Praha

I was in Prague for a weekend – a stag weekend, if you will – but thankfully we aren’t you’re average cliched banter wankers – and if we were, I’m sure we were being ironic. This was before the EU referendum and sterling went to shit….

Transfers

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We did get a limo, not ironically, from the airport – sure why not! It was only about £75 for 6 of us. We got an Uber on the way back to the airport – it was cheaper than a limo (299KR or about £10).

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we stayed (near) here

Accommodation

We got an Airbnb – located a few minutes from the main square. The place was a palace and only £60 each – though we were warned that the neighbour was a wanker so we had to go in, and leave, two people at a time – memories of Canada there

“Stag” activities!

img_7832-1Unlike the cliched stag activities – like paintball and what not – we went to an escape room. It was good fun! Yes, we are dorks.. and what?

Food

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Drink

img_7627Beer was nice and cheap, usually Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen – about 30-60KR depending where you went (about £1-£2!!!). We went to an Irish bar to watch a match and wrote it off as a “dear hole” because beer was slightly over £2 (!) – Someone went to the shop to buy beers and equated it to 30p a bottle!!

We visited many bars but honorary mentions to Harleys and Chapeau Rouge because we ended up there a few times.

We also got a fish bowl – but the less said about that the better

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Culture

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Unlike other city breaks – I didn’t go to any museums or anything.. because I was with the lawwwwddddsss.. oi! oi! Nor did I use the metro – which is sad – because I love a good rapid transport system!

Misc Sightseeing

We saw some sites when walking around.

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The less famous Prague clock

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a bin

a bin

All in all Prague was good – though we didn’t venture too far out of the Old Town – I’d go back for a non stag holiday… or another stag.. or both…

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Oslo

We went to Oslo for a long weekend. We nearly didn’t make the flight due to the motorway being closed then some idiot nearly crashing into me. However, after a mad rush through the airport we made it to the gate with 10 minutes to spare. Annoyingly the flight was delayed by 45 minutes so we didn’t need to rush!

We landed in a snowy Oslo and after we went through passport control they had sneakily made us walk through a duty free shop before we passed customs. I got myself some tasty Norwegian bottles and a six pack of Aass (mainly due to it’s funny name). Once done with booze shopping we found a bus that took us to a train-station and waited in the snow.

The train journey to Oslo was about an hour, but the train was nice. We arrived in Central Station and walked to the hotel in the snow. Our hotel wasn’t too far away, but the walk in the snow was tough. We checked in, made it to our room, freshened up/drank a can of Aass. We then went for a walk in the snow to get our bearings and get some food!

Snowy view from room

Snowy view from room

It was late by the time dinner was finished, so had a another wee walk to get our bearings before we went back to the hotel, drank some beers and decided what to do the next day in snowy Oslo.

Saturday
When we woke up all the snow was gone!

No Snow!!

No Snow!!

We knew food was dear in Oslo so made the most of our free hotel breakfast. After breakfast we walked to central station to find the tourist information place and get the Oslo Pass – it was 620NOK each for a 72 hour pass, and meant we got unlimited public transport use and free entry to a few places.

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We jumped on a tram but had to get off soon because of road works, ended up walking down towards the Nobel Peace building and jumped on a #30 bus towards the Viking Museum.

Nobel Building

Nobel Building

It was usually 80NOK in – but we got in free because of the Oslo pass. Which is just as well as there wasn’t that big – just one big room so to speak. Still, what they had looked good.

Viking Museum

Viking Museum

We jumped onto another #30 bus and got off beside a couple of museums. First one we went into was the Fram museum – which was quite good. Once again we got in free with our Oslo Pass (100NOK usually) but there was alot to see and do!

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We sat outside for a bit to get some air before going into the Maritime Museum. Usually 80NOK – we got in free with our Oslo pass. If you really like boats and what not you’d love the museum … I’m quite indifferent to boats. After a few hours of going to museums we were quite museumed out, so we gave the Kon-Tiki Museum a miss – we jumped onto the next #30 bus back into town.

