Monday, September 17, 2018

Bopping around Budapest - Part 3 - a Spa day and coffee with the animals

Day three in Budapest dawned -Days one and two were pretty busy so I decided to have a chill day.  I had almost five full days in the city so could relax a little as I knew I wouldn't see all the main sights and that was okay. I no longer have the inclination nor the energy to rush around at full speed and an afternoon stop in a coffee shop to work on my journal is a given.  As in most big cities you would need a lifetime to see everything.  I would love to rent an apartment in Budapest for two to three weeks and just wander the city - trying out new coffee shops, looking around museums, taking oodles of photographs and just finding out what makes the city tick.  In fact, I would love to do this in all the cities I love (besides London of course, I do that now!) worldwide.  Hmmm...I am giving myself ideas here...get back on track Laurie. 

The Mineral Bath

Budapest is known for its great mineral baths. Szechenyi bath is the biggest one but I had read parts of it were closed and I really wasn't interested in a huge one.  The logical one for me was the Kiraly Baths as it was a mere ten-minute slow walk from my airbnb apartment.  (but trying out all the mineral baths would be a lovely goal for you know...when I come back and stay for two or three weeks...) 

As you can see the building was crumbling but so are a lot of buildings in Budapest - all part of the charm.  The Kiraly Baths has been around in one form or another since 1565.  The last renovation took place in 1950.  And trust me, it looked like it.  I loved it!  I paid for the bath and to have my own "cabin" (tiny lockable room that I could change in and store my clothes etc) and with seniors rate it came to 1800 Forint - $8.50 Canadian.  You can't beat that!   Bonus time - no kids under 14 are allowed. (they should have more places like that)  It was very peaceful as it wasn't crowded.  Okay it was a bit ramshackle in places but for me that was part of the charm - it was clean and cared for.  The water was clean and hot and I moved between the larger round pool and a smaller one - there was a cold pool as well but I avoided that.  Before I left I went outside and sat in a hot tub with some men...sounds more exciting than it was.....  I must have stayed about two hours in total at the baths just relaxing.... 

Here is a link to the baths if you want to learn more about it.  Definitely recommended if you are staying nearby unless you are a princess and demand that everything be new.  

Spaced out from the warm mineral water I dreamily wandered slowly back to the flat and took a few pictures along the way.  I have no clue what these buildings or statues were but I thought they were attractive!

I never did make it to the restaurant/pub above but the bank you see in the right corner of the picture was my "go to" bank.  The ATM had the annoying habit of spitting out very large bills which no one wanted naturally so both times I withdrew money I had to go in there and get smaller bills.  My flat was just down the road to the left of the photo.  

I went back to the flat to relax for an hour or so and then it was time to get changed and head out - I had a date with some critters!  

First, however, I had to go to the Keleti railway station as I wanted to pick up my rail ticket to Krakow.  It was an easy direct trip on the metro and I finally found my way to a machine to pick up my ticket.

I then took the metro to Astoria and with the help of my map and Google maps on my phone I finally found my way to the cafe via this pretty little park. (yes, I got misplaced a few times)

I'm not sure what this statue is about and I don't think I want to know!!!  

Then I came to a square and heard a dog barking - the silly dog was barking at the water in the fountain and I guess it wanted to drink it.  So its owner held it by its collar closer so it could have a few slurps.  There were quite a few of us standing around watching and having a laugh...

The Critters 

I finally came to my destination...the Zoo cafe.  One of my fellow travelers on the tour of Sri Lanka had told me about this cafe and said I must go.  I googled it to ensure there were no charges of cruelty to animals and also read reviews on Trip Advisor.  They were mostly postitive.  I am a huge animal lover so would not have gone if there were any questions of the quality of care of the animals.  

Basically, there are all sorts of critters - feathered, scaled and furry.  When I sat down I said I did not want a snake (I hate snakes!) and they respected my wishes. (although there was a snake in an aquarium beside me but I just pretended it wasn't there...)  Food is available but I just ordered a "fancy" coffee. 

They bring you the animals with instructions not to let it off the table (of course) and be gentle.  There is antibacterial gel on the table and you are instructed to use it in between animals if you touch them.  They put this chameleon right on my hand. At first I was thinking "where's my pretty furry little rodent?" and the feel of its claws on my skin was for lack of a better word, creepy let alone when it kept its tail wrapped around my hand.  I pretty much sat with my arm out like in the picture above the whole time.  In the end I became quite fond of it but it was still a relief to say "adios" as I was terrified it would fall off somehow.  

