Crumpets and Crumble

I woke up at 1 pm on November 9, 2011.  I really needed it since I didn’t have good sleep the night before.  Ivan was already awake.

We decided to stay in Southend for the day to get some rest.  I worked on the blog and uploaded pictures to Facebook.  Ivan chilled out and used the internet.

We had lunch with Denise and Ken at the house.

Later in the afternoon, we had crumpets and tea.  I love crumpets!!

It was time to go out for dinner.  We went to Rendezvous Casino.  We got the 4 three course meal deal for £55 which includes a bottle of wine. 

Ivan and I each had the broccoli soup which was too spicy for me.  Ivan finished mine.  I had a prawn egg roll.  For our main courses, Ivan got haddock and I got vegetable strudel which was more like an egg roll. 

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For dessert, I got a tasty apple crumble and Ivan got a great fruit pudding.  It’s always nice to spend quality time with Ivan’s parents.  It was a really good meal.

We went back to the house.  Ivan and I watched tv and later I walked on the blog.

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One Man, Two Scones

Ivan woke up early at 7 am on November 8, 2011.  Ivan went to have his fiancé visa interview at 8 am.  Ivan and I are getting married in Las Vegas, so we need to get a fiancé visa.  I woke up at 7:30 am.  He left and I went back to sleep.

Ivan came back at 10 am.  He didn’t have the right birth certificate – he needed the long birth certificate.  He also didn’t have his financials.  The guy at the U.S. Embassy said that we were approved, but he would have to get his birth certificate and financials to him.  He said that a courier could come get it and deliver it to the Embassy.  We gathered our luggage and checked out of Piccadilly Backpackers.

We walked to McDonald’s and used the free internet.  Ivan ordered a copy of his long birth certificate online.

Ivan thought we should check out a movie.  We went to see Tower Heist.  It turned out to be ok.  Ivan thought it was horrible.

We went to have tea at Dean Street Townhouse.  Ivan and I each shared crumpets, two scones and tea. 

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The back room looks like a cozy living room with a fireplace.  I heard three American girls talking about the clotted cream.  One thought it was almond.  We chilled out reading our newspapers and drinking tea. 

We checked out the Kidrobot store.

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I love the cool figures.  I wish we could have a big one in our house.

We left at 5:10 pm and walked to the Indian restaurant Mela.  Ivan and I shared papda chaat, garlic and pepper calamari, salmon tikka and fish curry.  It was a tasty meal again.

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Lil Dave went to see the farce Two Monkeys, One Banana.  Ivan and I went to see the farce One Man, Two Guvnors.  The farce stars the actor James Corden (star of Gavin & Stacey) who plays Francis.  It’s about a man who ends up with two guvnors (bosses).  He tries to please both and many funny situations arise.  We had a great seat in the front row.  At one point, there was a scene where Francis can’t move a heavy trunk.  He looks into the front row and gets two guys to help him out.  One of the guys was Ivan.  Ivan went up on the West End stage.  James Corden pats his butt three times too.  He was backstage for a few minutes.  He thought it was really cool.  He saw tv screens where actors can see what’s happening on the stage.  Very cool! 

This farce was hilarious!! James Corden is really, really funny.  The best scene is the food scene where Francis is trying to serve both his guvnors at the same time.  If you have a chance, go see it!!

We got the train back to Southend which takes an hour.

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London again

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9 am on November 7, 2011.  We packed everything up and gave the keys back.

We walked to the train station.  The train was about to leave so we jumped on without buying tickets.  We saw a ticket inspector coming near us.  The lady asked us for our tickets.  Ivan said that we had to rush onto the train, so we didn’t get a chance to buy a ticket.  He asked if he could buy tickets.  The lady said no and there would be a fine of 750 Danish Krone ($136 USD).  We didn’t even have that much on us.  The lady saw that we were traveling to the airport.  She said that it would be fine this time.. but next time we’d better have a ticket. 

We arrived to the airport and checked in.

Ivan got Boingo internet and we both used the internet.  Our plane was due to take off at 12:05 pm, but the plane arrived late – so we ended up leaving at 12:40 pm.  The flight from Copenhagen to London, England was an hour and a half long.  We arrived at 1:05 pm.

