We had a great weekend, technically the first weekend of the summer in my opinion, and Father’s Day too. We made the most of it this weekend and had a great time both with friends and just the two of us.
Friday after work we were able to catch up and get together with Billy, Valerie and Ainsley at their place. They made a great dinner for all of us and we inevitably talked mostly baby stuff. They were nice enough to let us use a few of their newborn items for the first few months which was really generous of them.
Saturday we were unable to get the landscape crew to the house to help us tame our front and back yards so we took what we could into our own hands to gear up for our first hosted party in a very long time. This meant we spent time getting our back deck ready for the summer; cleaning the patio tables and chairs, bringing out the fire pit, heat lamp and corn hole boards, and restringing the lights. Bryan really went to work scrubbing the inevitable algae and other growth Seattle can’t live without, off of everything, and the back deck finished looking much better than it started. I made a large batch of my mom’s low country boil for the crowd and Bryan brought out the whiskeys for all (there were about 15-20 bottles out for people to try). We had a great turnout with a lot of our closest friends and it was a beautiful day and night to enjoy outside on the deck.
Sunday was Father’s Day and after church service we headed to our first-date-place, Both Ways Cafe, for a delicious brunch outside in the shade. We enjoyed their famous biscuits and Bryan opened up his Father’s Day present of two Texas onesies (one for 0-3 months and one for 3-6 months knowing that they will most likely be needed right away). After brunch we walked down to Lake Washington and around Seward Park and back, with a few breaks here and there to cool off with our feet in the water. The weather was warm and beautiful and it was so nice to be outside and really just take it easy the whole day long. I talked to my dad for a good while on the phone on our way back home.
The lake was packed with boats on Sunday. And Seward Park was packed with cyclists and picnickers.
Bryan at Both Ways Cafe with his onesies.
The rest of Sunday was very relaxing as well; both of us feeling at peace that we have our house and deck cleaned and ready for the summer, have bought our car, and are really settling in for the home stretch. Frozen pizza and salad along with a few movies with the windows open and I finally started my long-awaited cross-stitch project.
New activities, hobbies, and habits are starting to replace some of the old, while a few of the old are still holding on strong, for now at least.
Both of us are still volunteering at FareStart. This is still very doable for me right now. My feet or back don’t really get to hurting until the end of the night but that used to happen some anyways. I do find myself hitting the “volunteer bread” and honey butter more frequently throughout the night before dinner.
I’m still enjoying walking, but I have, admittedly, taken the bus up the hill a few times and walked from there. Bryan still drops me off in the morning at the same spot as always.
Work is still the same. There are more days that I am less motivated at work and more days that I am more tired at work but the way I work and they way people at work treat me is still pretty much the same, which is a good thing.
I still need to move my body. I might have slowed down but I’m not stopping. My body gets very anxious to move when it hasn’t been given the time or opportunity to move.
We’ve started watching Seinfeld on Hulu from Episode 1. We tend to do this with popular reliably-entertaining shows (like Always Sunny, Arrested Development, etc.). We also watched Schindler’s List, which was a must do after spending time on our vacation in Krakow and Auschwitz.
I haven’t been packing lunch since being back from vacation. I’m using a new service in Seattle (based out of NYC) called MealPal which allows me to select from about 50 different lunch options to pick up at various restaurants around the city, which I pre-select and are ready for me when I get there and only costs $6 per meal. So far it has worked out pretty well and gets me to stretch my legs (and back!) right around the time I start to ache.
I miss the scooter! I really do. This time of year I really want to ride it and enjoy the nice weather, the breeze and the ease of using it to get around town and ease of parking.
I’ve finally cracked and ordered some maternity clothes. My parents also sent me some for Mother’s Day so now I am really going to start wearing them more often. As friends at FareStart said, “last week they still couldn’t tell I was that pregnant and this week I look pregnant). I feel pregnant too.
