Well I’m way behind on posting now, my excuse is that schools keeping me pretty busy, so not a lot of time to edit photos and I like to get that done before I write about them but anyway I’m getting caught up so I should have several posts here soon. To start with I’m going back before the ICS to my first stop in Europe- Budapest.
Arriving in Budapest I was surprised to find out how warm the weather was. Still it was cooler then the 110 degree weather I left behind in Bakersfield so I wouldn’t let that stop me from seeing the sights. I had booked a room on the Botel Fortunal. That’s not a typo, the hotel Fortuna is a boat moored on the Pest side of the river near the south end of Margarit Island. Check in time wasn’t till 2 and I arrived before noon but they put my bags in their luggage room and I headed out to find an atm and some lunch.
It was only a couple blocks walk to the main road that crosses the Margarit bridge and it was here I found an atm and plenty of places to grab something to eat. After lunch I took a walk along the river to the Parliament building which was undergoing construction to add underground parking before returning to the boat to find my room and take a shower, I was pleased to find that even though I had booked through hostel international at a cheap rate I had a room to my self and breakfast was included. I spent the next few days seeing the sights of Budapest including taking a river cruise along the Danube, riding one of the many “hop on hop off'” tour buses up to the castle district where I wandered around the old buildings taking pictures, watched the palace guards change and rode the funicular train. I had so much fun hoping on and off I almost lost my hat and water bottle but got lucky as I realized my error before the bus pulled away.The view from the Budapest terrace cafe by the palace was amazing. Traveling along the Buda side of the city I was aware of all the wonderful karst, the exposed limestone along the river was where the monks had built a church and was the location of the famed Gellert baths when hot springs came up through the limestone. I was tempted to try and book an excursion to see some of the hundreds of caves that made up the system that ran under this part of the city but I was only here for a few days and there was lots of caving to do very soon.
Back at the boat I had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed watching the sunset as boats cruised by. I chatted with a couple from Germany and explained to them about the Congress of speleology that I was planning to attend. We had fun talking to our waiter who switched easily from Czech to English, German, french and even Italian for the family sitting across from us whos ‘Bambinos’ eyes lit up when he confirmed they did in fact have gellato.
My original plan was to have five days to see the sights of Budapest but I received an email from the congress organizers that the train station in Brno would not be available due to a bridge being under construction and trains would arrive elsewhere and there would be a bus to take people into town. Since I hadn’t purchased a train ticket yet I decided to take a look online at alternative ways to get to Brno. I found a bus leaving a couple of days before I had originally planned to leave that would take me over night to Prague which would give me a couple of days to see Prague before taking a bus to Brno. I decided this seemed like a good option and booked a bus ticket online. I booked with a company called Orangeways. the address for their station turned out to be the site where a new stadium was being built but there was a large bus depot across the street so the cab let me off there and I went inside to find out where to catch my bus. Turned out it was across the street so I headed downstairs into subway and found a sign pointing to the correct spot which was just a bus stop sign on the street. As I had some time to kill till my bus left I went back into the subway and had a beer at a small underground pub. Before long it was time to catch my bus and head to Prague. I had booked an overnight trip figuring I could sleep on the bus, alas that was not to be. Every couple of hours or so the driver flipped on all the lights and announced it was time for a rest stop. Oh well.
Next stop Prague…