Once back in town we decided to get a bite to eat. We had seen good reviews for Freddy Feuego’s burrito place online, and it was also recommended by a friend of a friend so we jumped on a tram and headed there. We found the place and it had a lucha theme that was pretty cool. I had a beef burrito. Asked for the hot salsa and the server recommended I try it before getting it. He gave me a nacho with salsa and it blew my head off!! However, I couldn’t give up now so coughed and sheepishly said “sure, it’ll be fine when it’s all mixed together”. I was right – but it was still hot! Leona had a chicken burrito with mild salsa. After I finished mine, I had half of hers to use a cooling agent!

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A guy from Dublin was working there (possibly the owner?) and served us some much needed water. We were chatting for a few minutes about burritos, Boojum and what not. Nice lad!

We explored that area and went to find a tram, but instead of waiting we found a bar called Qadis and had a few drinks. It had a good selection of beer – I even had some Sierra Nevada stout which was bloody delicious!! After a few drinks we got the tram back towards our hotel.

We freshened up and then headed out again. There was a bar around the corner called The Dubliner which we were going to go for one or two and then get dinner. It was busy and couldn’t get a seat but noticed a bar next door called ‘The Whiskey Bar’ (which was part of the same complex) and found a seat in there. It had a good selection of beer and I got into that bad habit of trying beer I haven’t had before. We didn’t go for dinner in the end and stayed where we were!

Whiskey bottles

Whiskey bottles

I was going to have a cheeky whiskey before we went back to the hotel (due to the name of the bar!) but I’m glad I didn’t (I was blocked)!

Sunday
Awoke with a bit of a hangover. Managed to get up before breakfast finished and we went to find a Starbucks so Leona can pick up some Mugs for her collection. We knew there was one in Oslo City but when we got there we realised it was closed on a Sunday! We had to Google another one and noticed there was another 400m away so walked there and I had a sugary Caramel Macchiato to try and stem my hangover!

We got a tram back to Oslo City and jumped on a T-Bane to Tøyen so we could go to the Munch Museum. Free with the Oslo pass, it was usually 100NOK in. It was very heavy security wise – i.e. bags had to be left in lockers and you were x-rayed / had to go through a metal detector before you went in. Though it’s also understandable bearing in mind previous form.

There was an exhibition called Mapplethorpe + Munch on when we were there where they would compare the two. Portraits and the like. Then it moved onto nudes and such, fair enough (there was a lot of ‘Thomas’),  and a wee bit of x-rated stuff. I’m as liberal minded as the next guy but an anal fisting photograph on a Sunday morning, when hungover, was an unexpected shock!

A quick... Munch.. ahahaha

A quick… Munch.. ahahaha

I think we took a wrong turn and ended up back in the lobby, and the queue through security was really long at this point, so I didn’t see all of the Munch collection, which was a shame. I had another coffee, and a cookie, to keep the hangover under control!

After the Munch museum we jump on the T-Bane back into town and then got back on to the #30 bus to the Folk Museum. Normally 125NOK, but we got in with our Oslo pass. It was mainly outside and the rain was heavy so that was grim. I also slipped on ice and landed on my back which was painful. After we were done in the rain I got a slice of savoury pie to cheer me up.

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We headed back to the hotel to get freshened up, drink airport purchased prosseco and decide where we wanted to go to dinner. After much deliberation googling we decided on a place called O‘Learys. It was great and very tasty! After dinner we walked down to the Hard Rock Cafe down the street and contemplated watching the Super Bowl, but we were on GMT+1 so couldn’t be bothered staying up so went back to the hotel an hour or so before it started.

Monday

After breakfast we went down to the docks to go on a fjord cruise, sadly it started raining heavily and got I saturated. It was miserable and I was in no mood for fjords. After a while we gave up and went into the cabin to drink hot chocolate and warm up. I didn’t get to see much fjord action. We then returned to the hotel to shower/prevent hypothermia.

Miserable in the rain!

Miserable in the rain!

After showering and preventing hypothermia we got changed into some ‘ski’ gear (I just had trousers) we packed so we could go Tobogganing. First we got some lunch in a Scandinavian burger chain called Max Burger – which was bloody tasty! – and got the metro from Storinget which was right outside! We jumped on Line 1 all the way to the end and got off at Frognerseteren.

