This day wasn't really a super early start, so I was happy to sleep in a little. For breakfast I took some bread, cheese, eggs and tomatoes, along with some fruit. It was pretty good.
Shortly after breakfast we boarded the bus to head over the border into Slovakia to check out its capital city, Bratislava.
Bratislava and Budapest, straight ahead!
I seriously tried my hardest to get a picture as we crossed the border, but this was the result. Oops!
Alright, getting there soon.
Looks like a UFO, right? Just a bridge.
Here is a better picture of the bridge, once we were on the other side of the bridge and off the bus.
Here are my pictures from around the city of Bratislava. I just took pictures around the old city area, and didn't have time to hike up the hill to the castle.
I did, however, take a picture of the castle up on the hill.
This town has quite a few interesting statues around.
Many cute little restaurants.
It's a statue!
I was surprised to see they had a bagel shop in Bratislava.
This must be their traditional wear. It was hanging up outside a little shop.
It's a very poor city, as this is a very poor country, but it is really cute and quaint. I think it would make a nice town to stop over for one night, but I am not sure there is much to see for longer than that. It is a perfect stop between Vienna and Budapest. It wasn't much more than an hour from Vienna, and then only like 3 hours more on to Budapest. Don't be too freaked out, but this is the city that was the setting for the horror movie Hostel (although I am almost certain it was filmed somewhere else). No worries, you should be fine staying overnight in this town.
Since it was Sunday they were having a flea market.
This is one of their well known statues here. It's known as paparazzi, and of course the restaurant here has the same name.
Then we checked out a chocolate shop. Too bad we were headed to lunch and since I didn't want anything to melt, I passed on buying some.
Since I passed on the candy, I did say yes to lunch. We thought a traditional looking restaurant would be the best option to see what Slovakian food was like.
I ordered the cheese plate just out of curiosity. There was some gouda and something similar to feta, but the others I am not sure about.
Yum! I am always happy with cheese.
Lunch was grilled trout. I had actually ordered the fish with garlic and fries, but somehow ended up with fish with butter and rice. We were short on time, so this was what I stuck with.
Then we did a little more walking around as we headed back to the bus.
Here we are crossing the border into Hungary.
After a few hours of driving we arrived in the Hungarian capital city, Budapest.
The tour group was booked at the Mercure Budapest Duna. This was actually nice because, despite smaller rooms than the last place, we had a small balcony and it overlooked the Danube (with a slightly obstructed view).
My small group of ladies wasted no time. We dropped our bags off in our rooms, and then took to the streets.
Crazy looking subway stations. I have no idea how to speak, read or understand Hungarian.
I was a little surprised to find this:
I am so glad we were able to find the Terror Museum. This shows the history of what happened in this building, which was the home of the secret police under Russian occupied Hungary (the Russians liberated Hungary from the Nazis, but then stayed there). They collected up political opposers and tortured them here.
This is right inside the museum, but after this point there were no photos allowed.
It was a really good museum, and very intense. I wound up having nightmares. Unrelated to this story, but I still had some very scary dreams that night. The end of the museum tour is in the basement where they show you the cells where prisoners were kept, but keep in mind these were prisoners that didn't do anything wrong. This is why they are all listed as victims.
We only had an hour for the museum before they closed, so after our speedy trip through, we boarded the subway and attempted to find our way to shopping and food.
I was very surprised, and exceptionally happy, to have accidentally stumbled upon the Hard Rock in Budapest. Many of you know that I collect shirts (I have since I was 16), and Budapest only recently opened, so I am glad that it found me and I didn't have to go searching for it.
I took a picture of this because Estee Lauder is from Hungary.
We ended up not picking anything traditional for dinner, and decided to get something more familiar. We went with Cucina, an Italian Restaurant, which is located on Vaci Utca, the main shopping street.
I was starving by the time I sat down, so I was glad to see bread delivered to the table.
Aino (I think this is how she spells it, but it is pronounced like "I know") ordered the lasagna. She is from Finland and taking a year off from her studies to be an au pair (nanny) for a family in Germany. So actually, English is her third language, which just amazes me that she is fluent in 2 languages, and nearly a third one (with English) and she is only 19. She was happy to eat some Italian because in Germany she has been eating a lot of traditional German food, like lots of meats.
I ordered the salmon ravioli. It was a tough choice since I wanted spaghetti or a pizza, but I went with this, and it was really good.
Keri ordered a pizza. I think it was my fault she wanted pizza. I kept seeing pizza shops and mentioned every time that I really wanted pizza. I can't remember the last time I had real pizza (not frozen and not Pizza Hut).
Here we are about to enjoy our meal.
The amount on the bill just looked so funny, so I took a picture. There are 242.55 forints in a US dollar, so this is about $50 for the 3 of us. I know I use yen and it is big numbers too, but this is much more.
After dinner we continued on walking down the street towards the hotel.
Gotta love how easy the taxis make it to remember their numbers. Actually, I found this one extra funny because I lived in Vegas for a few years.
Then we kept on walking. I thought I took a picture with the ice cream, but I don't know what happened to it.
Here I am with Keri, and the market is just behind us.
You can see the Great Market Hall in the background to the left, but we didn't go in it right then.
See this is the market, and it looks really beautiful.
More cool looking buildings.
Here I am with the market behind me.
Then we discovered a truly amazing sunset over the Danube River.
Keri and Aino, along with me as the sun sets behind us.
The final end of our leisurely stroll (as Aino so accurately pointed out to us what we were doing- yes, I think she is adorable, and love helping her with her English phrases, and this is one she had down perfectly) passed through narrow roads lined with restaurants.
The last sight we spotted for the evening before it was too dark and we were back to the hotel was this nicely lit church.
What a beautiful city! I am loving it already.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to Slovakia? Have you ever been to Budapest? How many languages do you speak?