Saturday, 29 October 2011

blog test

Just testing features of the blog

Saturday, 15 October 2011

28/9 to 29/9 Brussels

Walking around yesterday and today, it almost appears that only 1 in 3 escalators in the train stations work.
I discovered today that I have lost my esperanto cap, sniff sob sob sniff sob. It is somewhere between Amsterdam and Brussels. I suspect that it slipped between the seats on the train. That is the 3rd hat i have lost on this trip. I am now using a red "Nitra city" cap that I won at the esperanto event "SES".
I did my washing in the morning. It felt good knowing that this would be the last time i would need to do the washing on this trip. While that was happening, I explored the local area. Needles to say, i found a church. It too, was big and unique, just like all the other churches throughout Europe. There was one difference with this church, it was also a school!
After my clothes were finished, I walked around the perimeter of the city, or half of it. I finished at the "European quarter". This is where most of the European union offices and Parliament buildings are located. Much like other public buildings, these ones were also big, modern, and boring.

I went on a bus tour of Flanders fields today. This was a pivotal battlefield during WW1. I got to see hill 60, Ipres (which was completely destroyed during WW1) as well as a few other sites. I was surprised to see the ridge around Ipres, which in stories sounded as if it was a huge obstacle, is only a gentle rise of the land.
Every wear, the locals have what is called "the iron harvest". This is where hundreds or thousands of tonnes of ordinances, such as exploded and unexploded shells, rise to the surface in the paddocks. The military do very regular runs to collect all such ordinances. Some of the unexploded shells still contain gas. The military now have so many shells with gas, it will take them at least 50 years to clear what they have, and there are many more still in the ground. Almost 100 years later, and aspects of the war still present a great danger.
After the tour, I stayed in Bruges for a few hours, on the recommendation of the bus driver. An amazing city. I wish i had more time to explore the place. Alas, I must return to Brussels

The church/school near the hostel in Brussels

Public gardens in Brussels

Me at the huge archways in the Museum area. There are four large museums here.

A famous grave in a war graveyard near Ipres

The remains of the crater on hill 60. Created when western powers exploded 22 mines along a ridge in one night.
There is no water in the crater, as the large network of tunnels underneath drain all the water.

Ipres today. The whole town was destroyed during WW1. The town was rebuilt to look like it use to be.
The buildings have a very modern interior.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

24/9 to 27/9 Amsterdam

I took a train from Bonn at 12pm, and after 4 trains, arrived in Amsterdam at 8pm
On the tram to the hostel, I saw a man dressed up in woman's clothes, with what was probably his boyfriend. His wig was in his hand. How very liberal!
Locals appear helpful and friendly. I was trying to find the hostel, when a local led me down the road to show me the street I needed.
The hostel has its own bar, and restaurant. The beer was good, but the food was only just edible, but cheap.

Walk through city, found  coffee shops and red light district. I had to have look at the "window girls". There are lots of signs saying "no photos". I was later told that they will come out screaming at you and smash your camera if they catch you taking a photo of them!
Headache started, probably from dehydration.
Bicycle tour of city at 4pm. The bikes that we were given were surprisingly easy and comfortable. I found out the city was named after a dam that was built in Amstel.
In the evening, I walk through a large park. I am told people can have sex here after sun set. I got followed my a man around the rose garden. I walked really quickly back to civilisation. Turns out, this is the spot for gay sex! I won't be returning here again.
Discovered I have a minor financial dilemma. The account with money, I can't remember the pin, the account I can remember the pin, has no money. It should be fixed by Wednesday. Until then, tight budget.

Woke up with killer headache, more panadol.
Country bike tour at 11pm. These tour guides must be the only ones in the world who can get paid to ride all day, drink beer and smoke a pipe!
Walked around city, not spending money.
Found a great kebab shop near the railway station.
Packed bag ready for tomorrow
Checked bank account, money has cleared. Phew, for a moment there, I thought I was about to walk to Brussels.

left book "animal farm" at hostel for the "book crossing" program. I picked it up in France at Kastelo Grésillon.
Dumped bag in train station locker, then went to the sex museum, then torture museum.
Trained to Brussels. I am staying at hello hostel
Found great food place around the corner; Snack Simonis.

