Our time in Budapest was a nice and relaxing one, we took it easy. We took the opportunity to catch up with our emailing and research for our next destination.
We did manage to do a few tourist things. We found out from our Couchsurfer host, Dinah, that there will be a performance of the opera "Carmen" on the upcoming Sunday and that tickets are very cheap. This would give us the opportunity to see a classic for a very low price. We took her advice and we purchased the tickets. Although, the subtitles were in Hungarian (of course) we came prepared by reading the Opera's background on Wikipedia before hand to be able to follow the story.
The Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) is very impressive. It was built in neo-Renaissance style and we got excellent seats too!
Another things that we accomplished while in Budapest, and we both recommend it for any tourist, is to go visit the House of Terror. This place is actually a interrogation-torture-house turned museum where the the fascist and later communist government of Hungary used to bring the opposition. The museum has lots of English information to read in the different rooms and it has in the basement some of the most creepy holding and torture chambers I have ever seen. It was bone-chilling experience...
Since the very first day we arrived in Budapest, Rebecca went on and on about something she ate last time she was here and she said that she needs to have it before we left. Finally, on the last day we found a place that had her favourite Hungarian dish, Goose Liver. She was happy and satisfied and I was happy and relieved.
Crisis! Our iPod touch crashed! It just doesn't work. We lost all our music, our documents...everything. This is no laughing matter. The iPod is our life line...we use it for everything! We use it to steal WiFi, Skyping to talk with our families and entertainment for those long journeys. Somehow I feel lost without it. Sniffle, sniffle...
Okay, enough whining and back to our travels. Next destination: Dubrovnik. Guys, there is a reason this town is so popular, it is simply beautiful here! The downside side is that there are way too many tourists and it is quite expensive.
The second we got off the bus, we were flocked by people trying to rent their apartments out. It was like a pack of wolves fighting over fresh meat. They yell and push so we decided to go with the nicest lady who approached us quietly (she also offered a great price).
We spent our days walking around the old town. We particularly liked the city wall tour. There was also an interesting memorial for the Defenders of Dubrovnik in the Homeland war of 1991. It is very hard to imagine that Dubrovnik was at war that recently. The town was bombed extensively, but walking around, you would never know it.
We then began our long journey back from Dubrovnik to Budapest. This included an eleven hour night bus to Zagreb which brought us in at 5am. The six hour train ride to Budapest didn't leave until 10am so we spent five hours sitting on park benches. Fun times...
We are now back in Budapest, taking it slowly. Our couchsufer, Dinah has an amazing apartment in the center of town. It is walking distance to everything! We are trying to see and do the things we missed out on the first time here.
Budapest was our next planned stop. I would put this city up there with Prague for most beautiful cities.
Budapest has a lot of charm with all the palaces, churches, statues and the great views of the Danube river.
Our stay in Budapest consisted in visiting the Dohany synagogue. This place is the biggest synagogue in Europe and the second in the world. It actually looks like a church. The guide told us that the architects were not Jewish so thet based the design on a church. They even play an organ on Shabbat but a non-Jew plays it (the Shabbath goy).
We also visited the Cathedral of St. Stephen. We were lucky to step into the cathedral on the day they were practicing the organ for an upcoming concert. The organ player was incredible and the accoustics in the place was great. The sounds of the organ was hair-raising!
We were lucky to be offered a new GPS audio guide system for free. Well, it was not entirely free. They were testing it and wanted some feedback. They gave it to us for 24hrs and if we came back with a smile on our faces then they would charge us 10 euros. Everything was good except that the told us that the device's batteries will last for about 8 hrs but it only lasted for about 3hrs. So at the end we got it for free. At least it gave us some important information about the castle and some other general information.
We followed Rebecca's advice and went to the Budavari Laborintus. This is a labyrinth under the castle. This was quite cheesy and not worth the money we paid. Oh well. There is one part of the labyrinth called the Chamber of Courage. The room was pitch black and you had to follow a rope attached to the wall. We wanted to go in but were too scared. In the end, we cheated and used our iPod touch as a flashlight...
We were given the advice to visit the town of Pecs in the south of Hungary. We were lucky to find Jim Bean, our couchsurfer friend, to host us. He lives with 3 other German medical students. They were all very friendly and welcoming.
Pecs is a small but quite nice town. We did a bit of walking but we mainly hung out at the house. The house had a very big cheery tree so Rebecca made 2 cherry pies for the big and hungry boys. They were all in their exam period so they were a bit stressed out. Hopefully the sugar helped!
We did a day trip to the village of Villany. There we found lots of different wineries. So after doing a little bit of tasting we went back to Pecs and crashed.
We are now on the train to Zagreb, Croatia.
Tomorrow, will be 5 months on the road. Seven to more to go!