Hello again we are in the mighty land of ...

Trip Start Apr 15, 2002
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Trip End May 22, 2003


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Flag of Poland  ,
Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Hello again, we are in the mighty land of Poland at the moment because we thought hey, Poland is close to Turkey! Well not really but it has been a little while since I last wrote to all of my adoring fans. So since I last wrote from the rooftop in Istanbul we have been traveling quite a lot and seeing a few keen things on the way. Hey does anyone know about that show on the discovery channel called $100 Taxi Ride or something like that? We met the taxi driver in Istanbul who was featured on that show. Quite a cool guy who we were going to go have a few beers with but ended up wandering around and getting lost so we didn't get back to him. (Our big brush with celebrities) We left Istanbul back towards Budapest because we had some unfinished business in Hungary (I really wanted that machine gun, JK) So we got out of Turkey and everything was smooth until we tried to leave Bulgaria. It was pretty late at night and the border guards decided that they didn't really feel like letting our bus leave the country until that got some cash from us. So everybody ended up paying 20,000 Romanian Lei ( 60 cents or so) and the guards were happy and lets us go. We drove about 500 feet and down onto the barge that would take us to Romania when the guys on the barge informed us that they weren't going to take us across unless that got some money also. They ended up getting about $35 from our bus (None from us however heheh) So anyway everyone on the bus is finally happy that we are on our way. Once we get across to Romania the border guards there inform the driver that we aren't going to allowed into the country until our bus comes up with $300. People really started to complain then because this is getting ridiculous. We end up sitting there for almost two hours until people get fed up and start putting money in the pot (None from us however because we don't mind waiting) and then finally we are off. We arrive in Bucharest to the usual annoyances of paying to walk into the train station and then wait about an hour for our train to Budapest. This was wonderful timing because there is only two trains a week or so and we arrive an hour before one leaves, yeah! So the train is relatively smooth, just interruptions by the ticket checker and an occasional beggar. We got into Budapest and got a little bit lost heading from the East train station to the West station but exercise is good for you right? From here we took a train to Eger which has the wonderfully named Valley of Beautiful Women. This is a pretty little valley where there are a huge amount of small wine cellars built into the hills and you can wander around from cellar to cellar sampling wine until you are no longer able to wander. The quality of wine varies but it is all inexpensive and some is quite tasty. We also took a look at the Eger Castle and were dissapointed by a few of the exhibits that we were looking forward to. However the history museum there and the dungeon exhibits were way beyond what we expected so overall it was quite worthwhile. From Eger we headed back to Budapest so that we could catch our train to Krakow. We arrived in Krakow about 9 in the morning and met up with Cezary from Poland, and Nanako from Japan. All four of us went on a private tour together that was really quite amazing. The first thing we saw was a wonderful old wooden church (500 years or so) The church is basically the centerpiece for a historic village which shows how life was like about 500 years ago in Poland. We didn't get to go in though because the church is only open on Christmas day. After this we headed to the concentration camps of Auscwhitz and Birkenau. I think that most people recognize the names and know what happened there but when you walk through the camps and see everything it hits you with such force that it leaves you dazed and feeling numb. I am not really even sure how to say what I felt about the camps, everything I write seems to be terribly inadequate in describing what is there. Standing where thousands were executed by gunfire at the wall, to walk through the gas chambers, to touch the cremation furnaces, it is impossible to understand how such a terrible place could exist. As we walked along the railway out of the Birkenau we started to talk about what we had seen. I guess we were trying to make sense of what we had witnessed, but I don't think it is possible to make sense of what happened. Even as I write this I begin to feel dazed about the things I saw there and I hardly feel like writing anything else. Afterwards we had some lunch and talked with out guide about the things we had saw. He suggested that we go see a few other things that are more fun so that our day wouldn't be so depressing. Our guide then took us to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. This mine has been in operation since the late 1300's and is over 320 meters deep and has over 200 km of passages. The most amazing part of the mine is that many parts of it have sculptures, rooms, churches, and other art carved out of the very salt itself. I would just have to say that this mine is absolutely amazing and it was refreshing and fun to visit after the mornings visits. I am putting up one picture I found and will later replace it with the pictures we took. Anyway we wandered around to about 130 meters down which is the lowest the tour takes you and when no one was looking we took a lick of the walls (hmm, guess what? Salt) Anyway afterwards we wandered around seeing some more sights and then going out to dinner with Cezary and Nanako. We then got back to the train station just in time to miss our train. Actually this isn't our fault we got there with a half hour to spare and the information lady kept giving us crappy directions as to where to find the international tickets booth. We finally found it ourselves about a half hour after our train left. Anyway so now we are here in Krakow for another day and it seemed like a good time to write to all of my wonderful fans. We are off to Prague tonight!

Your Personal Deity,

Brian
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