Budapest, Hungary – 1. Feeling Hungary

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To get to Budapest actually required going backwards to Vienna and then in a different direction.   The border between Austria and Slovakia seemed invisible, whereas here, there is a restaurant and a petrol station demarking the two countries but nothing more formal than that.

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IMG_20180327_142645632 10241000 Hungarian Forints is worth UK£2.50.   Or, coffee and a decent bag of pastries.  Hungary is cheap and this place was good to find a few minutes getting off the bus.

While I was (2018) here, it was just before the Hungarian elections.   Some poster like these had big concern over uncontrolled immigration whereas other parties had other priorities.

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Want to be a musician without instruments?  This guy had the right idea.

Slovakia – 1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia – 5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

Hungary – 1. Feeling Hungary – 2. soon

Bratislava, Slovakia 5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

Bratislava, Slovakia seems like a nice modern clean city and has long shrugged off its image from communism that dominated Eastern Europe up until the early 1990s.

This the Hostel Blues which is in the main part of the city centre and is a good place which I stayed here for just two nights.    Unusually the guy behind the counter is a local, as opposed to a casual traveller.   He told me that the government offices near the castle have some protests.

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So when I took a look, this is mostly local people, with banners up in their local language.  I spoke to a local to ask what was going on.   Turns out a local Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak printed a piece in the local newspaper about serious corruption in the Slovakian government and connections to the Mafia.   Shortly after, the journalist was murdered.

Therefore the local people were protesting asking what the heck is going on.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47294178 

So, in a case like this I wonder if the EU and other heads of nations got involved to ask the Slovakian government how are they getting to the bottom of this.

After this I left Bratisalva, and went to my next place, Budapest…

1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

Bratislava, Slovakia 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia

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What I learned from my brief visit to Slovakia;

  • The country split off from the Czech Republic which was previously known as Czechoslovakia, which dissolved in 1993.
  • Some of the iron curtain legacies are used for history and curious amusement for western tourists who might be fascinated by socialism, like this firing range with eastern European weapons
  • This country is a recent (2004) member of the EU and uses the Euro currency. (since 2009)
  • There was a scandal involving the Slovakian government, the Mafia and shooting of a local journalist.  I’ll cover this in part 5.
  • wide bratislava pano 1024
  • easter 1024There is this nice outdoor display during Easter which I really like.   No political correctness here thank goodness.
  • The streets look clean and supermarkets like Lidl have incentives for people to recycle, you post your empty plastic bottles into a machine to get a printed voucher off your shopping.
  • IMG_20180326_172903139 1024There is a holocaust statue to remember the loss of Jewish people who met tragedy here.
  • This country shares the Danube river with Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary.
  • This seems like a modern and pleasant country and is quite cheap to eat out although isn’t a huge amount to do here, and I only stayed two nights.
  • There is a huge castle that overlooks the Danube.   Bratislava castle has some parts of it that date from the 13th century.IMG_20180326_170929271 1024

1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

Bratislava, Slovakia 3. Strange mirrored museum

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I was walking down this street past this brewery and saw this strange place which was just 5 Euros for a ticket, its called Gallery Multium.

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Each of these rooms is quite small, but the arrangement of the mirrors gives an infinite view, actually like with this bank vault cabinet thing has a slight curve to give a better visual effect.

TheGallery Multium can be seen here and is well worth seeing if you visit Bratislava, Slovakia.

1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

 

Fun with Bible & Data Science 1. Middle and shortest/longest

biblesqlA few years ago, I left my regular job doing IT for schools to learn databases and the SQL language.    So I needed to do some study and learn stuff for myself.

I found a dataset of an NIV bible from MySQL then dumped it to a text file then uploaded it to my Microsoft SQL Server lab set up.   I’ve added a few columns to show old or new testament, and I’ll add which type of book later (Torah, Prophets, Pauls Letters, etc) a little later.

One thing I have always wanted to do is to take the bible and do some data analysis and look for interesting patterns or transform the data into readable charts.   I’m not really interested in weird stuff that’s on the internet like Gammatria, more looking for patterns of things that would encourage me and other people to study more.

The book of Genesis has the first generations of men who all lived to a long time and therefore had a lot more than today’s 3-4 generations of a family alive at once which would have made family parties interesting.    I’d like to make some charts of all the prophecies Jesus fulfilled and some of the places Paul trekked to and make some fancy diagrams using Tableau or similar.

In my regular church, we are studying Psalms 119 which is the longest chapter in the bible.   Its often well thought that the middle of the bible is here.

But actually, is it?   Now, this depends on your bible and translation.   Also how many lines of text and size of print in a paper bible, if you go by counting the number of pages and divide this amount by two you could get this.

totalVersesIt seems most people agree that there are 31,102 verses in the bible, including the King James.

So my Database server says the same.

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So, if I do a search to see where that is halfway…   It’s Psalm 103 : 1.   (I added a -5 figure so you can see the verses before.)

