romantic budapest

August 5, 2009 at 3:17 pm 2 comments

budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. many consider it as the capital of eastern europe. it arose from a combination of two cities: buda on the hills and pest on the plains.

from krakow, we took a side trip to slovakia and had a picnic lunch there. afterwards, we continued our leisurely drive through the tatra mountains and crossed the border into hungary. we stayed in eger for the night. it’s a small town in northern hungary set in the hills of the country’s wine-growing region. it’s a place where hungarians go when tourists invade their famous city.

the following day, we visited a middle school in recsk. we didn’t meet any students because it was school holiday when we went. one of the senior teachers, however, was gracious enough to play host. she ushered us into the room where she’s teaching english and made us sit on her students’ desks.

she gave us an orientation on the hungarian school system. i remember her saying that, in middle school, every student is required to learn a foreign language. most students pick english because of their interest in pop music. in college, every student must learn two foreign languages and pass the proficiency test on both languages before he can graduate. she said that adding foreign languages to the curriculum give the students an advantage in dealing with the outside world.

we had lunch at the school cafeteria where we were served what students normally eat.

the chicken looked like chicken at mcdonald’s without the bun. no surprise there. mcdonald’s is one of the school’s biggest sponsors.

after lunch, we went to the hungarian gulag outside of recsk.

it’s a concentration camp in the mátra mountains where the former communist regime incarcerated political prisoners, reeducated them, and forced them to work for free.

we had a wine-tasting tour at Kohari, one of the region’s finest winery.

the owner kept pouring wine in my glass that i got drunk and almost threw up on the way back to the hotel. for one reason, i couldn’t refuse him. he looks like a villain from a classic james bond’s movie.

whenever i travel, i make it a point to travel light. for this tour that started in prague, i only had my backpack. since i didn’t intend to check it in, i made sure its weight didn’t go beyond 20 pounds. i was delighted when it tipped the scale at 17 pounds at the airport. however, it came with a price. it meant bringing fewer clothes and stuff.

this was one reason why i eagerly looked forward to our stay in budapest, which is about 4 hours drive from eger. i thought my clothes needed a break from hand washing in the hotel’s bathroom. but it wasn’t meant to be. we discovered that there’s no coin-operated laundry in budapest and the dry cleaner close to the hotel was fully booked and couldn’t take any more customers. although the hotel was willing to do it, we didn’t accept the offer because of the stiff price. we thought the money could be better spent for something like food.

a local guide led us on a two-day tour of the city. it was much bigger than prague that taking public transportation became a necessity.

among the places that we visited were the royal palace, matthias church, st. istvan’s basilica, and the great market hall.

the most memorable event in budapest was the evening cruise on the danube river. it was simply breathtaking to behold the city after dark with its landmarks bathed in light and strauss playing in the background. unfortunately, my $79 camera wasn’t up to the challenge and couldn’t take decent pictures for posterity.

next stop is croatia. i’ll write about it in another post.


Entry filed under: Blogroll, travel, vacation. Tags: , , , , .

A Taste of Poland croatia on my mind

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. fortuitous faery  |  August 6, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    did you ride the budavari siklo? 😛

    ahh, beware the people who get you drunk! looks like he was just hospitable to you, though!

    how many megapixels does your camera have? some cameras don’t shoot well at night…or sometimes you just have to know the right settings.

  • 2. plaridel  |  August 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    fortuitous faery:

    no budavari siklo for this group. we walked uphill with the local guide.

    i guess he made me drunk because i stood out from the crowd. he thought i was japanese.

    as for the camera, the manual says 3.2 megapixel. it’s a cheap one that cost me less than $100, so i shouldn’t really expect much. it’s good in the daytime, though.


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