1 June 2013
Buda and Pest, Budapest. This city instantly became my favorite the moment I saw the view of Buda rising over the Danube River. Why is this city my favorite? I have been asking myself that all day… It seems like every new city I go to becomes my favorite. I think it has a lot to do with the excitement and curiosity in experiencing something different. In the past 7 days I have been in 7 different countries…thanks to night trains our experience has been fantastic. A lot of people would prefer not to travel this way, but I cannot imagine having traveled any other way. Having such a short timespan between visiting different countries has really allowed me to compare them in ways that most people never get to experience. We get out in the city usually before 8 in the morning and do not return to our hostel, host family, or night train until after 9 in the evening. Experiencing the beauty and creativity of one city and then waking up to experience a completely new city in a different country is incredible. It almost seems surreal. Up to this point I have failed to talk about one of the most innovative inventions in recent history…the train. Although the American train system is a whole lot different than the one here in Europe, it cannot be denied that trains revolutionized our nation. Carrying cargo and people long distances was nearly unheard of before the invention of the train. We would not be able to do what we are doing now in Europe without the modern train, it would be too expensive and time consuming. The train system is a perfect illustration of an innovation that solve a problem many people face…not enough time or money but the love and desire to travel.
Backpacking Europe has taught me more than I ever thought was imaginable. I can work any train/metro/tram/bus system, drink any water, use any bathroom, carry all my possessions on my back for miles, sleep in the train station, sleep in night trains, wash my clothes in the sink… All the grand things in life. This trip has taught me to be grateful for everything I have, and when I go home I am definitely going to shower, cook, and wash my clothes every free second I have….literally. As much as I talk about all the things that are different and that I miss, if I could I would continue traveling throughout Europe for the rest of my life! …or at least for several more months! Although there is a time and a place for everything and Oxford is calling my name here in a week, and I am stoked! My summer has been the most incredible experience of my life, and it will only get better!
In about 5 hours I will have expanded my “European countries visited” list to 12…
Growing up with a family tradition of loving boardgames, discovering the Ticket to Ride game was one of the best things that ever happened to us. It is a game where each player is given 45 trains and a series of tickets between destinations. For each train you place and ticket you complete you earn points in which hopefully is more than your opponents. Ticket to Ride Europe is our family favorite, and the majority of the reason why I know so much about Europe geography. I
came to Europe knowing where so many places were already, it was quite convenient.
I have always had pretty good luck in playing this game, but once I come home I am going to have an even greater advantage…One of the rules of the game is whoever has been to the most countries gets to go first. Can you guess who wins this EVERY TIME? My mother of course. Watch out tho Mother, my country list is expanding literally overnight…hence the night trains. You best be worried. Exactly how many countries have you been to? I need to know so that I can make sure I come back with one more and claim the official beginning position in our beloved Ticket to Ride board game. Dare to share…
Budapest is beautiful and this morning we were able to experience its beauty in a different kind of way. David and his family shared their morning breakfast with us and talked with us about their life in Hungary. Both David and his wife are from Budapest and they have three adorable daughters. I felt a special bond with his family the second I walked in their home and saw how clean and healthy they lived their lifestyles. They even made me feel unhealthy, which is hard to do, because they literally eat only “whole” foods. The breakfast they served us consisted of eggs, whole vegetables rice cakes, homemade applesauce, and some delicious homemade cracker spreads as well. I have loved spending the past couple days with their family and I hope to come back and visit them shortly. Thank you Gyenes family!
We took the metro into the city and walked up the famous Andrassy Avenue starting near the river and walking towards hero square. Unfortunately, I do now know much about the square besides that it is a memorial for several Hungarian Heroes. It truly is a beautiful square with many statues and monuments honoring those who served Hungary in noble ways. Behind the square we found a little surprise…one that I wish I would of been able to discover with my brother Derek. Right next to the Vajdahunyad Vara, a large castle like building, was a beautiful river with a cable course for wakeboarding! I wanted to go so bad but because of our train schedule decided it was probably not a smart decision. It was incredible to see a sport that I didn’t think existed in this part of the world, right in front of my eyes and happening in one of the most beautiful cable courses I have ever seen.
RIght now we are on our way to Zagreb in Croatia. This is a destination that was not on our original itinerary and I am so excited to see what it is like! Croatia just sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it?
We arrived in Croatia at about 9 this evening… We went looking for a hostel, but somehow found ourselves in the Dalmatia Coast mission home in Zagreb. All I have to say is that there is someone above watching over us. Tomorrow we will be attending church with the mission president and his family. David was able to connect us with his friend who lives here in Zagreb, who picked us up from the train station and dropped us off at the mission president’s home…we are a bunch of lucky ducks is all I have to say!