went upstairs and Paul decided to go back to the pub in hopes to find the taxi. What chance??? Well, I went to sleep while Paul went back out. Not much later, he woke me up and showed me his touch. Yeah, I know we are super lucky. He happened to find the our taxi who had had three fares since us. The last one was a girl who found Paul's touch in the seat and gave it to the driver. Paul walked up and he was trying to figure out who or how to find the owner. Paul was ecstatic. It truly was a miracle. Thank you God!

The next day we packed up our stuff and went to Cafe Gandolfi for lunch. A recommendation from the waiter at the Chip. It was nice. I tried a new ale, had asparagus soup and bacon avocado salad for lunch. Paul had roasted chicken.

After lunch I stopped into a shop I wanted to peep into and then we were off to the train to Edinburgh. Only an hour by train....Paul and I got seats with a table which is nice when you want to journal, chat, or play games. :)


Budapest was great! The apartment that Paul organized for us was awesome and quite roomy considering we are in Europe. We arrived first then in the morning and made our way there from the train station. It took us a bit to find the metro station as there was a bunch of construction outside the train station. We took the metro one stop and then had to transfer to a tram to the stop we were to meet our apartment guy, Greg, at. He found us no problem and we walked the block or so down to the apartment. All the buildings have lovely architecture. It is truly a beautiful place.

We took showers and got cleaned up. We went out for some lunch and wandered around. It is an amazing city! We stayed in the Pest side of the city.

While in Budapest we saw:
  • The central market
  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • had lots of interesting food
  • drank many local beers and some from Czech too
  • went to the Great Synagoge
  • walked around the Jewsih ghetto
  • ate lots of hummus
  • felt rain almost every afternoon for about 30 minutes in which we would pop into a coffee shop for an afternoon beverage while it rained and we waited
  • had langos---a local snack that is deep fried bread like with garlic sauce, sour cream and cheese on top. they were good but made my tummy upset.
  • sweated a lot
  • walked near the Parliament building
  • rode the M2 tram along the Danube
  • saw and walked across the Chain Bridge
  • walked around Buda at Castle Hill, saw the Fisherman's Bastion, saw Matthias church, took a bus through the Vienna Gate to Moskva Ter.
  • walked around two different shopping malls
  • went to a really old and famous coffee shop called Gerbaud where we had desserts and coffee
  • walked through Erzebet Ter, a park where there are tons of people hanging out and skaters skating.
  • went to the Nyugati station
  • went to the YWAM coffee shop on Friday night and met Justin and Lee Anne. They are great people there running the cafe and coffee shop. It was a great night of conversation.
  • did laundry
  • walked down Andrassy ut (a famous street)
  • toured the House of Terror, a museum about the two different occupations of Budapest---Nazi and Soviet. It was artsy and cool.
  • witnessed a demostration and loads of riot police
  • had a snack and lemonade at the cafe at the Sofitel
  • went to a festival on Chain Bridge where there were performers and all sorts of crafts
  • took a very long route home because of all the riot police having most of the major areas blocked off due to the demonstration

We also tried to try some Hungarian food at this little cafe. It was a truly interesting experience. We did not speak Hungarian and she did not speak English. Finally, Paul got across that we would eat anything she gave us. It was ok, but definitely not exciting. Although I gave us points for trying our best.

We loved Budapest and really feel living there is an option. It is great city with lots of character and exciting opportunities.

Friday, July 03, 2009

arrival in munich and the train to budapest

we had to purchase train tickets to budapest for the overnight train. we found the ticket counter, purchased tickets, and realized we had to wait for a while to leave. we landed in munich at 17:50 and the train did not leave until 23:40. ugh. at this point, we are feeling pretty gross and tired, ready to get moving and not sitting in an airport.

we found something to eat---turkish like wraps and kebabs. then sat and people watched. we also checked out the grocery store in the airport which was cool. i bought some snacks. we waited and waited. watched the people and chatted. it became quite difficult to sit and wait. paul was growing pretty grumpy b/c he was tired and i just wanted to lay down.

