Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weltner World Tour 2011


Yep, that's right, my brother came to Austria. It's been pretty sweet to show him around my life here. I mean, if no one else experiences it, it's almost like it's not real, right?

I'm in a castle!!
One of the silliest part of this trip has been what I like to call  "Weltners on Bikes". For those who don't know, I learned to ride a bike when I was 20. Matt has also never been a big bike rider, so putting the pair of us on bicycles makes for some strange times. On his second day here, I dragged Matt on a bike ride from Krems to Dürnstein, because he demanded that he see a castle while in Austria. Dürnstein housed Richard the Lionheart when Duke Leopold V of Austria captured him on his return from the Crusades in 1192. So, it's a pretty legit castle, even though all that remains is ruins.

Obviously to classify our trip as a "world tour", we had to go international. We decided Budapest, Hungary would be our second destination, so on Tuesday we took an early bus over there. Highlights of our Budapest visit:
  • The baths! Budapest is home to many natural springs, and we took advantage of one of baths, Szechenyi, for a full afternoon. We both had our first professional massages (and agreed they were weird), and also managed to dip our feet into all of the 18 different pools (including the very sulfur-y and very hot or cold).
  • Drinking from the "natural spring" of wine
  • Labyrinth - The hills in Buda are full of caves, which have been used for storage, transportation and safety. These days, however, they mostly function as tourist traps. We visited a labyrinth we had heard a lot about between 6 and 7 PM, when the lights were turned off and we were given lanterns. The whole thing was pretty kitschy, with spooky sounds and rattling chains and the whole shebang. The end however, was so weird. We stumbled across an "ancient" shoeprint from the Homo Consumus, followed by a huge Coke bottle fossil. Then, there were the exhibits of "recovered" artifacts, like a microphone, protractor, cell phone... etc. Finally, we turned a corner where the devil was giving a speech predicting the end of the world due to this Homo Consumus. The basic message I got was that at the rate that we consume, we too will perish. I mean, I get that people get upset about these things, but I just paid to get into your labyrinth... someone's making money off of this, don't hate me!
  • View from the Liberty Statue - After a couple long days of walking, we forced ourselves up another hill of Buda to see the sunset from the Liberty Statue. After getting lost in some neighborhoods, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of the city - totally worth it.
Budapest from the Liberty Statue
Anyway, we've also done a lot of things in Vienna, mostly my favorite things:
Café Central - tastebud overload!
  • Falafel and free samples at the Naschmarkt 
  • Coffee and Philgood Frühstück at Phil
  • Coffee and breakfast at Café Europa
  • Coffee and cake at Café Central (are you seeing a trend? Matt was really bad for the caffeine addiction I thought I'd overcome!)
  • A Tchaikovsky opera, Eugene Onegin, at the opera house (gettin' classy!)
  • Run in Schönbrunn
  • And lots and lots and lots of walking....

In other news, I leave for Seattle in 36 HOURS.

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