Monday, March 17, 2008

Hungary, I salute you

Listen up folks for some interesting facts about Budapest and Hungary that I learnt when visiting there last weekend:
  • there was a revolution in Hungary in 1848 and it started in Budapest. Today, the revolutionary fever is still running high as the two political parties of the moment - the Conservatives and the Social Democrats - just ain't getting along. Luckily, plenty of riot police live in Budapest and, when not posing to have their photographs taken by German tourists, they keep violent demonstrations under control;
  • the Danube runs through Budapest, separating Buda from, you guessed it, Pest;
  • before they could afford Playstations, most children in Budapest entertained themselves by playing hopscotch or jumping over a rope spun in a circle by an indulging (and dizzy) adult;
  • the main industry in Hungary is paprika production. Hungary also has two airports and lots of swimming pools;
  • you can get very good steaks in Budapest. They come from Argentina. You can also get excellent veal stew. It comes from Hungary;
  • Budapest has the second oldest underground train system in Europe, after London. Although it hasn't been upgraded since it was first installed and notwithstanding that maintenance work has been sporadic, it still runs much more efficiently than the Tube;
  • Australian Video Hits is the most popular TV program in Hungary. Generally, music from the early 1990s, in particular Dr Alban and Whitney Houston, is very popular in Hungary. South American pan-pipes are also prevalent in Budapest.

That's enough for now, but I could go on forever. I love it when a trip away is educational as well as fun! I had a great time in Budapest, due in no small part to the great company and the fact that, well, Budapest is a beautiful town. It's no wonder than in times past it was considered a rival to Paris in terms of aesthetics and culture. Today, it looks slightly run-down compared to the French capital, but the potential for a new Hungarian renaissance is obvious. Grand boulevards, majestic architecture and a glorious river front make Budapest a very attractive city.

And, of course, the abundance of hot-spring bathing houses is a plus too. Two days in Budapest and two long soaks in a steaming bath shared with the cream of Hungarian society left me relaxed and recharged. It also gave me the perfect excuse to avoid studying for my QLTT exam, which is looming. I had a mock exam this morning and I'm happy to say that it hasn't entirely destroyed my post-holiday glow. Though, if work or study does start to get a bit too much, I know all I have to do is run a hot bath, put some pan pipe music on the CD player and I'll be right back in Budapest and happy again.

Of course, no posting about a weekend away would be complete without some photographs of city panoramas and tall objects:

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