Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Great Exodus

Well, we did it! We actually made it out of Turkey! It was not bad by Turkish standards. Compared to what we feared, it went rather smoothly. We were there for three hours and stood in many lines and had to have way too many officials sign way too many forms, BUT - we made it! Interestingly enough, when we made it through and we went to the Bulgarian officials, all we had to show them was Michael's NATO orders and military ID and they waved us through. They didn't even search the car. Ahhhh, it's good to be free.

Right now we are in Budapest, but I will attempt to catch you up on our progress. Bear with me, nine days in Europe makes for a VERY long post.
The LAST, the absolute LAST castle my husband will ever drag me to. (In Turkey at least) =)

How do you spell freedom? Read the sign above my head! If you look closely you can actually see all the stress draining out of me in this picture.

Bennett doing his best "Robot Statue" impersonation at the Varna Bulgaria Archaeological Museum

We didn't make it in time for the dolphin show, but hey, the kids still found a way to catch a ride on a dolphin.

Petrified forest that had a little old man across the street selling really awesome honey. Yes my husband will mock me for not remembering the actual NAME of the forest. But it was really good honey.

Well, the pillars' cuteness factor have certainly been improved.

Pliska, capital of Pagan Bulgaria between 681 and 893 AD

WOAH!!!! Hayden is playing in the dirt?! How unusual. He has now played in the dirt of 4 different countries. And Dallen has peed on 5 UNESCO world heritage sites. But I digress....

Pile of stones....hmmm....didn't I see this in Turkey?

Look Mom! I could break my neck from here! Yippee! I hope the wood is rotted! I'm going to run back and forth while stomping as hard as I can!!
One country down, seven more to go! Good-bye Bulgaria!

Here is Dracula's castle. Vlad the Impaler (his real name) forced his Turkish prisoners to build this for him. This is the view from the parking lot. We got to climb an unholy amount of stairs just to be able to say we saw Dracula's actual castle. Dallen stopped counting at 50, Bennett stopped counting at 200, and Maryn finally gave up at 720. Did I mention I REALLY love my husband?

Bennett and Dallen stopped to rest (and take a break from counting steps)

Are we there yet? Just a little further...

The very top! We thought our legs would fall off! But we did it!! All just to say we did. =)

Bennett kept asking where the castle was. We had to explain that it is just a ruin now. "So where does Dracula live then?" YOU try explaining mythology to a five-year-old

Apparently we have discovered where the immortals go to get away from it all. Turn the corner you'll see the Count in hip-waders setting up a pup tent.

Vampire-hunting is seriously exhausting business. Or maybe it was just the 7 hundred plus steps we just climbed...

This is Bran Castle, the FAKE Dracula's castle. The one that looks more like what people imagine it would look like, so therefore they have turned it into a huge tourist trap. There were tons of shops at the bottom selling all sorts of cheesy Transylvania souvenirs. Of course we had to buy some.

A view from the top of Bran Castle

The Carpathian Alps were stunning. The road reminded me of places I was dragged to by my dad when I was a kid. Yes, I appreciate it now, and no, my kids didn't. In fact they didn't see much other than their DS screens. But I am not complaining - on a 17 day car trip with 4 kids, silence is golden.

This was the road we got to take through the Carpathian Alps. Dramamine anyone?

Dallen thought this lock was pretty neat. Especially because someone came up with the idea in the 15th century. It would be hard to break even today.

I took this picture from the front seat of the car. This is a true traffic jam. Romanian style.

Brasov Romania has been my favorite city so far. It rained, and that stunk, but the city as a whole was so beautiful! They had so many neat shops and cafes, beautiful churches and gardens. I wanted to stay there for the rest of the trip, but Michael enticed me with thoughts of Austria. =)

"Okay Hayden, just look at the camera. It is the only way to get Daddy to stop taking pictures. He'll just keep at it till it's perfect."

