Prague, Krakow, Budapest and Zurich 11.20.03

Equipment used:

- Canon Eos 300D Digital SLR (used almost exclusively)
- Canon 18-55mm EFS equivalent 29-90mm with 300D
- Canon Eos Elan film body
- Tokina AF 19-35mm f3.5-4.5
- Quantary 70-300 f4-5.6 1:2 macro
- Canon 50mm f1.8
- Zenitar 16mm f2.8 full frame fisheye
- Canon 420EX flash
- Kodak Royal Supra 800 speed film
- HP negative scanner

Clicking on images will open a full size picture in a new window.

11.20.03 We were delayed leaving SFO because the planes radio stopped working, doesn't that inspire confidence.
11.21.03 The fog was really bad when we approached Frankfurt and the Captain announced over the intercom "...well, the landing gear is down, but I can't see anything, we're going to try landing one more time". We approach the runway and at the last minute we take off at full throttle, it was quite exciting. Looking out the window we could only see the fog light up from the planes strobelight. We ended up landing in Dusseldorf, and had to sit there grounded for 4 hours till the weather cleared. They would not let us off the plane, and needless to say we missed our train to Prague.

Flight path

Matt and I took the train to Prague from Frankfurt, it cost 105 Euro for both of us.

Prague our first night

11.22.03 I'm trying not to repeat too many pictures of Prague since I've been here before.

Downspouts as viewed from our hostels attic

Ritchies hostel was originally 3 separate buildings. Doorways and steps were made to join the buildings together. The end result is a hostel with a few 4 foot tall doors, and showers that are 18" above the floor. This hostel is in the most perfect spot in Prague, a block between Charles Bridge and Old town square. Around 3am the drunks put on an entertaining kareokee performance as they stumble home.


We asked the girl at the front desk where a good place would be for breakfast. She replies "well anywhere in Europe is good".





National Museum
Home of Radio Free Europe.


Absinth is made in Czech Republic (among other countries), and is one of the few liquors that can't be bought in the states.


One of building used in the movie Triple X

"Eine Passport Bitte"

Here's my ticket, and here's my passport

Matt reverts to the International language of hand signals when conductors don't speak English.

The train from Prague to Krakow Poland cost us 890Kr, or 27 Euros each. Our connecting train was late by 10 mins, and we ended up getting on the wrong train. We got off in Bohumin, and ended up stuck in Ostrava, CR for the night.

11.24.03 Ostrava was pretty nice, we stayed in a hotel for around $40 (cheaper than our hostel), and the next morning got to the train station.

Someone get these guys a tractor

When we arrived in Krakow, we were bombarded with people asking if we had accommodations. Nathans hostel had a booth setup with brochures and such, and gave us a free taxi to check the place out. It was very nice, free tea and coffee, lots of fellow travelers, we'd definitely stay there again.

Nathans Hostel-Krakow

Nathans Hostel-Krakow

There were several people at the hostel that have stayed there for several months. One of the guys we met also had an apartment where he frequently threw parties; he describes the "Polls" as drunken barbarians who only show up to break his dishes. In the two days we were in Poland, he had been robbed of his passport, phone, tv, dvd player; basically everything except 2 zloty.

It must have been those Goddamn Barbarians, but what can you do?

The group we met at the hostel, Brian (Canada), Cassandra (Aussie), and Tiffany (California)

We went to the restaurant next door to Nathans hostel and had dinner. Bacon fat seems to be a very popular garnish here.

Bread, butter, and a cup of bacon fat

Steak and potatos; dumplings with bacon fat

11.25.03 Wandered about Krakow in the morning, and joined the rest of the group at the hostel for the salt mines tour.

Tiffany on a fountain

Stuff to see in Poland

Farmers Market

Krakow Salt mines

The tour of the Salt mines starts with 30 something flights of stairs, the lowest point of the tour is 130 meters underground. The tour takes about 2 hours, and shows just a glimpse of the 300km network of tunnels.

mines Grand Cathedral, w/out flash

All the excavation of the salt was done by manual labor, or horse.

Even the floor is salt

They say if you don't believe its salt, lick it. The salt is a blackish color, but it is somewhat transparent. If you hold a light against the walls, you can see them light up.


