September 22, 2014

Crabby's Back!

By Crabby McSlacker

So some of you clever readers may be fearing that the title of this post has a double meaning.

Is it called "Crabby's Back" because Crabby is finally back from an Awesome European Adventure and ready to start torturing you all with trip photos?

Or is this going to be another post about "Crabby's back," which was the cause of much cursing, whining and bitter resentment last week when she went into spasms so brutal she couldn't even get herself coffee?

Well, fear not, readers!  My back has gotten SO MUCH BETTER over the last few days that I will have to bore you with the details of that minor miracle in a future post.  Not that I'm 100% yet, but definitely doing better.  Thanks for all the kind wishes in the comments, I think they helped!

Nope, instead, let the torture begin with...

Some Highlights from the Swanky Viking Grand River Cruise + My Solo Stay in A Cheap-Ass Budapest Apartment!

As some of you may have noticed, I've been draggin' my feet getting around to this post.

Which is weird, right?  Especially since I was writing imaginary blog posts and snapping pictures the entire time I was gone.

We sailed from Amsterdam to Budapest on a 2 week Viking Cruise, and I stayed for a week by myself in Budapest's Jewish Quarter, and believe me, I was over-thinking every aspect of our travels and making mental notes of all kinds of things I wanted to share.

I had even envisioned a series of 37 or so installments, each covering a different aspect of the travel experience.  Some about eating healthy (or not), some about exercising (or not), some about the abundant Personal Growth Opportunities that traveling provides... and perhaps even a Viking River Cruise Review post with a health and fitness angle! (This could lure innocent googlers here who might be curious as to whether Viking Cruises are geared solely for sedentary old farts, or if there are concessions made to more active vacationers who want to burn off a crapload of calories to make up for all those ginormous beers and pretzels stay fit and healthy while seeing the world.

Let's pretend it's a limited edition credit card-sized phone,
not that everything we consumed was bigger than our heads.

And who knows, further posts may eventually be written, but I realized that I kinda freaked myself out with the sheer volume of things I wanted to say.

Too Many Things!

So screw it, I'm just going to toss out a few pictures and if I feel like doing more later I will, and if not, well whatever.

1. We Had a Great Time and My Wife Is The Best Traveling Companion on Earth.

Patient, fun-loving, easy-going, pragmatic, resourceful and hilarious. Oh, plus she has an actual Grown Up Job that paid for the whole thing.  There's that.

2.  Lots of Cute Towns, Palaces, Castles and Other Adorable Shit

And yeah, it's possible that I've cropped, super-saturated, oversharpened, and otherwise fucked-with some of the photos to make up for the lack of sunny days. But at least I haven't included all 9,583,304 variations on "really old buildings."


3. On-board Fitness Options were Seriously Lacking, And My Back Was Killing Me, But We Did Our Best.

No fitness center or classes or place to move or stretch except the sundeck.

(Hmm, the track looks a lot longer from that angle. It was 13 laps per mile).


Said sun deck "temporarily" closes for a 5 day stretch to prevent passengers from getting their heads lopped off by low bridges. Bad for business, apparently.

But we stayed pretty active, however we could. 

Fortunately there were no photos of my doing a spastic made-up dance routine in a stairwell clearly visible to passers-by. While it got my heart rate up a bit, I'm not sure it was so great on my back, so I gave it up.

Mainly we walked.

OK, maybe not in these shoes.

And by "walked" I mean seriously: 25,000 steps a day average, according to my fitbit. (For me--the Lobster was slightly less insane about it).

Not only did I take lovely walks through vibrant urban neighborhoods and quaint villages... when we were aboard and the sun deck wasn't an option, I paced the ships hallways, back and forth and up and down, no doubt driving everyone else nuts.

There were lots of walking tours offered, and they were interesting, but the pace ranged from Slow, to Really Fucking Slow to Unbelievably Excruciatingly slow.

4.  We Ate Mostly Healthy, But Enjoyed Many Tasty Evil Things Too

The onboard cookies were so good, we kept grabbing them before they'd run out, and then, no kidding, we had to lock them in the safe with our passports to prevent accidental overdose.

I ordered the salmon and salad at a burger place, yay me!  Did not know it would be battered and fried. But clearly there were no additional calories involved since it wasn't my fault.

Some things we managed to resist, but barely. Like these "Schneeballs."

And how could something called a Schneeball not be awesome?

