Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Apparently the first thing you need to know about Budapest is how to pronounce (see title). The Magyars don't like the Anglican pronunciation at all.
When I got to the city, I once again did the subway to McDonalds shuffle, this time to find a map to my hostel, which turned out to be about 100 feet from the McDonalds (epic). My first night, I treated myself to a really big Hungarian dinner. I am in love with Hungarian food. Basically, they take meat. They fry it, and find some way to add cheese. Lots of cheese. Then they give you lots of soup and lots of beer, and then they way undercharge you. I ate better in Budapest than I did anywhere else (well at least it tasted better).
My next routine that I developed thanks to Brooke and Gerald was the free walking tour. I would do this several more times throughout Europe. The Budapest one was pretty fun though. the city, while massive is really quite charming. There is a lot to do, more than Vienna for sure. The favorite thing I did was to go to a Hungarian bath. It was so great. I spent the better part of a day in a 95 degree mineral bath, playing chess with old men. Then I saunad, drank cheap beer, sulfur bathed, cold bathed, hot bathed, got a massage. I don't know if my body has ever felt better than when I dragged myself out of the bath around 9 o'clock.
Budapest is divided into two parts. One side of the river was Buda, the other Pest, and somebody some long time ago united the two. There are bridges across the Danube, but the two sides are very much distinct from one another. Pest being the actual city, and Buda being more like the Alpharettaish rich suburb. Buda is built into the hills, and because Hungary is a very mineral water rich place, lots of caves have formed in the Buda hills. Including the "labyrinth" where people waited out bombing raids during WWII. You can go down in it. The highlight is a wine fountain. The lowlight an anticapitalist art exhibit (really weird).
After Budapest I wanted to go to Prague via the night train, but Slovakia sucks, and because that train goes into Slovakia by like five miles, and Slovakia is not an EU member or something, my Eurail pass would not cover it. So, instead I took a train back to Vienna, went to my favorite Chinese restaurant by the train station, hit happy hour up at my hostel, talked with some randos for a couple of hours, and took the night train from Vienna to Prague, which was miserable.
Basically Vienna to Prague is less than the distance of Athens to Savannah. So, there is no way to turn that into a night train, but oh do they try. The train leaves Vienna at 10 and gets into Prague at 4. As in 4 in the morning. Only one car actually goes all the way to Prague as well, so if you're not on the right car from the beginning, you have to switch cars (twice if you're me) and then the car is full except for the reserved seat that you don't know is reserved. So you fall asleep, and then a cop comes and kicks you out, because it's reserved for him, so you try to sleep standing up. Then what are you supposed to do in a city that you've never been to at 4 in the morning? Sleep in the train station is the answer, until the police wake you up and tell you to leave because they think you are homeless.
Photos of the Hungarian bath, and Pest from Buda. A photo of the wine fountain to come.