Budapest, Hungary = the two towns of Buda and Pest

It’s one of the cities that people have their European bucket list to go visit: Budapest, the city by the Danube River and the capital of Hungary. There is far amount of history in this city but most of the attractions are all by Buda Castle or in my opinion, by the Danube River.

Szechenyi Chain Bridge budapest puente hungaria europa rio danube

This is one of the more famous bridges because almost everyone walks across it to get to either side of the city.

fortress fuerte fuerza hungaria militar ejercito castle castillo fort

I don’t know why they called this Fisherman’s Bastion because I highly doubt that the fishing was that great since the river’s been fished out for many, many years.

iglesia eglise dom hungarian religious old building edificio alto ancien

On the other side of Fisherman’s Bastion, this is Matthias Church.

marker km kilometer mile counter contador count

I took this picture from Zero Kilometre Stone… zero km meaning this is where they started counting how far it would take to go from that point in the capital to wherever in Hungary. Kind of that saying… all roads lead to Rome… instead, it’s all roads lead to Budapest!

People don’t seem to know this but I did prior to my visit to the Hungarian capital but it was combination of two cities: Buda (western part which had the fortress) and Pest (eastern, flat part of the city where many of the residents lived). King of Hungary at the time decided to join both cities together since the only thing that separated the two was the Danube River. Of course, when the Mongols arrived, they caused a lot of chaos and mayhem before they finally withdrew due to Genghis Khan’s grandson and current Khan at the time, Ogedai, died and all the Mongol leaders had to return to vote on the new Khan. That was the last time and the furthest the Mongols ever gotten into the heart of Europe all because Ogedai was an alcoholic… funny how despite the Mongols having slaughtered over 50-80 million people that Europe survived due to one powerful man’s lure to liquor and eventual death.

Budapest surely would have fallen had the Mongols continued raiding went westward to Spain and England. But after all the invading was done, I still think the European Empire the Mongols created for themselves would have centered the capital upon Budapest due to the fact that the Hungarians were nomads at one time themselves and would have easily appealed to the Mongol conquerors to make Budapest the center of the Mongol Empire. But as time has shown, the Mongols got lazy so the Empire would have been broken into pieces once again. I think the Hungarians would have had a larger country though, but you never know since it became part of Austria-Hungary and that still split up in pieces.

donau river danube city stadt hauptstadt capital river water hungary europe

The city looks so different on cloudy days and sunny days.

sunny soleil sonnentag day tag budapest buda pest city big

Budapest would have really looked different had the Mongols been successful in taking over all of Europe. Budapest would have surely appealed to the Mongols by using their Hun ancestry.

Tip: Order the goulash, which is the country’s specialty and it comes in different kinds of meat such as sheep, beef, pork, etc.

hungaria hungary ungarn goulash food essen comida soup stew sopa

The goulash comes in different flavors and meat. I happened to be in Budapest during some kind of festival so I ate and ate all kinds of goulash to get my fill.

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Yes, you can scuba dive in Greece. It’s close to Athens too!

So… if you get bored of all the ancient Greek relics and architecture, you can always do what I do in term of finding fun! Yes, there are opportunities to go scuba diving in Greece! True, most of the diving is in the islands but there is a place that you can go if you are staying in Athens since you might be going there as your first focal point to use to go see other things. Definitely cannot miss out on the temples, Acropolis, etc. by just going diving… although I did something similar when I went to Scotland just to go fishing and not much else. What can I say? I didn’t want to strike out in the more important things in life.

Tip: There are no scuba diving centers in the city of Athens so you have to travel outside of the city to get to the dive centers. It’s not that hard as you can take the taxi which is what I did which costs something around 15-30 euros.

So I took the taxi to go to a town southeast of Athens called Vari. You’ll actually past by this place if you go to the Temple of Poseidon so it’s kind of a hidden gem.

pier greek athens blue water rocky

We all got loaded up from the shop and took a drive around the pier to get onto the dive boat. Sunblock is a MUST or you will look like burnt toast for skin.

diving athens buceo bucear en grecia es posible

Time to jump into the depths of the blue sea and see what the underwater Athens museum can provide in eyeball traffic.

seaflower coral worm gusano del mar oceano plankton

Looks like a seaflower but it’s really a worm collecting plankton.

clam open water ocean salty

A type of sea clam, not the burying type but the more open type. I don’t think you can really eat these.

taking a picture of the photographer diving ntirox clear water summer

Had the cameraman taking photos of me while I was trying to get a good photo (and I failed to do so because the damn fish ran off).

poser through the rocks cave

Complete poser photo.

world cup trophy underwater not antique no classical relic athens under water

Contrary to belief, this was not an antique trophy or cup. It’s a modern day cup that was put down there to take photos of. Could be the new world cup trophy!

