September 11th, 2008 – by: nonna
along the Danube
I love traveling around by train. Itâ€™s so much easier than air travel; the stations are near city centers, thereâ€™s lots of room in the compartments to nap and you can watch the scenery. Today weâ€™re finally traveling during the day so I can really look at the countryside.
Iâ€™d already noticed from the plane into Prague and the tour buses in Krakow that the farm field sizes differed widely from one area to another. Outside Prague, the fields were small and aligned in all directions like the English fields that had kept the same hedgerows for a 1,000 years. Near Krakow, the fields were often fallow. Some of them were quite large, untilled except for small strips of cabbages. Iâ€™m guessing that means the Prague farmers still had and had always kept private control of their fields and that Krakow farmers had some small individual strips in large village-owned fields.
In southern Slovakia, the fields were enormous by any standard. That implies that either a single farmer was betting his all on one crop (unlikely since the crop here was feed corn) or that there were co-ops. Little clusters of houses sat in the middle of these huge fields which were newly planted and looked prosperous. I saw expensive machinery working in the fields and several newly planted orchards. These Slovakian farm co-ops are doing well.
typical station in Slovakia
As we continued on, the fields gave way to hills and the last third of our journey was along the Danube. It was still early morning and fog was shrouding the tops of the wooded hills and small red-roofed villages nestled at their foot. And then we arrived in Budapest.
Budapest is huge with over 2 million people.
The Keleti pu station is right downtown but even I didnâ€™t think we could walk to the new apartment this time. The apartment manager, Tibor, met us at the train and drove us to our new home for the next 5 nights. It was a second story apartment in a grand old building with a central courtyard. The apartments all opened onto the courtyard and had 15 foot ceilings and inlaid wood floors. Ours was large with a big main room, a roomy bedroom, a kitchen, one regular bathroom and a strange little lavatory stuck in what must have been a broom closet. Our apartment was only part of a larger apartment and there were several large locked doors going off in strange directions. My curiosity got the better of me and I had Tibor open these doors so I could see all of the apartment. We could have held conventions in there.
even the Budapest man hole covers are decorative
We wanted to walk through a different area of Budapest each day and today we went through central Pest in the main tourist area.
There is a long pedestrian shopping area on Vaci street that runs from the Chain Bridge (near our apartment) south to the Elizabeth Bridge. Itâ€™s full of cafÃ©s that charge high prices but it is convenient. We stopped for lunch on our way to the Market Hall at the southern end of Vaci Street.
inside the Market Hall
The Central Market Hall has over 180 stalls on three levels and is a great place for fresh produce, local wines, cheese, sausage, housewares, gifts and of course paprika. We got wine, crackers, cheese and grapes for room snacks while I photographed produce. The vendors seem to be used to people wandering around taking photos of their booths - nobody gave me a second look.
It had been a long day so we went back to the apartment and ate all our room snacks for dinner. Weâ€™ll need to get more food tomorrow.