Archive for September, 2014

Eastern Europe, part 1: Budapest

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Our tour of eastern Europe started in Budapest. We got there two days early, which turned out to be a good thing – the night before the first day of the tour, the weather turned wet, so most of my good photos come from the time before the tour started.

I took about 500 photos in Budapest, so there’s a lot that I won’t be showing or talking about in this post. For those pictures I include, clicking on them will get you a larger version.

Budapest was originally two cities, separated by the Danube, with Buda on the western side, and Pest on the eastern side. We heard a number of references to “the Buda side” and “the Pest side” during our stay. Our hotel was on the Pest side, and we crossed the Danube several times, both on foot and on tour buses. We never did get around to taking a Danube cruise, though.

There were a number of beautiful and historic buildings in Budapest, including St. Stephen’s, the Doh├íny Street Synagogue (near which I had some wonderful honey-elderflower ice cream), and the Parliament building. Buda Castle was pointed out on the city tour we took, which was somewhat amusing, because it was destroyed during World War II. Some of its ruins are still visible near the Presidential Palace, which is the white building on the hilltop to the right of center in the photo below. The yellow building on its right is, IIRC, a music school, and the large building to its left with the green copper rooftops is a museum. My understanding is that Buda Castle covered that entire area (roughly from the center of the photo almost to the spire on the far right).

Buda Castle

Some of the older buildings had interesting architectural details, such as these satyrs on a hotel exterior:

Satyrs

There were some whimsical decorative touches as well, like the entry to a teahouse near our hotel:

Teahouse

Also whimsical, or at least strange, is the astroturf topiary that we saw in a few places.

Astro-Topiary

And who can doubt the whimsy of a statue of “Anonymous?” The tip of the pen appears polished because a legend has grown up around it that states that holding the tip of the pen will make you a better writer.

Anonymous

We enjoyed our time in Budapest. We had several very nice meals – we liked one restaurant enough we went back again – and we could have spent significantly longer seeing more of the city. Once the tour started, though, we had one day in Budapest with the group before we took an overnight train to Sighisoara, Romania.

Autumn Colors

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

We went up the Peak-to-Peak Highway to look at the aspen this afternoon. If this wasn’t the best weekend for it, then last weekend must have been, but probably not by all that much. We drove up Coal Creek Canyon to where it hits the Peak-to-Peak between Rawlinsville and Nederland. We should probably have gone through Boulder Canyon into Nederland, though – traffic into and through Nederland was horribly slow, but coming up through Boulder would have bypassed most of it.

People used to the wonderful autumn colors of the hardwood forests of the east won’t be terribly impressed, but aspen is what we have here, and it’s certainly pretty.

Aspen1

Aspen2

We stopped in Lyons for a late lunch. They’re still recovering from the flooding, but, as they say at the visitor’s center, “Any time or dime spent here helps the recovery.”

Travel photos to follow

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Well, I’m back. Been on a trip through eastern Europe for the last two weeks – started in Budpest, then through Romania and Bulgaria, finishing in Istanbul (not Constantinople).

It wasn’t the best trip I’ve been on, because I was ill for most of it. We’re blaming the Australians (two of the Australians in the tour group were ill at the start), but I don’t know for certain how I caught it. I just know that I got a nasty cough and congestion somewhere in Romania. I was satisfied to treat it with cough drops and skip some of the harder activities, but I woke up with my right eye bloodshot and gummed shut the first morning in Belogradchik, Bulgaria, and knew that I couldn’t get away without seeing a doctor at that point.

The group was scheduled to visit a cave and a hilltop fortress that day, so we had a local guide. The trip to the cave was delayed while the local guide took me to the hospital. Unfortunately, the doctor spoke no English, and the guide’s command of the language didn’t include medical topics. I did find out that I had elevated temperature, significantly elevated pulse and blood pressure, and was given prescriptions for the main infection and for my eye. We then went and found a pharmacist who filled the prescriptions, but she didn’t speak English, either.

I had to skip the trip to see the cave (and its paleolithic paintings) and the fortress, but I wasn’t feeling up to the effort, anyway. After a day or so, I could tell that the medicine was helping. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sufficient. I was only given a 3-day course of antibiotics, and when they’d run out, I relapsed. Sunday, our last day in Istanbul, I stopped eating, because I couldn’t handle it. Since then, I’ve had a small dish of vanilla ice cream on one of the flights, and some pancakes this morning.

I had other symptoms kick in on the trip back. I’m sure you don’t need details. In any event, the associated gas and cramping have made me unwilling to eat much, if anything. I bought some juice this evening, but it didn’t really taste as good as it usually does. At least I got new medicine to take with it – I managed to get an appointment at my doctor’s office on short notice today. With luck, I’ll be getting healthy again soon.

One thing – I lost about 10 pounds on the trip. I could certainly afford to lose that much (and more), but it’s not the best way of losing weight.