The new CR-V. We did it…we bought a brand new car. After a ton of research, test driving, more research, and debating about it, we decided to get the all-around highly-rated Honda CR-V. We got most all of the bells and whistles too, within reason. The second tier model already had ALL of the safety features and infotainment features that we wanted; we have a backup camera, braking assist, blind spot sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, as well as Apple Car Play, plenty of USB outlets, and with the release of Apple iOS 12 this fall we should also be able to use Google Maps with the Apple Car Play. But we ended up splurging just a little to get the next model with the leather seats and power lift trunk. The leather seats we each thought would be easier to clean with little ones and would maybe retain its value over the years. Plus it looks pretty classy. The drive is very nice, the lumbar support and heated seats are already great on my achy back of late, and the gas mileage is really great. We will be happy with this vehicle for many years or at least a few years. We still might get some mats, cross bars, and a protective cover for the backseat. This purchase is about 25x the cost of any single item I have ever purchased in my life (I think my laptop in college and newest scooter each cost about the same…~$1300).
I really feel like my clock is ticking. Maybe it was talking to several pregnant women at Anne and Phillip’s baby shower this past weekend, all of whom are due in July and ready to pop, but I just feel like I am short on time for everything remaining. The past few months have gone by considerably fast. I feel like these next weeks might not go as fast, what with the belly really increasing in size day by day and with more aches and pains and discomfort that I’m expecting in the weeks ahead, but we will see.
So, it’s actually been two months since I posted about baby and pregnancy status. We are now 30 weeks, as of today, growing quickly and still feeling good. This week we checked in with our doctor for the monthly appointment and ran our gestational diabetes lab tests (involving drinking a disgustingly sugary drink I didn’t care for early in the morning) and began our childbirth classes last night with our first time stepping foot in Northwest Hospital, where we will be delivering. A summary of the past month (or two) and outcomes of this week’s activities include:
Baby’s heartbeat is still sounding strong
Blood pressure still low
My energy has been up and steady but I can hit the sack at night pretty quick
Have still been exercising but notice the difficulty with the stomach getting in the way on some activities
Plenty of, what are now, stronger punches, kicks and jabs from baby
Appetite holding steady from last month
I’ve had two occasions of bad headaches, similar to what I used to experience as migraines back when I was teenager
Belly is noticeably rounding and now beginning to be difficult to conceal, most clothes I wear on a daily basis still fit though
Still having some lower back pain during long periods of sitting, this was less on vacation with all the walking but back now. 2.5 hours in a chair during child birth class after a long day at work certainly didn’t feel the best
I like and trust our childbirth instructor, Barbara, and her many years of experience. Also feeling good about picking the Hypnobirthing class and what this could potentially provide during labor
We both also like the people in our class, though surprisingly, most seem to be from Seattle, which wasn’t what I was expecting and I was hoping for some more who understand the need and importance of non-family babysitters and support
I cannot believe how the time is just flying by. It is amazing to me that we are now under 10 weeks. That seems like nothing compared to 40. I’m still greatly relieved that I am still as mobile as I am and feeling as good as I have been. Though I do find myself no longer interested in walking up Seattle hills or doing much of anything after work at night. I have been more interested in researching baby gear and items for our registry and otherwise. I have purchased diapers and other high-quality items on the box subscription packages I sign up with (Boxed.com and Thrive.com) and get excited each time they arrive. I think these childbirth classes are going to be really good and interesting, if for nothing more than the first one really emphasized the connection between baby (in or out of the womb) and the love of the parents. It was touching. I can’t believe that we need to already start thinking about our birth plan. The last few months are upon us…
It’s funny how sometimes you feel like you need a vacation when you get back from vacation. Jet lag causes some of this and then there is just the brutal realization that you still work at a job that requires far too many hours to be put in each week. Add to this the feeling that we have a good deal to do between now and baby comes and BAM! that relaxed feeling of having been on vacation quickly dissipates. That was last week for me and Bryan.
Since being back from vacation we have slowly, SLOWLY, gotten back to a Pacific Time Zone schedule. This means that we are slowly getting back to our normal bed time and slowly starting to wake up later each day. We still were up pretty early each day this past weekend. Our appetite has slowly adjusted as well. I’m back to smaller more frequent (and manageable) meals a day and a little less walking than we were doing in Europe. But I’m still trying to keep my step count up a bit.
Bryan has gone for a few runs in the nice weather and I went to one barre class and one of my last cycle classes for the summer. We kept busy at FareStart on Thursday for a German (ugh) meal by Aldstadt restaurant.
