Europe | Hungary | Budapest – That’s it, I’m off
Damn you British Airways. Everything was running so smoothly. All the waiting was over. My time had come. The future was now. And then my flight from Dublin to London was delayed, meaning I missed the flight from London to Budapest. But it wasn’t so bad, they put me up in a plush hotel with a minibar. But then they mislaid my rucksack.
My good friend Orlagh was at the airport to meet me and help me fill out the forms. The nice man assured me my bags would be forwarded to the hostel. This was not a good start to my Eastern European Adventures [TM]. Sure they gave me a nice overnight kit with an incy wincy toothpaste, but the panties were a tight fit. Which made me angry. Still, I got over it.
It’s a bus and the metro from Ferihegy Airport to Budapest City Centre. At least I didn’t have too much to carry. I checked into the Yellow Submarine Hostel on Terez Korut, near the heart of the city. It’s small but homely.
Orlagh, who lives and works in Budapest, kindly gave me Budapest: A Critical Guide, by ex-Hungarian Deputy Minister of Culture Andras Torok. Torok has been a proud resident of Budapest for nearly 50 years and he knows and loves his city. The book makes for a knowledgeable, friendly and witty guide. It makes learning fun.
Even most Americans know that Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain until 1989. Torok compares living under Soviet ‘guidance’ to living under a rock. It’s dark under there. Hungarians have spent the last 12 years blinking as they accustom themselves to the bright lights of global capitalism. Some have adapted better than others. Today lots of Budapest resembles a building site. Many of the lovingly described attractions in Torok’s book are obscured by scaffolding and cranes. But there is still plenty to see. So I got to work.