Daily Journal: Wednesday, 1 February 2017

My first flight was at 8:25 this morning. I managed to drink a couple cups of tea while packing for the flight to Budapest. I will first fly to Stuttgart, with a quick layover, then onward to Budapest.

I booked the flight with Germanwings / Eurowings – which I think are the same company and this was my first trip with them. They are a “no frills” airline and seem to do a good job with being on time and passenger management. Any in-flight beverages or snacks are not included with the airfare and neither is luggage at check-in. It was a good learning experience and will use them again.

During flights I play pinochle on my phone or iPad to pass the time. I’m playing against the computer and I like the logic used to program the game – very lifelike, except the computer remembers what has been played. It passes the time if I don’t have anyone who wishes to talk during the flight.

This is what I saw as we were transported from the plane to the terminal in Budapest. Cold, wet, and snow with ice.

We landed on time, then picked up my suitcase (it was one of the first 20 on the carousel), went to an ATM and got some Hungarian currency (HUF Hungarian Forint, or Ft, is .0035 per USD). To get a taxi, you go to a booth and tell the attendant where you want to go, he issues a small print out that shows the expected fare and the license plate of the driver – so you wait for the car to show up and away you go.

It took about 30 minutes to get to the Airbnb flat. The fare, with tip, was 10,000 HUF, so paid around $35. Zoltán was waiting for me at the entrance to the building and helped me with my luggage. He gave me a complete tour of the flat and apologized that we couldn’t see the Danube today because of the fog.

After he left I unpacked and then needed to get something to eat. Only had the two cups of tea and a dinner role. My fallback is to find the nearest McDonald’s which was a 15 minute walk (or 25 minutes due to the ice on the sidewalks). I looked for a grocery store on the way back but didn’t see one. At least I had something to eat! Got a little lost trying to find the right apartment building, but eventually found it thanks to help received from some people I met along the way. When I got back inside I took a nap and was out like a light.

When I woke from the nap I decided to make a serious attempt to find a grocery store. I remember Zoltán showing me on a map a nearby shopping mall where he said there was a grocery store. Turns out that this mall was even closer than the McDonald’s I went to earlier. So, I got on my boots (waterproof) and away I went. Turns out this mall was very close and, as it happens, had a McDonald’s. More importantly, it has a grocery store.

Just picked up a few items to give me something to work with. Not having a car, I’m mindful how much I can carry given the distance to walk. It takes a bit longer in Budapest to shop since the food products are written (about 90%) in Hungarian. Having a translator on my phone really helps!

Now starts planning projects for the coming month. First order of business is to start my taxes. I’ll try to find some projects that are fun – like planning more travels in the next few months. Tomorrow I also need to find a new gym – probably Gold’s Gym which is nearby.

Looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

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