Fagaras Castle. A real one. With a moat. This is according to Bennett. (Apparently, the countless other castles we have seen in the last two years have just been fake)

This castle was the kids' favorite so far. Mostly because they were able to run around and climb on everything. The only thing the curator told them they couldn't do was toll the bell. Of course that rope was the first thing Dallen grabbed. =) He is the reason I have quick reflexes.

Can you tell my thoughts on this whole "castle-hiking, picture-taking" thing? I have to say, I am a much bigger fan of the cities. =)

Hayden agrees with me.

The birth-place of Vlad the Impaler. The streets were narrow cobblestone, but so neat. Bennett and Hayden spent most of their time running down them and making that "Uh-uh-uh" noise that you get when you run on a bumpy path.

Our hotel in Sigishora was HUGE. It also had a lot of cool furniture that I would have loved to load into my car. I think they would have noticed though. Can't you just see me blithely strolling past the front desk with an amiore strapped to my back?

Okay, so it is immature, but I thought the name Binder Bubi was really funny. Especially for a hotel.

Michael told us this place to Romanians, is like Washington DC to Americans - corrupt and in the pocket of lobbyists - WAIT no, this is the Unification Museum. This is where Romania, Transylvania, and Moldova, all became unified again.

Inside the Catholic Cathedral in Sibiu (Have any of you heard "Song of the Cebu" from Veggie Tales? Yeah, it was in my head the ENTIRE time we were in Sibiu.)

My three little men, digging thier way around the world.

Cluj, Romania and its awesome fountain

Bennett getting himself soaked in Cluj, Romania's awesome fountain

Okay, this is Eger Hungary. We didn't get a picture at the border because we crossed through at about 1 am when it was pitch black and the kids were fast asleep.

Eger Fortress. Of course my boys go straight for the cannons!

These seemed like good souveniers at the time.....um...WHAT was I thinking?

Budapest, Hungary. Our hotel is the building on the left

Dad and Dallen found thier favorite shop so far.

Alright Dad....we'll smile....heh, heh, heh.... (Be careful what you wish for)

Hayden enjoying a cold pint in the Cafe in Budapest. (It's apple juice - I promise!) I don't know why they put it in a beer glass.

We met this neat family from London and we ended up spending the afternoon with them. Our kids were almost the exact same ages, and everyone had a blast.

This was a very sobering, powerful memorial. This is a spot where the Nazis would line up Jews, shoot them and dump them in the river. But first they would make them take off thier shoes. There are pictures of hundreds of shoes lined up along this edge. For this memorial, the artist cast metal shoes to keep them permantently along the warf. Looking to the right and left it breaks your heart to see so many shoes. I almost cried when I watched Bennett put his foot next to a pair and say "Mom, these shoes could fit me!" He didn't understand what he was seeing - but I did

Parlament Building - Budapest. By the way - the memorial is in front of it. How sick that people were executed right in front of thier government's main building. (Okay- so it is sick that they were killed at all - but I think that puts salt on the wound)

Bag the historical buildings! I found a train!

Fisherman's Bastian at night

So there you have it so far! I will try to post at night from now on, (ha) so the next updates won't be so epic. Wish me luck!


Blog Buddy said...

Cool and awesome and spectacular!!!!!

Wilson Family said...

Okay, I have spent the lat 1/2 hour going through all your posts. You seriously crack me up. I am soooo jealous! What an amazing trip. This really is a trip of a lifetime. Totally awesome!!!

We are in the Hodja, waiting for Italian visas (yes- freaking me o9ut that we don't have them) and changes on the car beyanname. Did I mention teachers report next week? Oh, worse than that, Chance has to be in Germany this Sunday. :) It will all work out, right?

Anyway- we miss you guys to pieces. I can't wait until Thanksgiving together. Tell Michael and the kids "hi" for us. Keep the pictures coming.

Love ya!!!

Dayna said...

Wow -- what wonderful photos and a lifetime of memories...and REAL castles -- ha! But I'm sure it is great to see without grafitti and trash. Ahh, people who know how to preserve their tradition. Looks cooler there, want some of this 100 deg. heat your way???