Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Did I Ever Tell You About the Time..

I walked from Hungary to Slovakia for a beer? True story.

The beginning of the journey. What a great and fun idea! I will be visiting two countries in one day. The journey begins by crossing the Danube River by walking across this bridge.
So long Hungary (at least for a few hours!) I'm making an unexpected trip into Slovakia. Oh by the way - I know nothing about Slovakia. Except that it was once a part of Czechoslovakia.

Check point Charlie. This was as close as I was going to get with my camera. The border guards were still wearing Soviet Era uniforms. They let everyone through with out a glance. Not the two stupid Americans though. They took (yes took) our passports into their itty bitty office. It felt like a good ten minutes and we both started to worry. All we want to do is say we have been to Slovakia and drink a beer. I somehow don't think that would have gone over very well.

Finally Dolf and the gang let us go through. Now we were ready to spend some time in Slovakia. The most happening place was this tabac where we purchased all six of their postcards in stock. Apparently 'postcard' means the same in Slovak as it does in English.

Well, we were determined to spend more time in Slovakia than we did trying to get in. So we opted for the Corner Pub. It was right on the border crossing with a fantastic view of the border guards. So we decided to sit and border watch.

The pub was comfy and we watched the owner try to hang his new flat screen TV.

Did you know that 'beer' is not the same in Slovak as in English. Too bad. I wanted a local brew. I mean I did come all this way!

Time to head back to Hungary. Crossing over was much easier. In fact we had a lovely border agent that was quite happy to speak English. I wonder if she hangs out at the Corner Pub when she gets off work? Just curious.

Ahh, home. Time for some Goulash.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quirky Scotland - Part 2

More interesting images from Scotland!
Apparently this man is famous. At least in Scotland. He sacked out on the train and everyone took his picture!

I like this title better than I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

Mmmm, butterly.

Movie poster graffiti.

This is the most interestingly cluttered bathroom I have ever seen. There is even a poem about this loo (see below).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

American Style Hot Dogs!

Cute store with cute tea cozies.

Same store but sadly not for sale!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review - Balmacara Mains Guest House

After two days in Inverness we took the train west to Kyle of Lochalsh. The train journey was quick and absolutely beautiful! If ever you are in the Highlands of Scotland you must journey through this area!

Our accommodation for the next five nights was the Balmacara Mains Guest House located right on the side of a loch! It is in a remote and quite location so a car is essential. Being the American chickens that we are we decided against driving while in Scotland. A good decision in hindsight as we knew the negatives of driving out weighed the expense of taking taxis everywhere.

That being said there is only one taxi company in the area and they were limited as it was no longer the high season - something we did not think of as we made our driving decision. None the less it all worked out in the end.

One of the nice things about Balmacara Mains is that the staff on sight are very willing to drive you into Kyle of Lochalsh or Plockton. We did take advantage of this twice.

The first time was when they offered to pick us up at the Kyle train station. On arrival we were greeted and helped up the stairs with our bags. We stayed in Room #8 because it has the best views of the loch.

The view from the right window of our room.

The view from the left window from our room.

Room #8. Very nice and cozy!

Nice TV and plenty of space.

Modern bathroom.

Room #8 and it's adjoining room (used to make a suite and is locked if you do not want the two rooms) are really the only rooms in the main house. The other rooms are accessed from the outside. Our room was right over the reception/breakfast area so at night we really were the only ones in the main house!
There are many reasons as to why you would stay here - friendly staff, nice rooms, good location for touring the Isle of Skye - but the main two reasons are the incredible views and the breakfast!

Full Scottish Breakfast.

The view from the breakfast room.

Smoked salmon and eggs.

Smoked haddock and poached eggs - my favorite!

Right next to the road that leads to Balmacara Mains is a Woodland Walk. And over the road is the wee village of Balmacara that also has a signposted walk. Kyle of Lochalsh is only a 5-10 minute drive as is the Skye Bridge. Plockton takes a wee bit longer to drive and is on a single track road - so there is a lot of pulling over and letting people pass.
As we were staying in the guest house there was some construction going on out front - nothing major just some paving. The workman brought his dog along everyday. She was a bundle of energy and was a lot of fun to watch and play with if she deemed you worthy!

Balmacara Mains is a guest house not a hotel. There isn't room service or a spa. What you do get is a wonderfully cozy place with fantastic breakfasts and incredible views. It is well worth a stay!