Bloody Hell I missed only by ten minutes
Trip Start Apr 18, 2010
14Trip End Oct 13, 2010
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I have caught the truck. After a forced yet not unenjoyable stay in the UAE I finally meet my fellow truckers.
It started with a phone call to my room.......... You are flying to Frankfurt today come to the foyer with your bags. Let me tell you it was kaos. The lifts were full of people all wanting to leave. The anxiety showing clearly on our faces we did not want to miss the plane.
But yep!!! miss the plane I did by ten minutes, along with a dozen or more. The hotel/airline didn't transport us to the airport in time.
As a consolation they allowed us into the lounge. just like old times thought I.
The flight finally got me headed for Frankfurt
I was greeted like a long lost friend, so nice. Dear Reader my fellow travellers are from South Africa, NZ, Ireland, England, Scotland and the USA. There's Ben, Darryl, Mick, Heater, Roberta, James, Neil, Kylie, Pete, Kirsten, Richard and more.......... The names are swimming around in my head trying to put names to faces......... They on the other hand know me.
I have my own tent, How good is that. It is called MGM Grand and I don't even gamble. Everyone helps me to settle in, thanks to all.
Up early as we only have one day to visit Prague, Hungry's capital
I leave Pauline and Barry and start wandering through the streets of Prague. A typically beautiful city with a wonderful City Square. The astronomical Clock chiming on the hour with a trumpeter in period costume heralding the time change.
Prague Castle is of course a must see. Strolling through the Old Town climb the stairs and then I am there. Great view of the city.......I visit the Cathedral and other buildings of the castle then leave. Just as I move through the exit gates a group of cyclists spontaneously burst into song for a wedding couple. They are a choir on tour. The sound is beautiful. As is the weather.
Back down the hill and I meander through the Jewish sector. Indulge in an ice cream before joining the group at the clock tower to have something to eat
Our camp is at the foot of a hill with a watchtower and chair lift. A popular spot for the locals.
A quick bus trip and I am in town.
I stroll though streets with buildings no more that eight to ten stories high. That is the charm of these European Cities. No highrise.............. I walk past St. Stephens a magnificent Cathedral that I enjoyed last time...... Had a coffee and watch the locals promenade. As I missed the impressive Parliament Building I made a bee line for this stunning building. Lucky I am dear reader, as I make the last tour of the day.
This is a very impressive building twenty years to build, marble, gold and beautiful wood work, it is not too dissimilar to the English Parliament Building in London
The history of these places always holds interest. Especially the quirky little gems. Outside each camber which there are two off,..there are these brass cigar holders. Each recess numbered. It appears the good members would have a puff between session. As the cigars take a while they would leave them in the holder. Some had of course better standard cigars then others so the numbers to stop their colleagues from taking the good ones.
The twin cities of Buda and Pest are divided by the Danube River. On the Buda side the Grand Budapest Castle Lord’s it over the city, whilst on the Pest side one sees the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building. The dome of the gracious St Stephens can be seen behind the luxury hotels at the end of The Chain Bridge.
I walked the river front found a whole bunch of shoes, it turns out that these shoes are metal and fixed to the ground, an art installation. (art is in the eye of the beholder) ................
it is a beautiful sunny day and the stroll across the bridge to the Buda side is a treat
The funicular tram to the top of the castle hill is at the end of The Chain bridge. The budget does not permit such extravagance... I climb the stairs.
Was constructed during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387-1437), , resulting in one of
impressive castles in Europ After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, there was a new need for a castle in Budapest to express Hungary's larger independence. To the buildings left from fires and the like, a new wing and central domed structure were added. At the end of W.W.II, the complex was damaged again by fire, in the fifties, the Buda Castle can now be seen in all its glory again. The Castle with its 203 rooms now houses several museums, among them the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.
Share I spend hours there dear reader before reluctantly making my way back to our campground.
Oh by the way i have to tell you that I was walking before breakfast this morning and two boars and there piglets about six I think came running out of the bush
Yeh dear reader, tonight we bush camp for the first time. We are all looking forward to it............
On the way we stopped for a break. Darryl, he is from the UK and a very fun guy to have around. Well he goes and buys a garden gnome. He calls it Ned Kelly, Ned for short. I can see this gnome taking on a life of it’s own.
Come back soon Ned.
The bush camp is near a gorge, the weather still kind to us so we are all feeling relaxed.........A local guy comes to the camp telling us that we have set up on the landing site for hang gliders
Darryl finds some caves down the gorge and takes some of us for a night walk. It was good.
