Bev Brooks

Joined November 2017
  • Day36

    Last days In Budapest

    July 1 in Hungary

    Well I’m now counting down the hours until I head home. It’s hard to believe that this adventure started in Vienna with Trigger Happy performing at Vienna Boylesque Festival. From there we went to Salzburg and Slovenia before we said good bye to Ben. Onwards Suzie and I explored the less beaten track of Croatia and Bosnia. Suzie left to head home while I ventured to Poland and Hungary.

    Wow what a time I have had. Kraków was a beautiful city and Auschwitz was mind blowing. Zakopane was a hikers paradise, then the overnight train bought me to Budapest.

    How would I ever fill 4 days in this city - easy actually. Budapest is an amazing city with lots to do. I split my days up knot specific areas. Today I took on Gellért Hill. The bus took me to the base of the hill so a steady walk up the road took me to the top. At the top is the Citadel and Liberty Square. Unfortunately for some. Reason the government hades closed the citadel, so we can only walk around the outside.

    Time to head down to the Gellért Spa, a set of naturally heated pools. I spent many hours here before back to me accommodation for my last night.
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  • Day35

    Few days exploring Budapest

    June 30 in Hungary

    I have learnt the Budapest was once 2 cities, Buda the flat down on the East side of the Danube, and Pest the hilly city on the west.

    There are no high rises here and the city is very easy to get around. I can jump on the trams or trolley buses, or underground to get myself from a to b. My first day is exploring is spent on the Pest side.

    I start at the “Invisible Exhibition”. This is not something I had planned on doing, but once I read about it I new it was a must. You are given a tour by a blind person, you are completely in the dark. Your eyes do not get accustomed to the darkness. You can see nothing for approx 1 hour. We are guided through an apartment, kitchen sink, stove, Tv, bath room etc. just feeling things as you go along. Then into a garden, feel the tress listen to the birds. Then the street, the ground becomes rough with cobble stones. There are traffic lights, sounds of cars and push bikes etc. Finally we end in a bar to enjoy a drink. What an insightful tour, loved every minute of it.

    Next it was down to the Danube, a walk along the river with a magnificent view of the Parliament building. Up to Castle Hill. Lots of stairs today. The police has a graduation today so suddenly there are police sirens going everywhere while 6 buses of graduates arrive along with horses and flags. Quite a to do.

    I head to Buda Castle, another beautiful castle which was destroyed during WW1 , it has been reconstructed. A prosecco is calling me from a restaurant overlooking the Danube.

    Time to head back down to the river via the Funicular, then walking across the Chain Bridge to find a spot with view and a couple more bubbles.

    I head home after a big day of walking up hills and stairs.
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  • Day33

    Budapest

    June 28 in Hungary

    We arrive on time at approx 830am. Time to get some money out. So far this trip I have dealt with Euro, Kuna, Marks, Zloty and now Forint. They all have different exchange rates so it is a constant juggle to work out what you are actually paying. 1000 forint is approx $5. It certainly tests this old brain, and certainly Suzie “ I’m in finance” brain took a tumble a few times.

    I arrived at my air bnb around 9 to drop my bag and go explore. I could not stay as the last guest was still there. I headed toward the old city for breakfast and to get my bearings. Around lunchtime I realised I needed to shower and rest, not much sleep on the train.

    After a rest I headed to “Hero Square” and city park. The park is beautiful.

    My first thoughts on a Budapest, clean, great green streets. Look forward to exploring more tomorrow.
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  • Day32

    Budapest Here I come

    June 27 in Hungary

    I’ve been told Budapest is a beautiful city. It is a little of a journey to get there, first leg is 2 hour trip on the bus from Zakopane to Kraków. I have 5 hours in Kraków before I board the overnight bus to Budapest. The bus station is beside a large shopping centre, so maybe I can find a place for my nails to be done.

    OMG dreams do come true, there is a decent nail salon. I soon learn they have not done acrylic nails here for over 10 years. instead they do a hard gel finish. This will be a experience for sure. The young girl fills me with confidence, slowly shaving the acrylic of my nails. I have only 1 nail that needs an extension. 2 hours it takes for me to be back to lovely nails. Lesson learnt next time I head OS no acrylic, just my own nails with a gel polish.

    Wow I only have 2 hours left until I board the train. Dinner a few glasses of bubbles and it’s off to find the platform. The train arrives about 30 minutes before departure - enough time to find my carriage and bed, I get organised and snuggle down for the night.

