Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Next Hop - North Island


The Hop on-Hop off bus is well organized. First you take one bus from your hotel to a meeting point where you then transfer from there for whichever tour you want. The plan for today was to do the north island, but before starting out, we opted to take advantage of the free boat cruise included in our 2 day tickets. The cruises end early afternoon, so if we did a north island circuit, we would miss out. 

Disappointingly, we were the last to get on the boat as they stopped those behind us due to lack of room. In hindsight, I had wished they had stopped us too. Ron had to force the three people who spread out over a four person bench to get them to scoot over making room for him as the fourth. The majority of the benches were facing the front of the boat. My only option was to sit with 2 others who were diagonal to all the rest. We had our backs to the captain’s area while staring over the port side.

The commentary was a mix of recorded with the guide adding to it. If I heard it once, I heard it fifty times “on the right side of the boat you will see…” The three of us benched on the port side were not able to see anything unless the boat did a full circle. By the time the boat circled around, I was concentrating on the current commentary, so missed the info about what we had passed. Not one point of interest was on the left side. Turning our heads would have been unproductive as the view was blocked by the bridge or whatever the nautical term happens to be. Quite honestly, I don’t care to know, because I was smoking by that point. We were in full exposure of the sun while the others were under an awning. I swear I could hear my skin sizzle. The temperature was 36C or 96.8F. Under better circumstances, I would have enjoyed this 90 minute boat ride.

Adding insult to injury, the north island bus was delayed by a half an hour. They were not sure if the delay was due to traffic or if it had broken down en route. It seems the buses do break down frequently, but a replacement bus is on the spot within minutes. This morning, we looked at the potential stops with their descriptors to decide on how to plan our time. 

Once we arrived at the respective stops, the plans changed dramatically. Like all well written script, the tourism propaganda made each stop sound like paradise lost had been found. In actuality, in some instances they were more like Dante’s Inferno. Our only stop where we hopped off was at Rabat and Mdina (Maltese spelling). We walked around the area in the blistering hot sun, but went into St. Paul’s Cathedral and Museum to cool off by paying admission of €10 each for the privilege. 

Once back at the hotel, it was a choice between a nap or a dip in the pool. Considering the pool hours end at 5:30 (definitely too early), the nap won out. We would have only had about 20 minutes in the water before having to leave. A shower would feel just as delicious.

Walking down to the waterfront again, we chose the next door neighbor to last night’s restaurant. Tonight was the Bad Bull Restaurant. It was a risky venture as last night, Victoria was turning people away while Bad Bull was trying to herd them in off the square. We both ordered the rack of BBQ pork ribs. Oh my gawd, they were orgasmic. There was so much meat on each, and the sauce was excellent. Definitely an excellent choice. We walked around the square some to work off the meal. 

Lest I forget, the typical Maltese dishes are rabbit stew, rabbit in spaghetti sauce, and bragoli. This is something that had to have been imported from Italy. My grandmother made this when I was a child, but the recipe is slightly different. The Maltese version is here. We did not try any of the Maltese specialties. There is something about eating Bugs Bunny that doesn't sit well with me. 

On the way back, we thought we would sit and watch the bocce games again, but tonight was Bingo. A hundred or more ladies with about a dozen men were hunkered over their cards as the numbers appeared electronically and then called. The caller would say it like “thirty-seven that is three and seven”. Perhaps for those not totally fluent in English, I don’t know. While we were watching a twenty-something man got Bingo. 

There are a number of restaurants situated below street level, closer to the beach. One of these has a humungous patio where the tables are pushed back to allow for dancing. This was our entertainment for about ¾ of an hour each night. They had a wide assortment of music for line dancing to the foxtrot and tango. Dozens of couples were out on the dance floor showing their stuff. It was lovely to see. 

