Shaky beautiful memories

Wenn man schon so lange nichts von sich hören lässt, muss man wenigstens mit einem Wums zurückkehren. Nichts leichter als das, denn heute präsentieren wir euch stolz und froh unser offizielles Asia Aftermovie. Zugegeben – die Aufnahmen sind manchmal etwas wackelig und unscharf. Zu unserer Verteidigung: Die Idee zu dem kleinen Film kam uns erst auf der Reise selbst und so fehlten entsprechende Ausrüstung und Know-How ein wenig. Wir lieben das Video inklusive des wunderbaren Soundtracks aber trotzdem und hoffen, ihr schaut es genauso gerne wie wir. Der Clip bezeichnet außerdem das Ende unserer Goldrausch-Asia-Berichterstattung – wir können ja nicht ewig in Erinnerungen schwelgen und brechen auf zu neuen Ufern. Aber genug geredet: Klappe die erste, Film ab, enjoy!

When you’re out of the blog space for as long as we’ve been (oups, more than a week), you at least have to return with something major. And nothing’s easier than that when you can finally present an offical Asia aftermovie! We admit that some parts of it might bei shaky or blurred but in our offense: We decided to make a clip out of the journey while already travelling, so we neither had the equipment nor the know-how (we are working on that now!). But we love the video including the amazing soundtrack anyway and hope that you like watching it as much as we do. This video is also the end of our travel journey about south east Asia because, let’s be honest, we cannot live in those memories forever and have to move on. But enough talking: ready, set, go, enjoy!



Source: 1

Sonnengruß

Guten Tag ihr schönen Menschen,


man sagt ja, der April, der macht, was er will. Doch irgendwie hat sich dieses Jahr auch der Mai eine solche Freiheit rausgenommen und wir haben das ungute Gefühl, dass auch der Juni ihm nachzieht. Wir wollen Sonne! Und in Bremen am Deich sitzen, Eis essen, Sommersprossen kriegen. Stattdessen fegt uns der Wind vom Fahrrad und plötzliche Regengüsse machen den Regenschirm zum Must-Have in jeder Tasche. So geht es auch Franzi vom süßen Zukkermaedchenblog – sie rief zur Bloggerparade mit dem Motto #springtimeoutfit auf. So schwingt sich Cora direkt in ihre besten Stücke, um den Frühling mit einer Mischung aus weißer Unschuld, Boho-Fransen und wärmender Wolle zu begrüßen. Und nach langer Suche hat sie endlich auch den Hut gefunden, der noch im Kleiderschrank fehlte.

There is this saying in German that april has it’s own mind. But we have the feeling that May, this year, seems to own the same freedom and June might even follow those two rebels in terms of weather as well. We want sun! We wanna sit at the Bremer „Deich“, eat ice cream and get freckles. Instead, wind is blowing us off our bikes and sudden rainstorms make umbrellas the must-have in our daily bags. This is how Franzi from the cute Zukkermaedchenblog feels as well and that’s why she started a blogger parade, asking for the best #springtimeoutfits. Cora therefore put on her best things, including some white innocence, boho fringes and warming wool to welcome the spring. And after a long process of searching, she even found a perfect hat that was still missing in her closet.
Sonnengruß,
C&L 


Schuhe Steve Madden // Kleid Forever 21 // Strickjacke New Yorker // Hut H&M

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Chirpin‘ Travelbirds: Vientiane & Vang Vieng

Weiter gehts mit den Mädchen im güldenen Rausch und ihrem Videogerät. Heute schnacken wir über Vientiane und Vang Vieng (V overflow, right?) und ihr werdet merken, dass unsere Herzen für Laos schlagen. Und noch eins: yes, wir konnten keine weiteren Bilder aussortieren, deswegen: möget ihr in der Bilderflut untergehen (und das Video trotzdem anschauen).

