Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving Food Porn

Thanksgiving is over and now its time to reminisce with some food porn! Steph and I spent the day alone with the dogs and cat. Todd and Alli's dog, Prior, was visiting as well, so we had a full house of animals to keep us company.

One good lookin' bird!
I picked up a 10 lb. heritage turkey from Muss & Turner's on Monday before Thanksgiving and brined it for more than 2 days prior to going on the Big Green Egg to roast over hardwood charcoal and pecan chips. Dirk let me borrow his BBQ Guru for the day so I could cook the bird low and slow. The plan was to cook at ~275 degrees F for a few hours, as the breast approaches its temperature of 160 degrees F, the guru would lower the temperature in the egg to slow the cooking even further.

Are those E-cups?
Alas, the best laid plans don't always work out that way. I screwed up by clipping the BBQ Guru temperature probe to the roasting pan instead of the cooking grate, which resulted in temperature readings that were too low. In turn, it pushed up the heat in the egg and my 10 pound bird was roasted nicely in just under 3 hours instead of the planned 5+ hours. Ooops. The bird came off the egg by 1 PM and rested for a few hours while I put together the rest of the meal, including roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing and a sweet potato pie baked by Steph.

We finally used the fine china!

After a great meal, we headed down to Atlantic Station to see Rent. Good flick, though I'd much rather see it at the Fabulous Fox Theater again.

What a great Thanksgiving. Perhaps we'll do it alone again next year!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Walk The Line

Last night Steph and I went to see Walk The Line at the new Atlantic Station movie theatre. Steph was concerned about having to pay for parking, but I had already done my research to find out that parking was free for the first 4 hours if you saw a movie. What I didn't know is that we'd wind up paying for parking anyway:

Me: "I'd like two tickets to the 9:35 showing of Walk the Line."
Ticket Guy: "OK. That will be $18."
Me: (hands over credit card) "Uh, did you say $18?!"
Ticket Guy: "Yes sir. Going to the movies sure has changed."
Me: (mutters) "I guess I paid for the parking anyway."

I nearly crapped my pants when I realized a movie is $9 for adults down there! Granted, it is a very nice theatre with very comfortable seats and its close to the house, but that's an expensive movie by Atlanta standards.

Steph and I head inside, grab some popcorn and sit down for the show. Two people sit next to us after asking us if we can move to squeeze them in to our row. Of course there were plenty of other seats available that they could have sat in. Whatever, we're nice.

Movie starts.

Next door neighbors (the ones who asked us to move) start talking.

Movie soundtrack gets louder.

Next door neighbors talk louder.

I start giving them the look that says "Shut the hell up, I just paid $18 to see the movie, not listen to you yack!".

Phone rings. Next door neighbor picks up the phone and starts talking.

I reach over, smack the guy on the knee and ask him to kindly shut the hell up. He doesn't.

This went on for the ENTIRE movie. Unfuckingbelievable.

Despite the ass-clown who sat next to us, the movie was great. I just wish I could have heard the movie instead of the jerk-off next to us.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Drinkin' in Denver, Part III

A few more notes.

The Redstone Meadery mead we liked was the Boysenberry, not blackberry. Oops.

The Wynkoop barelywine was the "7 Year Itch".

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Drinkin' in Denver, Part II

Just got home from Denver, its been a totally uneventful day today.

Yesterday was much more fun! After breakfast with some family I met up with Todd and we headed to the convention center right at 12:30 when it opened for the connoisseur tasting session. We went around and hit a few things a second time, including Redstone Meadery, Dogfish Head and Iron Hill on a much fresher palate. Redstone Meadery had three meads — mead is best described as a honey wine, sometimes flavored with fruit a.k.a. a melomel — which we tried before anything else today since they were much more subtle in flavor than some of the bigger porters, stouts, IPAs, etc. Of the three varieties we tried — Sunshine, Blackberry and Boysenberry — we both liked the Blackberry the best, since it was sweet with fresh blackberry flavors rounding out the taste. This could easily replace a sweet dessert wine on my table.

