Monday, May 5, 2008

Last Day in Prague

This morning Bill asked everyone to vote on whether we would travel by bus to Carlsbad which would be several hours on the bus, or to stay in Prague and do a river cruise and do our own thing. We all voted to stay and relax and separate for the day.

We did a one hour river cruise on the Moldova river and it was relaxing. I took some video of it here. The river was dirtier than the Danube in Budapest. Before the cruise Cathi and I went running. There was a rat next to a dumpster which was next to the sidewalk. It was a pretty goodsize rat. When I first saw it I was running about 15 feet in front of Cathi. We just came right up on it. It didn't look dead at first, but when it didn't move when I ran near it, I knew it was dead. Once I passed it I said in my head, "One One thousand, Two - One thousand" and then I heard Cathi scream out as she jumped over it. We did that block several times (St Charles Bridge around to the hotel and back around) and I made sure to get video of Cathi approaching it again. Sorry about the poor video quality, but here it is. I ran 6 miles according to the GPS, but Cathi kept going and she ran 12 miles.

One thing we noticed is that Vonda waited for the boat to leave the dock before going back to her hotel. She is very professional and concerned about the safety and enjoyment of our party. Everyone is growing fond of her.

After the cruise Cathi and I went down the St. Charles Bridge, which we crossed several times earlier in the day on our run. But now it was crowded with vendors selling magnets, post cards, bracelets, art, and other 'junk'. Cathi bought a few more magnets. Then we agreed to rent a rowboat down the river towards the hotel. That was alot of fun! I wanted to work up a sweat rowing so we decided to rent it for an hour and go around the small island in the middle of the river. Here is some video of me rowing with Cathi providing some discussion. Here is some video of Cathi rowing with my own dialogue. During the row, Cathi was getting frisky. She was extra "randy" in Prague and we had quite the time reliving our honeymoon if you know what I mean. Very good memory. I had to keep pushing Cathi off me cause she was making a scene and people were watching!

We went back to the hotel and enjoyed each other for a couple of hours and took a nap before going to dinner. Since the group disbursed everyone was supposed to take care of their own lunch. Cathi and I just fasted since we would eat a nice dinner in the hotel that night. Before going down for dinner I did a timed session of pushups. I did 89 pushups in 1 minute. One day I would like to do 100 in a minue.

We met downstairs on the main floor of the hotel for dinner. The dinner was very fancy! It was fantastic. After dinner Cathi, Becky, Bill and I walked 4 blocks to the Tessco. I bought some candy bars for Sylaja, David and Trevor at work.

We came back to the hotel and went to bed. We leave tomorrow for the USA. We miss the kids terribly and are eager to see them.

We had a great vacation! So many things to see. Just like all vacations I've had, it went too fast!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Full Day touring Prague

No church today. Scott and Kris got the address but it was about 45 minutes to get there. Scott slept in and stayed in the hotel rather than join the rest of us to tour. We met “Katrina” who was our local Czech guide. We toured the Castle district, where the Defenestration of a couple of Hungarian policians were. We walked through some old building and my favorite was the Golden Lane. We were given 30 minutes to stroll and shop on our own. Cathi and I went into an armory which was fantastic. She quickly left me alone and went with the girls. I walked through this building which appeared to be an old castle. Inside was all sorts of armor and weapons that were simply amazing. You could buy some of it, but it was really expensive ($600 - $10,000) depending on what you were looking at). I could have stayed in there for hours, so much cool armor! But I had to hurry back to the meeting place. Check out the full photo album here.

At the meeting place off to the side was an old dungeon and execution place. There was a sculpture of a guy kneeling down with a huge skull on his back. We waited at the wall next to the sculpture for the women to finish their shopping. Katrina gave us the “30 minute limit” to enable us to better stay on schedule for the tour. However Cathi, Becky and Roceil were stuck browsing and buying "junk" as Bill would tease them with. They ran out of money and had to go convince Bill to hand over his American Express. He did reluctantly ( or playfully) while they spent an additional 15 minutes getting some manger scenes for everyone. Katrina was obviously annoyed at the delay.

We continued on and had lunch in a nice restaurant. They served all sorts of cheese and roles, with cole slaw. Bill Jr seems to constantly turn his nose up at nearly half the stuff placed in front of him. Bill Sr. offered Bill Jr $100 to eat a slice of bleu cheese. My heck how tough is that! He ended up doing it only after taking a tiny nibble and then taking a bite of a roll or drinking some water. That made me laugh. Michele was trying to get a similar deal for a picture which was for sale on the wall, but Bill ran out of cash.

