Winter wonderland in Nuremburg

Posted by jswt | Posted in Germany - Nuremberg | Posted on 19-12-2010


Nuremberg in a nutshell:

– world’s biggest Christmas market
– Hitler’s Nazi Party rally grounds were here
– the red light district gets it’s own christmas lights (they’re strung across the street everywhere, and are white, except by the RLD when they’re all red — how civilized!)

What’d we do?

Tuesday night the promoter held a big party at a classic Bavarian beer hall, and it was seriously meaty business:

We spent a lot of idle time wandering around the Christmasmarkt (and stopping for Gluvein):

We spent a depressing but important day at the Dokumentmuseum (which chronicles the Nazi’s rise to power) and wandering around the Nazi rally grounds:

On Saturday night I went out to a club and caught Afrojack playing a big big set:

The city’s very cute, and I’d recommend passing through if the Christmas market was happening… otherwise it’s pretty sleepy and quiet, but was a perfect place to spend the week before Christmas.

(yes, i know this post is short, but there’s christmas chaos coming on strong!)

Bathed in Budapest

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Hungary - Budapest | Posted on 12-12-2010


Departed Budapest by train with great sadness, but a knowing that the city is so fantastic I will be returning one day.

We spent the week at an amazing classic 5star hotel right in the heart of the city. The weather was a little cold with a few days of snow, which only made things more beautiful.

You can see that it was once an immensely wealthy city (from when it was part of the Austrian empire) and although it’s not as rich today, they’ve still preserved their history and take pride in the ancient bits.

The city itself is split down the middle – the hilly Buda to the west and the flat Pest on the other side of the river Danube to the east.

I’ve always been a huge fan of hot springs, and have been waiting for many years to visit the city and experience their legendary thermals, and managed to check one out almost every day. There’s beautiful outdoor complexes and ancient turkish bath houses loaded with traditions. Our favourite was the Rudas baths which are a turkish bath from the 1500s that separate the mens and ladies days. It’s an amazing experience to be in a steamy dark chamber under shafts of light from up in the dome, that’s been a community meeting place for centuries – voices murmuring in the steam, having a sit in the sauna or steam rooms, or in the 4 pools of varying temperatures. Everyone wears a loincloth which is just a towel that covers your junk and you tie around the back leaving your ass hanging out – but even with that, it’s not a gay thing, it’s a traditional thing. (If you are looking for that, head to Kiraly – it’s similar, in a more run down state, but perfect for those who like handjobs from random old men).

More common but still breathtaking is the Széchenyi baths – this complex of 16 indoor and outdoor pools, steambaths and saunas that’s old and beautiful. We went on the snowiest day, and there’s nothing better than soaking outdoor in a giant hot pool that’s steaming so much you can’t see anything around you, and then a gust of wind will come by and clear it out and you see the snow swirling everywhere briefly before the world fades away into the mist.

For a good rundown the majority of the baths around town, check out this great link:

Other than the baths, the city has lots to offer – great bars, cafes and restaurants that are all *cheap*. It’s kind of like Prague, but less disney-touristy and more sincere. And again, it’s cheap… wonderfully cheap especially in comparison to Switzerland the week before.

Monday was an early birthday hangout since Chris was working late on the Tuesday… A day soaking wandering the city, soaking in the Rudas baths, and then back to the hotel for a nap before heading out for a recommended italian dinner. C ended up joining us, and sweetly grabbed the tab and made the kickass italian dinner a gift to me (tho her fab company alone would have been more than kind).

Tuesday I went and bought myself a new camera after sitting on my old one’s screen the day before. Good timing, as it made for a great birthday present I’ll use every day. Spent the afternoon having a massage and a grand soak before going back to the hotel for some late night drinks and lounging in the lobby with G, M and C. Never expected to be having my 35th bday in Budapest, but it’s a pleasantly unexpected treat, amongst some quality folk. 🙂

Wednesday I went for a walk with V up to the big city park and wandered around museums before I had to head back to the hotel to gear up for DJing a party that night. It was a lot of fun – the whole crew was there, and there were some crazy circus acts (yay midgets!) and the place it was held was a bar owned by a famous Hungarian boxer who’s got an entire F1 car in the place.

