I was in Budapest for 11 days. I couchsurfed there and it is longer than I normally stay at someone’s house, by far. So, thanks Paul! Budapest was nice, reminded me much of Prague. While, I was there I visited a Turkish Bath, that was very interesting experience. Imagine, a social, public “hot tub & sauna” with water naturally hot. I found a newly minted Crossfit gym, RC Duna, that opened up it’s doors for a traveller, so gracious. Even though I didn’t get to see the Opera in Vienna, I went to the Opera house in Budapest. It was my first time seeing a ballet, The Nutcracker. There were Christmas markets in Budapest too. I actually liked the Budapest ones more so than the Viennese markets. I also helped to organize the first (known) Hungarian Gentoo Linux Beer Meeting
Then I took a train to Belgrade, Serbia. The train was 8+ hours. I couchsurfed again for 3 nights. Had some wonderful chats with my host, Ljubica. She learned about US things, I learned about Serbian things, just what you could hope for, a cultural exchange via couchsurfing. I was her first US guest. Later on, an Argentinian fellow stayed there too and we had conversations about worldly topics, like “why are borders so important and do we need them?” and “speculating why Belgium’s lack of government even worked.” Then perhaps, the best part, I got to try authentic mate. In my opinion, there wasn’t much to actually see in Belgrade during the winter, I did walk around and went to the fortress. Otherwise, nursed my head cold which I got on the train.
I took the bus to Skopje, FYROM. I stayed in Skopje for 3 nights at a nice independent hostel, Shanti Hostel (recommended). I walked around the center (not much to see), walked through the old bazaar, and ate some good food. The dishes in Central Europe include lots of meat. I embarked on a mission to find the semi-finalist entry for the next 7 wonders of the world, Vrelo Cave, but I got lost and took a 10km hike along the river, it was spectacular! And peaceful. Perfect really. I wanted to see what was at the end of the trail, but eventually turned around because it didn’t end. On the way back, I slipped and came within feet of going in the drink. As my legs straddled a tree and my feet went through the branches that were clearly meant to handle no weight, I used that split second to be thankful. I used the next second to watch something black go bounce, …, bounce, SPLASH. It is funny how you can go from thankful to cursing about your camera in the river so quickly. I got up, looked around and thought about how I got off the path, dang. Being the frugal man I am, I continued off the path and went searching for my camera. Well, that was bad because I slipped again. As I was sliding on my ass and grabbing branches, I eventually stopped. It was at this point, I knew my camera was gone since I could see the battery popped out and was in the water. Le sigh. C’est la vie.
So, no pictures, friends. I had a few hundred pictures that I didn’t upload and they are gone. I might buy a camera again but for now, you will just have to take my word for it. My Mom says she will send me a disposable camera ha.
I’m off to Greece at 6am…