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Budapest Travel Blog

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sorry everyone, i know i have been real slack.
christmas was hectic, and everything in reykjavik is rediculously expensive, including going to a net cafe, so didnt spend more than a couple moments checking emails.
first of all, happy new year to you all from the big apple!!! new years here was great, somehow managed to get drunk twice in the one night.
second, jodee can you please forward this onto hilton somehow in order to get him my email address. thanks!
beautiful beautiful budapest. my memory will be a little hazy, as this was a while ago now, but let's see...
got in from vienna on the sunday, and caught a metro train from the bus terminal into the city centre. budapest was the third city, after london and new york to introduce an underground rail system. the inside of their trains are a strange hospital green colour, sort of  like the colour of a kidney dish, with these strange lights on the ceiling that looked like illuminated teets on a baby bottle. strange look. found the guesthouse, right in the centre of pest. the guesthouse is run by a guy called tomasz, who rents a large four bedroom flat and uses it as a guesthouse. being low season, there were seldom more than half a dozen of us in the place. we would drink beer together at night and share food and stories from our day in the lounge in front of the tv wathching old film clips and 'murder she wrote' in magyar.
first day went for a good walk through the city. checked out st istvan's basilica, a church that has been finished for only 100 years, so quite young. the interior was utterly stunning. a mix of gold leaf and frescoes and copious amounts of green red and grey marble. different from the others i have seen so far, and somehow more breathtaking. went down to the river to check out the parliament, the most impressive national assembly i have ever seen. nothing could have prepared me for the first glimpse of it i caught, from between other buildings. again so breathtaking. afterwards i walked across chain bridge to buda and cheked out the palace and st mathias church, home of the state jewels. whomever holds these jewels rules hungary, and here i was in a room with them alone, no guards, not even another tourist. after some more wandering and view admiring i wandered back across margit bridge which runs through margit, a park island in the middle of the danube. took a stroll through this beautiful island, sort of like central park new york, except on an island. everything was covered with snow and looking pristine. temperature was perhaps just below zero at this point.
stood on margit bridge for quite a while, until i was too cold to stand there any longer and just gazed down the danube. with its stately architecture and wide streets, lovely parks and squares and the wide blue danube, budapest gives one a remarkable sense of clarity of thought. i felt a wonderful sense of relaxation here.
the other feeling to note is communicated to the visitor by the large number of monuments dedicated to the heroes of the last 50-60 years, in particular the 1956 uprising against the communist dictators, crushed quickly by the soviets. there is a lot of pride in where hungary is going, and respect from where the state has come.
went home and met my neightbours. some aussie-croats and american born chinese. we drank some cheap cheap beer and then agreed to check out a few things together the next day.
so the following day, off we toddled. back to the palace district in buda where we managed to make the worlds largest snowball. the americans were from LA so snow was a great novelty to them also. it was about four or five times the size of our heads. over the edge of the palace it went, with an enormous boom that sounded like a bomb! then into the labirynth under the palace we descended. a little cheezy in parts, with some strange exhibits here and there, but also a litte spooky in other parts.
on the final day, i decided to check out the synagogue, the largest in europe. as synagogues go, it was pretty flashy, but still humble in comparison to the catholic cathedrals. on the way i stumbled across an amazing old moorish building down a back lane. one of my guiding philosophies is that whenever i know where i am going, take a left, then a right, another left and so on until i get lost and don't know where i am going anymore, and again i wasn't disappointed. the builing was ornate externally, but run down and decrepid. on the inside, through bars and boards, i could see stained glass and intricate moorish murals and frescoes. here was a run down old building, out of use, but still so beautiful. so intrigued by this building i was, that i returned again that day for another look. i must have looked strange to the locals taking such sustained interest in a vacant building. the whole block is currently undergoing gentrification, so hopefully this building will be spared the wrecking ball and be restored to its former glory.
after this i headed up to heroes square, where statues of the founding fathers of hungary look down upon a beautiful granite square. i'll attach a pic of this, as it was quite splendid. finally, i rounded out my day with a couple of hours in the turkish baths, laying around in 38 degree water from far below the surface, under a perfect clear blue sky, the vapour trails of high-flying jets streaming across the sky. this was the perfect ending to my little european jaunt, and a good way to get ready for the onset of the silly season back in london.
the trip to the airport was a little laborious, but soon i was flying over budapest, the ring roads below confirming my feelings of a city inspiring clarity in the mind. the towns of hungary sailed below, before the cloud set in shrouding a continent i look forward to returning to one day. so many destinations in europe, all so unique. i have only scratched the surface of a few of them, but i am very happy with what i have seen, felt, smelled, tasted and heard. budapest in particular is a wonder, as it sits juxtaposed between old east and west, and now dynamically emerging from it's communist covers.
that's all for now, i will share my experiences of christmas in london and then iceland shortly. i will attach also one pic from iceland as i have to share straight away this otherworldly fantasy land.
take care all, and all the best has we head into the new year.
jared xoxo.
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photo by: Chokk