When we returned to the hotel, there was a solo singer replacing karaoke. Strangely enough, there were only a handful of people in the audience. He actually was quite enjoyable, making it a puzzle why it was not crowded.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Let's Do the Hop


The breakfast buffet is open for business from 7:30 to 9:30am. The treat is the coffee machine because it makes espresso drinks. I had multiple cappuccinos with extra shots of espresso added. It is typical British breakfast with the addition of friend tomatoes and baked beans. The wait staff reminded me of the shark in Jaws. They circle around the tables waiting for someone to leave a glass or plate unguarded so they can swoop in to grab it. No dirty knife has a chance with them around.

In the hotel lobby is a tour desk where a lovely British lady who has spent too much time in the sun sells the travel packages. She offers the Hop–on Hop-off bus tours, though there are 3 companies providing similar services. We questioned her about a number of options, but finally booked the Hop-on and off with her as well as a full day Gozo tour. It includes transport there with lunch and transport back making for a ten hour day. The 2 day hopping tours with the free cruise ran us €30 each while the Gozo trip was €55 each for the organized tour.

We started hopping shortly after with the red tour, which comprised the entire south island. To do a full round of the tour would take a full three hours. This was going to take the entire day based on their ending times for the day. We did get off at the stop for the Hypogeum Underground Temple complex (a UNESCO World Heritage site), but you have to pre-book the tour. It has been booked up through August 31st.  We were able to see the Tarxien Temple Ruins, which were created in four different stages that ranged from 3,600 BC to a more modern 2,000. Before we left, our friend Hunter had mentioned that the statue of the “Sleeping Goddess” was found here in Malta. When we were unsuccessfully trying to get into Hypogeum Underground Temple, I spotted a postcard of a woman sleeping. It stated it is named the “Sleeping Lady” which they date back to 2,500 B.C.

Some of the villages have terribly kitschy porcelain stands about 7 feet high where 7 foot statues of saints or other religious figures are standing. These were lining the street across from a church, which would not be so awful if they were not also gaudy.  Every village and city has at least one Catholic Church, but there are 365 in the country. As the commentator stated, there is one for every day of the year. Strangely, though they are abundant, we have not found any open yet.

The next time we left the bus was at a small fishing village where we had lunch along the waterfront. I had tasty focaccia bread with goat cheese and tomato shared with Ron who in turn shared his antipasto. Like so many of the others, the church on the square was closed.

I am not loving Malta. I had anticipated something, but it is missing yet it is causing me a mini crisis trying to identify what it is. Some of the contributing factors I believe are that the cities are small and don’t seem to have an abundance of offerings mixing culture with entertainment. There is extensive traveling involved getting from one city to another city; it could take an hour or more. The public transportation is not even close to being great. Buses run about every 30 minutes, but end by 11pm. When we were on the public bus last night, I was watching young people dressed to party. I could not help but wonder how they would return home, unless they stay out until the next morning to get the start of the new day busses.

Ending the day’s tour, the bus delivered all of us to back to our respective hotel. We went for a swim before the pool closed at 5:30 and took naps in the shade trying to escape more sun. Today’s temperature was reported to be 36 centigrade. HOT!!

Before leaving home, I had found a list of recommended popular budget restaurants. Thinking I would have Internet access, I never printed it out. Now we are sunk. I cannot get it without shelling out €6 for the privilege. I thought that with proper hints, the tourism lady may be able to come up with some idea, but she was clueless. She did recommend a restaurant named Victoria Pub and Dinner at Bugibba Square. She never said she ate there, but she did say it was always filled with people; this was her restaurant rating barometer. Giving us explicit directions, since no one knows the names of any streets here, we headed off.

As we walked to the waterfront in pursuit of Victoria, I realized that a main factoring influence in my disliking the country is the architecture. Actually, one could say the lack thereof, as most of it is undeniably lacking any architectural accruements which would offer a variety. For the most part, buildings are downright boring when they are so repetitiously styled. Those buildings that have any modicum of interest look as if they were designed in the 70s, but have not been refurbished since. Even the buildings pointed out by tour commentary as being significantly Baroque are so barely decorated as to be considered Baroque at all. Then I wondered how these people must feel when they go to cities like Florence that revel in colors and styles, flaunting their décor and then return to the spectrum of beige. This is similar what I disliked about Morocco where every building was pink; here they are all shades of bland beige. They are so mind numbingly unattractive, one risks turning into a sleepwalker after walking three blocks down a street.

