Budapest (17th & 18th of January 2006)

Tuesday 17th of January 2006
This was a last minute trip. Very last minute. So last minute, I only booked a one way flight with Easyjet for £14.00 (Sterling). I was hesitating about going as I had a lot on with work etc, it was just after Christmas, it was going to very cold over there etc. Even the day before travel, I was undecided about going, as losing £14 on a missed fliht was not a big deal.

Even at the airport, I was having second thoughts. I was going to South America in July for research – did I really did this now! Anyway, I decided to head off to check in with my hand luggage.

I was at Gatwick around 10.55am and so had an hour before check-in closed at 11:45am. The airport was pratically empty. Checked out the weather in Budapest and founf it hovered around -4 to -8 oc. Damn cold and I was travelling hand luggage light, but lots of layers (T-Shirts) with one fake Chinese made “North Face” jacket. A couple of pairs of socks, jocks and just the pants and boots that I was wearing. Maybe 5kg in total. I was also carring a pretty next to useless “Lets go: Eastern Europe 2004”. While it covered the capital cities in each country, I would be visiting (Hungary, Romania, ukraine, Poland), not much else. It is very USA visitor orientated.

London Gatwick (South Terminal) To Budapest (Terminal 1)
flight 5485; dep. Tue 17 Jan 12:15
arr. Tue 17 Jan 15:40. Hungary is one hour ahead of London.

We were actually twenty minutes early to Budapest. It was -4 oc and sleet was falling. Alot of budget airlines fly to Budapest (Wizzair, Germanwings, Ryanair, Easyjet) and I could not see any national flag carrier airline. It is pretty small airport and we had to wait 20 minutes while immigration interviewd some poor Romanian guy in front of us in the queue.

I had sent an email yesterday to make a booking at a hostel but didnt get a reply. When I was here in 1998 (I think), there were only 4/5 hostels and most of them were not in the city centre. We stayed in Diaksport, at the end of a metro line. Still it had a 24 hour bar and was OK at the time. Now there are 20/30 hostels in town.

I typed 24 hour bar hostel budapest into google and Mellow Mood Central Hostel ,came up. Its a cheap hostel on the center of Budapest. Well cheap during a discount January.

Mellow Mood Central Hostel, a cheap hostel on the center of Budapest. Bar and … 24 -hour bar-selling alcohol, soft drinks and snacks around the clock …

Anyway, when we stayed in Budapest before we were miles out in another hostel with a 24 hour bar. All the hostels seem to have that facility here. Anyway, they had a special winter (10 jan – 28 Feb) rate of 2,500 forints per night for a 4 bed dorm.

Anyway, I only had hand luggage so I looked to find a cheap way into town. I took the public bus from outside the terminal (180 F) for a ticket to the last stop on the blue metro line which was 20 minutes away. I took the metro (185 f) aboout 10 stops to Deák Ferenc tér. From there it was less than a 3 minute walk to the hostel (which is a 1 minutes’ walk away from the famous pedestrian street: Váci utca and 2 minutes’ walk from the Danube promenade). If you want tourist information check out hungary.hu

They had my name so I booked in. Its a pretty nice hostel. Its big but clean. It was dark and the forcast expected temperatures to drop to minus eight. At about 6.30pm I headed to the 5th floor bar for a drink. Beers costs were 250-300 for a pint 5000ml bottle. Anyway i got talking to two Australinas. One guy worked in London and took numerous short trips to Europe on budget airlines. The second guy was divorced and was traveling around for 6 months or so. Anyway good chat. We were joined by a fellow Irish guy from Roscommon, working in Dublin. He had been scammed the night before. He was chatting to two girls in the street who calimed were Italian Backpackers. He went to a bar and purchasded three coctails. The bill was 350 EURO. he was gutted. Anyway beware. Its happening all the time over hear. The internet is full of warnings and the stories. See this site. It explains the full scam. The Irish guy was scammed in the same bar (the one with the elevator) as in thwe story.

Hookers are easy to spot in a street. It is the way they approach, their purpose is clear. These girls were scam artists, working a set up, so on approach to me, they were initiating a well thought scenario that had the finesse of a ballet with the execution of a talented method actor. You may think that I must be really stupid, and to a certain degree I refused to let some obvious signs interrupt my desire to be with these girls, but their scam takes all of that into account, every bit of it. Your doubts are caressed by several off hand comments dropped in at the appropriate moment, just like a good screenwriter who has reversals, conflicts and objectives. It is subtle and brilliant, they are reworking and adapting moment by moment and know where to place the right pause, know what distance to maintain and know how much or how little to smile. My dick is now in solitary confinement for the month, but punishing my private parts doesn’t take away the humiliation and never the 250 euro. Take care in Budapest.

Another Scare story here.

Technically, it is not illegal to charge $100 for a beer, and scam victims might neglect to check the menu first. Furthermore, few tourists would go to the effort — not to mention embarrassment — of pressing charges. The scam places are listed by Bostom.com and the american Embassy in Hungary.