 

Overall, it was an alright scuba dive. The problem is that the Greeks have been living there for thousands and thousands of years so the entire underwater world around Greece has been fished out. There have been efforts by the owner of the scuba diving shop to possibly drag an old ship or something that could be used as an artificial coral reef but nothing due to all the regulations and pink and red tape that they can go through in order to do something like that.

dead sea concussion TNT bomb bomba boom concussed missile poachers bass

A great example of why the underwater world around Athens has been completely fished out. The divemaster said that unauthorized fishermen/poachers would scout and find schools of fish only to throw dynamite in the world to create a concussion blast to stun the fish where they’d belly up to the top. They usually do this quickly so they are not caught but not all of the fish are recovered leaving them to eventually make their descent to the bottom.

But still, I liked the fact that I got out of the city to see something most tourists don’t really do and see the underwater world aspect of Athens, Greece.

scuba diver wetsuit with buddy solo breathing

Coasting to the bottom like I got underwater wings and wheels to make the landing perfect.

The good thing about Vari is that there are plenty of good restaurants and a taxi stand when you walk to the pier. You can’t miss it so you can definitely stay in Athens if you like the unlimited choices in food selection, museums, old Greek stuff, etc. The taxi ride is not as expensive as it was in Croatia when I had to go from Split to Storbec and back, all for scuba diving.

seabass fish dinner cena mariscos pecado asado grecia restaurante por la playa

A nice seafood dinner consisting of bread, salad, and seabass. I have a feeling that this seabass was one of many that got dynamited and picked up…..

 

Contact:

Seahorse Diving Center

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Delphi, Greece

There is one place that needed to be visited but it’s quite a distance from my initial central visiting place and tourist  base of Athens. It’s known as Delphi, home of the worldly-known (back then) Oracle and Apollo’s sanctuary of treasures from almost all of the Greek city-states. To me, it’s a place to go see the Temple of Apollo, one of the more famous and better known Gods in both Greek and Roman history.

Delphi sanctuary hill site unesco greek famous temples banks

Delphi is built on the side of the hill and partly into this valley. It’s windy way up there so imagine how the ancient Greeks did it. Another reason why it was a sanctuary, a sort of a bank of treasuries for the Greek city-states that even the Turks were turned back because supposedly an earthquake impeded their march to Delphi. So as a result, Delphi’s status and reputation as a protected shrine was heralded as protected by Apollo himself.

Tip: I recommend going on a tour for this trip to Delphi. Greece has a lot of road tolls and if you don’t know what you are doing, it’s best to let the local bus tour driver and tour guide handle it all. Most tourists go out there for a day and then return back to Athens so best to let the professionals handle the “sausage making.”

ruins of apollo temple delphi greek history

The Temple of Apollo. Obviously, it is a relic of the past. An earthquake and even a fire supposedly brought the temple to its destruction so even Apollo had no control over this.

remains stones foundation fundacion rocas de templo grecia

All that remains are the former stones and foundation of the temple. It’s too bad that we can’t see what it really looked like back then. Kind of like Poseidon’s Temple – what an amazing view it must have been over the blue sea waters.

greek theater hillside mountain high elevation

What Greek ruins would not be complete without a theater! People back then must attend such events in order to hear the stories of their past or even present.

Pythian Games Panhellenic classical period Games of Ancient Greece

At the top or I should say when you walk up the hill, there is a field there! I was thinking they played football back then? No… instead, the Pythian Games were supposedly played there. Like the Olympic Games, but with less flair.

Ahhhh, another great site visited. Now the temples of the two Gods that I wanted to see and visit are complete. Definitely, worth a trip to go out and make that pilgrimage.

nice greek town hillside tourists

I’m not sure what the name of this city was but it’s a nice scenic town on the hill.

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Athens, Greece – the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon come to mind

The city of modern-day Athens is a complete sprawl. Most likely, the city looked very different in the past when it only had several thousand citizens. These days, the Greek capital has gone beyond those ancient city limits, built past how far the Acropolis could see. Of course, that would freak out the ancient Athenians but in today’s Greece, we have modern technology to close the gaps.

urbanization city ciudad urbanication bigger grosse stadt greek capital big bigger

The spread of the city has gone beyond the original city walls hence resulting in complete urbanization.