When desert came around everyone gobbled it down, in fact Cathi ate mine as well as somebody else’s who was trying to watch the deserts. Vonda cracked me up when she pointed out to Bill, “Hungry enough to eat the whole desert though huh?” Busted!

We continued touring and saw many buildings along the Moldova river. One of the most spectacular buildings was the Cathedral. I took a ton of pictures of it. The details outside were unbelievable! You need to check out the full photo album of Prague here.

We stopped at the Old Town Square were there was an astronomical clock. We were there at 20 minutes to the hour and waiting until the clock chimed at the top of the hour. There were figurines of the 12 apostles walking past the windows which opened at the top of the clock. It was built clear back in 1410. (When I got back and talked to Glenn Brown about the trip he told me about the myth about how the clock maker was blinded after making it). Don't know if I believe that. No entry in snopes, but it is definitely not confirmed.)

We then were given about an hour to walk around and shop. I was tired of walking and Cathi was still mad at me for being grumpy. I was grumpy cause I had to use the bathroom, but was unable to find one. So I just walked behind her like and let her look around and shop. She bought some more magnets. On the way back I could take no more. I had to poo so bad! Again, no free bathrooms. So I went into a McDonalds and bought Cathi a McFreeze so I could use the bathroom, but then discovered that they even make customers pay to use the restroom! I was so ticked. I went and got change for a coin and paid. I sat down in the stall and tried to figure out how to use the lock on the stall door. It was different from what I was used to. Nobody else was in there so I decided to just let it go.

That was a mistake because within a minute an old guy with a scruffy beard came in and opened my stall and saw me and quickly shut it and took off. I had to laugh. I be that gave him a good scare. I held the door handle to prevent it from opening until I was done.

When I met up with Cathi we started making our way back to the statue at the old town square. We got lost a little. The signs had the names of things in czech, with a small drawing of the landmark next to it. I recognized the drawing of the astronomical clock and we found our way back just in time to hit the time we were supposed to be there. We walked several blocks to our bus where we met with Zoly. We went back to the hotel and crashed.

For dinner we went to a pub/restaurant called the U Fleku Restaurant. There was an old guy there playing the accordian that sure made the evening fun. Here is some video of that.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Biking along the river in Salzburg and heading to Prague

Got up at 0630 and rented a couple of bikes down by the river. These were definitely not fast bikes. They didn’t have gears, but came equipped with a very entertaining bell which we noticed is commonplace among bikers here. Yesterday when we were going down an alley, some biker came up behind us in our party and rang the bell so we could get out of the way. Here are a couple of videos of our bike ride -> video 1 and video 2

On the way north on the bikes, I almost ran over a huge snail! I stopped and took a video of it. The smell of the early morning air was misty, cool and the light was perfect. It was one of the best memories of the entire trip. We biked for 4 miles north and then Cathi had to take a pit stop. This was right under the West Autobahn. I took some video of her crouching in the midst of the bushes, but you can’t really see her in the video, she’s camouflaged really well. But she’s definitely in the video. She waved at the camera and smiled even.

We headed back and returned Cathi’s bike. It is free to use the bike for the first hour and then roughly a $1 per hour after that. She proceeded to run south while I biked ahead and turned around and came back to her. Here is some video of her running. I noticed that GPS is whacked! The links with the satellites must not be right because it said I was going 32 mph when I was going no faster than 10 mph. When we finished our bike ride/run which took us about 2 hours, it said we went 88 miles, which would have been great!

When we got back to the hotel we had breakfast in the hotel, which was a breakfast buffet. It was just as good, if not, better than at Peppers! Roceil came in and smiled at me and she obviously was showing me that she had lost one of her teeth. She was pretty humiliated over it. I felt bad for her. They called around to see if they could find a dentist to put it back in, but no luck.
After breakfast we got on the bus to head to Praque. We rode all day long. We talked some about Danny, his friends how have been influenced by him since his death. Some pretty miraculous things have happened to people since Danny died.

When we got to Prague, we stayed in the Riverside Hotel. It is more modern than the Bristol, but I think my favorite hotel so far even though I never thought I’d stay in a nicer place than the Bristol. The Riverside Hotel was about the same in luxury, but more to my style. Here is a video tour of the hotel. Prague seems much more dirty than Budapest and Salzburg. More vandalism, garbage, but more modern. There was a charming little park north of the hotel. We slept so good.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Leave Vienna for Salzburg

Trained 10 minutes on stationary bike hard and then lifted tris.

