Euroadventure 2014: Roundup Edition

The trip home seemed much longer than the trip there, probably because there is less excitement about returning home than there is when embarking on a new adventure. We also had a five hour layover in Berlin Tegel, which is now one of my least favorite airports. Rather than having a main security check point that leads you to the terminal and gates, the terminal is outside the secure area and each gate has its own security line. I think it’s pretty inefficient since our flight alone had about 20 security officers and, as a traveler with a long sit time between flights, it was also very inconvenient because you can’t just relax since you’re worrying about getting through security. I probably also disliked it because we were selected for random screening and I was extremely uncomfortable with the process of a full body pat down in front of all the passengers on our flight, followed by another behind-the-curtain pat down and baggage check. The officer asked me in English if I spoke German and English or just English. Even though I told her just English, she spoke only in German for the rest of the screening and did not switch back to English until after I was cleared to go. I’m all for security, but appreciate a little common courtesy!

During our wait, we walked around the airport and sat for drinks and lunch at a cafe. I treated myself to a strawberry dessert because vacation! Once we made it through security and boarded our flight, we ate again. And then before landing we ate again. It felt like all we were doing was eating! On the drive from New York to PA, we even stopped at Taco Bell. While I was sad the trip was over, we made so many great memories and I was really happy to see the pups!

Since it took me approximately 4 years months to get all our Euroadventure posts together, I decided to do a roundup below of the entire series. We covered a lot of ground in 10 days and I have already had requests for travel tips, so hopefully this helps make it all a little easier to find based on your destination or interests. Continue reading

Euroadventure 2014: Ending on a High Note

We spent the first part of our last day on the Buda side, visiting the Castle District. From our hotel, we took a tram to Chain Bridge and then switched to the #16 bus. It was very easy and a quick way to get up the hill!

Dave was really interested in the guided tour at Hospital in the Rock, an underground cave and tunnel hospital system turned nuclear bunker that is now a museum.During WWII and the siege of Budapest, the hospital was well beyond its capacity. The tour routes visitors through the many different tunnels where rooms are set to be as historically accurate as possible, including some medical equipment and wax figurines dressed as patients and doctors. Toward the end of the tour, visitors walk through the nuclear bunker and learn about the contingency plan should it be necessary to retreat after an attack. Luckily it was never necessary to use the space. Unfortunately photos were not allowed, but our wonderful tour guide did snap a group photo at the end – we are in the back on the right. (You can see how pleasant our tour-mates were.) I highly recommend this tour to anyone who is even remotely interested in history!

Hospital in the Rock

Hospital in the Rock

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Euroadventure 2014: Baths in Budapest

Once upon a time, Budapest was the Roman settlement of Aquincum, a military camp turned general settlement. Even in those early days, thermal spas were part of the culture as the area sits on over a hundred natural springs. Today the baths attract locals and tourists alike. After the many, many days of walking and being on the go, Dave and I were ready for a soak.

In the morning we went to the Great Market Hall, just a couple blocks from our hotel. The largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, vendors on the first level sell produce, meats, baked goods, liquor and spices like paprika. The second floor has a wide variety of souvenirs, while the basement level has fish, butcher stalls and various pickled items. I loved walking from stall to stall, comparing the different goods and seeing the more “exotic” items like a pile of pigs feet!

After exploring the market, we took the oldest metro line #1, which was completed in 1896 and is designated as a World Heritage Site. It was much different than the newest line we took the day before from the main train station to our hotel! Soon enough we were at our stop for the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath. Continue reading