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Archive for the ‘hungary’ Category

View of the Duna (Danube) river from the Citadella on Gellert hill. Buda is on the left, Pest to the right.

This wasn’t the loveliest day–in fact, it started snowing while I was out–but this is what Budapest looks like in the winter.

This is probably “the” shot of Budapest.  Most cities have one photo that is the stereotypical image. Paris–Eiffel Tower; Prague–Charles Bridge, possibly, although Prague has so many great things it’s hard to pick just one; Rome–the Coliseum; etc etc.

The second bridge is the famous Chain Bridge, the first bridge to connect the separate cities of Buda and Pest.  Until 1849, the two cities were quite different: hilly, stately Buda on the west side of the Danube; and flat, industrial Pest on the east bank of the river.  Then the chain bridge was built and they were finally connected permanently, only a hundred and sixty years ago.  That’s quite recent as the history of this city goes.  The first settlement on the current site of the city was built by Picts before 1 AD and called Ak-Ink, which allegedly means “Abundant Water.” Later, the Romans occupied the area and called it Aquincum.  Later still, the Bulgarians took it over when it finally became the two cities of Buda and Pest.

Then the Hungarians occupied it and in the 10th century officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary.  In the 1500’s, the Ottomans took over and occupied the city for nearly 140 years, during which time they constructed the Turkish baths that are still popular today.

The Austro-Hungarian empire was formed in 1867.  But it wasn’t until 1873 that the three parts of the city–Buda, Pest, and Obuda, or ancient Buda, were combined officially into the one city of Budapest–long after the chain bridge was built.

In 1918 after WWI ended the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed and Hungary declared itself an independent republic.

After many complicated fiascos through WWII, which you are welcome to read about somewhere else if you are really interested, Hungary became a Communist People’s Republic.  However revolts and more shenanigans soon followed.  The Soviets rolled some tanks in and managed to kill over 3,000 people in the confusion.

While in the Eastern bloc, Hungary apparently became known as “the happiest barrack” due to lighter restrictions than most of the other satellite nations of the USSR.  Stubborn Hungarians being stubborn, they managed to rebuild most of the city in this time.

In 1989 Communism fell and Hungary developed a capitalist economy, representative government, and other trappings of the free Western world.

Budapest is also notable for building the second underground train system in the world.

Imagine if New York had a history like that.

Anyways.

Today, Budapest just so happens to be the best city in the world.  if you like coffee, Budapest has great coffee from the Austrians.  If you like Turkish baths, it has those.  If you like drinking, you’re definitely in luck.  If you like delicious food being delivered to your door for convenient nomming, you got it.  River cruises?  Got it, if you can stand the bajillions of other tourists.  If you like cool old buildings, you will be happy.  It has an outstanding cathedral replete with the mummified hand of King Saint Stephen, founder of Hungary (overachiever) on display, and for 200 forints you can get the lights to turn on in the case for two minutes.  W00t!

If you enjoy climbing stairs then this city is really your dream city.  Caving, really good caving where you get to squiggle through cracks the size of a toaster, is also of course available (these caves under the city are some kind of record, but I don’t remember which one and I’m not going to look it up. They’re memorable, so remember that.)

Plus, Budapest is cheap.  Quite cheap.  You can always spend a lot of money, but it’s easy to live well on a very reasonable budget.  It’s definitely not as cheap as Latvia, but if you’re just coming from Western Europe you will be quite pleasantly surprised.

Special note for Americans: Communism and other evil things died in the city twenty-one years ago.  It’s a lovely safe city and you’re not going to die or get robbed unless you’re extraordinarily stupid.  I mean really, really extraordinarily stupid.  This is not some bombed-out ruin of the former USSR. This is a European capital, part of the EU, and boasts 1.7 million people in the city proper.  It is generally considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Hungarians may be reserved, and sometimes may even seem slightly distasteful of you non-Magyar speaking foreigner, but I have found that a winning smile and a badly pronounced “kőszőnőm” is usually enough to at least get them to stop glaring at you long enough to roll their eyes.

No, really.  I like Hungarians.  I’m delighted by them.  Their language is so foreign, their history and capital city so interesting, and their sometimes disdainful-seeming attitude somewhat misleading.  Hungarians probably aren’t going to run up and be your best friend right away, but they’re good people, solid, down-to-earth, and they’re not going to waste anyone’s time being fake or flippant.  Not to make generalizations or anything *cough cough* like I just have most certainly not been doing, but I’d trust a Hungarian over an Italian any day.