As we made our way down the waterfront, we stopped to watch a professional Bocce ball tournament that was in progress. Similar to the Italian version, this has quirks. There are can-like resin blocks that they throw to move the opponent’s ball out of the way. This is decidedly different from the Italian version of bocce that I grew up with. Surrounding the playing court was a regular little stadium filled with spectators.
Victoria set a lovely table. I had a set dinner menu with choices. First was a salad with goat cheese, followed by a pork chop with bacon and onion brown gravy. It was surrounded by an abundant assortment of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, which were cooked perfectly. On the side was French fries and for dessert, the choice I knew Ron would share was cheesecake. Ron had Maltese ravioli, just like Italian, but stuffed with ricotta with a garlic and basil sauce. The square was truly alive with people sitting around the square or eating in restaurants.

When we returned to the hotel, there was karaoke going on in the back pool area. We took seats at a table to listen to some contenders among the 150 others in the audience. The woman singing when we entered was quite enjoyable. The next three acts were not so memorable, making us realize how tired we were. We scooted up to our room.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ejja Tgħallem Malti


Siculo-Arabic is the ancestral language of Maltese, coming from Sicily through Arabic roots. This makes up about 40% of the vocabulary. About 40% was borrowed from the Italian/Sicilian dialect and about 20% from English. It is a Semitic language and the only one to use a modified Latin alphabet. Maltese and English are co-official languages of the country. Interestingly, young people speak English with hesitation and pauses as they seem to be thinking about what they are going to say.

This is from BBC Languages Across Europe

Maltese is spoken by almost 400,000 people in Malta and Gozo, and some 100,000 in Australia, the US, Canada, Italy and the UK.
The Maltese alphabet consists of 30 letters including six special ones:
Ċ pronounced ch as in cherry
Ġ pronounced j as in jam
mostly silent
Ħ pronounced h as in hard (normally, H is silent except at end of words when it's aspirated)
IE pronounced ee as in eel
Ż pronounced z as in buzz
The letter X is pronounced sh as in sheep, while Q sounds like a very deep K, and is produced by the vocal cords.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

The Perfect Beginning to a Malta Vacation


A line like this only appears in fairytales and crazy travel writers’ imaginations. In reality, it does not exist at all. Case in point is our own experience today. Our flight was at 6:45am, an ungodly hour, but the prospect of getting in at 9am was a trade-off.

We had “purchased large luggage carry-on” with Wizz Air, so we were set. After checking in due to our non-EU passports, we went directly to the Diners Club lounge, which to my surprise and thanks to Ron’s optimism, it was. Our lack of caffeine at home was remedied here with multiple espressos.

The flight was fine, just 2 hours and 5 minutes. We arrived on time and were in the airport by 9:10am. Our dilemma was that our hotel check-in was not until 2pm. After Ron checked the VIP Lounge, we were able to go to the Diners Club Lounge here too without boarding passes. We were not allowed to overstay the 3 hour maximum. After chugging another espresso, we were on the hunt for the tourism office. Darn, it did not open until 10am. It was now 9:33am. There was no sense in waiting, so we went to the bus booth to buy our daily tickets for €2.60 each. We were directed to the Express bus 3X, due to leave within minutes. The ticket seller said he was not sure which stop we needed, but the driver would know.

Yes, Mr. Chomsky, there is a Maltese language. Maltese is not only reserved for cute little dog breeds. There are some strange letters, though they claim it uses the Latin alphabet. Some g’s have a dot over them and the capital H’s have a double bar across. There are some words borrowed from Spanish and Italian, but reports that I read state it is not a Romance language and has no associations with other languages. Funny, where have I heard this before?

