Again, sorry about the delay. Again, caused in part by Diana’s obsession with playing Civilisation on the iPad. She assures me that this has now ended, as she has attained a high score on the highest difficulty setting.
Brasov, Transylvania, Romania, was a welcome break from firing from one place to another. Throughout former Yugoslavia, we hadn’t spent more than two nights in any one place, despite loving everywhere we went. After our disheartening rip-off in Romania, we decided to chill out in Brasov for four nights, where the rent and food was absurdly cheap.
Brasov is a sleepy mountain town, mainly visited due to skiing and Bram Stoker. We ate consistently excellent food for absurdly low prices, enjoyed the Christmas markets and mulled wine, and on our last day there it snowed. In theory, I’m at least a little used to snow from my childhood in Mosgiel. Still, it was a surprise to me to exit a pub at 3pm to find the town transformed in a matter of hours. You know when it’s raining outside, even if only subconsciously, because of the noise. But snow sneaks up on you.
The novelty wore off slightly when I realised I had to walk like an idiot to not fall over. And maybe it’s lack of practice or lack of appropriate footwear, but there is something uniquely embarrassing about carefully trodding from step to step through snow while locals wander past you at top speed. I felt a bit like someone hallucinating lava on the footpath while straight and sober normals trot by unconcerned.
From Brasov to Budapest, which quickly became another of my favourite cities. We explored the insanely beautiful city, went up Castle Hill and into an amazing church that’s being restored by local art students, enjoyed possibly the best food we’ve ever had in our lives. Such a great place. Two nights there. No, wait, three nights there. Wished we could stay longer.
Then Vienna, on a day train that took around four hours. The transition from Romanian prices to Austrian prices is like being dipped in freezing cold water. It was Vienna for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and we left on Boxing Day. The whole place was shut down for the holidays, really, and the highlights were in the hotel room: a Skype video chat with the Beebies and watching a downloaded Joyeux Noel on the iPad with a bottle of local wine.
Now we’re in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world (and an equally beautiful exchange rate), but we have to leave tomorrow to keep to what has become a fairly busy schedule. Diana’s friend Sam has hooked us up with tickets to a New Year’s event in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and we’ve got half a continent to get through. Next step, finding out the options for an overnight speedy train to Amsterdam.
The timing is right. Time’s been speeding up on the downhill towards Thailand and the end of the trip. If we were still walking uphill, as it were, I’d be feeling weary. But now it feels like the final lap. Night train to Amsterdam, train to Eindhoven, a few days of catching up with friends of Diana’s family, train to Paris, Eurodisney, three nights in a beautiful hotel courtesy of the Beebies and then a flight to Thailand.
Then 24-hour massages at Thai-baht prices.