Looking at the old city gate at night across the canal,
A very Amsterdam style gas mask,
Some erotic art, and the description for it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

19/9 to 23/9 Rome

I got off to a good start today; I went to the correct air port! On the bus from the airport to the city, the woman behind me was talking on her phone for full 40 minute bus trip, and continued after she got off.
There is crazy traffic in Rome. Cars turning in front of bus, drivers in dreamland when changing lanes, scooters everywhere.
When I got to the hostel, the Mona Lisa, I went to bed.

Start 8:30, I had no breakfast (which proved to be a mistake) and rushed off to beat the crowds at the Pantheon. I can see why this building inspired so many over the centuries. I can just imagine it without all the religious stuff. I later found out the original bronze relief over the entrance was melted down and used in an oversized stage thingy in St Stephens Basilica.
afterwards, I rushed to the colosseum, where I stayed for 4 hours. Standing outside the colosseum feels like standing outside the MCG. It is amazing that it took another 1600 years before something like this was built again. I took a very ordinary tour of the place. I was starving by the time I had finished.
After an ordinary feed of tourist retail food, I investigated the Rome ruins, 4 hours. I would have loved to see this place in its hey day. Their society looks only a few hundred years old, not a few thousand. When I had finished, the other tourists had awoken, and were everywhere! The lines were ridiculously long.
I would like to point out here, the best decision of the modern Roman government; there is NO business or retail on the ruins site! This was a major relief, as there is a massive oversupply of corney tourist traps outside, and some of them were just plain annoying, such as the "roman soldier" asking, "would you like a photo" "NO"
Next, I walked around circus Massimo, the site of the chariot races. Only a small section of the original buildings remain, but they cleared the track of new buildings, so I could imagine the chariots. The massive remains of the old palace are still visible from the track, and look amazing.
I walked down the river, and found some official function in the street with a military band, so I stayed. I got to bed at around midnight.

Emergency vehicles with constant drone are everywhere they are seriously annoying.
I purchased the hop on, hop off, bus tour, and returned to the ruins to see the emperors house. Most of the decorations (freshcos?)  are still there.
Bus to Piazza Venezia, see white monument. The building appears to be a military museum thingy now.
Go to time elevator, watch 3 movies: escape from ______ manor; a fictional tale about a man who enters a haunted house, an ode to life; history of life on earth, time elevator; 2750 years of history of Rome.
I completed the bus tour back to start
before tea, I saw the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. It was just another church. I am getting a bit sick of them.
I returned to the Hostel for food, then watched a little Doctor who.

Vatican day
Buy guided tours
Go through dead pope chamber
First tour, St Peters Basilica. Huge! This included a walk around the top. By the time I had finished with the place, the tourists had woken up again and were everywhere. The place was packed.
I couldn't help but wonder how much it all cost. Isn't there a story in the bible about not worshipping expensive material objects? How did this become acceptable?
Buy lasagna for lunch. I recon I can do better. I think that restaurant is another tourist trap.
Tour through museum with tour, finishing with the sistean chapel. This museum requires at least 2 days to do it some justice. Why did the church mutilate so many genitals on the ancient Roman statues? Would god really approve of chopping off a part of male anatomy which he so passionately created in the first place? (wow, if I continue like this, I might actually sound religious!)
after, I went to the Leonardo da Vinci machines museum. Of all the amazing stuff there, I liked his bridge the best; timber poles, no rope and no nails. Might still be useful in the field!
I found the big, famous fountain, and couldn't believe the size, of the crowds!

I Finished the Dr who sub-series.
I Walked to park, then to train station
Found rich suburb.
Fly back to weeze airport in Germany
Bus and train back to Bonn
Bed at 2am

Italian food, the best I got there.
Leonado's bridge
The big fountain
The big crowd at the big fountain.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

7/9 8/9 9/9 Berlin

I started the day with a walking tour of city; always a good way to start a new city. I missed the first 5 minutes as I thaught it started at a different part of the city. I noticed there are lots of new buildings everywhere, and the buildings in the east side already need major restoration work as they were cheeply built. The city really does not look like other european citys. I guess a war and decades of devision will do that to a city.
I went to a curry sausage place for tea. This place was also recommended, but wasnt as good as the kababs.
I used "pasporta servo" (like coutch surfing in esperanto) to find a place to sleep for the next 2 nights. This place is amazing. He has the top level apartment, overlooking the city ......err........skyline......... which consists of the russian TV tower.

