As You Drive East

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As you drive East from Budapest, cars get older and louder and blow grey smoke. You see farmers guide horses pulling wagons of hay. You see old man wearing big hats and darker, aged clothing. You see roofs on houses sag, cement facades chip away to red brick beneath. You see sidewalks crack, heave and then disappear. You see more and more people on dusty bicycles and boney mopeds.

As you drive East you find road signs to be hidden by trees or missing completely. The smooth pavement gives ways to splotches of cement and asphalt. Then holes in the road get bigger and bigger, some large enough to swallow your car. The guardrails and street lights disappear and you drive along in a pitch black, flat, foreign land. Everywhere you look is a mysterious abyss except for the thirty feet of broken road ahead, light dimly by the weak headlights on your early 80’s Volkswagen.

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More Budapest Pictures

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Szechenyi Furdo Baths

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Smoked Out

Thoughts & Reflections 3 Comments »

I have mentioned a few times how traveling throughout the world often feels like time-travel. Some places in India and Thailand had little to no signs of the modern world where they work and farm using the same tools and living in the same shelters as they have for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

Even in Europe, I sometimes feel as if I’ve traveled back in time. Most often it’s a trip to the early 1980’s, when I was almost too young to remember what it was like sitting in a smoky restaurant or in a cloudy waiting room.

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Protest in Budapest

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One AM in Budapest

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It’s one AM in Budapest. I’m stealing internet from a closed cafe and working in the van. Today I was a real tourist. Went sightseeing, bought post cards and all that.

I read in a Budapest City Guide, printed by the city of Budapest, that parking in Budapest is free on the weekends and I took that to mean any public parking spots, even the ones near the tourist attractions, which evidently was not the case because i got a parking ticket at the Citadel today. 9000 Forints is about 40 bucks. I wonder if they’ll find me if i don’t pay? I still owe the ferry company in Venice 60 bucks for riding without a ticket back in 2001. I’m such a rebel.

Travel Update

Plans & Itineraries 3 Comments »

It’s damn cold in Europe right now. Having been following summer weather since January, it really caught me by surprise. We’ve been boiling water on the stove in the van for heat, but the damp air is starting to warp all my books. Our hopes are that as we make our way south, things will warm up again.

The rest of my travels this year are somewhat planned out. Desiree and I are making our way through Eastern Europe to Istanbul and then finally Greece where I’ll put the VW in long term parking at Athens International and we’ll fly together to Egypt. A week later, my good friend Mike will be meeting us in Cairo.

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Vienna

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Vienna was expensive. It felt like Zurich and like home. High fashion, high paced, business first, art second and then everything else. We saw lots of fancy chocolate shops and bought some Mozart balls, a special treat Austria has to celebrate their claim to fame in the composer.

At an open market, we picked up some fresh vegetables and dried fruits and talked with the vendors. Some exploring on foot led us to a bookstore called Shakespeare & Co, like the one I stayed at in Paris except it wasn’t nearly as classic and the man working there was far from friendly, but I did find a new book. The rest of our time in Vienna was spent reading and chatting in different café’s. Austria is known for its coffee, but I drank fruit tea.

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An October Sunday in Austria

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Robo-Toilet

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After filling the tank with petrol on Saturday, I paid the fifty cent toilet fee and gave a pursed lip nod to the uniformed man standing guard at the rotating gate. There was high traffic at this autobahn rest stop, but the chrome piping and white ceramic shined sterile.

I took the first stall. The knob and lock were unusually hefty stainless steel fixtures, the door was heavy and shut smooth with a thud. What a place, I thought! Well worth the fifty cents.

Having never met anyone who’s contracted anything from a public toilet, I’ve pretty much shook the fear of sitting directly on them, yet I still made a quick inspection for miss fires. The coast was clear, but I noticed a picture of a hand next to a red LED. Impulsively, I waved my fingers over the little graphic to see if I could get the light to do anything.

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