We also ran back to the Wynkoop Brewery to taste their barleywine, with all of the colorful beer names its hard to remember them all, which was a blend of seven years of barleywines that were then blended and aged in a Woodford Reserve oak cask. This was a great drink! Later in the night, after a very short trip to the evening tasting (my palate was worn out and I really didn't feel like drinking any more beers!) we went by the Wynkoop brewery. The brewery is located no more than a mile from our hotel. It was time for a late dinner and one final drink. I really enjoy the food and atmophere at the brewery, Steph and I had beed there a few years earlier. I had the schwarzbier, it was nice but I couldn't finish any more beer, I just wanted water. Todd had another barleywine. Sadly, the keg was running dry and it will never be offered again. The oak aging gave the beer lots of coconut and vanilla flavors which made us both wish for a pairing with coconut creme brulee.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted, we walked back to the hotel to pass out. This was a fun weekend, but 3 sessions is too damn much for me! Next year I would do the Thursday night session, which Todd thought was the most interesting because more of the brewers were at their tables. I'd skip Friday night and Saturday night, they both were extremely crowded! The Saturday connoiseur tasting was much more relaxed with people who were more intersted in the beers, rather than getting drunk. I'll also bring some pretzels and a length of string. Lots of folks made necklaces of pretzels to munch on at the tasting and clear their palate. A good idea, since the food at the venue was not overly inpsiring. We didn't eat anything inside the convenion center during any of the tasting sessions.

Time to sit back on the couch, drink water, treat my liver a little better than the past two days and get ready for another work week.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Great American Beer Festival

I'm sitting in the ATL waiting for my flight to Denver where I'm meeting Todd to attend the Great American Beer Festival. I am so giddy, I've wanted to attend for a few years, thanks to Delta bumping me from a flight and some hotel points, its an almost free vacation. I barely slept last night, I tossed and turned and had dreams of beer... lots and lots of beer!

I'll post more after I get to Denver and start quaffing, watch out for some late night inebriated posts tonight and tomorrow...

Friday, September 16, 2005

This very well may be fake, but...

I received this from a friend today, its a motion for continuance for a trial in Miami-Dade County, Florida. I think the author meant to say disc surgery. Oops.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Vosges Haute Chocolate

I was introduced to Vosges by my cousin Todd Mussman, a.k.a. Muss of Muss & Turner's, where I got four different bars of Vosges Chocolate and the Aztec Elixir Cocoa. This is amazing stuff!

I gave Steph the Aztec Elixir for her birthday. We drank a cup after her birthday dinner, handily whipped up with my molinillo — a hand-made Oaxacan wooden chocolate mixer that whips the chocolate into a froth. We were hooked by the deep chocolate flavors that coated our mouths at the first sip.

In Caesar's Palace Forum Shops there is a Vosges retail store where I picked up a box of the Collection Italiano. Clearly, I must be turning into a chocolate fanatic. You wouldn't catch me dead spending $37+ on a box of 9 truffles from Godiva, but I knew this would be worth the price. We each had a Rooster — Italian taleggio cheese, organic walnuts, Tahitian vanilla beans and bittersweet dark chocolate — this is the only chocolate truffle I have ever seen that comes with eating instructions! Steph and I sat in stunned silence after eating one of these apiece last night. Every day should be filled with that much bliss... and chocolate!

So now I have a new favorite chocolatier. Well, not really. If I want classic chocolates, Mary Chocolatier in Brussels is the place to go. Ordering online is a rip-off, since the $10 I spent on a pound of chocolate when I was in Brussels would cost over $100 delivered... perhaps for a special occassion that might be nice. However, if I want unique, modern chocolates, I'll head to Vosges every time. I won't turn away Godiva, but you won't catch me spending any money there in the future. And I still love a Snickers bar... but that's not going to fill my chocolate cravings.

Friday, July 29, 2005

America West Airlines Sucks.

I'm sitting at the airport in Vegas — the video poker machines are annoying as hell when you're tired and cranky — and tried to get information on my flight from a gate agent. After confirming the gate info I asked if the flight was on time. I was told "I'm too busy to answer that, go to your gate and ask an agent over there." At my gate the agents were trying to board another flight and they had a huge line. *sigh* Customer service at its finest.

This is another crappy airline to add to the list of airlines that I should avoid flying if at all possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I'm on my way to Las Vegas now and I have some updates for the previous post.

1) I'm not flying through Salt Lake City, I never was.
2) I accepted $400 in travel vouchers from America West to be bumped from my flight to Vegas via Phoenix.
3) I accepted a flight on Delta, leaving 30 minutes after my original flight. The flight is direct to Las Vegas, so I arrive 2 hours before I planned. w00t.