Forty-five minutes later, the bus showed up. There was not to be gotten any reliable information from the driver. He did not know. We were left to our own devices. After riding for 1 ½ hours, by 11:15am, Ron’s extrasensory map perception alerted him to the fact we were in the vicinity, but how close was still anyone’s guess. It turned out to be true. Once off the bus, we asked 6 different people for directions and each guessed incorrectly. It was not until 1pm when we arrived at the hotel where we were booked. Until that time, we were dragging our suitcases in the hot, hot sun up one street and down another. I know in some cultures, people will tell you anything rather than lose face by not being helpful. I guess once you are gone, they don’t care about their facial issues.

We had read dreadfully mixed messages about this hotel through review sites. Some were great while others trashed it. With an open mind, we asked that our room be changed as it was poolside. A common complaint was pool noise; they have karaoke in the evenings after dinner. Space concerns were lifted once entering the room. It was sufficiently roomy for 2 people. Clean sheets, clean floors, and a clean bathroom are about all you truly need if you have intentions of being out most of the day. There was an air conditioner unit above the dresser. We thought we hit the jackpot. What could be bad about this? Ask and you shall receive.

Ron went downstairs to ask about getting Wi-Fi. It is available for only €6 each day. When we asked how to operate the A/C since there were no controls visible, the clerk asked “Did you subscribe?” Well that is what is missing. The AC is by subscription only at €15 a night. I was afraid to ask what a full day would run us. There are signs everywhere asking guests not to bring room towels to the pool. “If you just enquire at reception, they will provide a pool towel”. (Hitch: There is a €10 deposit per towel and then a rental fee of €1 per day. This is like the EasyJet or RyanAir of hotels. No, we did not book through either cheapo airline. It seemed reasonable to get out of the lobby fast before they shared the hanging out in the lobby fees.

Next, another obstacle popped up; it was the electric outlets. My netbook was running out of juice; I knew the phone would need recharging. Though I was prepared with having the cords needed, I was not prepared for needing to have an adapter. They have British 3 prong plugs here. I should have guessed this would be the case when we discovered drivers were driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Somehow even the steering wheels were put on the opposite side of the cars from where they should be. This always causes me considerable anxiety. It looks like an accident waiting to happen all the time.

It was so particularly strange that we passed by dozens of restaurants when we were playing “Where in the country of Malta is our hotel”, but now that we wanted lunch, not one was open. We did find some Chinese on a balcony of a Chinese restaurant; how is that for coincidence? We asked if they were open, but no they don’t open until 6pm. Second thoughts are powerful! They agreed to feed us and took us in. If you are ever in this part of the world, I highly recommend New China Kingdom at Triq L-Alka, St. Paul’s Bay in Malta. My fried noodles with chicken were the best I have ever had. Ron had a sampler platter that we shared. Everything on it was fresh and delectable. The two beers that I chugged down didn’t hurt my outlook either.

Lack of sleep, hiking with suitcases for hours, and assorted fun with the reception at the hotel, after enjoying a good meal along with a couple of beers unquestionably needed to be followed with nap time. Post sleep, we took the bus to Valletta. We had a day transit card, so we figured we should get some use out of it. Valletta is 1 hour away.

As we were walking, a street crew was putting up towering red and gold banners with some insignias on them that had the smell of religious observance. We kept asking all the wrong people what they were for. No one had a clue. The balconies on the buildings reminded Ron of Peru and once he said it I had to agree. We knew the Hard Rock Café was in this city, but we had no idea if we would get back here, so the best insurance was to go tonight to get our pins. This was another obstacle course. Not one person knew for sure where it was or how to get there even with the information that it is on Bay Street. Street signs anywhere here are as common as a vaccine for the common cold. It was running to 8:15pm and we worried about catching the last bus back. Buses end at 11pm. Let me tell you, for Hard Rock being so elusive, it was hopping. We stayed for dinner, thinking there may not be options once we return to our area.

Returning was an adventure too. We had no idea where to get off the bus for our hotel. I had memorized the stores when we boarded initially, but now it was dark, the bus windows are tinted, and few people know more than how to get home themselves. Bus drivers are supposed to be helpful in this regard according to all, but it is not true. We found our way back by walking about 7 blocks from the bus stop we took a chance on.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Malta Tomorrow


This is where we will be tomorrow.  Located in the Mediterranean Sea 80 km south of Sicily, Malta is just over 316 km² (122 sq. miles), making it one of the world's smallest, but most densely populated countries. 

