Europe

lost in translation

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Non-stop parking? Does that mean you can't stop or does it mean that you park there forever?
Non-stop parking? Does that mean you can’t stop or does it mean that you park there forever?

Its funny when you travel and you read an English translation of something that simply does not make sense. And then it becomes adventurous when you are at a restaurant trying to decipher what is on the menu. That is the fun part of travelling and what makes travelling so special and memorable.

We had a craving for Chinese food. Yes, we know its Prague but what were our chances?! Surprisingly, we found a Chinese restaurant and started salivating at the thought of ordering sweet and sour pork or a stir-fry of some sort. As we scanned the menu though, the English translation weren’t helping us know what to expect.

Fresh crocodille sandwiches?
Fresh crocodille sandwiches?

Hmmm… we have never heard of “fish-smelled pork” or “strange-tasting duck” before and couldn’t quite picture what those dishes would taste like, so we opted to graciously leave the restaurant.

Onto another Chinese restaurant in the Jewish quarter where we enjoyed quite a banquet there. Upon payment of the bill, we were expecting change so we patiently waited and waited and waited but the wait staff chose to ignore us. We then approached the counter and asked for our change to which they thought we meant “money exchange” and tried to send us down the road!

The beauty of travelling – there is always an element of lost in translation when everyone is not speaking the same language but that’s what makes the experience so fun 🙂

View more photos of our trips at Photo Gallery.

an expensive cab ride

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Astronomical Clock
Astronomical Clock

It’s about 3 weeks into our 4-month adventure and the heat wave continues. These countries are clearly not familiar with this type of weather because there is no air-conditioning anywhere.

After a 4 or so hour train trip from Vienna, sitting in a “non-smoking” part of the carriage, we needed to get fresh air FAST! Our heads were beginning to get cloudy from all the smoking in the other half of the carriage. Can someone explain to us how you can have a train carriage with smoking and non smoking separated by no physical partition?! The carriage becomes smoking then doesn’t it? But anyway, as the train pulled into Prague station, we couldn’t wait to leap off and inhale that good ole’ faithful thing called oxygen.

As we got off, we needed to exchange some euros to the Czech koruna (CZK). Converting to a different currency can be so confusing especially when they are in “higher” values. Once currency was changed, we were on our way out the exit when a big burly man approached us and asked us if we needed a cab. But before we could respond, he had “kindly” picked up my luggage and was walking towards his taxi. Picking up the pace, we made it to the car where he loaded us in and drove erratically to get us to the hotel. Alarm bells should have gone off in our head when he wouldn’t drive us to the front and instead dropped us across the road. He told us to get out and to pay 980 CZK. We quickly grabbed our luggage, handed over the money and he sped off. What a fabulous introduction to Prague. It wasn’t until afterwards that we did the maths and realised he charged us almost 40 Euros for  a 10 minute (if that) cab ride. We also found out later on that it should have cost less than HALF.  Oh well, lesson learnt and lucky it was only money!

Despite that we enjoyed the next few days visiting Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, the Old Town and the famous Astronomical Clock.

Because we had also decided to pick up a lot of souvenirs along the way, we decided to ship them home. Let’s hope it gets there and doesn’t send us broke either!

View more photos of our trips at Photo Gallery.

these are a few of my favourite things…

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“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad. I simply remember my favourite things and then I don’t feel so bad” – The Sound of Music (1965)

Watching the Sound of Music when it was on TV or putting it into the VCR and then singing the song religiously – that was one of our favourite things to do as children. So visiting Salzburg during our 4 days in Austria was a must. Another reason was to see, of course, Mozart’s birthplace.

IMG_0742We began the day with eating a hot dog (“wiener”) each and warming up our vocal chords! The bus tour that took us around had the soundtrack blaring and we had to participate. It wasn’t a sit-and-listen tour, it was a sing-a-long tour. And sing we did!

So, what did we get to visit?

  1.  The row of trees where Captain von Trapp saw his children hanging in their curtain clothes
  2. The white gazebo where Liesl and Rolf sing “I am 16, going on 17”
  3. The back of the house where Captain von Trapp and Baroness Shraeder see the children fall in the water
  4. The church in which the wedding scene was based on

Throughout the tour, we also learnt a bit about the real story of the von Trapp family so it wasn’t all song and dance. The ending of the tour was as sweet as the ending to the movie: we got to try the most delicious apple strudel ever.

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hungry in hungary

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On our flight from Santorini, we were rubbing shoulders with celebrities – well, not really. It was only one celebrity – and he was seated towards the front of the plane. He as in Liam Neeson!

Anyway, after two flights, we made it to Budapest and it is SCORCHING! A heat wave is sweeping through Europe and being inland Europe, it was extremely warm. Our hotel was not far from a supermarket so we went down to stock up on water – 6 x 2L bottles in fact to cart back to the hotel. Now in Australia – sparkling water usually comes in glass bottles not your plastic bottles. And we were not fans of sparkling water and had no idea that Europeans were so fond of it so innocently we opened a bottle and started to scull the water which of course was fizzy. So here we were with 6 large bottles of “gassy” water – just great! Usually you get flat coke or sprite if you don’t put the lids back on tightly, right? That’s what we did, released the “air” from all the bottles hoping that it would flatten them. (In case, you were wondering – it doesn’t work!) During our time in Hungary though, we learnt that if you want still water, look out for the pink lids.

The day we visited the Buda side, there were medieval festivities on and as we sat on the steps on Fisherman’s Bastion – there were three children (aged between 10-12 maybe) playing violins. We sat there for over half an hour listening and enjoying the music until there was a quick downpour and everyone ducked for cover. It was also the first time we had tried kurtos, a real tasty snack. It is basically a Hungarian cylindrical pastry and it looks like pork crackle. When we saw the street vendors selling it, from a distance they do look like pork crackle and that is our nickname for it 🙂

Meat, fruit and vegetables
Meat, fruit and vegetables

After 15 days of travelling where we had been very careful not to blow our funds on extravagant meals, we decided that it was time to top up on our vitamins and minerals and protein, we would have a feast at a restaurant called Sir Lancelot. As the name suggests, it is a medieval restaurant that is underground. The restaurant is decked out in medieval decor: tables, chairs, shields, candles and clay mugs etc. We got served soup in bread bowls and shared a meat platter. There was so much food that it could have fed us three days more. Did we ever get hungry in Hungary? Definitely not!

View more photos of our trips at Photo Gallery.