English-speaking fellows: we are shit-chatting in German again, so just scroll over the beautiful pictures. We suppose there are more than enough …

Vientiane:

Vang Vieng (das erste ist unser most favorite pic ever):

Source: New feed

Chirpin‘ Travelbirds: Koh Tao & Koh Kood

Heute gibt es wenig geschriebene Worte aber dafür umso mehr Goldrauschgören in action. Nach über zwei Jahren Blogging lüften wir heute einige Geheimnisse: So klingen wir, so viel fuchtelt L beim Reden mit den Händen rum, solchen Bullshit verzapfen wir auch am anderen Ende der Welt und so gut haben uns Koh Tao und Koh Kood (auch: Koh Kut) gefallen. Legt mal das Smartphone zur Seite, macht euch einen Tee und versinkt in Paradiesbildern und unserer galaten Tratschrunde:

And for our english mates: the travel video diary is going to be in German so just indulge in those pretty paradise pics!

Koh Tao:

 Koh Kood:

 

Source: New feed

Szentendrei Skanzen

Szentendrei Skanzen [map] [website]
Szentendre

23km North of Budapest

Q. When is a museum not a museum?
A. When you can spend the whole day there.


Having been to the ethnographical museum in Városliget, I was well-prepared for a slow „death by folk culture“, but thankfully, the Skanzen museum near Szentendre isn’t the murderous type. It needn’t be regarded as a museum at all; rather a collection of historic, picturesque villages set against the Pilis hills. If you think you can combine it with a trip to Szentendre, you’d better be talking about the weekend rather than the afternoon.

At the entrance, now a faithful replica of the railway station in Mezőhegyes, a map gives you some idea of the scale of the site, which sprawls out over 60 hectares. As I stroll towards region VI, “Market Town In the Great Hungarian Plain”, which feels like the natural direction to walk in, the landscape unfolds. The sails of a windmill emerge over the ridge against a backdrop of green hills, while authentic thatched cottages appear further along the path.

Many buildings are open to the public. The furnishings are quite literally at home, sidestepping the predicament of the conventional museum: i.e. how to present functional day-to-day items without harming your visitors‘ brain function. Nosing around authentic houses from the last three centuries left my senses pretty much intact.

Barns, shops, workshops, mills and a small farm are all teeming with activity, presenting numerous opportunities to observe, purchase or take part in a small piece of Hungarian village life. Hammering holes into pieces of leather with a blunt chisel is also a decent way to keep 10-year old children occupied.

The amount of time you spend at the Skanzen really depends on how much you like wandering around villages and whether you’re aware of everything on offer. House-viewing fatigue does set in after a while, so a visit to the wine cellar or the inn might perk you up a bit.

The Skanzen’s peaceful car-free environment is ideal for a picnic, which can be supplemented with produce from the local bakery. Granted: bread may be bread may be bread, but the Skanzen’s bread hasn’t been sitting in your bag all day.

The latest addition is a railway line that connects up five of the regions, complete with a 1930s railcar (which, this being Hungary, was still in regular service until 1989.) For 500Ft, and if you get your timing right, you can make the long walk back to the car park a breeze. Well, if breezes travel at 15km an hour, that is.

You can get to Szentendre in 40 minutes by HÉV (the suburban railway), leaving from Batthyány tér or Margit hid. The Skanzen is a further 20 minute bus journey from Szentendre station.

Andy Sz.

Source: 8

The Chinese Market

Disused Railway Sidings [map]
Pest VIII, Kőbányai út 21 (T28/62), 1 min

Hungary is not the most multicultural nation on the planet. 95% Magyar, 2% Roma (derided by 95% of the population), and 3% strays and waifs. Also in amongst this is a Chinese population, many of whom make a living in the ubiquitous and universally underwhelming „Gyors Bufés.“ But, believe it or not, Budapest does have its own Chinatown! Well, China-shanty-town, at least.