we had to take the subway to the main train station in munich. we did that about 10pm or so. then we found a starbucks to sit in while we waited yet some more. paul had a drink and i ate some snacks. time seemed to be just creeping by. i needed to use the toilet and made my way to find it. then giggled. i had forgotten that one has to pay for the public toilet. back to paul for some money and then off to the toilet again---80 euro cents later. :)

platform #12
destination budapest

waiting and waiting........
finally a train pulled up and we walked out to the platform to wait for boarding. we were supposed to get on car #262 and have beds 72 & 73. quite simple, i thought. upon glancing at the train car numbers, i realized there was no 262. what?!?!?! i asked one attendant and he pointed to this other guy. i walked over to the other guy and was greeted with, "parlez vous francais?" do i speak french? are you kidding? i replied, "no." then he pointed down the train. so, we made our way down the train.....the numbers were not looking good and we were both frustrated. how difficult can this really be? i found another attendant and asked him. he said to go to the last two cars and they would find a place for us. the last two cars is where the frenchman was........ugh! paul was overly tired at this point and his patience was gone. i was ok, but seriously could be on the verge of tears. back down to the end we trudged. i found yet another attendant who i inquired about our beds and car to. he cheerily replied only in german. i stood there and had no idea what he was saying to me. when i seemed to not understand, he smiled and spoke more german. ?!?!?!

after much discussion and persistance, kind german man found us beds. thank goodness. we were in a cabin with an interesting older german man. he was quiet and kept to himself. i took the top bunk, paul slept in the middle, and the interesting older german man was on the bottom. once in bed, things were better. paul and i both were fast asleep and spent most of the night that way. i woke up at 5:35ish am with an immense need to use the toilet. i did not want to go....i was hoping to wish it away, but i could not. down the stairs i went as quiet as possible then down the train car to the toilets. the scenery was quite nice as i looked out the window.

7am we were served breakfast. a croissant filled with chocolate cream and a boxed drink of orange juice. on what other continent is a chocolate filled pastry considered breakfast.......i was excited and gobbled it down. yum! paul did not eat his, but passed it up to me to hold onto. on and off we slept some more before pulling into the train station in budapest. it was fun!

we had arrived.......finally, after what seemed like forever.
30+ hours of transit to start the european adventure........
we were in desperate need of showers and felt completely disgusting......
but hey, we were in budapest, hungary!

off we go to europe.....

we were running behind and had to wait for teh airport bus. it was no fun because it was hot. we were sweating and knew that we would not be able to shower for quite a while and had to get on a long flight to munich. ugh. finally the bus arrived and we were on our way.

we arrived at the airport to find a long, long line at the check in counter. we stood there for a bit and the line hardly moved. paul and i were both starting to get a little anxious since we were running behind and the time just kept ticking away. i went up to a counter and pointed out that out flight was at 1:10 to munich and the line was not really moving at all. he kindly called out to see if there were others going to munich and indeed there was. he escorted us to a new line in which we were the only people in to proceed with check in. yeah!

we were called to the counter and began the process. she then said that the flight has been overbooked and therefore we were bring bumped up to business because of our flier status. paul instantly smiled ear to ear. we were thrilled. business class to europe.....yes! it was awesome. we then proceeded through security, immigration, rode the tram to the international terminal, got some coffee, and waited at the gate for boarding. the entire time paul kept saying, "we are in business!" he was so excited.

lufthansa business is awesome. the seats are super cool and automatic. the food was great and we both got to actually sleep properly since the seat went almost flat. it was truly awesome! the only complaint i had is that it was bit warm for me. i would prefer a little more air con which was out of our control. there were no air vents above the seats. i watched three movies---the reader, gran torino, and slumdog millionaire. all on my little screen in front of me that i could pause when i needed to.

it was awesome!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

European Adventure

I am sure some of you are wondering where I am and wondering why I have yet to post anything. I am working on it....I assure you. For now, I have posted some pics from the trip so far. Mostly from in transit to Budapest from Seoul. Good to have a look though. Click on the 'My Photos' link at the side and it will take you to my flickr account.

Happy picture browsing!