Super thick and creamy white asparagus soup with bacon
Actually delicious lamb chop with a creamy farro risotto
German carrot cake with carrot and spice ice cream
We walked to the Mariner’s game on Saturday for a fun night at the ballpark with Tina and David on my company’s tickets. The weather was awesome for a baseball game and the Mariners defeated Tampa Bay, keeping them 1st in their division. We will see how long the Mariners can hold onto this winning record.
And we got back to church after three weeks off on Sunday and Sunday night we got a mystery shop dinner at Eureka for some delicious burgers at the bar to watch the NBA finals.
Chocolate budino for dessert
Our main tasks for June were: finish nursery and pick out a family car. The nursery is nearly finished. As I posted earlier, we just have little decoration items to finish up the room. It’s looking great and I can really start to visualize a little one sleeping in there now. That has my mind at ease. We also got the carpets cleaned (something I like to do annually for who knows what reason).
We went car shopping together Saturday and Sunday (and Bryan even went on Friday too). We had started with about six serious possibilities and we have narrowed that down to about two. After test driving vehicles at Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, and Ford, we are leaning towards the Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5. The Ford Edge was a top contender but we would probably want the next 2019 model that we just can’t wait for, so that one is pretty much now out of the running. Having never picked out a car before or test-drove a vehicle, this task wears me out. I’m sure it excites some people but unfortunately not me. I’m just glad that our indecisive selves have eliminated quite a few options, and for very valid and logical reasons.
This week is an exciting week for us on the baby side of things. We start our childbirth classes on Wednesday night and these will last for seven weeks. We have our monthly doctor’s appointment on Thursday morning with our lab test for gestational diabetes. I am sitting down with my HR Manager to discuss the maternity leave. And on Saturday, we have our friend’s baby’s couple shower party who are due just 4-5 weeks before us and I am interested and curious to hear about how she has been doing, see their baby room, etc.
Like the garage, I don’t have before pictures of the guest room. Let’s just say though that it was pretty bare, at least from the outside. It was mainly a guest bed, armoire (filled with way too many linens and blankets we never used), a small closet filled with sleeping bags, suitcases, and other odds and ends, a lamp and a small nightstand that was old and not very chic. The bedding was from 2011, when I first moved to Seattle. It wasn’t going to win any design challenges or organization awards.
In the past two months though we have slowly started to make it a more comfortable and thought-out nursery and guest bedroom…
I got a new duvet cover set and pillows, along with brand new white sheets to overhaul the bedding.
We bought and built a large dresser with many shelves that will serve as our clothes, diapers, and toiletries storage as well as our changing table.
We bought and built a storage unit for the closet with the pull-out cloth bins to store toys, books and other fun baby stuff.
We moved the old night stand (which is really a filing cabinet anyways) to the office to use as a filling cabinet and pushed the guest bed against the wall to make room for the dresser and crib. And we built the crib this morning, put on our crib sheet and voila!
Please also note the adorable newborn pants we bought in Prague that are just too cute to put away right now.
And here are the expecting parents with the near finished baby room. Still working on the decor bit but that can wait. It’s still a small room but I’m happy we can still multi-purpose it and is still functional.
Oh Budapest! From first sight we were a little in love with the city. Maybe not as charming as Prague or as easy as Krakow or with as good of beer as Vienna, but there was something about Budapest that felt real, and comfortable, and yet, still very exciting.
So our entry to the city wasn’t the easiest but by the time we got to our Airbnb, right in the heart of the city, troubles stopped. We were greeted by the most enthusiastic host who showed us all the details about her cute loft apartment. After many recommendations and advice we finally had the place to ourselves. Again, we arrived late and were hungry so we immediately changed and headed out for dinner. On the bus ride over, I had read about this cute and authentic little Hungarian bistro with live music. I had tried to book a reservation on the website to find that they were booked out for a week. We thought we would still take a chance late at night. We arrived around 8:45 pm and were told there were no available tables. We asked if they might have any for walk in later and were told we could try. We had glimpses of the stunning lit-up Parliament building on our walk to the restaurant so we thought we would take that in and then head back to the restaurant. The Parliament is amazing, expansive and just down-right beautiful. The weather was perfect and we walked around the building and along the river before heading back to Hungarikum Bistro where we were pleasantly surprised that a reservation had not shown and were welcomed in to dine.