My next coffee "date" was a bearded dragon. It pretty much sat in the same spot and I was okay with that.  

Next up... a guinea pig...I love guinea pigs. (Fun fact: I once had a guinea pig named Jennifer...) I did not touch it and let it do its own thing as I didn't want to cause undue stress as guinea pigs aren't exactly laid back. They gave me carrots to feed it and it loved that.  I didn't order food but apparently, they do not give you the animals while you are eating as they don't want them being fed human food like pastries.

And lastly the rabbit...once again I didn't touch it.  I just sipped coffee, wrote in my journal and let it hang out with its back to me for a while.  Guess it wasn't imprewithwitih me as its date! 

This was almost like speed dating only with animals. (if I had to choose a second date t's a toss-up between the chameleon and the guinea pig)  Seriously, I was apprehensive but came away feeling that the animals were well cared for. Of course that was my perspective as everything is in life.  We all certainly do have an opinion on things - anyone who visits Facebook knows that! 

As this was a "chill out" day rather than look around for a place to eat I got on the metro back to my "hood" and went to the same neighbourhood pub I had gone to my very first evening there. 

Honestly, I can't remember what kind of meat this was (didn't write it down in my journal!) but it was good - and spicy potatoes. 

That was day three in Budapest!! 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A scaredy cat does the Skerwink Trail (or "I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends" )

On my trip to Newfoundland this past June while I did enjoy a few walks,  I passed on a few I know I would have enjoyed due to fear.   I am a scaredy cat.  Yes, I can jump a plane and go anywhere in the world by myself without a care but ask me to walk over rocks and close to the edge of a cliff and I turn into a whimpering mess. 

I still have confidence issues with my knees of course and having episodic vertigo due to a fall several years ago, I can topple over if I turn my head the wrong way. Ever since the fall in my apartment (caused by tripping on a sandal I had left out while rushing to the phone I have a huge fear of falling again.  WHACK!  That's the sound of my hand hitting my head remembering that stupid move) I dented my knee cap which means I still have some issues with swelling and discomfort as according to the surgeon the area is still inflamed. So needless to say I have been absolutely terrified and paranoid about falling again.  It doesn't help that I don't like Laurie...weren't you the person that happily went up the Burj Khalifa, highest building in the world a few months ago.  Yep that's me...elevators/lifts are no problem for me and I can look down with complete confidence but ask me to climb and oh's not pretty. 

So I was afraid...

Afraid of falling...

Afraid of falling and hurting myself and wrecking my holiday and that of my friends.  

Afraid of failure.. and having to turn back which meant someone would have to go back with me and not be able to finish BECAUSE OF ME.  

Afraid of being left behind...even though logically I knew no one would leave me behind...I am a slow walker and not helped by the fact I am also a photographer.  SLOW...

Afraid of looking stupid....

Just afraid!  

So I had decided I would not do the Skerwink Trail because scared me. I googled the sh*t out of this walk and scared myself even more.  It was rated medium to difficult - I don't "do" medium to difficult.  On a brave day I do easy to medium....  I read that the trail goes near cliff edges.  This scaredy cat still has flashbacks to walking a coastal path in Cornwall where two elderly women in my group (okay they were probably not much older than I am now but twenty years ago they seemed elderly) coaxed and helped me around a rock in the path.  Directly below me the sea churned frothy waves and I nearly had a melt down then and there.  I could not budge. Not one of my best moments to be sure and I was afraid of the same thing happening...see "looking stupid" above. 

Okay before I carry on whining I will tell you about the Skerwink Trail.  It is a 5.3 km trail near Trinity Bay in Bonavista and is considered one of the most beautiful walks in the world.  The name Skerwink comes from the Shearwater bird which is called a Skerwink locally.  Many shearwaters breed on the island but it is extremely rare to see these on the trail. Pets and children are allowed if they are on a leash. Well if you walk this trail with little kids you are either insane or you should have them on a leash! 