So, I haven't even arrived in Vegas and I am already up $400! I'm pretty good at this gambling stuff. ;-) We'll see how I fare at the BlackJack table tonight. Hopefully I'll do as well as my coworker Amol, who put a coin in a slot machine and won $350. Lucky bastard is up $500 already — he spent the weekend in Vegas — and we don't leave until Thursday!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sitting here in the airport...

I began to think about the places I have been around the US and the world. So here's a map of the places I have been to or been through (e.g. a layover in Timbuktu counts).

States in the U.S.A. (I may have been to Maine as a kid, I don't recall).

Next week I will add Utah and Nevada to the list. I'm passing through Salt Lake City on the way to Las Vegas for BlackHat 2005.


Not a terribly impressive list. It's hard to see the Carribean countries I have visited (U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico) and the European Countries (France, Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary). Clearly I need to travel more around the world, although I feel pretty worldly compared to most people I know... Looking at this reminds me how much I want to visit South America.

(Yes, I know the maps look squished. Blame, its their map.)

Friday, July 22, 2005


Oahu, Hawaii
I've been in Hawaii for the past 44 hours, give or take a few, and I'm waiting for my flight back to Atlanta. Oahu was beautiful! I stayed in Waikiki, but unfortunately this was a work trip so it left little time for sightseeing. Work was great, this is a fun place to do business and the people are so incredibly nice. I just wish I had more time to explore the island. In fact, I didn't even get to the beach, my bathing suit is still in my suitcase, as clean as when I left. This is as close as I got to the ocean in the past two days.

Unfortunately, its time to head back to Atlanta. Let's do the math:

47 hours in Hawaii.

24 hours travel time.

I will spend a little more than a third of this trip in the air or waiting in airports. Ugh! The life of a road warrior isn't all its cracked up to be sometimes.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Miles' Bris

Miles & Uncle Dean
Yesterday was Miles' biggest adventure yet, his bris! (Ouch!) Both sets of grandparents, his great-grandparents, Uncle Dean, Aunt Stephanie and friends were there to celebrate this day.

Miles & Aunt Stephanie

Miles & Great-Grandma


Miles & Mom

Miles, Mom & Dad


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Miles Aaron Mussman!

Miles Aaron Mussman
Introducing Miles Aaron Mussman!

Miles joined us today at about 4:45 P.M. He weighed in at 7 pounds 5 ounces and 21.5" in length. Both Allison and Miles are doing great! Congratulations to Todd, Allison, Prior and Billi Mussman on the new addition to their family!

Mazel tov!

Miles Aaron Mussman

Miles Aaron Mussman



Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Only two more days...

Its taken almost 6 weeks, but I'm down to two days of our trip left to post. Perhaps it will get done this week, now that I'm in Atlanta for a few days. When I'm done I will post a wrap-up of the trip and all of the links, in order. Soon...


Corn Party?

On Friday, Steph and I were out at our local supermarket picking up groceries for Alli & Todd's baby shower the following night. When I approached the cashier, the following exchange occurred:

Me: "I have 24 ears of corn here."
Cashier (in a very Southern accent): "What do you need 24 ears of corn for?"
Me: "I'm having a party."
Cashier: "What kind of party? A corn party?!"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

NIN at the Tabernacle

Damon and I went to see NIN last night at the Tabernacle. The show got me thinking about how my musical tastes reflect what's going on in my life.

NIN was OK, it reminded me a lot of what I was like when I was listening to NIN regularly in the mid-90's — angst ridden and trying to figure out where I fit in the world. From NIN my tastes evolved toward the Grateful Dead and Phish, I started listening to a lot of Americana and Bluegrass when Steph and I started dating. My musical tastes, like my personality, has evolved over the years into something much more mellow and happier. Trust me, this is a good thing.

Just a random thought on a slightly hung-over post concert morning.

Friday, May 20, 2005


I'm feeling very uninspired today. I am working on a few projects for work, including a presentation on Regular Expressions at ACFUG on June 1, 2005.

I've also been lagging on posting the remaining days of our travelogue. I had no idea each post would consume 1 - 2 hours of my at night . I'm halfway through writing and editing pictures from one of the most interesting days of our trip, perhaps it will be posted later tonight.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Still working on the travelogue...

This is taking so much longer than I had planned... keep checking back as I add in the missing days and pictures.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Eastern European Travelogue... coming soon

I'm getting the blog set up again after many years of no postings and many changes in life. Right now I am working through organizing and editing almost 1000 pictures from Eastern Europe. The posts are going to be dated with the real date of our vacation, so they will appear out of order.

