Keep the Change

Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
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Trip End Aug 06, 2013


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Flag of Hungary  ,
Saturday, July 20, 2013

Today, after I found a new place to live, I took a terrific free tour around town. The guide was so knowledgeable and engaging. She told us a little bit about the history of communism in Budapest, and about the containment of Jews in WWII. From there, she took us to many different buildings and monuments, including the St. Stephen's Basilica, which is the  third largest church in Hungary.

Most interesting was how the Austrians came in and rebuilt so much of the town, in anticipation of the millennial celebration of the settlement of the area. Our guide said that the Hero Plaza, Church Hill, Bridge, Parliament, Basilica, and Opera House were all examples of the beautification of Budapest. 
 
Part of our tour involved a discussion of popular Hungarian foods. Goulash, natch! Paprika is the national spice, duh. Meats and potatoes are what's for dinner. Savory pancakes. Delicious cheap wine (cheap because Hungarians aren't great at promoting themselves). Sausages, right?

Our final destination, after the old town and the Danube, was the Castle Town across the bridge in Buda. Budapest is actually a marriage of two cities: Buda and Pest. Most of the tourist attractions and shopping are in Pest.

The castle sits up on the hill, with a very quaint town and a church that was renovated for the marriage of the last Hungarian King. This was a popular place for bridal parties to have their pictures taken. I sat for a few minutes in a small park across from the church, eating my lunch and watching the brides arrive and leave in long limousines, pausing for their photo op before continuing the shoot along the Danube.

The sun is relentless up on that hill. I took a break from the heat in the history museum, where, to tell the truth, I was more concerned with the air con that the content. 

Further down the lane,  a couple of young ladies played favorite waltzes on their violins for change. Passersby hummed along with the familiar tunes. 

On my way down the hill, I walked behind a restaurant where a man was hosing down the plants, allowing me a short dance in the droplets. The damp walk in the shade trees was refreshing, after being sun drenched out in the open all afternoon.

Our guide left us with advice: don't take a taxi from the street; don't say "thank you" to a server when paying the bill, as this means "keep the change"; if you're a man and some pretty ladies give you a lot of attention, run away!

My new apartment is only a few blocks from the old one and is quite an improvement! It is home to a couple and their two small children. They have cutely decorated the cozy rooms, and have many plants. There is a tiny little balcony, where I have my morning coffee and evening rosť. I can't express how grateful I am for this place, and for the nice nice nice people who live there. They've emailed a list of must sees in Budapest, including nearby restaurants! There is a grocery store just across the street!

The older I get, the more concerned I am about the comfort and design of where I spend my time.  It is no longer enough to just have a place to crash at night. I'm slower to settle down into bed at night and slower to get started in the morning. Lounging is a key travel component now. I'm so glad I moved, since I'm in Budapest for five days. I want my experience to be memorable, in a good way.
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