6.16.09 Hungry in Hungary!

Budapest Travel Blog

 › entry 89 of 114 › view all entries
Bratislava

6.16.09 Hungry in Hungary!

 

Wonderful day in Budapest!

 

We stopped by our Slovakian campground reception this morning to talk to Joseph and learned that the proper pronunciation for Bratislava is equal emphasis on all syllables:  “Bra tees la va.” 

 

Then we took the cut-through road to the gas station by Tesco to buy our windshield vignette (sticker) for Slovakia (4.90E for 1 week).  Even the gas station attendants laughed at our attempts at Slovakian, which is a welcome response verses some alternatives.

Bratislava
  I am surprised at how personable and nice the Slovakian people have seemed, in spite of being in a big city.  Very unusual!

 

We crossed the Hungary border in about 30 miles.  No body is even around at the border.  We pulled over to the right to buy a highway toll vignette at a little quick mart, that was oddly located in the official crossing area.  A few others did the same and we provided our license plate numbers in a little book, the 7E for a 4-day pass, and taped the printed receipt on our windshield, although she just said to keep it in the vehicle. Hungary has been the only country where we have not been given a real sticker for the windshield.

 

After about 3 hours total of easy highway driving, we arrived in downtown Budapest around 12:30, making for hectic lunchtime maneuvering.

Dinner in Budapest
  The GPS messed up and missed a turn, recalculating 3 seconds too late, which made for a harried, stressful situation, but it all worked out.  Driving right through the city of Budapest, all the way north along the Danube River- umm, ummm!  Some memories will surely stay with me- hopefully not via nightmares! 

 

Jazy and I about had a heart attack when we saw the gas price of 2.70 per liter!  It turned out that the Hungarian Forint (HUF) is 290HUF to 1E, so the price was less than 1E per liter, which was comparable to other countries.  Slovakia was .99E per liter of diesel and Austria was even less.

 

The Romai Campground (17.30E for all of us) is lovely parking under trees.

Dinner in Budapest
  There are a few people fro Espagne here and we enjoyed chatting in Spanglish with them.  The bathhouse facilities are not nice and with no hot water in the showers (nor was there any last night, so I took a shower in Sugar after the girls’ cold shower report), we choose to use the RV.  But the location is great with train service just across the street.

 

The BEST part of the campground was the wonderful Tomas, at Registration!  We checked on our Hungarian pronunciation for “Please, Thank You, and Hello” until he finally offered to go with us into the city.  He wanted to practice his English, which was terrific, and seemed like a nice young man.  So at 3pm, we trotted back up to reception to get him.

 

Well!  It turns out that Tomas worked at the Intercontinental Hotel last year, giving Budapest tours.  He was born and raised here and has completed his first University year in Tourism.

Performers in Budapest
  We were quite stunned at how wonderful it was to have a personal tour guide.  Think of the time savings!  Just getting on and off the train at the proper stop requires military tactical procedures, or you just follow along like a puppy.  Which would you prefer?

 

Ah, it was so nice having a tour guide!  I really do not think that Tomas expected anything at all (and I am acutely attuned to anything that hints of that), but afterward we considered his great value and think we tipped him well at the end.  He took us up to the Castle on the funicular, to Fisherman’s Bastion, across the Bridge to the Pest side, on the metro, on the tram, to the Heroes Memorial, down the bullet-ridden street from the 1956 Independence attempt that was unsuccessful, and helped us find decent Hungarian food.

 

Did you know…

  1. Hungary does not use Euros?  Apparently the economy has not yet been able to use the Euro, so they use Forints, at about 290 to 1 Euro.
    Lavender in Hungary
      We were able to pay in Euros at the campground and we could have at the restaurant, if we wanted. 

 

  1. We needed Hungarian money for the transportation, so I took out 2000 HUF worth from an ATM.  Two thousand, wow!  Then I needed 2600 HUF for 10 metro tickets!  Ha!  I had missed a digit under pressure and probably paid more in bank fees for the 6E that I’d extracted!  So I had to go back for 20,000 HUF this time. <sigh>

 

  1. On one side of the river is the ancient royal area called “Buda” and on the other side of the Danube (“Danu”) is “Pest” where the peasantry lived.

 

Not only did Tomas take us to all the major sights that we’d read about, including the 3 UNESCO areas of the city, Km 0 statue for all roads out of Budapest, helped us order traditional Hungarian food, helped translate the bill and advise on the tip, etc.

Riding the funicular up to the Budapest castle
  He never tired and offered to take us to the Island in the river’s center to see the castle there, the famous thermal spas, the zoo, etc.  We waved the white flag of fatigued feet before he did!

 

Tomas also provided some insight into the politics, the psychology of the residents, the history, the current living situation, school information, and his hopes and dreams.  It was the type of local information that is very difficult to get as a tourist.  While it is just one point of information, it is far deeper than just seeing the sights. 

 

Tomas indicated that with an agreement between the U.S. and Hungary that he is able to work in the U.S. for a few months without a work visa.  Since he is eager to see the world, he hopes to find a job during next summer’s University break in the tourism field, and we offered to see how we can help from Texas.

Riding the funicular up to the Budapest castle
  He is a bright, articulate, helpful person and I hope he can realize that dream.

 

So we patted ourselves on the back for the brilliant move to accept Tomas’ kind offer to accompany us.  Why didn’t we think of that?  When you have but one day in a country, surely a tour guide is the most highly efficient use of time and money.  What a blessing he was to us today!  We figure that without him, we’d have seen maybe 1/3 of the sights today.

 

By the way, he said that half the people in Hungary earn less than 50,000 HUF per month, which is like 175E.  The faces of the people indicate difficult times and they do not appear happy, but rather tired and a bit grim.  I sure hope this beautiful country has brighter days ahead for its people’s sake.  It reminded me somewhat of the Nicaraguan scene where things seem like they should be better than the government’s actions allow.

Gas prices in Hungary (in HUF's)

 

Hungary has more English on its signs than we’ve seen in a long time.  Many of the people spoke some English, although admittedly we relied on Tomas a lot.  Having a personal tour guide is the way to go when you’re on a tight schedule!

 

We head north tomorrow through the middle of Slovakia, into Poland (Lord willing!).  It will be a long driving day that I dread.  But we don’t want to miss Krakow, the most beautiful city in Poland, so off we spring!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava
Dinner in Budapest
Dinner in Budapest
Dinner in Budapest
Dinner in Budapest
Performers in Budapest
Performers in Budapest
Lavender in Hungary
Lavender in Hungary
Riding the funicular up to the Bud…
Riding the funicular up to the Bu…
Riding the funicular up to the Bud…
Riding the funicular up to the Bu…
Gas prices in Hungary (in HUFs)
Gas prices in Hungary (in HUF's)
Dinner in Budapest
Dinner in Budapest
Hungary
Hungary
Hungary
Hungary
Budapest
Budapest
Km 0 statue in Budapest
Km 0 statue in Budapest
Cool camping pop-top on minivan in…
Cool camping pop-top on minivan i…
Lias cute in her new Budapest out…
Lia's cute in her new Budapest ou…
Mini-mart at border where we bough…
Mini-mart at border where we boug…
Budapest parliment buildings
Budapest parliment buildings
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Anonymous statue in Budapest
"Anonymous" statue in Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest park
Budapest park
Budapest tram wait
Budapest tram wait
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Budapest
Sugar in Budapest campground under…
Sugar in Budapest campground unde…
Tomas our campground tour guide in…
Tomas our campground tour guide i…
Budapest Four Season Hotel
Budapest Four Season Hotel
Budapest
photo by: Chokk