I was waiting in the long line at Immigration.  One of the guys looked nice, so I hoped that I would get him.  The Immigration people are always a bit mean to me.  I got the nice guy and walked up.  He asked me the usual stuff.  He noticed that I wrote mime as my job (I put mime down to be funny, Ivan puts clown).  He said You put mime as a job.  What’s this mime?  I did a bit of miming.  He said Ohhh.  He was really interested in me being a mime.  He asked how long I’ve been doing it.  I said a year.  He said Do you do this in England?  I said Yes, but there’s a lot of competition in Covent Garden.  He said Are you going to get a proper job?  I said Yes, that’s why I’m going back to America.  He didn’t even ask for a return ticket.  He just wanted to know about my mime job.  How funny!!

We got our luggage and then took a train to London.  We stopped at the post office.  Ivan picked up some letters while I bought a few postcard stamps.  Ivan took the train to Southend because he forget his birth certificate there.  I went to Piccadilly Backpackers hostel to check in.  The guy at Reception said the elevator was broken, so I could leave my luggage downstairs to store.  I told him my boyfriend wouldn’t be there until later.

I went to Reception.  I got a really spaced out girl.  I was checking in for me and Ivan.  I asked for sheets.  She said that it wouldn’t be ready until 8 pm.  I thought she meant the rooms weren’t ready until 8 pm.  I said What am I going to do? and left the desk.  I went to the computer room and used the internet.

The guy from Reception had somebody bring my luggage up.  I kept using the internet for a few hours.  Ivan found me later.  Apparently it was a misunderstanding at Reception.  The sheets weren’t ready until 8 pm, not the room.  The stupid spacey girl didn’t even call after me to let me know.  I even came back later to get an internet card and she didn’t say a word to me.  I think she was high.  Ivan went to the room and nobody had seen me.  The employees at Reception said I checked in.  But, of course I didn’t get any keys or anything. 

We walked to The Comedy Store nearby. 

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Ivan and I each got a boring falafel salad.  Lil Dave got a banana salad.  Ivan and I also had potato wedges which were okay.  There was a charity event going on tonight. 

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We saw a few comedy comedians like Jack Dee, Jack Maloney, Alistair Barrie and The Boy with Tape on his Face.  The Boy with Tape on his Face was really funny.  Check out a video of him here.

Source: The Boy with Tape on his Face picture

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Christiania Walking

On Nov. 7, 2011, Ivan, Lil Dave and I met at the Town Hall Square for the Sandeman’s Copenhagen free walking tour.  There was a huge group of people waiting for the tour to start.  The group was divided into three groups. 

We started walking with the Canadian guide Kirsten at 11 am.  We stopped at many places like the Tivoli Gardens, courthouse, Parliament, St. Nicholas’ church, Magasin du Nord, French National Theatre and NyHavn Harbor.  We took a 15 minute break at NyHavn. 

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Ivan and I went to bakery nearby and got some bread.

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Before the tour started again, we saw the changing of the guards.

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The group walked along the harbor.  We stopped at Playwright theatre, the Opera house – which is on its own island, Frederick’s Church and the Royal Palace. 

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At the end, Kirsten told us the story of the Danish James Bond.  It’s about a man who managed to escape Denmark twice and escape to England.  This was a great walking tour. 

We learned on the tour that Tivoli Gardens won’t be opening until November 11.  We really wanted to go to this amusement park.  The park will have lovely Christmas decorations.  We’ll have to return another time to come enjoy it.

We went to Restaurant Puk for lunch.  Ivan ordered Puk’s crown herring with aquavit, sour cream and dill.  Lil Dave got fried bananas with sour cream.  I got warm filet of flounder with tartare sauce.  We also had a weird mature cheese with jam.  I didn’t like it since the taste lingered while Ivan liked it.  It was a good meal.

We walked to Freetown Christiania

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It’s an autonomous place within Copenhagen where hash is freely sold.  We have never seen marijuana so openly sold.  According to their sign, selling hash is illegal.  But, there were a few stalls throughout Christiania selling hash.  This place has been around for 40 years.  Pictures aren’t allowed, but I took a couple anyway. 

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I had my DSLR camera around my neck without the lens on.  We stopped at a marijuana stall just to see it up close.  The guy at the stall asked if I could put the lens on my camera or put it away since they’re paranoid.  I bet they’re paranoid – they’re all potheads!  I put the lens on my camera.  I really wanted to see one of the cool houses that are made of mainly doors or glass windows, but we weren’t sure where they were located.  I found a picture of a house made out of glass windows on Google.

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We walked outside of Christiania.  We walked further along and saw an area where you have to pay to get in.  Maybe that’s where the cool houses are.  There was a cool building outside that area.

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We walked to a souvenir shop.  I bought a couple postcards to send out. 

