Walking in the rain

Waking in up in our room in the Palazzo Zichy we still heard the rain. So apparently it hadn’t stopped during the night but was keeping a tight hold on the city. At least the view from the window showed a lighter sky than in Dublin.IMG_8758IMG_8757
Therefore breakfast turned into a lazy affair since we decided to forget about the free walking tour in Budapest. After my experience in Dublin in the rain I was not in the mood to repeat it right away. We settled on making a bus tour with the Hop on Hop off bus and enjoy breakfast a bit longer.IMG_8755 One glance up and we knew there was no chance for the rain to let up.IMG_8756

We bought our bus ticket at the reception and then asked which way to go (we are fast learners after all!). The bus station was just a couple of blocks away and we walked through another Christmas market to get there.IMG_8760IMG_8763IMG_8764IMG_8765

Not Yeti but a priest I think. At least it seemed so because he had some religious books in front of him and an instrument. So maybe he was not a priest after all. Thinking about it now…the instrument, a fagot maybe? Whatever would he need that for?

The metro station we passed looked as if a space ship landed on top.IMG_8766

Earlier on we decided to take the red bus which should bring us up to the castle, but since the yellow one arrived first we needed to change again at Deák tér (former bus station for all buses from Vienna).IMG_8769

After a short 20 minute wait the red bus finally arrived. And here are the best pictures from this bus tour (sorry, the window was dirty and wet).IMG_8775IMG_8783IMG_8784IMG_8787IMG_8796IMG_8804IMG_8802IMG_8800IMG_8799IMG_8798IMG_8806IMG_8807IMG_8808IMG_8810IMG_8812

This is Budapest in the rain, still impressive and with beautiful buildings but also not very inviting. Nonetheless we left the bus at the Buda Castle one of the few things we wanted to see up close despite the rain. We took a leisurely stroll underneath our umbrellas around the castle area and trying to enjoy ourselves.IMG_8815IMG_8819IMG_8820IMG_8825IMG_8826

A group picture at Fisherman’s Bastion rain defying without the umbrella and more pictures from above.IMG_8831IMG_8842IMG_8837IMG_8834IMG_8832

By then we had enough of the castle and were ready to turn around again and get down the hill. The funicular was our preferred mode of transportation, in the end we walked because it made for nicer pictures and we wanted to get some appetite.IMG_8848IMG_9062IMG_9052
It does look spectacular, don’t you find?
Yours, Pollybert

A rainy morning in Dublin

Since we never left the hotel the first evening we decided to get an early start the next day. But when I woke up I still felt as if it was night. This view out of my window explains it all.IMG_8277















And it didn’t get better during the day. It was actually amazing to see that the sky stayed all day in different shades of grey.
We left our hotel around 8:30 AM and walked in the direction of Temple Bar. On the way I noticed these prominent wifi signs announcing to the world that Dublin surely must be the wifi capital.


















In search of something to eat we took our first steps in the city. We ended up having breakfast at Bewley’s Oriental Cafe. Inside it looked like a grand old place and the right spot to eat real Irish food. All of us therefore ordered a traditional Irish breakfast.IMG_8280IMG_8282IMG_8284IMG_8281













































The breakfast turned out to be not as great as expected, it also didn’t look so good (although not at that moment, but looking back now with experience). Over the next couple of days we had way better fares. Also the Bewley’s Oriental Cafe seemed to be quite a touristic place, most of the other customers looked like tourists and everybody was ordering the traditional breakfast.

Upon leaving we walked along Grafton Street looking at shops and their waresIMG_8286IMG_8287 and then finally made our way back to the City Hall to begin the Free Walking Tour.IMG_8278
We met Brian our tour guide, a very passionate Dubliner and understandably proud of his city.
















This picture is actually from the end of the tour at Trinity College, but he was still smiling then which I found very endearing.
The tour itself started at Dublin Castle and slowly we made our way through the historic part of the city.IMG_8291-0IMG_8293-0IMG_8295-0IMG_8299

St. Patrick’s CathedralIMG_8304

Christ Church Cathedral which has a mummified cat and rat aka “Tom and Jerry” in its catacombs.IMG_8314

The “Temple Bar” in the Temple Bar district.IMG_8317


Street Art

Dublin at 1:30pm.IMG_8330

Trinity CollegeIMG_8332IMG_8333IMG_8336

I don’t know if this really gets transported but the weather was miserable on this first day! I felt like a drowned cat at the end of the tour and it was not the fault of Brian the guide! He really did his best to keep upbeat and not let the weather dampen his spirits. But by then my feet were more than damp and my spirits needed a little pick me up. Which they got at our next stop. But more from this later.
Yours, Pollybert

Free walking in Bratislava

After a whirlwind weekend with Ray we had another day together. I had Monday off and had already decided beforehand to take him to Bratislava. Bratislava has two factors speaking in its favor: it is in another country and it’s only 50 minutes away. Perfect for a one day trip.

We met in the morning at the Twin City Liner station to get the tickets for the 9 o’clock boat. Ha, we were in for a surprise because all other tourists in Vienna had apparently planned the same. Nonetheless we got tickets for the return boat at 4pm and made our way hastily to the main railway station. Within 20 min we were on the way to Bratislava.

The evening before we had agreed (ok, I suggested and Ray agreed) to partake in the free walking tour and then visit the castle. The only time I was there before, I didn’t get to see it and now it was one of my reasons for going again.

We took a bus (X13) from the train station to the old centre. I thought it would be a piece of cake getting there, but in the end it was harder than expected. I read online that we would have to take the tram no.13, but no tram was in sight near the train station. Actually no rails as well.