Rode to Salzburg and saw tons of “Sound of Music” places. Took lots of pictures.

We are staying at the Hotel Bristol. It is an old building and very nice. Its like staying in a museum. Each room is different and named after different famous people. Cathi and I are in room 240 which is the “Verdi Room” named after Giuseppe Verde (1813-1901). Here is a video tour. There were a couple of plaques on the wall showing what he did. It was in German but I originally thought based on the pictures that he was a playwright or something. Come to find out he is an Italian Opera composer.

The Bristol hotel is so nice! It’s a 5 star place and so far the best hotel. The Marriott’s are nice, but this hotel is so unique and you can feel the history around it. The elevator looks like it was put in at the beginning of the 20th century.

There isn’t a fitness facility or a pool. The Von Trapp kids stayed here in this hotel once. We went on a tour of Salzburg with this very smiley short Blonde girl, “Sabrina”. She took us to the Building where they filmed the dance at the end and Maria and the Captain are out on the balcony. It is the same place where they now store the Veranda. But they locked it so nobody can go inside the glass doors because a while ago some 80 year old lady stumbled and broke her ankle trying to jump from one bench over to the other. Steven said “Leave it to Senior citizens to spoil it for everyone!”

Then we went to the pond where they were in canoes and they tipped over. Next to the pond is the alley where the kids were hanging from trees. Cathi tried to get Steve to climb one of them, but they were very tall and wide. Too big to climb without a ladder. Here is a picture of Cathi trying to get help climbing one.

We walked into one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. I took some video here. I mentioned to Cathi that “This sure puts the [LDS] temples to shame”. The paintings and sculptures where simply awesome. I also realized why so many visitors are surprised when they aren’t allowed to go in the temple. That’s cause the Catholics let anybody go into their Basilicas and Cathedrals to take pictures and treat it like a landmark rather than a real place of worship.

We went to Mozart’s grave. It started to rain and we stopped there under some shelter for a minute. We noticed that there was some construction going on. These guys were putting up a finish line for a marathon which was to start on Sunday. Cathi and I were sure disappointed that we weren’t going to be in Salzburg on Sunday. That would have been fantastic! We took some pictures by a fountain that had horses spitting water out. We then proceeded on to a park where they had a life size chessboard. There was also a huge modern artpiece next to the chessboard of a huge golden ball with a boy on top. Here is some video of it. I had Cathi take a picture of me pretending to hold up the big golden ball.

We proceeded onto the Salzburg graveyard which had some really old graves (and new ones). It was next to a tall flat side of a mountain and there were what appeared to be crypts going into the mountain with gates protecting the crypts from people entering them.

For dinner, Cathi and I ate in the hotel restaurant with everyone else. We dressed up just a bit. I liked when we went on a cruise how there was a “formal night” and liked how you seem to appreciate the fancy stuff, when you dress the part rather than just go eat gourmet stuff in jeans and a t-shirt.

We both had corn and ham soup which was delicious and then for the main dish, some salmon. Went on a stroll through town and window shopped since it was 9pm and everything was closed. Man those boiled wool german jackets are so expensive! So there goes that possibility.

Found a place where Cathi and I could rent bicycles by the river so we will do that tomorrow morning instead of run. Just before going to bed I flipped through the channels and found a live table tennis match going on which appeared to be a major couple of players. I didn’t catch their names, but I recognized one of the main spectators. Not that I know his name though. I’m really not very good and knowing the world class players names/faces. It was fun to see this on TV, like you would see a basketball game in the US. Why can’t the US get with the table tennis program!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday - Vienna tours

This morning I woke up at 0530 and went with Cathi across the street from the Marriott to Stadt Park. We ran laps around the park several times. I took the GPS and went 5 miles running. With short .10m intervals of walking every mile ran. Then I went into the weight room in the Marriott and did:

Tricep Extensions: 4 x 15 @ 30kg
DB Nose Crushers: 4 x 15 @ 12.5kg
Standing Cable Tricep Extensions: 5 x 15 @ 70 lb
Seated Close Grip Cable Pulldowns: 5 x 15 @ 100 lb
Bike: 20 minutes hard
Ab Machine: 4 x 15 @ 50 kg
DB Lateral Raises: 4 x 15 @ 15 kg
Wide Grip Pulldowns: 4 x 15 @ 50 kg
DB Overhead Press: 2 x 15 @ 20 kg

Showered and then had a quick breakfast buffet and met the bus for tour of summer palace of Maria Theresa who was the "Mother in law of all Europe" according to Walter. When he said that Vonda smiled and nodded. Apparently she was "King" of Hungary for a while too. She had children married off to royalty in many other kingdoms. We toured Schönbrunn Palace which was very cool. The gardens were even more impressive to me. Here is some video of the garden with Walter explaining things in the background.