5. Holy Crap, There Is A lot of Over-The-Top Opulent Shiny Stuff in Europe

6.  But Europe Also Rocks The Small Details, Plus the Whole Elegant Decrepitude and Decay Thing

7. Fancy-Ass River Cruises are Indeed a Fun, Luxurious, Efficient Way to Travel

We were wined and dined and coddled and pampered.

We met some really fun dinner companions whom we plan to keep in touch with, went on some fascinating tours, heard concerts and saw sights and got tons of information about the history and culture of the places we were visiting which I retained for about 3.5 seconds afterwards.

As I recall, something important may or may not have happened there.

The great thing about a river cruise is that you unpack just once, stop somewhere new every day, and don't waste endless "days at sea" as you do with so many ocean cruises.  The ride was much smoother too--most of the time we couldn't even tell we were moving.

We went for the cheapest room of course.

But even our little porthole afforded some nice views.

And or most of the scenic viewing, we'd go up to the "sun" deck and check it out from there. 

Oh, and another interesting thing about river cruises? 


Loads and loads o' locks.

All in all, if you're looking for a really "active" way to see Europe, this ain't it--unless you bring your own workout with you, and are prepared to ditch a few of the planned tours and hoof it on your own.

Oh, and another tip: I think most of the folks on the cruise also had some sort of half-off deal like we did, so my advice is: NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR A VIKING CRUISE!

8.  And Budapest By Myself Was A Great Adventure and an Excellent Comfort-Zone Expander!

And I thought I was going to blog about that today too, but...

I'm pooped.

This post is already so long and photo-heavy, it will take eons to load, and who is even paying any attention anymore?

But I really do have a bunch of things to share about it, and want to do it justice.

So I hope I follow up before I forget everything, but you know me, that's always a possibility you'll never hear a word about the cheese-grater washing machine, or how Hungarians comport themselves whilst naked in public, or what the naughty doggy did at the trendy ruin bar right before I took this blurry camera phone picture sophisticated art shot.

OK, so maybe I'll just venture one observation:  "Everyone Speaks English in Budapest!" is total horseshit.

Thanks so much for putting up with all the photos!  And what's going on with you guys these days--I missed you all!


  1. So, in addition to her other virtues, the Lobster tilts at windmills?
    Glad the back is behaving itself; I now imagine it revolted after you were trapped in that metal spider thingy. Thanks for all the pictures, especially the architectural details. Your phone is getting better at this.
    Slow, Excruciatingly Slow, and StandingStillforHours are my (small!) experience of walking tours.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. SOOOO GLAD YER BACK and love the braindump as well.
    next trip? IM COMING.

  3. Love the pictures! As for fitness, I am a firm believer that travel is a definite form of fitness--mental fitness :)
    So glad your back is better!

  4. Thanks for sharing your vacation (some of it) with us:) If I ever get to take a cruise I will keep what you said about half price in mind. Loved your pictures and all the details.
    Glad your back is so much better.

  5. Glad you're back and glad your back is better.
    Love the photos and trip talk and looking forward to more.

  6. I think my in-laws have gone/are going on one of these cruises, or something similar...Yeah vague; they have been traveling a lot in recent years and I know I've heard the words 'River Cruise' and I'm pretty sure I've heard 'Viking'...It's not that I don't pay attention, it's just that I can't keep up with all the trips!

    What I started out to say...They keep asking us to come along, but so far we haven't been able to. Now I am determined we will manage one of these trips! Love all your photos, you definitely made it look like lots of fun! :)

  7. The pictures are AWESOME!!! I can't wait to hear some more details!!!

  8. WOW. Gorgeous pictures! What a great point about a river cruise vs an oceanic cruise, and getting to see so much more. Sounds like a great adventure! Locking the cookies in the safe made me giggle...oh, the things we do to save ourselves! :)

    Very happy to hear that your back is better, too!

  9. Hey, thanks guys, appreciate your patience with the photo dump!

    And will now need to scurry off to everyone's blogs to see what y'all are up to.

  10. oooooooooooo castles! I love castles! I've never seen one in real life. I am so jealous! sighhhhhh

    (but am glad yer back too)

  11. Hey!! Welcome back. Gosh, your photos are so awesome. I really like the well-lit palace which shines like gold and the super detailed ceiling on first photo - list no. 5.

