Tag Archives: Budapest

Budapest Redux

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Just a couple last things about Budapest. This is the beer Jake, the hostel guy gave me, and he was right – it’s a really enjoyable beer to drink. In fact, I’m having one as we speak! (Type?)

Budapest-HostelBeer

Beer is good.

That last night, I took Jake out for a beer to thank him for all his wonderful hospitality. And we had a long and wonderful conversation; he fascinates me in many ways. Before I spoke with him at length, he struck me as someone simultaneously full of energy and full of joy. But after speaking with him you learn that he’s also a man with a monumental curiosity about life, and a ferocious drive to both understand it (which is why he double-majored in electrical engineering and philosophy, and why he stays up late at night, reading philosophical and religious texts; he taught himself Chinese so that he could read some of those as originally written) and experience it (which is why he’s driven to travel, and explore – he’s an itinerant adventurer). And he’s passionate about the suffering of others; the modern form of slavery, enabled by “the system” is something he abhors. I don’t agree with all his political thinking – he’s a bit more radical than I am, if you can believe such a thing – but I admire his passion and his drive. And his overwhelming warmth. In any case, this conversation was held in rather majestic circumstances – in one of Budapest’s magnificent ruin bars, which are unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t take any photos, but I did search around on google, so if you mash these together in a psychedelic way, you may be able to glimpse how cool these places are:

RuinBar1

Ruin bar

RuinBar2

Ruin bar

RuinBar3

Ruin bar

RuinBar4

Ruin bar

“Meh – those look just like the neighborhood bar down the street!” you might say. It’s true – nighttime photos with lots of people and colored lights do tend to all look the same. I guess you’ll just have to trust me! :)

Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Heroes Square

Sunday, 10 July 2011

This is Heroes Square:

Budapest-Heroes

Heroes eat their goulash here

Heroic as it may be, though, it is not a source of delicious Hungarian goulash.

Budapest-Goulash

…Not here.

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Hostel

Budapest-Hostel

It was lovely.

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Just in Case You Were Curious…

Sunday, 10 July 2011

…These are the caricature artists I mentioned earlier. The one seated is the one who charges $100 per portrait. The fellow walking near him is the one who did my caricature. I had some inkling that they wouldn’t remember me when I passed by today, and I was hoping to get the same pitch again. But they did remember me. I guess a caricature artist never forgets a face.

Budapest-Caricature4

Artists of caricature.

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Synagogue

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Budapest’s old Jewish quarter features the second-largest synagogue in the world (the largest is in New York). The Budapest synagogue can fit 3000 worshipers, and it was constructed about 150 years ago. I passed by it three days ago, and would have entered through their extensive security system, but I noticed that you can’t bring any liquids into the synagogue. Which was a deal-breaker for me at the time because I was on my way to march up the steep hills of Buda, and I needed all the liquid i could carry. I wasn’t about to dump it. Another time, I decided.

Yesterday was Saturday, and I figured it would be closed but I wandered by anyway, just to see. It was closed.

Budapest-Synagogue

The Synagogue

Today is my last day in Budapest, so I made sure to see if I could finally see the interior. I’ve never been inside a synagogue and I have a vague curiosity. Plus, the photos on wikipedia indicate that the interior is elaborate. Naturally, I made sure to come sans liquid, straight from the hostel so I wouldn’t be parched. But it turns out that a ticket is needed for the guided tour. Of course, I don’t want the guided tour, or any tour – certainly not one for 1900 HUF, which is about $10. But that’s the student price, I was told; it’s a good deal. Of course that’s subjective – I’m not particularly interested in paying anything, so for me, a fee of zero would be a fair deal. If THEY paid ME, now *that* would be a good deal. We were unable to negotiate mutually acceptable terms so this shot of the outside is the best I’ve got. If you want to see the interior, you’ll have to look on google or wikipedia, just like me.

Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teeth

Sunday, 10 July 2011

So I have this thing. Some people are afraid of the dark. Some people hate gays. Some people have multiple personalities.

I can’t brush my teeth without an electric toothbrush.

“And I bet you have people carry you everywhere too, like a maharaja,” you may scoff. But it’s true. For some reason, using a normal toothbrush drives me mad, and I don’t have any more control over it than do the folks who faint at the sight of blood. Don’t scoff; it’s a disability.

And it means I have to use electric toothbrushes, or else I can’t brush.

I first got an electric toothbrush at the age of 18. It was an Oral B and it lasted a full seven years. I thought that was pretty good. The next Oral B I got didn’t last quite as long, nor did the third. I think the third only lasted a year. Last year, in disgust, I switched brands and got a Philips Sonicare. And now, less than a year later, it’s dead.