Our flight leaves at 6:45am and we arrive at 9:10am.

Pin It Now!

The Heat, the Sunshine and Sunshine


While the sun is still shining, we will be watching Sunshine and then we will watch the sun rise in the early morning. After we had discussed the movie Sunshine (A napfény íze 1999), ages ago with two of our friends, both professionals, they wanted to watch it. It is a brilliant film about Hungary during the Nazi occupation, with Ralph Fiennes playing three roles through three generations of one family. The director is István Szabó. If you have not seen it, it should be on your Netflix list for certain, but be careful as there are a number of movies named “Sunshine”. 

It has taken extraordinary pains to coordinate these two lovely ladies. My first priority was not to have personal company at any time we had B and B guests. I don’t think it is right to infringe on paying guests to have personal company in the living room watching television. This was the first limitation in picking dates. Then, our dear Reverend Doctor Hunter Roberts has to Skype call her US clients during the week, so any weekday is out for her. Our other dear friend is a US Embassy diplomat, so she is tethered to the ambassador and her duties. It is easier to herd cats or fleas than it is these two along with our own scheduling snarls.

We finally agreed on Sunday, July 28, 2013. Today! Karyn agreed to pick up pizzas at our favorite Italian restaurant and bring them over. Hunter is a wine snob, so she was delegated with supplying wine. We are supplying the movie, comfy seating, a huge salad and fabulous company. At 6pm, we convene for this 3 hour movie.

Hunter sent me an SMS earlier asking if we had air conditioning. The temperature is tottering around 90 degrees plus a few degrees here and there. This is fairly typical for July, but a bit hotter than usual. I only could laugh at the message. Air conditioning? How long has she been in Hungary? Three years at the least and she doesn’t realize that air conditioning is as common as finding polar bears in Nebraska. Give me a break! I am waiting for her to cancel out at which time I will create her replica in doll form for some Voodoo doings. After all the back and forth calls, messages, and e-mails, she had better not bail out on this spectacular event or risk blacklisting.

So, in preparation for this evening, I knew I had the movie on DVD. Ah, but the glitch is that our DVD player broke down months ago and we have not bothered with it since. Panic set in, but I realized I did have a copy of the movie on the computer, which can go on a USB stick, which then in turn can plug into the TV.

Just as if I were setting up a significant happening, I did a test run of the movie on the computer this morning. Using VLC Player, I just clicked well into the movie to see if it was playing without a hitch. Uh, why am I seeing a team of astronauts talking? Holy Cinema and Popcorn, Batman, I have Sunshine (2007), which according to IMDB is about “a team of astronauts are sent to re-ignite the dying sun 50 years into the future.” The flood of words that ran the rapids of my mind is not fit to print. Let’s just say I did find the movie du jour and all is well.

What I forget was that the movie is 3 hours long. Normally, this would not be a bad thing, except we have a 6:45 am flight to Malta tomorrow morning. Doesn’t look like much sleep in our forecast.

So we are bearing the sunshine, by baring as much as is socially acceptable and bearing the clothes we must wear while watching Sunshine and then getting up too early in the morning with the sun shining.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sólyom, Not Shalom


Sólyom, not to be confused with Shalom

This really cracks me up. There is a new airline coming to Budapest wanting to be the flagship carrier that replaces Malev, the Hungarian airline that went landing gear up. Today, there was an article on the progress of this airline in one of the ex-pat online services. This is really not news for anyone who follows the Hungarian news via English portals, which there are many. I have been following this airline development for some time now.

So Sólyom has been in the planning stages for quite some time in the public area, but most likely much longer on the drawing board. A week ago, the CEO of Wizz Air stated in an interview this was not a good time for a new airline to start out of the boarding gate. Besides the economy, he pointed out that airline fuel was at an all-time high here in Europe, the Hungarian forint is fighting the Euro, and the cost of leasing planes makes it prohibitive to have enough routes not to consider the fact that there will be considerable losses that will take decades to recoup.

