Budapest, Hungary - May 14, 2010
Have now been in Budapest for a couple of days. Quite the yin and yang of experiences. First the impromptu party at the hotel with the hotel owner Frankie, his friend Johnnie, Frankie's son Frankie Junior, David the hotel bartender, Wilma from Holland, Reinhold and Hans from Germany and various othes who drifted in and out. Or maybe that was me drifting in and out... of consciousness. Frankie is a great connoisseur of 60's and 70's music with over 5000 LP's. Well the bar had a good internet connection and so we were all pulling up our favorites on YouTube and singing along with them... and playing air guitar and whatever instrument we could pantomime. Oh well... a good time was had by all.
Rainy Day Somewhere in Hungary
Scene of the Drunk-Out
But killing a few brain cells may explain why I got myself totally lost in town the next day. Actually I was so lost, that I couldn't find Budapest at all ... and that was just walking. The hotel I am staying at is called the Attila Hotel and it is on a big street called Attila Utca. Like most hotels, this one had one of those free city maps and right on the map is a big street labeled Attila Utca. Well I assumed we were along that street. No, the address is on Attila Utca, but that's not the street we're on. The addresses here make no sense really. And we're actually a lot farther north than I thought from town.
Well my plan was to only walk down the main street towards town, and walk back. A pretty simple plan, so I didn't bother to stick the GPS in my pocket before I left. Anyway, I walked and walked and got to a bridge that I assumed from the map was Magrit Hid and thought, ugh, I've come such a long way, but from the map I still have such a long way to go to get downtown. So I'll buy a bus pass and take a bus back to the hotel, regroup and come back later. I took a bus... but it didn't go the right way, so after three stops I got off. Now, nothing on the map matched up at all. So I started asking people on the street about getting back to the bus station. I couldn't get across what I wanted to do. People were sending me all directions which only really got me totally confused. It was so overcast, I couldn't even figure out which way was north. Finally I stopped an old guy with a dog... I held his dog and also had to lend him my glasses so he could read the map, but he kept turning the map around and scratching his head and mumbling what I assumed in Hungarian was “what the ...??”. Finally he indicated to me that the map was crap and we shook hands and he walked off still scratching his head. Five or six people later, and with a few others gathered around, an older woman came up and started using a word of two of English. Seeing that was working she kept adding more words and finally she was pretty much speaking nearly perfect English. You could just see it coming back to her. She was very nice. Anyway, the breakthrough came when she pointed out that I was still off the map, at the north end of an island in the Danube and that the end that was on the map was the southern end of theisland. That's why people were turning the map around! They were confused too! Anyway, she got me back on track and walked with me to make sure I got back to the bus station. From there it was easy to figure out and I made it back to the hotel, not on a bus, but on a train. That's how far I had come! I had left for town at 10 in the morning expecting to be gone an hour tops. I made it back to the hotel about 3:30. It was a real learning experience though: 1) Don't assume. 2) That GPS ain't leaving my pocket when I go out. 3) Addresses don't mean much to people around here so giving anyone an address is pointless.
Hungarian Parliament in a Rare Patch of Sunshine
So today was my first real tourist day here. Decided again to take a bus tour to get oriented. This was one of the hop-on hop-off ones. Sounded reasonable. Anyway. it was one of the open sided things. Problem was is that it started to rain just as it departed the first stop. It would rain, then taper off, then rain again. And then the wind came up and it just poured. I had a “window” seat, which just meant that with the rain coming into the bus sideways, I got to be a human shield for the lady sitting next to me. Some people started opening their umbrellas; the guide hurriedly gave out emergency ponchos. Too late. They just blew around anyway. Plastic seats trapped the water so you just sat in a puddle and got a soaking ass. Also, the idea of a hop-on hop-off is that people get off. Well hell, nobody wanted to get off in that rain. At least if you had an aisle seat you had a fighting chance. So the bus filled more and more at each stop and eventually the bus was just splashing past the stops stranding people with no ride. What a disaster. Through all this, you have a pair of headsets cranked up to full blast trying to overcome the din of the traffic and the thunder and rain.
I bailed, nursing a splitting headache and shriveled rear end, at the Buda Castle area on the top of the hill and plunked my wet ass down at a pretty nice INSIDE cafe. Good food, inexpensive. Very good. By the time lunch was over, the rain had stopped (for the moment) and so I did a few tourist things. Good timing. As I was getting my ticket for St. Mathias there, I saw a bunch of older men and women, the men in suits and the women all in black skirts, white blouses and red scarves getting off of a tour bus. Wow, that's a pretty formal tour. I've seen where everybody on a old folks tour wears a badge or something... but all dressing the same? That's just... well.. kinky. Anyway, I went into the church and did my looking around and then noticed that the uniformed old folks were all sitting up in the nave, not normally open to the public. Eventually, they stood and lined up, one of them pulled out a violin and they all began to sing. It was a choir. Duh... And they were wonderful. Pretty neat idea. From their accents, I assume they were from Scotland. What a cool idea. A touring choir that probably just gets to go to really neat old historical places and sing. They get a thrill singing in those places I'm sure, and for those who happen to be in the church at the right time, what a wonderful treat. It really was great.
St. Mathias in Buda
Coming out of the church it was sunglasses weather, but you know, by the time I walked two blocks to the hop-on hop-off stop, it was pouring again. One of those rains with just huge, wet drops. Every one a water balloon. And after spending the last couple of hours trying to get my underwear to go where it was supposed to go and not to other places, I was less than thrilled I'll tell you to be right back in it. Just screw this crap. This rain is ridiculous. I have not had a full day of nice weather since London, almost a month ago.
Pest from Buda
Plug on. So I took the bus and two subways to the Budapest Opera House hoping to get inside. Lo and behold... I show up at 5 till 4 and they only offer tours at 3 and 4. Perfect. Got a ticket and right onto a tour. What a truly beautiful place. Google it. Budapest Opera House. No pics without a special ticket so don't have any, but it's pretty well done. Some young girl gave the tour, she was really funny and cute and just sort of cheered everybody up as there was a general gloom I guess because of the weather today.
So nice day I guess despite the weather. The wet underwear will dry. Have to watch out for terminal butt rot though.
More Stinkin' Rain
Have also been trying to sort stuff out for getting into, through and out of the 'stans... Turkmenistan in particular. Lot's of headaches. We'll have to see how things shake out. Little EEE, my computer had a kunniption (sp?) fit last night and I had to take it back to factory defaults. Lost a bunch of stuff I had installed. But he's feeling better now. Probably just gas.
One more day here tomorrow, then off on Sunday morning for points unknown. Think I will find a small town in SE Hungary. Forecast is for rain for at least the next 4 days in Hungary. Might be getting better in southern Romania. Will update as I can.
Bobblehead Bob sends his love. Bike is running well, but still needs an oil change and valves adjusted. Not really a good place here to work. Hate to get oil on their cobblestones.