Heading towards the light
After new years, we decided to head south, trying to extend our daylight hours, as we are missing the Vitamin D that we got so much of in summer.
First stop was Riga, Latvia.
Latvia and Estonia are in our eyes very similar, both had Soviet control for a long time, inbetween Germany and Russia meant a heavy wartime history.
The Estonians made the claim of the first Christmas tree, and in a typical NZ vs Auz competitive style, Lativa had the first decorated christmas tree...
The old town was full of old Zeppelin hangars, christmas trees (yes still after new years) and more beautiful old buildings.
It wasn't long before it started to snow, and didn't stop for a few days, which gave us 2 things, lots of awesome photos, and the realisation that we don't really carry much heavy winter gear (so most our photos feature us in the same clothes).
From Riga, we kept on heading south to Warsaw.
Warsaw was cold. Very cold. The snow had kept falling, and it was getting colder. We enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of Poland, as well as the central European tradition of relaxing for hours in coffee houses.
As we are meeting up with Stacey's mum soon, we didn't stay in Poland long because we will be back!
Next stop, Budapest , the Hungarian capital.
Arriving at 6am, we thought wow it is cold... it wasn't until about 3-4 hours later that we found out it was -13 °C!!! We rugged up and explored, then went to the popular traditional Hugarian thermal bath. A nice experience, air temp of -6 °C and water of +35 °C meant that we we warm but had icicles in our hair... With no clouds, we finally found the sun we have been craving, too bad that it was so cold that we couldn't work on our tans, but hey, we tried.
That night the air temp dropped to -24 °C. No snow, just clear crisp skies. We almost witnessed a once in a lifetime event of the freezing of the Danube river (really big river that has 4 capitals on it and flows through 10 countries).
Hungary has a rich history of politics, and most recently through the world wars. There were numerous Jewish and Soviet related heritage, and unfortunately many places mourning loss. On the river front was sculpture of the shoes that were forced off the WW2 prisioners before they were executed/murdered and thrown in the Danube.
Hungarian goulash, and sheets of ice flowing down the Danube river sums up Budapest!
Off to Austria, then Germany!