Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Szia Budapest!

I flew into Budapest in the late afternoon, having no Hungarian Forint. I knew i had to take the 200 bus to the blue metro line , but i needed tickets. I tried 3 different atms and none of them worked, and in usual form i stayed pretty calm but just got a little sweaty. I said to myself, what if no atms accept my debit card? I didnt make a back up plan! So many places here only take cash! Am i totally fucked? Well, in usual form, i asked for help, and was directed to a counter to buy my bus and metro tickets. Thanks, tourist desk! They informed me none of the atms work, which is pretty convenient if you ask me!
Getting to the hostel was pretty simple, and i was greeting my jasmina and emily who offered me all the info i needed for budapest, plus a hot beverage. I really just wanted a shower! There were only two other girls staying there, and i immediately felt relaxed and comfortable. The buildings at least a hundred years old, with a tonne of ither inhabitants. I loved it! I went for groceries, more than enough for my stay, and made about three servings of pasta and sauce with mozzerella, mushrooms and sausage, and ate it all. Watched bridesmaids with the hostel workers and had a laugh over skype. 

The next morning i awoke to a foggy rainy day, which was definitely not the best day for walking a million steep steps up Gellert Hill to the Citadell, but i did it. I could tell it was usually an amazing view through the fogginess. My hostel is very close to szanadsag hid (bridge), which i walked to get to the hill. I then walked all the way to the castle and the castle ruins where the old one once stood. It is now mostly rubble that is currently being excavated. I was pretty damp and cold by this time, so i hit up the Hungarian National Gallery which was pretty swate. Of course, i mostly enjoyed the more contemporary pieces. Nearig the end though, i was mostly thinking about how i could sneak the sandwiches i packed for lunch. Still a good old time.

I then wandered slowly to the meeting place for the free walking tour, and stopped at h&m and zara and then for coffee and choccy, a new daily ritual... The walking tour took us to castle hill district, and it was really quite fun. There was a group of cute men from the states, two out of three of which are studying in rome to be priests...they were fun :)
We ended at mattias church and  fishermans bastion, that were so amazing, and after the tour ended i went inside the church, which was absolutely stunning.

Went to a few shops on the way home including a beautiful vintage and reworked clothing shop called Restock:

And then i got totally lost (dont ask me why i didnt just follow the Danube home) and hungarian baby helped me find my way. I guess he really didnt want to work on his power point presentation due the next day... I thanked him for not stealing me and went inside. And i stayed home for the rest of the night. I was done.

Elvira and Robert picked me up Wednesday morning and Robi immediately took us on a goose chase to find a vintage shop i had listed in a message i had sent them. It sure was a nice shop, especially the wedding gowns (kinda my few fave things?), but the stuff i wanted was too pricey and i left empty handed. After that, we took the train to Tatabanya where they had left their car, and we drove immediately to a park with an giant eagle monument (whose wingspan was 7 metres across!). Robi also led us into a cave that had a pretty view over the town... It was pretty cool, and cold and rainy, so we left. We then went to Elvira and Robi's house and gad some food and egg liqueur and wine. I asked to see some pictures of elvira and my mom and auntie, and she produced a  keepsake box filled with photos my aunt has sent over the last 45 years with descriptions on the back, including some of my sisters and i! 

For those of you who dont know: when Elvira was a child, her and her family left hungary as refugees and ended up renting space in my mother's family's house in winnipeg, in around 1958, i suppose. In the 60s her father was homesick for hungary so they moved back, via boat, which elvira said took 11 days! The move back was really hard for everyone, and my aunt and elvira vowed to stay in touch. And well, its been a over 50 years since then. 

Later that night we visited elviras brother at his auto part shop, and i met him and his son. Her brother was too young to remember much from winnipeg. After this we hit up the local mall and checked out a secondhand shop, then headed home to relax. The next day we checked out the Bend of the Danube river, a picturesque view with a castle included. It looked a bit touristy but since its winter we didnt have to pay for entry or to take pictures with any of the torture devices (pictures to follow), so that was pretty sweet. After that, it was a long drive to the train station to get back to budapest.

Once we got back we visited Great Market Hall which is a building filled with stalls of food and gifts... Im kinda bummed i never got around to trying langos, a deep fried bread with your choice of toppings. Next time, i suppose.

I was dropped off at my hostel after the market, with a tonne of food elvira packed for me (what an auntie!), and they left. I changed and got ready for the day then headed out to see the shoes on the danube and the parliment building, plus and vintage shops i happened upon. It was so nice outside for a walk, so i was in high spirits! It was quite a hike to the shoes, but well worth it. There were many more shoes than i expected! 

A really beautiful memorial.

The parliment building was nearby, but it was absolutely covered in contruction... I didnt even get close. Everyone at the shoes was forced to climb up a ladder and over a short fence and across a busy street to eacape, unless you wanted to walk a ways back, so obviously we all did it. I said to myself, is this a joke? Are they laughing at us? It was pretty funny.

I wandered around and checked out the exterior of st stephens basilica again, then looked at a couple of vintage shops until it got dark. I went for doner, but it was sadly not as great as i had in berlin. Its all in the bread, i think? There was a bar next door that was reccomended on the map from my hostel, Szimpla. I bad no idea how to get in, and i followed some dudes in what looked like those long plasticy strips in the doorway, like youd see at a grocery store. This bar was insanely large and quite industrial. It felt like i was underground, and the decor was pretty wacky. It was pretty boring at that point, so i had one pint then headed back to the hostel without much trouble. There were a few more guests at that point, and i announced that we should go on a pub crawl, to which everyone agreed. We hit up a few different places and had our share of bevvies and dancing and met some nice dudes from brazil. I also met some canadians which im always excited about. From toronto, though. Lol 

The next day i very much felt like i had gone on a pub crawl the night before. Wow. I somehow got up and got ready eventually and took the metro to city park with some funky young girls from Austria. We ended up meeting australian dave right away at Heroes square, which is actually a really impressive monument! They had a skating rink nearby which looked pretty busy, and we kept on to the castle and the park area, where we saw a few interesting monuments including the egg timer. 

After that i was feeling pretty rough so i took my leave to go to the Szechenyi baths, which is i believe the largest in at least hungary. I really wanted to get a massage but it was kinda pricey for me, so i just used the baths. The ones i ised werent as hot as hottubs, but still felt pretty good. My favourite part was going outside on such a sunny day and sitting in a warm pool. The view was so beautiful and i loved the breezy feeling. (If you love averting your eyes from scantily dressed old men and couples who are making out, baths are the perfect place to go! Especially on valentines day ;) it was cool, nonetheless.

I headed back to the hostel and decided i had to have at least an hour nap before i met Petra (Elviras niece who was my penpal when we were kids). I actually felt a bit better after and my head didnt feel like it was splitting open...a plus. I met her at her work--she is the store manager of a 4 floor Zara store (aka the boss!) and we walked to a popular restaurant district to have dinner and catch up. It was so awesome to meet Petra in person after so many years. She seems like a great gal, and we had a lot to talk about. Great night!

After that i headed home to get all my stuff in order for venice the next day. I booked an accomadation and didnt really have anything else planned. I almost got charged for having two large bags getting on the plane, but i just played dumb and said oh, is this (ridiculously overstuffed) tote bag big? She asked it it was filled with cots and i said yes, so she saud to take them out and it should be fine. And thats how i avoided paying 60 euros to check my backpack! (New rule: play dumb)

Then i was off to venice!

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