Of course, I’d probably trust just about anyone over an Italian.  But that’s a different story.

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Street I stayed off of

A typical winter day in Budapest.

You know you’ve lived in Hungary for awhile when you start laughing at these–but you know they’re true.  Thanks to the Kesident for pointing this out on his blog. I met Kes in Budapest over the holidays.  He’d recently moved there permanently. Why? Because Budapest is awesome.

Even if you’ve never been to Hungary you’ll probably find this amusing and intriguing:

You Know You’re Hungarian When…

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Trip adios

While I was traveling with my friend, it was hard to find time to write, and after she left I was so far behind I don’t even know where to begin…but now that I’m back home with consistent computer access, here’s a summary of the past few weeks.

It’s been a long, incredible road since I last left you in Paris.  Now, our original plan had been to travel through Spain, France, and Portugal, but as usual while on the road, plans change, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but who can judge?  What happens is the ultimate outcome.  In our case, the train reservations were booked solid for the next six weeks, making our railpasses utterly useless (thank you, holiday season and the French railway system,) so we had to catch a last-minute Ryanair flight back to Madrid after Paris, for a considerable amount of money.  Once we got back to Madrid, we were pretty much locked in since flights anywhere else were too expensive and the trains were booked up.  So we spent the remaining five or six days of the trip in Madrid.  I can’t say I regret not getting to see Portugal or the south of Spain though, because I got to spend some time in that wonderful city.  We occupied our time walking through the narrow, winding streets, exploring the Christmas markets and talking to Spanish people.

Spain is a wonderful place; like Italy but cool.  The people can be unfriendly unless you speak Spanish, when they suddenly open up and become the nicest people on the planet.  They, in general, are proud of not speaking English, exactly opposite of most of the countries I’ve visited.

The food is excellent, the tapas bars are amazing, the Iberian ham phenomenal (though scary looking if you’re unprepared.)  The sangria is delicious.  If you ever get to Madrid, El Tigre is an excellent tapas bar where you can get a mug of sangria and a big plate of tapas for under 5 euro.  Puerta del Sol, the central square in Madrid and the geographical and cultural center of Spain itself, is always busy with hundreds of people, both locals and tourists.  Since it was the holidays, there was an enormous wire Christmas tree in the center that lit up at night and looked quite festive.  No matter where you go in Madrid, it seems that the narrow streets always spit you back out right at the Christmas tree.

While in Spain we also tried paella a few times.  It’s a delicious rice and seafood dish, complicated and time-consuming to make and therefore quite expensive, but definitely worth it.

We spent a quiet Christmas in Madrid, and then on the 28th I flew to Frankfurt, there to catch a train back to Budapest to spend the last two weeks of my trip.  And what a two weeks this has been…

I made it back on the evening of the 29th and as soon as I stepped off the train I felt like I’d come home.  There was Keleti station in all its glory, with its basement markets where you can buy anything for almost no money; the doors, thronged with blackmarket money-changers, scam taxis and others looking for opportunity from fresh arrivals; and outside, the wonderful rainy dark.  Instead of taking the trolley bus, which is always packed tighter than a typical Ryanair airplane, I walked the twenty minutes to Blaha Luhja Ter and took the brand-new tram down Terez Korut to Nyugati station and then to walk a block back to Carpe Noctem.  On the tram a backpacker with dreadlocks started talking to a Hungarian, “Do you speak English?” and pulled out a map.  He didn’t, but I did, and I helped her find out where she was going.  I felt like I was starting to belong to this city, being able to give her directions.  The Hungarian man she’d originally asked smiled at me in gratitude for helping him out of an awkward situation.  A Hungarian actually smiled at a foreigner!  My life felt good.

Rang the buzzer on the unmarked hostel door–they’d changed the codes in my absence.  I climbed those familiar 100 stairs and was greeted by….craziness, of course.  Chooseday night, and it was Rock Star dress-up theme.  There were more leather pants, ripped shirts, makeup, Sharpie tattoos, drumsticks, and leggings than I’ve ever seen in one place.  Exxxcellent time to return.  Within minutes after dropping my bag in the corner I was adorned with Sharpie tattoos, heavy eye makeup and some pink dreadlocks, ready to rock ‘n roll.  I love this place.  On Tuesday nights, we go out to a jazz club that opens only for about three hostels in the area. Take Five is a great place.  They accept us no matter how crazily we dress up, they have excellent karaoke, and the bartenders are awesome.

My first night back was a crazy headbanging rock night, with way too much karaoke.  Another guest named Ryan and I rocked out the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  He is even more obsessed with them than I am.