    The train leaves at 2230, arrives 0830 tomorrow morning.
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  • Day31

    Day trip in Slavakia

    June 26 in Slovakia

    The weather had been terrible so I new if I didn’t book a tour I probably would just lounge around in bed all day. I booked at day trip to the Tatra mountains in Slovakia. The trip was all in Polish but luckily the guide had quite a bit of English so he kept the 3 English speaking tourists abreast of what was going on. Once again over the border there were no immigration crossing, which I’m starting to get used to.
    The day looked pretty gloomy but luckily the rain stayed away while we walked steadily upward along the muddy road for approx 2k’s. Once at the top we came to a wooded path that has been built above the trees to enable you to look down into the valleys below. Unfortunately today it was very overcast and the. Loads were quite low. They broke a couple of times to enable glimpses of the vista. The rain luckily stayed away for most of the walk, about 3 hours.

    At the end of the wooden path is a viewing platform where you can walk onto a open weave platform, looking far below. It apparently can hold 80people. I gave it my best shot, not sure I would want to be on it with another 80 odd people.

    Once we finished this part of the trip we headed to a small village. Here I wandered around, tasted some local spirits (50% proof), it was like drinking rocket fuel. Luckily the sun broke through for about an hour enabling a view of the high Tatra mountains.

    Then back to zakapone for dinner and an early night.
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  • Day30

    I nice sleep in today, well I also think a little hung over after last nights football match.

    It’s about 9 today and wet. I wait for the rain to stop before heading to the ski jumps. There is the large ski jump and 3 smaller ones for learning on. Lots of stalls and restaurants around. I catch the ski lift up to the top. It’s pretty cheap at 12zl about $4. The view from the top is frightening, I cannot even imagine thinking about skiing down that jump.

    On the way down on the chair lift the rain starts to come down heavily. Luckily I have my poncho on so most of me stays wet.

    Once I finally make it home I quiet day as the rain has set in.
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  • Day29

    Heading to Zakopane

    June 24 in Poland

    There are a few objectives today, buy my overnight train ticket to Budapest and get to Zakopane on the bus.

    I’m getting pretty good at getting around Kraków now, so I catch the tram to the train station. There are multiple entries to the train station and I have to say none of them are very obvious. I think I took the long route but eventually I find the international ticket office. Buying my train ticket was pretty painless. Now to find my bus. The signs for the bus are easy to follow the problem is I can only find gates starting with. ‘D’. I need to get upstairs. You would think that would be easy but every set of stairs I take I end up at the train station. Trying to find an information booth is next to impossible.

    The only option is the ticket office, they direct me to the stairs outside. Now I am where I need to be, after. Few more questions I eventually find my gate to catch the bus from. Waiting for the bus there is no one around, yay looks like it is going to be empty. I hoped too soon, out of the blue came about 30 10year olds, just my luck.

    Arriving in Zakopane I caught the local bus to my next air BnB. What a great spot about 5 minutes walk to the main centre. I explore town, it just gets colder and colder. Gloves are my next purchase and I use my sarong as a head scarf. As the rain came down I jumped into a local polish restaurant. A great feed or steamed dumplings filled with soft sheep cheese. Wine is approx $2 for a large glass. There is even entertainment, a local group 3 violins and a cello. Very lively music for. Sunday session.

    Once the rain stops I catch the cable car up Gubałówka. The view over Zakopane and the Tatar mountains is spectacular. You can see the ski jump on the other side of the city.

    Time to head down to find a spot to watch Poland vs Colombia tonight. A few more reds I find myself cheering for a Columbia goal. Oh dear will I get out of here alive.
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  • Day28

    Auschwitz

    June 23 in Poland

    The weather is certainly appropriate , 12degrees wet and cold, for the sobering day I have ahead.

    I cannot ever remember a time feeling the way I do today after visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. To explain my feelings there is not one feeling. I am sad, ashamed, cannot believe “humans” could do this, scared we will repeat again ( and do in fact continually). But also recognise the human strength it must have taken to survive these atrocities.

    I learnt so much today, too much to really take in. I stood in silence, pondering people’s lives, many times I could not even imagine what happened here. I’ve learnt of these atrocities during my school years, but nothing prepared me for this. To systematically kill over 1million people, primarily Jews, but also Poles, gypsies, scholars it is beyond reason or logic.

    The museum at Auschwitz breaks your heart. There are graphic reminders, 2 tonnes of hair piled high ready to be shipped off to be made in to socks - can you imagine that. Piles of shoes, suit cases, glasses, wooden legs etc. Human life being left as a loads of there items to be shipped off for others to use. To see the wall where those who were sick or punished were shot with a gun directly to the head is sobering.

    At Birkenau (Auschwitz II) we walked from the train station, like many condemned Jews and anyone else who stood up against the Nazis, down the same road directly to the gas chambers. They had the audacity to tell them to take there clothes off, remember where they are so you can get them after your showers. The complicity’s were enormous. They were shoved into gas chambers before dying in so much pain. Then the poor prisoners who were not gassed were made to cut the hair off the dead corpses, remove dentures and any other valuables. I’m not sure who had the better ending, dying in the gas chambers or dying of starvation and degradation.

