Budapest!

Hello, I’m in Budapest! And I have a hotel room! My own… room! My own… bathroom! Dreamy 🙂

I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday because the internet here died for some reason, and I was getting irritated so I decided to go watch Bones. But anyway… where did we leave off?

I think I left you 10km up, so let’s start from there… arrived in Budapest on Monday, caught a shuttle to the hotel for about 13 euro. Quickly found out that Euro is not the primary currency here… I had read a bit about their own currency, but being in the Schengen area I assumed that the Euro would still be dominant. Turns out the Hungarian Forint is the currency, and I think it’s more confusing than any of the past currencies… $1 CAD is approx 223 HUF. So…. yeah. But the confusion makes sense, since it kinda goes with the country… Hungarian is apparently one of the hardest languages to learn! I’ve given up on the basics lol, better luck next time.

But it’s really not that bad – I’ve picked up some local currency from the ATM (having to again figure out how much to get… not too much… not too little), Euros are not used at all, except maybe hotels and a few restaurants. English is so/so here, I’d say maybe 50% of people I’ve met so far have a passable understanding of it, but it’s certainly not standard.

It is a beautiful country, I like it – people are generally nice, the weather is beautiful this week (hanging around 10 – 13 degrees), transit system isn’t too bad, they have a metro, busses, trams and a funicular, so pretty extensive. The metro isn’t as direct as I’d like, but the busses certainly go everywhere.

Anyway Day 1 was spent getting a SIM Card, which took very little time actually – Vodafone was the pick for this country. There’s a big mall only 5 mins away from there (walking), so it was easy to find and pickup. Also found out that there’s a cinema in the mall which is great – I’m going to FINALLY see Lincoln tonight! Also Day 1 I grabbed dinner at the mall, walked around the area a bit, and returned to the hotel for the night.

LOVING having my own room. It’s so nice not to have to worry about anyone else in the room, waking people up, being woken up, leaving my shampoo and stuff in the shower, etc, etc. It’s great. I’m going to miss it. Again.

Day 2 began a bit slowly, I think being in a hotel is making me a bit lazy. It was nice to sleep in a bit. Then beat Shauna at Ticket to Ride before heading out. I went to the Terror Museum, which documented the invasion of Hungary by the Germans and then the Russians. You’ve really got to feel bad for the country and it’s people – they had a really rough time of it. One after the other, people surviving one only to be tortured, killed in the other. It was a good museum, and a good reminder to future generations. The jail cells in the basement were particularly creepy – different cells depending on the type of torture they wanted to inflict upon you. One where a bit of the floor was filled with water and they had to sit in it, one jail cell cut in half so you couldn’t stand up with a light right at eye level on 24/7, padded cells, tiny little solitary units, etc, etc. Not particularly pleasant, but lots of information, all translated… a very worth while museum to visit.

It left me wondering if something like that could happen again in this time with the increase in communication devices, media presence, etc… but realistically, there are still regimes out there that are likely similar to this. I would really hope that once a country becomes “free” and experiences modern technology, modern press, etc it could not go back, but who really knows? In the name of security, in the name of prevention, safety, etc so many things can (and have been) justified. It’s a scary thought.

I was there for a good three hours, and after that I decided to take in a River Cruise at 5pm. I went back to the hotel to dump some stuff and then set out for the cruise… unfortunately I typed the wrong thing into Google Maps, and wound up on the OTHER side of the river. So I got to watch my little river cruise sail away… but that’s ok. It did give me the opportunity to walk across the Chain Bridge, which I wanted to do, explore that area, which I wanted to do, and find out where the Opera house was, which I wanted to visit for a tour. So all good 🙂

After a few hours and dinner I returned back to the hotel for the night, caught up on some work, and eventually turned in after getting frustrated with lack of internet, and watching some TV.

Today I experienced the same degree of laziness as yesterday… it’s so nice not to have to worry about what the person in the bed next to or on top of you is doing! That being said, there have been some awesome room mates, so I’m not exactly bashing the whole experience 😉

Anyway I eventually got up and went downstairs for some internet’ing and a little more work, finally made it out of the hostel and went to the Opera house for a tour 🙂 Beautiful Opera house, guided tour in English which was terrific – the guide was great. Lots of interesting stuff, PLUS I found out that Opera tickets are AMAZINGLY cheap. So I picked up a ticket to Don Giovanni tomorrow, 5 rows from the stage, dead centre, for $2.50 CAD. Yikes! Bit of a price difference from home :p it is a dress rehearsal, so slightly less, but even if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be much more.

I’m kinda excited to see the dress rehearsal anyway.

So that will be fun for tomorrow! After that I went to the Heroes’ Square – always amazing to see the memorials in all these different countries, and this one was very impressive. Cool to walk through.

After that I headed back to the hostel… picked up some dinner from a Gyro place nearby, very yummy, and now I’m doing this before heading out to see Lincoln!!! Luckily in English :p just Hungarian subtitles. My first movie popcorn in a while!!!

So I leave you with that… as I run off to a movie. Have a good night!!!