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AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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Time Since Reboot

  • 1177 days, 23 hours, 6 minutes, 17 seconds ago

Budapest

Buda Across the Danube First:  a word about how this travelblog / photoblog thing is going to work.  I think what I will do is a mass upload of all photos taken for a given day (and suitable for public consumption).  Any of those photos that I subsequently post in the fotoblog will be deleted from the main flickr vacation archive, which can be found here.  Thus, there will remain a separation between the “art” photography and mere snapshot photography.  This blog – the word version of the travelblog – will be updated frequently, but probably not every day (case in point:  this is day 2, and my first blog of the journey).  The frequency and, indeed, the quality will be influenced by such variables as 1) whether I have to pay for internet access, and how much, 2) how tired I am at the end of the day, and 3) how much I actually have to say. 

Now, on to Budapest, Hungary – the first stop on our nearly 2-week eastern European excursion.  In brief summary:  it has been a nice visit.  The hotel (the Boscolo New York Palace) is superb, as is our extravagant junior suite with balcony overlooking the large ring road.  The people-watching has been spectacular.  We are staying on the Pest side of the Danube, which is a little more gritty and metropolitan.  The Buda side, where the old Hapsburg castle and various churches and ruins stand, is more historical and picturesque.  As our hotel is located about a mile and a half from the riverbank, there has been a considerable amount of walking.  My legs are definitely feeling the distances covered over the last two days, and are mighty grateful that the remainder of our accommodations should be located closer to the city centers. 

The culinary experience began at a mediocre level – the first two restaurants offered slightly bland menus and inattentive staff.  Yesterday evening’s and tonight’s meals, however, were outstanding.  Allow me, in fact, to recommend both the Apostolok and the Sorforras Etterams if you are ever in the neighborhood.  Outstanding food and service at each place.  Sadly, the service at those establishments does not seem to adhere to the norm – which is quite rude, unfriendly service from restaurant staff… to the point of being downright annoying.  A black mark against the city. 

For a city which has been so hard hit by the economy (and it shows, what with the overabundance of vagrancy and shuttered businesses), you would think the working citizens would be more welcoming of foreigners who are willing to spend their money here.

My preconceived notion of Budapest was one that was firmly European, yet still slightly exotic (eastern influences and what-not).  The fact of the matter is that it is not exotic at all.  It is a European city in the same vein as Prague and Vienna.  However, where Vienna was clean, friendly, and stupefyingly beautiful, Budapest is less so on all counts.  A neat city.  A great travel experience.  But on the scale of “would I want to visit here again… or would I want to live here,” my answer is a resounding “no, not really.”   Vienna is the standard I will judge every European city by.  It captured my heart two years ago and, if I was only fluent in German, I would feel a strong inclination to try to relocate there.  It is that thrilling.  Better than Paris.  Budapest, on the other hand, is Vienna-but-poor.  There is a hard, sad edge to the people here.  I identify with them, but I do not want to live among them.  One visit is enough.  It is off to Slovenia for me. 

The next post will be from Ljubljana.  Stay tuned.

Hello / Goodbye

I am happy to announce that tax season officially ended yesterday at midnight.  I am also happy to announce that I am officially getting the heck out of here at 4:44 this afternoon for two weeks in eastern Europe (specifically Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia & Bosnia-Herzegovina).  With any luck, this time tomorrow I will be kicking my shoes off in our posh Budapest hotel room and deciding where to eat our first Hungarian meal. 

It is my ambitious intention to update this blog regularly throughout the journey.  I will also be uploading pictures to Flickr, if anyone feels like taking a peek.

So, wish us luck with the airlines – we change planes in Chicago and Munich, and I would very much like our luggage to follow along with us.  And here’s hoping for some good sleep on the transatlantic leg, since I’ll probably need to be sharp for the rush-hour drive into the city.  Should be interesting.

Best wishes from vacationland, then.  Adieu.

NOTICE

closed

Please do not expect much from me over the final two weeks of tax season.  Feel free to read some of my previous posts.  Or go outside and play.  Or read a book.  Enjoy yourselves.  I shall emerge from my little cell and join you very, very soon.