The only thing online so far is this post at BoingBoing. We would have never seen the posters in that link if we didn't get off the bus one stop too early in Oswięcim...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Budapest — Final Day in Europe

Happpy Anniversary to us!!!

Woke up too early this morning, again. We had a beautiful, peaceful breakfast on the patio of the B&B. The morning sun was very warm, it felt nice to eat out in the open air. Another traditional Hungarian breakfast with bread, slices sausages and meats, cheeses and local jams. The food in this town can be so simple, yet surprisingly flavorful.

We headed out for a guided tour of the Parliament building which we have heard such wonderful things about. We arrived a wee bit late — we didn't realize how long the ticket line would be — so we managed to join a 10:15 tour in English. The building is more breathtaking inside than it is from the exterior, however, we had a very hard time understanding the tour guide. A small group of French speakers thought it would be appropriate to join an English tour and then translate and generally talk over the tour guide that the rest of us paid a significant sum to hear. Why are you taking a tour in a language you don't understand when tours are offered in numerous languages, including French, on a regular basis?! Argh!

The Crown of St.
Stephen, Ceremonial Sword
Orb and 10th c.
Persian-made Sceptre
After the tour we walked around the area surrounding Parliament and found a cute little cafe where we stopped for a cold drink — its getting VERY hot today — and some sandwiches that we took to go. We attempted to visit the Ethnography Museum, however, the museum would force us to "check" our bags. The bag check was not orderly or secure, people just dropped their stuff on random racks and hooks in an unsecured area of the museum. Anyone could walk in and pick up random bags! I wasn't about to leave my camera in such an area. Instead, we walked back across the street to a park next to the Parliament building where we sat in the shade and ate our lunch. While we ate, a very large — 30+ people? — of Indian tourists came into the park armed with cameras and video cameras. They proceeded to get totally silly taking pictures and video of each other running around the park, posing on the large statues, etc. Totally hilarious people watching. Sometimes the best parts of a day come our of sheer coincidence, this was one of them.

The Lower House
of Parliament
We headed back to the B&B to cool down and relax for a short while before heading up to Castle Hill again to find the Castle Hill Labyrinth. It was a cool experience, both temperature wise and visually, to walk through the maze of caves beneath Castle Hill. It was the least interesting of our underground adventures over the past two weeks, but some incredibly dark corners did lend themselves to some interesting possibilities... ;-)

The Tree of Life
Holocaust Memorial

We then walked back to the train and headed into Pest. We explored the Jewish section of town and found some monuments to people murdered during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the gates were not open so we couldn't get an up close look at the Tree of Life. Every leaf is engraved with the name of a local who didn't survive the Holocaust. Steph wanted to try a Jewish restaurant for our anniversary dinner. While very Jewish, the pork and shellfish on the menu was decidedly not Kosher (not that we cared). After an early dinner we headed back to Buda where we picked up a few beers at the grocery store and brought them back to the B&B to drink while we packed up our bags and got ready to say "Goodbye!" to our vacation and Eastern Europe.

The alarm is set for 4:30 A.M. (yuck!) so we can meet our 5 A.M. taxi for a ride to the airport and a 7 A.M. flight to Paris. From Paris we're headed to Cincinatti and then finally home to Atlanta and what we expect to be a very mad cat! I'm hoping that she didn't destroy any plants or leave any messes for us. We'll know in about 36 hours...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Budapest Day Two

The Great Market Hall
Good morning Budapest! Had a great night's sleep and woke up to a very nice breakfast. Judit even remembered that Steph doesn't eat red meat, so she picked up various poultry sausages in addition to the usual Hungarian meats! Very yummy stuff.
We spent some time talked to the proprietors of the B&B, they were great to talk to and had lots of good information for us. Where to go, what to buy and how much to pay for it!

Mmmm, Porky Goodness!
The Great Market Hall
We walked down to the Danube and took a bus down the river and across to Pest to the Great Market Hall. The building home to the best indoor market, there were numerous butchers, bakers and grocers with some beautiful products. We walked around and picked up some pastries, two types of honey and of course some paprika! This paprika was actually in a paste form, instead of dried and powdered, we had it at a restaurant last night and I liked it a lot! We also tried some Hungarian wine, Aszu Tokay, which is a sweet dessert wine. They are ranked from 3 to 6 puttanyos (grape baskets?) to rank their sweetness. We tried the least sweet, 3 puttanyos, it was pretty good.