We went back to the apartment to use the internet.

We went to a pizzeria nearby and picked up a few calzones.  Ivan and I watched the tv show Mongrels while we ate our dinner.

Source: Glass House picture

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Copenhagen

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up on November 5, 2011 at 10 pm.  We were all very hungry.

We had breakfast with John and his daughter.  We had some tasty bread and cheese.

Ivan and I took showers. 

We said thank you and good-bye to John. 

We left at 12:20 pm headed for the train station.  Ivan and I picked up sandwiches for us.

We got the train at 1 pm headed to Copenhagen.  We ate our sandwiches on the train during our 35 minute journey. 

We walked to the apartment we booked through AirBnb walking through a shady part of town.  We met the lady who’s apartment we were staying at.  We were staying in a room in her apartment.  She told us that we could use the living room if she wasn’t there – otherwise, don’t go in the living room if she was at home.  We thought that was rather odd and kind of mean.  She said that the weather was unusually warm for this time of year, usually it’s snowing already.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I chilled out.  Ivan and I used the internet. 

We left the apartment at 4 pm and headed to the city square.  We checked out the LEGO store

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It was an average sized store – we thought it would have been bigger since LEGO is a Danish company. 

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They have big LEGO figures there like a guard and a lady with a bicycle.  Lil Dave liked climbing on the dragon that was up high on the wall.  Ivan and I wished the store had the LEGO Taj Mahal.

We walked around the city.  Ivan and I stopped at an Irish bar called The Dubliner.  We tried the Christmas beer which was expensive.  It tasted alright. 

We checked out the restaurants, but they were so expensive.  Copenhagen is a very expensive city.  We headed back towards the apartment.  We found a pizzeria and an Indian restaurant that were more reasonable.  Ivan thought the Indian restaurant sounded good.  We got two curries and poppadums to go.

We watched a few shows on the laptop while we ate the tasty Indian dinner.

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Malmo

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 7:20 am on November 4, 2011.  We met up with the guy who rented the apartment to us.  He called a cab for us.  We said bye to him.  The cab left at 7:45 am headed to the airport.

We had a fast check-in at the small airport.  Our flight was set for 9:50 am, but it was delayed for an hour and forty minutes.  We were thankful for the free internet.  The food was expensive though.  Ivan and I each had a salad. 

The plane left at 11:30 am headed from Brno, Czech Republic to Malmo, Sweden.  I was so tired and fell asleep shortly after our plane took off.  Ivan watched Derren Brown: The Experiments show.  The plane landed at 11:10 pm.  There was no Immigration, so we just waited for our luggage and left the airport.

We got the bus to the city center in Malmo.  We weren’t meeting up with the Couchsurfer we were staying with until later tonight. 

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We walked around the city center trying to find a good place for lunch.  Every place was so expensive.

We went to Piccolo Mondo for lunch.  Lil Dave got a special banana pizza for himself.  I got tuna and onion while Ivan had a great sardine pizza.

We walked around more.  Ivan found Folk A Rock, a record shop and café with free wi-fi.  Ivan ordered tea and a raspberry cake. 

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The cake was so delicious!  We watched shows on the laptop like The Office.  We were there for three hours.  Ivan noticed one of the employees was giving us bad looks – guess we stayed there way too long.  Ivan bought a water. 

We left to meet up at John’s apartment which was only a few minutes away.  We arrived before the couchsurfer John.  He came five minutes later.  We said hello to him.  He said he had to pick up his daughter from daycare and that he’d be back shortly. 

We settled into our room for the night.  John came back with his cute daughter.  John’s friend Christoph came to visit a few minutes later.  We chatted with John and Christoph for awhile drinking white wine.  Christoph said bye since he was headed downtown.  We chatted with John drinking wine and watching videos on Youtube.  John told us about Sweden and Freetown Christiania in Denmark.  John brought a bottle of whisky and we had some of it as well.  It was strong.

Ivan and I didn’t have any dinner that night – only a liquid dinner.  It was getting quite late.  We said good night to John and went to bed at 2 am.

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Wine and Tea

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Gerloczy Café and Restaurant for lunch on November 3, 2011.  Ivan and I shared a pumpkin roll with cheese and vegetables with cod.  Lil Dave got a banana roll and a banana salad.

We walked around.  Ivan found a good teahouse to check out.  We went to Teahaz.  The menu had lots of teas.  Ivan and I chose some flavored black teas while Lil Dave got a banana tea. 

