March 5, 2008

Budapest Day 1 - more photos added

My journey started with an interesting exchange at Gatwick airport. When checking in at the gate the airport representative read my passport and asked if Kweskin was from Poland or the Ukraine. "These are my people" was my first thought. How cool to be going to Eastern Europe.

Cool it is indeed. Cold that is. But the day started with a warm bit of humor when we saw a dismantled communist-era statue being pulled up the Danube River. You may be able to make it out in this photo. Even locals were pulling out their mobile phones to document this moment.

But mid-day the sun did come out so the afternoon was wonderful. My mom and I started our adventure by visiting Parliament - from the outside. Tickets to tour go on sale at 8am each day. You miss it, you have to try again the next day. That's okay because we went across the street to the Museum of Ethnography. Today the museum was open free to the public and was filled with kids on a fieldtrip. What fun! We had a wonderful time and were impressed by the modern exhibitions - one on the history of blue jeans and another on the origins of musical instruments. Plus, the kids were great fun.

We walked along to the Nyugati train station and found probably the world's most elegant McDonalds called McCafe which was in a four star setting. This entire space is the McCafe.

From there we made our way to the Hungarian State Opera House and took a tour of the facility. I was suprirsed by how small it was and that almost every seat was superb. The size of the stage is actually twice the size of the auditorium. Plus, ticket prices are fantastic - as low as 2 Euros to see a performance.

Next was St. Stephen's Basilica and then back to the hotel for a brief rest. Now we're heading out to dinner.

Having a hard time uploading images as the internet connection in hotel room - or my dad's laptop, perhaps the combination of both - are not moving very quickly.

I had brought a whole lot of Euros since being part of the EU I figured Budapest was on the Euro. Well, they aren't really. The HUF is very much the currency of choice. A pack of gum costs 250 HUF and I have a 10,000 note in my pocket. All day mom and I were converting prices to Euros then GBP and then into dollars. How often do you get to spend 10,000 on anything in one day?