Vegetable Stand
The Great Market Hall
We then walked up Vachi Ul., a pedestrian market street lined with some very nice shops selling everything from pottery to cloth, antiques to clothes and lots of touristy schwag. (That's the technical term for it.) On the way we picked up a few pieces of pottery and then dropped into a small wine cellar for a tasting of Tokay wines. The cellar was really cool, they had a great selection of Hungarian wines and very knowledgeable staff who let us taste a traditional and modern version of Aszu Tokay. We purchased the more traditional version which we're looking forward to sharing with friends when we get back home.

The Great Market Hall

Back to the Metro, we rode out to the Szechenyi Baths. What a great experience! We tried a number of different pools, from cool to hot, indoor and out, and two saunas. After twelve days of travel, it was good to finally sit back, relax and feel our tight muscles loosen up. The baths have a very social atmosphere — its clear that the locals are regulars with a very set routine. Addtionally, people at the baths are not concerned about what they look like, one doesn't go to the baths to see and be seen. While I appreciated the fact that nobody had body image issues, there were some bodies in bikinis and Speedos that I had a problem with!

Near the B&B
After the baths, we headed to a local restaurant owned by the Gundel group that came highly recommended in the guide books and by the proprietors of our B&B. The name, in English, is The Owl's Nest. The restaurant sits on the edge of the Budapest zoo, which is very close to Szechenyi Baths. The entire staff, from dishwasher to executive chef is all women! They certainly knew how to take care of their guests, we had a fabulous lunch. I tried a chilled sour cherry soup, a Hungarian specialty that was the highlight of my culinary experiences so far! If we ever get back to Budapest, we'll definitely try the other Gundel restaurants if we're in the mood for an over the top dining experience.

Back on the Metro, we headed into the heart of Pest to visit the Hungarian Opera House. The tour was fun, the building absolutely beautiful — no pictures inside, unfortunately — but the tour was overpriced at nearly $13/person for 45 minutes! The temperature was climbing to the mid-eighties outside, so we decided to head back to Buda and the B&B for a cold beer and then a mid-day nap until later in the afternoon when its a bit cooler. We headed down toward the river to check out a local pancake shop for dinner. How stressful! The place is extremely busy, you wait in line and check out the posted menu — in Hungarian, of course — before getting up to the counter to order. Thankfully they spoke some English at the counter and had an English menu, so we quickly made our decisions an ordered. The pancakes are actually crepes, filled with savory or sweet fillings. We had expected all savory fillings with a small amount of sweet filled pancakes for dessert, what we ordered was the exact opposite! It was very good, my immediate thought was this could replace late-night Waffle House runs after spending the night drinking at the bar. Hmmm, possible business opportunity? We then sat down at a cafe next to the river to have a drink and do some people watching while the sun set, causing Parliament to glimmer in its last rays of the day.

The Fisherman's Bastion
After night fell, we walked along the Danube toward the Chain Bridge and took pictures of the city at night. We then took the Funicular up to the top of Castle Hill, walked around Fisherman's Bastion and then back down to out B&B. What an absolutely gorgeous, magical city. (I guess I should mention that the base of the Fisherman's Bastion is only 100 meters from the front door of our B&B... Duh!

Tomorrow is our final day in Budapest and our second anniversary. We've had an amazing experience through four countries over the past 12 days or so, but the travel is beginning to wear on us both. We're anxious to get back to our animals and our "normal" lives.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Eger to Budapest

Another early morning today, I was not happy to roll out of bed. Last night's bands kept me up way too late and I didn't sleep well. Steph passed out in a heartbeat for the first time on the entire trip last night leaving me to ponder life and the meaning of the universe all by myself.

The Danube River
We ate breakfast at the Hotel Senator Haz and headed to the train station to catch the first morning train to Budapest. While waiting for the train I made a new friend. He was a crazy, rotten-toothed drunk — its 10 A.M. and he's clearly been drinking for a while — who came and sat down with us and chatted us up in broken English. I politely excused us, our train was in the station so I figured I could get on the train and leave my "friend" behind. No sooner did we sit down than he showed up again! Augh! Now he's offering me some of his beer and trying to sit with us on the train. We moved seats, making it clear we weren't interested, and began to strike up a conversation with a father and daughter from Sweden. Before the train left the station my new found friend decided to exit the car. I was quite thankful to see him go! We spent the entire trip discussing everything from politics to food to travel with the Swedes, they were incredibly nice and gave us some ideas of things to do and see in Budapest.