Some folks have mentioned the shortest verse is John 11 : 35 “Jesus wept”

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Actually, Jesus wept, is the 7th shortest.  Wait, why is there hyphens and “See footnote”  seems my NIV has some differences from other bibles.   If I run this query without these, its Job 3 : 2.

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With King James, yes Jesus wept is the shortest, at 11 characters.   I might try and push the Hebrew and Greek texts in some time.

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Enter a caption

Here’s the longest verses in NIV and KJV.

I’ll cover more later.  Feel free if you would like me to look for some patterns of interesting things in the bible.

 

Israel like every other country still needs Yeshua (Jesus)

I saw this advert in Hebrew popped up on social media for a festival called Desert Ashram in the Negev village of Shittim in Israel which has 30 permanent residents.    (You will need Google translate)

Some of my Israeli friends have told me about these events.   You can see the fun-loving hippy spirit in many Israelis where they can get away from the rat race, enjoy the outdoors, camp and see live music.

I totally connect with this, as I love travelling and seeing places from the bible and famous films, I managed to meet Israelis when I have been travelling in Morocco, China, Ireland, Hungary and Germany by accident, as my ear has become tuned to picking up spoken Hebrew language.

As well as seeing religious and historical places, during the time I lived in Israel, I went to see concerts of secular Israeli music in bars (but I like Israeli Hebrew worship music too) also I like camping, hiking and exploring and I’m a bit anti-authority.

On the other hand, looking at a translation for this event shows lots of things of a completely different spiritual experience, Hindu/Kundalini, Buddhism, New Age, Tarot cards, and similar, which are forbidden in the bible.

Why is this?  I think often Israelis get jaded with religion and need to find a break.   Often, there is a need to cry out and ask questions about the meaning of existence.

On a few occasions, I’ve heard exciting stories from Israeli Messianic Jewish evangelists who show some chutzpah who go to these places to chat, pray with them, and tell them the gospel, as its probably one of the best opportunities for young Israelis to hear the authentic message of the Jewish Messiah.

This and this mentions more on festivals in this particular desert community.

Bratislava, Slovakia 2. River Danube

What’s interesting is Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest all share the beautiful Danube river.

Austria borders with Slovakia and Hungary, and they are all in the EU.

Slovakia only adopting the Euro currency in 2007, and Hungary using their own proprietary currency called the Forint.  Yet, there is quite a big economical divide between them, as Austrians earn double the salary of the other two.

I wasn’t sleeping on the bus, but I didn’t actually notice the border when went over it.   I just suddenly saw roadsigns in another language that was different from German.

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IMG_20180327_083859312 1024Just to the left of this concrete wall is the bus station where you can arrive into Bratislava via Flixbus.

Next to the river Danube where I am standing is a castle, and the government buildings.

1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

 

Bratislava, Slovakia 1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks

This trip was part of something I did during April of 2018.   I got invited to a wedding in Vienna, Austria.    This couple is friends I know from London, a Christian and a Messianic Jew.

Another friend of mine, his mum works in an airport on the outskirts of London (Standsted) let me know a few industry secrets; a cheaper way to get to Vienna is to fly to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and take a bus over.

So this interesting airline ‘hack’ meant I then decided to see a few other places after the wedding.

This journey according to Google is 75km and one hour, but its a little longer than that, as the bus stops at the city centre and the airports of both nations.  It’s widely believed that the two closest captial cities in the Europe are Helsinki, Finland and Tallin, Estonia, but this is more at 90km. (by boat)

Popular German coach company Flixbus did a great deal to get over, although I recommend prebooking on your smart phone as the first bus when I got off the airport was full from prebooked passagers.

Austria is nice, but I’ve already been there before when I was doing some IT work the previous summer, and I love the Ringstrasse and the theatres and concerts there.   My friends who also came to the wedding all went home, so I took a bit more days off to see some of Eastern Europe.

1. Austria’s neighbour and travel hacks – 2. River Danube – 3. Strange mirrored museum – 4. Things I learned from my visit to Slovakia5. Slovakia protests and strange goings on

Djerba, Tunisia trip – 23. Going home

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I got back to my hotel for my last evening there, there is no one else staying, and the manager of the place brought has two friends over, offered me to join them with the big bowl of spaghetti which was really nice.

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I loved exploring Tunisia, the markets, the Jewish and Muslims communities and Tunisian culture in general, and the scenes from the Star Wars movie, that George Lucas chose a fascinating ancient underground home for the most loved movie ever.   I hope it inspires you, and anyone thinking of going to go and visit soon.

This last photo symbolises Tunisian culture well.   Streets with neatly trimmed trees with hundreds of birds roosting in before sunset, dozens of scooters buzzing around with young men without helmets, elderly men sitting outside cafes drinking strong coffee or mint tea, bakeries with cakes just as a good as a French Patisserie, yellow taxis and paintings of leaders gone by.  The end.