    Much of Birkenau is in ruin, including the gas chambers, but it is still evident how large a camp this was. The 3 layers of bunks would often have 7 or more people to a bunk. The living conditions were atrocious, little food, little warm, some without roofs. People who were not killed died from disease, frost bite and starvation. Those who survived when they were liberated by the Soviets had to live with the horrors for the rest of their days.

    If you get the chance please go visit this memorial. These things must stop, genocide, ethnic cleansing whatever name you wish to put on it must stop. I’m sure it’s happening right now, but our western news doesn’t allow us to here the truth.

    I’m struggling to look at the photos. I’ll add some tomorrow I hope.
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  • Day27

    Krakow wandering

    June 22 in Poland

    Another free walking tour. This one started at 1015 so I had a few hours to kill before hand. Wandering up into the central square ( largest in Eastern Europe 200sq meters) I was amazed by the number of food trucks. They were going in every direction, preparing all the local restaurants ready for the days trade ahead. I guess they need to get in early before all the foot traffic arrives.

    After wandering around the back streets I find a cafe where I enjoy a wonderful baked cheesecake and freshly squeezed juice. Yum, the food in this town is amazing.

    The free walking tour starts under the cathedral, I’m to look for a green umbrella. Lucky I knew it was green as there are about 5 different people offering free walking tours, each with different coloured umbrella’s. Eugene is our guide, there are about 25 people, he is extremely knowledgeable half polish and half Ukraine. He is passionate about Poland, as we wander around the old city, he explains the history of Poland. All my history lessons so many years ago come flooding back - Prussia, Kengis Khan, Germany invasions, the soviet occupation. Poland has had it all. Then Eugene speaks so highly of John Paul II, he was a saviour for this country, giving them the guidance to stand up to communism. It was a very enlightening tour.
    Then he spoke about Maximilian Maria Kolbe who traded his life for another in Auschwitz. This country has such an incredible history, and today it is a thriving cosmopolitan city.

    We started at the cathedral, visit the opera house, wander through the main entry gate to the city and followed the path the the kings and queens for time gone by made their way to Wawel Castle.

    After the tour I headed to the Jewish area for lunch. Another amazing meal, cottage cheese, potato, salami, egg, zucchini and cheese. That certainly filled me up. I catch the tram home for a nana nap before heading out again in the evening.

    My air bnb is about 7 minutes walk from the old town, so I’m certainly getting my steps up today. I wander back into town for dinner, there are buskers everywhere, it is like a carnival atmosphere. I’m just happy to have a light dinner and few reds and people watch for a few hours.

    I can hear a trumpet and violin playing “hallelujah”. Once they finish another group of a trumpet, trombone and drums starts another tune. What a chilled night.
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  • Day26

    Today Suzie heads back home while I head to Poland. When I left Australia I had no intention of heading to Poland, but our air bnb host in Zagreb convinced me to go.

    First step of the journey was to get the car back to the airport in one piece. Goggle once again did a fine job until we got close to the airport. Silly us, we didn’t believe google and started to follow the signs. The airport signs took us in a huge circle, we actually thought we were heading back to Zagreb at one stage. We should know by now google is pretty good and trust her. She only let us down a few times and I’m not surprised considering the roads we were travelling on.

    My flight to Kraków was via Warsaw. We arrived in Warsaw on time, but unfortunately someone forgot to tell the driver of the stairs. We waited 10minutes for the stairs to arrive, then there was no bus, so another 10minutes waiting for the bus. Finally inside the terminal, I headed to the transit area as instructed. The bag search was very officious. Bags had to be laid on the trays in a particular way, only one bag at a time. The women waving through the scanner was very particular, there were pat downs, take all jumpers jackets off etc. A very slow process, lucky not many people were heading this way. Finally through I looked for my next gate only to be told, I had to go back to where I had just come. I had to go though immigration and move to a different set of gates. So the bag screening started all over again with a different set of people. Finally I reach the gate only to find out it is delayed about 10minutes.

    Once again a bus takes us out to the plane, to my surprise it is exactly the same plane I fly to Rocky on. It spins my brain out. We all board but once again another delay of 30 minutes while we wait for a connecting flight, should have just left us in the terminal. I finally arrive in Kraków about an hour late.

    Next step is to catch the 208 bus, luckily this is just outside the terminal. Getting a ticket is pretty easy, the bus arrives in about 20minutes. The bus is packed, with people and luggage. Ok so now I need to work out how to find out where my stop is. As we get close to the centre I ask a local who explains it is 3 more stops.

    My air bnb is a 5 minutes walk away, the room is huge, the unit is lovely and clean. Another win.

    I head into the old city for dinner, I’m completely blown away by the central square it is just beautiful. I think I’ve fallen in love with Kraków already and i has only been a few hours.
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