Part of Castle Hill... more pics up on webshots...soon.
What is the infant Jesus of Prague?
We walked back to the tramstation, headed back to the campsite and were ready for our first long day of travel. Our destination is Budapest. To get there we must travel southeast through the Czech Republic, a quick jaunt through Slovakia and then into Hungary. Each of these countries required some kind of toll vignette, so while crossing the borders is now easier due to the EU, we still had to stop and figure out how to pay our toll and get our sticker. Our plan was to stay in Slovakia for the night and then head on to Budapest. We got the bright idea that we would push on to the campground in Budapest. This made for a very long drive, about 6 hours. Just let me say the Czech roads are horrendous. The cement must not have a good foundation because every section was a different height. I'm sure it was also magnified by being in a huge motorhome and being required to ride in the truck lane. Czechland, please use my toll money to make improvements! Things improved once we got to Slovakia. We spent about 30 minutes driving through Slovakia. However we were able to stop at the 24hr Tesco Hypermarket. We were able to stock up on groceries and they took credit cards. As you will see.... Germany and Austria don't really take credit cards and every store (except gas stations and convenience stores at train stations) like grocery stores and such close at 8PM. This has been very difficult as we seem to pull into camp around 8PM every night. So our trip to the Tesco Hypermarket was quite welcome. This is the 2nd time we tried to purchase Nestle Quik, but each time Alex says it tastes different than home. We thought it might be the milk, but he says the plain milk is just fine. Note to self, along with Peanut Butter (which we brought, thank goodness) bring Quik. In the parking lot we stopped at the McDonalds to have SHRIMP...yup...and it was pretty good.
We pressed on and arrived at the campground around midnight. We grabbed the first open spot and moved closer to the facilities in the AM. We spent 2 nights here with unlimited hot water showers and decent wifi. We slept in and I worked on some reports for work. That afternoon we had a guide coming to pick us up and take us on a tour of the city. Barbara and her driver Aaron were there right at 2PM. We drove into the city into Hero's Square. It was here we learned the history of Hungary. The 7 tribes of the Magyars came from Siberia to settle on the Danube river. It was a Hungarian King, later to be canonized St. Stephen who converted the pagan tribes to Christianity. This is credited with keeping the city in tact. Many kings and rulers later the Hungarians found themselves on the losing side of WWI and WWII. The WWI loss caused Hungary to lose 5/6ths of their land to neighboring countries. From what Barbara the guide says they are still smarting from that loss. Many native Hungarians are minorities in other countries and are mistreated.
One of the great things about travel is learning that everyone has the same problems. Living in Texas I would never know that there is much bad blood between Slovakia and Hungary. Recently there were concerns of war breaking out over the Hungarian population living in Slovakia. Hungary just elected their version of Kennedy and they are all expecting Camelot. The new prime minister just granted citizenship to all ethnic Hungarians, no matter where they live. I guess the world will wait and see if things get better. Apparently after the Communists left, within a few years the people voted the Communists back into power. As a child of the cold war, I'm always fascinated to hear first hand stories of what life was like behind the iron curtain. How much we take for granted the ability to travel wherever and whenever we choose.
We went up to Castle Hill and had great views of the Hungarian Parliament building across the Danube River. It was a very beautiful sight. We were introduced to “Kurtoskalacs, chimney stove cake” a kind of inside out cinnamon roll. Cinnamon roll dough is wrapped around a 3 inch baking tube and then put on a spit. The spit rotates around a flame source until the pastry is cooked. Quite yummy! Our guide dropped us off a recommended spot for dinner. Turns out she was correct. She recommended some wine for dinner and dessert. It turned out to be quite a reasonable feast. A short subway ride back to the campground and we tucked in for the night. Next up Vienna.