Welcome to Budapest

Well, the clock on the wall says it’s 2:15 pm Saturday here but my iPad says it’s 8:15 am Sunday back home. And frankly, my body is still running on EDT. Since I can’t sleep on airplanes for whatever reason, I have effectively been awake for 24 hours and I’m desperately trying to hold out against wonderful, restful, seductive sleep until after supper, at least. This I’m told will adjust my circadian rhythm (possibly the only rhythm I possess) to Hungarian time.

Suffice it to say that Boston to Frankfurt on Lufthansa was six hours in a middle seat with an intrusive German on the aisle snoring and repeatedly violating my personal space while Betty slumbered peacefully against the window. I must have played forty games of iPad Mahjong and countless rounds of Solitaire. Then a leisurely half mile stroll across 4 terminals, through Customs and onto the Budapest flight.

We got picked up by the hotel shuttle (a local guy and his Mom in a Mercedes station wagon) and driven across Budapest to the Petnehazy Club Hotel, which is located in the hills NW of town, about 8-10 miles from the Danube. The ride cost 8,000 Hungarian Florints, or 28€ or $36. They accept Euros, but everything is in Florints. Inconvenient for us but probably the reason the economy is still operating here as opposed to, say, Greece.

First impressions:

> Hungarian is an inscrutable language. It’s related only to Finnish and Estonian in Europe, reflecting the Magyars’ origins in central Asia before arriving here in 895AD. Unlike French or Spanish, you cannot bring your Latin School background to bear and tease out the meaning of some important looking sign. Thank their god (RC Jesus, I’m told) that they use a little man drawing on the men’s room or I would be peeing in the woods. Also, all the young people speak pretty good English.

> Budapest has the same type of shabby charm as Lisbon but also reflects its Communist past. Towering rows of apartment blocks are grouped by the dozens, all of un-ornamented concrete, a lot of them with so many visible cracks I thought it was some type of leafless ivy crawling up the walls. Many are oddly painted in garish pastel colors and scream “Soviet!”.

> Hotel is very nice. We have a bungalow on the hillside overlooking the main hotel grounds. Said bungalow is of actual log construction and has two bedrooms, a sitting room, a full bath and a deck. It is rustic in the very best sense. Both indoor and outdoor pools at main building. We are 45 minutes from downtown by bus and tram. Will obtain weekly passes tomorrow. I will have to make meticulous notes of bus and tram routes by number as as street and station names are beyond my comprehension.

> No f@@@ing internet in the hotel. Despite the brochure and a direct email question. “We have trouble. Try to fix. Maybe soon this week.” Damn foreigners. JUST IN: Wifi is up in lobby!!

> Walked 15 minutes from the hotel to the nearest store. Closed for some reason explained on indecipherable hand lettered sign. Might have been “Back in 5!”. I have no way of knowing. Had lunch at adjoining outdoor restaurant. Betty ordered exotic sounding local dish. Found to be lukewarm chicken soup. My fish and chips were OK.

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