Though they are propelling the notion that the airlines is more Hungarian than the seven tribesmen, when push comes to shove, the news reports “A tourism enterprise registered in Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman is a minority owner in the airline. A well-capitalized investor with extensive international relations, registered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, provides additional financial resources necessary for the development of the airline.”

How Hungarian can you get? For a real belly laugh, I read the comments on FB after the full most recent article was posted. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Frommer Phoenix Rising


To confirm that you cannot keep a good man down, Arthur Frommer is setting yet another example that this is a truism. You may remember my reporting, mourning, whining when Google bought out the Frommer’s brand from John Wiley Publications last year. Well, just a few months ago, there was a small article, not well distinguished amongst the other pieces, but the Frommer name screamed for my attention.

Arthur Frommer was not pleased with the Google alliance, which essentially shut him out. His name was a trademark, but Wiley Publishers held the cord that bound. Arthur who is in his 80s and his daughter Pauline, a stalwart addition to the line of Frommer’s travel series with her own line of titles, jointly have taken back the castle. Arthur has bought the rights back to his name. So the next time someone asks ‘What’s in a name?’ you can answer potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars. Personally, with the Google takeover, a rose by any other name did not smell just as sweet.

Aside from Arthur Frommer being my adventuresome hero, it was a pleasure and honor to pen books under his name. When it looked as if this were to end with the last Europe book that came out in December 2012, there unquestionably was a heartsickness that permeated my soul.

Then the phoenix knocked at my door or more specifically, my e-mail mailbox. I received an e-mail from the online editor for She explained that in order to build their brand name to what it once was updating the website was a necessity. Would I be interested? Would I need to be asked twice? I don’t think so. Yet, I remembered the first go around with this back in 2006. There was no reality until the contract appeared.

The contract appeared yesterday in an e-mail, which I need to sign and return. The web update will be much less rigorous than writing a book. They only want a total of 46 listings. The breakdown is 14 hotels, 12 museums, 16 restaurants, and 4 nightlife adventures. Most of this I could do in my sleep. I go to the museums regularly. We have been eating out more often recently than we have in the past and with the ruins pubs and other hotspots; it will be a piece of cake, diabetic of course. I have until November 1st to complete the work and my name will be listed.

I cannot tell you how many e-readers have told me they would never go without a paper guidebook when they travel. Amen to that!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pet Nuts


As I was riding lost in the city not knowing where the heck I was and not even being able to spot a street sign to attempt to figure out what district I was in, I saw this store sign. It took my mind off of my situation for a few minutes while I tried snapping a picture through the bus window as we were moving and I was laughing. 

My guess is it refers to people who are nuts about their pets.

Pin It Now!

Pass the Time, Pass the Stop, Pass for the Bus


What could be better on a hot day than go to a museum? The Fine Arts Museum is hosting the Egon Schiele exhibit from Vienna. Since Ron docents there, he usually goes to all the temporary exhibits by the time I even notice them in the subway stations. With my Press Pass, I get in for free, so I get to museums more often than when I had to calculate the cost enjoyment ratio.

Schiele was born in 1890; his father died when he was young. Neither his mother nor the uncle who was his principal financial supporter wanted him to become an artist. It turns out Schiele had substantial mother issues that became evident with much of his work. She was a cold woman who never should have had children. We are grateful she had him.

What impressed me the most was the way he created faces, but more specifically, his choices of color. Two portraits in particular used shades of oranges and turquoise not only around the complexion, but in folds by the nose of each. One was the self-portrait that identified the show.

Egon, an Austrian, was a protégé of Gustav Klimt after he showed the famed artist some of his sketches to evaluate. Klimt became his friend, but later in Egon’s life he moved on with his own style distancing him from Klimt’s work. Interestingly, he had numerous pieces completed, both sketches and paintings, but the artist died of the Spanish flu at the age of 28 years old.

