08 September 2012


I had spent a comfortable 2 days in Timisoara but the time had come to move on to Budapest.  Romania is perhaps one of the finest places to ride motorcycles (of what I have seen), but, and I say a big BUT, the drivers are perhaps the worst I have come across.  Well, maybe the Kazakhstan drivers around Shymkent were worse - its a toss up.  For example, in the towns, the speed limit is 50kph, Romanians would go like 80-100kph.  In the areas where you could go faster (like 70-100kph) they would go like 50kph.
This was actually in Vienna. I thought this was a very funny sight so I had to take a quick pic: tourists on segways

Budapest at dusk, large buildings dominate the downtown area
They would swerve while trying to pass them (not on purpose, but simply because that is how they were driving).  Lastly, they did not know how to merge.  The merging traffic would simply merge into the lane without looking for oncoming traffic - again, very strange for me, a western driver.  Strangely enough, when I was in Moldova, the drivers were very polite, almost German in a way how they used indicator lights, moved out of your way, always drove on the right, etc.  Depsite the poor drivers, I still had perhaps the best riding ever in Romania.
Peter took me out to one of his favorite watering holes
Crossing the border into Hungary confirmed my presence in Europe.  I decided to take the highway to Budapest in order to arrive at a decent hour.  130kph was incredible.  I never know how the entry/exit of a city will be; Budapest was pretty easy.  I had previously contacted my friend Peter (from Mofo Distribution - Sole Tech distributor in Hungary) to meet up.  I had told him that I wanted to make it to Hungary on the way out, but that did not work out, so I was pretty happy that we were able to see each other on the return trip.  Budapest is an awesome city.  It is grand, like Paris but smaller. It can be seen that there used to be (probably still is) a lot of wealth there.
Budapest: a view of Pest from the Buda side
This guy looks like a Ring-Wraith from Lord of the Rings
I ended up doing a Free Walking Tour in Budapest for about 2.5 hours.  That was pretty cool to see some highlights of the city. After, I walked around the city and ended up at the House of Terror.  This museum was more of a remembrance to the past: Nazi and Communist occupation.  It described what actually happened during those times.  I could not help think that this type of museum is needed in every country to depict the atrocities that have occurred. Humans seem to forget quickly the past.  Traveling through the former soviet countries, there is a big resurgence on the former communist days and how great they were.  I am sure there were some great parts of this political belief, but there were some equally horrifying parts which the House of Terror depicts.  Well worth the visit in case anyone goes to Budapest.
House of Terror - you will get the truth here
I almost decided to go to Bratislava, but in the end was persuaded to visit Vienna - I am glad I did.  I forgot about an old friend I have there, Hans-Joerg.  I worked with him in the past and was happy to remember he was there.  When I arrived at the first hostel (Hostel Ruthensteiner), they would not let me stay there because I only had an Amex card and not a Visa or Mastercard, even though I was paying cash.  It was a bit crazy and felt that they did a bit of face profiling on me and sent me to the 'party' hostel (Wombat). It was the first time I had been denied a stay at a hostel before.
My old roomie, Livia, told me to come here: Szimpla Kert - they serve the biggest (and cheapest) burgers in town!
Seeing Vienna was like reliving Budapest but much bigger and better.  Culture oozes from every crack in the city.  One of the highlights of walking around the city was seeing all the statues depicting fight scenes.  It is a bit strange but it must have been the flavor of the times. 
Welcome to Austria
Austria surprised me a bit.  I am used to bikers waving hands and feet to say 'hello' when crossing.  All the way to the border (in Hungary) this was the case.  As soon as I crossed into Austria the greetings stopped.  It was very strange for me.  I was not expecting the friendliness amongst bikers to cease, but it did - very sad in my humble opinion.  There are a lot of bikers in Vienna, so maybe this is the reason for the unfriendliness...maybe.
Vienna is obsessed with fountains, especially those with the spouts in the mouths of the statues/sculptures (it was pretty cool, I really dig fountains now, after this journey)
This was a representation of the people under Nazi rule
This was my favorite of the "dominating sculpture" series that can been seen all around Vienna - man choking a 3-headed dog
Vienna's awesomeness
I noticed in Vienna that my rockstar status has quickly diminished.  The more east one rides, the more attention he/she gets.  Now I am in the west, I am just like everyone else, even getting declined a place to sleep - something which would never happen in the east.  I had a great time with HJ and Angie.  I was super glad to have been able to meet up with them for the afternoon and dinner. 
Next stop...Prague!
All packed and ready to go

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