And yet, it’s still full of wonders and history as Athens used to be the capital of the known world at one point before the Romans took the title away after they completed their conquest of the Mediterranean, making it their very own Roman Sea-Lake. The Romans looked positively upon the Greeks since a lot of their ideals (such as the Gods were shared but different names) so as a result, the Greeks were able to maintain their language and culture while being part of the Empire.

olympics ancient greece spartans athens

The Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first Olympics, held by the people of Athens where all wars would be suspended so athletes could compete in getting those coveted olive leaf crowns. The modern Olympics now are the evolved commercialized version of it.

temple athens history classical anicents olympic gods praise church

Too bad, the ravages of time have been unkind to Zeus, the king of the gods, and his temple. This used to be one of the original/ancient seven wonders of the world because it used to have the Statue of Zeus. Now it sits there as a reminder of what the glorious past used to be.

view of the hill athens tourism acropolis famous greek style architecture

When you walk around the city, you might quickly fixate your gaze upon the Acropolis, which meant in old Greek, highest point. This allowed city leaders to alert the citizens of an impending attack.

pantheon theater survived rock seats

If you do the Acropolis tour, you’ll more than likely take a look into the Acropolis’s theater. Or pantheon theater. People did not have TV or movie theaters back then. Instead, they flocked to theaters like this where orators would re-create the scenes through their actions and projected voices.

construction pantheon acropolis temple viewpoint mountain highest point

Made it to the top of the Acropolis where the pantheon stands. There is some modern day history to this place as well since the Turks used to rule Greece and stored gunpowder in the pantheon which resulted in an accidental explosion. Hence why the pantheon has seen much better days.

side off pantheon

Here’s a good picture of the side of the Pantheon. Even the statues look like they are in good shape.

wide pantheon all of it no tourists people

Probably my best photo of the Pantheon…

high point for viewing city center athens photo point

On the back end of the pantheon, you get a great view of the city.

Tip: There are a lot of day tours to many different places. Athens is a great launchpad into the endless seas of Greekness history and wonders. You must remember that the Greeks have been living there for thousands and thousands of years. That is longer and older than some of the countries that were only created in the past 200, 300 years!

Tip: Food is okay but you have to really look for it because the locals have become accustomed to serving so many tourists from all over the world. They serve the normal stuff but to get quality, takes some hunting skills and/or a dog’s nose.

seafood greece mariscos griegos grecia shrimps mussels crab fish

I found this fried Greek seafood platter only once. I couldn’t even find it again on the second try. But gosh, they got some good seafood. Only that place though.

One place that I recommend going to is the Temple of Poseidon. Down south on the Greek Riviera and not too long of a drive from Athens, it has an amazing view and great weather driving south to get to this pilgrimage site. Yes, I say pilgrimage site. One who is a fisherman must make his way to the Temple or what is left of it to pay respects to the God who provides the excellent fishing all over the world. Whether it was in Mexico or in Peru or even across the Great Atlantic Pond to England or Spain…. the trip was must be made. I don’t think a sacrifice is required there, but you know what they say about gifts – the best gift of all is to be there.

bay water ocean sea greece athens greek riviera temple templo

If you look closely, the Temple of Poseidon was built on a very nice view of the ocean.

shadows of the temple greece historical ancient site

On a sunny day, it can get blistering hot. The Greeks have chosen a great place for this temple even though it best days were thousands of years ago. When the Persians invaded Greece, en-route to Athens, they destroyed the Temple of Poseidon.

temple of poseidon greek architecture holy site

I have made the pilgrimage to the Temple of Poseidon! Many people in the ancient days did the same trip but took longer and was harder to do. As ship-faring people, the importance of paying respects to the Ocean God was very important. I did so myself because as a scuba diver and fisherman, I needed Poseidon’s continued blessing.

blue seas oceans greek islands sunny day

The Greeks chose a great site for Poseidon’s temple. It probably also acted as watch tower as well to see incoming enemy or pirate ships.

Athens is definitely worth a visit. Best is to go during off-season (outside of Christmas-New Year’s and the summer months) although summer might be really awesome because it’s just wide-open and all the restaurants and stores are open for business. Catering to the wallets of tourist money, I see.

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Shooting guns at the range – yes, you can shoot guns in Ukraine!