Thursday I slept in after a late night at the party, and then spent the afternoon soaking with a smile. Came back to the hotel, got some work caught up and had a bit of an early night.

Friday Chris had the day off so we had booked a couple of massages at the hotel spa to start the day (they were *excellent*). Followed that up by a nap, and then a wander up and around the castle area in Buda. Back at the hotel we joined Z, who had her parents in town from the UK for her birthday. C joined us as well, and we all enjoyed a special event put on by the hotel – it was a 4 course meal, paired with wines, with classical music pieces played between each course. It was a fantastic and reasonable meal, with delightful company.

Chris worked the next morning, so I wrangled up some troops and headed out to a club where we caught Steve Aioki, Pendulum and Benni Benassi blow the doors off the place before heading back to the hotel around 4:30.

Saturday, it was snowstorming, so I went with M & C over to the outdoor baths for a good afternoon of soaking under the snowflakes. Evening of chilling out at the hotel catching up on work, packing, and growing increasingly glum about the thought of leaving the city.

No really worried though – this is one of those places that I’m already looking forward to coming back to, and will take any opportunity to make it happen…

Currently on the train from Budapest to Nuremburg, Germany…
Week 5 down.
Spirits are tranquil, pleasant and grounded.

J’aime da swiss.

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Switzerland - Basel | Posted on 05-12-2010


The past week has been spent in Basel, Switzerland and it’s been a fantastic week all through. Admittedly, I wasn’t that excited about it after spending last Christmas in Geneva (which was stuffy, coldhearted and way way way too money-centric), but this week has shown me a much nicer side of Switzerland – one which I’m kind of in awe of.

Almost everyone here is beautiful, sophisticated, healthy and very very well educated. It’s an expensive place, but there’s almost no crime, it runs amazingly efficiently. Everyone we’ve had the chance to meet has been friendly, wants to know where we’re from, and have made us feel right at home.

It was a bit of a short week, as we were transferring on a Monday (instead of our usual Sunday), and a snowstorm in Frankfurt (our connecting airport) changed a straight foward flight into 5 hours of delay in Belgrade sitting on the tarmac, then chaotic mayhem in FRA as thousands of people tried to reschedule flights. Luckily, after 2 hours in line, we squeezed 3 people before the agents closed, and had our plane tickets exchanged for an overnight train and arrived exhausted at the hotel as the sun was starting to come up.

Tuesday was a needed day of rest and a little wandering in the snow around Basel. Weds was a work/gym day, followed up by some hobbywork at the venue in the evening – ditto for Thursday.

Was supposed to go snowboarding on Friday, but with Switzerland being so expensive, and the mountain being so far away, I opted to save the $300 and 5 hours and wander the city with the lovely Z. We had a wonderfully flowing afternoon of winter markets, gluwein, fantastic nibbles, and ended up discovering the most amazing private members smoking lounge – it ranks up there towards the best bar I’ve ever been in. There’s no smoking in Switzerland, so they open private members clubs to get around the smoking ban. So you’d be sitting at communal tables, and people would pop in for a drink and a smoke, but it was an amazingly diverse, international and sophisticated cross-section of people, and they would all say hi and strike up conversation as they sat down at the table with you. We continued on for dinner, and went to meet some friends back at the christmas market, but it’d closed earlier than expected, so we all went back to the smoking lounge and continued to drink, appreciate the ecclectic music, and meet people from all around the world.

Saturday, Chris had the day off, so we rented a car and went to see a friend up in Bern. He showed us around town, ate some tasty things, and we dropped him off in a nearby town before heading back to Basel. We met up with some friends at a winter market, where we feasted on fondue before heading back to the hotel. Chris crashed out, so I grabbed a couple wingmen and headed off to a nearby club night to catch DJ Hell playing some dark techno in the hull of a boat. Back to the hotel around 5am, woke up at 9, packed and am now sitting in the lounge at the Basel airport waiting to take off to Budapest.

Week 4 down.
6 remaining.
Life is good.

[Postscript – Dec 12/10]

I didn’t mention the earplugs…
In the venue, there were buckets of earplugs. Every concert/show venue in Switzerland must supply earplugs. If the show goes over 100db for more than 30 minutes, earplugs must physically be handed to every attendee. Smart way to address the upcoming wave of deafness.