Friday, October 1, 2010

Old School - From Behind the Iron Curtain

In our second installment of my blog before I had a blog, I travel to Budapest.  Though I only spent a weekend there, Budapest will rank quite high on my bid list should it be available.  I definitely want to go back.

Hello all,

Its been a little over a week since I last wrote. I
meant to write this one earlier, but I have been busy
working since I got back.

Budapest was a great time. I got into Budapest last
Tuesday. I found my hostel, dropped off my stuff and
went looking aroubnd. For those of you who don't
know, Budapest is really two cities in one. Buda and
Pest seperated by the Danube. The two sides really
could not be more different. Buda is very hilly, with
a castle and some other "old" stuff around it. Pest
is completely flat - literally no inclines whatsoever.
Most of Pest's buildup comes from during the Hapsburg
era of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. The whole part
of the city is covered with cool architectural styles
that just seem to say to me European in the very
stereotypical sense.

That night I walked a little around Pest, going down
to the river and walking along it, crossing the Danube
on the Chain Bridge - the city-s most famous bridge.
After eating at some place (odd thing, the menu had
Hungarian, German, and Italian, but no English - good
thing I know Italian), I went back to the hostel and
found some people to go out with for a drink or two.

On Wednesday, I was going to walk all around Pest. I
went to the synagogue - the largest in Europe and
second largest in the world. I think its the first
time I ever went into a synagogue, because they made
me put on one of those round hats. Also, this
synagogue is known for looking more like a roman
catholic church rather than a synagogue, so it was
really difficult to force myself NOT to make the sign
of the cross. I walked around more of the city and
then made my way to City PArk. Its a neat little park
in town that has a lake, a castle, a few museums, and
hero-s square. Hero's square is one of the few things
I had seen before on tv-quite a nice square.

I also went to the art museum there, which features a
nice collection of Italian, Spanish, and French art.
Now some of these pieces were quite good, but I have
become way to jaded about art. I kept looking at the
artists and wondering who these guys were. Even when
they had a Raphael there - quite an acomplishment- I
felt it wasn-t raphaels best day with a brush. Going
daily to the vatican museums can really take away
one's perspective on art.

After I left the art museum, I decided to go to Statue
Park. Statue park houses all of the old communist
staues that were in budapest, but were taken down
after the fall of communism. My directions said to
take the bus to the end of the line, then catch this
other bus to staue park. So I get on the bus and I am
soon into the suburbs of Pest. Finally the line ends,
I get off and I am next to a huge shopping mall called
the "outdoor Asian center" Oops, I took the bus the
wrong way. So I never made it to statue park. Iwnt
to the hostel for a bit and then that night I went on
a pub crawl.

On Thursday, I was headed to Pest. My first stop was
up to castle hill, I took the funicular (one of my
favorite words). The views from castle hill were
astounding... absolutely unbelievable to look down on
the Danube and over at flat Pest. Included in the
view are St. Stephens's basilica and the parliment
building which is modeled after Britains. I also went
to Mathias Church and Fisherman's market.

Then I walked down the hill headed to the thermal
baths. After lunch I went to the thermal baths.
Budapest has natural warms spring waters under the
city, which certain places have brought into warm
baths. It is said to be great for several different
diseases, and soreness from walking around hills all

The bath house I went to, had both the thermal baths
and a swimming pool. I would have done both, but it
cost more so I went just to the baths. (note: i never
really understood the hungarian money which basicvally
equaled 200:1. So i didn-t realize until later that I
could have gotten a 30 minute massage for $15). the
baths were split from male and female and I soon
understood why. Now I had planned on doing this
before I left Rome so I brought my swimtrunks, however
not many people did. if you didn-t bring a duit they
gave you a little white apron. In the front it
covered about the size of a sheet of paper, in the
back - nothing. I had another American guy offer me
20 bucks for my suit as I went to change.

The baths were nice. There were two main pools - not
huge, about the size of someone's pool at home. Big
enough to not have to be right next to someone. One
bath was the temperature of warm pool water. The
other was the temperature of a hot bath when you first
get in and it didn't cool off. There was also a steam
sauna and a cold pool - which was absolutely freezing.

Now I went to the baths by myself and it would have
been fine, except people watching is not something you
want to do when its all guys in little aprons that
don-t cover much. For those in the pools its fine,
but those in walking around, puts everything you don-t
want to see basically at eye level. Lets put it this
way... never in my life have I been glad to see men
wearing speedos.

The baths were quite relaxing though and I did spend a
few hours there. then I went back to the hostel and
laid around a while. that night, I ended up going and
seeing a movie. I saw hitchhiker's guide to the
galaxy, which was hilarious. Much better than I
expected. "So Long and thanks for all the fish"
better at least get nominated for best song next year.

On Friday, I walked around alittle bit before I caught
my plane home. Since I've gotten home on Friday, I
have been working pretty much every day, so thats
basically what i've done since then.

I'd like to hear what's going on with everyone back
home, so please send me an email.


A view of Budapest

Hanging out in Hero's Square

This was a statue outside the synagogue.  It represented some aspect of the Holocaust.
I think each branch was for a person from Budapest who died in the camps.

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