Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 23, 2010

More Vienna, Budapest and Bled

I’m having a little bit of a break this afternoon as I’m pretty exhausted from all the rushing around I’ve been doing, but I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to since my last email.

In the afternoon in Vienna, I managed to randomly come across the stables for the Spanish Riding School and had my second random middle aged man encounter for the day (the first was after the Belvedere when a Greek Restaurant owner tried to get me to eat at his restaurant and then yelled after the train ‘Australia, my heart!’) when an Italian guy who’d lived in Vienna started talking to me. Wasn’t much of a conversation with my dodgy Italian and his dodgy English so I managed to escape that fairly quickly! Then I had a walk and a massive icecream. I ended up walking along the river for a bit and seeing some amazing graffiti.

After that I met up with some other Intrepid tour people at the Wiener Prater (Vienna’s fun park/fair). It was fantastic, everything a tacky, creepy fair needs to be. There were carosels with real horses pulling carriages round, bizarre obstacle courses, weird plastic sculptures and an anamatronic gorilla which urinated on people as they walked past.

We went on the old Ferris wheel and then walked around the park as it was getting darker and creepier. I think because it was a Monday night at the start of the tourist season it was pretty quiet, which made it eerier. We went on a few more rides including a roller coaster which went backwards after it got to the end, one that went up and down really fast (we got an extra go at that one, but the operator laughed at us because we couldn’t understand his jokes in German!) and a Ghost Train (yep, the one with the Gorilla). It was actually creepier on the outside than the inside, but it did have a vampire vomiting a stream of blood and at the end a guy in a mask jumped out at us – and then had to pull the mask off and run back to man the ticket booth.  While on the up and down ride (I know, great description) there was another middle aged man looking at me, grinning and giving me thumbs up and up and down hand motion signals.  It took me a while to realise he was making these signs to me, but there was no one else except my friend on that side of the ride, and she didn’t notice. We kind of made ourselves scarce after that though!

The next day we caught a really nice train to Budapest. That afternoon we visited the Central Markets which had some lovely handmade stuff, and walked up to the top of Gellert Hill. Little bit steep but such a gorgeous view and a lovely sunset. Then it was a yummy dinner and back to the hotel. Make sure that you buy train tickets and validate them properly in Budapest as you can get checked several times on one journey, and as one guy in our group found out, even if you have unused tickets but accidentally revalidate a used one, the inspectors don’t let you off.

On Thursday I did a walking tour around Budapest with a couple of other people from our group. It ended up just being us, so pretty much a private tour.  We caught the oldest underground train line on the European Continent, which had really cute, small carriages and gorgeous wooden panelled platforms. We went to Hero’s Square where we were told about the statues, my favourite being the short, ugly king; saw all these replica historical Hungarian buildings which had been built for the world fair and some thermal baths. Then it was back on the train and more touring, seeing St Stephan’s Basilica, the Gresham Building, Acadamy of Science and we crossed Chain Bridge to the Castle. Again, a fantastic view!

Yesterday we had mainly travelling, catching a tram and three trains from Budapest to Bled in Slovenia. After a little walk around we had dinner in a fantastic restaurant. Apparently Paul McCartney really enjoyed it too for those of you who care.

Today we went canyoning outside Bled, so I sealed myself in a wetsuit and spent the morning jumping into streams of icy mountain water, sliding and rapelling down cliff faces and generally bashing myself around a bit. Any special attention I got from the instructor clearly wasn’t because I was the best student ever, but because I obviously needed the extra help! I think anyone as clumsy as me should be prepared to get some bruises! Allthough the moment when the instructor had to squeeze past everyone through a narrow crevice and his harness got caught on the back of mine was a little awkward and not due to my clumsiness. Luckily the wetsuits were pretty thick so I only shivered a little bit, but my hands did turn a strange pink colour with the cold. Once we’d finished I forgot to unzip the ankle zips on my wetsuit so it was a bit of a struggle trying to get it off. Ended up with one person pulling at the suit and another hanging onto me before I remembered the zips! It was lovely to get back to the guesthouse and have a hot shower!

This afternoon I’ve been pretty exhausted, so just catching up on emails and sitting down for a while!

Lindsay

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