“One day there were three tomatoes walking down the street, a mama tomato, a daddy tomato and a baby tomato. Baby tomato is walking too slowly, so the daddy tomato goes back, steps on him and says ‘Ketchup!'”
– Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction”
OK, I admit it, I’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t posted anything since Nice? Yikes. That was four countries ago. I’m afraid I have no excuse. It’s just so much more fun being out taking photos, rather than sitting in front of a computer, going through them and doing bloggy stuff. As you may have noticed, I have added a nice little widget to the sidebar that ties in my Facebook TedTreks page, so the site doesn’t look completely abandoned, but still, almost four weeks between posts is a bit much. But today is a new day. It’s raining here in Budapest, so it seems like an excellent time to at least start making amends. The chronology is definitely going to be weird as I try to catch up, so bear with me. Might as well start with yesterday, when I left Istanbul and arrived in Budapest via a layover in Bucharest, Romania…
At the Istanbul airport, I didn’t have enough liras for coffee at Starbucks but I could afford it at Sbarro. That’s how to leave Turkey – lots of good memories and no currency in your pocket. I also managed to avoid doing time in a Turkish prison, a big personal goal for me.
There was a little confusion at the Romanian airport layover. The security officer wanted to know what company I was traveling with. I said I wasn’t traveling on business, I was a tourist. She shook her head. “No, what is your company?”. Hmmm, is she asking if I have company? “I’m traveling alone”. Exasperated with me now, she shakes her head again. Apparently, she doesn’t care if I’m alone. She sticks out her hand. “Boarding pass”. I hand it over. She looks at it and says, “Ah, Tarom” and that solved the mystery. She wanted to know what airline I was flying. That was the company. My life is filled with these kind of moments now, but they are always more memorable when the other person is carrying a gun.
I had a glass of red wine on the plane between Bucharest and Budapest – no charge, it’s just another drink option on planes over here. Europe kinda rocks that way. They also serve meals in economy class. Not great meals, but still quite edible. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that.
When I landed in Budapest, I went to the ATM and withdrew 20,000 forints so that I had some local cash to pay for the bus and metro fares to get me to the hostel. At a conversion rate of 1 USD to 238 forints, that works out to about $80 USD. Even though Hungary is part of the EU, they aren’t on the euro. It’s the first time I’ve run across that. I didn’t even know it was an option. But considering the state of the euro these days, it’s probably a good move on Hungary’s part. It’s going to make buying things here interesting though. Fortunately, there is an app for that.
I went to dinner at a place the hostel staff recommended, then took a stroll down to the Danube. The views were so stunning, I just started walking. I ended up at a bar after midnight, far, far from my hostel and needing to pee, so after relieving myself, I did the polite thing and asked the bartender for a beer. It turns out that they were closed, but he said I could buy a bottle and take it with me. I guess they are pretty lax with the whole open container thing. Yup, think I’m gonna like it here.