The next morning the Hang Gliding guy offers to take us for a walk into the gorge, climb up the wall then walk back down again. Of course we say yes.
It was great the weather again a treat and the views even better.......... Time to pack up as we are on the way to Dracula’s town.
We arrive at Sighisaroa late afternoon. A hotel awaits us and a fine one at that. Hot water a plenty. most walk down to the old town where will eat tonight.
There is an old church on the hill, called "The Church On The Hill". It is just up some covered stairs near Vlad the Impalers house. Bram Stoker used the history of Vlad for his book on Dracula............ Another of these wonderful little places. A walled town that has towers that were manned by the different guilds. Blacksmith, Carpenters, Butchers. Nice way to have all contribute to the defence of the town....................... This would do away with armies, what a great idea bake a bit of bread then invite the enemy to tea....
Diner was a fun affair , the tallying up of the bill the usual, as it never seems to be right. Kirsten one of the crew has the unenviable job of trying to collect the right amount of every one. Oh dear reader Ned the nome was there and enjoyed himself........ He rather likes the touring me thinks.
We are to visit one of the castle that are attributed to Dracula Rosnov Castle, then to a camp. However the Romanian army have some sort of manoeuvres on the go so Pete after a quick talk with the crew decide to head straight to Bucharest. We in the back don’t really mind as the weather is not the best for setting up tents anyway.
The drive through the hills is good with some picturesque views. Small Villages with snow capped mountain backdrops, all good dear reader.
Our camp is just on the outskirts of the city a short bus ride away.
It is off to town and the inevitable walk around.
Bucharest is a city in neglect but they are rebuilding and I think will be a wonderful old European City in the coming years. Places like the Old Town/Lipscani are great to walk around. No cars and plenty of cafes where people just sit drinking coffee and the like chatting away.
There are many old churches that I enjoy. I love the pictures and icons that are everywhere inside. The Romanians are a devout nation and a lot cross themselves as they pass the church.
A must of course is The Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of The Parliament). This building is is questionably Romania’s most famous building. It was built during the darkest days of the Nicolae Ceausescu regime. It stands 84m above the ground with 12 levels. Nicolae never got to she his building finished as the people revolted and then executed both Nicolae and his wife Elena. The building was designed by a 28year old women architect. I asked the guide why her design was chosen. “it was the biggest” was her reply. It is second only to the Pentagon in size as a public building. Why a country that had a basically rural economy needed a building of this size is known only by Nicolae himself
I will admit that the view from the balcony down Bulevadul Unirii is stunning. The Boulevard is wide tree lined with buildings that where part of the palace design lining either side.
Tonight we had diner in Lipscani at the Caru cu Bere. This beer hall and restaurant was establish in 1875. It is a jaw dropping experience. The interior is all wood and wonderful. The music from the 1920’s and sounds like it is played on a gramophone. The food is good the ambiance even better. A traditional band is playing, Mike, Rich, Darryl and Ned are keeping all of us and the restaurant entertained. Darryl took Ned to meet the band and they wanted to keep him.
Later on up stairs, we were down in the old wine cellar. Smart on the behalf of the restaurant as we were a little boisterous. back up stairs there were a couple of men and women dress in period dress inviting guest to dance. I along with Barry and Pauline decide that we have had enough and head back to camp. The young ones and a few older partied on.
Poor Ned is now off the grass and on the grog....... As you can see that he not a young gnome and the lads are leading him astray. i hear that he has become a cult figure in his own country. At the dive that the lads took Ned to, the crowd were chanting “Ned, Ned Ned” wanting him to perform or some thing. Do they not know that he is only made of clay.
Next day dear reader I spent a nice few hours walking around Lake Heranhau where I found a 15 ha site with old houses and the like
It is funny dear reader how the simplest places are always the best. The crew once again find their way through the backs streets of the country we are in. Today Romania and Bulgaria. We arrive at a great campground near Veliko Tarnovo. Itself a beautiful village with a wall fort over looking.......... Pete announced that he will take us there tomorrow meet with spontaneous agreement.............
I had a walk with Margaret, Leslie, Simon and Ben down to the near by lake. I carried on into the village of Malanga to have a look at a small monastery. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday.
Oh I almost forgot, it is my birthday today. First I open a present that Pam had given me before I left. A wonderful DVD of my grandchildren and others singing happy birthday. Great........... Then tonight at the evening meal I celebrated with a very nice apple tart. Later on at the Bar the owners presented me with a chocolate cake and ice cream complete with candle. It’s this little things that make a trip so enjoyable. having what were twenty odd strangers only a few weeks ago singing happy birthday to you is a joy let me tell you.