We walked through much of Vienna and saw many places where Mozart performed, lived and died. For lunch we went to a traditional Austrian restaurant. The director of the restaurant looked very local. Good looking guy with a well trimmed mustache and a brown felt-like coat (which is boiled wool and the jacket is a Bavarian Trachten jacket) that had a traditional Austrian look to it. I was thinking that if I could take home one nice souvenir a jacket like that would be it! We walked through many shops later and found that they cost hundreds of EU. Way too much. But here is an ebay link to a store for much cheaper!

Walter took us to all over the place! We went to a unique building which was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The building was designed to be very organic in nature. The roofs were made into gardens. Walter explained that the architect wanted to "rent space to the trees". Some people would ask, how can a tree pay rent? He would answer, the tree pays back in beauty and providing a home to the birds". He wanted the building to be beautiful and not to have any straight lines because the human body doesn't have any straight lines. Here is some video of the building.

We walked past the Vienna city hall. We also walked around a huge Cathedral. Here is some video of Walter explaining details about it.

We ate dinner at another buffet. Lots of meat. Ate no desert.

Swam one mile again and went to bed. We are off to Salzburg tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday - Leaving Budapest for Vienna

Woke up at 0530 and lifted the following:

Wrist Curls: 5 x 15 @ 10kg
superset with
Cable Reverse Wrist Curls: 5 x 15 @ 6, 5 kg

Tricep Cable Extensions: 5 x 15 @ 41, 46, 50, 55 kg
superset with
Reverse Cable Crossovers: 5 x 15 @ 14, 18 kg

Close Grip Barbell Rows: 5 x 15 @ 30 kg
superset with
DB Shrugs: 5 x 12 @ 20kg

5 minutes Tread Climber
28 minutes Rebumbant Bike

Total time 1:45

Cathi ran while I lifted. Met in the hotel room and got ready for the day. Went down for Breakfast and at lots of fruit.

We started loading up and Cathi was still finishing her breakfast since she came down late. Roceil said something like "We better get Cathi cause we can't load until she's here." I kind of snapped at Roceil and said something like "No we don't, we can go ahead and I'll go get her when we're close to ready to go." My tone wasn't very kind I realized, and I felt guilty. I realized that I was being snippy and was quiet the rest of the day. Several times I've wanted to respond to the negative comments I've overheard, but have kept quiet.

We visited Győr on the way to Austria. Pleasant little place. Didn't see much before we moved on. Noticed that the bathroom visit we had to pay for had a guy taking the change. Then he handed the ladies the towels to wipe their hands. Each of them got two. Becky mentioned that she felt bad that they had to conserve so much and only used one. She sure is a sweet and thoughtful thing!

We stopped at the Benedictine Abbey in Pannonhalma and toured that facility. Very old church which was just like walking into a scene in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. It was very thrilling to be in such an old place with architecture that told volumes of the history. We visited the crypt in the church and the library which had thousands of old books. It was fantastic to see. Here is some video of the library.

We stopped at an old limestone cave near the end of our road trip. The tunnel going to the exit totally reminded me of some of the caves in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Here is some video of the tunnel which comes out alot darker than in real life, but still very cool.

When we arrived near our hotel in Austria the driver had a hard time getting to the hotel because the GPS wasn't good at showing one way roads so we had to go in a big circle once. Everyone was tired of driving and hungry and lots of mumbling was going on. Becky however didn't say a negative thing the whole trip and was my favorite traveling companion other than Cathi.

When we arrived at our room in the hotel I could smell cigarette smoke, which is a big thing for me. I called the front desk to see if we could get a different room, which they said wasn't possible, but they sent someone up to spray while Cathi and I went to dinner which was a buffet in the hotel restaurant. They had all sorts of stuff. I ate tow full plates of fruit and some salmon, chicken, rice and pasta. There were alot of smokers in the restaurant and I was getting a headache.