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The tea cups are little bowls, so you have to use both hands to pick them up.  Lil Dave decided to get a banana cake but it didn’t taste like banana at all.  Ivan and I got a raspberry cake to share.

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We walked around the Buda part and I took some pictures.

We walked to Faust Wine Cellar.   It’s a cool wine cellar underground. 

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Ivan and I got to try 4 red wines and 4 white wines.  We ordered a cheese plate as well.  Our sommelier would tell us about the wine before we tasted it.  It was great finding out about the wine and what he thought it tasted like.  I really don’t think it matters though.. if it’s good, it’s good. 

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We got drunk drinking all the wines.  It was a great experience and reasonably priced. 

We walked to a fish restaurant (can’t recall the name).  Ivan and I each had a Hungarian fish soup which was very tasty.

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We walked back to the apartment stuffed.

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Communist Guns

On November 2, 2011, Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Central Market

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The market has vegetables, fruit, paprika and souvenirs for sale.  Ivan and I shared a cherry strudel.  We didn’t find any exciting souvenirs there.

We walked to get some lunch.  We picked up a trdalnik with nuts this time.  It tastes a lot better with cinnamon.  We also got some French onion soup with rye bread which turned out to be really plain.

We went back to the apartment.  We packed up our stuff and left.

We met a guy at the Jewish Synagogue.  It was the guy renting an apartment through AirBnB.  He was very friendly.  The Antique Apartment is really cool filled with antiques around the apartment.  There was also food like fruit (bananas for Dave!), bread and jam. 

Ivan, Lil Dave and I used the internet. 

We walked to meet at Vörösmarty square for the free Communist tour.  Our tour guide was a woman named Agnes.  She lived through communism in Budapest.  Hungary is now a post communism democracy.

A communist building would have small flats with a small kitchen.  The flats would be like a sauna in the summer and really cold in the winter.  The kids were kept busy with a 6 day a week schedule.  The government didn’t want the people to state their views. 

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These flats go for 250 euros a month now.  That’s expensive especially since the average salary is 500 euros a month.

We saw St. Stephan’s Basilica.  Agnes said that during communism families had to choose between church or career.  Her parents picked church, so they worked in a factory.

When a kid was born… later there was a name giving ceremony, no baptism.  The ceremonies were rather boring.  There was a party with vodka.  At 6 years old, kids had to join the Little Drummers and be an active Communist member.  At 10 years old, they had to join the next movement where they lived to work together. 

They had two passports: a red one where they could go to Communist countries and a blue one for the other countries.  She talked about how her family went to Austria.  They never saw so many bananas.  They would only see bananas at Christmastime since they were imported from South America or North America.  They tried to bring back a bunch of bananas.  But, they were stopped at the border and the bananas were confiscated.  They thought that they would try to sell the bananas.  Lil Dave has a great, great monkey uncle who lived in Budapest during that time.  He was the ringleader of a secret banana shop.  He got bananas from other countries since he had secret connections.

Agnes said communism phased out since it was too expensive to run.  Now that it’s a democracy, it’s a valueless world.  The free education isn’t good.  There’s better education in church schools. 

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We saw a bomb shelter.  It’s never been used and still isn’t used today.  Agnes thought they could use it for the homeless.

The public hospitals are free today, but not really.  Agnes said she refused to pay extra when she had her first baby.  That was a mistake because she got really bad service.  Her second baby, she did pay extra to the doctor and nurses and then got excellent service.

We saw the War Memorial which is right near the U.S. Embassy. 

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I saw a statue of Ronald Reagan.  We saw the Man on the Bridge Memorial which is the man Imre Nagy.  He’s a martyr and prime minister of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956.

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If you walk across the bridge, it represents the journey from communism to democracy.  I didn’t walk across it, but Agnes said that it wasn’t an easy journey since it’s bumpy.

We saw others sites like Parliament and the Eternal Flame.  Agnes says the government keep the alcohol cheap to keep the people happy. 

Our last stop was the ruin pub Instant.  Agnes showed us Communist pictures and her Communist passports.  This was a wonderful interesting walk.  If you would like to learn more about Communist times, I definitely would recommend going on this walking tour.

We walked back to the apartment for a rest. 

Ivan set up something for later tonight, but he was keeping it a surprise.

A cab picked us up at 7 pm.  We drove for 30 minutes.  We arrived at the Celeritas Shooting Club.  It’s an underground bunker in an old Communist building.  There were two Irish couples waiting to do some shooting.  Ivan booked the Shoot ‘Em All package.  The guy who helped us was really nice. 

