Daily Journal: Sunday, 5 March 2017

I knew it was going to be a lazy Sunday when I woke up this morning. Weather outside was breezy and overcast. Also, I didn’t have anything that needed to get done. So it was an eat-breakfast-and-head-back-to-bed sort of morning.

Got up after a couple of hours and took a shower. To be semi-productive, thought I’d better start buying tickets for Budapest’s Spring Festival events. Mainly the ones with limited seating and performances. There are so many diverse events planned this year – so will be fun to plan and attend those than are of interest.

Link to Spring Festival Events: http://www.btf.hu/events

I decided to make some French Toast for lunch. Just two slices – not a large batch. I let the bread really soak up the batter and put them in the pan to cook. Once done, I spread on peanut butter and it was a perfect treat.

Then another nap.

When I woke again, I put the Spring Festival events in my phone’s calendar and got ready to call a former co-worker from ESCO. He had been out of work for a few months and we worked together on his resume and prepared for is job search in late 2016. He is now an IT consultant working for a new IT support firm in Portland. Nice job for him that will provide a lot of valuable experience. Good speaking with him again. We worked together very well, but don’t think I’ll return to the world of IT project management. (Notice I didn’t say never.)

Texted friends early in the evening and warmed up the roast beef from last night. And in keeping with the spirit of the day (lazybones) , I watched four episodes of Next Generation in the evening – then went to bed.

I’ve subscribed to Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/) which I’m really enjoying. It is listed as “the front page of the Internet”. Has been an interesting read so far.

Forgot to make a note a few days ago about bike helmets in Budapest. There are none. I’ve not seen one person on a bike wear a helmet, including children. No judgement, just an observation.

One final observation. I remember noting a few months ago about Iceland, and Zermatt as well, not having a snow pack as in prior years. I was wondering if they will get snow this year. Since then, I’ve been keeping track of their weather and now happy to report that both are receiving their snow, and not just a little snow, a lot of snow. Iceland hasn’t seen this much snow since the 1930’s and Zermatt is starting to get days where a foot or more snow has fallen. I can stop doing my snow dance for them now.

 

 

Daily Journal: Saturday, 4 March 2017

Another sunny day! (I could get used to this.) After breakfast, went to the gym and had a good workout. I was concerned that my left ankle felt like I had twisted it, but it seemed to heal itself and didn’t cause me any pain for the rest of the day. Could be one of those minor aches that pop up as we age.

I spent some time today making final hotel arrangements for Cairo and Hurghana. In Cairo, I’m only staying overnight but wanted to be close to the airport. Finding a good hotel, from the selection available, proved to be a challenge. Hurghana lodging was a bit easier and relied on the recommendations from others who had recently stayed at some of the properties that I looked at. Prices for lodging in Egypt is very reasonable.

For dinner, I’m having beef stew. Again. Suppose I should be a little more adventuresome. My options narrow down as I approach the end of my stay. This next week I’ll work to use up any extra food supplies and really watch what I buy, knowing that I’m leaving on the 12th.

I’ve stopped using any kind of recipe for beef stew. For me, it never quite tastes the same each time I make it. One reason, at least recently, is that the ingredients have slightly different flavors as I move from one country to the next. The other is that I don’t measure any more since no Airbnb (so far) supplies any measuring cups or spoons. Kind of fun to see how my beef stew turns out given these variables. Perhaps I should call it: “Beef Stew Surprise”?

It was after 8:00 p.m. when the stew was done. And between email, Facebook and texts, I finally was able to settle down by 9:00. Was going to take a walk after dinner, but it was getting late and was a little sleepy after having a couple of helpings of the stew.

I should sleep well tonight….

 

Daily Journal: Friday, 3 March 2017

A beautiful morning in Budapest. Wow! Sunshine, no wind, and blue sky. Then I fell asleep again (stayed up too late the night before). When I did make it out of bed, I knew that it was wash day and took my clothes to my favorite laundromat. As I have done before, I can make a quick trip to the nearby Tesco while the clothes are in the wash. Yes, I should probably stay and guard my clothes, but I’m not going to live in fear about anyone stealing anything from me. Life is too short to worry about everything that could happen.

By the time I got home, it was time for a quick nap before making some dinner. While cooking I decided to go for a walk. I invited Csabi to join me and we met up at a tram stop near his flat.

We took the tram to a Metro 3 station then stopped at a station close to the Margaret Bridge (Margit hid). From there we walked along the Danube to the Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd).

Margaret Bridge pictured below.

Along the way we passed the Parliament buildings.

Fisherman’s Bastion, across the Danube in Buda.

“Shoes on the Danube Bank” is a memorial to honor the people (mainly Budapest Jews) who were killed by the fascist Arrow Cross Militiamen in Budapest during WWII. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. This sculpture along the banks of the Danube represents the shoes left behind.

Below, Csabi taking a picture of the shoes.

It was getting cold, so we found a coffee shop to get warmed up. From there we walked down Vaci Street (Váci utca) and looked at the shops, hotels and restaurants along this pedestrian thoroughfare.

From there we walked to the Deak Ferenc Square (Deák Ferenc tér) Metro 3 station. We cut our walk short because it was starting to get really cold. We’ll take a longer walk when the weather gets warmer.

Got some great walking in today. 16,560 steps!

Daily Journal: Thursday, 2 March 2017

A little windy this morning. And after some breakfast and taking care of correspondence, I went to the gym for a workout. Getting a little warmer outside and was able to walk to the gym wearing a light coat. Got in a good workout. Walked back without the coat.

After a shower, I went to Duna Plaza to exchange some clothes that I bought a couple of days ago. I keep forgetting the European sizes are smaller than in the U.S. Both the shorts and t-shirt that I bought were too small. (No, not because I’m gaining weight.) Also picked up a few things at the store.