I read that the hotel in Vienna had a pool so I decided to quit eating and go swim before it closed. I swam 4 sets of 8 minutes which I'm estimating was at least 500 yards each set. So I swam 2000 yards or so. The pool was only about 12 yards across so I only got three or four good strokes before doing another flip turn.

At 10pm the pool closed and I went to bed. Very tired.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Last Day in Budapest

I got up at 0515 and lifted the following in the gym:

Military Smith Press: 4 x 10 @50kg, 2 x 10 @60kg, 2 x 8 @70 kg, 2 x 6 @80kg
superset with
Leg up Bench Press: 4 x 15 @ 60kg, 2 x 12 @70kg, 2 x 8 @80kg, 2 x 6 @90kg
Ab Crunch Machine: 4 x 15 @ 64kg, 2 x 12 @71kg, 2 x 10 @77kg, 2 x 8 @84kg

Bent Over Cable Flys: 8 x 10 @ 32kg
Floor DB Press: 4 x 10 @ 30kg
Reverse Flys: 10 @ 14kg, 3 x 10 @ 18kg

The whole workout lasted 2 hours. Cathi was out running the whole time and ran 4 times around Margaret Island (20 miles total). She's awesome.

We met Vonda at 0900 to head out to the Lazor Horse Ranch. The horseman wore traditional Hungarian Horseman outfits that would make American cowboys wet their chaps. They looked rather silly, and not very masculine, but that's a difference in culture. They cracked whips loudly in front of the crowd and did lots of tricks with the horses. The show was good, but not a highlight of the trip in my opinion.

After the show we all got in wagons and went on a 10 minute wagon ride. It looked like the ranch people were giving Vonda a hard time for something and made her get out of the wagon she was in. Perhaps she didn't get a ticket or something and they needed room for paying guests. Cathi and I squished together and yelled out for Vonda to jump in and squeeze in with us. She looked over and said in her cute accent, "Are you sure? Is there room?" When we said "Yes, please", her smile melted me. She said during the ride, that she loves the open air and the countryside. What a cute lady! Our whole party was falling in love with Vonda during this trip.

On the wagon, we met a family of three from Adelaide, Australia who were there on a "Holly". They were touring Europe for 6 weeks. That's the life.

After the show we had lunch at the ranch. They brought out huge trays full of various cuts of meat. I pigged out! Again there was gypsie music and alot of singing from Bill which was very entertaining. This meal was a hit with everyone since it had potatoes and alot of meat. Here is a video tour of the group during lunch that Cathi took. I overate a ton.

After the ranch we went to a church out in the boonies which also had a crypt for some famous people and I can just kick myself for not remembering who. But it wasn't really BIG famous people cause it was in the middle of the boonies. Found a nice secluded foresty type area to pee again to avoid getting charged a quarter.

We also toured the Summer palace in Budapest. They had some fancy chocolate cake after the tour as well which I passed up again! Cathi got two. That girl is gonna gain some serious weight! Then again, if I ran 20 miles I could probably eat whatever I wanted too. Went back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap which was much needed!

We then had dinner which involved smaller portions, yet tasty. Can't remember the name of it. Went back to the hotel and packed for tomorrow. We leave for Austria. Sad to leave Budapest! For all the pictures and videos taken in Budapest check this out!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Got up at 0500 and ran with Cathi to Margaret Island. The Margaret Island we found out is accessible by going to the Margaret Bridge (which is about 1.5 miles north of the Marriott) and getting on the island halfway across the bridge. It's about 3 miles along the outside of the island is a runners track which is a red trail that is on a rubber mat making for easy running. Along the eastern side of the island are alot of abandoned tennis courts. It was very interesting and made me imagine how crowded and exciting it must have been at one time when they were all filled up with people playing. Here is some video of the eastern side. A majority of the island is like a big park and it was so nice. Definitely a must see for anyone visiting Budapest. Here is more video of the park on the north east side.

The western side of the island had many swimming pools which were empty and also a building which appeared to have old amusement park rides inside. I saw bumper cars in the window of one building. There was also a soccer (football) stadium. I saw a guy sleeping against one of the buildings under some cardboard. Made me wish we had one of the blankets Cathi brought to give him. Here is some video of the empty pools on the west side of the island. I went around the island once and told Cathi I was going to go home. I walked about half the total route. I made it pretty good until half way down the west side of the island (about 4 mile mark) and then lost energy. The whole route I took was 7.5 miles. I took the GPS to track the distance. Cathi went around the island two more times for a total of 12 miles.

