Argh! Another s***ty night train. This one incredibly overcrowded which left both Elissa and I stranded in the hallway of the train, trying to get some sleep on the floor. It was f***ing uncomfortable and frustrating to say the least, especially when you're almost falling to sleep and somebody comes past and needs you to move in order to get through. I don't understand how they can continue to sell tickets for booked- out trains and not warn people for what there are about to be encountered with. And, once again, the train was hours late.
My IPod got me through… just. At The Edge of Time! Winner!
We were greeted with heavy rain on our arrival in Budapest, but we soldered on through it made it to our accommodation fairly quickly. Once again we had booked an apartment and were greeted by a really friendly Hungarian man; he had lived in Australia for 19 years. He gave us a brief tour of the city and sat us down and showed us through event guides and maps and told us of his favorite parts of the city. It was a bit of an information overload, but what we could actually remember was pretty helpful.
Desperate to do some washing, it was the first thing we asked about and our host offered to do it for us. Turns out he didn't have a functioning dryer, which left us with wet clothes, hanging in some very cold weather. I had almost nothing to wear for nearly three days except for a pair of jeans with a massive hole in the crotch and a Download Festival shirt that is of very poor quality and is already falling apart.
Staying in another apartment meant we had our own kitchen once again and we set off to do some shopping. Budapest was completely dead on Sunday. It felt like we were in one of those films where everybody had died and we were left wondering a post-apocalyptic city… eerie.Luckily the supermarket man was alive to provide us with supplies. We then walked along the river to check out the Parliament building and up to the Bastille and then across Castle Hill to the Citadel. It was quite a hike. As far as I can remember, as it was a few weeks ago, the rest of night one was spent drinking in the apartment and listening to Genesis: Greatest Hits. Time well spent.
The weather hadn't improved much the next day. So after visiting the fresh food markets we thought it would be a great opportunity to go to the thermal baths; as there didn't seem to be a point in visiting in warm weather. There were dozens of pools inside all between 30 and 40 degrees, each containing different minerals. And outside a massive pool heated to 40 degrees, it was less than 20 outside so it was nice to sit in, although at times it did get a bit too hot and we needed to move into one of the cooler pools. It was almost impossible to stay in for longer than 20 minutes but all the fat Hungarian men sat in it for hours playing chess or falling asleep, nearly drowning themselves in the process as their noses dipped below the surface of the water. They reminded me of some sort of walrus/human hybrid. We ended up spending around 7 hours at this place before walking back to our room in the dark and in more torrential rain.
The next few days in Budapest included wondering around the numerous churches, castles and gardens. We ate at Gerbeaud's. It's a café/restaurant that has the best sandwiches, cakes, ice cream and coffee in Budapest, and has been open since 1870. We also spent a night at the club called instant, where we met a group of insanely drunk Dutch guys. They made for great entertainment. Until they started getting their dicks out, then it was time to move on. And at the end of the night, if you haven't finished your drink by the time they need to close you're handed a plastic cup and you finish your drink on the walk home.
A major mistake made by an employee at the central station meant that we ended up needing to stay another night In Budapest. Elissa's train ticket to Switzerland needed to be changed, which was possible to do, but the person cancelled this ticket before checking if the one that she wanted was available. It wasn't. The one that was cancelled was instantly purchased by another customer somewhere else leaving Elissa without a ticket as both trains were now fully booked. What was worse was that because the ticket was now cancelled rather than exchanged they would only refund 50% of the ticket price and another would have to purchase at full price. What a load! We were luckily able to rent a room in a house by the Central Station and catch trains later the following night. I have a Eurail pass, so it's makes it pretty flexible as to what trains I catch.
Hamburg & Wacken.
I should have known this was going to happen. The night train was once again over crowded and I ended up sleeping in the corridor. This time it was really hot and there were at least 20 people stranded in the corridors of each carriage. People were getting pretty frustrated and one guy was removed from the train for getting too aggressive with the other passengers, and then the conductor. It was hell.
I'm really glad I knew exactly where I was going in Hamburg; it was the same place I stayed in last year. I didn't have the added worry of having to walk around finding a place to sleep; something I was desperate to do. 13 hours standing in a train leaves you pretty tired and sore. I did absolutely nothing on my first night in Hamburg except for cooking some food and lying on my bed. No sightseeing at all. I was supposed to go out with some people I met in the kitchen but fell asleep as soon as I went back to my room to have a shower. I'm pretty sure I've seen everything there is to see in this city anyway, which isn't much. It's just a good place to base yourself before and after the Wacken Open Air.
Day two was as lazy as day one. I didn't really want to be in Hamburg this long but didn't have a choice after the f***-up with the train in Budapest. I couldn't really motivate myself to do anything. So I went to get a haircut ( The best haircut I've ever had) Then met up with Brain, a Canadian guy who I'd met on my first night and we went to have some beers on the Reeperbahn.He was also going to Wacken and we were going to camp together along with Andy; an Aussie who I'd also met the previous night. But he'd disappeared after going out drinking that night.
The weather forecast for Wacken wasn't good. They'd predicted heavy rain for each day of the festival and it had already been raining a few days before. So having learnt my lesson from the disaster that was the Sonisphere Festival (Rain in Mud!), I decided that I should probably prepare myself for mud and get myself some gumboots. These turned out to be something that the Germans haven't heard of so I just settled with a cheap pair of shoes. Later that night Andy, Brian and I went out with two other Canadians who were also attending Wacken and were going to camp with us, and we organised our plan of attack for Wacken; which was the following morning.
By the time we were on the train heading to Wacken we had already gathered an Irishman and 4 more Australians for our camp. Then upon arrival at the festival we'd also recruited 3 Guatemalans. We'd taken a slab of beers on the train, they was gone before we got there so we were pretty much talking to anyone, haha. We got to Wacken a day before the festival started so we had enough time to check out all the other activities they provide, that are too hard to see once the bands have started to play. We ended up just drinking in the main street of Wacken with the other festival goers, this turned out to be a pretty good option, and it was heaps of fun. We didn't receive much rain at all. It rained quite heavily on the first night but it was pretty clear skies from then on in, in fact it got pretty hot and the front of the stages turned into a dustbowl, which was a relief, you can't drown in dust.
Between the drinking and general festival shenanigans I had time to check out these bands -
Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Gorjira, Dew Scented, Amorphis, Kamelot, Slayer, Candlemass, Tiamat, Stratovarious, Ektomorf, Arch Enemy, Unleashed, Soulfly, Edguy, Job For A Cowboy & Anvil. I also checked out the Dio memorial night where they played a few of his concerts on a big screen next to the camp site. Candlemass was the best in my opinion, closely followed by Dew Scented, Stratovarious & Kamelot.
Once again Wacken was another huge success. I cannot wait to return, hopefully next year as they've already announced Avantasia, Blind Guardian and Apocalyptica. My last night in Hamburg was very similar to my first, cooking and sleeping. I was once again supposed to meet some friends out but was too exhausted and fell asleep and completely missed dinner.
My next stop was Krakow in Poland, so the following day I boarded a train to Berlin and spent the afternoon walking around checking out the sights again. I was pretty surprised at how well I remembered my way around, it is a huge city and it has been over a year since I visited, and Darcy and I hardly left the Jamaican themed beach bars, haha. I needed to catch another over-night train to reach Krakow and I had already reserved the tickets before I'd left Hamburg. I made it absolutely clear that I was reserving a seat or a bed, and not being given a ticket and having to fend for myself; which the other places had been making the travelers do. I was successful, but it required changing trains a 2am in the middle of f***ing nowhere in Poland. Goddamit!