Blaha Lujza tér is not the prettiest part of Budapest but if you walk in four out of five directions, you’re still in town: cosmopolitan enough to find tourists looking at upside-down maps. The fifth direction, however, along Népszinház utca, is as well-known as the fifth dimension and you can take a tram straight into it. English voices here raise eyebrows, or at least the temper of the drunken tramp standing two feet away from me. He got quite angry but stopped short of lunging at me. (It seems I’m something of a disgruntled tramp magnet.)

You know when you’re at the market because the tram takes a sharp left in front of an enormous brick spacecraft-of-a-building, before stopping a hundred metres later, next to some disused railway sidings. The latter announce your arrival. It’s at this point that you’re wondering what the Hell you’re doing here.

The market has scaled down a little in recent months, making the collection of makeshift stalls negotiable without a compass, although walking from one end to the other is still a distance event. On sale: counterfeit brands, fake perfumes, genuine radio alarm clocks from the 1980s. I’m told it’s the only place you can buy Vichy skincare products without going to a chemist. I’ve also heard rumours that you can buy guns, although that’s not exactly advertised. Personally, I think the atmosphere is the best value, although socks come a close second.

The market also serves as a gambling den: poker games go on in full view, particularly during the week, when business is slower. Little piles of notes are not so much as hidden, although furtive glances are de rigeur. Photos are restricted to what you can capture discreetly on your phone, unless you want to be yelled at or lynched.

So many Chinese people in one place need feeding, and consequently the food here is a big improvement on the city’s Bufés, at a decent price too. (More on what’s on offer here.) But don’t believe that price board that looks like it’s been there for a decade: it has, and protesting that your rice is twice the marked price is unlikely to count for much.

The Chinese Market is a real oddity, and if it’s not the most immediate of Budapest’s attractions, it is a side of the city that’s bafflingly interesting, in a grimy kind of way. The down-sizing, however, could be a sign that the authorities are starting to tighten the noose, so get your sneaky snapshots of Budapest’s underbelly while you can. If they ever do succeed in shutting it down, I hope provision is being made for those of us who want socks, Chinese food and fake perfume in the same place. And what on Earth will they do with all those Chinese people?

Four trams run along Népszinház utca from Blaha, but only two, the #28 and #62 take you to the Chinese market. All are equipped with drunken tramps.

Andy Sz.

Source: 8

Gellért hegy

Szent Gellért tér [map]
Buda, XI, Gellért tér (T18, 47, 49) 1 min

Budapest is a bustling metropolitan city of
incessant clamour, miserable people in shops, trams, buses and smog. The homeless and dogs alike use the streets as their toilet, while underground, people rush headlong into your path in a no-holds-barred free-for-all. That’s why a spot for some inner solitude is crucial.
On a Saturday afternoon in mid-winter, I found myself in a clearing, amongst boulders and brambles. A light snow began to fall, and in the near silence, the moment approached the surreal.

It’s surprising how little traveling you have to do to feel like you’ve reached the verge of suburban and earthly terrain: just a little south of Castle Hill and within spitting distance of the city center (depending on the power of your expectoration.) Although the cave-chapel, close to the foot of the hill, is certainly worth a look, it doesn’t give much respite from the masses – not least due to its tiny proportions. My mission for peace was of the urgent, selfish variety, so I opted for a more personal route.

There is a surplus of paths snaking their way through the park, akin to the inner reaches and windings of New York’s Central Park. No matter which strategy you have for traversing the trails (both paved and muddy), you’re bound to stumble upon surprises along the way: a tent pitched on a small patch of grass, couples getting mawkish, and strange playgrounds that materialize out of nowhere.

Five rather massive slides lie somewhere about halfway up the hill. They may look like a death wish for small children, but after I’d youthfully bounded up the steps, I found the downhill journey a bit on the slow side. Fun nonetheless.

There are countless lookout points where you can catch your breath from the arduous climb, and take in the now calming din and expansive views of Budapest below. It’s pretty easy to wax nostalgic about the beauty of this place. Sure, city life is a daily war, but here, towering above it all, you can feel like a conqueror.