Please excuse the dot point statements here. I just want to go to bed.
Day start at 12:30
Start at brandenburg gate
See Russian war memorial
Walk down 17 street to charlottenburger gate
Tour around west Berlin city
Observe the different architecture and higher quality constructions.
Train up to the "berlin wall preserved border" and read everything.
Forgot that rain still occurs in Berlin. Needed my umbrella for the first time since London. I had forgotten that it still rains in northen europe
Return to base, take photo of the tv tower
Note lack of noticeable urban outline.
Dry cough today. illness keeps changing, but i think it is getting bettter

Out the door at 12:40
Returned to the Berlin wall memorial for day photos. I watched a video of a fly over of the berlin border in 1990, it was incredible.
Went to train station, destination Bonn. Surprised at cost of €97 one way. Searched for the cheapest option, €42. Now I have 6 trains and 11 hour journey, arriving in Bonn at 2:25 in the morning. i caught the first train with only 1 minute to spare.
I am sure that Germany's trains are designed to make it as difficult as possible to find a good position to sleep in. Didnt help that i only had 1 to 2 hours on each train. Never got much sleep
I managed to get off one station too early in Cologne. Fortunately, the next train started here anyway.
I am surprised how many people are on the train at 2 am. It is almost packed. Standing room only for many. I thought I would have it for myself.
I eventually found out that the german railways have a monopoly on public transport, and busses can not run when there is a train running.

Darth Vader protecting the Brandenburg gate

The site of Hitler's bunker. The floor and walls still exist, but are not accessable

The building where i stayed, yes, the very top.

The last complete section of the Berlin wall and border as it use to be.

Friday, 16 September 2011

6/7 trip to Berlin

I managed to catch the bus at 11:30 at night with 5 minutes to spare, although i did not like such a rediculously late start. Fortunately, i was armed with my self-inflating pillow, and got in some sleep. i tried to watch the movie, but i was tired, and the movie was in hungarian, so i went back to sleep

The bus stopped to the Czech capital from 6:30 to 8:00, so i decided to have a look around, and perhaps leave my mark. Nearby, the museum exterior was covered for repair. There was a giant a picture of a car on the wall, with a tv screen in the drivers seat on 3 sides of the museum. the car was from the company who is sponsering the repairs. A kiosk was on the ground. I took my photo with the kiosk and got my face in the drivers seat of the car on the museum, on 3 sides! My mark has been left in Prague.

On the way to Berlin, the bus was showing the movie "Australia" in Hungarian with English subtitles. That was interesting, and a bit weird. the movie was just as painful to watch though. i had noticed at one point that i appeared to be the only person watching the movie. I also wondered how many hungarians were on the bus. I recon it would have been more practical to have thee movie in english.

The bus arrived in Berlin at about 1:30 pm, right next to the exhibition centre. They had a technology exhibition running, so I went in. Over 4 hours, I covered about 1/4 of the place.
The hostel i stayed at is called "Grand Hostel Berlin". the place was nice. I was told of a place that is suppose to have the best kebabs in the world, according to an Australian, Called "Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap". Average wait time 40 minutes, sometimes up to 70 minutes. I had to try it. It appears half of berlin thaught the same thing, as it took me about 50 minnutes. Fortunately, It was really good.
At night, I showered and went to bed as my wog was draining me.

The museum in Prague

The car with me in it :D

The white building is the hostel in Berlin

Monday, 12 September 2011

2/9 to 5/9 Budapest

First night at Carpe Noctem Vitae Hostel. this is a under 40´s social and party hostel, but they dont party in the hostel, but go  out every night.turns out to be a good hostel
I started the day with personal admin: Finish a few blogs, organise some accomodation, change some bus trips etc. I discovered there is caving in budapest on monday, when i was suppose to be on a bus, so i changed the bus trip to 11:30 at night
In the afternoon, i trained to the airport to collect Kate whoi first met in northen ireland. We got to the hostel just in time for dinner/tea/evening meal whatever you want to call it. Turns out, she normally goes to hotels, so this is her first time in a hostel.. I hope she thinks it is good!
In the evening, we had a "booze cruise" with the people from the hostel.  This was a boat cruze down, up, then back down the Danube river, to a permanently docked ship that has been turned into a club. We got to bed at 4:30 am

i got up today and discovered one of the staff had cooked bakon and eggs. "Fantastic in a crossont" i thaught.  I got half of it down, but my slight morning sickness (ahem) prevented me from eating the rest. I decided the best way to overcome such a sickness was with a walk, So we did a walking tour of Budapest.
The afternoon we went into the house of terror. This place is not some amusment ride, but a place where prisoners were kept and torchred during the nazi and communist years. quite depressing to here some of the stories and what was happening at the time.
In the evening, we had food at Kiado Kocsma, which was recommended to us by the hostel. We all started with the beef goulash, which was very nice. the spicyness is aparantly very good for colds and runny noses.
Back at the hostel, we talked for a few hours with some other girls, then decided to go out to the clubs again. the first club must have had lady´s night, as the girls got in free, but we had to pay €5. we were amazed how many desperate middle age men in suits were there. we also noticed a few desperate females too.