Leaving the museum, it seemed like a short ride to Kika, home decorating store where sheets were on sale. I have been hunting down a drip coffee cone for a single cup of coffee everywhere without luck, so thought I may get lucky there and kill at least two birds. Right outside of the museum is the bus that to go there. Looking over the four bus routes, all stop at Robert Karóly where Kika is located. Bus number 30 arrived; I jumped on.

Six stops later, I could see Kika in the distance, but still too far to walk. Ten stops more; I realized this was a serious mistake. According to the bus route sign, one stop marked Deák should have been where tram 14 stopped. However, it was the stop before, but I had already missed it. Bus 30 does a circular route so if I stayed on, I could have returned back at the museum in time for dinner. I decided the next stop would be my last, but then realized that the bus stops in the return direction were not across the street. They are on other streets, explaining the strange little arrows on the route sign. Three stops later, there was a stop where I could cross the street to retrace my trail.

Finally, Kika at last. It was like finding water on an oasis. Before any shopping commenced, I had to hydrate. First stop was the restaurant for a soda. When I found the sheets advertised as being on sale, they were not the sizes we needed. They didn’t have the coffee cone either. The trip was a waste of time. As I rode around the city in districts I never actually wanted to venture before, I was so pleased with myself for having a transport pass. With it, I can ride the wrong routes until the line stops for the night and still not have to worry about buying another ticket.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cool Dual Fool Who'll Pool


Okay, the title may not make sense, but yesterday, Ron and I went to the Palatinus Water Park on Margaret Island. Ron had been there once before with his grandniece Elise, but this was my virgin voyage.  It is almost shameful to say that I have never been here before, having lived here for almost 12 years. Each year I have had wonderful intentions to go, but it had never happened. Partially, it is the fault of the Budapest Spa Authority who controls most of the spas and this water park. They open Palatinus in April when the weather is not the most conducive for swimming and then they close in mid-August when you really do want to cool off. 

Fed by the hot spring water on Margaret Island, this water-based recreation center has water slides, a wave pool and enough kiddie pools to host all of the preschools in the country at one time and still not feel overcrowded. There are a multitude of pools to choose from, but none are terribly deep, thus there are no diving boards anywhere in the complex.

One water slide that I would have loved to try is the wide tubed slide that accommodated a special inner-tube that one sits in why traveling through the spirals before the wet plunge. Just watching those youngsters was fun. The other tubes and the one slide were for the adventurous who wanted to climb the 2 story ladder to reach the top, only to descend again in a matter of seconds. It may be worthy of a one-time ride, but not have witnessed anyone over 25 years attempting it, I felt awkward on this maiden trip. Perhaps next time I will feel braver. 

We did do the wave pool, which doubles as the serious swimmer’s pool. When the waters are not waving, only those who really want to swim are allowed in: waders are not welcomed. At set times there is an alarm that sounds to alert everyone that the waves will commence shortly. Bathers come from all over the grounds to join in the fun. Some of the waves rise up over 7 feet high, adding to the excitement. After 15-20 minutes, the waters calm again and those fun seekers leave the pool. 

Entrance was 2,600 Huf for me and 1,900 Huf for Ron: both include locker storage. Considering you could spend the entire day there, it is a bargain. Once inside, it is co-ed with changing cabins as the first order of business and then your things get stored in a locker. You get one key and the attendant locks the other. 

Once changed, you are free to roam the extensive grounds. At one end the pool borders on hot, but was surprising refreshing even with the upper 80s temperature from the sun. I especially liked the whirlpool as shown in the picture where you enter and the current allows your body to sail around the maze.

My only wish is that was open later in the season, but something tells me it is related to school openings.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthing babies, Miss Scarlett!


“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthing babies, Miss Scarlett!

Well, Prissy, if you were still around and here in Hungary, you would not have a worry. Hungarians may know about birthing babies, but they are choosing not to go through the bother. According to the latest statistics, during the first five months of 2013, there was a decrease of 54,208 babies born from the previous year. The previous full year stats show a similar decline with the data from the previous year. 

