Wednesday 7 February 2007

Bratislava weekend

This weekend was awesome. A group of 8 of us (7 girls, 1 poor Fredrik) went to Bratislava, Slovakia. Was such an amazing place, in town there was Durg castle, which had the national museum with some great exhibits, especially the coin one (of prehistoric coins), and the view from the top tower was awesome. Afterwards, walked around town a bit. The weather was pretty bad, so didn’t to do too much. Dinner was, well, kinda gross. 

Had the local food. Dumplings (not the big asian style ones) with sheep’s cheese (too cheesy) with smoked bacon (see photo). It didn’t really agree with my tummy but I ate half. And had tradition wine. As the saying goes: Slovakia, the only place were you eat sour sheep’s milk and wash it down with wine. I

personally didn't enjoy it, but each to their own.The second day was just as interesting with new sites and sounds. That is right, sounds, birds chirping. Such a lovely change from trams and horns beeping. Bratislava is so much cleaner air and no homeless. Such a nice change from Budapest. Woke up to a lovely bright sunny day. Even got a little sunburned which sucked. Started with part of historic old down town which had a lot of statues that you could be silly with as I did accordingly.

Went out to Devin castle. My first official ruined castle. Was incredible. So much archaeological sites there. The castle had been there since the Bronze Age, and over a thousand years had been added to lots. The photos are amazing. Was also really interesting feeling being in Slovakia and yet looking out from the castle onto Austria. Eniku and had a picnic lunch atop the castle. Back to town, and we finished looking around the old center. Also saw St. Matthews church where 13 Hungarian kings were crowned, during 12-13th century. Had a very cool protected hole in the floor where they had dug down and exposed some old bones. I got all excited of course. Was just incredible so much history. Was very gutted to leave.

Thursday 1 February 2007

Welcome to Hungary

The good fun of O week has finished. Has been a great O week and we actually go away as a group and see the sites of the city that we are going to live in. Good times. The pollution is so bad here, like on Friday was wandering around doing chores and had huge trouble breathing because of the traffic jam putting out so many fumes.

So carrying on from the tour of St Stephans Basilica, the next day I went to the National Museum. Had a great Archaeology exhibit. And had a large painting section which really wasn't that interesting, although they had an amazing oil painting. It was insanely detailed, and made things worth while. As I mentioned everything is closed on Sunday, so had a movie day and colleen came over for a while which was nice. Late that Sunday night the people I was staying with got home from London, which was kinda nice.

 Classes are like high school here. We use a blackboard, and the lecturer writes up all the notes that we have to copy down. Classes are 1hr 15 mins. There are no handouts or online notes. Have to actually buy all text books (which for this one class cost me $100NZ). Start the rest of my classes (4) this week. There are two different systems at this Uni and I belong to both, but more so to the one called Faculties which starts this week. In total I have 9 hours of Uni a week. Am not really sure what on earth I am going to do with myself with all that spare time. At present have Fridays off which is sweet cause it means I can travel more.

But anyway back to describing the events of O week. The next tour was to Heroes square which is a very symbolic monument. At the base of the tower is the 7 tribal kings that founded Hungary, at the top is St Stephan the first Hungarian king. Then the 14 other statues on the promenade behind the main tower thing are important people in Hungarian history (oh and underneath are geothermal vents that heat the main spa pools in Budapest). After viewing this great place we walked around the city park which is home to the most interesting castle. It has been added on to, and unlike normal they didn't stick to the architecture of the original design but every add on has new design so it looks like puzzle pieces that have just been forced together, very cool.

Went on the Parliament tour which was  amazing. The whole place is barricaded up as they are worried that  during the next independence day (March 15th)  more riots will start, something to do with the ones last year and the lying president, and trying to get rid of him. So had to go thru a security check like getting on planes these days. But everything inside the place is awesome, everything that looks gold, really is gold. The whole place is 

decorated with gold leaf. And the architecture is great, its what the London parliment is based on. And the history behind the place (like every monument) has a symbolic meaning of a struggling time in Hungary. Feel kinda bad, since the turks invaded in 1300s thay have been constantly at war and being controlled by foreign peoples.  

 Went on the buda hill tour which was great. So many monuments up there. Started with Matthias church (named after a guy that was important in histroy) and like all the major churches here it is highly decorated, and amazingly painted on the inside. And the roof has very cool tiles. Then went up on the Fishermans bastion (which has 7 touwers to symbolize the 7 tirbes of Hungary anf of course a statue of St Stephan). the view from here was incredible could see the entire Pest side of Budapest. And could clearly see the mjor monuments with there 96m

symbolic height towering over the other  buildings. On this monument you could see the pollution damage as in some places they must have gotten tired of cleaning towards the end and missed the blackness. Kinda gross seeing the destruction that the pollution is doing. Wandered over to the palace, but we were too late for the tour which really sucked but still the palace all lite up at night was great. And the Matthias fountain was cool. Had the story of a girl that died of heart break when he promised to be with her but he was already married. She was a lady of the fields and came to Budapest like he asked ot see him and saw him with his wife and story goes that she died instantly of a broken heart. Kinda romantic. After missing out on the castle tour, went on the labyrinth tour which was great. It is caves that have been used since neolithic times and then during the cold war were bricked up and used as a safety bunker. had some old relics displayed but bascially the aim was to wander around and find the magical wine fountain. The wine was so gross tho. It tasted like vinegar and smelt even worse. Walked round the palace area some more afterwards, there are statues everywhere of something in history. Hungarians are very nationalistic epically since their independence.

This weekend I went away to Eger, which is NE of Budpest. Such a nice town. There is actually color there. One thing about Budapest that annoys me is the lack of color. Everything is gray. Looks very nice at night tho. Continuing with Eger, saw the old castle ruins, very cool. It was the stratgic wining thing in the war against the turkish invasion in the 1200s. Although that was also cause the Turks thought the "bulls blood" gave them magical powers. Actually its just wine, but the name of it is bull blood. We tried this and other wines with dinner that night. The first white wine was incredible, best thing I have ever tasted. The dinner was okay. Going in back in time. Saw the two major churches intown once again amazingly decorated. Went back to the hostel were we played games which first consisted of everyone getting drunk (not me and a few others) and getting to know each other. Had the pass the string under clothes game, A hungarian histroy game, whipped cream game, noodle in straw game, and pick up nuts. All very entertaining. Sadly a crowd of the exchange student sruined the night.  The next day in eger we saw the basilica and actually got to watch a sermon. Went up this pin concrete thing (optional) which was crazy. there was only enough room for one person to go up the stairs and then up the top there was enough ledge for your feet. Felt so sick up there (am afriad of heights but you have to do everything once).  Then were supposed to go to the baths outta town that we were meant to go to the night before but they were booked out for the day (stupid drunkards made me miss out) we had to go to the ones in town which were small and only had two different temps.