That’s right… Sofia, Bulgaria! Why the heck would we go there? Why not? If you’ve been keeping track, you’d know that we’ve been working our way east and south on our quest to drive from Europe to Asia. Considering the ‘Zoundsmobile was back in Transylvania awaiting its second transmission rebuild on this continent, our plan was in severe danger. But we weren’t going to let anything stop our steady drive… err… crawl… to Constantinople, and Sofia stood in our way. Continue reading
So, what do two miscreants do when they have to leave their car in Budapest for yet another transmission rebuild? Why, they hop the (1980’s NYC-subway-style-graffitied, as opposed to 1880’s coal-driven-steam-powered) train to see Oradea, that’s what! Oradea? Is she hot? Well, it’s not a she… it’s a Romanian city minutes from the Hungarian border, and a fine place to spend a couple of relaxing days milling about a town of 200,000 souls. Find yourself a place to stay near (or in) Ferdinand Square, and contemplate where you’ll source an automatic transmission should everything go to pot (and it will, but you’ve already read that part of the adventure). Continue reading
Well, Pest, really. See, there’s Buda. And then there’s Pest. And we went to Pest. What? It’s like this: there are two sides of a river called the Danube. You may have heard of it. If not, read a book, slacker. Buda is on the West bank of the river, and Pest is on the East (because Celts, Aquincum, Pannonia, Huns, Hungarian tribes, Mongols, Battle of Mohacs, Ottomans, Hapsburgs, 1848 Revolution, 1873 Unification). Anyway, the history lesson is over… what’s the city like? It’s wonderful! And cheap! Visit! We did. What’s your excuse? Yeah… we thought so. Continue reading
Wait, where? Praha? Yes, though you know it better as Prague. Not sure why. You might as well still be saying Peking when referring to Beijing. Personally, we like Praha better, so deal with it. You’ve been there, right? You haven’t? It’s AWESOME!!! This is the ringingest endorsement we’ve given to date. Praha, also referred to as the “Golden City”, is magnificently beautiful, and hosts fabulous theaters, museums, galleries and the largest castle anywhere. Forget that trip to Amsterdam. Bruges can wait. Get on a plane and get yourself to the Czech Republic NOW.
Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam… where to start. Well, let’s just sum it all up and say that this city, as lovely as it is, just didn’t live up to the ‘party’ hype. Don’t get us wrong: we had a great time. But this disjointed town, sitting several meters below sea-level, and named after the dam built on the river Amstel (which was, itself, named after the light version of Heineken), has a bit too much and a bit too little going on. Whatever do we mean? Who knows? We’re suffering from not a small bit of hypoxia on our way to pick up the third member of the crew, that still-missing beast of a ride which would teach normal folk to be happy with what they have, but, of course, has no effect on Top Down Timers. And the photo you’re looking at? We included it to show you something VERY common in Amsterdam which you’ll read more about later in the article: a bell gable!!! Yes! It’s what we came to this city to see, for sure.
So now that the ‘Zoundsmobile has FINALLY arrived, we set off—running open headers, of course—rattling the milk out of every cow in the French countryside of Lorraine. On the road, we ran into a couple of AC Cobras and decided to show them what American Muscle is all about. Stand back, silly Brits with your Mustang engines! Wait.. why are they pulling away (without acknowledging our presence in the least)? Oh yeah. We’re still in that damn VW Golf. Top Down Time needs a hug. 😦
After our week in Brugesnyland, we were ready for something a little more real! The heir to the Goodrich tire company had told us that Lille was a gritty town, so off to France we went! Only an hour’s drive from our prior destination, the ‘Zoundsmobile made record time. 550 topless horsepower worth of red and silver blur roaring their way across the… wait… no… actually, the hobbled beast was still stuck on a boat, somewhere between Atlanta and Nova Scotia. But that mattered not, as we had the fortune to rent an absolutely KILLER Volkswagon with a whopping 1.2 liter engine. Take that, America! How ya gonna beat that? Huh? Huh? Continue reading
Swimming in tourists during the summer months, Bruges is a picturesque, fantastically preserved (often restored) late medieval town brimming with magical charm. Cathedrals and great halls spill their gothic spires across the skyline, competing for attention with colorful Flemish homes lining Bruges’ ancient yet well-kept canals. The preferred mode of transportation in this compact town is by foot or bicycle; getting around in any sort of motorized vehicle is a fool’s errand with winding streets, narrow alleyways, and a layer of cobblestone covering virtually every thoroughfare and sidewalk. The desire for fine dining leads you to numerous venues serving excellent food… excellent pricy food. A glut of museums of great variety vie for your patronage, exhibiting everything from 15th century masterpieces by Van Eyck to the history of fries (yes… potatoes dropped in boiling oil have a museum all their own). While it is positively obligatory to visit some tourist attractions, others are better bypassed. Overall, this tranquil, charming city will easily satiate your epicurean desires while its art and architecture transport you to the most golden of medieval times. Continue reading