Big Euro Adventure

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Subj: Time to Say Good Bye...


Well — it’s that time.  Back to the future...  One last night in Bratislava and then home to La La land.  Got together with Jim, Daniel and Carmen for a final meal.  I could tell it’s a sad time for them.

Tomorrow I leave with Jim’s  kids  — we’ll get a ride to Vienna and board a plane with a change over in England.  Daniel had a bit of meltdown at dinner, which made me wonder if this was a sign of things to come.  Hmmm... only time will tell. 

I had so much stuff to return home with.  Not usually one to return with gifts from conquered lands however this time was different   All these beer glasses, several bottles of wine, posters and my totally cool print I picked up in Bootyland.  During a rainstorm, I ducked inside an art gallery.  Started looking around and don’t know what it was however everything I looked at seemed to speak to me.  I flipped thru these prints and wanted them all.

Except I never buy anything on the fly — I gotta think about any major purchase for weeks and that doesn’t bode well on vacation time.  Except this was different.  I walked out of there thinking this one print was totally interesting and wouldn’t it be nice in my dining room.

I’m gonna do it — next day, I head back to the gallery and it was closed.  A little card with a phone number on the door was all I had.  SO I called.  Met the gallery owner who came down and opened the place up.  Cool — I looked at the print. 

Kept wanting to walk away from it — I wasn’t sure.  The wall I intended to hang it could handle something horizonal.  However, this was a vertical print.  I kept looking at it when the gallery owner turned the print from vertical or horizontal — Duh... I had been looking at it wrong! 

That did it.  I had to buy it.  Then began worrying about damaging it in transport but what the hell.  He rolled it up and in doing so it became very sturdy then wrapped it in bubble wrap.  A great shopping experience! I was good to go and ended up dragging that print all over Hungary.

Took it to the small town of Sarvar, a picturesque small town in the border region of western Hungary.  The Sarvar castle is one of the tourist sites in town. It’s one of the homes of the vamp/goth/princess/mass murderer Elizabeth Bathory. 

In early 1600’s she tortures and kills hundreds of young women for their blood to bath in hoping to remain young and beautiful.  

The techniques may have changed however the objective is still the same. Now one goes to a Thermal Spa Hotel.  Sarvar has one, The Danubius.  It’s where the Hungarian elite in the area spend vacation time. 

There a bunch of these places around the country.  When you’re land locked, access to water is a big deal so if you can’t trek it to the coast in Croatia — a spa hotel is it.  People check in spending the day in a variety of swimming pools filled with hot spring water.

All the flyers for the place make it look like the jet set hang here except everyone I see is really old. 

I’m told only the wealthy can afford it and around here the wealthy tend to be old.  It was a nice modern kinda place — lots of different pools to play in.  One had all these contraptions for hoisting the in firmed in and out.  It had a scary vibe to it — like seeing an old iron lung from the polio days.

However pool side, I was a fashion faux pas — apparently by wearing the wrong kind of swimming trunks.  All these old geezer wearing their Speedos.  What is the attraction for those things — hairy men, big bellies and Speedo?  A visual disaster in my book…  Well — I’m wearing my baggy California swimming trunks.

I get the scoop — baggy swim trunks spells gypsy nouveau riche.  I’m told, in Eastern Europe the gypsies are the bottom of the food chain.  First are the Austrians, then the Russians, then the Hungarians and then the Gypsies. Everyone wears Speedo except gypsies and of course… me.   I suppose... kinda like white trash winning 200 mill in the lotto and not understanding why the Hamptons won’t welcome you with open arms.  

Got a hotel bike to check out Sarvar — wandered into some old cemetery on the outskirts of town.  Gravestone city...

Always heard “check out the cemetery in Paris” so what the hell, it ain’t Paris but it looks interesting.  About two minutes in I realize cemeteries don’t do it for me. 

Too much association with sadness for me to give a damn about sculpture.  My last couple trips to a cemetery weren’t for any art appreciation field trips. 

I pedal on and stop at a Mom ‘n Pop for a Coke. 

Sitting there drinking my soda and I find myself staring at the local Harley Davison store — of course!!

Harley in Hungary — a perfect match.

A chopper pulls up about the same time one of these little Hungarian putt-putt cars drive by. 

Had to wonder who had the bigger engine — American Harley or funky
communist era putt-putt?  One guess.

Went back to the Savar castle and stumbled into a photo exhibit from a local photo club.  A simple showing with a water theme. Impressive work, not what I would have expected.  Definitely way better then wandering around gravestones... 

Topped the day off with this darling roadside restaurant few blocks from the Hotel. 

Great duck and wonderful beer.  Lots of both — one happy camper!

Savar — cute little town, someplace I never thought I’d see and probably never will again.  Yet, I was there.

From there it was to Gyor, Hungary.  A somewhat larger city than than Sarvar several hours northeast.  Nice place with lotsa little fountains and statues scattered about.  

Stopped off at a store where this couple walking toward me really catches my eye.

I kept thinking about the old SNL skit and those two “Wild and Crazy Guys!”  - well here was one of them with his date.  

Maybe they’re body builders...  Either could kick my butt and not think twice about it. 

She was this buxom bleach blond with matching tie-dyed pants, top and hand- bag. He had this sport training outfit, which is ok I guess.  However the pairing of the two.  It was bad…  

Anyway, Gyor is were Anna was from and I’m taking her up on dinner at great local restaurant.   Met up and it was nice to see her.  I’m feeling less touristy as a result and more a part of the fabric of area. 

She picks a place out for dinner and all is well plus there’s a wedding receiption in progress.  The bride and groom saunter by.

Their fashion sense looks better than the last couple I saw holding hands!  No tie dye here.  She’s as cute as a button — he wasn’t bad either however he seems a bit distracted.  Whatever… 

The restaurant was terrific, a place I would have never known about.  Great meal — wonderful wine.  Had to buy several bottles to take back.  We had most of the place to ourselves.

Except by now the wedding party in the basement is getting pretty loud.  Nice to see a couple starting on the road to marriage bliss with a big bang — except something happens.

Someone gets upset and bails leaving the bride in the parking lot.  I don’t speak Hungarian however judging by the tone in her voice — don’t think she was blowing him kisses…

Anyway, next morning it was a quick look around town and then make it over to the train station. It’s back to Bratislava and the final leg before heading home.

Anna’s picking me up at my little hotel.  These  places are are so friendly — they really appreciate your biz.  I get the sense they’re “owners/operator” kinda places and willl do whatever to make you happy.  I love it…

Anna tells me to wait outside.  Why?  Small town and  gossip travels.  She doesn’t wanna be seen walking into a hotel for fear of how word travels.  As she put it — “ I must live here!”   A little provincial….  I go with it — she’s been more than kind and helped make the trip really unique. 

Get to the train station — give Anna a hug good-bye.  A chance meeting in Vienna a week earlier and we’ve become friends.  Now I know someone in this part of the world.  Nothing wrong with that!  Ya never know…

While giving her a hug, I look up... 

There is this man standing on the balconey smoking a cigarette.   He just stands there, contemplating life and enjoying his smoke.



I board and grab a cabin with this kid who’s half asleep.


He perks up after a bit.

His engish is a little rough however I make out he’s returning home from a week camping at a world peace/music festival.

People came from all over the world.   He was psyched… I get the sense it was a life altering experience.  …everyone needs a Woodstock once in their life.  A penny for his thoughts…

He rides for about an hour then gets off in the middle of no where.  A train stop which is nothing more than a rail road crossing.  He gets off and just starts walking. 

Nothing in sight anywhere…




Pull into Bratislava two hours later.

I love traveling... 


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