Anyway the two Aussies left. We were joined by two Americans, two other Australians, so we sat and drank (alot, alot, alot) until 2am. The americans were rather boorish. Their parents had purchased their trip to europe. Anyway, a good night indoors, at the hostel. It sounds boring but it was mid week and Budapest’s nightlife is so spread out and quick moving, that it may have taken some time and effort to find a busy spot. Anyway, with pairs of very attractive but mafia sponsored consumption girls prowling outside, in a beered up state (and our brains in limited working order), may have left us with massive bar bills and broken bones. While the last time we were here, we were stopped by pimps tryingo to get us to go to Sexy clubs, the current scams are far more sophisticated.





St. Stephen’s Basilica (Bazilika), Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 17th of January 2006

This church, the city’s largest, was built on the site of the unholy ‘Prank Theatre,’ an animal-cruelty extravaganza in which bears, wolves and hyenas tore each other to shreds while bloodthirsty crowds egged them on. Construction of the Basilica began in 1851 but was not completed until 1905, because the dome caved in. If you’re reading this inside the church and are now casting a wary eye upward, concentrate instead on the fact that the dome is exactly as tall as that of Parliament – 96m. The church contains the mummified right hand of King St. Stephen, founder of the Hungarian state. To see this relic, head to the chapel to the left of the main altar. Drop 100 Ft in the slot, and the glass case lights up to reveal this celebrated extremity in all its gnarled brown glory. The price is the same whether you’ve come to venerate a holy relic or merely to indulge your morbid curiosity. To get to the viewing platform above the cupola, take the elevator up, then scale 146 more steps – great views of Budapest.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Danube embankment
(Duna korzó), Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 17th of January 2006

This pedestrian walk stretches along the Danube in Pest from Március 15. tér to Roosevelt tér. Outdoor cafes and benches sprawl out next to hotel fronts – all with ample breathing room around them (usually a rarity in this part of town). The motor traffic has been cleverly tucked away on the other side of the tram line. There are great views of Castle Hill, looming over the other side of the Danube.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Wednesday 18th of January 2006
I woke up (around 10.00am) tired but no great hangover. I left the hostel and headed to the train station to inquire about train tickets to Timisoara, Romania. I took the metro directly to the station and there is an international ticket office upstairs near track nine. Its actually cheaper buying a return ticket than a single. You may be better off getting a bus there or to the border and continue your journey from there. It was 8,200 F.





Keleti Train Station, Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

Budapest has three major train stations, and each has connections to the metro system as well as to other public transport.To get to the metro station (red line), go down the stairs and through the underpass to the outdoor plaza. The metro entrance is on the far side of the plaza. Bus N°7, which runs every few minutes, will also take you to centrally located Ferenciek tere – to find the bus stop, follow the signs in the underpass.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Anyway, after buying a ticket, I took a metro to the national parliament area and took a few pictures. I then walked to Margarets Island to get a better view of the National partliment building (from Margit hid Bridge). I then walked from there across the Danube to the casle District. I spend some there and it was quite empty.





Parliament
(Országház), Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

In 1902, after a mere 17 years of construction, Hungary presented itself with what was then the largest parliament building in the world. An architectural echo of the Houses of Parliament of London, this neo-Gothic edifice expressed the country’s robust self-confidence at the beginning of the 20th century. Since WWII, when Hungary’s House of Lords was abolished, members of Parliament have convened only in the southern wing of the building. During the communist era, they convened hardly at all – only eight days a year, in fact, to rubber-stamp the laws drawn up by the Party. Parliament is fronted by several monuments to the nation’s lost struggles: the wars for independence in 1703, 1848 and again in 1956. The cars in front of parliament mark the lost struggle for parking space in Budapest. Parliament also contains the crown jewels of Hungary – the Holy Crown and the Coronation Insignia, which were worn by Hungarian kings since the Middle Ages. At the end of WWII, these regalia were spirited out of the country and ended up in the United States, not to be returned until 1978. For the guided tours show up a few minutes early at Gate X, just right of the main stairs. The parliament building is chained off here, but a guard or tour guide should let you in to buy a ticket. Tickets are not sold in advance, and no tours are given when ceremonial events or sessions of parliament are taking place.

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I walked from the bridge all the way to the Royal Palce, the Fishermans bastion, and Gellert Hill.





