Buda to the Pest: Part 2 – Quick Recap

Our Bus journey accompanied by the exotic movies and loud neighbours went surprisingly well, although at times it did feel like a never ending journey.  Alongside the rising sound volume of our fellow passengers we had the privilege of enjoying stunning views from the bus as we passed cities such as Bratislava and others that I cannot for the life of me remember at this stage.

From the bus whilst crossing a river in Bratislava
Night falls for the travelers

As we began to get closer to our destination the foreign “adventure” films switched to children’s movies, which continued to baffle us, seeing that by glancing through the bus and its passengers there was nobody of that age who could have requested “the adventures of the random German speaking polar bear” (I’m guessing that was the title of the film). Not only had the movie selection seen a change, but so had the status of our neighbours. From that of speaking a hundred words per second, they had gone to the “laid back”- mode, meaning that they were leaning their seats on top of our knees, thrusting the seats to recline more, not seeming to realise that what stopped their seats from reclining any further were my bruised knees. It seemed as if they cared as much of our thumping on their seats as we had cared for the movies shown on-board.

After coming to terms with the fact that our fellow travelers had no interest in our well being, as if a sign from above we heard the on-board speakers tell us through a lot of words that we were indeed only a few short kilometers from Budapest. At long last, with bruised knees, tired bodies and minds we had arrived at some station in Budapest. Having thought previously that the station would be centrally located, we had not cared to browse through maps or make route plans….we should have.

Tickets Köszönöm
Local Metro/Ubahn/Underground/Subway

We found our way in the middle of the night to a metro station, hoping to find a map and clear guidance towards the center. After following a herd of people, we merely crossed our fingers in hope of jumping on the right train which would at the least take us slightly closer to our hostel. I am not a superstitious person per se, but I believe it was the luck of the Irish (or better yet my Irish mate) that enabled us to manage our way through all the crossroads and alleyways safely to our hostel, where our two Slovenian friends awaited us with cold beers, that we had most definitely deserved.

The first night went by quickly as we caught up on missed conversations and had a few pints at a local tavern. We did also have time to acquaint ourselves with the local law enforcement. It is pure commonsense that what goes in must eventually come out as well. As we were browsing around the city at night, one of our crew had the sudden urge to relieve himself and seeing that there was not an open tavern nor a portapotty in sight, he ran to the nearest bushes in a nearby alleyway as the rest of us waited for him on the mainstreet. We found a nice bench on the sidewalk and decided to hang there for a moment. It was not long as we saw our friend appear from the alley, hinting to us that “we should move”. We only realised what he had meant, when we saw two officers appearing from the alley with a batman like serious face on. “Passports”, yelled the older one of the partners, and as if trained dogs we did as told and whipped our proofs of nationality and identity out for them to collect our data. Once they had gossiped our numbers and info to their colleagues via walkietalkies, they left us with valid advice “this street, not a toilet”. Needless to say we kept their advice in mind during the remain of the trip.

The next day we decided to be true tourists, eating a continental breakfast (prepared by ourselves) and heading out to explore the city. Now as most people hopefully know, Finland is not a beach holiday destination ergo we do not have extremely hot weather, aside from the summer time. In Budapest already in the Hostel I had noticed that the weather seemed to be awfully warm, but it did not cross my mind that we would be seeing the sights of Budapest in 36 degree weather (Celsius). As I left Berlin, I had foolishly thought to not even pack my shorts with me. I tried to make the best of my situation by pulling up my pants, trying to desperately make them become the shorts they clearly were not. At this stage I have to be frank and admit that there was not a lot of talking done during the sightseeing day, everyone was merely trying to survive the hot weather, thus I will let the pictures do the talking for this day:

Shorts would have been nice..
Statues and Houses
View from Buda towards Pest
Going to Buda

We spent the entire next day laying motionlessly at a lake we had made our way to by car, only returning to Budapest in the evening to change hostels quickly (due to booking issues) and immediately embarking on a pub crawl as we arrived at our new party hostel. Before we had even really settled at our new residences, we were already enjoying beverages in numerous local bars and pubs, being led by a baywatch-style chilled out Aussie, who seemed as calm and cool as a Koala. Enjoying the comparably affordable drink prices we spent the night touring the nightlife of Budapest, which I have to say was extremely good.