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As we climbed the mountain the snow got heavier, which was crazy as we were only a few miles outside Oslo. We reached the metro station and had to go downhill again, which was dodgy in the snow, and found a place were we could hire sledges. Something like 250NOK, which was okay and they threw in helmets and goggles for free!

We eventually managed to find the start line. Leona volunteered me to go first, so I did. I instinctively steered with my feet which inevitably got my socks wet! You picked up some speed, which at the time felt very fast, but when I watched it back on the Go Pro it seemed very tame. Though at times you got perilously close to the edge, where at one side would be a drop, the other side wall!

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Some times the course leveled out or had some bumps so the sled ground to a halt. So when that happened I would wait on Leona to catch up, then we would take off again.

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Go Pro injury

At one point I was gaining a bit of speed as the snow was wetter. I tried to take off a bit of speed/take a corner by digging my heel into the snow but the slush went up my trouser leg, I then hit a bump, got a few inches of air and landed in a particularly slushy puddle and got very cold and wet.

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Leona coming down the hill

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Leona crashing into a wall.. seconds later

When I got to the bottom of the run I fell and landed on my knee, it didn’t seem to bad at the time so we got the train back up the mountain for another run. It was getting dark so after that run we returned the toboggans – we regretted not blowing off the fjords and doing this all day! There were still people using the course after we left (it was pitch black at this point!). My knee was a bit sore by this point.

We returned to the hotel for another shower/change of clothes. Then headed to town to pick up some presents, obligatory Mug for my mother, Fridge magnet for my granny etc then got some Pizza. We had some beers in the hotel and an early night as we had to get up early for the train to the airport.

(The next morning my knee was killing me!!)

The twelve christmas dinners of christmas…

Now a Christmas tradition: I eat loads of Christmas Dinners in December – and post them on the internet!!

#1 – 3/12/15 – Wetherspoons –  Belfast

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Like the Charity Shield, this is the usual curtain raiser! A Wetherspoon’s Christmas Dinner, with my old work chum, Alistair! We’ve been doing this for eight years now and this one was the best (they are usually rank)!

 #2 – 04/12/15 – Murphy Browns, Belfast
img_6362Now a regular feature, mainly due to being walking distance to my house. Not as good as last years, but last years was excellent.

#3 – 9/12/15 – uEat – University of Ulster, Jordanstown
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Oh, yeah, I went back to uni!

#4 – 12/12/14 – Coach Lane @ Donaghy’s – Sligo

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Oh aye, I went to Sligo for my Da’s birthday

#5 – 15/12/15 – Work Canteen
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It was slow start this year. Time to ramp it up!

#6 – 15/12/15 – My House
A controversial entry!img_6473 img_6474Some nay-sayers said it didn’t count because it’s a ready meal… IT COUNTS GODDAMMIT!

#7 – 16/12/15 – Sainsburys, Holywood.
img_6476The second annual “go to Sainsburys for a Christmas dinner with Marty”

#7 – 17/12/15 – Victoria’s Belfast

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Staff do. Here is where I level with last year! 5th in 4 days! Shit is getting real!

#9 – 18/12/15 – McHughs, Belfast

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Old work staff do!

#10 – 20/12/15 – My House

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4th annual Belfast house Chirstmas dinner! Yes, I had one in my house a few days earlier.. but this is a legit one!

#11 – 23/12/15 –  Madisons, Belfast

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#12 – 25/12/15 – Folks House

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12 Christmas Dinners, 11 Christmas Dinners etc etc

 

Sligo and Leitrim

29. Visit Every County in Ireland – Part XVI and XVII

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For some reason my Ma wanted us all to go somewhere for my Da’s birthday. Sligo was the place chosen – mainly because I thought it was closer than it is! I left Belfast at just after three – we arrived in Sligo sometime after six. There were a few stops for Diesel, chips and what not, but still a long drive. Especially as it was dark, cold and, in some places, snowy! We also drove through Cavan and Leitrim … didn’t stop.. so it doesn’t count, hi!

We were staying in the Clarion hotel and met with family to go get dinner. As it is December I would prefer a Christmas Dinner but the hotel restaurant didn’t do that… the actual fuck? So I Googled restaurants on my phone, called the first one and inquired if they did a Christmas dinner and tried to order five before my Ma stopped me.

