Hi everyone!!! I’m finally catching up after attending to some of my daughterly/touristy duties.. it’s been an exhausting few days, as you can see from the massive amount of text and photos from below (This is what happens when you have an Asian mom who wants to document things.. no we don't have a selfie stick!) but it’s been great being with my mom (my bank account and belly certainly agree!!) We’ve been working our way thru Prague and Budapest, and now we’re heading to Croatia for some fun in the sun :) One thing to note about my mom, she’s a backpacker at heart (she did Amsterdam and Luxembourg after she graduated college many moons ago, along with Greece a little later!) but obviously she’s not as young as she used to be, so while we’re attempting to take the cheap, fun way aka public transport and night trains… she obviously has the money to spend so we’ve done some taxis and fancy dinners too :)
But yeah, the more time I spend with her, the more I realize, I am my mother’s child. I get my independence, street smarts, and my sense of humor from her. For instance, when we got to Prague castle (which was lame.. don’t pay to go in) there was a statue that had a very worn out penis due to all the rubbingggggg (i bet most men wishhhh they had that problem HAHAHAHAHA sorry) and my mom proceeds to laugh really loudly, makes me hold the dick, and takes my picture.. then she tells me take one of her.. and there was a huge crowd and it was such a great #noshame moment. There was also some more sexual statues scattered throughout Prague, including ones by the Zizkov Television Tower and at the Kafka museum… both created by David Cerny. i had a few dirty jokes in my mind, but I think pictures say a thousand words so ehrm,.. caption it yourself ;)
ANYWHOSE, so let me start from the beginning.. i left Zakopane, went to Krakow and then took an overnight bus/train situation to Prague which was the most exhausting day I’ve had since I started my trip. I attempted to go on another hike, which was a big mistake, since my body was so tired and the weather still wasn’t that great.. then I took the bus, which actually got to the train station 3 hours early, so I had to sleep on the bench (fun times!) and finally when I got to Prague, which was at 8am, i couldn’t check into my airbnb until 1 so I just fell asleep at the burger king (lowest point of my trip I tell u) then since the weather sucked, I slept the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t feel too bad since I’ve already been to Prague once in my life.. and had the best time ever.. though I can’t remember exactly what I did (hi miss u wifey!!!)
I met up my friend Adam at night, an Aussie I met in Morocco who I then traveled with to Barcelona with… and then got some drinks including REAL absinthe, which needs to contain wormwood, anise, and sweet fennel, unlike the bright green nuclear sludge I've drank in the past. We wandered over to to Hemingway Bar, which was really cool and classy (unlike my first experience in Prague where we drank at some sketchy dive bars.) I got the Czech kind (cus when in prague, right?) The servers walked us through the elaborate steps of preparation and brought us a fountain which was used to drip the water slowly. According to the Googlesssss since i was too fucked to actually remember anything our server said, when the water-to-absinthe ratio reaches a certain level, the essential oils which are dissolved in the absinthe during distillation will emulsify with the water and create the marvelous, opalescent, cloudy effect known as the "louche” (sounds like douche ewWwWw)
But yeah, the absinthe I had was about 75 ABV… and I had two, after a few beers, so I had AN AMAZING NIGHT… after the bar, we stumbled over to Karlovy Lazne, a five story club which was a HOT HOT HOT MESS…we started off at the hip hop floor which was filled with horny 19-22 year olds… i was drunk.. but not THAT drunk.. so we went to the 70s disco floor where I had the times of my lifeeee dancing across some lit up floors and rocking to some groovy tunes (HAHAHAHAHAH. god. I’m lame) but seriously, it was the best.. mostly because it wasn’t filled with frat stars and chicks wearing napkins grinding on each other (AHH YOUTHS. I’m getting old…) Adam, at some point in the night, kindly put me in a cab since he's such a gentleman.. and since my mom was flying in the next morning and I had to meet her in the airport.. obviously I showed up drunk (classic!)
After a filling breakfast of carbs (potato pancakes FTW!) and coffee, we ended up walking around visiting the must see sites including Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Square, and some churches (they're all the same after a while.) Since Prague is quite small, we were able to see a lot in a short amount of time, and ended up doing a lot of eating and drinking since we had nothing better to do. We had mulled wine, Trdeln, which is a rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. and beers in front of the astronomical clock, which is actually one of the most overrated tourist attraction (no seriously.. it was named one of the most overrated tourist attraction in europe according to some list) but everything is so much better when there’s a beer involved, even if it’s overpriced. And at least i didn’t have to stand around sober for an hour waiting for some little itty bitty thing to move (suckers)
And i will say.. while i don’t normally eat a ton of meat, when I do eat it, you can bet it’ll be something delicious.. and also something I can’t make at home.. so i was eating fatty, delicious, melt in your mouth duck, whenever i had the chance in Prague. I literally had one of the best meals in my life at this place called Lokal which was a huge beer hall frequented mostly by locals with the occasional tourist... and it was superrr cheap I wanted to cry after the first bite. SO DAMN GOOD. (As a side note, I noticed a lot of my food images are very blurry. it's probably because i'm so elated while eating I can't hold stilll!)