I should mention at this point that at that time almost all of the guests at the time were like me, repeat offenders, on their second or third trips to Carpe Noctem, some of them former workers.  Only two people were here as their first time, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be back.  There’s a reason Carpe Noctem has been ranked #1 on Hostelworld worldwide, and is currently #3.

And like that, I was back with a vengeance in the loopy, insane, awesome world of Carpe Noctem.  Suzi, the other owner, is now back from Australia and she is definitely the fun director of the hostel.  Since I’ve been back we’ve gone to hockey games, Cinetrip (a huge rave in the Turkish baths on New Year’s, definitely NOT to be missed for anything, it is phenomenal) and one mad trip to a place called Mongolian Barbecue.  There, you pay about the equivalent of $25 (it is a really really nice restaurant) and get five hours of unlimited food and beer and sangria.

But the food was even more amazing.  They have a long buffet line, some of it prepared dishes, but the majority of it consisting of different types of raw meat marinading in a variety of flavors.  There was goat, pork, chicken, beef, horse, rabbit, and lamb.  You fill up a plate with raw meat, take it to the crisply-uniformed grill man, and he cooks it all for you.  This is not a place for vegetarians.  You eat platefuls of nothing but meat, washed down with glass after glass of Dreher, a truly excellent Hungarian beer.  And after that, for the ones still standing, there was a hockey game.  And after that, for the few hardy souls still standing straight, there was, of course, a pub crawl.  I made it through the first pub and then Brad and I had to get Tumnus home, as he’d tried too hard to keep up with Brad, who is twice his size.

It’s a small world, this hostel.  Everyone knows everyone and it’s like a large, extended family because everyone just keeps coming back, and back, and moving to Budapest, and crazy stuff like that.  I’m starting to become one of the family as I meet more and more members.  I miss everyone now that I’m back in the States, but I’m keeping up with them online and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back soon.  I missed seeing Kurt again by a week, as he and Hawaii went to Thailand a week after I arrived the first time and he is coming back to Budapest today, less than a week after I left.  Speaking of which, their pictures of Thailand are absolutely phenomenal.  I’ve added it near the top of the list of places I want to see next.  It doesn’t hurt that I love Thai food.  The place looks absolutely gorgeous, paradise on earth–plus it’s ridiculously cheap and has good food.

Ah, I miss everything about Budapest.  I miss the people, I miss NOA Pizza across the street, the river, the street vendors, the supermarket, the trams, the goulash, the crazy traffic and taxi drivers, the language (Magyar is the second-hardest language in the world to learn, allegedly,) even the taste of the tap water.   I miss the people I met there and made friends with.

I’ve spent almost a third of my trip in Budapest so it’s no wonder that I know it better than any other city I visited.  I’ve walked home in a surprise snowstorm in flip-flops, had midnight snowball fights on the streets, made group dinners for the hostel, eaten group dinners for the hostel, slept in the staff room and every dorm room, cleaned the bathrooms, smoked the shisha, read every book on the bookshelf, spent too much time on the computers, and feel completely at home when I walk in the door of Carpe Noctem.  I know the streets of Budapest better than I do Traverse City.  I have an instinctual knowledge or something of this place.  I know the nearest supermarkets, secondhand shops, the routes to all the tourist attractions, the cost of admission, hours of entry and which Turkish baths are the best.  I know how much groceries cost at Kaiser’s, where the towels are hidden in the hostel, how much a taxi should cost, the website and cost of every delivery restaurant in district 6, both the ladies who work at NOA pizza across the street, the other good hostels in town (Tiger Tim’s and the Bubble,) and so on and so forth.  It wasn’t easy to leave and I seriously considered not getting on the horrible plane back to the States.

But I’m almost out of money and had to come back so I can earn some more to get back to Buuudapest.  (And Thailand!)

This trip was incredible.  It opened my mind to the numberless ways that people live and interact in the world and made me view my own country with far different eyes.  We have this culture of fear and ignorance in the US, unfortunately, where people are afraid to travel, or view it as a luxury or indulgence.  This is the wrong attitude to have.  Traveling has been the best thing that ever happened to me.  In American schools, we learn about America, and the attitude unfortunately exists in our culture that the most important country in the world, the only one worth really learning about, is America.  The other countries are something of a curiosity, something far away.  We are separated from the rest of the world (except for Mexico and Canada) not only geographically, but mentally.  Coming from that, it’s absolutely astounding to see how connected and educated the rest of the world is about everything, including us.  Coming from that, we look kind of like the dunce in the corner, afraid of everything.

