Arrived in Budapest yesterday, late afternoon. Traveled from Zermatt to Zurich on Tuesday and stayed overnight in Zurich before heading over to Budapest. Flew from Zurich to Berlin, where I changed planes, and then to Budapest. All went very well, though, as it turns out, my Swiss Com SIM card did not like being away from home (will explain more soon) so needed to find another vendor who will support my phone in Hungary. As I left the baggage area in Budapest, met someone who said to try Vodafone. I saw a Vodafone shop just as I entered the terminal. (How about that!) While the SIM card expert at Vodafone was installing my new SIM card, I got cash out of the ATM and picked up some food for dinner at a kiosk. In 20 minutes I was on my way to my flat in Budapest. (I like it when everything fits into place.)
Had a comfortable ride into Budapest. Gyorgy was my taxi driver and he did most of the talking on the way into the city and gave me a quick lesson in Hungarian. (Side note: Interesting way to book a taxi. I needed to get a ticket at the airport, whereby the ticket agent transmitted the destination to the driver.) Made good time getting to the flat and met up with my host there. As Gyorgy drove away, I immediately forgot my Hungarian lesson.
As for the flat – wow! The location is perfect, in central Budapest, great view, next to the Danube, and close to market. (Not just any market, THE market. More later.)
After I finished getting unpacked and clothes in the washer, I took the picture below of the view towards the Danube and the Elisabeth Bridge, the third newest bridge over the Danube, and connects Buda and Pest.
Aside from the view, this flat has air conditioning, washer, and a fully equipped kitchen. Just recently renovated. Glad I got a place with air conditioning, since the forecast is for the mid 90’s this weekend. And, is also soundproof, for the most part – can only do so much.
Today, I took a picture of the atrium from my floor. Think I’m on the 6th or 7th floor, depending how you count each level.
Great (Central) Market Hall (Marketing 101)
First task for this morning was to fill up the pantry and fridge. I had no idea where to buy food. What I would I find when I did a Google search? Found a few small stores, then saw one for Central Market Hall. I got the impression from reading about the place is that there would be a number of vendors and I could buy some local produce. Well – wasn’t I in for a surprise. What I found was this huge (and I mean HUGE) building – and inside there were hundreds of vendors offering produce, meat, flowers – can’t even name them all. So for me, this was Market Day 101. I was among some professionals with experience on how to work the system.
I knew that this was going to be a challenge, since I am a recovering Zupan’s shopper and used to having one store for shopping, not knowing the language and having a vague understanding of the currency. I managed to leave the first floor with some bananas, tomatoes, mushrooms, corn on the cob, and a bottle of Palinka. The second floor had stalls where you could get something to eat and a variety of vendors, selling non-food items. Don’t think I saw everything, but will go back again and fully check it out. I needed to visit a commercial store to get some coffee, sugar, butter, bread, etc. so I could eat for the next few days.
Here are some pictures of the market. Please note, especially the first picture, how far back down the street the market goes. Must be several blocks long.
When I returned from shopping, found noticed this plaque with a person’s name on it outside the building as you walk in. Who is Ligeti Lajos?
Now, I need to find out who Ligeti Lajos was and why does he have a plaque on this building.
Made dinner tonight with some food items purchased today. Made a tomato sauce base, added mushrooms and garlic – then sauteed chicken. After dinner, will do a walk across the Elisabeth Bridge.
Cell Phones and SIM Cards: I’m still learning about SIM cards, but this is what I’ve discovered. There are many, many plans available that have specific restrictions and limitations depending on where you travel. I’m getting to the point of just getting a new SIM card as I enter a new country. I managed to get my Belgium card work in Germany and Amsterdam (barely), but it didn’t want to work in Switzerland. My UK card didn’t want to work well in Belgium. So now I have a collection of SIM cards, each with various amounts of credit available, ready to be used again should I travel to one of the countries where they work best. Though, the bottom line is, these data and voice plans are way less than Verizon in the U.S. (To save time for those who don’t know what is SIM card is, it is a “smart” card inside you cell phone, carrying an ID number unique to the owner, storing personal data, and preventing operation if removed.) I didn’t even know my phone had a SIM card until I was shown. So much to learn…