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By request: Pictures

Heroes Square

Heroes Square

Ok, it takes me frakking forever to upload these things, which is why I haven’t been doing it lately. But there was a request in the comments section so…

Close up of same

Close up of same

Hungarian ticket takers have what can best be described as a relaxed attitude toward efficiency and expediency. Even with 20 or 30 people standing behind you, they’re more than happy to take al the time in the world to debate the pros and cons of various ticket options, whether to get teh audio guide, and if the Turner exhibit is really worth the extra 1600 florints. Nor will they rush you while you decide. It takes me 15 minutes to get my ticket in the Museum of Fine Arts. Which is an absolutely gorgeous museum full of interior Corinthian columns and courtyards, some very nice paintings by El Greco and your Flemish masters, but absolutely NO GODDAMN A/C. So after my usual four hours in an art museum (never go to an art or archaeology museum with the Vagabond, friends, I get sucked in) I’m drenched in sweat. The mercury is pushing 40 degrees Centigrade, and will do for another two days. Go ahead, work out the conversion…

Statue outside of Vajdahunyad Castle

Statue outside of Vajdahunyad Castle

I discover the museum also has a small marble piece by Rodin called “Eternal Spring.” And for Rodin, boys and girls, I can forgive any lack of A/C.

Fortunately, the largest bath complex in Europe is right next door. The bath, Szechenyi furdo (but spelled with some umlauts and pronounced “Gary”) is a gynormous Beaux Arts (I think) building, painted yellow, with two wings, an interior courtyard, and three pools: two hot springs and a cold-water swimming pool. I pay about $10 for two hours and my own cabin, which is really just a closet to keep your clothes in. I’ve remembered to bring my swim trunks and towel, but neglected my flip-flops, so I pad around cautiously on the hot cement. I swim a few laps, but my lungs soon collapse under the weight of several days of nicotine abuse, and I spend the rest of my time lying on my towel on the cement, or relaxing in the hot spring pool.

By sheer coincidence, the three Irish lads I met from the other night are there at roughly the same time. We don’t run into each other, but we figure this out later.

Budapest by night

Budapest by night

I top the day off with a quick stop at yet another cafe, where the waiter tries to rip me off. He tells me he’s going to rip me off though, and only has the balls to do so for about 75 cents, so I still tip him. I’m drinking filtered coffee for the first time in months, after all, and it tastes glorious, like pure Jesus dripped in chocolate with sprinkles on top.

What? You Catholics eat Him every Sunday, don’t complain to me about being sacrilcious if you’re too stodgy to put some delicious condiments on him…

Ok, straight to hell for that last one.

Hotel Gellert

Hotel Gellert

I try to stop by the ticket office for Hungary’s train service, only to find it has become a bookstore. Well done, Lonely Planet, you have once again sent me to the wrong address. I must have been the 300th person to make this mistake, though, and the guy behind the counter has a photocopy of a map with a little hand drawn arrow telling me where to go.

When I get to the ticket office, I immediately sense that something is wrong. This place is clean, efficient, and inviting. Like the post office I went to in the morning, the employees are young, intelligent, multi-lingual, friendly, and, well, wearing short skirts.

What the hell?

Entrance to the Music Academy

Entrance to the Music Academy

This is wrong on so many levels. Federal employeees this agreeable only make poeple want to use the service they provide MORE. This increases demand for government services, encouraging over-consumption.

In general, I’ve been shocked at how efficient and pleasant the services are in Hungary (except for the private-operator cab drivers, motherless whores all of them). Then again, I don’t think Hungary has a political party ideologically dedicated to demonstrating the inherent inferiority of government institutions by systematically destorying them by denying sufficient funds to run them properly (diagram that sentence, I dare you).

The Opera House

The Opera House

I meet the Irish lads, again, at their hostel that night, and meet everyone else. The staff their, UK and American expats by the sounds of it, take us on a pub crawl that has us playing foosball at odd hours, and meeting a trio of Dutchmen who offer me a place to stay with them in Rotterdam (I take their names and numbers) and are playing a game in which they must continue to trade items until they can no longer offload the one they have on hand. They started with a lemon (or something) and are trying to convince me to trade them for a Hoover vacuum cleaner. I swear I’m not making this up.

We crawl around until we land on a small island in the Danube river, a club where expats dance like assholes. Me, a fellow from Deutsche Bank, another from GE, and one of the hostel staff bail, grabbing a cab back to Buday, where Deutsche knows a club where the locals dance. We agree on a price with the cabbie before hand, which is good, because he still tries to rob us when we get out, may God use the entrails of Budapest cab drivers to string a harp.

Sphinx, guarding the opera house

Sphinx, guarding the opera house

We dance with local girls, try and fail to pick them up (go ahead. Pick someone up using basic Hungarian in a loud bar. We’ll wait.), and leave happy and tired at 5am as “Summer of ’69” comes on the radio. The others take a taxi home, I elect to walk back since my hostel is closer, and also because I sincerely wish every Budapest cab driver’s dentist to use a chainsaw on their face at their next appointment, the motherless whores.

I pass joggers on my way back to bed. My resolution to detox while in Budapest: FAIL.

St. Stephen's Basilica by night. More on her later.

St. Stephen's Basilica by night. More on her later.

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