This was the nicest little dinner with the most interesting instrument being played right behind Bryan that added to the ambiance. We opted for one of their well-priced three-course dinners to share the 1st and 3rd courses and another entree. Bryan tried the local light and dark beer. We were brought out our first samples of paprika with slices of the spicy pepper and a paprika dip for the bread. Delicious! They split the first course goulash for us and it was light yet savory. The entrees were very delicious and for once, appropriately sized. We shared the roasted duck leg with potatoes and red cabbage and the pork tenderloin braided with bacon and served with dumplings (spatzle) and a paprika sauce. Both were amazing. To finish the night we shared their version of the apple pie. Once again, delicious, less sweet, and using grated apples. Bryan was offered a shot of the local fruit brandy; palinka, on the house and I got a sucker! A perfect night in Budapest.
Starter bread with variations of paprika pepper
Roasted duck leg
Braided bacon pork tenderloin with dumplings
Sucker for me
Like every other city, we started this one with the free walking tour. We chose the 10:30 am start time as we had coffee in our apartment and had picked up items for breakfast in the apartment the night before. We had an energetic and interesting local tour guide who led us on the three hour tour. We started on the Pest side, taking in the cathedral, squares, history, and science building before crossing the lion bridge to the Buda side where we had a short break. We then ascended up the steps to the castle, which is no longer a castle but home to the president, museums, cathedral, and the cute ancient castle district. We ended with great views from the Fisherman’s Bastion landmark.
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Sights on our tour
Bryan and I were ready for lunch and walked down the hill a short ways to a Michelin-star restaurant I had read serves a different three-course lunch for only $10 everyday. We settled in and each opted for the different entree choice. Service and food were Michelin quality. We started with bread and a pate. I don’t normally care for pate but this one was silky smooth and was delicious when eaten with the chewy bread. Second courses were both fantastic; Bryan got the prawn and calamari with homemade udon noodles and a dashi broth and I got the fried cauliflower served with greens and a mayo dressed bulgur base. Both were so interesting and so flavorful and so well executed. We shared bites and I just may have to try to recreate the cauliflower and bulgur dish. The last course was perfect; a zabaglione cream sauce with a scoop of strawberry ice cream and strawberries in it. Simple with the perfect amount of sweetness and refreshing. We left thrilled with our lunch find.
Michelin star restaurant
Pate and bread to start
Breaded cauliflower on a cold bulgur creamy salad
Prawns and calamari with house made udons and dashi broth
Cream with strawberries and strawberry ice cream
We were near the far bridge connecting the two cities and Margarite Park; an island park in the river. We walked to the park and immediately followed the other park goers by putting our feet in the fountain water with the fountain show doing its thing. It was a hot day and this really cooled us down, and felt good on my poor ankles and feet. After a while we continued on walking through the park which was lush and immense but too big for us on foot so we headed to the Hippie Island Bar on the island for a break. Bryan got a beer and we enjoyed the music and open air atmosphere of the bar. We finally set back out to our apartment with fear that we would be hit by the approaching thunderstorms, but fortunately were not.
Nothing better than a good feet soak after a long walk in hot weather
Tasty beer at the Hippie Island bar on the island
Thursday night was a lazy one for us and after a while we went out to explore the Budapest nightlife, without much energy of our own. We walked towards the Jewish Quarter and headed to the butcher recommend by Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations. It was a bit chaotic when we arrived but we persisted in ordering marinated chicken and pork served on their grill top along with beets, potato salad and red cabbage, plus a beer for $10. It wasn’t until we left I realized they had goulash too and got some of that to go. The meats were delicious and we were a little more energized. We carried on to try one of the famous langos which is generally a savory fry bread topped with sour cream and cheese. We purchased one with garlic and cheese and it was delicious, greasy and filling.
Platter to share for less than $10
Langos street food with garlic and cheese
We carried on through the alleys of the Jewish Quarter, which were certainly happening, before hitting Karavan, which is a strip of food trucks set up permanently. I ate my goulash and Bryan got a beer and we people-watched for a bit. Our last stop was one of the famous ruin pubs; Szimpla Kert. Vast, ornately decorated, yet clean, with people drinking, dancing, smoking hookah, and playing cards. It had it all and if we were there with a bunch of friends, or if I could drink, we would have stayed longer. But instead, once we explored all of the rooms we left and headed home for the night.