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

Just an old abandoned house on the way up to Castle Hill. Liked the colours.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A church on Castle Hill

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A statue on Castle Hill

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Matthias Church (Mátyás templom, Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

The 13th century Matthias Church was renamed for the king who rebuilt it in 1470. It has witnessed significant events, including the marriage of King Matthias and the crownings of Franz Josef I and Charles IV. King Béla III and his wife are buried in the Holy Trinity Chapel here. The Turks whitewashed the Christian frescoes on the church’s walls and turned the building into a mosque. The church was severely damaged when the Turks were driven out in 1686. It was again ravaged in WWII and not fully restored until 1968. The church’s distinctive Gothic tower soars 80m high. Between the church and Fishermen’s Bastion stands a statue of St. Stephen, founder of the Hungarian state. Admission: 300 HUF.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Matthias Church (Mátyás templom, Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

The 13th century Matthias Church was renamed for the king who rebuilt it in 1470.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Halászbástya (Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

The neo-Romanesque Fisherman’s Bastion, perched on the edge of Buda’s Castle District, near Matthias Church and the Hilton Hotel, affords a marvelous panorama of Pest. Built in 1905, it was intended mainly for decorative purposes, despite its military appearance. Looking out over the Danube to Pest, you can see (from left to right): Margaret Island and the Margaret Bridge, Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Gresham Palace behind it, the Vigadó Concert Hall, the Inner City Parish Church, the Erzsébet Bridge, and the Szabadság Bridge. To get to the Halászbástya, take the Várbusz from Moszkva tér or bus no. 16 from Deák tér, or funicular from Clark Ádám tér to Castle Hill.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Fisherman Bastion (Halaszbastya): Fishermen’s Bastion, Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

The Fishermen’s Bastion was designed by Frigyes Schulek and was built in 1905. The “building” is made up of seven towers – each one symbolising the seven Magyar tribes that came to Hungary in 896. The towers are a bit fairytale like, but still, they somehow fit together with the Mathias Church behind them. The area directly behind the church housed a fish market during medieval times – the name of the Bastion comes from here. During the 18th century, the Guild of Fisherman are also said to have been defending this part of the Castle wall. The Bastion offers great view of the Parliament and of the northern Pest side of the city.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A shot taken from the Fisherman Bastion.

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Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A shot taken from the Fisherman Bastion of Budapest and the Chain Bridge. The Budapesters take pride in their bridges: each bridge has its own personality, and together they add immeasurably to the city`s panorama. The granddaddy of them all is the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd), which just celebrated its 150th birthday. Initiated by Count István Széchenyi, it was the first permanent bridge across the river. This proud structure boasts pillars in the shape of twin triumphal arches, and approaches guarded by stone lions. At night, thousands of light bulbs illuminate the bridge.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

It was about 2.00pm and I was tired from last night. I planned to walked to rudas baths to relax. it was 2,000 F in to use the baths, sunas etc and I paid another 2,000 F for a 20 minute water massage (about 16 Euro in total).

Near the Erzsébet Bridge, on the Buda side of the city, is another of Budapest’s classic Turkish baths. These baths are for men only, though both sexes are admitted to the swimming pool. During early mornings the crowd is predominantly composed of older men, and according to local lore, the place becomes something of a pickup spot after 9am.

The first baths were built on this site in the 14th century, although the Rudas Bathhouse itself dates to the late 16th century. It boasts an octagonal pool and domed roof; some of the small window holes in the cupola have stained glass, while others are open to the sky, allowing diffuse light to stream in. You’ll find most of the same services and facilities here that you would at Király: a thermal bath, a sauna, and a steam bath.

Its was renovated last year and isnt long opened. I was here before, years ago. There was no english and security was poor. Now you get a receipt, a special swipe card for your locker and a key that you keep on your person. Thats can be difficult as all you get is a piece of loin cloth to cover your genitals (barely) but nothing for your backside. Most guys wear nada. Still, its a very straight (hetro) place with no hanky panky. Its men only in ruad and they come in all ages, shapes and sizes.

Anyway I had my massage. You are placed (I placed myself) naked on a slab and a bare chested russian bear of a man came over and sprayed slighly scented, slightly soapy water on me. He went to work on my front first. Its a deep tissue/mussle type of massage and its really just brute force as he massages your legs and arms, stomach and soles of your feet. He then turns you over and does the same. Twisting and forcing his fingures into my shoulder blades and under my arms which really hurt. He also spent a long time dragging his knuckles down my back and spine. hurt a lot.

After about 20 minutes, he slapped me on the arse and then washed me down with water. I felt light headed and was happy to head to the main pool.

I stayed in Rudas until 5.30pm. They even have a sleeping room. You go in and relax, dream, fall aslepp on these couches. cool. Anyway, it was dark and I walked across the chain bridge. I then walked to Saint Stephens Basillica and to a Chinese place for a chicken curry.

It was 8.00pm at this stage and I headed back to the hostel. I had a 4 bed dorm to my self. Anyway, I headed back to the bar and met the Irish Guy who was scammed and the two australians. We settled back into cards and drinking. We had drunk so much last night, they ran out of beer by midnight. Anyway, I left at 1.30am and I was catching a train the next day. I asked the hostel guys for a 8.00am wake up call.





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A few shots of various monuments and things that caught my eye.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A few shots of various monuments and things that caught my eye.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A few shots of various monuments and things that caught my eye. A nice statue of youths trying to land a big fish.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Budapest, Hungary

Taken on the 18th of January 2006

A few shots of various monuments and things that caught my eye. Taken on castle Hill.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size