Went to breakfast again down at Peppers! This time didn't have any meat, just grains and fruit and yogurt. Still ate a ton though.

We went to Esztergom Basilica today. Here is the google placemark for it. It was beautiful. Vonda told us that Hungary doesn't have any cathedrals, but the next level below that is a Basilica which is what is in Esztergom. There was the most beautiful statue ever there. Here is video of it. When we entered I needed to go, but I didn't have any coins so I was ticked at the "pay to pee" custom at this point. Decided to hold it till I could find a seclusive tree.

We went inside the basilica and it was cold! No lights inside, but enough light to see coming through the windows. The ceiling and organ pipes and art was really great. Here is some video. You can hear Vonda in the background giving us some history. There was so much to take, that it was hard to comprehend it all. More video.

We then walked North of the Basilica to the river and saw the Istvan Statue and the "Danube Bend". On the other side of the bend is Slovakia. Pretty views. Here is some video.

On the way back to the bus, Stephen and I sneaked away from the group and found a private ruin of a building on the north end of the Basilica grounds and took a pee among the broken bottles and rubbish.

We then went to Visegrád for lunch and ate at a "hunting style restaurant". Again more gypsies and more food. Ate a ton. Funny to watch alot of people ask as soon as something is placed in front of them "What is that." Then watch them hesitate to try it. C'mon people, don't ask, or think. Just eat! I can tell you now Vonda wouldn't poison us. The restaurant was nice, even the bathroom was immaculate. Gotta pee in every restaurant cause you never know when you might have to pay to use a yucky one.

After lunch we went to the Visegrad Citadel which was very cool! It was along a cliff where we could see the Danube and I took a bunch of panoramic shots. The citadel is very old castle with cool old armor and weapons. We had some nice chats with Vonda afterwards as we waited for Bill and Shirley. We then got on the bus and went to Szentendre. This place had a museum that had sculptures made out of Chocolate. Actually Marzipan. There was Michael Jackson, fairy tale scenes, etc. Then we walked around the town and did a little shopping. Cathi, Bill and Bill Jr ate some ice cream at shop on the way back to the bus.

Bought some swords/shields for the youngest boys, some magnets for Lucy, a slingshot for Austin, a hidden key box for Jacob, and for me... a Rosenrot T-shirt. I saw Steve with the shirt and about freaked. I panicked cause we had to leave soon and was hoping to quickly go get one. It was 10 yards from the bus!

Zoly drove us back to the hotel, where we freshened up and went to Borkatakomba Restaurant. It was a restaurant in a cave that is a wine cellar. There was some traditional Hungarian dancing going on. I took lots of video. In fact I ran out of space, just as they invited Steve to go up and challenge dance with them. I quickly took Bill and Roceil's camera to video it. I still need to get a copy of it! The girls also let Becky and Michele balance a wine bottle on their head. Good thing they held still, that could've been messy.

After we got back home I went and checked out the weight room at the Marriott. It was really late so I only did one lift.

DB Alternating Curls: 4 x 12 @ 15 kg

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Got up @ 7:30am, got ready for church.

Had buffet breakfast down in Peppers! Restaurant and ate sausages, fruit and yogurt, mini pancakes.

Church was all in Hungarian. There was a girl there who would translate but she would whisper so only those immediately around her could hear. I was too far away. There were three speakers. I was rather bored. The music though was cool. Sang High on a Mountain Top and others that I knew, but again it was in Hungarian so I just hummed. A woman behind me tried talking to me in English. She was very smiley and happy, but I couldn't understand her English very well at all so I just smiled back and nodded like a fool. I gave her one of the king size candybars that Cathi brought with her.

We did alot of tours:

  1. The Parliament Building - we ran by this building the night before. We waited shortly outside while Vonda gave us some history of the building. We had a special tour and it was very beautiful inside. There was a model of the building inside, which we were told was made out of matchsticks. Then the stairs going up to the main hall was very extravagant. Here is a video of the model and stairs. We had to go through a security checkpoint and had to wear these bracelet things with a metal tag on it. We went up the Grand Stairwell and took video of the awesome hall. The tour guide said that during WWII the stained glass windows were removed and put in the basement to preserve them from possible bombings. Here is video of the main hall. The video doesn't really represent how magnificent it was. It was breathtaking!