Don’t get me wrong.  Americans are some of the friendliest, most outgoing, generous people you can meet–in general; you can’t stereotype, but certain generalizations do tend to hold true.  It’s a cultural thing.  However, we are ignorant compared to the rest of the world.  Look at Australia.  It’s built into their culture to travel for a long period of time, either when they graduate high school or university.  You will find Australians all over the globe, in every corner of every city and out-of-the-way town.  Instead of being afraid of travel, that’s just what they do.  And in general, they’re very good people.  Unprejudiced, friendly, intelligent, and guess what? They don’t have any bad stereotypes about them that I know of, unless it is that they drink too much and party too hard (true, but who can blame them?)  And they tend not to get in wars, as well.

It should be a requirement for every American to venture forth into the world for at least a few months, and I guarantee we would start to lose some of the negative stereotypes attached to us.  (That we’re ignorant, arrogant, love fighting, stuck-up, pretentious, redneck, etc. etc,)  It could only be an improvement for this country.

Some numbers: I was gone for 98 days, spent an average of $67 a day (including the transportation I bought in Europe but not my Eurail pass), spent $1349 on a Eurail pass which covered all my transportation save for about $100 of reservation costs, $x for in-city metros, trams, buses, etc, and about $450 for four in-continent flights; took over 39 train rides, the longest lasting 14 hours; visited 13 countries and 31 cities; and made 82 friends on Facebook, all of whom I still talk to.  I have invitations to go stay with people in countries all across the globe.  My favorite places were Budapest, obviously, but I also fell in love with Germany and Scotland.  I’d love to go back to both Edinburgh and Berlin and spend more time like I did in Budapest.

This was the best three months of my life and what I know now without a shadow of doubt that my road lies on the road and I’ll be back out there asap.  I’m not just going to put my souvenirs and old maps away in some drawer now and return to what everyone likes to tell me is ‘real life.’  There’s another real life out there, populated by the most interesting characters and places and adventures any novelist could ever come up with, and the difference is that it’s reality, not fiction, and anyone can access it if they want to.

I’ll see you on the road.

From now on I’ll probably devote this blog to travel advice and tips that I picked up on the road and wished I’d known before I left, at least until my next trip when it’ll go back to this.  If you know anyone who wants to travel, getting ready to travel, or who’s currently on the road, pass this link on.  I’d appreciate it and so would they. 🙂  Happy travels!

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Written over the door of the Carpe Noctem hostel where I just left after two strange, fascinating, and awesome weeks in Budapest.  You know what?  I think it’s true.  I got sucked into the place, somehow.  I made friends there I’ll have for the rest of my life.  I had the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had there.  I seized the night. 

I finally left Budapest yesterday afternoon to a very nearly teary farewell.  After one last farewell shisha it was time to get on the bus (the right one this time) to take me to Keleti train station and rejoin Western Europe as I stepped out of the busy, loud dirty concrete station into the plush newness of the Austrian railways RailJet train, glemaing and still with that new-train smell.  Off to one more night\day in Vienna (one last chance to check out its Christmas Market) before I go to Venice, that dying wreck of opulence. 

I haven’t been back in Austria for twenty-four hours yet and I’ve realized something unexpected: I already miss Budapest like crazy.  I don’t miss it just like another cool place that I wish I could have spent a little more time in, but more like home. I was in the supermarket last night looking for something for dinner and got really disappointed of course at the prices (I hate the euro with a passion now) but when I couldn’t find any Smack, I almost gave it up and hopped on a train straight back to Budapest.  Smack, just so you know, is like Ramen noodles but better.  Mainly because they’re called smack. 

This is what I miss about Budapest: cso-cso (foosball) is the national obsession, and you can’t go into a bar without running into at least three foosball tables.  In my two week residency at the Carpe Noctem, I got pretty good…ok, I stopped being quite so horrible at it.  To watch a group of Hungarians play it is like watching some geek rock Guitar Hero on super expert: you’re impressed, wonder how anyone could get that much skill, but aren’t sure if you yourself are dedicated enough to the noble art to actually devote as much time as they have to it.  Last night I tried a few games of cso cso at the hostel bar, but I won 8-2 every time without even trying, so that got boring quickly.  I miss Ian’s trash talk and Henry’s predictable plays, and Kaitie’s…well, Kaitieness. 

