Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Say it with me - DubLisBudaVien

Even though Prague was pretty awesome (as I'm sure you read in my last post), I ended up spending exactly 0 weekends during my month in the city. It's not my fault, I swear. There's just too much to see.

The first weekend I went to Dublin and ran my first half marathon (gasp). In preparation for the race, we hydrated hard....like really hard......like "out all night at the bars in Dublin" hard. We found this "traditional" little Irish pub where some guy was playing Irish songs (and some American songs) and the whole crowd was toasting and singing drunkenly (they must have been hydrating for the marathon as well).  It was so Ireland.

So Ireland!
We also made a stop in the Guinness factory, which was actually pretty great. A lot of beer factory tours suck, but this one I give two (Irish) thumbs up. And the big news coming out the Guinness factory? I'm now a certified Guinness pourer (pouree? bar tender? alcoholic?). Let me know if you need one poured (and you're standing next to me) (and we're at a bar with Guinness on tap) (and there's no bar tender so I can go behind the bar) (actually never mind, don't ask me). The factory also had a bar on the top floor with a 360 degree view of the city, but more importantly had a big stage where they played traditional Irish music and even put on an Irish jig show. So Ireland!

River Dance!

Guinnesses (Guinni?) at different stages of settling

Hydrating for the marathon

I had a lot of fun going out in Dublin, but I was there for a bigger reason...to win a half marathon. The farthest I have ever run in my life before this was around 9 miles, so odds were that I wouldn't win...or even finish (plus the signs marking the way were in kilometer, leading me to believe I was done around the halfway point). However, good prevailed over evil, dogs prevailed over cats, Derrick Zoolander prevailed over Mugatu, and I finished the race in a time of 1:56:56. Not too bad considering I am traveling around the world and not exactly concentrating on training.

They said it couldn't be done

A group of us have also signed up for the Chang Mai (Thailand) half marathon in December. Its going to be so hot there that they are starting the race around 4AM. So, really we have two groups going; the runners, and the people coming directly from the bar to cheer us on.

Moving south down the continent, weekend number two was spent in Lisbon (that's in Portugal for you geographically challenged people). Lisbon ended up being the first place this year with consistent warm weather and a beach. They talk about digital nomads always chasing summer around the globe, well, we really emphasized the chasing part. We always seem to be about one month behind the warm weather, so it was nice to bring out the guns for a beach day (by guns I mean my giant arms (and by my giant arms I mean my "slightly above average on a good day" arms)). Good thing there's an open carry law in Lisbon.

Finally a beach!

In addition to the beach, Lisbon had some pretty great food as well. I went to this TimeOut market that was a huge cafeteria like setup with over 50 different Lisbon restaurants offering a limited menu. All kinds of good seafood was consumed.

Mmmmmm Lisbon
That's a straight up whole octopus
But Lisbon's most prized food offering is their egg tart. These things are really delicious. I'm not sure why we don't have them in the US (we steal everything good and unhealthy). Hmmmm, I think I see a business plan forming.

Look for these at Matt's Bakery in the near future (hopefully I have a better name for my bakery by then)

I also had the pleasure of attending a Portuguese football match (thats soccer for you sports challenged people....and Americans). One of the best parts of the game was the setup outside the stadium on the street where hundreds of people partied pre and post game (cause you can drink in the street).

So Portugal!

Drinking in the street
One odd thing I found about Lisbon was that it has some strange obsession with tiles. Everything (streets and buildings) are layered with tiles. There's probably a reason for it, but I'm not in the mood to Google, so I'll just call it weird.


Regardless of these tiles, Lisbon was quite an attractive city

That's an arch (and some tiles)

That's another arch (actually might be the same arch)

Looking out the castle wall (no arches in sight)

Guarding Lisbon and its arches

Weekend number three was spent much closer to Prague, in the Austrian city of Vienna. There's a guy in my Remote Year group that we call Jacek (because that's his name) who is from Austria and was gracious enough to show us his home country.

So what does one think of when they hear Austria? For me, its wienerschnitzel and Hitler (in no particular order). And I got a taste of both on my trip.

First up is the wienerschnitzel. I ate it.

So Austria!

Next, we have Hitler. Jacek, being the gracious host that he is, lead us on a walking tour through Austria. He was such a great tour guide and knew everything about all the sites....kind of. He actually just brought a speaker and played a downloaded walking tour guide through his phone, but, I still learned things. One of the places we went was Heldenplatz (oh, of course, Heldenplatz). Hitler gave a famous speech here after the takeover of Austria.

So Hitler!

Actually, here's a video of that speech that Hitler gave on that very balcony.

That guy seems like he's going places.

Even outside of Hitler speech venues, there's lots of neato old school buildings throughout Vienna similar to this one.


Old School Palace

We also went to an amusement park which has a famous ferris wheel for some reason. My dad went to Vienna like 50 years ago and he even asked me if I saw this ferris wheel on my trip. I'm guessing it must have been more impressive back then (but so was color TV).

A famous, non-impressive ferris wheel.

I also saw the most depressing thing at this amusement park. I'm still crying from it, so I just want to share it with you as well. They had a merry-go-round with live donkeys/horses hooked up and walking around it. The lives of these animals consisted of just walking in tiny circles forever. Where's PETA when you need them?

I am crying inside

And on that sad note, we will leave Vienna and move onto my last weekend of Prague month, which was actually our travel weekend to Belgrade. We were taking a bus in between the cities and made a stop in Budapest. A bunch of us decided we would just stay in Budapest for a few days and meet the group later in Belgrade.

I basically knew nothing about Budapest, other than it had a grand hotel (never heard that one before) and something called Hungarian Goulash. I found at least one of these things.

Legit Hungarian Goulash

But Budapest actually ended up being one of the most beautiful cities I've seen on my whole trip. The Danube river runs through the city (as it had in Prague and Vienna and will in Belgrade) and the surrounding architecture is just awesome. At night everything is especially impressive.

More of my great nighttime photography

Budapest Parliament building. This one is unreal

Square of Heroes (thats why I was there)

Like many eastern European countries, Budapest has a dark past with a reign of terror for many years by the Nazis and some Communists dictators. We visited the museum of terror in the city to see all the fun they had during these times.

Happy times at the museum of terror

The museum wasn't the only thing that was terrifying in the city. They also had a statue of Ronald Regan. Can you get any more terrifying than that?

Really? Ronald Regan? Something about fighting Communism?
Even more terrifying than Regan, though, was this guy lying on a bench that we found passed out during our bike tour. Sorry, I had to take a picture and post it here.

So Budapest!

Fortunately, that wasn't the only skin I saw during my time in the city. Budapest is apparently known for its baths, so I felt obligated to check one out (even though it was 90 degrees outside). These baths really just ended up being some pools. Some hot pools.

The Budapest baths (better known as a pools)

The other thing Budapest is now know for is ruin bars. These are bars that have been established in the ruins of old buildings. They're basically large open air courtyards surrounded by dilapidated buildings. So obviously very fun.

The ruins

And thats how I spent my four weekends in Prague (but not in Prague) in DubLisBudaVien. Together with London the previous month and Belgrade the next month, I visited 7 countries in about 30 days. That's so Remote Year!

Total countries visited on my trip: 12