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He took close-up pictures of Ivan and me shooting. 

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We shot many guns like pistols (beretta, glock, colt 1911A1), revolvers (Smith & Wesson 629 – Dirty Harry, Colt King Cobra & Taurus 941) and rifles (machine gun, AK-47, sniper). 

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It was loud and lots of fun!!  You realize how dangerous guns are… especially since at any time anybody could have killed somebody in that room.

We got a cab to Octagon.  We didn’t see many people doing the pub crawl.  So, we walked to Klassz for dinner.  Ivan and I shared smoked lentil soup, poached egg, fairy ring risotto and goats cheese lasagne.  Lil Dave got banana and chicken soup and banana risotto.  The food was delicious again.

We walked back to the apartment and called it a night.

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Ruin Tour

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to get food on November 1, 2011 before the free walking tour.  The bread lángos stall wasn’t open yet, so we got a pumpkin seed pretzel.  It was rather tasteless though. 

We went to meet at Vörösmarty square up for the free walking tour.  Our guide was a man named Andrew.  Budapest is divided into two parts: Buda and Pest.  Buda is hilly while Pest is flat. 

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The tour took us to many places like József nádor Square, Erzsébet square, St. Stephen’s Basilica and Matthias Church.  I love walking tours since it covers all the best sites in the city. 

There’s a Lock of Love tree in Erzsébet square. 

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If you love somebody, you put a lock on this tree.  Very cool idea!

We walked up a big hill and got a great view of the city.

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The tour ended near Matthias Church. 

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Our guide told us tips and recommendations for the city.  When you pay for your bill in Budapest, don’t say thank you – because if you say thank you, they will think you don’t want any change back.  Andrew recommended a few ruin bars and bath houses. 

The guide had a R2D2 belt.. I told Ivan anybody with an R2D2 belt is cool with me. I love Star Wars!

We stopped by a lookout that was free right by the Matthias Church.  Ivan and I took a few pictures there.

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Ivan and I walked to the bread lángos stall.  We each got one with cheese on it.

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Lil Dave got cheese and added his bananas on top.  I love these bread lángos!!!  We also got a trdalnik, the sweet pastry, with cinnamon.

We walked back to the apartment.  Ivan used the internet while I worked on the blog.

Later, we walked to Klassz for dinner.  It’s a great restaurant.  Ivan and I shared roasted smoked paprika soup, pumpkin salad, goats cheese lasagne and fairy ring risotto.  Lil Dave got banana soup and a banana lasagne.  The food was quite tasty!

We wanted to do a pub tour, but nobody was really there.  Ivan thought we should try to do it tomorrow instead.

We walked to the ruin pub Instant

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Ruin pubs are old abandoned buildings that have been transformed into cool bars filled with weird art. 

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It was a really quiet night with very few people inside.  There are many rooms including a few bars and a place for live music.  We stayed for a short time since not much was really going on.

Source: Instant bunny art installation picture

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Budapest

On October 31, 2011, Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 7:20 am.  Veronika was the only one at the apartment.  There was lots of food available like toast, eggs and vegetables. 

Veronika walked us to the tram stop and told us what tram to get to the train station.  We said thank you and good-bye to her.  The tram came quickly and we were off to the train station.

We got tickets for Budapest.  We took the train at 8:24 am headed to Budapest, Hungary.  Ivan and I watched the movie Human Centipede II which turned out to be an okay movie.. not good like the first one.  It was gory and gross, but not an interesting story.  We also watched episodes of Pete Versus Life.  The train journey was 4 hours and 11 minutes.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I were all hungry.  Ivan saw a stall selling bread lángos.  It’s a bread covered with cheese or other things like pork.  We each got one with cheese.  Lil Dave added his own bananas on top.  They tasted sooo good!

We walked to the apartment we rented through AirBnB.  We met up with the guy who rents it out. 

Ivan used the internet while I worked on the blog. 

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We walked around Budapest for awhile.  I was checking out the souvenir shops.

Ivan and I got a hot mulled wine.  It definitely warms you up and tastes great!

We went to the Greek restaurant Taverna DIonysos for dinner. 

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Ivan and I shared eggplant salad, spinach strudel, lentil soup, smoked fish filet and sole with cheese.  Lil Dave got a banana salad,  banana soup and banana strudel.  The food was delicious!!

We walked around some more.  We saw people dressed up in the square for Halloween.  Not much going on there though.

We walked back to the apartment.  Ivan and I used the internet and later I worked on the blog.

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