#4

#4

We went to Coach Lane Restaurant at Donaghy’s bar and ordered a Christmas Dinner (Everyone else ordered not Christmas Dinner! … the actual fuck?!). I also drank an IPA called Cute Hoor. It was nice!

After dinner we went back to the hotel and had a few more drinks. After my Ma and Da went to bed some jabroni came over to us and tried to scobe drink! He got annoyed when we had a debate about the Lion King (I told him it was bollocks!) – he went to the toilet and we abandoned him and went to our rooms.

The next morning we got up and went to find breakfast/brunch in Sligo. We ended up in a cafe called Knox. I had some sort of chorizo, potato, tomato, egg thing (can’t remember what it was called) … it was nice, but straight out of the oven so burnt the mouth of me before I let it cool down! Leona had french toast!

My Da, now in his 57th year, was suspicious of a place that didn’t “do a fry”. My mother ordered a burger for him.

After brunch Leona, my sister and my Ma pissed off to do shopping. I went to Penny’s (with my Da) to buy some nifty Star Wars socks (and got him a hat). I then went to Eason’s to have a look at books, bought a bottle of coke and a Winning Streak scratch card (as it is an ambition to be on that show!). I didn’t get three stars but I won €5!

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Then my Da and I went back to the car to wait on the rest. As it’s December we listened to Tim Wheeler/Emmy the Great’s Christmas Album. My Da wasn’t impressed.

When they returned Leona and I drove towards home. I stopped in Manorhamilton (therefore it counts!) to cash my scratchcard and get two more(maybe my criteria should be buy a Winning Streak Scratchcard in each county?). I won another €5! I just cashed it and headed back home, driving through Cavan again but not stopping… so it doesn’t count!

Manorhamilton Petrol Station... it still counts!

Manorhamilton Petrol Station… it still counts!

Edinbrrrrrrrr

At the end of November, I spent 48hrs in Edinburgh. I saw the Castle, went to the Christmas market, tasted Whiskey, drink a lot of beer (including a yummy chilli stout!) and even tried haggis (it’s like a stodgy white pudding). Despite the rain and the cold Edinburgh was great – I came home with a nifty hip flask!

At the airport

At the airport

At the Christmas market

At the Christmas market

Way better than Belfast's

Way better than Belfast’s

On the ferris wheel

On the ferris wheel

View from ferris wheel

View from ferris wheel

In the old town

In the old town

At the whiskey museum

At the whiskey museum

At a whiskey tasting

At a whiskey tasting

Budapest bits and pieces

Monday

The day after the Grand Prix we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves, we went for old reliable: A hop-on/hop-off bus tour. It was a shame that practically everyone who was in town for the Grand Prix had the same idea.

We found someone selling tickets, we wanted to buy tickets, but they still insisted on giving us reasons to buy tickets. “There’s a river cruise”, “You get these [unofficial] Ferrari branded [fake] Beats earphones”, yeah, yeah, just sell us the tickets please! Note: the fake beats earphones were even more terrible than I expected.

We arrived at the ‘hop on’ stop to join dozens of irate English people, gurning that they couldn’t get one a bus! Buses were full and no one was ‘hopping off’ at that stop. They had ordered more buses to come to keep with demand, but they continued to gurn at anyone who’d listen. I stood back and laughed at them!

Lunch

Lunch

We eventually got on a bus and just did a lap of the route (as it had started raining heavily) and eventually we got back to where we started. We ‘hopped off’ to find somewhere for lunch and tried to decide where we wanted to go.

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We hopped back onto a bus and headed to Buda Castle. Walked around, had a look, bought some souvenirs and had a beer. .

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We didn’t go on the Funicular though.

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dsc_0536dsc_0538dsc_0548Then we walked to the Fisherman’s Bastion – had another look around.

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We then walked back down the hill, over the bridge and went to find the dock for our boat tour. The boat tour was very, very cold, as we we went up the river it was daylight/dusk and when as we went back down it was proper dark. It was quite fortunate timing to get both!

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After the boat tour we tried to find some dinner.It was quite late at this point. We had our third attempt at going to the Hard Rock Café. We were told it would be an hour wait, and I looked perplexed at the empty tables. The waiter spotted my cynicism and told me it was an hour wait for food. Dead on. We went to an Italian place around the corner instead. It was nice.