    Then we went into the main rotunda where there were lots of "No Flash" signs. Apparently flash on a camera can degrade the quality of certain items. The royal crown of Hungary was displayed. There was a guard there in full traditional uniform as well. Here is some video of the crown, although the lighting was bad, and obviously couldn't use flash to lighten it up. The statues of the kings were around the crown looking at it, except one king who was looking at one of the women. The party behind us had someone who took a picture of the crown, but apparently forgot to turn the flash off and got nasty looks from everyone and the tour guides all said "no flash in this room!"

    After we left the rotunda I whispered to Becky and Cathi, "Did you see the cameraman after he took the flash? He jumped!" I told them that the bracelets were to shock anyone taking forbidden flash pictures. They both thought I was serious until I started laughing. Not a bad idea though.

    Then we went into the North Wing which was where politicians would vote on things. I can't remember the branch that met here, but the branch of government was disolved (Senate maybe?), and the wing is empty and can actually be rented out for special conferences. Here is video of the voting room..

    Then we went to the North East portion of the Northern wing and waited in the Hall for the rest of the tour parties and left. We sat on these old benches in the hall.

    When we left the building we had to hand in the bracelet things and some Low people were slow exiting so the party got mixed in with the non-english speaking people. When we left someone from the other party was taking pictures where someone was sitting on top of the old Ice powered Air-Conditioning blocks that were on the grounds outside the building on the North side. After they left, Bill Jr. started walking up there to take pictures when immediately one of the tour hosts tried getting Bill's attention. "Sir, Sir! Hey! You! Halt!" He then yelled at Bill to get him away from the Air Conditioning structure. Back in the day when the Parliament building was built, they didn't have electrical air conditioning, they had to use ice. Which would flow through ducts. The ice was put into these structures that were then lowered down into the ground. Kind of like a well I guess. Anyhow, they're old and I guess not to be climbed on. Too bad he didn't catch the first people though. It is in a pretty part of the garden and I think Bill thought it was a good picture.

  2. Fisherman's Bastion - Cathi and I raced up the stairs. Stephen joined us in the race. There were alot of stairs. Stephen stopped (I think to wait for Cathi) while I finished the last set.
    We saw the statue of King Stephen I, and the St. Mathias Church, which had beautiful stained glass windows on it. We took lots of pictures of the city from the towers of the Bastion wall. This album has all the pictures we took from that day. Too many to display here. One thing that we quickly learned is to time your "technical breaks" as Vonda would call it. It is rare to find a free bathroom (or WC, Watercloset). You have to pay a certain amount. So when you are close to having lunch or dinner, or going back to the hotel you get to pee for free.

  3. We had lunch at a good restaurant, Restaurant Fekete Holló. It was goulash in a wheat bread bowl. It was yummy. There were a couple of musicians who played Gypsie music. The guitarist though was terrible. He was strumming like a newbie and didn't sound very experienced. The violinist did great though and quite animated. You can watch some video of the music here.

    The violinist took some money out of his pocket and put it in the neck of his violin and gestured towards us that he wanted a tip. That ruined it for me. I realize this is a different culture and people are tipped all over the world, but I wish it weren't so. It would be much more pleasant if money wasn't the driving factor for everything. Bill gave him a tip of course, but many of us didn't have the appropriate currency yet (since it was Sunday) or in my case, didn't have an appropriate amount. I wasn't about to tip him with a huge bill. I needed to get some smaller bills.

    Back to the subject of urinating. Cathi got up to use the restroom between courses when all of a sudden I hear her squeal "Oh Becky! Come look at this sign!", and she asked me for the camera and took pictures of the boy/girl bathroom signs.

  4. Liberty monument - we then took the bus to the Liberty Monument and took lots of pictures. Very good view of Pest from that point. Steve and Bill took pictures next to the side statues. The thing about Bill's statue was that the guy is naked so coming from the backside, you see everything and the size of the statue's package is about the size of two softballs. Makes every man feel a little inadequate and question their tiny role in this big universe.

For dinner we ate at the Trófea Grill Restaurant which is a fancy buffet restaurant. It was so good! I ate lots of rice and veggies, Duck thigh, pasta.

When we got back to the hotel I felt so guilty about overeating. I still didn't have any desert although there was a huge desert selection, but I went for thirds on main course. I did 2 sets of 60 pushups and then 100 siteups. Looking forward to long run tomorrow and went to bed early (2100). Will get up at 0500 tomorrow and run with Cathi.