I miss the Hungarians, who stare at as though you are a piece of shit and had you been a fly, they couldn’t even be bothered to swat you, so deep does their loathing and apathy for you go.  I miss how the supermarket cashiers take ages to ring you up, give you incorrect change, and drop your money on the counter, forcing you to chase after rolling coins while her and the person she’s ringing up after you just stare at you like you just walked on their new sofa with muddy boots on.  I don’t know why, but I found that strangely endearing.  I miss how the bartender at the no-name shit bar we used to frequent will occasionally lose the ability to understand the word beer, even when sign language, pointing to the tap, the glass, and waving money are all employed in the quest.  She will also refuse to serve you if there are any Hungarians at the bar, even if they aren’t ordering anything.  She will just chat away to them, giving your imploring face a dirty look every so often.  And don’t you dare try to wave her down; you’ll get one scathing glance and good luck getting any more drinks for the rest of the night. 

I miss the noise and confusion of the streets.  These streets of Vienna are all unnaturally clean and empty.  There is a conspicuous lack of homeless people or street stalls selling everything from piles of used books to scarves and tights to wool jackets and underwear.  The supermarkets are boring–no smack here. 

But it’s not even all of those things.  I miss the people I met.  And, most of all, I miss the city itself with all of its crazy life, architeccture, and spirit.  Someday soon I am coming back to Budapest, and it’s going to be for more than two weeks.  A lot longer than two weeks.  Deciding on the spur of the moment to go there as I did was the best decision I ever made. 

Peace out.  Update from Venice.  Maybe I’ll have stopped feeling so homesick for Budapest by then.

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Hungry in Hungary? I am.  that’s because we Americans prepared an epic Thanksigiving Feast the likes of which will go down in the history books for the ages.

We’ve had a few setbacks, a few challenges, but with our American perseverance we pulled through to make an absolutely incredible meal.  Pictures forthcoming if I ever find my camera.

Our first setback was the turkey: the classic centerpiece of the meal.  We couldn’t find one small enough to fit in the oven.  Instead, we bought three chickens and what we thought was a ham, but turned out to not be cured, so it was just a big hunk of pork.  It tasted good anyways.

Our second problem was the pumpkin pie and the sweet potatoes.  The Hungarian traditional food is about as far away from your standard Thanksgiving food as you can get.  Pumpkins were nowhere to be found.  We finally hunted them down in a small specialty shop with no name off a dingy side street, but they were $7 a can so we gave up.  At the same place we also found sweet potatoes, so we decided to just get those.  The sweet potatoes were $6 a kilo, so we bought four–we had twenty people signed up for the dinner and more wanting to come.

This is not a large hostel; it’s in a converted apartment on the top floor.  There are three eight bed rooms and another four-five people sleeping in the staff room at any time.  The common room is only the size of a regular living room and the kitchen is a standard apartment kitchen…it’s close quarters.  Cramming twenty people and food into the room was interesting.  The dinner pulled together though, amazingly.  Usually when hostels try to do big group meals there is barely enough to pass around, but in the true spirit of Thankgsigiving gluttony there was heaps of food for everyone.

In fact, we still have some ham and potatoes in the fridge.  Omnomnom.

It was an interesting experience because of the ways that all the cultures came together for this one day: a distinctly American tradition, held in Hungary, with people from all over the world attending.  Guess what?  Pumpkin pie is not even known outside of the US.  I had to google some pictures of it for anyone ot even understand what it was.  Sweet potatoes, also quite uncommon.  We had heaps of trouble finding a ham, and we even sent the Hungarian girl out to get it so there wouldn’t be a language barrier.  The entire food culture is completely opposite the US.

 

It was a great night and I’m glad I stayed in Budapest for it.  I should be leaving here on Monday–Ian, the hostel owner, is putting bets on whether or not I’m actually going to, as this is my eleventh day here, I have no desire to leave, and I’ve actually been working here in exchange for a free room.  People who come in have been asking me if I work here, and I guess I do, now.  Haha.  Last night I ran the pub crawl and we scrubbed the hell out of the kitchen today to get rid of the fruit flies.  I even sleep in the staff room.

On Monday I think I’m going to Venice, then on up to France to meet up with some people I met back in Cologne, Germany, then it’s on to meet my friend in Madrid on the fifteenth.  We’re going to travel around for two weeks through Portugal, Spain, and France, and then she leaves and I’ll have another two weeks in Europe to cry about having to come home.  January 13 approaches at the speed of light, and I’m about as enthusiastic about it as i would be about a nice bout of swine flu.