The second club was an outdoor club with 4 or 5 venues happening concurrently, including the pool that i had heard about a few weeks earlier. 2 of the girls got totally drenched when another bloke starteed a water fight with them, then finished up by bombing the pool; an act i thaught quite dangerous as the pool is about 50cm deep. We got back to bed at 6:30am
The photo is the 3 girls and another bloke from the hostel with 3 of the blokes in the back who liked water fights, bombing the pool, and swimmming. 5 seconds after this photo was taken, anoter bloke bombed the pool and drenched the girls, especially the one on the right.

Up at 10, feeling much better as i drank very little the night before. i took a bus trip out to Monument park, where the old communist statues of budapest were sent after the fall of commmunism. Some of the statues were huge, others showed the "heroric russian soldier" with the small, defenceless, thankful hungarian. Some were of woman, with strong arms for hard work, wide hips for good breeding, and strong legs for excellent stability; all the good traits of a good communist. The photo is of a huge statue of a russian soldier liberating the hungarians.
I returned to the city. I had only been walking for 5 minutes when i ran into Kate and. Kelly in the street, so i walked with them around the city. 
We decided to go to the market, as it was a sunday. We were surprised to learn, the market opens every day except sunday. Instead, we stopped at a Pub for Hungarian stew and knoci. Afterwards, we walked up and down the main tourist street. half the shops were suiveneer shops, the other half were restraunts. then we walked to the top of "the citadel" on hill to watch sun set and the city lights turn on. 2 more girls joined us at the top of the hill. Then we returned to the hostel. The photo is Budapest at night from the hill.

Got a wog today. it has been going through the hostel, and now i have finally got it.
I had breakfast with Kate at a local cafe, returned to the hostel, then said goodby to Kate as she had to fly back to Ireland
I packed my bags, then stored them under the stair well. afterwards, i went to the market, feeling terrible. i purchased one gift, and what is possably th worst beef goulash in budaest. i couldnt even eat a quarter of it. I returned to the hostel, took some Panadol then Sleep 1 hour.
I woke up then, headed off for my caving adventure. on the way to the cave, this weird rain came from nowhere. we all looked up to try findthesource of the rain. it was an almost clear sunny day, except for one small cloud.
Caving lasted 2.5 hours underground. we got to a depth of about 45 metres. there were Tree roots at 30 metres. the temperature was around 12 degrees, but we didnt get cold, as we were crawling through small tunnles, over bulders, and sliding down dirt slides. good thing we had helmets on, as every one of us banged our head on the rocks at some point. at one stage, we turned our head lamps off, and remainned silent; it was eerily quiet, and pitch black. our guide told us of some of the stories of people dieing down in the tunnels, including 2 blokes who were found with no food and no light. their guide just left them there,in an act of murder. Lovely, i thaught.  Caving finished just as the panodol was wearing off.
I caught the bus for Berlin at 11:30 at night.

In the pool at the club

A huge statue of a russian soldier "liberating" hungrary

Budapest at night

Group photo 45m deep underground; the lowest we got.

Me getting reborn in a very tight tunnel

Sunday, 11 September 2011

10/9 to 18/9 Bonn

Another dot point blog entry.

Extended holiday to October
Doing well with my limited German.
Found bridge with holes specifically for love message padlocks.
Wasps in bakery, again.

Tried to find motorcycle for hire
Found Aparal store with prices half of that in Australia

No wasps in bakery today. The food must be bad today.
Found motorbike for hire, need international licence. Motorcycle tourism not developed in Europe.
There are change machines in supermarket for counting notes and coins and giving change. The checkout people (they are definately not chicks) don't even need basic math skills.
Watched German news about catching poisonous snakes in Australian city's . That should be good for tourism.

