The language is sumptuous, the food scrumptious

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Sep 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Goat Hostel

Flag of Hungary  ,
Sunday, August 24, 2008

She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while.

She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph... Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.

She thought: For just a few moments--while this lasts--it is all right to surrender completely--to forget everything and just permit yourself to feel. She thought: Let go--drop the controls--this is it.

-From Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I took my third- and probably the last- overnight train to Budapest, Hungary.  I have been looking forward to Budapest for two reasons: 1) I get to travel alone for the first time in weeks and 2) Every backpacker who has been there raves about it.  A Spanish guy from the hostel was taking the same train, and so we sat and talked at the platform for an hour.  He works as a consultant for Microsoft and has traveled very, very broadly in the 31 years of his life.  His traveling plans in the next 2 years include biking around the whole Black Sea for 6 weeks and going to Antarctica.  He has a global pass, but his ticket was kind of messed up; he only got a seat to Arad, Romania.  We were going to meet up once we got to Budapest, but he wasn't there at the station... so I guess he didn't make it?  Hope he made it because this city is so beautiful.  He was supposed to get a picture of me for his 100 people project, so I don't know if I should send him a photo or not.  I really want to see what he writes about me!

Once in Budapest, I somehow managed to get a train ticket to Vienna in advance and take the metro to the hostel.  The whole process was smooth, as the public transportation in Budapest is clean and organized.  I took off right away to visit Vahergy, or the Castle Hill.  I crossed the bridge and kept climbing up and up, following the paved trail up the hill.  The trail had only a few fellow hikers, but once I hit the giant statues, I saw a crowd of tourists and instantly felt at home.  I walked along a seemingly ruined fortress.  I wandered then wondered, where is the National Gallery and the PALACE?  I ended up unintentionally trespassing the route to the Wax Museum and was stopped by a staff member.  I was confused; I have no interest in military wax figures!  Then a Canadian-Hungarian broke out the truth: I was on the wrong hill!  He pointed out the Castle Hill and the colossal palace that stood quite afar.  What a faux-paus!  But hey, the view from the citadel was better than that from the other- the right- hill, so those 2 hours were hardly wasted.  I hiked down and back up to the Buda Castle.  The place was packed with beautiful architectures, swarmed by group tours and families and students and foreigners.  I spent about 2 hours there and hiked down and across the bridge to the Pest side.  Budapest is SO European.  It's the first big city since Istanbul, so I enjoyed having an overwhelming amount of sights to see for once. 

It was surprisingly chilly all morning and afternoon.  My usual uniform of a t-shirt and knee-length skirt did not cut it.  I have been wearing that for the past 2 months!  Time to get out my Northface jacket...  Also, the Hungarian currency is very difficult to convert in head.  It's like 160 HUF for 1 USD, or something like that.  I tried and succeeded (!) in bargaining for a shot glass, haha! 

The hostel seems pretty quiet and chill.  Some of us played great drinking games with cards: Fuck the Dealer, Ring of Fire, and Shithead (My response, "I know how to play Asshole, Bullshit, and Dumb Bitch, but not Shithead.")  We went to a huge boat club on the Buda side.  It was alright... the outdoor club right across the street was much more hopping.  There were a ton of foreigners and people dancing.  Alice and I ended up crashing a bachelor's party.  I'm loving Budapest!
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