Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Friday, October 29, 1999 4:21 AM
Subject: Budapest/Wien: Oct 7-11, 1999

Howdy Ya'll!

OK...trying to catchup with my journals. These may be a little dry...but I gotta catchup and my memory is fading a little bit...old age I guess...

Current location as of this typing on Oct 29, 1999 - Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina...it is very interesting. Certainly can see the effects of the war...staying with a lady who's husband was killed by Serbians...quite a sobering view of a former Olympic showplace.

Current Schedule: Leaving tonight for Zagreb (unfortunately missing a wonderful party for Rafaella in Ravenna, Italy ...sorry...congratulations on graduation!) probably going to Bled, Slovenia on my way to Dresden, Germany...my Eurail pass expires on Nov 7, 1999...I intend to be somewhere near Frankfurt at that time.

OK...JOURNAL:

Oct. 7, 1999
Woke in Praha (a little late...missed the 8am train...c'est la vie)...took the 11am train to Budapest. On the train, I met a gal from New Jersey named Ali. Now, Ali is not a meek and mild mannered young waif...she is a wonderfully direct, opinionated, and no-nonsense type person. She was wearing a sweater/jersey from her hockey team (not her favorite team...her team) that she played on.

We arrived in Budapest and were greeted by a big Hungarian guy named, Steve, from The Station Hostel. Ali had made a tentative reservation with him in advance by phone and he was there to greet her (and me in tow)...now, I wasn't sure I wanted to go there...I had heard that Yellow Submarine Hostel
was better...so I discussed it with Steve who agreed that if I didn't like The Station, he would drive me/us to the Yellow Submarine Hostel...so we went.

It turned out to be an OK hostel...but on the way we discovered that Steve had an overbearing personality and was somewhat leacherous...but otherwise he was quite charming. The ultimate downside to the hostel was that it was out in the middle of BFE and nowhere near the downtown (ie. cool) areas of
town...we left in search of greener pastures...The Yellow Submarine.

The Yellow Submarine turned out to be a fine hostel...and had a prime location. We met various folks. Went to nearby Crazy Cafe for drinks...then to Mulatto Club for dancing...crashed late.

Oct. 8, 1999
I woke late...walked around the city. Budapest is very nice...it is a little more spread-out than Prague, but is very nice. Walked across the "Chain Bridge" and up to Castle Hill. It is lovely, and has a wonderful
view of the city. I went into the catacombs under the castle which was very funky...they had a kind of modern art exhibit going on that messed with you...a fossil of a footprint (obviously a nike or reebok shoe) from an ancient species that roamed the earth...homo consumus...descendants of homo sapiens...modern art...go figure.

Anyway...headed back to Yellow Submarine for the free Friday night Goulash Dinner (NOTE: Later I would find out that they had originally discontinued doing this dinner which was listed on fliers...but Ingvell/Norwegian who I would later meet in Dubrovnik, had made such a stink about it that they had
reinstated it just before my arrival...thanks Ingvell!). The dinner was very good and we felt very cultural for having had Hungarian Goulash!

We got a group together...and went looking for a club that Ben/Aussie knew about...well...as some of you may know...the Aussies (or in this case...Ben in particular...) are not particularly related to Magellan...so we got hopelessly lost in the process...we finally made it back near our hostel...and went to a club across the street from where we started...met some people who knew of a good Irish Pub nearby...went there until 3am...crashed.

Oct. 9, 1999
Ben/Aussie, Cynthia/Georgia, and I all went in search of Thermal Baths! We walked around the city...and found the Gellert Baths. Ahhhhhhh...we first found the baths inside...which were lukewarm and OK...but then we found the ones outside!!!! It was great! Hot, outdoors in the cold weather, and water jets that were perfectly positioned for the back and shoulders...we sat there for hours turning into happy prunes.

Later that night, back at the ranch...ummmm...I mean hostel...Ali and I took a walk to Hero Square...it was very nice. Lots of statues of dead Hungarian heroes (whatelse?!) and a nice park behind. The Museum of Agriculture (yes...go figure) is built in the park and consists of all different styles of architecture...wierd to see baroque next to roccocco(sp?) next to gothic...next to modern...oh well...silly Hungarian Aggies I guess.

Ali and I were walking back to the hostel (11pm ish) and we heard a large group of gals talking loudly and walking somewhere...now, being able to read sign, I told Ali that they were obviously headed to a discoteque or something...and we should follow to learn about the local nightspots...we did...and actually metup with them (due to one of them having to stop in the bushes for a moment)...they were going to a disco at the Szechenyi Bath complex...we joined in and ended up at one of the most rockin discos in
Europe! It was great...huge number of folks...and it was just starting to get going. Ali was not up for a big night...so about midnight, we went back to the hostel...i talked a group from the hostel into returning to the club with me...and we danced until 5am...and crashed particularly hard.

Oct. 10, 1999
Woke about 9:45am (after just over 4 hours sleep)...a good 20 minutes from Hero Square where I wanted to join a 10am walking tour of Budapest...arrrrgh...grabbed my clothes...and ran out the door.

Barely caught the tour...ended up learing about the history of Buda and Pest (yes...the name comes from the cities on each side of the river) and what all those dead Hungarian Hero dudes had done. Did I mention that the tour was guided by a huge Hungarian who spoke very broken English which was
somewhat (but not always) cohearant(sp?)...and he said that his normal day job was teaching English (no kidding). During the entire tour, he says how unlucky the Hungarians are...and how they have lost every war that they have joined (WWI and WWII) and lost territories (Hungary lost 68 percent of it's territories after WWI) as a result. He joked that the United Nations is doomed because they just joined. ...Hungarian Humor...go figure. Anyway...no doubt, things have been tough on Hungary. But, they seem to be getting it back together again...I hope so...they are good people.

On the tour I met a group or Aussie guys, a Mexican girl, and a Costa Rican girl...we all went for drinks and dinner after the tour. It was a wonderful discussion about many topics...including Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Aussie guys had a van and had driven through Croatia. They said the highlight of their European trip had been Dubrovnik...and that I should go...hmmmmmm...so I made a note to self...and filed it away.

Had to leave the group to meet my friend Gaby (she is a Hungarian girl I had met at Oktoberfest...she had been out of Budapest until today). It was good to see her again, we met and talked for awhile...sorry I did not have more time to visit...I had to leave the next morning for Italy (had friends I had to meet)...c'est la vie.

Oct. 11, 1999
Left Budapest on morning train. Ali had to go to Wien (Vienna) also, so we left together. Arrived in Wien...had 6 hour layover until overnight train to Firenze (Florence). Dropped bags at Ali's hostel, met other folks (can't remember any names except for Andrea/Canada), and walked the city.
Wien is a beautiful city...and we even got a glimpse of the Lippazaner

Stallions from the Spanish Riding School as they crossed the road...it was great! We ended up at a great Aussie bar (yes...we were in Wien, Austria and ended up at an Australian theme bar...go figure). I had a kangaroo burger (yes...real kangaroo...or that is what they said...probably beef...but hey...it was good)...and left for the station...just barely made the train...as usual...

Overnight train to Firenze...ZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Doug