Happiness Is A Warm Budapest

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Leaving Poland and Slovakia
My last day in the Tatra mountains, the weather got nice, but nevertheless, I took off to Poprad, one of the few places I was able to get to in Slovakia from Zakopane. But, because of the timetable for getting there and the fact that there was only one train to Budapest, I could either try to find a place and stay another two days (to make it worthwhile) or just go. As you can guess from the title, go I did.

Now, perhaps because I didn't take advantage of the weather there, or perhaps because of air currents, ocean currents, and something called meteorology, the weather here hasn't exactly been warm. Well, no, that's not true. It's warm. But it's wet. Which makes it humid. And likely to thunderstorm. With this in mind, I set out on the town. And that's really all the weather I've seen here, other than the night I arrived, which was hot.

Budapest by night
Ah, the night I arrived. I remember it well... I arrived at 10:40, thanks to my train running almost an hour late, thinking that I'd be out of luck for a map or place to stay. Lo, the Tourist Info was open until midnight. Budapest - 1, Zakopane - 0. They got me a hostel and even a shuttle there, which took me across the Danube river and really got me excited to be here; it's beautiful! Budapest took an insurmountable lead over Zakopane. Or did they? Yes they did. Coming up next, did they really?

More Budapest by night
The answer may shock you: yes. I loved Budapest and I'd only been in it for an hour. My hostel was across the street from a garden bar which was hopping even at midnight on a Tuesday, the city was beautiful, and the Tourist Info guys were actually very useful. It turned out that my hostel was garbage, though, the Hostel Bakfark, dirty showers, no shower curtains, a pillow that doubled as a heavy duvet, and as nice as the proximity to the bar was, well, it was loud. Even with the windows closed, which just made the room all that much hotter.

But I left there the next day, found a better hostel (Prima) and, since they were full on Wed night, I stayed in a guest house across the street for the first night, which was pretty much like staying in some cool young guy's house. With 12 other people. Good times! The guy at the hostel told me about this cool show on boat A38 on the river, outdoor, very alt/indie rock Hungarian band, and best of all... free. So I set out on the town until then, just sort of walking around in the rain. My rain jacket had come in handy, but I thought the show would be cancelled.

The A38 Boat Club
I went out that night with plans of doing a little shopping/looking around, and then heading to a pub the guy from the guest house recommended for live music. The rain had stopped and I thought myself in the clear (so much so that I left my rain jacket at home), so I decided to give the boat a go. As did many others. It was too full to even get on, but looked very cool (sad I couldn't get in), and I met a couple Hungarians living in France and a guy from Paris, all young film directors, and after a little chatting, we decided to give up on the line (the boat was already beyond capacity according to the bouncers) and head out. So we went to a little garden pub which was quite cool and there's NO WAY that anyone there was a tourist aside from me. Because you'd never find the place. It was behind an unmarked anonymous door, but full of Hungarians. I don't know why the camera didn't come out while we sat there, but sadly it didn't - it was a good time.

More rain in Budapest
It had begun to really pour while we were in the garden part of the bar, so we went inside and sat some more, and the rain had let up a bit. I caught the tram home but decided to miss my stop; I wanted pictures of the river by night. So, I got off on the opposite side of the bridge and snapped a few. I was crossing towards the middle of the bridge and the rain really started to pour again. But I had to get my picture. So I stood there shielding my camera, drying a spot of railing, and trying in vain to get a good night shot. Finally, I had to give up and hug the lampposts for dryness. I ran across the bridge, stopping for breath here and there on the lee side of the lamps, and getting soaked all the while. Finally, the bus came and I grabbed it back towards the hostel, where it REALLY started to come down. In the end, I was drenched but I made it back.

Melinda and I at the reunion with Jess
And today, imagine my surprise when, once again, it's raining. So I didn't get to the statue park but am instead posting this lengthy update on my activities and looking around in indoor museums and a bit outdoors. Jess emailed me late last night that she had arrived in Budapest, and we went out for a drink tonight. Tomorrow, definitely some sightseeing, maybe one of those famed Hungarian baths (Turkish bath avec bathing suit) and caving under Budapest. Rain or shine, I'm loving it here and could easily spend a week in this city. There's so much to see and to do and to have done to me. And with that, I leave you.

<Budapest Photos>

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