The Calvinist Church
We arrived in Budapest around noon, which meant we had a few hours to kill until we had to meet our hosts at the Bellevue Bed & Breakfast. We had our bags with us, so anything that involved limited walking was a good option until we checked in. So, after buying a 3 day train pass we headed across the river to Buda to find some lunch. Budapest is divided into Buda, the hilly side of the river, and Pest, the flat, metropolitan side, we had arranged for a B&B in Buda right down the block from the Fisherman's Bastion. Once we reached Buda we found a cafe where we could have lunch. Suddenly the prices for food and drink began to approach western European prices! Clearly the place is a bit of a tourist trap, it sits across the river from Parliament, though its views are not as nice as other locations. Our waiter was a pushy little man, he kept suggesting the most expensive items on the menu rather than listening to our requests for something a little smaller for lunch. The food was good, so we didn't feel too bad that we spent over $20 for lunch.

The Fisherman's Bastion
After lunch — I had a nice beer buzz working now, Dreher Bak (Bock) is a good Hungarian beer — we walked along the Danube river toward the Szechenyi chain bridge. Along the way we snapped a lot of pictures of the river, the bridge, Parliament and the Calvinist Church with its beautiful tile roof. It was definitely hotter in Budapest than it had been in the past 10 days, so we took the opportunity to cool off in the shade of the park surrounding the Calvinist Church and did some people watching. As the time to meet our hosts neared we began walking toward our B&B. Actually, to be correct we hiked our butts uphill to our B&B. I knew it was located on Castle Hill, but for some reason I didn't think that we would have to walk up three blocks of stairs to reach the street where it was located! Oi vey! This is going to be a pain in the neck!

Parliament (viewed
from The Fisherman's
The Bellevue B&B is in a beautfiul wooded neighborhood, the front door is 100 meters from the base of the Fisheman's Bastion which you can walk up to access the top of Castle Hill. We checked in and receied an upgraded room! Woohoo! The owner of the B&B, Judit, liked one of my email signatures so much that she commented on it numerous times, perhaps it was the reason for the upgrade. Sometimes it helps to be outspoken about one's political views, I guess. The room is nice and spacious, with a small bathroom and stand-up shower. There is a large balcony which looks out over the street and the woods heading up the hill toward the base of the Hilton Hotel. Thankfully, you can't see the hotel because of the thick stand of trees. This was a great find — thanks, Google! — and will be the perfect place to celebrate our second anniversary and end our adventure.

The Fisherman's Bastion
After settling in, we walked around Castle Hill and entered through the Vienna Gate on the north side of Castle Hill. We wandered around, up and down small streets and eventually found the Fisherman's Bastion. The Fisherman's Bastion was built in the early 20th century and overlooks the Danube and Pest, the views are absolutely stunning! We spent quite a bit of time on Castle Hill from the various lookout points where we took lots of pictures of Pest before finding the Funicular Railway — yes, another Amazing Race reference — and taking a ride back down. The Funicular runs down to almost the base of the Szechenyi Chain bridge. There was a major festival on the bridge today celebrating one year of membership in the European Union, so the bridge was closed to cars and became a pedestrian mall for the day. We walked over to Pest and sat down in Roosevelt Park to do some further people watching and locate a place to get some dinner. Eventually we found a local place that was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet Budapest book. The prices are half of what we paid for lunch earlier in the day, too bad the food wasn't half as good. Steph tried a local specialty, fisherman's stew, and it was horrible, the flavors were off and it was way too fishy. Yuck.

The Fisherman's Bastion
Back on the metro, we headed under the river and walked back to our B&B. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, we have a lot to see and do so we're going to get a good night's sleep.

View from the
Fisherman's Bastion

Flowers on Castle

Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Eger, Hungary

Statue of Dobo Istvan
We woke up early —4 A.M.!— and walked to the train station. The town was mostly deserted and very quiet. Caught the 5:10 A.M. train to Hungary, a short time later we passed through border control. The Hungarian border guards were extremely nice and spoke English well. One quick glance at the passports, two stamps and we're done. So much easier than the last border crossing, though we have a few Slovak Crowns left in our pockets for crossing the border, just in case.

