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.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

30/7 Voyage to Nitra

I woke up to a beautifil Bratislava morning with a nice view of the River. Turns out, this is the longest river in Europe. Shame i need to leave so quickly.
I gave my bat keys back to the front desk, then browsed the internet while i still had wifi. after a short period of time, i needed the toilet. this is when i remembered that i am back in the old USSR teritory, as the morons stuck the toilet roll outside the cubicle again. I can only assume it is some dumb Russian idea of effeciency.
I walked outside, and this time, i caught the tram to get back to the bus stop. when i got on, i notised the lack of ticket buying boxes and conductors. i asked a bloke where i buy the tickets, and he pointed to a box on the side of a road. he said he would tell me if he saw any ticket inspectors.
I got off the tram and decided to walk the rest of the way, and see a bit of the city. I found a great hamburger place that sells hamburgers influenced from different countries. I got the French one. The English burger looked a little miserable. Someone really needs to teach the pom's how to make a hamburger.
I got on the bus for Nitra with my new esperanto hat. Within a few moments, someone sat next to me and said "saluton". Well, my hat works. This bloke is Robert, from England, but working as an English teacher in Germany. I am sure 80% of Esperantists are either in a technical field or some kind of linguist field.
We got to Nitra, and again, the location of the next bus stop was not known. Fortunately, another traveller knew where it was. This was fortunate, as I did not want to walk again.
The venue was a rather small university. Good bed, good toilet, toilet roll in the cubicle for the room toilets, (main toilets still had one roll outside), hot water for 24 hours a day, and a pub that sells cold beer! 1 euro for a pint, or whatever their measurement is.

Photos: my breakfast burger in Bratislava, the street in bratislava with the tram, just outside the burger place, an esperanto bottle opener for sale. Does the format of the label look familiar?

Monday, 1 August 2011

27/7 Vikings

Today was excursion day. I am heading off to the Viking ship museum. I am normally good at falling asleep in a bus, but the bloke on the microphone is talking me to sleep his voice just drones. On the map, the town looks far away, but it only took about an hour to get here.
It is good to finally see the ships that I was taught so much about at school. The long ship is surprisingly long! I was about to buy a drinking horn, but I can't afford the space in my bag, so I took a photo instead.
I could have stayed for longer, but the bus was leaving. Turns out, I was 20 minutes late, which did not impress the old fogies much; I had mis-understood the details discussed earlier.
The next stop was a church, which is where all the royal family are buried. Their casket's are amazing! There are also graves all over the floor of the church.
We then returned to Copenhagen mid-afternoon. I decided to walk around the city again. First I went to a supermarket for cheap eats. Here, I found the first true Australian beer in Europe. Unfortunately, it was VB. They could have chosen a better beer.
Next was a walk around the castle. As it was late, most things were closing. I got to see through the door of the chapel where the royals get christened, and walk all around the buildings.
Evening was another concert in the streets. It was interesting watching people stop to figure out what the language was.

Photos: part of the castle, the concert, the river next to the concert