So much has happened since I last updated, and this French keyboard is driving me nuts. The W and Q and A and Z are switched, and the punctuation is nutty.

Budapest will be this entry, I’ll have to do another on Bratislava to keep things organized.

The weather in Budapest was pretty bad most of the time we were there. Luckily we had the best guide ever, my friend Attila. He went above and beyond what we were expecting him to do for us; instead of just seeing us for dinner one night, he picked us up from the train station; took us to our hostel, ate lunch and dinner with us every day we were there (which saved us some money because he took us places we would never have found) and also made sure we saw all that Budapest had to offer: the castle, the labyrinths, Parliament, he took us on a kindertrain (a train service run only by children) that went to the highest part of the city and he and Jess went on the skylift and I got to go to the Elizabeth Landscape that is really the highest part of the city. That was one of the few “surprises” he arranged for us. We would say, “Attila, where are we going?”and he would say in his English, “Eet’s a surprise!” One of the other surprises was a boatride on the Danube that dropped us off at a cool park on the Buda side of the city. There was a fountain that choreographed the jets of water to the music playing on speakers in the park.

Jess and I went to the thermal baths, which seems like it would be like the Ancient Rome style ones if they still existed today: you get a little cabin to change in, then there are different temp baths and saunas and you can get spa treatments there. We saw St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is a wonder, as well as the synagogue, which is the biggest in Europe and second biggest in the world.

The McDonald’s in Budapest were kind of upscale; there was internet in them!

One thing that we noticed is that the Hungarian people as a whole are a serious and somber people. Learning a bit about their history one figures out why, but it was strange to be in places and nobody was laughing or smiling.

I think our experience in Budapest would have been very different; and probably less enjoyable, had Attila not been our guide. I think my favorite things were the boat ride, the labyrinths (where they give you cool lanterns and one of the rooms has a fountain that squirts out wine), and the baths. Our last night there we hung out at Attila’s apartment and met up with a friend of his who was very nice and spoke excellent English and we all went out to a bar club thing that played some great American music, which was fun because I liked knowing all the words. Also, Imi (Attila’s friend) and I beat them at foozball, and Hungarian tradition requires the losers to crawl under the table of whatever game it is. That was funny.

We left Budapest with some amazing memories and experiences and photos, as well as a few key words, which I share with you now:
Note: these are all phonetically spelled…