Sunday, 29 May 2016

Turku, Finland (March 2014)

In March 2014, we spent one day in Turku. By this point, Julcsi had lived in Finland for almost a year and a half but still hadn't visited the old capital of the country. I also have to confess that even if I'm Finnish, I hadn't really been to Turku other than passing through on my way to Sweden. The national railway company VR has this loyalty programme called Veturi, which allows you to buy cheaper tickets for certain trains, and we managed to score 5€ tickets to Turku so off we went! Since it was just one day, we didn't do that much, but we did have one main destination, namely the medieval Turku Castle. People from other countries might not find castles that interesting but here it's a big thing since there is only a handful of castles in Finland.

Anyway, we arrived in Turku early in the morning and wandered around, admiring the many pretty buildings and the banks of the Aura river. Turku is a very nice town even if I shouldn't be saying such things, coming from Tampere and all (Turku and Tampere are old rivals) :). The truth is that there is a very Scandinavian vibe to the city and the general atmosphere is very pleasant.

The Swedish Theatre.

The market place.

Turku Cathedral.

We also climbed up to Vartiovuori Observatory to see some views over Turku.

Some interesting statues!

We basically walked along the riverbank until we came to Suomen Joutsen, the museum ship. Unfortunately it wasn't open to the public, and I was quite disappointed as I had really wanted to see it. I have this thing for museum ships and maritime museums, you see :D! Anyways, no worries, we took a couple of pictures and continued on our way to the castle.

Now, when it comes to the castle, I highly recommend it to absolutely everyone! I had never been there before and I have no idea why because it was a brilliant experience. There is so much to see and it takes quite a long time to walk around and explore all the different exhibitions there. No wonder it's one of the most visited museums in the country!

This picture still makes me crack up :D :D :D! I think I'd make a good orc, no?

By the point we left Turku, we were completely exhausted and also freezing to the point that we couldn't feel our feet because it was quite chilly and we managed to get our shoes wet on our way to the castle. The thing here in Finland, though, is that for the most part of the year, the weather is horrible, and unless you want to miss out on life, you'll just have to travel and explore even when the temperature isn't optimal for being outside. We had a fantastic day despite the gloomy atmosphere portrayed in these pictures :D!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Budapest, Gyula and Szeged, Hungary (February/March 2014)

Moving on to the next trip...We spent the winter break of 2014 in Hungary - in Budapest sightseeing, in Gyula meeting up with Julcsi's family, and in Szeged just hanging out at home.

I already had a proud moment on the plane as I managed to order a beer in Hungarian :D. Woot woot! Also, this was our first stay at the best hostel in the world, Lavender Circus on Múzeum körút. By this point, we've stayed there multiple times and will continue to go back. The owner is an artist and this is why the walls of the corridors as well as the rooms have the most amazing drawings everywhere. Each room is unique and each time you visit, there is something new to be spotted on the walls. This time, we got the Galaxy room, which is like a spaceship. The bed is high up, too, and the drawings include different planets.

On our first full day, we went to Deák tér for some Starbucks and then continued to the Parliament where we had a guided tour. The building is completely gorgeous both from the outside and from the inside but unfortunately the people working there are completely rotten. A country with a parliament like that is hardly a democracy. The tour itself isn't very long so you might want to be prepared for that.

Our next stop was Szent István Bazilika and the Panorama tower with spectacular views over Budapest. Be prepared to climb quite some stairs to reach the top, though!

The staircase!
Then we had a coffee break at Sugar!, which is both a coffee and candy shop. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Quite cool, no? Anyway, in the afternoon, we went to the circus, which was a fantastic experience! The only thing I didn't like was that they had elephants and horses because I think they're trained through fear and that's animal torture. But anything that had people in the performance was spectacular! The performers came from many different countries - there were Romanians, a group of Chinese men, a Brazilian spiderman who was walking upside down, hanging from the ceiling...

Afterwards, we went for lángos before meeting up with Julcsi's friend Ági quite close to our hostel. It was a very active day to say the least :D!

People skating in the city park.
The next morning, we checked out, left our stuff at the hostel and went to Buda to see my favourite building in Budapest, The Fisherman's Bastion.

Mátyás templom.

The Chain Bridge.
Then we returned to Szent István to see the chopped off hand of Szent István - it's also known as the holy right hand and it's a relic...Why someone thinks it's cool to chop someone's hand off beats me, and I'm so sorry to say it but I nearly puked from the mere thought that someone's mummified hand has been kept like this for centuries. Anyway, whatever rocks your boat...:D

In the afternoon, we caught the train to Gyula, where we mostly met up with Julcsi's relatives. I'll post a couple of pictures just for the sake of it. We also went to the chiropractor's because I was really suffering with my right shoulder, and the spa. Anyway, on to the pictures...

After a couple of days in Gyula, we still went to Szeged for two nights. In Szeged, we mostly took care of some practical things and met up with Julcsi's friend Csilla, but also had time to have a Banános Titanic at A Cappella!

It's also worth mentioning that our flight back to Tampere was late because our plane had been hit by a lightning! Aaaargh! I feel like nothing ever goes as planned when it comes to flying out of Hungary.

Anyway, the next update will be coming right up and it's about Turku, Finland :).

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