The rest of the days:
Watched lots of "big bang theory"
Lots of sleep
Scooter riders like riding on foot paths and bicycle paths.
Big-little sis talked me into visiting Rome.
Watched a water and light show in Bonn city centre.  They squerted water into the air in fancy patterns and projected light and images onto it, coordinated to music, with fireworks. Lots and lots of water wasted.

Tried to fly to Rome. Went to the wrong airport. Changed flight and went back to Bonn

Little people statues in a park.
An old style crane on display. A man runs in the wheel to raise and lower the crane.
Part of the water and light show
Some painted Beethoven's. He was born in Bonn.

Friday, 2 September 2011

8/8 to 13/8 Festo

Just realised, I have not written anything about festo, oops. Did I delete what I had written? Hmmm. Well, I can still remember the highlights.

Accommodation was good. They were lacking bed sheets, so I used my own. I did have a double bed, bit of a shame I had nobody to share it with. Toilets were good, and they had this weird, toiletty thingy in the room, but the bottom was flat, and hqs a plug in it. My room mate told me it is for washing your feet or your backside.

Food was always good, the best of all the esperanto events. The format was usually salad, or some appetizers, with bread, followed by main meal, with bread. Being France, the French always had wine with everything. I could always tell which plate was the French plate, as they always wiped the plate clean with bread.  The evening meal included desert. Once, it was caramalised Apple, mmmmmm.

The days had a few planned activities, but mostly it was do your own thing. There was one day tour to some local castles. Unfortunately, I can not remember the names. The first castle is the place where sleeping beauty was inspired and written. It is considered the most Disney castle in France. The second castle is the tallest in France. This place even includes its own theatre. It is actually 2 castles in one; The base and the 2 circular towers is an older castle. In the basement, they had more wine. Turns out, this place produces wine as well.

The evenings were usually concerts of different music groups, mostly esperanto, but not always.

One memorable family in attendance, they spoke esperanto at home, so the 2 kids (about 3 and 4) were native speakers. The little girl was almost always following her father. It was amusing watching her Chase after her father yelling "Paĉio atendu min" At one stage, he tried playing the piano, while reading music displayed on my phone, (sortof) he regularly stopped to scroll the screen), without a seat. No easy task, so his girl decided to try help him, by squeezing between his arms, between him and the piano, trying to scroll the music, usually at the wrong time, and playing some of the keys; very entertaining.

Photos: the weird toiletty thingy, Kastelo Grésillon at night, the "sleeping beauty" castle, desert

28/8 to 1/9, Vienna

Today 3 of us bussed from Budapest to Vienna, for €15 each on orangeways, very cheap. This company was told to us by a local Esperantist. We got to some lake / park (called donau auen) near Vienna, (ankaŭ sen vestoj. Mi pli kaj pli ŝatas tian lagojn), and pitched the tent. Turns out, this park has a few wild pigs. Not a big problem for me, but proved a headache for our local Esperantist and guide, Angela.
Trying to find food was a small issue. The first place, closed. Second, expensive, and must buy a drink. Third, open, and good food. On the way back to the tent, we heard a pig somewhere in the bushes. Angela spent the night thinking the pigs were close and didn't get much sleep. The following nights she slept in her apartment in Vienna.

Today started with swim, then we went into the city.
Saw another church, purchased an interesting fridge magnet "there are no kangaroo's in Vienna", saw a few other buildings, back to the apartment for food, then me and Brandon returned to the tent.

Today was a swim, then to the esperanto museum. This place was interesting, but small. We then walked around what I think was the old palace grounds, which were now library's and museums. Angela told us all about the sex parties of the elite from many years ago, and how all the important buildings have statues of naked people on it. Also in the grounds was a food, beer and wine festival. Dad would have spent a week in these grounds. We decided to eat here.
A further walk reviled an outdoor cinema, where we watched an Austrian opera about the devil or something, then we returned to bed. Angela tried to return to the tent, but then we heard another pig, so she returned to here apartment again.

Today I waved goodbye to Brandon, then shifted all my stuff to Angela's apartment, then went to the natural history museum. This place has got a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. Even the building is amazing! There was one room for marsupials, so the room was almost dedicated to Australia. Towards the end, Angela was so tired, she slept at the entrance and waited for me to finish. It was dark by the time I had finished.
We went home, and had a feed of a pasta dish which was rather salty, showered, then bed. A nice, cosy, warm bed, without hard earth and lumps. The first in over a week.

well, I didn't get a full nights sleep, but it was a good night none the less....ahem.
Breakfast was at about 12:30, on the veranda, overlooking Vienna, with the remains of last nights food, and a bit extra. Then shower, cleanup, then off to the bus stop, once again, guided by Angela.
The bus trip was uneventful, and I got to the hostel reasonably easy. This hostel already appears much better than the last Budapest hostel I tried.
At night, I sat and listened to some classical string trio play music at a fancy restaurant next to the opera house, then bed.