Got ready to meet a new group, Democrats Abroad, that I joined last week. From what I understand, they have state-level recognition by the Democratic Party in the U.S. While the group is comprised of people affiliated with the Democratic Party, being a Democrat isn’t a requirement since the group is mainly interested in issues that affect Americans living abroad.

I met them at a Mexican restaurant ,Mezcal, downtown. Was a nice enough place and I was interested to see how the restaurant prepared and presented the food. A few of the D.A. group had been to the restaurant before and said the food was good.

Was a small group so easy to talk to most of the people at the table. We talked very little politics and mainly enjoyed each other’s company. The main topic of business was the election of local officers and about a general meeting in May where the Hungarian membership will be invited.

So, what did I select for dinner? Chicken Quesadillas. They were most moist than crisp, but the flavor was good. I didn’t realize that it was a’ la carte, so just had the quesadillas and no rice or re-fried beans. In the end, I was full, so guess I didn’t need the extra portions.

Had a nice walk home, given the weather was still mild. Think I’ll enjoy more time walking around in the evening. It really is a good time to enjoy the city.

Got home and was still very much awake, so stayed up until 1:00 a.m. watching a few episodes of Next Generation.

 

Daily Journal: Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Was up early this morning getting the place ready for the Airbnb host to clean. I had planned to go over to the Oktogon (major intersection in Budapest that is shaped like an Octagon) and look around while the flat was being cleaned.

While at the Oktogon, I decided to visit the House of Terror. I had heard that it was a must-see. Was a little hesitant since it almost sounded like a tourist attraction, like a Ripley’s Believe It or Not kind of place. When I found out it was about the post-war years in Hungary, I decided to visit and learn more.

When here last August, I knew at the end of WWII Budapest was almost destroyed as the Nazi’s tried to hold onto the city against the Soviets. The horrors of that battle was almost beyond belief that anyone could survive during those few months, but then what followed was even more grim. For years the Soviets, along with the Hungarian leadership, made life in Hungary very difficult and individual freedoms were suppressed, families split up or deported, and many people lost their lives from imprisonment and torture.

The building where this exhibition was displayed was the actual headquarters where this horrors were administered. The displays were graphic, informative, videos of survivors played in many of the rooms, artifacts were displayed including many portraits and names. After I left, I went to McDonald’s to eat lunch and read some of the literature that I was given.

Amazing that so few people could inflict so much grief on a population. And that it went on for so long. How do people get into power, and stay there, who care little for the people of their own country?

When I got home, the exhibit was still on my mind. Was glad that Csabi wanted to meet later so I could talk with him about what I saw and learned earlier in the day.

It was a comedy of errors trying to meet up with Csabi. Many assumptions and changes of plans, but we finally met up and took a tram into the downtown of Budapest. He wanted to take me to a ‘ruin bar’ the Szimpla Kert on Kazinczy, which he said was popular with foreigners.

It was quiet a walk getting there, but we ordered drinks (a coffee for Csabi and a beer for me) and found a table. The decor was very eclectic. Csabi said that much of what we saw was probably from a “lomtalanítás”.

I found out about lomtalanítás when I noticed yesterday people were dropping off their junk on selected street corners. Found out it is like free-cycle. The following day it is hauled to the landfill. This get-rid-of-junk-day happens twice a year in Budapest.

Here are some pictures from inside Szimpla Kert. It was a young crowd and the music mellow. This place would fit in very well in Portland.

We left after we finished our drinks. So easy to get around Budapest with the excellent transportation which is dependable, frequent, and well-marked. Think I got home in about 45 minutes, or less. Also got over 16,000 steps in today.

 

Daily Journal: Tuesday, 28 February 2017

It has been 8 months since I left Portland and started my post-retirement journey. On one hand it seems like it was yesterday, but when I think about all of the places I’ve visited, it seems like a lifetime. Sometimes its hard to remember that I did anything else but travel.

I was talking with a friend this evening how surprised I was at the ease of moving from place to place. Thought it would be harder to make all of the arrangements and land at a new location. Of course it gets easier as I get more experienced packing and unpacking. Funny how this is the new normal for me. As I tell people, so far I haven’t forgot where the toilet was in the middle of the night or which city I was in when I opened my eyes in the morning. January was the true test when I was in 8 different cities (London, Paris, Zurich, Zermatt, Milan, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan – and I doubled back on the return trip and stayed in Milan and Luxor again).

I have another 12 days in Budapest before I leave for Hurghada and Athens. Glad the weather is improving and have more opportunities to visit the city during the day and in the evening.

This evening I went to a restaurant that was recommended to me. It worked out well since I was looking forward to having someone else cook for me tonight. Also, good to see the menus of some local restaurants. But so much food – couldn’t begin to eat half of what I was served. Guess my stomach isn’t a big as it used to be.

Tomorrow my Airbnb host will be here to clean. Which means I need to pre-clean before he arrives. When I return on 31 March to Budapest, I’ll be on the Buda side of the city. Just finalized the stay with the new hosts in Buda who gave me 3 free nights because I extended my stay with them. (Isn’t that nice!)

Tomorrow, Csabi returns to Budapest after visiting family for the past few days. I’d like to meet at a coffee shop Cafe Picard – a place I saw a few days ago during one of my walking journeys. (You’d have to be a Star Trek fan to understand the relevance of the name Picard.)

I’m looking forward to some bike riding weather. Maybe in the next few days when it may get up into the 60’s. So much easier to get around the city on a bike. At least riding on the Pest side of the city where it’s flat – not so much in hilly Buda.