Exploring the Jewish Quarter nightlife
Karavan street food alley
Szimpla Kert a ruin pub
Friday morning woke up very wet! It was pouring out and we took a nice slow morning in the apartment. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast inside again and then finally around noon we braved the two minute walk to the bus stop to drop us off two minutes from the largest Budapest baths in the city; The Szechanyi Baths. It was a good thing to do on a wet morning. We shared a cabin to change and rented bath towels and headed unknowingly into the thermal baths under the roof first. I was restricted to baths under a certain temperature but still enjoying sitting in warm water watching all of the people. Bryan walked around to the saunas and hotter tubs, almost convincing me to do one of the beer baths. After about an hour of soaking, the sun was starting to poke out and we went outside to the large outdoor pools. We grabbed chairs before the rest did and really enjoyed the sun and laying for a bit. It was a relaxing morning at the pool. We showered before heading out to explore the rest of the city park on foot. On our way home we stopped at a Turkish place for a late lunch to share before home to rest.
The Szechnyi Baths
The Szechnyi Baths
Exploring the park on our walk home
Taken us back to Turkey
Friday night was our last night in Budapest and we had another mystery shopping dinner at the local Four Season’s restaurant Kossaz. On our way to the restaurant we were surprised to find a free concert happening and watched for a bit.
At the restaurant, we enjoyed one drink at the bar, outside, observing the lit-up cathedral in the distance and the live music coming from the bar.
View from our bar table
Bryan and view
Me and phone
We then moved inside to start our meal. One more delicious meal! We were brought fresh baked bread with olive tapenade and the most delicious paprika cheese spread (a better version of pimiento cheese). I opted for the creamy morel mushroom soup and Bryan got the bone marrow with oxtail. Both were beautiful and delicious. For entrees, Bryan went with the recommendation to try the veal and was glad he did; it was so tender and served with house-made stuffed pasta and other delicacies. I wanted the scallops and octopus but they were out so the server recommended the rolled trout with prawns and lobster broth. It was delicious, especially with the lobster broth and the creative zucchini noodles as a base. For dessert, we chose the chocolate tart and the seasonal dessert of a white chocolate semolina pudding with berries and cream that was tart, light and summery. We left very full and happy.
Fresh baked bread and spreads
Bone marrow with oxtail
Morel mushroom soup
Veal with fresh pasta
Trout rolled with prawns, zucchini noodles and lobster broth
White chocolate semolina pudding with berries and pistachio gelato
Chocolate tart with tonka bean ice cream
Cathedral on our walk home
Our last day arrived for the entire trip. We packed up our bags and were allowed to keep them in the apartment until we left the city later in the day. We set out on foot, first to explore the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. We entered the cathedral to a choir singing music and that added to the feel of the church. We then bought tickets to climb the stairs to the top of the tower to take in the views and the noon church bells. We descended and headed to the Great Market Hall, an indoor market that has been going on for years. We bought strawberries and Hungarian Pick sausage (both that went uneaten for various reasons) and then bought a lunch to share from the vendors. I bought too much. I wanted to try the cabbage roll and the kielbasa, then the salads, Bryan got a beer, and before we knew it, our stomachs were so full we had ruined our plans to get an early dinner before heading to the airport.
Gorgeous cathedral interior
Bryan climbing the tower
At the top of the tower
Huge market lunch
Buy sausage here
Great Market Hall interior
Instead, we walked some of it off, saw the inside of the most beautiful cafe in the world; The New York Cafe, but without reservations continued on to first one outdoor bar patio and then another. We continued walking towards the apartment and picked up a few pastries to save for our flight. We collected our bags, returned the keys, and then set out on foot to meet the bus to the airport. All of this went smoothly and we arrived at the airport with plenty of time. We were able to sit outside at the airport, Bryan got one last beer, and we watched the sunset. Our flight to London Gatwick on Easyjet went fine and we arrived at the airport, took a cab to the nearby hotel Ibis for a shower and nights sleep.