  12. OHhh My Gauhddd!! We have 2 dedicated fiber optic cables to my office and I still can't download your pictures. If the lights start to flicker it will probably your site bringing Toronto's internet to a hault!
    I thought I would impress a friend from Europe with our local fort. She wasn't impressed by the "bundle of sticks". More than 250 years of history and she is more impressed by your average suburban home. Apparently we live like kings in the suburbs!
    You mentioned one of my pet peeves ... glacially slow walking tours. I am slow, very slow but any tour is controlled by the slowest person and there is always a few people hoping for a miracle where they don't need their walker any more and these cities are never wheelchair accessible so you can't even fix the problem that way. I was on a tour of Venice where we pitched in and got a group of people a water taxi tour so we could actually see a few things on foot.

  13. OH MY JEEZE I AM SOOOOO UTTERLY ENVIOUS OF YOUR TRIP - I cannot even put it into words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love those out door exercise facilities - there were SO MANY in Turkey when I went. But man, that was so long ago and now I need to go back to Europe, ASAP. Actually I am officially planning a trip to New Zealand this December which ROCKS and then I think my family and I will be making a trek to France next year at some point because well, I am French and my grandfather just passed and my mom wants to see the relative - Aw man, sounds like a rough life, right? BAH HA HA!

    WELCOME BACK - however........ The US kind of sucks in comparison to Europe lol!

  14. I loved the photos. I can really study them. And I agree, it is actually really hard when you are doing so much experiencing to then get it into a blog post after the fact. I do hope you write about some more of your adventures however. The site loaded just fine. And PS. nope, calories don't count when it isn't your fault. I fully agree. :)

  15. Just waaayyyy too difficult to pick the "most attractive": you, your wife, the food, or the scenery! Great images and wonderful post trip recap for us vicarious living peeps!

  16. These photos make me want to pack my bags and head over! I've got to get a few things squared away over here in OtF land, but a trip is something we have on our radar ASAP. So much fun to explore new places.

  17. I just live vicariously through all of your travels. I love all the pictures! It sounds like such an amazing trip.

  18. Ah, what a grand time you had (minus the back pain, which is never grand, but can cost you a couple of grand to get treated)! Europe is shine and pretty and old and all, and i love reliving my high school tours through your photos. If you decide to keep writing about it, i'll keep reading about it.

  19. What a great adventure. Your photos are fabulous and I'm looking forward to more. My absolute favourite is the bike in the green-walled alley way. Perfect. And I'm very happy to hear that your back in much improved.

  20. I love every one of those pictures and hope you share a few/lot more - the buildings are amazing!!!
    I'm glad that your back is doing better - hope it returns to 100% soon!
    And, I don't blame you - several weeks of traveling would overwhelm me when it came time to blog - this was a nice glimpse into your travels!!!

  21. Oh my goodness I love EVERYTHING about this blog post.

    I still remember the week my family rented a houseboat in the south of France when I was a kid - doing the locks was so much fun! Mr Science and I have been planning our Europe trip for ages (which is still, ahem, ages away, since, you know, neither of us have actual Grown Up Jobs ;))... definitely some things here that I've GOT to check out :D Glad you had such a great time!!

  22. Great pictures and travel-blog! You girls did it right!!!

  23. Gorgeous pics and some of the most original travel commentary content ever - well done and welcome back, Crabby!

  24. I'm so glad you're feeling better. The trip looks amazing!

  25. Welcome back! Thank you for the photo tour and not really paying THAT much attention to detail, because really...who does? Can I just say that I absolutely LOVE warm, salty pretzels and that one in the photo looks totally amazing. I'm thinking I would take the cruise (minus the fitness) JUST for that!

  26. OMG, what an amazing trip! I live vicariously thru you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful places, scenery, food - balance in life - right!!!!!

    So happy you are better!!!!

  27. Awesome place I like your yellow shoes
    It seems that you had an amazing trip.

  28. I love reading and watching your blog. I love the salmon and salad at a burger. you really having a great trip.. !!!!!

  29. Great pictures - even more places to add to the ever-growing list of places to see! It's even better to hear your back is so much better!

  30. I just love this post. I spent some time in a Budapest cheap-o apartment near the Jewish Quarter back in April and your post brought back so many great memories. I stumbled across your site by chance and I've already bookmarked it. Thanks for such a great blog!


  31. Welcome back!!!!! And thanks for sharing those awesome photos - looks like You had a great trip. I've been in Budapest myself 8 years ago and simply loved it!


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