Travel Day: Vienna

While in Budapest we made a point to spend a night in Vienna, being so close and not going would have been a mistake on our parts, and although we only had about 24 hours in Vienna, we tried to make the most of it.  We had a big win on the train ride over, a drifter came up and asked us if he could have our tickets if we were only going one way, a little confused we told him that we were coming back to budapest the next day.  He explained that the ticket we bought was actually a round trip ticket as long as you did not spend more than four days in Vienna.  I personally did not believe him because I would have figured the ticket lady would have told us, AND he was a drifter…  He said thanks anyway as he went farther up the train car trying to find his ticket home.

When we got to the hostel, we asked the lady at the desk and she reassured us that our ticket was a round trip.  20 euros for a round trip, not bad Eastern Europe, not bad at all.  We spent the day walking around, the city was beautiful, but we were just a few weeks to early for christmas season, which seemed to be getting set up in a few different areas.  We stumbled into a church that had fantastic lighting and seemed to be more authentic than most of the places I had been thus far.  After a few pictures in the church we had a few at a bar/cafe called Einstein, which did not click in my head for the first few minutes.  All in all Vienna deserved more time than we gave it, but it was still a great travel day.

A brief aside:  The drifter was really nice, and in hindsight he saved both my roommate and me 20 euros, the next drifter I see, is getting some coinage.

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Budapesht…

Budapesht, because why say Budapest when you can say it in a funny accent.  My first experience where even the Moroccan Dirham can bring you thousands of monopoly dollars.  Make no mistake about it, you are firmly in the east, where any door can be the home to a bunch of extra’s from the movie Taken, or the entrance to the craziest dive bar you have ever been to.  Although we only had four days (since we spent one of the 5 days in Vienna) we tried to get the most out of the city that we could, without running around to the point of not being able to sit down and people watch.  This trip was a great success, and I can honestly say that I will be back, even if to only go in the Szechenyi Baths and Pool again…

A ride through the mountains.

One of the simple joys of traveling is the three seconds after you wave to a little kid as your car passes them on the side of the road.  For those three seconds you feel on top of the world, because in your mind (or at least mine) that kid just waited all day to wave at you,  to the point where they blush or give their friends the secondary high five for their collective efforts.

In terms of travel days, going into the desert was terrible.  The Atlas mountains are beautiful, but the roads and the drivers do not work well with others.  As I moved to the front of the bus a weird sense of vertigo hit me as we went around turns going to fast, on a road that was to narrow, with a driver who did not seem to care or notice the flipped semi truck as we passed it…

Beyond that the views were as good as advertised, and in reality, the amount of landscape change from Marrakech to Merzouga is underrated, just like most of the scenery in this country.

Pit stops included:

– Coffee breaks for everyone

– Cigarette breaks for the chimney smelling French people

– Ouarzazate, the capital of the Moroccan movie industry.  Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Black Hawk Down, Body of Lies were all partially shot there.

– Todgha Gorge

The Most touristy square in all the land

Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the most recognizable places in Morocco.  The center square of the Marrakech medina is home to overpriced food vendors, a souk, and enough odd peddlers to put the tourism meter on full blast.  It is odd that I have not been to the square since my second week in Morocco when I arrived last year, and even than it was only for a day.  I found myself in the same position once again, on my way to the desert I had a night in Marrakech to stop by a food vendor and complain about the overpriced, small portions of food.

Note, even when you pay crazy overpriced tourist prices in Morocco, a great meal is still around $10, it just stinks when the meal outside the bright lights of the square would be around $3, and most likely more authentic.

Candle light in the Desert

When I got to Morocco 16 months ago, the desert was a number 1 priority.  Although it took a lot longer to actually take the trip, it was well worth the wait.  We had a great group of people with us, and while everyone seemed to have a camera, not much was known about the ole’ Time Value (shutter speed) setting.  The inherent teacher came out of me as I described what certain settings did and it was fun to see everyone utilize their cameras in what was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of the travelers in our group.

Disclaimer:  I did not attempt to pretend I knew a lot about photography, because honestly I do not, but I did mention that reading a manual and typing in “night shots” on the google-machine usually helps when you buy a fancy camera.

Double Disclaimer: A lot more coming from this trip in terms of photos/shenanigans