Air conditioning, AC, whatever you want to call it – I love it. The first thing that hit me once I entered our room in the new hostel was the wonderful breeze of fresh COLD air, not coming from the window, oh no, but from our airconditioning. No, it did not remind me of home, being cold and chilly, but rather it gave me the possibility to enjoy a good nights rest, without sticking to my bed linen and becoming dehydrated due to the overwhelming heat. Apart from our room, we also took advantage of the round shaped balcony at our hostel, getting to know other travelers from all around the world, sharing stories and beverages with each other. For me the best thing about travelling and living abroad is the social interaction with other people from different cultures. It is always fascinating to hear about different customs and habits or personal experiences of the people I talk to.

The Legendary Balcony of the Party Hostel

We enjoyed one full day on our multicultural balcony, full of hockey,travel, lifestyle and other random talk. To cut things short I’ll just summarize the last few days with a few sentences. We continued to tour the night and day of Budapest (mostly Pest) for another couple of days, before embarking on our loooooong bus-ride back to the big ol’ B. We said our goodbyes to our Slovenian friends and hopped on the coach, with refrigerated coke bottles. My Irish mate was in luck apparently, since he managed to get a bottle that actually contained liquid, whereas I apparently got a limited edition coke bottle that was full of Ice, rather than cola in liquid form to quench my thirst. The journey back was as long as the way to Budapest, but far more enjoyable thanks to the numerous romantic comedies (not my favourite genre) that were played on-board for our enjoyment in English. As a combo breaker among the films was the more than fitting film “Hangover” which seemed to give a perfect ending to a trip that was to be felt physically for a couple of days to come.

Buda shines nicely
The same Palace without lights
Apparently they have some sort of arrangement in Budapest to turn off the lights at midnight…which was not such a good thing for my photography.

Buda to the Pest: Part 1 – The Road is Long

As I noted in some earlier post, I have indeed also exited the borders of Berlin during this Spring ( and not only by falling asleep on a train and ending up in a neighboring city!)

I had the choice of booking flights to see reindeer and snow up north in Lapland, for the first of May, however my budget disagreed with those plans like a football(soccer for ya Yanks) player would disagree with a ref after receiving a red card. Nevertheless I was determined to go somewhere outside of the big B.  A couple of my Slovenian friends had tried for a couple of months to get me to join them for a bit of R & R  for 5 days in Budapest, Hungary. I proposed the trip to my Irish mate, Daragh,  and sure enough he was in! On one condition though….. that we go by bus.

For those who don’t know, a bus trip to Budapest (via Prague) takes around 10-12 hrs, so needless to say we had planned that we would enjoy a few drinks on the way and watch the movies that were promised to shown on the webpage of the bus company. As the day of the trip dawned upon us, we headed to the western part of Berlin to catch our banana yellow bus, anxiously waiting to get on and continue our sleep, which was rudely interrupted by the early (7 AM, yes not that early for most people) wake-up.  Although the bus seemed to be nice, I couldn’t have help of thinking that we were crossing a border to the unknown, having to even flash our passports at the door. The only reason that I could make up for them to check my passport, was to confirm that the young dorky looking kid on my drivers licence was in fact me. As I sat down it didn’t take long for me to visit the sandman once again and I was knocked out for at least a straight hour immediately.

