Into Eastern Europe
23.07.2009 - 23.07.2009 32 °C
The Alps end just before Vienna, so as we left Vienna and headed east, the land in this area (known as the Vienna Basin) was quite flat, similar to the Netherlands. Windpower generators dotted the land; hundreds of them. Soon we reached the Hungarian border. Hungary is now party to the Schengen Agreement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement), which means that border controls, and the long waits associated with them, are no longer necessary. However, we could still see the old abandoned checkpoints from times past. We noticed an immediate drop in standards as we entered Hungary, and these would continue to deteriorate as we pushed further into Eastern Europe. Hungary is relatively westernized; not so Romania and Bulgaria, where we would be going soon.
We stopped at Gyor for lunch, and then continued to Budapest, a delightful city still showing the ravages of the Communist era (1947 - 1989), and the excesses of the former period.
After settling into the hotel, we went on a tour of the city. Egged on by our colourful local guide Andrea, we drove into an area reserved for the Grand Prix which was to be held the following day. After being chatted by local police, and some very skilful manoevering by Atilla the driver, we were finally able to escape the area after a couple of hours. It's nice to let someone else to do the worrying for you.
That evening, we were taken for a cruise on the Danube River, with a delicious multi-course meal with a wide variety of local fare. Whatever your taste or dietary requirements, it seemed to be there.