Photo: me beside an elephant in front of natural history museum. All other photos on my camera.

23/8 to 27th Mela

I am at my 6th Esperanto event, Mela in Hungary, south of Budapest. This is a very relaxed camping event, beside a lake, with about 7 people. Lots of sleeping, swimming (sen vestoj. Iam bone, iam strange. Estis la unua fojo ke mi ĉeestis tian lokon. Ankaŭ bone ke mia familio ne eblas legi ĉi vortojn), eating and beer. Not much more to say. The camping is free, but there is lots of rubbish dumped here. The lake is one of dozens of man made lakes in the district. They are old stone quarries. The Danube river once flowed here, so all the stones are rounded.
The area also has a lot of industrial hemp plants growing wild on the side of the road, which was a bit strange. For those that don't know, industrial hemp lives in the cannabis family of plants.
Trained into Budapest for a Hungarian "BBQ" which consisted of beef goulash cooked over a fire, very good. Why couldn't the last place cook like this? The BBQ happened in the backyard of what appeared to be the Main organizer, and office, and house, of the local Esperanto movement. There was about 12 people there. The strange thing was, it could have been in Australia, but it was Budapest, with a pot over a fire, and speaking Esperanto.
Just saw the foxtrot being danced at a restaurant. South of Budapest. Very amusing.
I am amazed how many songs on the radio are in English, it must be almost 3/4 of all songs. I am equally amazed where I can find "Britney spears" posters.
A noisy wedding procession went by, with car horns blaring.

Photos: house for sale, and a steak with chips at the restaurant with the fox trot. All scene photos were taken on my camera, so not able to post.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

16/8 to 22/8, ijs at Búbánatvölgi

The train and bus trip was without problem. So much easier travelling with locals.
The accommodation is mostly good: seat toilets with paper, warm showers and good beds. Unfortunately the blanket was designed for children, so either my feet were covered, or my top torso were covered, but not both. I did find a 2nd small blanket for my feet.
First meal here was rice with deep fried mushrooms, aaaahhh, i'm gonna die here! Turns out, this was the first of a long line of terrible food, and not much of it. Mushrooms was a common feature for vegetarian dishes, which was bad for the vegetarian who did not like mushrooms, thankfully, I eat meat, which was often dry. The nearist store is a long walk away, so I can't just buy food, unless I bring it back from the nearest city, which I wound up doing.

Today was a trip into Esztergom, on the river border with Slovakia. We took the Tourist train to the first stop, Esztergom cathedral. This place has the 3rd biggest dome in the world. Amazing art work everywhere. I reached the top of the building; amazing view all around.
We played a version of "capture the flag", but we had words on our forehead, and if the other team read the word out loud, we died. The other tourists were very confused as to why there were groups of people walking around with forehead against forehead!
Boat trip on the river Danube was next. Big river! Then it was shopping in the City where I purchased some emergency wine, then back to camp by tourist train.
I had the Rose wine with food.  578 huf, That is about $2:50 Australian! still tasted better than the food by itself.
Night activities were, cooking by fire with meat,vegies and bread, followed by a Singing session. Many in esperanto, others in other languages such as Russian.

Mushroom soup for lunch, eeeuurrrk. The Hungarian word for mushroom is "gomba". I shall remember that word.
Played "hom-piedpilko" or human football. This game was first presented to me and another bloke at Festo in France, so we taught and played it here. On one occasion, I ran face first into the head of a team mate and got a blood nose. My sister would have been proud.

The rest of the days.
Wow, I'm really not maintaining this blog like I use to. I am currently writing this under an umbrella, at a pub, with a beer, in 35° heat, somewhere south of Budapest, and a nice lake awaits me,  so please forgive me for my vagueness here!

