Friday, February 26, 2010


A little late. But better late than never right?? We went to Budapest for the last couple days of my winter break in January.

A billboard of Jeff Cammon as soon as we got off the plane?? We landed in Budapest in the early evening on Tuesday night. We headed straight for the tourist office and bought the Budapest card which I would highly recommend. We got it for 72 hours and it included all public transportation and a few discounts in the city. It was very nice not to have to try and figure out how to buy a ticket every time we wanted to go somewhere. We stayed at Hotel Astoria which was on the "Pest" side of the city. It was very centrally located right on a metro line and walking distance to most things we wanted to see. Thanks Mandy and Nathan for the recomendation!
We made it just in time for dinner at a hungarian restaurant. Our hotel recomended it to us so it was a very nice place! We hadn't had red meat in a while (since in Switzerland its the price of a small vacation to get a steak!) so we were happy! It was veal for me and ....
venison for Zann.

The Herrend store.
How convienent. Our chinia is made in Hungary and there were Herrend stores everywhere.
We didn't buy any THIS time because I was worried the china in the second hand stores was fake. So Zann promised we could go back to get a souviner.
View up onto Hero's Square. We didn't make it up to the top of the hill because...did I mention it was pourning snow the whole time we were there?? So climbing up the mountain wasn't what we felt like doing. Again we have promised to go back because we really loved the city!

Wednesday morning we were off the the FREE Budapest Walking Tour but of course we had to stop for breakfast right? At Burger King. 1,299 for a cheeseburger?? What?? Well the hungarian curreny is the Forint. 1 USD is worth 200 Forint. Getting a bill for dinner for 15,000 Forints was a little scary to see that number but actually not that bad!
So finally at the walking tour. Zann found out about this tour on Trip Advisor. It was fabulous!! Our guide Agnes grew up in Budapest and was fantastic! The tour was about 4 hour and we hit alot of hot spots and got many tips from her. The tour would be a definate must in Budapest. It is free you just have to give a tip at the end.

First stop on the tour, St. Stephen's Basilica. Very beautiful! The walls are painted with 23 k gold. The pictures did not turn out too well but this is the best we got.

Front of the chirch in the blizzard. The tour was so great we didn't even realize we were cold and my not water proof uggs had puddles inside.

On the Chain Bridge walking to the Buda side.

Over looking the rive to the Pest side and Parliment.

So we walk by a large horse statue on the tour and our guide starts talking about it then says that if you want to have good luck for 7 years then you need to grab the gold part of the horse with both hands. Well, where is the gold part??? She was very pushy that we HAD to do this. I figured Zann could get the luck for both of us!
Opera House. We walked about 20 minutes on day 2 from our hotel to the Opera house. It was beautiful inside. They offer tours at 3 and 4 oclock in English.

Just so we wouldn't bring in our drit. Lucky for me I found more plastic bags to wear over my socks to keep my feet dry!!

Night 2 out for the BEST dinner at a Greek restaurant. I love going out to eat and like pretty much any restaurant but this was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. We had great appetizers followed by the best fish and dessert.

Hungary is know for their "termal baths" so we had to try one right? We went to the Szechenyi
which is the largest in Budapest. It was definately an experience. You just get a key to a small changing room in a coed bath room. It was very relaxing. They have in door hot tubs and huge out door hot pools you can play chess in.

Next onto Zann's favorite place in budapest. This was a bar our tour guide told us about. I was totally scared to go inside because you could walk by and have no idea there was a bar/maybe a hostel inside. Literally a hole in the wall. But it turned out to be a really neat atmosphere and very neat looking inside.

Roaming the street at night.

Next stop the Buda Castle Labyrinth Caves (One of the 7 underground wonders of the world). We went to the 6:00 candle light tour. You can't tell because of the camera flash but it was pitch black inside.
There was even a fountain of red wine. If only it was drinkable :)

I was taking pictures to see where I was going.

The massive indoor market. I was really excited about this thinking I couldn maybe find some china. But was dissapointed taht it was mostly cheap dollar store trinkets and meat.
A fablous short little trip! Now I want to go back in the summer to see the sights we missed. If you are going to visit Budapest check out Mandy and Nathans blog more information. I had saved all our of travel guides to write a information part on the blog but since I took so long to write it I have forgotten.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ready, Set Freeze!!!

In Switzerland, December 6 is known as "Samichlaus" day. This is the German translation of St. Nicholas day. Samichlaus comes to visit little children with his list of sins the children has done and has them recite a poem for forgiveness. If they say the poem Samichlaus will give them oranges, nuts, and gingerbread.
The tradition in Zurich to celebrate this day is the "Samichlausschwimmen" where crazy fools like Zann swim across the lake for 111 meters for fun. Not my idea of fun to swim in water that is 7 degrees celcius and the air was about 4 degrees celcius.
Ready to swim.

All the crazy fools waiting in line to jump into ice cold water.

No worries becuase there were scuba divers to find anyone that ended up on the bottom of the lake.
Zann, Nathan, and Nathan's friends from work. Atleast they give you a festive hat.

This was my view from the finish line. Just looking at this picture makes me cold. And the water in the lake is coming straight from the mountians. BRRRR

Some people got a little excited.

And they're off!

You're almost there!

Nathan looks like he wants to die.

And he made it. Now for some soup and gluhwein!

We made it back!!

Pack lightly is something I never seem to do. My dad always had such a systematic was of packing the van when going on a road trip but Susie and I always came last minute with our shoe suitcase or our sleeping bags and pillows. Well I haven't learned too much since then....
3 checked bags and 150 lbs of boxes later, I ended up hear....

Yup! Thats a first class ticket!

I enjoyed my 5 course mean and personal cabin. But landing the next morning and feeling well rested is not what happens. They never let your wine glass go less than half full so I woke up with a splitting head ache.
AHHH....the life of luxary!