Sunday, September 5, 2010

Freedom in the form of Budapest and Vienna

So this past week I got a much needed taste of freedom, and did a little traveling. One of my desert friends (a Kiwi that I work with) found cheap tickets to Budapest last month, and had been counting down the days till our vacation began. We worked our regular 3 shifts and then had a 3am flight to Cairo. We were scheduled to have a 6 hour lay-over in Cairo, so we hoped on a 3 hour city tour to see the sights!! Was a great idea- went to the pyramids, the sphinx, drove thru the city, and ended with a tour of a local perfumery. I am scheduled to go back to Egypt in November when an old traveling friend of mine will be meeting me there, and I can't wait to get back!!

We then had a shorter flight into Budapest. I have really got to do something about this fear of flying- meds seem to help a little, but I'm pretty sure my travel companions do not like to have to hold my hand. I'm also pretty sure that my death grip on the arm rails while rocking back and forth praying might make other passengers nervous. Anyone know of a good hypnotist in Saudi Arabia??

We arrived in Budapest safe and sound, and checked into a small hostel on the Pest side of the city. People on this side of the Danube were not so friendly (maybe they thought we were American?? Just kidding!) We did have a delicious meal that 1st night, and some great wine- so rudeness really didn't matter anyways!
The Opera House in Budapest
St Stephen's Basilica
Inside the Basilica
View of the Parliament from the Danube
After 2 nights in Budapest we traveled by train to Vienna.
Vienna was lovely- the people so friendly- going out of their way to give us directions. The weather was less than ideal though. We went from temps in the 40-50C in Saudi to 15-20C in Vienna. It was cold, windy, and rainy. We made the best of it- and tried to stay dry!
Schonbrunn Palace
After 2 days in the cold and rain we headed back to Budapest. We checked into a lovely boutique hotel, and the weather was perfect. We toured the Castle District and went for a dip in the Gellert Baths.

It's funny the things I took for granted before I lost my freedom in this desert. I miss walking outside- here its too hot, and there aren't sidewalks conducive to walking. I miss wearing a sweater, sitting at a cafe, drinking wine. I miss the change of season, being able to take photos without the fear of being yelled at. Prior to this trip I bought a new camera, and I had a great time playing with it, and trying the numerous settings it has. It took amazing night shots- here are a few of the Danube river in Budapest:
So after a week away I brought something back that I wish I hadn't- a damn summer cold. Have been off sick the last 2 nights. On a work note- someone decided that after nearly 4 months of being here I was competent enough to be left in charge of the unit?? I am proud to report that everyone was alive and kicking when my shifts were over- phewww!!!

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