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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

VIENNA, BABY!!!


My first real day in Vienna (as I got in late the night before things really began) was filled  head-to-toe with culture. It started with going to the Stephensdom for Sunday Mass, and to meet with my Opera singer friend Kathryn, who is also from Victoria BC, Canada.


Kathryn, just so happens to sing in the Stephensdom choir. Take notice of the curly redheaded babe just off to the center right here:



Ladies and Gentleman, I give you my lunch, *the* WEINER SCHNITZEL!!!


Weiner Schnitzel in Wein? Okay!


I then visited the Upper Belvedere where I was able to gaze deeply at Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss". Absolutely exquisite to be able to see in the flesh a painting I have always adored.




I then went and met with Kathryn at the Vienna State Opera to see a ballet review of Balanchine, Neumeier & Robbins.






For only 3 euros we got to enjoy this spectacular show from up in the gallery. We were high up, and I can't imagine seeing it any other way. The view from there was the perfect way to see all the choreography and shapes that these wonderful dancers were creating.




My third day was spent at the Leopold Museum. Did I have a nice time at the Leopold Museum? Yes, I had a nice time at the Leopold Museum :D











I really enjoyed these cats, and I like to think I helped get the dance party started for this band.


Kathryn and I met for my dinner in Vienna, and went to this great old tavern called Zwölf Apostelkeller.


More Weiner Schnitzel? Why not!


Our new friends :)


And of course, I got to play a few tunes for the boys, and the people in the restaurant - fulfilling my desire to play the accordion in the cities I visited.



Playing someone else's accordion can be a challenge. The straps are usually too loose on me, and so this gentleman kindly held the straps tight to my back for me. A very nice squeezebox too, I loved it's sound.




And then Kathryn blew everyone's mind :)




I love being out with talented friends, performers and artists alike. You never know what is going to happen when we join forces. Visiting with Kathryn was awesome, and I really appreciated being able to stay with her. I like getting that local experience, living in the communities of a city and seeing a place from that point of view. It was also nice to see a friend, as we're both on a journey over here in Europe in regards to our careers and creative souls. Thank you, lovely Kathryn!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Budapest, Magyarország



Budapest was cool. Well, it was quite freezing actually and so doing walking tours and being outdoors for long periods of time wasn't very pleasant, but the city is full of character and has a lot of what I feel the creative hipster kitty cats of North America are craving.

Non-commercialized bars and clubs, art installations, dank little pubs, abandoned warehouse ruin bars, graffiti, fun street fashion, amazing European architecture, and a pretty relaxed culture bring together a very interesting place to visit.





I really enjoy the hostel environment. It's like speed-dating, only it's speed-friending instead. You're quickly getting to know and connecting with those around you because they could potentially be your best friend's and family for the next 24+ hours, and it is nice to have that sense of community while traveling. I have been meeting many kindred spirits that are on a similar quest for adventure, and I find connecting with them very inspiring.




In Budapest I found myself surrounded by Australians. What's going on Australia? Why are you invading Budapest?

My Father's side of the family is Swedish and Hungarian, so visiting Budapest was exciting, as I was getting to visit my Hungarian roots. I saw many versions of my Dad and brother walking around. The biggest problem I found with this was: the food KILLED me. My stomach was enraged every day, until I realized that Hungarian's put sour cream in everything, and I can't do dairy. No more goulash and all was fine with me again.



Roasted chestnuts agreed with me just fine :) And they're charming to eat while you stroll around.



Eating Mexican in Budapest is fun. There isn't a big Hispanic population in Berlin, so I had been missing my taco or burrito fix. This place had a cute Frida Kahlo cartoon as their mascot.


I highly recommend going on a bar crawl, which I did through my hostel. The bars in Budapest are INSANE - in a good way. I loved them. Try the Palinka, and ladies be warned: Hungarian men get extremely loaded. I would like a bodyguard the next time I go out here...




This one bar goes around selling carrots at a certain point in the night. Why? Because they think it's funny.


I didn't get a chance to play an accordion while I was here. I did see a bizarre illustration of a band of cartoon animals and the squirrel was squeezing an accordion. I forgot to take a picture of it though, but they looked a lot like this rabbit and dachshund:


Right....and.... I was delighted to see this poster of this Canadian musician that I know - Socalled, who I'll classify as "Yiddish hip-hop". Josh Dolgin plays the accordion well :)






When there's nothing left to do what does one do? They go take a bath. The Szechenyi bath house is pretty fantastic. Many different indoor and outdoor mineral pools. I came out of there VERY relaxed.


It is mixed, so there nudity isn't an option - unless you were in Berlin I suppose. That's fine, I enjoyed it all the same :)




SHOUT OUT:


I'd like to give a special shout out to the coolest person I have met on my travels so far. His name is Gary Ramsey, and he is a 71-year old American, who is a retired US military air force member. He befriended me as we both exited the bus as we arrived in Budapest. He had no accommodations booked, and so we shared a very expensive cab (don't hail a cab in Budapest, they are notorious for ripping you off) to my hostel, where Gary was able to then stay at as well.

Gary is full of great stories, and hilarious jokes as well. His life story has been pretty fascinating, and it continues! I haven't come across any other travelers who are doing what he is doing at 71! I find this very inspiring, that an adventurous spirit can be nurtured at any age. ROCK ON GARY!


A Hungarian sunset, as I departed and headed towards Vienna, Austria....




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