The „Statue of Liberty“ and Citadella, lie atop the hill and for some, will be the main motivation for the climb. But for me, it’s the serenity of the journey itself that’s the main draw. At the top you’ll find the typical tourist hubbub and vexing vendors rushing you with their, “English? Deutsch? Français?”, which might prompt you to find the nearest trail and lose yourself again in the undergrowth.

The most popular approach is from a Gellért Baths, direction but you can also start at the foot of Erzsébet hid, by the Szent Gellért statue, or take a #8 bus to Sánc utca for a lengthier exploration.

Jacob P.

Source: 8

Szeged

Szeged [map]
175km South of Budapest

If you dare venture far enough away from downtown Budapest, so far that even the musk of kolbász wafting from the hentes bolts is but a distant memory, fear not, for you are in Szeged, home of famed Pick Szalámi, halászlé (fish soup) and the virulent seeds of the 1956 revolution.
A walk from the train station, however, down wide, poplar-lined streets to the Hősök kapuja (Heroes‘ gate) at Aradi vértanúk tere suggests little more than the fresh-air pleasantries afforded by life outside Budapest. Bike paths abound, people are inclined to smile. Maybe Tisza water just does the body good.

Szeged is a little scant on cultural programmes, especially compared to its museum-laden neighbor, Pécs, and is certainly best taken in on foot. If you’ve already covered the usual routes to the smattering of churches at Dóm tér, up the banks of the Tisza toward the leafy grounds at Széchenyi tér, be sure to explore the pedestrian mall at the heart of the downtown. This grid of streets, where refurbished neoclassical buildings house the usual foreign chains and local cafes, has a Vaci utca-esque vibrance without the decadence. A certified people-watching spot.

But the afternoon bustle belies the sleepiness of the city. Once the downtown has all but cleared out, you could do worse than settle at Café Corso for an inexpensive pint (but avoid the mulled wine.) Located on Kárász utca, it’s a surprisingly unpretentious alternative to the overpriced confectionary cafes that seem to dominate the nearby square. In the summer months, try Acapella, next door, for its highly touted ice-cream. When the waiter hands you your cone, see if you can spot his Szegedi accent, probably the closest thing to a Hungarian southern drawl.
Once you’ve lapped up the relaxed atmosphere and absorbed the architectural highlights, you may find yourself looking for something more. If so, take advantage of the fact that you’re just a stone’s throw away from the Serbian border. While it’s an inconceivably slow stone’s throw, the one car train journey is brimming with character, making it worth every puttering minute.

If you have more than a day or two, Szeged makes for an ideal starting point for more drawn out excursions into nearby northern Serbian towns like Subotica (Szabadka) and Novi Sad, where a little Hungarian, even in a Budapesti accent, might go farther than English.

Pocket-sized Szeged isn’t exactly packed with things to do but with or without the Serbian add-on, there should be enough to satiate the weekend wanderer or Budapest escapee.

Trains run every hour from Nyugati taking approx. 2hrs.

AZL

Source: 8

Gellért Baths

Gellért tér [map]
Buda, XI, Gellért tér (T19) 1 min

During a week of zero temperatures in the city, a group of friends and I thought it was high time we all warmed up via a trip to the Gellért Baths. The experience of patronizing this opulent Budapest thermal bath had escaped all of us… until now.
One Metro ride to Ferenciek tere and one bus transfer later, the five of us were at the Gellért ticket window trying to decipher the range of services and what everything cost. Despite the pricey admission fee (3100Ft / $16.50), information comes at a premium. Signs are inscrutable, and the clerks‘ grasp of English is not always what you would expect from a luxury hotel and world-famous landmark.