Famous chocolate pastry eaten in the airport
Farewell sunset from Budapest
Farewell sunset from Budapest
We woke 11 pm Seattle time to catch the airport shuttle back to Gatwick. Our 10 hour flight to Seattle went super smooth and was not sold out so we actually got a seat between us to spread out in. We arrived at 11 am Seattle time, got home with our bags around noon, and set out for lunch/dinner at Eastlake Bar and Grill to take advantage of the gorgeously sunny weather before we passed out around 4 pm at home. Since, we have slowly been getting back to Pacific Time but it has been an adjustment. We were both up super early on Monday and Tuesday and have been a little tired during the day. Thank goodness for a four-day work week!
And so that ends our two week Central/Eastern European adventure. We have many memories, few regrets, and a lot of photos to carry us to our next adventure.
Our train rolls into the central Vienna train station just after 9 pm and after one subway ride we are at our hotel, the Arte Hotel Wien Stadthalle for the next three nights. Check in went smoothly and we were soon in our next accommodation, a good sized room but lacking the character (and amenities) offered by Airbnbs. We are pretty hungry by this point and so we set out for a short walk to Shillings restaurant down the street for our first Austrian meal. This restaurant definitely seemed a bit like a locals hangout. I got the wiener schnitzel and Bryan got the breaded meatballs. The food was pretty quick to come out of the kitchen and again the plates were LARGE. However, we were both hungry and easily demolished the food in front of us; including all of the potato and green salads because they were actually really delicious. We were wiped from the traveling and headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
Monday morning came around slowly and we took our time. We decided to do the 2 pm free walking tour this time to allow ourselves to get a bite to eat and coffee beforehand and still be able to sleep in. It was also Whit Monday, a local holiday, so many places and businesses we found were closed and people weren’t working. It made for a slightly more peaceful, less touristy Vienna, for our first day exploring in it. We headed towards the inner district and settled on a cafe to sit outside to get what we were looking for. We each ordered cappuccinos (our go-to order for the two weeks), their mozzarella and tomato sandwich and the noteworthy apple strudel. The apple strudel was amazingly delicious, my preference over apple pie with a light and crisp exterior dusted with powdered sugar and grated apples and raisins that made for a more creamy filling.
While at this cafe an American teaching English in Vienna for the past year, originally from San Diego, sat down next to us and we struck up a conversation with her. Again, it was enlightening to get her take on Vienna, living abroad and recommendations. Ironically, she also went to grad school at University of Michigan but found it too hard (shocker!). The conversation went longer than we expected and we ran out of time to find more food before our tour started.
Our tour began right at 2 pm and was led by the most dry and impersonal tour guide of the bunch, a native Austrian. He led us for three hours around central Vienna, showcasing the architecture and the Vienna history. We broke midway and Bryan was able to get his favorite beer of the trip; the Edelweiss. We ended near the Danube and after the tour ended Bryan and I stopped in the Austrian chain restaurant called Vapiano. This Italian-inspired restaurant has different stations where you go and order from the chefs what you want. It reminded me somewhat of a ski resort cafeteria but the food was actually really good. I tried an interesting shaved celery root salad with Parmesan, bacon, raisins, and a creamy dressing that was something I would not usually see in the States.
Statue at meeting point
Hotel Sacher, home to the sacher torte
Statue of Mozart
Quaint and old church
Highlight of Vienna for Bryan was this beer
Horse drawn carriages
Do not remember
Cathedral getting a cleaning
Being that the opera house had just opened its doors for the standing room only tickets we thought we would buy these cheap, 3 Euro, tickets for the nights opera and stay however long we wanted. However, after waiting in line for 15 minutes and getting right to the door, we were told we weren’t allowed in because Bryan was in nice khaki shorts. Ludicrous! We felt dejected and annoyed at the opera and Vienna in general. We sat for a while not knowing what to do next and then decided to grab one of their City Bikes and explore the city parks by bike. The first hour on the bikes are free, every time (!), and we headed towards the expansive Prater Park. We biked the whole stretch of the central avenue of the park. We thought we would return along the river but you really can’t by bike so we took an interesting detour home. We stopped by to see the Belvedere (once a mansion for the Hapsburg Empire and now an art museum).