Eger Town Square
The train stopped in Fuzesabony, a town about 15Km from Eger. We had some time before the next train, so we headed off to find some cash. I was happy to find an ATM this time! Another train ride and we arrive in Eger around 9 AM. The map in our Lonely Planet guide is useless, so I commit the town map outside the train station to memory and we start walking.

(Steph calls me the "human GPS" for my ability to navigate with, or without, a map. If I've walked/driven/rode someplace once, I will never forget how to get there again. Who needs sattelites?)

Beer For Breakfast
We walked to the center of town and found our hotel, the Hotel Senator Haz. Unfortunately, it was too early for us to check in, so we dropped our bags off and headed out to check out the town. First things first, we need some breakfast. We found a small bakery shop and grabbed a few sandwiches. The town was setting up for some kind of festival. This time we'd be sure to get to join in for all the fun. This is a great way to see Eger at its best! I started drinking at 10:30 A.M., I figured I should do as the locals do! Too bad the first Hungarian beer I tried, Soproni, was like Budweiser with a little added flavor. Yech. The Dreher Bak (Bock) I drank later in the day was much better. While quafffing my first beer a German tour group walked by and was admiring the statue of Dobo Istvan. One of the older men in the group pulled out a single-serving bottle of Jaegermeister and sucked it down right in front of me. Beer with breakfast, sure. But Jaeger?

View from Eger Castle

Seeking to recreate an Amazing Race 6 moment we walked up to the Eger Castle and did a short tour of the grounds. Not nearly as impressive as either Prague Castle or Wawel Castle and the hike wasn't as deadly as the Spis Castle — but it was open for visitors! The castle was nice, but the more interesting sites were the views across the city itself. Before we left, we replicated the "Canon Ball Run" scene from Amazing Race. Yes, we're reality TV watchers. And we're currently missing the final few episondes of the Amazing Race 7!

Recreating the Amazing
Race "Cannonball Run"

Back down through the square, things are getting going now with cheerleaders and a very bad marching band. We headed to lunch but we had trouble finding any local cuisine. Eger is a big tourist town so they had everything you could want, including McDonalds. So we ate at a Mediterranean restaurant where they served gyros without the pita. Weird. Spent some time people watching and Steph was evesdropping on the Israeli couple next to us to see if she still remembered her Hebrew. After lunch we headed off to see the local wine museum. Amazingly, it is out of business!

View from Eger Castle

Instead we found our way via taxi to the wine caves at Szepasszony-volgy, the Valley of Beautiful Women. We explored a handful of the cellars, some were dark and dank, others brightly lit and nicely decorated. The all shared one common theme, mediocre to really bad wine! Thankfully it was only 50HUF (~$.25) a glass! One of the cellars had a very lively band with 3 fiddlers and a bassist. They came over to us and tried to guess where we were from, intending to play our national anthem. They guessed wrong numerous times and we weren't helping them much. Everyone thinks we're German! Finally, we told them we're American and they played "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof! Weird.

I've been a very
bad boy

After a few glasses of wine we decided to head back to the center of town and the festival. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a taxi to save our lives, but a nice waiter from a local restaurant was kind enough to call one for us. When we paid the driver he counted back our change in German! I guess that Eger sees a lot of German speaking tourists and not many English speakers.

Eating Cotton Candy
We continued to pop in and out of the festival through the day and ate some cotton candy, local pretzels, drink a few more beers and enjoyed the local color. Early in the evening a very funny — and very BAD — rock band went on stage. They were covering a number of songs that we knew, but it was clear that they didn't speak English so the words came out funny. Imagine "Born To Be Wild" sung completely phoenetically! They also sang quite a bit in Magyar. The local teenagers clearly knew the songs and sang along. It was so bad that it was good!

Barrels of Wine
During the show I spotted two kids wearing McDonalds/1996 Atlanta Olympic Games hats. That was definitely not expected, but it put us in the mood for dinner so we headed to the local MickeyD's. The day had been long and we were too tired to try and figure out a menu in Magyar and knew that there weren't many choices for local Hungarian cuisine. It may not have been called a Quarter Pounder With Cheese &mdash or a Royale With Cheese — but it tastes the same. I was annoyed, however, to have to pay for ketchup! Walked back to the hotel and packed our bags before bed. Tomorrow we're headed to Budapest, the final stop on our trip and where we'll spend our 2 year anniversary!

"If I were a
rich man..."