So… who’s up for some shooting? Yes, in a country that still favors a man to be a masculine man especially in the continent of Ukraine – it’s very possible to shoot guns and still be considered to be cool, awesome, and manly. And guess who got to do all this??? Me! I did! I guess all that traveling in Latin America has brushed into me that macho Latino culture. It definitely helps as the men in Eastern Europe respect manliness.

ak47 Kalashnikov, is a gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifl

I’ve shot an AK47 before so I wasn’t in amazement.

Apparently, most people who travel far and wide to Ukraine don’t usually do this kind of trip out to the range so I guess I was one of the very few (it reminded me of going to St. Louis for some target practice or even doing the full gun package in Las Vegas). Not to mention I was also one of the fewer people who have shot guns before considering that I also hunt and target shoot. So, being that foreigner who had gun experience made me a bit of a smaller scale celebrity at the gun range because I also spoke some Russian while I was there. The people were just not used to a Russian-speaking foreigner who traveled far and farther and has shot guns before.

Tip: If you don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian well, best is to hire a guide/driver who can take you there and help translate. I remember going there and I couldn’t really understand all of the Russian they were speaking so it was a great day for shooting when you have a translator. Sometimes it’s better to know the local language as I’ve learned going fishing in Nicaragua.

ak47 assault guns collection for shooting sample package

“Make my weapons! Make my weapons!” It’s like that Static-X song, “Bled for Days.”

handgun pistol 9mm 40 s&w .45 caliber gun range military

Firing a handgun. It was some kind of Ukrainian firearm. I still prefer the .45 cal 1911.

ak47 indoors having fun blast

I was firing this AK47 at a close range target. Release the zombies! Headshot, headshot!

Sniper Rifle for 7.62×51 NATO

I was firing this SKV, 7.62x54R rifle, with a scope. I think it was an older model but I liked it.

MP5 FNL semi auto rifle

I don’t remember what rifle this was, but it was a MP5, FNL-type rifle. Reminded me of a Steyr-AUG.

When you get to the range, the people ask if you want to shoot more than the package that they offer. Of course, I want to shoot some more! I’m going to have a blast, literally with one! Any day to put bullets down-range is a great day for the itchy index finger!

Tip: Bring your passport with you. For some reason, they take your passport when you go shoot, probably as a security measure. And bring extra money too because they might have a gun that you really want to shoot! Wear warm clothes because the weather in Ukraine can be damn-ass really chilly!

gun rack at range semi auto guns

Next up was the open range. I only shot the M4 and AK47 variants, not the Mauser.

range box sandbags target honing perfecting shot 7.62 5.56 mm

The rangemaster watched over me as I fired because he thought I was a complete noobie. He quickly learned that I knew my guns and could handle them as I was hitting target after target.

spotter accuracy firing rounds targets paper metal cold weather east europe kiev

So once the rangemaster saw that I could indeed shoot, he had a spotter see how accurate I was. Now, I’m no sniper-shooter but it’s good enough to hunt!

m4 5.56 sniper scout target killer assassin pose

The weather actually warmed up so I started to get hot because I was wearing all these layers. And then of course, it got cold again when the wind came crashing in. I had to take the beanie off so I wouldn’t heat up and fog up the scope.

 

I also went shotgun shooting. Even though I didn’t have my own regular shotguns that I’m used to shooting, I could adjust. Upon arrival, I observed that the trap range was just like being back home at the local gun range. Of course, there was also skeet so I might as well have a crazy finger-pulling day destroying those clay pigeons!

gun range trap skeet clay pigeons shooting target practice cold weather

I wasn’t used to this kind of shotgun but I was still able to shoot some clays down.

lock loaded gun long shoot #8 shot ducks geese pigeons discs

Locked and loaded. I’m ready after taking a quick look and feel of the handle of the game.

success shoot shot over under escopeta gunner big gun

“PULL!” and the clay disc turns into dust!

target shotgun flying discs in the air ranger 80 yards

One time, I had a streak of 10 clays down and I yelled “PULL… PULL!” And I look at the rangemaster who has the trigger just looking at me. I guess he didn’t know that I could shoot that well.

tear drop disc from the sky falling pigeon orange red

I was firing at this one clay that was basically a goose drop or tear drop.

Definitely, worth going to the gun range. In Ukraine. It’s a completely different experience than going to see churches, statues, and other memorial thingamajigs. Live and breathe it instead of going into retard-tourist mode. Hit that shift-stick into maximum gear! Gun it up!

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