The grounds of the Belvedere
We got home, showered and then headed to the local laundry mat. Once we got the laundry started I walked down the street to pick up two super cheap kabobs for us to eat for dinner. These ones were just a few blocks away and the most highly rated in the city and they were good and filling for $4. The laundromat was an adventure but we managed what we needed to; to have enough clothes for the second week. We carried our stuff back towards the hotel and stopped in the cafe around the block to try the sacher torte and for Bryan to get a beer. We headed home with plans to head outside the city the next day.
Kabobs in a laundromat? I say YES!
Sacher torte and beer
Tuesday morning we woke around 9 am and packed our backpack to head west to Melk, Austria by train. We walked the short distance to the west train station, bought expensive train tickets, breakfast in form of a sandwich, cappuccinos, yogurt and fruit to eat on the train and hopped on board. The train ride to Melk was just about an hour and was a nice way to wake up. We arrived in Melk full, caffeinated and with full sun to enjoy. We got the last two NextBikes at the train station in Melk and headed through the cute town and to the Danube. We stayed on the south side of the Danube per Google’s recommendations that Bryan had read. The ride was immediately enjoyable. We had castle views, could see the quaint Austrian towns along the river, the large river cruise boats, and the path was so well marked and paved.
Huge building in Melk
Quaint river town
Bryan at first rest stop, one hour in to cycling
We were biking for about an hour before we had our first rest stop, which was a short one but these rental bikes are heavy. We continued on with only a brief bathroom and water break for another 75 minutes or so and stopped in a cute little complex of different wineries.
Biking through vineyards
Biking through quaint towns
We checked the bikes in and started walking around, worried at first that nothing was open. Then, just as we were walking by the doors to the garden patio of one of the wineries opened up and we both walked right in. This place quickly filled up during our 90 minute break and it is no surprise why. The wine (mostly whites) was crisp and refreshing (and cheap) and the food was delicious. The garden patio was also super quaint and beautifully landscaped and the service was so nice. Bryan got the caprese salad and I tried their asparagus, ham and egg salad with a yogurt dressing. Both of us were brought out huge plates and fresh baked and warm rolls that were made locally in Durnstein. The atmosphere, food and drink sent us to Heaven. I was really wishing at this point I could order a glass of wine, and almost did.
Bryan and sign for winery
Me and flowers
Bryan and wine
Food spread we were so excited about!
We didn’t really want to leave this quaint little place but after a long break we decided to continue on. We had just about an hour left to Krems, where we were going to leave the bikes and take the train back to Vienna. The last hour went quickly and after a short river crossing of the Danube we had hit Krems, a university town. We stowed the bikes away and decided to hang out for awhile instead of catching the first train back to Vienna. We walked to Danube and soaked our feet in the refreshing water. I read some of my book and Bryan did I don’t know what. After about an hour there, we walked back to the train station and got on the train back to Vienna where I actually took a quick snooze in the warm train.
More quaint towns
Biking across the Danube to Krems
Danube from Krems
Gazebo in Krems
Reading and soaking my feet in the river post bike ride
Back in Vienna, we made our way back to the hotel for showers before heading out for our last dinner in Vienna. We went to Schnitzelwirt for their famously large and cheap variations of the schnitzel. We sat outside and the temperature was just perfect. I got the garlic schnitzel and Bryan the cordon blue, which we both shared. We managed to eat it all and were so stuffed upon leaving. The day had been a long and active one and we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
Schitzelwirt feast about to ensue
Wednesday came and we packed up our bags and left them with the front desk of the hotel. I wanted to check out the local market that happens everyday since like the 17th century. We walked/biked there and were running out of time before our bus to Budapest was about to leave. We browsed the vendors, bought some of the locally famous fresh apricots but nothing else. We each bought some food on our way back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and took the metro to the international bus station across town. We were able to get a cappuccino and chocolate cake before boarding our Flixbus to Budapest.
The bus to Budapest went smoothly until we got near Budapest. There had been a major auto wreck on their main bridge, which we were to cross. And we literally went a half mile in 1.5 hours. After such a long wait and no end in sight we got off the bus at the bus drivers permission and set out to our Airbnb by tram and bus. That worked out well and 30 minutes later we were checking into our last stop of the trip. We were both excited for Budapest!