Friday, May 25, 2018

Week in Review - Trip to Hungary & Romania (May 15 - May 21)

Very picture-heavy, but didn't feel like separating out into different posts. #lazy

Tuesday (12,646 steps) - Uneventful day. Janna and Mat took me to lunch for my birthday, in addition to giving me a cookie cake!
Worked late, then A and I went to HuHot for yet another "birthday" dinner. I had a BOGO, but the server worked some magic (?) and I got a beer and we each got a buffet, and the total was less than $11. Woot!
Finalized and weighed all my bags - can't believe it's finally here!!!
Wednesday (12,609 steps) - Slept surprisingly well, woke up only a few minutes before my alarm went off. Re-checked the weight of my bags (like it was going to change overnight or something?) I had to go to work in the morning, but left around 2:45 for the airport. Traffic was horrific, it took a lot longer to get there than I planned. My reservation at the lot worked without a hitch, and I was in line at the Delta ticket counter with about 2 hours before my first flight. With my super short connections I was worried about checking my bag, so I opted to carry it on. I had enough time for a jittery pre-travel beer in Denver.
Flight one to Minneapolis, uneventful. We landed early, and it was plenty of time to get to the gate for the long haul to Amsterdam. I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep, so I didn't even try. I was seated in the same row as a teenage boy that was headed to Ghana for a TWO YEAR mission with his church. He was chatty, but very nice. Plenty of food on the flight, free wine, and movies.
Pasta dinner, it was actually pretty good
and... breakfast
I watched The Greatest Showman, kind of dozed off during Pitch Perfect 3, and then Shape of Water. Last hour of the flight was watching episodes of the middle. I was most concerned about the last flight, as I only had a 60 minute connection to Budapest and I was in the second to last row on the plane. Turns out, it was plenty of time, especially since our flight was delayed by about 45 minutes.
Thursday (5,615 steps) - Finally, in Budapest. Biggest challenge was changing money (not really a challenge, I'd brought USD just for this purpose) and then getting coins so I could use... A PAY PHONE. I don't take my phone out of airplane mode when I travel, so I had to use the pay phone to call the hotel for a shuttle. After a few trial & errors with area codes, I finally get in touch with the hotel and have the shuttle there in probably 10 minutes.
I was greeted by a woman (who ironically, is from Transylvania?!) and got checked in. I sat in the lobby and had a beer before going to my room.

Cutest room ever!
Random meats & mashed potatoes
Thankfully there was as restaurant attached, so I got to eat, walk around near the hotel, and then be in bed before 10.
Friday (14,816 steps) - Up EARLY to shower as I had a 4 am shuttle to the airport for the last flight of the trip. Since it was my birthday, I had some blueberry cheesecake for breakfast.
I was flying Wizz Air for the first time (a budget line) and it was fine! Everything went smoothly, and the flight was fast and uneventful. I landed early and just needed to meet up with Alison and Kristin at the Hertz counter. They were running late, so it was around 9:30 before we met up and got the car. The gals were super sweet and gave me a "birthday in a box" - complete with a crown that I wore all day.

The drive was long and mostly uneventful, other than when we were approaching Brasov area and the mountain roads actually made me feel a little carsick. Which is NOT normal. I'll blame it also on general fatigue.

We checked into our super cute hotel. Kristin had ordered a birthday bottle of wine for my room, which we enjoyed on the balcony.



Yep, this was the view (a tad magnified) from our balconies!
Kristin, me & Alison with birthday wine!
Thankfully, the expo was nothing more than a few tables that had our bibs and shirts. The mandatory kit was checked randomly, we each only had to show a few items. Good thing, it took forever to get everything I needed into my bag. North Face had a tent, but nothing of interest, so I was able to get out without spending any money.
Outside the expo (yep, still wearing my crown)
We figured that while we were near the castle we should do our tour. We spent around an hour in the castle, it was pretty neat (and inexpensive).









We were hoping to have dinner in the square but everyone smokes and we couldn't get decent service. Ended up having dinner at the hotel (which was quite good).
Back to the room for last minute preparations.
I took a shower and got to bed pretty early.
Saturday (64,337 steps) - Transylvania 50K.
Post-race beers in the hotel restaurant. Sadly, the kitchen was closed.
Sunday (22,104 steps) - Breakfast at hotel. We headed out around 10 for the one thing I was really looking forward to - the Libearty Bear Sanctuary! It was only about a 25 minute drive from our hotel and we got there with enough time to buy tickets. The tour lasted about an hour and was pretty informative. Did you know that 60% of the European bear population live in Romania? Me neither! We also got to see lots of happy bears, so that was fun.



We then headed into Brasov to the train station so I could buy my ticket. I'm glad I did my research on this, because had I pre-purchased online, I would have spent about $75 more! By now we were getting pretty hungry, so after a bit of driving around we found some free street parking and went to Deane's Irish pub for lunch. Alison and I split a burger and a pizza. Random, and delicious.
We wandered around town for a few hours before decided we wanted to take the chair lift to the Brasov sign, only to realize we missed the last one by mere minutes. Alison and Kristin were wilting, but I still wanted to walk around, so they went back to the hotel and I meandered for another hour or so. Met up at their hotel, and then had final drinks at a cafe before they dropped me off at the train station.
Like the Romanian "Hollywood" sign
The Black Church




In my head, it seemed like a great idea to take the night train to Budapest. Get the travel & "lodging" out of the way in one journey. I was given an "upper" couchette. What that meant was a third level "bunk." I had to use a boat ladder to get up and down, and even as dexterous as I am, it was sketchy and scary, so once I was settled up there, I stayed up there.
View from my bunk
This didn't really help get me through the trip
There were no outlets and it was H-O-T. I tossed and turned, barely able to doze off. We had to go through customs twice, once before we exited Romania, and another time when we entered Hungary. Each time took like 45 minutes. This was not the highlight of my trip. When I finally was able to get down from my bunk to use the bathroom, I was met with actual crap all over the seats, the floor, etc. What happens to people?? I don't understand. It was revolting.
Sunrise from the train
Monday (24,529 steps) - Arrived in Budapest just before 9. I had done some research and knew I could rent a locker to leave my bags so I wouldn't have to carry everything around with me all day. I had to buy something to get the coins, and picked a completely random piece of pizza (pepperoni and... corn?) for 245 FT. It was easy peazy using my city map to get out of the Keleti station and walk to Heroes' Square. Had I brought another pair of running shoes, I might have attempted a run here, as it reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York. It was, however, pretty warm, and I was hot and tired.
I took lots of pictures of the Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle.

Taken later in the day, but from the other side



Next stop was the Budapest Zoo! It was inexpensive (about $10 USD) and I spent about an hour and a half walking around. One thing I noticed that was a stark contrast from US zoos was how some animals were allowed to "roam free" and the cages were substantially "closer" to people.







Next stop, still in the Square, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths! More specifically, the thermal beer spa! It was my one "splurge" of the trip. Had I done a bit more research on the baths in general, I think I would have skipped them, as they were really just big pools of varying temperatures. The beer bath, however, was 45 minutes long and totally worth it.


My own tap, with all the beer I could drink in 45 minutes...
By this point, I was pretty much done. I decided to head back to the train station. I stopped at Sbux to pick up the city mugs for Ruth, then decided to have a frappuccino (my first one in probably 2 years) and a brownie while I was there. Took advantage of the WiFi for a few minutes, then decided to walk and get my bags. On my way there I saw a Craft Beer House down a small street and of course stopped in. FINALLY, I got a delicious milk stout!

After all the ales, this was quite a treat. I went back to Keleti and got my bags out of the locker. Wanted to use the one pay phone to call the hotel for a shuttle, and the pay phone ate my money! Thankfully, I had downloaded the Taxify app, so I went BACK to Sbux and requested a taxi, and was relieved that it was going to cost less than I expected. I was almost to the intersection where I was getting picked up when I realized... I LEFT MY PURSE BACK AT SBUX. I'm carrying #allthethings and trying to run in flip flops, pondering what on earth I'm going to do if it's gone forever, but thankfully, it was still on the bench. Phew. The ride was about 20 minute and uneventful. Dropped off around 4-4:30. Took the time to completely unpack, re-hang up all my (still wet) race clothes and start packing. Stopped intermittently to have dinner at the hotel restaurant - this time Bolognese spaghetti and... french fries.
Finished packing, but it was still early. Decided to have one more beer (I still had a few FT I needed to spent anyway) on the porch swing in the garden. Finished all the packing except things I'd need to shower in the morning.

Stats:
  • 156,656 steps
  • 33 miles run (just the race, which measured long for me)
  • No barre classes :( 

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