After dinner we went to the Ice Bar which we thought was nearby. The ticket place was nearby. We walked in, got tickets and was told the Ice Bar proper, was “down the street”. Wasn’t really down the street, felt like a mile!

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Still, it was grand for what it was, standing in a freezer drinking cocktails. We were there about half an hour. After the ice bar we got the tram back to the hotel!

Tuesday

Monday was cold, but my last full day in Hungary was the first time it was “jeans weather” for a few weeks.

We headed to Vajdahunyad Castle, had a look and walked around City Park 

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We then headed to Hero’s Square but got side tracked by a Paddling Boat hire place before eventually making it!

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We tried to find some amusements but gave up and jumped back on the metro to Oktogon for dinner. Then Johnny Pumps for a few more beers on our last night

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One Budapest Regret: not going to Memento Park

Raceday!

We got up early enough so we could get to the track early! As Leona got ready I ran to a shop around the corner and got some stuff for lunch (bread, cheese … and cookies!). On the way back to the hotel I bumped into our Swedish taxi chums. There were off to the bar for a few beers.. at 8.30am! I knew they were not going until later but said if they wanted to share a taxi back, after the race, to meet in the same place as the day before.

Once back at the hotel and suitably breakfasted, we booked a taxi at the front desk. When it arrived we asked the taxi man, in an attempt to avoid a long ass walk, if he could leave us at the gate nearest our seats. He thought about it, we told him it was near the aquapark, had a look at the map at the back of our ticket, asked if it’s near a lake and then thought he actually could and went for it! It was another classic (scary) Budapest taxi ride, but to his credit he left us to the gate! He got told off by the cops for his troubles but it was early enough for him not to get a fine!

Check out the mark!

Check out the mark!

We arrived during the GP3 race. I noticed that the gravel trap in front of our seat so I asked the French lad beside me if there was an accident. In a stereotypical French accent he said “yes, at the start” and slapped his hands together to motion an accident.

Three Jenzers

Three Jenzers

I noticed our hotel buddies, Jenzer, were running together and finished in 7th, 8th and 9th – go on the lads! The race was won by an Italian and they played the Italian anthem!

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Can’t remember much from the GP2 race, but it was won by a Japanese lad, and therefore play the Japanese anthem too. I’d never heard it before, and the first few bars were really bassy and heavy! Bonkers! But I enjoyed it!

Porsche Chaos!

Porsche Chaos!

Porsche Supercup was up next and was good fun! Plenty of action in the corner in front of me. Sadly an Irish lad (Ryan Cullen) was taken out, but he did favourite one of my tweets a few days later, which was weird! Race was won by a German lad.

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Up next was the drivers parade with the “stick them on the back of a truck approach”. The truck passed us, we cheered and waved, they waved. It was all good. After the drivers parade Nelson Piquet drove Bernie Ecclestone around the track for no reason what so ever. I tried to boo Bernie as he passed but no one joined me.

Booo!

Booo-ernie!

We waited for the race to start as the grandstands started to fill up. Due to the difference of opinion between the back of the ticket and the signs beside the grandstand on of what what the grandstands were actually called there were a lot of people turning up to the wrong stand. The mustached man from Friday turned up and got angry. I asked to see his ticket, yep, wrong grandstand and he instantly cheered up, said sorry and left. But this happened so many times!

Dodgy looking clouds

Dodgy looking clouds

Sunday was a lot cooler than the previous days. It after 12 at this point and still very overcast – even a few rumours of rain – which after Thursday didn’t hope would happen as we weren’t covered! I felt wick wearing my sunglasses but I didn’t bring my normal ones so had to wear them!

I wasn’t looking forward to the next bit. Jules Bianchi had died the week before when we were in Paris. It was announced that week there would be a minute silence before the start of the race. It was soon approaching and we could see the drivers getting together on the big screen. It was then announced and everyone was silent, all that could be heard was the helicopter flying in the distance. One the screen there was an aerial shot of the drivers, shoulder to shoulder surrounding their helmets with Bianchi – well that nearly set me off.

