Martha and Matthew, where are you?!

Here’s the big up-date on our humble travels. I did mention in a previous blog that we were in Vienna, Austria, but let me tell ya how we got there.

From Istanbul, we wanted to go to Budapest. However, we didn’t fancy the train ride through Bulgaria (where I think we needed visas, not a good thing to find out at the last minute!) and Romania, which would have taken roughly 33 hours. Some Swedish lads we met in Rome did this trip. They said it’s hard to make friends with the Bulgarian border guards. So we flew. The cheapest flight on Turkish Air was to Vienna. Talk about culture shock when we landed. We left a city of 16 million, where everyone wanted to sell us a carpet. There were always calls of “Yes, please. Yes, please. Hello my friend,” as we walked down the street. When we got to Vienna, it seemed like a ghost town, where no one j-walks (Martha did her best to teach them.) Still, Vienna was cool. Big on the haute-culture tip.

Then it was off to Győr, Hungary. Smallish tourist town with some industry around the edges. The cheapest digs we could find the town were at the university campus. The student dorms were bleak, in that crumbly Cold War kitsch kinda way. Many vandals tried to brighten up the place with graffiti. The hallways were barely lit and herds of uniformed Hungarian cleaning ladies would cruise the halls every morning. Martha and I spent one morning trying to dodge them on the way out. There is only so much smiling and nodding you can do as some cute little old lady babbles in a language that isn’t related to anything else in Europe.

Budapest next. There we scored a sweet place. It was a full on flat, complete with shared kitchen and bathroom. We didn’t have to do much sharing because we didn’t have neighbours for most of the stay. In Budapest we celebrated two months of travelling. We were warned about the two month mark. Friends said that’s when things start to get rough. Well, they were right. Both Martha and I were tired and grumpy through most of our stay in Budapest. Sometimes a city can totally suffer at the hands of your mood. Not Budapest. Our flat also had the Cartoon Network. We saw Kate, Martha’s sister, who was taking advantage of all those German holidays. It was cool seeing a familiar face, if only for a short time.

Off to Berlin on an over-night train. Everything got locked up before we fell asleep! Berlin is über-cool. It’s got such a good vibe. Even the street lights ooze history. We saw the Brandenburg Scaffolding (the Gate is covered up for repairs, the scaffolding is a once in a lifetime thing!), bits of the old Berlin Wall and Men in Black II in the new Sony Centre. Our beds were in old East Berlin at a gigantic hostel, perfect for those who need to hear a lot Bob Marley or hang out with affected thrift-store fashionistas. Our time in Berlin was divided between seeing the sights and trying to arrange things for St. Petersburg (which is still going on here in Finland). We found out the hard way that travel agents actually know very little about travelling. “We only do plane tickets.” is a common response. Most of the info we needed we found (surprise!) on the Interweb. So, when our time wasn’t wasted by silly plane ticket agents, we were surfing (sadly not blogging). They did get us a cheep flight to Helsinki though.

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