Weended up wandering into a music/wine/beer festival where we drank some more.. We then caught the night train to Budapest (The red wine help put me to sleep) and got into the city at 9AM.. it was Sunday so everything was closed (UGH) so we just walked up to the castle district where we explored st. matthias church, buda castle, and fishermans bastion, all which had incredible views of the city!! We also caught a changing of the guard ceremony, which we found out was a fake tradition, put on especially for tourists (horray!!) I will say, Prague is pretty, but Budapest blows it away. My mom and I took the #2 tram at night, which goes along the river and has great views of castle hill and all the pretty things on the buda side of the city... and it's freeeeee :)
The next morning, since my mom brought my running shoes since i need to get rid of all the sausage and beer weight I’ve accumulated since Germany, i decided to go for an early morning run in the city, which was sosososo lovely. There’s a ton of running paths by the water and bridges and green spaces around the place.. I’ve done a couple of different trails, but my favorite was the loop between Margaret bridge, around the park, back on the bridge, and then across the chain bridge and back, which is about 10KM in total… after the run I was pretty hungry so we went to Central Market Hall to get lunch…
Since my mom and i are not huge fried food fiends or big pork or beef eaters, it took us a while to find something that was suitable for us to eat. We passed a ton of stalls selling scrumptious/greasy food like langos,a plate-sized sheet of fried dough that is usually smothered with sour cream and cheese, goulash, a stew that contains chunks of beef, potatoes, and vegetables, plus plenty of paprika and spices, Hurka & Kolbász (more sausages). We ended up splitting a huge leg of goose (like I said, i don’t eat a ton of meat, but when I do, it’s definitely something I can’t make at home!) and some grilled veggies.. and rice for my mom.. cus she’s #Asian. I also got a few glasses of wine, since it was only 75cents FOR A GLASS and apparently Hungary produces some great wine.. (#truth) they just suck at marketing (hmmm.. maybe this is something i can help with?) like… anytime i try to order wine from a menu, i end up pointing to the name and forgetting what the hell i drank since the name has like one million letters…
After lunch, we walked a bit more and then my mom got tired so she decided to rest and i wandered and did a bit of shopping and exploring. We met up later in the evening and took the public ferry down the danube because why the hell would we ever take the overpriced, touristy boats?!? anyway, i will say, european public transportation puts america to SHAME… first of all, everything is always on time. second of all, everything is clean…. even the restrooms!! and finally, they SELL BOOZE…. and so of course, i got a glass of wine to sip on while i enjoyed the sunset. not to sound like a mastercard commercial, but, two glasses of wine: $1.50, public ferry ticket: $2, amazing views of budapest with your mom.. PRICELESS!!
the next day, since the weather was pretty shitty, we slept in and went to the train station to get our train tickets for zagreb then headed to the Jewish quarter to explore and grab some lunch. We decided to take a tour of the district since I had heard some startling figures pertaining to Hungarian Jews during my visit to Auschwitz and wanted to learn more. The tour started at the Great Synagogue on Dohany Street which is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.
Since Hungary was on Germany's side during WWII, they were not occupied until 1944. After the occupation, a Jewish ghetto was formed and in July of that year, 200,000 Jews were moved to 2,000 homes. Many of them were later sent to death camps. Almost one half of all the Jews that were killed at Auschwitz were Hungarian Jews who were gassed within a period of 10 weeks in 1944.
During the German occupation, the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross Party came to power and carried out violent attacks against the Jews. They were shot and thrown into the Danube River. There's a memorial on the river where there are 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron. Different sizes and styles reflect how nobody was spared from the brutality of the Arrow Cross militia (the shoes depict children, women, businessmen, sportsmen etc.).
Meanwhile, the neutral states planned rescue actions for the Jews of Budapest. Raoul Wallenberg came to Budapest as secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry in July 1944 with instructions to save as many Jews as possible. He issued thousands of Swedish identity documents to Jews to protect them from Nazi deportation and is credited with ultimately saving as many as 100,000 people. He worked with the Swiss consul Charles Lutz, as well as Portuguese and Spanish legations to create "protected" houses and a "protected" ghetto to house the Jews with international identity papers.
There's also a Holocaust Memorial right behind the synagogue of a weeping willow tree with the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf. It was extremely beautiful and moving. Definitely worth checking out.
After the tour, my mom and I grabbed some more food (forever eating!) Since it was so cold out, we warmed up with a nice bowl of Halászlé, which is a Hungarian Fisherman's soup (yum!) and we also got some stuffed cabbages made of goose :) Afterwards we went back home and while i was planning to go out with a few people I met, I decided against it since it was so frikin cold. I'm not too sad though, since I'll be back soon enough to experience a spartyyyyy and the ruin bars :)
Alll and all it's been great, though I'm looking to relax for a teeensy bit and get tanneeerrrrrr in Croatia :D Updates soon XOXO