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Buuuuuuudapesht

I’m still in Budapest.  I seem to be stuck here and unable to leave.  It’s an incredible city, with a great atmosphere–affordable, lively, packed full of history and Asian restaurants.  I’ve eaten only asian food in the past three days.  Pad thai, sushi, miso soup and many many noodles.

Once you get used to being in a country that isn’t quite first-world standard, it stops feeling scary and strange and starts feeling quite homelike.  I’m now used to signs that read, “Tilos, az atjaras!”  I have no idea what it means, but you get my point.  It no longer disturbs me that I understand nothing of the language, the culture, or the people.  Instead it feels really normal.  When I spent my four days in Austria after the Czech Republic, I was bored out of my mind.  German is easy peasy lemon squeazy.  And Western Europe–did I mention that it is boring compared to this?

So, Budapest. At the moment I’m not quite sure how long Im going to stay here.  I might stay through Thanksgiving and then move on.  I meet a friend in Spain in about three weeks, so I’ve got three weeks of random solo travel left before I have to discuss plans with other people.   I was supposed to leave yesterday–couldn’t leave.  I was supposed to leave today, but I missed my train.  At this point I might as well give up and just stay until after Thanksgiving.   We’ll see.  My hostel wants to have a big American Thanksgiving, and they want some Americans for authenticity.  Pumpkin pie recipes, anyone?    This is the greatest hostel ever.  There are only a few dorm rooms, so it’s a small, family like atmosphere.  The owners take us out every night to different bars and clubs in Budapest, and during the day we all hang out, go out to eat, do touristy things together, and jsut hang out and watch movies.  It’s such a family like atmopshere, or like all your best friends are staying in an awesome city with you.

Now, I’ve heard recently that some of my family thinks I’m turning into an alcoholic because I always seem to talk about it in my blog.  I’m going to admit it, I drink quite a bit.  But the cultural difference in the attitude that Europeans vs. Americans hold towards drinking is quite astounding.  Americans take this shit seriously.  Europeans don’t care.  You can order a beer or wine with your Big Mac jsut like a soft drink–they don’t see a difference.  Everywhere, you see people walking around the street or in shops with open bottles of beer.  It is regarded the same way as any kind of non-alcoholic beverage is.  Now that is interesting.  But the other thing is that the greatest way to talk to people is to go out for a few drinks at night.  Sometimes, the only way to meet locals is to go out to  a local bar or pub with a few friends from your hostel.  I may not be legal to drink in the US, but in Europe I’ve been able to drink for over a year, in some countries two or three years.  There is jsut an enormous difference in the attitude.  You know, seeing museum after museum, cathedral after cathedral, that is interesting, but that night in Munich when you danced a salsa with an Argentinean, drank a liter of beer and ate an enormous pretzel at the original Hofbrauhaus, and had a durum doner in the kebap shop with the Australian, that’s what gets remembered.  The people are the best part of the trip, hands down.  Call me an alcoholic, but so far I’ve managed to have fun without getting dangerously smashed, and I’ve learned how to drink.  Haha, a lot of my friends back home are clueless about this rather important skill.  The trick is to never accept shots of tequila, don’t try to keep up with the Aussies on the beer sculling front, and don’t ever drink as much as a German.

 

A’ight.

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I’m in BUDAPEST

Just wanted to share that because it is bloody well exciting.  I am in Budapest.

OK, technically I am in Pest.  Buda is the city on the other side of the river.  And you pronounce it Pesht, not Pest.  But details, details.

And I am in the greatest hostel ever.  It’s a nest of Aussies and I love Aussies.  I don’t think there is anyone here except for Australians.

And I had the best pad thai in the world for dinner and it cost like $5.  Muahaha.  In a nice restaurant.

And I’m listening to the Ghostbusters theme song.

I knew I had a good feeling about this city.

Also, there is apparently a caving opportunity here–for about fifteen dollars you get an all day guided tour of some sweet caves.  Spelunking here I come!

I spent the entire day on the train, but unfortunately I took the Austrian high speed RailJet to Budapest and didn’t get to take any scary eastern Europe trains.  Damn it.  Next time.  On the first train, there was this little tiny blond boy sitting a seat ahead of me, and he was absolutely fascinated by my dreads.  He kept peeking back and laughing for about two hours. I think his grandmother was embarrassed but I thought it was funny.  I played peekaboo with an Austrian kid on the train.  He was so cute.

The hostel has free computers, so when I actually get a chance to see Budapest (it was dark when I rolled in at 4.45 this afternoon) I’ll tell you all about it.

Later kiddos.

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