Our first leg of the journey was from Berlin to Prague. During this 4 hrs was shown a lot of promising looking, English language films, which we now and again glanced at in between sleeping and trying to find a “comfortable” position on the upright positioned seats. After 4 hrs of bumpy roads and some well earned extra time sleeping, we arrived in Prague, where we were due to switch to a coach that would bring us to Budapest. We had 1,5hrs to spend in Prague, which was enough to get an understanding of some of the streets and find an establishment to serve our ever growing hunger and thirst.

Daragh trying to scout our way to food

Dwelling on the streets looking for food and trying to solve the mystery of the “unknown currency” and it’s rate, I decided it was a good time to try and take a couple of pictures as well. Aside from maybe the fact of forgetting my camera battery at home (which happens surprisingly often) the second most annoying thing to notice when turning on the camera is the ” No Memory Card” text flashing on the screen, as if the camera itself was trying to “rub it in your face” even more that you had in fact forgotten one of the most integral parts of your appliance at home. Having forgotten my card at home, we headed with my friend from the home of Guinness to a local electronics store and simply bought a card, which would play home for the pictures to be taken on this euro trip of ours. Having now solved the case of the missing memory card, there was still two cases left unsolved:    A: What the heck is the currency here(sorry I know I should know this) and how does it translate to our struggling European currency and B: Where do we find food?

Currency exchange shops were by the dozens, being a touristic area where we were. We randomly selected one and entered the shop, unknowingly interrupting the clerk’s “movie moment”, as he had to serve us. After a moment of struggling with languages, we exited the shop with a bunch of money that were rather new to both of us: Czech Korunas and Hungarian Florents. Having completed this seemingly easy task it was now time for us to feast somewhere. We ended up finding a rather nice place with a good bargain deal of a good meal and beverage for roughly €5. Having now lived in Germany for nearly a year, I’ve come accustomed to ordering stuff in the local language, however as neither Daragh or me knew a word of Czech, I had to result to the typical tourist phrase ” ummm… do you speak English?”  Judging by the reaction received from the waitress, I felt I had almost offended the young girl, having assumed apparently that it was not a norm that people spoke the language that has almost become the lingua franca of the world. At this point I have to complement the Czechs that they are really good at speaking the language. In every shop, restaurant we went, people spoke English. Perhaps this is because the area was, as mentioned, mainly occupied with tourist, but I’d like to think the average level of English is rather good in the Czech Republic.

Lunch was accompanied by a local beer, which I have to say had the funniest logo I’ve ever seen. I mean, a guy with a beer in his hand, wearing a shirt with a picture of a tiger!

Now that our stomachs we’rent waging war on us anymore, we had just enough time to pop by a local “kwik-e-mart” and grab some snacks and beverages to enjoy with the movies, which looked promising earlier.  We climbed on-board the coach and were greeted by the well functioning air-conditioning, which was more than welcome, seeing that it was +30 and rising outside.

As we sat down everything seemed to be good and going according to plan….for a short moment.  Sure enough, as we drove out of the bus terminals, the hostess on-board foiled our plans of enjoying a couple of “brewskies” by announcing that own drinks weren’t allowed, or at least that was what I could make out of the announcement, which had a lengthy calm paced Czech (??) part and a very concise English part, which seemed to have been spoken in fastforward mode, just for the sake of confusing all the non-Czech speaking passengers on-board. Luckily we had packed a bottle of water with us, so that we didn’t have to suffer from thirst. As often with things in life, mishaps have a tendency to come in bundles. The blinking screens in front of us soon started to play a movie, I say a movie because I could not possibly have the slightest clue what this, apparently legendary Czech, film was called. Nor did we even had such luck that we would have some subtitles to explain why the boy ran through the forests for hours in this production of probably the late 70’s. As the only option started to seem to be sleep, we tried our luck at it. Needless to say also the option of sleeping was taken away, being kept awake by, what I can only assume was a heated discussion by our neighbors over who is the loudest on the bus,  I came to terms with the fact that this was going to be a long ride to Budapest…

To Be Continued. Oh, and the next post(s) will have more pictures as well.