As we settled into our motel suite near the Skerwink Trail I had gigantic butterflies in my tummy..should I or shouldn't I?  The Skerwink Trail is one of THE top trails in the world on the "to do" list for a hiker. I really really wanted to do but of course I was scared.  While the others sat in our room, drank wine and chatted I flitted about and could not focus on anything but that trail. 

That evening as we were getting ready for bed June said quietly to me "I know you can do it Laurie". 

I barely slept I was so worried...between the nervous bathroom visits and tossing and turning with fear and indecision it was a long tough night.  Luckily I had my own bedroom as I would have kept June awake too with my up and down to the bathroom and let's turn on the light and read a bit to distract myself and oh where's my phone, I will google the Skerwink Trail again just to make sure I am really scared. 

I made a decision that I would try to do it at least and then the nerves kicked in big time.  We had enough coffee to make one small cup for each of us but no coffee...ugh.  But I downed it as let's just say I am addicted to caffeine and leave it at that.  

The decision was made not to have much if anything for breakfast.  I scoffed an energy bar as I did not want to walk without something in my belly....because, well another thing to worry about.  Like a good hiker I did have extra snacks with me as well.  

It was threatening rain as we drove to the trailhead and all I kept thinking was "oh no, I read that the trail can be dangerous when it's wet...oh no, oh no".  

Less than ten minutes later our van pulled into the parking lot and the butterflies were having a disco dance party in my tummy.  "Calm down Laurie, you can do this" I kept saying to myself.  

I am going to let my pictures do most of the talking now...

I was so excited but....what's that word again..oh yeah - scared! 

There were six of us starting out but the two fastest ones were long gone and finished way ahead of us.  Bet they didn't have the fun we had and take as many (sometimes crazy) pictures.  

Okay this part is cool, I can handle this.  

The four of us....I couldn't have done it without these three. 

Here is our first view of the sea stacks that were only about fifteen minutes into the trail.  These stacks appeared after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. 

All the sea stacks have names apparently such as "The Music Box" (because of the "music" the wind makes as it hits the rock) and "Flat Fish".  (probably the one on the right) 

So far, so good - I can do this!!  Bring it on! 

Even on a dull blustery day, the scenery was fantastic..

I was feeling pretty darn good here's all good.  The four of us stuck together.  Marie in front to help me when I needed it on a steep step or rock, June behind to give me a push (she said at the end she got to know my a** a little too much) when I needed it and Mirta to provide laughs when we all needed it.  

And down we go again.  Up and down...but I was grateful there were more stairs than rocks to climb on.  My walking stick was invaluable as well as Marie.  If I hadn't had those I would still be out there crying for my mommy.  (or flat out beside the trail..just wait until I tell you about my hike in the Lake District when I nearly did just that) 

Yes there were benches along the way and yes, my butt hit that one hard! What a view! Somewhere along this point on the trail Mirta, inspired by the beauty had us all sing "O Canada"  

As you can see the weather was deteriorating and we knew the rain would soon be falling - but by now we were over half finished. (we hoped!)  

This was one of the worst bits. It was quite windy and open to the elements. This was pretty much as close to the cliff as we got - a  piece of cake after Cornwall!  I took this picture while sheltered by the bushes, put the camera in my pocket, stuck my head down and walked - I was focused on getting across without getting blown over (I was grateful at this point to be chubby) and into the shelter of the forest again.

Looking out towards Trinity Lighthouse.  

Up we go again! 

And down....lots of stairs!! 

Worth it for views like this though....

And before I knew it...we were down on ground level again...almost done! 

Excited to have no more stairs Mirta and I got a little crazy! 

Yay, a nice flat of the fast walkers in our travel group walked back to meet us.  

Absolutely elated, proud, grateful and thankful...I did it!!! (with a little help from my friends!) 

And this is how most of us rewarded ourselves afterwards.  It tasted SO good!  We then headed out to the town of Trinity close by and on to St Johns...but that's a whole other story....

A big thanks to Marie who gave me a hand when I needed it, June who pushed up the (my) rear when needed and to Mirta who kept me laughing. It turned out to be a great experience thanks to my buddies and one of the highlights of our time in Newfoundland for me. 

Bopping around Budapest - Part 3 - a Spa day and coffee with the animals

Day three in Budapest dawned -Days one  and two were pretty busy so I decided to have a chill day.  I had almost five full days in the cit...