Normally, at football matches and the like, the end of the silence would be formally announced and applause, but there was silence then the Hungarian National anthem started playing. At the time I thought this was odd and I assume alot of other people did as during the first few bars the crowd around me started applauding and cheering for Jules. Since watching the race back, and with hindsight, I felt the anthem might of added something to the emotion of the occasion – it’s not very well known and was very sombre and subdued. At the end of the anthem the crowd applauded and cheered again and the big screen there was a lingering shot of Bianchi’s helmet sitting alone one the track – well that was me gone, I kept my sunglasses on and stayed quiet for a few minutes. Even looking back it gets me. It was a surreal experience to be part of F1 history.

A family had arrived just before the start of the race, there were loads of them and had a big flag! It was annoying! The formation lap started and the cars went passed and the ones in front started standing, waving their flag and some stood on their seats! The French lad beside me was getting visibly annoyed (in a French way! – he actually gave off to them after a few laps of these shenanigans! Fair play to him!).

The cars made it to the grid.. and the start was aborted! They came around again for another formation lap! They made it around again and started properly. We watched on the big screen as Vettel and Raikkionen made it 1-2 into the first corner! The grandstand cheered! Soon enough the cars were coming to our part of the circuit, as I watched the Ferraris go through the chicane there was an even bigger cheer from our grandstand when in my peripheral vision I noticed a Mercedes and watched it go over the gravel in front of me! The cheer got bigger as we realised it was Hamilton!

Took this, not realising Hamilton was about to go off!

Took this, not realising Hamilton was about to go off!

1-2!

1-2!

So, we sat in the grandstand and enjoyed a great race! Vettel and Kimi led comfortably and we watched Hamilton try and fight his way back and other battles. The pop of the night was after Vettel pitted and Kimi lead for a lap, our grandstand was so loud at that point!! Sadly it became apparent it wouldn’t end well for Kimi as he was slowing and I managed to hear team radio over the PA and heard something like “engine power”.

The race got tastier when Hulkenberg had an accident. A few English people around me got excited as they thought there would be a safety car and would allow Hamilton to catch the leaders.. how we laughed when they realised it was just a Virtual Safety Car… hahahah..oh, after a lap or two it was changed to a normal safety car and the English people got really excited!

Safety Car train

Safety Car train

The race restarted and the English people around us got very excited at the prospect of Hamilton fighting back through the field and he instantly crashes into Ricciardo, and the English people groaned. Looking back it’s hard not to laugh!

The race got very exciting towards the end. Sadly Kimi retired but the Red Bulls were chasing Vettel and Rosberg. Rosberg even picked up a puncture battling with Ricciardo!

Before the last lap the French lad said bye to me, and we fist bumped. Didn’t know his name, or talk to him much. But he was a sound lad!

Cool down lap

Cool down lap

So the race unexpectedly finished Vettel, Kvyat and Ricciardo! Alonso finished 5th!! It was a crazy fun race to watch! We stayed for the podium and noticed there were track invaders on the pit straight! Sadly we couldn’t see a way onto the track where we were so just watched on the big screen.

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We met with our Swedish chums (upset that Kimi retired) and went to wait on a taxi. It was a long (really long) wait as they had a domestic in the queue. I threw Leona under the bus and let her deal with it as I pretended not to be listening as I read tweets. They went to the side and were fine again though.

The previous day the man at the stand was advising not taking a taxi from the brand he represented but today he admitted no one was coming and take what you can get! We managed to get a cab and went back to Budapest with our Swedish chums as they asked us questions about the IRA (ffs!).

We dumped our stuff back in the hotel and went straight out for dinner! We tried, for a second time, to go to the Hard Rock cafe but there was a bit of a queue! We got talking to some English people who said “well done” to me because I was wearing a Ferrari T Shirt. They were aware that I didn’t work for Ferrari but still congratulated me. We talked about the race and they said they were sitting right in front of where Hulkenberg crashed!

We then went across the square to a restaurant called Cafe Paris! Another person came up to me to congratulate me (this was weird!) – he was from Liverpool – he was a Mercedes/Hamilton fan but was happy there was a good show to make it exciting!

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After dinner we had a walk along the river and enjoyed the sites all lit up. We had a relatively early night and enjoyed a lie in the next morning!!

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