Back to the Motherland - Hungary

Trip Start Aug 13, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Well after a 30-hour commute from Australia I am in Hungary - the crazy old place where I was born.
I have always felt a strong connection with the place, yet find it so, so strange. But first a bit about the trip over. Having only done the trip once before in 1999, I was little anxious about the 22-hour flight. But after viewing more movies than I ever have in one sitting, consuming more meals than I will ever reveal and a few random conversations with the fortunate people who got to sit next to me, not to mention a few winks of sleep, I was here. But then there was Frankfurt.
A five-hour lay over in any airport is never very much fun, but Frankfurt T2 was another thing. The air steward described it as "a little sterile", saying there wasn't much in the way of shops or cafes. With walls and floors resembling a hospital and with the majority of the terminal in a state of renovation, I can now safely say it is my least favourite airport.
But it is where the Random Traveller Award was born. Elliot the US army dude from Virginia also had the unfortunate experience of waiting for a connecting flight which was so far away it wasn't even registered on the info boards. Recognising the look of "Oh my god I have to wait here for how long?" on my face, he introduced himself while we both sat at The American Cafe (which should have been called The Only Cafe). "Mmm I feel so at home at this American Cafe," he said. "If only the menu wasn't entirely in German". Three hours of chit chat, people watching (the same five poeple, mind you) and laughing at the terminal staff who whizzed by on their shiny red or blue bicycles complete with girly basket on the front, Elliott was free. His flight finally registered and was assigned a gate number and off he went.

Thanks Elliot for making Frankfurt kind of bearable. I on the other hand got to stare at the walls and floors (the Germans are really into minimalism) for another two hours before I was set free on my flight to Hungary. Which was followed by a bus, metro and tram to Budapest and a two-hour train ride to Szeged, where one of my cousins lives and just 30km from my birthplace Hodmezovarsahely - a small town with the biggest thing being its name.

So, here I am. I wanted hot and I certainly got it. The mercury is in the 30s today and the idea of air conditioning (the Australian way - freezing) has not really caught on yet. Szeged is a beautiful little town, though. I had a nice salad sandwich complete with cabbage and gerkins (of course) and a famous chestnut puree desert in the town square which is filled with cosmopolitan-style cafes and restaurants. The shops are not bad, but note to self, do not ask the security guard for assistance next time. Most shops in Hungary have one, which I forgot, and was rather embarrassed after I asked the gentleman how much a particular type of perfume was. He said I better ask one of the sales staff. I looked at him puzzled still not realising what had occured. Those guys should really wear a more obvious uniform!

Well, not much has happened on my first day here as I am still trying to get over the jet lag and adjust to summer... but you never know. I am now off to the salami and paprika museum to see what that is all about and will let you know about it next time. I will post some pictures soon. Until then ....
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