Budapest August 9-13

Trip Start Jun 27, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006

So still having a 1/2 empty suitcase, I decided to sidetrack to Budapest as I read it has some of the best shopping around and I wasn't making much progress in the Balkans on that front. 7 hour train ride was pretty much on time, which was my first indication that things in Budapest might be a little different than what I had been getting used to. Sure enough, get off the train and the street signs actually have letters I recognize, every building has a number...bliss.

In all seriousness, Budapest is an awesome city. I spent a lot of my time shopping around and did get a few things that give me the basics to get by for now. Like the shops in the bazaar in Istanbul, all brand names including Louis Vuitton, Cartier, etc. are available, except here there are guards at the door (ie they are real)...not that Im shopping at those places but in the Balkans you do have much more limited options. First good news was I walked straight to an Apple store which had eluded me to this point and I needed a charger for my Ipod. Bad news is they charged me 100 US for the damn charger..ouch.

As far as sightseeing, the only place I went inside was St. Stephens Basilica. Also saw several other sights walking around (Parliament, Opera House, Synagogue, etc.) but didn't have time to do much first time through and had already planned to come back for a few days so no rush. Thursday night I took a run from the hotel to the Danube and across the river on a bridge just south of the chain bridge and it was an incredible view.

The only night I really went out was Friday and as it turns out there is a music festival going on in Budapest called Sziget and it's located just north of the city on an Island in the Danube. One of the more well planned moments of my trip...I actually checked the weather and saw that Friday was going to be sunny and Saturday rainy so I made a point to go on Fri and weather was as advertised. This place was really cool, I'd definitely like to come back for this sometime. It is just a monstrous complex with several stages playing all different types of music, different adventure stuff like bungee and another one that looked really cool where you climb to the top of this big platform then slide down attached to a wire, not sure what thats called. A bunch of people go out and camp there for the week. The night I went the biggest band was Scissor Sisters which is cool for me because I like them and Radiohead was playing on Saturday and not a fan of them. Scissor Sistors was really good and even the Hungarian band before them surprised me and were quite entertaining. They are called Sziami so if you ever get a chance to see one of their shows don't because you will think it sucked and that I'm dumb for saying that. They really gouge you on the prices, too...$1.60 for a half liter of beer!

That was pretty much it for Budapest round 1 but return trip planned.
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