After being given swipe cards and number tags
, we paired off and guessed where the dressing rooms were. On the way up the stairs, there’s a cloakroom where you can rent a robe for 1000 ft (oh, and a deposit of 10,000 ft!) You only need the swipe card when entering or leaving the bathing complex, while the number tag will gain you a locker. (You may only get one of these if you pay as a group.) Don’t forget your locker number as it doesn’t correspond to the number tag, as far as I could surmise.

The main bathing area at the Gellért is beautiful, but the large pool was quite cool – outdoor summertime temperature. As none of us had trudged here through the falling snow to swim laps in a chilly swimming pool, we took a pass on it.

Most people
congregated in the smaller 30 degree (celsius) pool to the rear. This is the only warm pool in the Gellért which is mixed gender. It’s a bit dark, and crowded with couples and families who want to bathe together.

When I realized this, I understood why the most beautifully appointed thermal bath in Budapest is given such mixed reviews. You do have a range of different pools, saunas and services available but only if you want to go a gender-segregated area. So after about an hour of lolling socially in the warm pool, we went our separate ways to investigate.

The bathing area for men is just as strikingly beautiful, if not more so, than the main room. Two large baths flank the room, both are warmer than the 30 degree co-ed pool. There is also a steam room, a sauna bath with three chambers of varying temperatures, massage rooms, and a small polar bear tub. Clothing here is optional and most men choose to wear the little white aprons that are provided. The aprons are popular but a little absurd: they really don’t cover much at all!

After you’ve returned to the dressing room and have gotten dressed, a tip of about 200 forint for the attendant is good practice, depending on how helpful you think they were.

So let’s be completely honest here. The Gellért is for tourists and huppies. (Do you really have to ask?) At an admission price that compares to the cover charge at a velvet roped club in Los Angeles, few Hungarians could go here very often. So if you want to take a real authentic Hungarian thermal bath with a bunch of Japanese, German and British tourists, go for it at the Gellért. It is great to try it out once though, and preferably with members of your own gender. It’s definitely a beautiful place and singular experience, if not the place for your regular Budapest bathing ritual.

SF.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on sfinbudapest.com. Read more from SF here.

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Shoes on the Danube

Pesti Alsó rakpart [map]
Pest Centre, V,
Kossuth tér (M2, T2/2a), 3 min
If you listen to anyone talking about the Second World War, and more specifically, the systematic extermination of Europe’s Jewish population, you will more-likely-than-not hear some variation on the phrase ‘Lest we forget.’

The poignant Jewish memorial on the Pest bank of the Danube is so discreet that you’re unlikely to spot it. If you try to find it from the direction of the Parliament, you may find yourself dodging cars and leaping barriers to get there. Alternatively, take the more sensible route, along the river from the Chain Bridge and you’ll find a series of shoes, cast in iron, no more than two feet from the bank.

They’re beautifully crafted and the detail is superb, right down to the stitching, eyelets, laces and grip on the soles. Styles vary: low heels, high heels, heavy boots, slip-ons, shoes with buckles, open toes, and a tiny pair of toddler’s boots. They’re not new shoes and the small patches of rust are reminiscent of scuffed leather.

Even-more discreet are three plaques, in Hebrew, Hungarian and English:


Unknowing tourists might be inclined to smile on seeing this unusual, idiosyncratic collection, and those that spot the plaque will no doubt feel a pang of guilt. Of course, they shouldn’t, but such a reaction shows what a human memorial this is: something that connects you to humans who were treated as though they were not.

Tragically, the memorial is too modest for most. I sat by the river for half an hour and watched no fewer than three quarters of the visitors lightly kick the shoes, presumably to test their composition, before shrugging and moving on. (This might explain the absence of a few pieces.)

I couldn’t help but feel that this gave
the memorial an even greater depth: the world remembers the holocaust and doesn’t so much ignore it as not understand what it meant.

The above photo was taken on May 9th 2007, when the shoes served as a focal point for „Zéró tolerancia“, a day dedicated to speaking out against racial discrimination.


If you’d like another perspective on this memorial, read SF’s entry here.

Andy Sz.

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