Guess those maternity leave benefits are just not that appealing when considering all the other factors that will last 18 years or more.

While on the topic of babies, one thing that has really shocked me is the number of children sucking on a pacifier. I have seen kids who were running down the street with a pacifier in their mouths. This has been all too frequent to just chalk off as a one time event. 

The Mayo Clinic states on their website: 

Pacifier use might increase the risk of middle ear infections, after the age of six months.

Prolonged pacifier use might lead to dental problems, if a child continues to use one. It can cause the front teeth to come in crooked.

"To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends offering a pacifier at naptime or bedtime until age 1. However, the risks of pacifier use begin to outweigh the benefits as your baby gets older. While most kids stop using pacifiers on their own between ages 2 and 4, others need help breaking the habit."

I would be curious to see if there is a correlation between extended pacifier use associated with either obesity or alcoholism later in life. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Something in The Air


Look up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is a new airline flying into Budapest. Actually, there are more than one, but they will not be included in the budget airlines list that I have in The BudaBaB Review blog. These airlines are not promising any bargains.

Bulgaria Air, the national carrier of the Republic of Bulgaria has become the first recipient of a new initiative of the Budapest Airport Authority’s attempt at an incentive program for ‘thin routes’. These are classified as under-served routes or those that have not been served at all. Due to this, Bulgaria Air will fly a Budapest-Sophia flight four times weekly.

The Belarusian airline, Belavia will bring a new year round service to Budapest starting on September 19th of this year. The service will link three capitals: Budapest, Minsk in Belarus, and Belgrade in Serbia

Finally in the current airline news, there is a really new player coming to town. Middle East investors have teamed up to create Sólyom Hungarian Airways to replace the defunct Malev. Initial flights are anticipated for as early as August with destinations to European cities as well as the Middle East.

Will this cause overcrowding and demand the return of the old Ferihegy I terminal?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feri Place - The Professional Video


This is our latest professionally created video for our self-catering apartment. To watch it on YouTube, go here.

To check on availability, go here.

Pin It Now!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Florence Photos Are UP


All of the Florence photos are divided between two different albums in my photo blog Ryan and Ron Do the World. What you will also find there is one smaller album of the Tuscan wedding celebration along with four short videos highlighting Tuscany and Florence.

Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Who's the Fat on Me?


For those of you in Budapest or who have friends here.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (CA LCS16233), Dr. Ryan James set out to create the “Who’s the Fat on Me?” Group Therapy program, which he initiated in California in 1997. From the start, the group had more applicants than the availability to accommodate them in a group setting. This was because people astutely realized that dieting alone was not going to sustain weight loss.

He successfully ran these groups until 1999 when he had to focus all of his time and attention on a doctoral dissertation. He has been in Hungary since 2001 and has wanted to bring the program to the English speaking community here and finally feels this is the right time to do so.

Two groups will commence in September, but are limited to 9 participants in each session. Go to and look for “Who’s the Fat on Me?”  in the left hand menu.

Pin It Now!

America Is Finally #2 - Thank Goodness for That


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Egyptian Wizz


Take a Wizz Air flight to Egypt come November. The no frills carrier has reported their intentions to enlarge their list of destinations offered from Budapest's Liszt Ferenc Airport to include Hurghada, Egypt. This service will commence in November when hopefully politics of Egypt will have settled and the chill in the Budapest air will make some of us want to escape. If protesting has not ended, you can practice your duck and cover techniques.

Wizz being full of surprises has also announced its new service the Wizz Tour service. On Wednesday, this service debuted, but I have yet to be able to locate it online. Further readings states that the travel site will allow Wizz Air to provide full travel packages combining both the flight tickets with hotel accommodations. It seems that although the site debuted this last week, the packages will not become available in Hungarian, Polish, and English until October. After this initial inauguration in Hungary and Poland, Wizz will spread its wings by offering similar packages in other markets also. Wizz Tour will remain an entirely online travel agency.

As an aside, Wizz will continue its Malta routes through the winter.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Pin It Now!