30 March 2010

First Interrail Adventure - Bratislava and Budapest

So first of all, last night I dropped my ipod into my glass of water. See, my bedside cabinet has an upper shelf and a lower shelf, so i sit in bed with my computer on the top part and my glass of water down bottom, because it would be just like me to spill it over my laptop.

Anyway, I plugged my ipod in before I went to bed so that the music could update. Then I got up off of my bed and I guess I must have tripped over the cords or something, but next thing I know my ipod has just plopped right into my glass of water! I pull it out straight away, and unplug it from the computer real quick, and dry it on a tissue. The screen was flickering on and off and then it said it was out of battery and shut down. So I dry it off some more and leave it, my room here is so warm I figured it would dry out some.

Then next thing you know, I hear these weird noises. Sort of static/electric popping/sizzling noises. So I figure, that's it, it's frying on the inside, it's dead. And I put it in my wardrobe so I couldn't hear it.

But this morning it worked! Only there is no light anymore. And when I got to work I found that the play/pause button wasn't working, it was just doing the same thing as the fast forward button. But that's manageable, if you just pull out the headphones it pauses, and then turns off after a couple of minutes. And instead of play I can just tell it to shuffle. But still, if it doesn't sort itself out I think I will need a new one. Especially seeing as on the way home today it sent a shock (just a very small one) up my headphones to my ears. Now that's a bit freaky. But the new ones are way cooler than my old one, they have a video camera and a pedometer and when you shake them they shuffle the songs!

So anyway to get to the real point of my post today which is what I did on Sunday. See, I got the rail pass and I have 5 days of travel within the next 10. And Easter is only a 3 day weekend. Though I am taking Friday off so that's 4 days. So Sunday made the 5th day and I got up at 4am! I went to Bratislave first, which is the capital of Slovakia. And the train was on time but was stuck at the station for 40 minutes so I could have slept longer! Of course, if I had, you know the train would have been on time.

I arrived at about 6.40 and because it was a Sunday everything was quiet and empty. Bratislava is a very small capital and there is not much to see. The castle was quite unimpressive as castles go - perhaps because it is painted white. I mean, castles are not supposed to be whitewashed, it just looks silly.

Across from the castle is a big grey block of apartments which is something to do with the comunist regime. It's like a comparison, on one side of the river is the old city and the other the communist Bratislava. The old city is all cobbletones and church spires. The communist city is grey blocks and big chimneys.

Then there is this suspension bridge with a big "UFO" tower on it - looks a bit like the sky tower. And there is a rotating restaurant up there but I don't know how you get to it. As a whole the city is a pretty weird mix of styles.

After the castle I went walking through the historic district which is full of old buildings and nice churches. Very small streets and rough cobblestones.

Near the big St Martin's cathedral is a random building in which copies of famous Van Gogh paintings have been painted in the boarded up windows.

And there is a random statue of a guy down a man-hole.

So I didn't even stay in Bratislave as long as I intended because there was just not much to see, and it's luck I didn't because there is so much to see in Budapest. I could happily spend a proper holiday there. The buildings are so impressive, and very different to here. There are more domes, and more variety in style,. I walked everywhere so that I could see as much as possible, and first on my way from the train station to the Donau river (Danube in English, Vienna and Bratislave are also built around the Donau) I saw your general busy, smelly road with many people and cars and some very large, dark and oppressive seeming buildings. At least everything was not closed though, and all the restaurants smelt really good. But then all the big sights began to appear, and once you get off of the main road things are not so messy. First important sight to see was the Great Synagogue, but I didn't pay to go inside and do the tour, or see the Holocaust museum. Just looked.

I also stopped to look at many nice buildings and churches on the way but I cannot put all my photos on here, it is going to be crazy-long as it is.

When I got to the Donau I stopped to look at all the bridges and then began to walk along the river, taking photos of all the nice things on the way.

By the way, Budapest is actually two cities in one. I was still on the Pest side of the river, and to cross the bridges brings you into Buda, which is spread over hills. I came across I line of shoes on the side of the river; I thought that was very odd, who do all these shoes belong to? Then I got closer and saw that they were metal. It is in fact a very spread out statue, symbolises the desire of the people to escape Hitler.

Here is the Chain Bridge, the nicest bridge of several. After walking a long way to see the parliament building, and stopping to get ice-cream, I crossed to the Buda side of the river. I actually crossed this bridge several times and really, it is just a bridge. I am not quite sure why it is an important site to see. Yes, it is a nice bridge. But not amazing.

So after crossing the bridge, there was a lot of climbing to do. Like I said, Buda is built over hills. Directly on the river bank is Castle Hill upon which is Buda Castle. And the castles in Budapest are far more what you would think a castle should look like. This is not really the castle at all. But I liked it best, it looks very fairy-tale like. It is called Fisherman's Bastion, an arcade off to the side of the castle, part of the Castle Hill fortifications.

The actual castle was nice too.

But I think the best thing about Castle Hill were the views of the city spread out below.

And from up high and across the river you can see the big buildings in a more entire sort of way, with a proper view of all the domes and towers, and fit the whole thing in a photo.

There is also a hill with a statue and more amazing views of the city but I just didn't have the time to go. Instead I went back down the hill and up Andrassy ut, the main tourism street. First you come across St Stephen's Basilica, a really beautiful church.

And then, after a long street full of beautiful, historic buildings, you get to Heroe's Square, a big statue-y monument to many different leaders, and the city park. The park has another castle, Vajdahunyad, which is really gorgeous and ecletic, like heaps of small castles smooshed together.

By this stage I had been walking around Budapest for about 6 hours, and seen all the really important things that were on my list. Of course in a single day there is only time to look, no time to see musuems, which is a shame because there are some good ones in Budapest, there is a really nice art museum and apparently the spy-museum, about the secret police of the communist era, is really interesting. But I was tired so I went back to the train station to catch the earlier train back home. But I missed it by like, 5 minutes! So I had another hour and a half in Budapest. But now the sun had gone down and I made the most of my time left, despite being dead tired, by going back to the Donau (by train this time) and looking at all the pretty lights.

Then it was finally home-time. The train took 3 hours and I was home by half-past midnight. I'm still tired, so it is again time for bed. The time has changed now for summer, we have gone an hour forward, so it feels a lot earlier than it is. Big plans for Easter weekend and I will be absolutely shattered, but this rail-pass thing is so great, every chance I get for a holiday I will surely do this. Though to spend longer in each place would also be great.

1 comment:

  1. hey, you don't know me, but i'm following your blog because i like the photos. hope you don't mind.