At some stage we went for a walk around the local hills. Amazing views of the Danube and surrounds. Someone nailed a dummy Jesus to a cross somewhere around the top and overlooking the Danube. I didn't understand the reason why; It wasn't quite Rio.
A sports day occurred at some point. My team won, and we got 6 beers.
At the end of the week, we had the traditional international concert where anyone can do anything for up to 5 minutes. I decided to teach the heel and toe polka in esperanto.
Other curious highlights include: watching two slugs have sex, and sampling some if the best ukranian wines.
Overall, the event was well organised. My Esperanto skills have improved considerably, so it was a bit more entertaining for that reason as well.

Photos are: the tourist train, the river from the hill, and a sample of the "better" food, with my rose wine.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

14, 15, 16/8 journey to Budapest

The 14th consisted of sleeping, eating and packing my bag ready for the next destination. At this point, I am sure my 2 bags weigh 25 kg. I was about to leave for the bus when another bloke said that him and 2 others were also about to leave for Paris and stay the night at someone's place; what good luck. I went with them as I hadn't organised any accommodation. We took the train to Paris. I got fast food on train with bread and red wine no, it wasn't McDonald's, it was food at about 400 km/h. Pressure variations in tunnels played havoc with my ears, but this trip only took 90 minutes, but cost about $36 euro.
The accommodation in Paris was with Esperanto musicians. They travelled back from Festo by hitch-hiking, and took 7 hours. Small but cosy one room apartment with 6 people sleeping there for a night. Walk to church on a hill, saw Paris and effel tower by night. In the morning, I walked back up the hill to see Paris and the tower by day. I can't believe I got such a good location by chance.

The train trip to the station went through Notre-dam (probably not how it is spelt) so I stopped to have a look at the cathedral. Shame I had my back pack; If I was in good clothes I could have got in for free as a pilgrim. I did get to look in at the sermon and hear the bells ring.
I got to the airport in plenty of time, and bordered easy jet. There are no allocated seats here, just sit wherever, confused me at first. I got to Budapest airport, found the train to the city, (was easy to find), and McDonald's was right next door to the station. Woohoo, WiFi, all that needs to be done now is find some accommodation. Turns out, most of the available rooms have multiple beds, which is not unusual by itself, but in Budapest I need to book ALL beds for the night. There was no single beds to be found on the internet, so I decided to just search with my feet. Turns out, there was one just 200 metres away. This place has 2 toilets, 2 showers, small kitchen for about 40 people. The bed springs could be felt, and the cupboard was way too small for a clothes bag, and all for about $30 aud, but at least the toilet roll was inside the cubicle this time! I don't think I will return.

In the morning I finally decided that my bag was too big and heavy, so I went straight to the post office, which was conveniently located between the hostel and the train station. Nothing was in English, and almost nobody spoke it, but I got a box easily enough. I filled the box mostly with stuff that I had purchased along the way, and some extra stuff from home to ensure it was full. The next question, where to post it? After about half an hour, the security guard, who probably felt sorry for the bloke carrying a large blue bag, small bag and a box, with a very confused look on his face, informed me through hand gestures, (he no English) that I needed to go around the corner to post the box.
I had to fill out what I think was a declaration form for the box, that was written in 3 languages, none of them English. I think one was Italian, some words almost looked familiar from esperanto. The box weighed 5.7 kg. After getting rid of it, my bag returned to the size and weight as before; what a relief.
I got to the train station and found the rest of the karavan (fellow travellers) with 5 minutes to spare.

For some strange reason, I forgot to take any photos with my phone, except for these somewhat strange items from a souvenir shop. Enjoy

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

7/8 trip to Festo in France.

Taxi at 2:50 am, bus at 3:20, bus, train, train, train........ um...... a lot of transport and running around. In total, 17 busses, trains and trams to get from Nitra in Slovakia to Castle Grésillon ,near Baugé, in France. I am taking what is called a "caravan". This is a group of people who collectively travel together to get from one esperanto event to the next. The best part is, someone who knows public transport in Europe has already figured out the complete voyage! If you want an International European party holiday, and still take in the sights and stories, this is how it is done! And at an excellent price. The only pre-requirement; learn esperanto. Beginners accommodated.
The train going through Austria does not appear to have any level crossings!
we got to mulhonoe ville??? In France at 23:17, ate, then slept for 4 hours in what we thought was our next train. Turns out, it was just a random train parked at the station. The staff new we were there though. We got on the correct train before it left. We slept on it for 4 hours more as it made its way to Paris.
I was impressed to watch the ease of our great guide, Alex, as he crossed Europe with ease, speaking German, French, English, and of cause, Esperanto. I believe he is learning Italian.

