Kate and Elliot and I went backpacking through Eastern Europe in May and June 2007. We wanted to combine travel with some sort of service project, and while that part didn't turn out exactly as we'd hoped (more on that in the Bosnia installment), we still had an amazing time. Just looking back over the photos is thawing out my toes (more snow tomorrow, says the weatherman, and these days the weatherman is always right), so I think I'll start retroblogging a bit before the three- year mark.
(Three years! How did that happen?!)
We did Budapest for a few days, then Romania—Sighişoara, Braşov and Rasnov, hiked in the Piatra Craiului mountains, back to Braşov, Sinaia, and to Bucharest to meet my Romanian publisher—then a night train to Belgrade, one night in Kotor in Montenegro; then Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar Island in Croatia; then a night each in Mostar and Sarajevo, where we split up—Elliot had to go home, so he took a train back to Budapest, and Kate and I went on to Brčko (still in Bosnia) to volunteer at a summer camp for ten days.
There aren't as many descriptive journal passages on this trip; I was focused on taking notes for stories and working on rough drafts of answers for a Mary Modern Q&A, because the book was coming out two weeks after we got home. I also read even more than I usually do when traveling—three Angela Carter novels, The Pesthouse, and a bunch of other good books. I copied this little gem from Wise Children (one of my very favorite novels) onto the first page of a new journal:
“It doesn’t matter if what happens next spoils everything; the anticipation itself is always pure.”
(So true, it hurts.)
(Kate going for attempted drowning #2 at the Gellert baths.)
I have to say, apart from the baths Budapest wasn't my favorite stop—we had a weird hostel experience, and all the supposedly quaint and old-fashioned bars and cafes the guidebook recommended turned out to be tourist traps.
Of course, the middle-aged men in speedos at the Szechenyi baths made up for all that...
And here are a few shots from Castle Hill (the painting is a detail of Klára Zách I, on display at the Hungarian National Gallery; better view on Wikipedia):
Elliot: “It’s not that I’m being contrarian. It’s just that I’m right.”
Outside the opera house—we did the tour, which was worthwhile. (I have a thing for sphinxes. I don't know why, except that they're awesome.)
Next installment: Sighişoara, Romania (my favorite!)