Where We're Going

Where We're Going

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Heavy Tools and Zwack Unicum

We were driven from Lačaves to Ormož by possibly the youngest taxi driver in the world. The 6 hour train journey to Budapest was the most uneventful we've had so far, there was nothing interesting about it apart from a large field full of sunflowers, which was beautiful. All the places we passed through looked run-down and dingy and in fact, that was my initial impression of Budapest itself until we'd been there a few hours. We arrived mid-afternoon and headed to the nearest ATM so we could get a tram to our hostel. It took 6 cash machines before we decided enough was enough and went and asked a man in a bank why our cards wouldn't work. We were told that English cards didn't work in Hungary and that our only option was the one bank we hadn't yet tried... thank goodness it worked, but by that time (we'd been traipsing around for an hour already) we (I) were (was) annoyed and tired and hurting. We walked a couple of km to the nearest Metro and hopped on a tram. Looking like lost tourists, it was no wonder that an old lady sitting opposite us asked us if we needed any help (in perfect English I must add). It turned out that yes, we did need help, as we had just missed our stop. We finally got to the hostel after 2 and a half hours of near panic (on my part) in Budapest. After a quick rest we walked back to the city. I'm amazed we didn't collapse, we had walked over 5 miles in our first couple of hours of being in the city, 2 of which were done with heavy backpacks. The evening was warm and Budapest was pretty, but everything seemed to close early on Monday nights so we headed back to sleep off all the walking we had done. A small (and gross) example of how much walking we did: the entire soles of my feel peeled off in the shower that night. They were not happy bunnies.

The next morning (after a great sleep) I woke with excrutiating pain in my right leg. I have no idea what it was, whether I had slept awkwardly or had pulled a muscle, but my god did it hurt. After a couple of paracetamol I decided to risk it and we set off on what was to be (though we hadn't planned it to be) the longest walk of our entire trip. We toured nearly the whole city (somehow forgetting to go to the "city centre"), we saw Szt. Istaván Basilica, the Opera House, went to the city park and saw Hösök Tér (Heroes Square), and the beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle (where snowstorms cost €12!). This not being enough of a schlep for us, we decided to walk home through all the back streets, in order to get a "real" feel of the city. We ate blackberry ice cream then stopped at Mammut, a shopping mall with a huge bronze mammoth outside it, to buy some real food. The place was amazing! Neither of us like shopping malls as a rule, but his one was perfectly designed and so calming, the layout and lighting were spot on and there were pretty silver decorations hanging from the 4 floor high ceilings, which twisted and sparkled in the light. In the central area on the ground floor was an interactive fountain which had buttons at the sides that you could press and it would determine what the fountain did next. We watched it from the second floor and the central flow of water shot up so high that we could almost reach it from where we were standing over the balcony! The mall also had a big mirrored ceiling area on one of the floors above the escalators which had huge white polar bears and a stag which were hanging down from the ceiling so that when you looked up into the mirrors they looked the right way up, as though they were looking into their own reflections in a pool of water.

Outside the shopping centre we noticed that instead of having "normal" benches, the benches here were for one person only, and they were dotted along the street, sometimes on their own, sometimes up to three in a row. We had a lovely evening wander after dinner and saw the world's largest egg-timer (apparently).

Total walking distance for the 2 days: 20km, phew!


Siobhan said...

Yikes on all the walking but blackberry ice cream sounds lovely.

Tobias Clayton said...

#just caught up on your last few entries. I am immensely jealous, you seem to be having far to much fun. I look forward to seeing more photo's than is healthy.

See you both soon.