We got to Kastelo Grésillon at about midday; 33 hours later. Silly me wants to go back to Hungary afterwards!

Photos: a small car packed with 4 people and bags. Bags were also stored on laps for the trip. Kastelo Grésillon. This place is owned by the Esperanto movement.

Monday, 8 August 2011

31/7 to 6/8, SES in Nitra

SES, or summer esperanto studies, has a very well run program, and very full, which is why I am writing this late, and as a single blog.
First, the courses. The first thing we did is a test to see what our level of esperanto is. I was put in the 3rd class out of 5, so I guess that makes me somewhere around intermediate. There were people from about age 10 to 65, mostly from Europe, but also from other countries. My class was conducted in esperanto, and about 26 in the class. I am still surprised how much I can understand. I purchased a book which helps learn the grammar.
The afternoons were filled with lectures about different topics, or tours of the region. We went for an afternoon tour of Nitra which included the castle. It appears to have an identity crises as it turned out to be a church. Here we learnt of two brothers that translated the bible into the local language about 1100 years ago. The statue of them keeps popping up everywhere.
The city was actually quite clean. We went into the local Chinese tea house and sampled some tea and chocolate. There is some tradition of pouring a pot of tea over Budda using small cups. I didn't fully understand it, it just looked like a waste of tea.
One afternoon I took a self guided tour of mount zor-something. This use to be a hill fort in the bronze age. The earthworks are still there.
Wednesday was a whole day excursion to Bratislava. We started with a castle built on a rock. Some parts date back to Roman times. Some parts were destroyed by Napoleon, and others in WW2. The big European river, the Danube???, flows straight past. This was also the border of the old soviet republic, and many people tried to make it across the border,and failed.

Evenings were concerts. These were conducted in both Esperanto and English. The opening even featured the local Mayor. We got local family bands, esperanto bands, cute local esperanto singers, and people who just wanted to do something from their country. The pub was conveniently located next to the hall, so drinks were always on hand; 1 euro per beer. I don't know what they put in the beer, but it really makes you piss. First time within an hour, before bed, 3 in the morning, and once more in the morning. The closing concert on the last night, they gave various gifts to certain people. I got one for travelling the furthest to get there.

Nights was general socializing, with some sleeping. Between late nights, early mornings and learning, I became very tired.
So far, I feel that SES is the best event for beginners to both the language and the culture. The main criticism is the food. It was almost always dreadful. The cafeteria here are the only people who can make chicken taste like overcooked pasta! Sometimes they served traditional recipes such as one that translates into "potato with potato"!

Photos: people on my table in class holding our trophy that we "purchased" in a game. 5 singers, they were here learning esperanto, and singing in esperanto. Some interesting "art", look at the attention to detail in the middle! A plate of food that was edible.

Friday, 5 August 2011

28/7 & 29/7 nice surprise

I'm well behind, so this is going to be brief.
Can't remember much, because it was mostly boring congress stuff. I decided to buy another hat. This one is green with a light green star, and Esperanto on the front. Concert in the afternoon with Reverie was a surprise. My first impression was "wow, Emo's singing in esperanto. This is going to be tragic." The lead singer even had the stereotypical hair over the right eye, and had the flick perfected. But surprisingly, they were actually quite good. One of few esperanto groups that could almost make it in "normal" society.
Night time was an Esperanto film "La universala lingvo" followed by the Movie "attack of the lunar zombies". Is this really the best esperanto can do?
At night, I decided to hand wash my clothes. At least they were smart enough to place e the sink in the shower. Took about 1.5 hours under the shower while washing my clothes.

Congress in morning, flight in the evening, Vienna at night, Bratislava early morning, no instructions on where to find the bus stop. When found, last bus 20 minutes ago. Hostel not too far, let's walk; bad idea.  found building, where is reception??? 2:30 am, can't figure out door lock, finally get it after 5 minutes. Oh no, a second locked door.  2 minutes later, door opens from the inside; "hey man, what are you doing?" "sorry, couldn't figure out the door lock." Good night..... what's left of it.

Photo is the well disguised toilet. I had to find a photo of the toilet on the internet to figure out what they looked like. Turns out, this one was only 40 metres away. I thought it was a round advertising billboard! I couldn't use it cause I didn't have the right coins.
2nd is a bat that was used as a key ring in the Bratislava hostel.