In 2015, I visited Morocco

1. Plans – 2. French Connection – 3. My hotel in Djerba – 4. El Griba synagogue outside – 5. El Griba synagogue inside – 6. Markets – 7. Christianity in Tunisia – 8. Ferry to mainland Tunisia – 9. Getting to Matmata, Tunisia – 10. Sidi Idris Hotel New Hope Star Wars filmset – 11. Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set – 12. Cave homes for would-be Jedis – 13. More what you don’t see in Star Wars at Hotel Sidi Idris – 14. How hospitable is Sidi Idris? – 15. ATM machines and drought – 16. Matmata Nouvelle (New Matmata) – 17. Tunisian butchers and fisherman – 18. Libyan and Algerian neighbours – 19. Jewellery businesses in Djerba – 20. Tunisia and Israel relations – 21. Hara Kebira, Jewish school, soap and TV repair shops – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira23. Going home

Djerba, Tunisia trip – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira

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There are two Jewish communities of homes in Djerba.   One is Hara Sgira (Large quarter in Arabic)  and Hara Kebira (smaller quarter) I spent a day at the latter.

One of the things I noticed about this community is the kiosks and concrete blocks as a mini-checkpoint in the road to stop traffic in case of any hostility to this area.   The decorative iron grills over the windows are pretty similar to all the apartments I see in Israel.

I saw a police van whilst I was taking photos here.   A policeman got out and approached me and spoke in French, then English.   He asked me what I was doing.   I just told me I want to get some photos of this area to show my Jewish friends at home.   He asked me where I was staying and for my passport.   I had to stop and think about the name of the hotel I was at.   He also asked me what was the drawings in my UK passport, I told him I thought it was Nelson.    After staring at me, for an awkward 7-8 seconds, he shook my hand and said welcome to Tunisia!

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Two things I wanted to understand better.   Normally Amazigh (Berber) people have a three-branch symbol logo who are native to North Africa, but the Jewish Amazigh people have a 5 pointed one, which looks kind of like a Menorah with 2 stems short.  I’ve never seen this in Israel.

fishwall 1024These hand symbols I see a lot (like at the jewellery stores) on the blue door are from the “Hamsa”, the hand of Fatima.   I don’t understand why this is both Jewish and Islamic symbolism.   Hamsa is the Arabic word for the number 5, and is also popular is a name for Muslim boys and is part of the teaching of the Koran but not the Tanakh.

These fish symbols show here quite a lot.   I have seen these in Matmata as well despite the town is quite a long way (130km) from the sea.   Here the fish symbols show a hand above on many of these Jewish homes.   Normally fish symbols are often thought to be part of early Christianity and associated with Jesus and his disciples out fishing.

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Here are some dried up palm leaves discarded on the road.   This is just a few weeks after the Jewish holiday of the Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) so it would appear they recently cleared down the palm branches and decorations.

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DSCF1361 1024Many streets in Djerba are named of previous leaders of Tunisia and Muslim sages I think.   In the Jewish places, streets are named after fruit, vegetables and nuts.  Like Rue Raisin and Rue Figueres.

This door of this home has some Hebrew scratched on symbols on the right-hand section of the right door that says “Rabbi”.

Some of the houses have both a mezuzah (fragment of Jewish Torah scroll, inspired by Deuteronomy 6:9) on the door frame and higher up is a plaque of an Islamic Shahada (the caligraphic passage of a quote from the Koran)    I think maybe after many of the Jews left, these houses are lived in by Muslims but haven’t removed some of the decorations, or, a block of flats with families of different faiths.

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Hara Kebira is still growing, and these new houses being built look large and majestic looking.

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Some of these streets are elegant and neat and some look quite scruffy.   This field here has some sheep grazing and lots of olive trees.   So it appears the Jewish community probably keep their own livestock to ensure kosher slaughter.   This area has lots of plastic bags, a broken TV and other waste lying around which s is a bit of a shame as the olive trees are large and look very old.

Although this is a desert country, the community feels quite different to Israel, mainly because its flat I guess.

IMG_20191118_092340185 1024Later on, I was reading my bible in my hotel room and munching some dates, for no particular reason I was reading Isaiah 11, which talks about both the prediction of the Messiah and how scattered Jewish people from around the world will head back to Israel.   Including those from islands of the Mediterranean!  Interesting words indeed.   I didn’t get to see it here, but there are Tunisians finding Christ according to some Christian magazines that know North Africa well.

1. Plans – 2. French Connection – 3. My hotel in Djerba – 4. El Griba synagogue outside – 5. El Griba synagogue inside – 6. Markets – 7. Christianity in Tunisia – 8. Ferry to mainland Tunisia – 9. Getting to Matmata, Tunisia – 10. Sidi Idris Hotel New Hope Star Wars filmset – 11. Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set – 12. Cave homes for would-be Jedis – 13. More what you don’t see in Star Wars at Hotel Sidi Idris – 14. How hospitable is Sidi Idris? – 15. ATM machines and drought – 16. Matmata Nouvelle (New Matmata) – 17. Tunisian butchers and fisherman – 18. Libyan and Algerian neighbours – 19. Jewellery businesses in Djerba – 20. Tunisia and Israel relations – 21. Hara Kebira, Jewish school, soap and TV repair shops – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira23. Going home