At the end of the tour, we were all packed into these tiny elevators.


Polands most weathered door


Nathans hostel has padded doors, its a mystery

11.26.03 We took a day trip to Auschwitz, its about an hour by bus from Krakow.

Work makes freedom


These look like ordinary buildings, but they are quite disturbing inside. One such building contains millions of shoes, enough fill an entire wing of one floor.


Zyklon-B, Cynide pellets


The camp is surrounded by two electric barbwire fences, a concrete wall, and guarded towers.


After Auschwitz, we wandered around Krakow, saw a protest, had a beer and hopped a night train to Budapest.



We had been repeatedly warned about taking night trains from Krakow from fellow travlers and the hostel staff. We didn't take any chances, so we paid an extra 240 Zloty for a private sleeper car with a lockable door, this was about 60 Euro for the two of us. The room had a sink, closet and two beds.

Double lock

11.27.03 Arrived in Budapest. First thing we did was search for a Budapest card, this card allows you rides on the metro and free museum entrance. Everytime we asked to buy one, the sales person would say no, and point to another line to wait in. They even had a picture of the card hanging above their head. After being redirected to three different places, we finally gave up.

Red bus hostel room

This hostel wasn't that great, mainly because there was never any hot water. They did have internet and laundry, but all the little posted notes we found were annoying. Particularly the note on the heaters thermostat that reads "risk of electrocution do not touch!" Another one reads "once you check out, you are not allowed to use the bathrooms." What a bunch of sticklers.

Courtyard at the Red Bus hostel

Budapest streets



Chain Bridge circa 1111, the first bridge to join Buda and Pest


Stitched panoramic, dialup users beware


View inside the church on the hill

German Enigma machine used to encrypt messages during ww2


A huge Schnitzel

Hungary had interesting bottled "woda". On the bottle it says its loaded with minerals such as Sodium cloride and magnesium sulfate to name just a few. It tasted like salty tap water.


Internet Kiosk at McDonalds

In addition to Internet, McDonalds also had a movie theater, PlayStation2 booths, CD listening station and free bathrooms. A packet of Ketchup costs 100 Forint, about 50 cents.

Parlament Building

If you are ever in need of blank Betamax tapes, Budapest is the country for you

Flirting in Hungarian made easy
sponsered by

Sleeper to Zurich

When you hit your head on the light, the net will catch you before you hit the ground, those Swiss think of everything.
11.29.03 Arrived in Zurich at 6:30am.

First view of Zurich



The heaviest keychain in Europe

Matt getting pissed

The Fondue crew

Almost a pound and a half of cheese for 3 people

A little known fact, if you eat only fondue everyday, you would die from malnutrition.

You really can deep fry anything

After dinner, we played cards for a bit, Craig and I left to check out the clubs. Craig crashed around 3am, and I managed to party with these two local girls Sari and Clara till 6am! Good thing I had a long train ride the next day.


11.30.03 Heading back to Frankfurt

Nuclear power plant



It fits

Despite our bags meeting the size requirements for carry on baggage, we were told they were still too big. "Im sorry but it is impossible, you must check your bag" We arrived in SFO 2 hours late, at least we only paid 320 bucks roundtrip.

Radio Free Europe, RFE, besides being an REM song, is a radio station in Prague; it was started in 1950 under funding from the CIA. RFE allowed Czechoslovakia to broadcast news over the Iron Curtain to countries under communist rule. The Soviets responded by no longer supplying radios capable of receiving the shortwave signals. Addional measurenents taken by the Soviet union include building "interference activity generators", or huge radio towers designed to jam international broadcasts. These towers ironically today are used by RFE for broadcasting. Currently, Radio Free Europe broadcast in 43 different languages and resides in the former communist parliament building in Wenceslas Square, Prague.
listen to
Stories from an Estonian radio interference operator

What's the frequency kenneth? Another REM song about Russian attempts at maintaining their censorship. So the story goes, an American student, "Kenneth" had found a way to filter out the jamming frequencies generatated by Soviet radio towers. Kennith was recieving Russian television and rebroadcasting it here in America. Soviet officials (KGB?) had mistaken reporter Dan Rather for Kenneth, Dan was beaten up by the men who were repeatedly asking "What's the frequency Kenneth".
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