bye bye budapest


this morning i set out sightseeing again. i dont know why, but i’m super confused here in budapest. more confused than i’ve been elsewhere on my trip. i think a big part of it is probably the language. i really cant decipher it whatsoever and all of it just sounds so bizarre. so far, traveling in france was kind of easy since i knew some french… at least enough to barely scrape by. in morocco, i didnt know arabic, but french is their second language, so once again, i kind of got by. in spain, although i never took any spanish, i still know a handful of words… gracias, hola, uno, dos, treis, chalupa bell grande… you know, just the essentials. but here, i had absolutely not even the slightest idea what absolutely anything meant.

this made riding the metro quite difficult. i’m sure if someone just explained it to me once, i’d understand it right away, but the kiosks were a bit confusing. instead of other cities where you just buy a ticket and ride the metro anywhere you want, here they have like 5 types of tickets!! from what i was able to decipher, i think they are:a ticket for one ride on one train, a ticket for a ride where you can transfer once, but only for a limited time, a ticket where you can transfer once for an extended amt of time, a ticket where you can transfer up to 3 times, and another ticket which i wasnt sure what it did (unlimited transfers?). not only that, but the tickets have to be vaildated in between trains at these little boxes.

so i bought a ticket, validated it and went. on my way out, i was stopped by the metro police. i nervously handed over my ticket, praying that i had done everything right. i had read in the guidebook that tourists get fined all the time, and that the police dont take “i didnt know” for an answer. the lady looked at the ticket and then looked shocked and a little disgusted… but she gave it back to me and waved me on. errr, huh?? so, did i do it right? if so, what was the glare for? the thing is, i would have defintely been sure of geting the right ticket if SOMEBODY WOULD HAVE HELPED ME OUT! but… nobody would.

everyone that i’ve tried to ask for help here, has just brushed me off and been not very nice about it. when i ask people politely if they speak english, they usually just shake their head angrily and turn away. even policemen! now, i dont expect everyone here to speak english obviously… i just want them to be a bit nicer when they say no! when i’m back home, and people on the street try talking to me in spanish, chinese, or whatnot, i usually try to shrug and make a face that says “i *really* wish i could help you, but i cant! sorry!!” as opposed to making a face that says “please go jump off the nearest cliff you filthy piece of crap”.

anyways, regardless of all this, i tried to make the best of it and just walk around and enjoy the city. like i said earlier.. budapest is amazingly beautiful architecturally, although unfortunately, a lot of the buildings are marred and blackened from all the polution in the city.

well, despite the beauty of the city, i knew i had to get out of budapest… and also i was excited to get to croatia, so i took the 3pm train out. on the thrain i read this book called “the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime” by mark haddon. it’s really good!! if any of you is looking for an easy read that is funny, heartfelt,and a bit sad.. you should check it out!



after getting practically no sleep last night, i stumbled into a taxi at 6:40am this morning to go to the airport. apparently, the taxi guy had been waiting for me for 10 minutes, so he glared at me the whole time that he drove me to the airport. nice. i got to the airport to see a *huge* line for my flight to check in. nice. after waiting about an hour, i finally was able to board my flight. a few hours later, i arrived in a overcast, cloudy, and gloomy looking budapest. nice. i had read in the book that hungary was about to join the EU, so i was hoping that it would have switched to the Euro by now so i wouldnt have to deal w/ a new currency… but it hadn’t. i had to take out a crapload of “Forints” since it’s 200 of them to the dollar. the first few hostels i called were already booked, so i had to go w/ my fourth choice… which ended up costing 23$ just for a dorm bed! dude, i thought hungary was supposed to be *hella* cheap. i was under the impression that i could get by here on practically next to nothing and according to lonely planet “get away on about US$25 a day without scrimping”. i also had to pay 11 bux to take the minibus into town from the airport. hrm, 34$ and i hadn’t even eaten yet… somehow i started doubting i’d hit LP’s 25 dollar estimate.

the hostel i’m staying at is pretty trippy. instead of the room just being a wide open room w/ a bunch of beds strewn around haphazardly, there are huge dividers up all through the room, so each bunkbed has it’s own private little area. i guess you get more privacy that way, but it seems like it’d be harder to interact w/ others in your room like that. anyways, after checking in, i finally go to go eat. i was starving!! from what i read, hungarian food is usually a whole lotta meat, thick sauces, sour cream, and subsequently is not the healthiest food around. oh, and they’re really big on paprika too. i decided to try the paprika chicken, and it was actually really good… and very similar to what the guidebook said was typical: chicken in a thick creamy sauce w/ gobs of sour cream and paprika on it.

i was planning on doing this walking tour of budapest that i had inmy book, but unfortunately, the bridge to cross the danube was closed to foot traffic. why? i dunno, the guard wouldnt say. nor would he suggest a productive way fo getting across the river (he just told me to go to the next bridge which was *hella* far). not very helpful! actually, it kinda seems like everyone in this town isnt very helpful. or hapy for that matter. i dont know if it’s against the law for people here to smile, but they sure act like it is.

anyways, the town itself, is extremely beautiful. most of the buildings are huge and grandiose, built out of gigantic stone. in a way it’s similar to the buildings you see in paris. actually, budapest also reminds me of paris in the way that there are huge monuments, statues, and churches around every single corner. even without using the guidebook at all, if you just walk down the stret, you’ll see so much stuff. it was hard for me not to start just taking pictures of every damn building i saw!

so, the area i was heading to was old town in Buda (it turns out that budapest is actually made up of two old cities on opposite sides of the danube: Buda and Pest). the old town was really cool. first off, it’s autumn here (yeah, that should be obvious, but i just came from the summer climate of morocco), the leaves are changing colors and it’s just a realy nice time to be walking around outside. also, the architecture of the old town is really interesting and a lot of it is from mideval times. the most famous thing in the old city is fishermans bastion… an area high on the hill used for defense back in the day. it has tons of cool spiral staircases, archways, etc.