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.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

First day in Budapest - Saturday

We arrived at the airport at 10:45. We met Bill and Roceil and our travel guide, Vonda. She's a very pleasant Hungarian woman who speaks good English with a very charming accent. Which to me sounds Italian.

We went to the Marriott Hotel (Google Earth link) in Budapest and by this time was Saturday around 1 pm.

We freshened up and went to the Great Market Hall in Budapest. We ate at one of the markets there. It's like a huge mall, except the shops are very small. In fact, its more like booths. There were all sorts of trinkets, shirts, Hungarian sourvenirs, etc. One scene that amused me was of George Bush and Osama Bin Laden side by side.

For lunch I ate some Beef Goulash on rice. Cathi went with Katie and Becky while I walked around with Bill Sr and Steve. Katie was hungry, but not enough to eat strange stuff, so her party went to Burger King for lunch. I met up with Cathi and Becky and we walked along the street with shops back to the Hotel. I noticed that both Cathi and Becky both would touch everything that caught their eye and say "So Cute!". A guy would say "cool" and move on. But they would caress the item gently for a second and then move on. Very entertaining watching women shop.

Went back to the hotel and looked for a way to get to the BVSC. The club play according to my email with Club manager, Iván Herendi started at 3:00pm. We asked the front desk at the Marriott about how to get to Szőnyi and he said it was several miles. Cathi asked about the Subway which she noticed on the way back from the Market. He gave us a map and said that Szőnyi was the last stop on the subway. We took it. We bought our tickets from the Marriott gift shop and she told us how to validate the ticket at the stop. Here is video of the subway ride with hungarian announcer in the background. Kind of scary being in a strange land using transportation for locals. Felt safe, but just a little unnerving not understanding the signs, or language.

When Cathi and I arrived there, we followed the map to the BVSC which was only about a half mile from the subway stop. We went to the front entrance of the BVSC which also has a pool and many other facilities. The front desk people didn't speak english and I showed her my email from Ivan and she pointed me to the another building at the other end of the block where I could find the table tennis building. We wound our way through the buildings and noticed signs with a table tennis paddle on it. We found the Table Tennis building and went inside. There were displays of Hungarian Table Tennis players and organizers. Apparently there is a very long history of table tennis in Hungary. Would have loved to learn more about it if it was in English or someone could speak with me.

I played with Australian guy "Chubba". He won two matches and I won one. He was from Sydney and was in an accident and was disabled. He still played great. I tried to buy a shirt with a BVSC logo on it, but they didn't have any, even though I saw a ton of players with them. I guess they either have to earn them, or they ran out.

Chubba and I talked about the Hungarian culture, and table tennis in Hungary for a bit, and then Cathi walked into another portion of the building where a tournament was going on! She told me I should check it out as they were playing at a level she had never seen before. My jaw dropped as I saw these kids play. Many of them were probably in the 2400 rating range. I took lots of video. Great players! You can check out the videos and pictures of BVSC here . In front of BVSCThe building they were playing in was really old. It reminded me of being in a Medal of Honor Game where the buildings are made of concrete and really plain. Very intriguing though.

Cathi and I made our way back to the subway. There was a bakery on the corner with a display of cookies that made our mouths water. I made a goal when we left to only half half a desert (split it with Cathi) whenever the opportunity arose.

We took the subway back and we ate at Peppers! The restaurant in the Marriott. For Dinner the Menu was:
  1. Terrine of roe deer with mustard fruits and port wine marinated apricots

  2. Star anis spiced carrot cream soup
  3. Lemon-almond marzipan filled chicken breast on sage dressing and vegetable cous cous
  4. Banana-passion fruit charlotte with pepper croquette

I didn't eat desert. I was feeling like I was going to need to be good on this trip. I ate every thing else. I was disappointed in Cathi. She didn't eat much of her main course and ate my desert. I noticed that not many others ate their dinners either. Why pay to go to a fancy restaurant only to be too chicken to eat it? Bill must be shaking his head.

After dinner Cathi and I prepared to go on a run. We ran along the Danube river and passed the Parliament building. Noticed armed guards around it. I took some video of it here. As I was taking video a bicyclist came up from behind me and almost hit me as I was turning around with the camera. Cathi yelled out from behind me "Gordon, Gordon!" Here is the video of that. The path along the Danube was awesome. It wasn't busy and it was nice to see Budapest all lit up. We ran past the Chain Bridge, past the Margaret Bridge and almost to the Arpad Bridge. We ran to this point at Robert Karoly Road, then ran back. The path along the Danube was well lit, the road we ended on was not well lit and we already had run over 3 miles.

Bill told us about Margaret Island but didn't know how to get there. We'll try going there tomorrow. We found out that to get there you have to actually take the Margaret Bridge. Cathi and I checked out the pool. It was only about 12 yards long. Will have to do a hundred laps to get in a decent workout. The weight room though was pretty good.

Today was a fun day!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flight to Budapest

Cathi and I woke up early and ran. I had knee problems and ended up walking after only 1/3 mile and Cathi left me ahead. It was really cold outside and I turned around after only .75 miles and came back.

Elayna took us to the Delta terminal and we left with all of Cathi's siblings (Except Becky) for New York. The flight went pretty quick and we met Becky in New York.

We then flew straight from New York to Budapest. During the flight I slept for a few hours and everyone in the party was taking turns taking candid sleeping shots. The flight took us overnight so we tried to get sleep on the plane. We landed in Budapest on Saturday morning around 10:30 am.

Going through customs in Hungary was a piece of cake. There were no forms to fill out, just a guy waving us through with our luggage.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Start of our vacation

Cathi and I left Austin, Jacob, Lucy and Jonas at home to be watched by Mary Tanner. Isaac and Sam with Rose Mitchell, and Oliver with Jenny Thueson.

Cathi met me really late on Thursday evening at Elayna and Richard's where we spent the night.

Elayna Tivo'd Survivor for us and we enjoyed watching that.