A Travellerspoint blog

New Kempinski

Just relaxing

sunny 25 °C

So far, we have only encountered one border control- entering Croatia. We are
not sure if this is initiated by the Hungarians or Croatians. Must have
passports and vehicle papers. They just scanned our passports and asked if we
had anything to declare. The best part- added 2 stamps in the passport!! I love
that.

The drive was easy until Zagreb-capital of Croatia. the same highway changes #'s
all the time. It is hard to follow signage. We had to turn around a few times on
the way to our final destination Sandivij, Istria.

Istria is a peninsula that shares its border with Slovinia. We were at the most
north- west corner of Croatia. The problem is do you circle around or cut across
the mountain range- no brainer-except we drove in circles- 2x's losing at least
1-1.5 hours. The roads/towns are not clearly marked.

When we thought we were headed in the correct direction-not positive- we stopped
up high on the mountain. There was a beautiful hotel/restaurant. They sent us
back to our starting point and gave us direction. He gave us his map. We would
have loved to have had dinner-since not sure of anything-best to drive on.

Winding through the mountains-passing a few castles-we came across a mountain
town-pretty much an isolated wine town- at this point tensions rising so passed
by.

We are at the relaxing part of our journey. Not so much at this point. We are
staying at the new Kempinski Hotel. Open for 3 weeks. It is impossible to locate
and the start of the circle driving-not a good thing. We were in the car for 6
hours and just wanted to unwind.

The hotel is beautiful. We are the first Americans. The staff was gracious-and
the newness of the hotel is apparent in decor and confusion. Laundry not
available, different responses from every one- lots of confusion.

The rooms are completely computerized-cool. Pool and bar are gorgeous. Not
crowded. We started by hand washing half our clothes-very red neck. Dinner was
very nice-except you can tell there is a bit of nervous energy and bill
corrected a few times.

Lincoln has a game of seeing how his martini arrives- classic and simple- not so
much-not shaken, different glass and this time- sugar around the rim and charged
for Bombay and vermouth-they quickly removed that from the bill.

Today, off the gym-while Lincoln sleeps and full day in the sun-hoping to
convince Lincoln to let me navigate out of the resort for some sightseeing and
dinner this evening- wish me luck.

Well, no sight seeing. The weather is so beautiful and since we are far from other towns-30 miles- we decided to just take it easy. Lincoln is adapting nicely to resort life. He loves the Adriatic Sea. It is clear and warm. Must pack water shoes because this is a rock beach and the first few feet into the deeper waters are small granite pebbles. If I have not said, this is a beautiful resort. With the newness there3 are some "bugs" in the system. The dinners we have had here have been fantastic. The staff is very proud of Croatia and working at this resort.

I'm disappointed we were not able to include more time here. Next year-renting boat-start in Dubrovnik and end up here. Very easy from Venice. Hope to tempt a group this time.

Off we go to Venice and the 2nd half of our trip.

Posted by Jcarrara 02:11 Archived in Croatia Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Budapest

Don't go if dirty

semi-overcast 20 °C

See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

We arrived in Budapest without any drama.

Our Hotel is Le Meridien in Pest. The hotel was easy to locate and great
accommodations. The European Starwood chain is consistently great. Great
services, locations(tourist sites, shopping and metro/trams) and international
staff.

After checking in, we set out in another country and figuring out new
currency-HUF approximately 180 HUF to $1. We thought we were heading in the
right direction.... After wandering around for 30 minutes-which ended up
fine-passed by all the top designer stores and passed a homeless man
masterbating-which the former is most likely why we(I) strayed and the latter
how I knew we were off course.

The concierge made a reservation at a Hungarian restaurant-Re--(????) near Erzebit Hid- funny to us
was the big picture of a Rooster on the sign- we ate at the Copper cock-as long
as they are not serving rooster cock seems like the way to choose our
restaurants.

The menu had a traditional Hungarian choices and a chef's menu. They had live
music and all choices were great. I'm a big fan of dumplings, goulash and
Paprika chicken. Lincoln is part Hungarian and the menu reminded him of his
mom's cooking. He really loved being in Hungary.

Lincoln has a Hungarian hunting dog and we have crossed paths with a few
puppies- I have not seen one bully- however, seen some statues of wild boars and
not so far off. The dogs in Eastern Europe are well trained and behaved-I may
have to send my 2 here for some discipline. Probably cheaper than the quotes
I've received in the States. Must be nice not having shout and run after dogs
all the time. My neighbors would miss the comedy associated with these acts.

We have meet other travelers-renting cars or hoping on trains- with similar
itineraries. We compare notes and restaurants. Most people have the Frommer's
guide I carry in each city-and Budapest no exception.

The next morning, we headed to Heroes Square- bought a 24 hour transport pass-
the Hungarian Metro is the oldest in continental Europe. Walked over to-another
castle. This was built for a 1897 millennium celebration. There is a highly
recommended Hungarian Bath(to be explained in a few) and 2 museums in the
Square area.

We went to the Fine Arts Museum. There was a JW Turner exhibit- Lincoln was
great explaining the details of his water color and oil sketches/paintings;
there were Greco's, Goya's, Velasquez's, Manet's, Monet's and my new favorite
Bosch(non religious and somewhat comedic). I know- I sound very impressive and
knowledgeable- Lincoln's influence.

Next, we strolled down the Andrassy U`t- starts with nice villas and turns into
the designer shops-know enough not to revisit homeless man's section. From here
we entered the Opera house and St. Stephen's Basillica. This church was the most
impressive-they all fade into each other after the 3rd-however-this one was very
beautiful. There is a nice panoramic view on top of the dome.

Hungary is known for thermal baths. There are quite a few and we wanted to try
one. The most well known is the Gellart Hotel- while it is a pretty Hotel with
great architecture- getting into the actual 'baths' is chaotic. No signs-most
likely on purpose-walking all over trying to figure out how to get a towel and
locker. Finally we see the towel lady-nasty towels and decided to upgrade to a
cabin room-more secure. We change and head to the baths- tip #1 nasty-bring flip
flops. #2 it is a large indoor-and there are outdoor- pools. People were doing
water aerobics and being pulled around while floating(some type of massage). The
thermal pool was a nasty(large scale) bath tub with lots of (undesirable)people
all around-almost having sex- next to us-so gross. We looked at each other-
after 2 minutes-both disgusted and left. No soap in the shower. Please avoid
this activity on your visit. Our hotel had a lovely pool and hot tub-that is
healing enough. If we were to try again-would go to the baths in Heroes Square.

We then headed to the castle district. There was a festival, we heard a great
folk band with a rock twist-love watching people dance after a few beers. Nice
crafts and food all around.

The next morning prior to checking out, we went to Market Hall to get
spices-Lexie requested and yes you have saffron. This is more geared for locals-
not as gourmet like Vienna.

We attempted to find a square with Stalin's boot remains(all that was left after
communism) not even the locals knew of it- Frommer's dropped the ball.

Now we are on our way to Croatia-4th country-new currency and language. Good
because I butchered the only word I tried to learn in Hungarian.

Tips- no baths!!

The trip to Vienna prior to Budapest was great due to the influence of King
Franz Joseph and Queen Elisabeth- Hapsburg. Just having this
knowledge-background- so helpful and enlightening.

Posted by Jcarrara 02:05 Archived in Hungary Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

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