So, no problem we will take a bus. Far away from no problem, we already struggled with buying a bus ticket. There were machines all over, we lined up for one. The people in front of us bought tickets. When it’s our turn, we put in a coin. It came back out. We played this 10 times. Then a homeless guy came selling newspapers, indicating a fast flashing green light. We had no idea what he meant and just kept trying. Finally someone took pity on us and told us that the fast flashing light means that there is no change available. Makes sense, we wanted two tickets for 0,70 and only had a 2 euro coin.

In the end we managed to get the tickets and get on the right bus. After 2 stations all tourists got off, we of course knew better and stayed on. Not the best choice, we had to walk back. Also the tour was starting at 11am and we only had a 30 minutes window to begin with. We were so late already. Power-walking was on the menu, always guided by Ray’s GPS. Thank God for jobs where your phone is part of the salary package! Anyway, long story short! We made it just in time. What a lovely view when I finally saw this sign!710
Within minutes we started the tour and finished two hours later somewhere near the Danube. The tour really gave us a pretty good overview on what to see later close up and also of the layout of the city. Here are my highlights.715716717724730732
I love the idea of free books with seating right next to it. Doesn’t that look inviting? Maybe that was the reason I wanted to browse for bit. Though I ceased after a quick look around since all books were of course in Slovakian.

Just across from the books were a couple of restaurants with terraces. We settled on one and went for lunch. I have to apologize at this point for my prejudice to Slovakian cuisine. It turned out to be way more tasty than what I experienced in Cesky Krumlov and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Of course these are two different nations, so I could have expected different food. But…mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Always try something first and judge then. So once we sat and shared a meal there was no way we would get up again and walk to the castle. I feared and hoped that because it gives me a reason to come again. I still have to see the castle. Still a shame though that we didn’t put the overview from the tour to good use!

We made it on to the boat just in time before the great downpour (Great downpour you ask? True, there is now one almost every day). 90 minutes later we were in Vienna again. Amazing how fast the day went by. Ray had a business call to attend to so we decided to meet for dinner again. Why do I get the feeling when writing about it that the only thing we did that day was eating? Not true at all but Ray still had to try the apricot dumpling which I had promised him the day before. On Julia’s recommendation we made our way to Mill for the best dumplings in town. Sorry to say that I cannot agree with that. The place is super nice and stylish, has a cute garden and a lovely decor. I just didn’t like their food. It’s average at best and with some dishes it even falls below. Maybe it was just me, expecting so much more due to the recommendation, but I was sorely disappointed. I have pictures from every course but even they look unappealing. So I am not going to put them up here. Except for the dumpling which looked great but tasted bland. Excellent priced wines were available though! On second thought, just looking at the garden makes me want to give them another chance.
Yours, Pollybert

Walking through Cesky Krumlov

Saturday it was cold and windy. When I looked out of the window I saw grey skies and lots of terraced houses.

The plan was to enjoy a lazy breakfast and then make our way into the center to join the Free Walking Tour. The meeting point was right at the main square.




Our guide’s name was Ondrej and he did an excellent job. We walked through the village and the castle while he told us little tidbits about its history and showed us his favorite places.



While walking the weather turned sunny and finally hot, which did wonders for the pictures.




20140709-235328-86008877.jpg We were back on the way to the castle, this time we went all the way up to the gardens. Not without stopping at the last bridge again to enjoy the view in the village.










20140710-000836-516070.jpg Meanwhile we were hot and sweaty and ready to take a break. We had about an hour to kill before our first guided tour of the castle. So we walked to the nearest beer garden within the castle complex and had a small lunch. Mini pancakes which were delicious and a trout that tasted like a carp. After this description I gladly declined to taste it.


Sylvia and I had decided to buy tickets for two of the four available tours. I probably won’t be coming back here, so it us better to see as much as possible (a lesson learned, Cat!).








20140710-135130-49890262.jpg We went altogether for coffee after the first tour, Sylvia needed some cake to invigorate herself for the second tour where we saw this long indoor gallery. On the picture above you can see that the castle actually had three galleries which connected the different buildings and the one on top was going directly to the gardens. Maximum decadence!

After the castle tours we had one more museum to visit, the Schiele museum. Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter whose mother was born in Krumlov. He liked the village and lived here for a while. Hence the museum. He painted a couple of pictures here as well from the village, but these were not exhibited here.







After the museum we really needed a break and sat down near the river, reveling in all the impressions we enjoyed that day.





Leaving the scenic place behind us we walked again to the dingy hostel to watch some football, this time the second half of Argentina vs Belgium. Our patience was rewarded with a goal in the extra time. For the wrong team again, I bet on Belgium. At least I didn’t get my heart broken this time, it didn’t feel as bad as the loss of Columbia or Mexico before.

For dinner we went to a real Czech place, no hint of any Italian influence. Which turned out not to be such a great choice. The food was heavy and tasteless, and all in all a waste of good calories. At least the beer was good.





































It was worse than it looked except maybe for Sylvia’s potato pancake. But I have never heard her complain about any food, she is definitely not a foodie.

We started to watch the last quarter final Netherlands vs Costa Rica in a bar, but left after the first half due to the mute transmission. 80’s music doesn’t make up for lack of tv reporting. I have noticed that football without all the background noise of the fans actually turns into a snooze fest.
We agreed on watching the game in the B&B, all four of us in one double bed with Evi and I actually watching and Sylvia and Karin slumbering next to this exciting game with a Czech pass by pass description. Only when the penalty shoot-out started could we wake them, with no joy from Sylvia’s side though. She would have preferred to be long asleep in her own bed. I think though I contributed enormously to her general education and maybe in later years she will thank me for it.
Yours, Pollybert