Well, not dead exactly. For the second extended period of time, it only runs for 30 seconds at a spell and won’t run any longer. The first time this happened, it lasted a week or two, and I was about to throw it away in frustration when for some reason it started working normally again. Now the same thing has happened.

Fortunately I brought a battery-powered backup with me. That’s what I’m using now. For the last couple weeks I’ve tried the sonicare occasionally to see if it’s reformed itself, and I just tried it for the last time. It’s still misbehaving and today I’ll dump it unceremoniously in a Budapest wastebin, where it belongs.

There’s no point in lugging around an electric toothbrush that I can’t use. When I get back to the states I’ll just have to buy another, and use that for the three months it’s likely to last. Don’t worry – it won’t be a sonicare.

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hostel

Saturday, 9 July 2011

…And my host just put a Czech beer in the fridge for me. “Best beer in Europe,” he said. This guy is amazing.

 

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Nightlife

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Last night I went out with a Hungarian native – not a fourth-generation foreigner like me – to explore the nightlife. Naturally, this involved some drinking, which I’m not averse to in the slightest – one of the reasons why I’m so excited about returning to Vienna is because I had some of the best beer of my life there. That said, given my daily dose of heavy walking and sweating and very light eating, I prefer to keep the drinking light and to a minimum for now. So I had a couple of rose wine spritzer things which is apparently very authentically Hungarian. One of these was consumed in an outdoor beer garden which was absolutely packed with people; nearly standing room only. However I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the end of a beached rowboat, within which a guitarist was strumming favorites from Woodstock, modern pop hits, and Hungarian folks songs in no particular order, while the observers who knew the words sang along. Apparently ruin bars are quite the rage here as well – makeshift watering holes set up in buildings that are too old and historic to be torn down but too expensive for the owners to restore. They are, consequentially, abandoned and empty spaces – until a ruin bar strings up some funky lights and brings in some booze. But if you find a bar you like, you should remember the name instead of the location, because it may very well have relocated to another ruin by the time you come back.

Much of this nighttime adventure involved conversations in Hungarian with other friends, some of which were translated for my benefit. So when we were standing on a street corner sharing a joint with the owner of a nearby bar – which I smoked briefly, knowing that it would have no effect on me whatsoever; for some reason my tolerance for marijuana is very high (no pun intended) – I learned that we were smoking there because, by some oversight, this remote corner was not covered by any CCTV cameras. Apparently Budapest is one of those increasing number of places that is under constant and perpetual surveillance. If you’re a retired policeman and you want to pick up some easy cash, you can sit in their video center for a shift or two, staring for hours as the footage scrolls by. They’re always looking for people to pick up shifts, though why they’d have a hard time finding people for such exhilarating work I couldn’t say.

Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Market

Saturday, 9 July 2011

This is one of the larger markets in Budapest:

Budapest-Market

Markets are awesome.

Budapest-Market2

Markets are awesome.

Lots of food on offer, as you can see. But also real fur hats that I just could not stop touching. The rabbit fur hats are so, so nice to touch. I know PETA would hate me if I ever said so – so I’m not – but I kind of want one.

The other thing I saw there which just filled me with delight were sets of Russian dolls with the current political leaders of various countries painted on the outside. So you’ll pull a little Dmitry Medvedev off the shelf, for example. And you’ll open him up and there will be another little doll inside. Staring up at you you’ll see Vladimir Putin, until you open HIM up and find Boris Yeltsin. And etc.

You can do the same with France (Sarkozy, Chirac, Mitterand…) or Italy, or Germany, or the US, or etc. Just the sort of treat to warm the heart of a political junkie like me.

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Random Thoughts

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Last night, on a major Budapest thoroughfare, I walked by – and was briefly splashed – by a man pissing on a lamppost, and filming himself doing it.

Buying water here presents an array of difficulties. First, Europeans seem to like drinking carbonated water, though why I could never guess. So you have to be careful to buy the kind without gas, which is hard when you don’t speak or read the language. Secondly, here in Hungary, there seem to be an array of flavored waters, again cleverly labeled so that it’s difficult for the discerning westerner – more specifically, me – to tell which one is, you know, water.

Little casinos are everywhere. And when I say casinos, I mean slot machines in the corner bar. Which may well be named “Jackpot.”

If you want to lose weight, go to India. It’s a simple diet plan, maybe the simplest there is. Just go there and then do whatever you want. If you want to be careful about what you eat and drink so that you don’t get sick, fine. Or not; either way you’ll get sick and lose weight. It’s a foolproof plan. I’m still only eating one meal a day.

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment