A Travellerspoint blog

Hello Krakow

This is where JPII is from!

rain 80 °F
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Our train journey ended about a half hour late, but we finally arrived at Krakow at around 7 AM!! We easily found our way to our hostel, Zodiakus (which is a miracle for us, as many of you know).

Once we arrived we had planned to just explore the city on our own, but saw that the Auschwitz-Birkenau tour left at 11:30 so we decided to join in. After a quick shower and some free hostel breakfast, we headed off. Thankfully the bus picked us up from right outside the hostel and we didn't have to worry about getting to the train or getting off on the right stop.

The ride was pretty boring. Sam slept pretty much the whole way and I read the latest book Sam had picked up from a hostel: "Lead a Horse to Murder." The book sounds ridiculous and the premise about a veterinarian who solves mysteries sounds dumb, but it's actually pretty good!

Once we arrived at Auschwitz we had to wait for a little while for the English tour to begin. I have to say, the tours are very well organized and they even provide you with headphones so you can hear the tour guide.

Auschwitz was a great experience. It's one of those places that I think everyone should go to, no matter how hard or emotional it may be. It's hard to describe what it's like and even the few pictures I took don't do it justice.

Our tour guide was great. She explained things clearly and allowed plenty of time to digest all the information and sights. Most of the tour is outside. The actual size of the camp is huge and you can walk among the buildings. You also go inside some of the buildings where prisoners slept or were tortured.

Some of the buildings have pictures or actual objects that were found at the site when the liberators came. Some things I will always remember are the rooms full of human hair, shoes, clothes, prosthetics, etc. It was hard to take at times, but I'm very glad we went. After Auschwitz, you climb into the bus for a short ride to Birkenau. This camp is much bigger, but there is not as much to see there. Even so, just the size of it and being in that setting gives you a sense of what it may have been like.

The bus ride back was pretty much the same. We both slept a bit. We saw German people eating a raw pepper like the Chairman in Iron Chef! It was strange.

Back at the hostel, we met some cool people. We met a very nice Scottish girl, Melanie, who became a good friend. We met a strange guy from Utah, Tim, who seemed to disappear and then reappear all the time. We met some great Irish guys and 2 ghetto English girls. After talking for a bit, we all headed out to a nice pub. It was decorated with lots of lights and gummy bear lamps. Some of the people headed out to a club later, but we were too tired from the night train and headed back to the hostel.

Posted by wetabixkid 12:55 Archived in Poland Comments (1)

Goodbye Eger, Goodbye delicious Hungarian food!

sunny 95 °F

Hey everyone, it's Sam! Trying to catch up still

On our last day on Eger we got up pretty late and checked out of our great guesthouse. It's back to the dorms for us. Then we decided to head to the train station to ensure we had tickets for later on since we were going outside of the country on to Krakow.

We walked there because everything is pretty close here and without backpacks it's an easy walk. Buying the ticket to Krakow in this small town was not so easy. First we had to wait around an hour and a half even though there were only two people in front of us. When we finally approached the window we found out why. There were not computers there! The lady had to look up train times in these huge books and then actually hand write tickets on a special paper with carbon copies and everything. Despite all of this we managed to get our tickets and the lady assured us we had a sleeping car with only two beds since the train ride is pretty long and at night.

Although we had spent way more time than we had planned at the station we still decided we should go to more baths lol! They also had baths here in Eger since it seems to be a very popular Hungarian activity in the summer.
The baths here were mostly outdoor with many pools of different temperatures and different mineral water consistencies. There were also thermal pools and one that said it had radioactive minerals in it. We went into it and it seemed ok. I think it was just a bad translation.

Eger is a beautiful little town filled with families vacationing and such. We enjoyed our time immensely but it was time to go. We headed back to the guesthouse to pick up our backpacks and headed to the train station. Our train took us back to Budapest to make the connection to Krakow.

Once in Budapest we found the train to Krakow pretty fast. Unfortunately it was still stifling hot and we quickly found out we were not in a 2 person sleeping compartment but in a 6 bed one! It was so hot nobody wanted to be in the compartment and just stuck our heads out the window waiting for the train to leave. I thought Brenda was gonna faint because she wasn't speaking or moving. One good thing was that our compartment was not full and just a lady from New Orleans and her nephew were our companions. Once the train started up more air circulated and it was bearable. I managed to fall asleep fairly quickly but woke up at around 4 a.m. because the lady was snoring super loud! I kinda slept a little more but not too well and we arrived at Krakow at around 7 a.m.

Impressions on Hungary

Very nice modern cities with helpful people
Very tasty food
Baths!!!
Paprika is put on every kind of food even Chinese food. They love paprika here
They call 24 hour stores non-stop , just like that in English
Hungarian sounds super strange, almost like an Asian language

On to Poland!

Posted by stanncie 09:25 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Egg-er -- small but charming

sunny 85 °F

On our first full day here we decided to do the major sites. We started with a huge basilica which was very beautiful and the second largest in the whole country. We have pics of all the things we are describing and they will be posted later. We then went to the Lyceum, which is a university but has an astronomical museum attached to it. The museum was pretty interesting, but one thing we soon learned about Eger is that it caters to mostly Hungarian tourists. So all the explanations for everything were in Hungarian and very few people spoke English. I (Brenda) was able to communicate a little using German, but it was all very confusing.

The astronomical museum was pretty interesting from what we could tell, but we couldn't really understand everything. They did have something called a camera obscura, which was cool. It was a device that could be used to spy on the whole town. From what I could understand, this works using a mirror of some sort. The lady that explained it to us gave the whole tour in Hungarian. We thought she might explain something in English to us, since she was aware that we spoke English and didn't understand a word she was saying. Heck, she could have even said, "Sorry, don't speak English," and gone about her tour, but she made it seem like she would at least try to help us understand a little bit. She didn't. But that was ok.

After that we went to the main square, Dobo square. There we went inside a beautiful church and saw the Minaret, which is the northenmost one still left.

After lunch we headed over to Eger Fortress, where they were having a Medieval festival. It was nice to see people dressed up and look around all the little stands. We also went to the prison museum, which was essentially a dungeon with torture devices. We also saw a museum devoted to the history of Eger, and an art gallery. Finally, we attached ourselves to Hungarian tour group to go into the underground passages, because you're not allowed to go there on your own. We couldn't understand anything, but at least we were able to see.

It was a very busy day, but we enjoyed ourselves!

Posted by stanncie 09:15 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

More Baths and Goodbye Budapest

It's still pretty freakin' hot

sunny 29 °F

Sorry for the delay in posts but we've just been too lazy to sit down and write the blog. We are now in Krakow but I will tell you a bit our last day in Budapest and later our trip to Eger.

On our last day in Budapest we decided to go back to the Baths! lol It's still very hot here and we had already seen plenty of other sites. We headed over to Buda side to the Gellert Hotel where they have a bit pricier baths but still relatively cheap if you compare it to anything in Miami.

Our helpful hostel owner suggested we walk over there since it's only like a half hour walk so that's nothing here. On the way there we visited the central market. It's a huge indoor market where they sell anything from vegetables, fruits, souvenirs and food. We weren't hungry so just decided to hit it on the way back to the hostel.

The Gellert baths are definitely more luxurious but not necessarily better than the others we had been to before. They were bigger and of course super relaxing. We again had a good time there. We stopped at the central market and ate a nice Hungarian meal there. I had some sort of sausage thing and Brenda had a stew. We also had a chocolate crepe. Crepes and pancakes are very big here.

After all that we walked back to the hostel to pick up our big backpacks. We said bye to everyone and headed off to the train station in the tram. The weather is still very hot and we are sweating bullets. The hostel owner arranged a guesthouse for us in the small town of Eger north of Budapest cuz we wanted to visit there to relax a bit. When we arrived at the train station it was a bit confusing for us to find the right track since it wasn't marked as Eger but as another town where we had to make the connection. Thankfully a helpful worker told us.

We were on the train for about 2 hours and then exchanged and this small town to an even smaller train that went to Eger. It only had 2 wagons!
When we got to Eger only 30 minutes later we saw one lone taxi waiting there and another passanger took it. Luckily he saw us there and said he would be back to pick us up in 5 minutes. He indeed came back very quickly and we arrived at the guesthouse in less than 5 minutes. He only charged us 1000 HUF which is nothing really. Hungarian money is very confusing because the denominations are huge!! 1000 HUF is like 5 dollars. The guesthouse was lovely and we were glad to have a room to ourselves for a change.

The guesthouse owner didn't speak any English but we managed to communicate we were hungry and she directed us to the center of town which was super close. We walked there and found a pizzeria that was open. Most of the other restaurants had no food anywhere just drinks. This being a small town everything closes early. We had a yummy Hawaiian pizza and headed home to get a good night's sleep.

Posted by stanncie 09:00 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Szentendre: try saying that 3 times

sunny 88 °F
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Today we got away from the city and took a day trip to Szentendre, a super cute little town about 45 minutes north of Budapest. Getting there was super easy and we had no trouble finding it at all.

The town was very cute and full of little souvenier shops. We did some shopping and enjoyed walking around tiny, winding, hilly streets. We walked into a shop and this shopkeeper was very nice and informative and feisty. She explained everything to us. She had really amazing stuff in her shop that she makes herself. Most of her little knick-knacks are made from natural materials like corn husks, poppies, pistacchios, etc. She was very nice and we ended up buying a couple of things from her.

She also gave us a great idea to go to a Miniature Museum. The exhibit was pretty impressive. The artist does things like putting a chessboard on a pin, a caravan of camels on the eye of a needle, etc. In order to be able to see everything, you had to look through a microscope.

We also had a very nice lunch in town and ice cream! It was a very relaxing day. We got back to the hostel pretty early and watched another movie. It was good to have a chill day away from the city.

Tomorrow we might see a few more sights here in Budapest before taking the train north to Eger, a small town about 2.5 hours away.

Till then!

Posted by wetabixkid 13:46 Archived in Hungary Comments (1)

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