It's my last full day in Budapest, and possibly my last chance to access email for a while, though that is what I thought when I left for here, so I am probably overly pessimistic. In any case, it's a good chance to send an update on my adventures.

The cultural differences I've been seeing as I move around Europe are fascinating. One example is the different foreign editions of GQ magazine. The March issue featured a photo spread on Naomi Campbell. The German spread was probably ten pages long, with photos that, well, save for a discretely placed hand, left nothing to the imagination (and even that hand was not particularly shielding). The version I saw in Amsterdam (in hindsight, probably a British version) was only a few pages long, and far less revealing. If the photos even made it into the American version, I'd be curious if anyone has seen them and how many were printed.

Battered and Refurbished
Used and New: your choice
Budapest is very cosmopolitan. The prices are on par with ours, so I haven't done any bargain hunting. We are staying, by happy chance, in one of the better neighborhoods, close in. Buildings in complete disrepair are next to trendy multi-level cafes filled with the beautiful people. People are out walking around at night, and the streets are very pleasant. There is not the hustle of Germany or Amsterdam, but still plenty of activity.

For our part, we've been so wiped out by our day touring, we've been doing evenings in. 'Friends' and 'Star Trek' play just about as well in Hungarian, though MTV Europe is, while addicting, even worse than ours, if that is possible. Oh, how I need some jazz!!!

The town is fantastic for touring and taking photos:
Bridge to Buda
Bridge between Buda and Pest
Oktogon Station
Restored Subway Station
Hungarian Parliment

150 years ago the towns of Buda and Pest, across the Danube from each other, were joined by a bridge and the resulting merged city became an economic powerhouse. Sort of like when Seattle annexed Ballard, I guess. They had the second subway system after London, and constructed opulent buildings. The Parliament and Opera House were both incredible, and the restored train stations are charming. This is not the gray, depressed Eastern Europe I was expecting.

Of course, this is the most prosperous part of Hungary. Yesterday we rode the train just outside of town, and as we left the core, the economic realities became apparent. From all indications, they are moving in the right direction, and are positioning themselves to enter the European Union and join in on the Euro.

We saw an English language film called "Sunshine" (AKA "A Taste of Sunshine") starring Ralph Fiennes in a triple role as the heads of three generations of the same family. The family's history parallels Hungary's, and used many locations in Budapest, so is was perfect timing. If it hits the States, go see it.

Sunshine poster

Budapest friends
Chris, Ben & Leslie
I met a woman here from Portland, who is going to school in Paris, so I've now got a contact there. Her name is Leslie, she looks like Hep Jen, and she is staying with her friend Ben. Why is my life still filled with the Century's DJ's? I must not be dancing enough...

One can't go to Budapest without visiting the Turkish baths. Chris and I went to one a couple days ago that was very old and authentic in appearance. Some of the regulars there were very happy to see two young tourists, but we emerged unscathed. The waters were indeed very soothing, and I do recommend it. Today we are playing it safer and going to one that is far more touristy (and supposedly very beautiful as well).

I am taking lots of pictures (a roll and a half yesterday!), but don't worry, none of them are slides! I expect the photo ops to increase when I fly to Athens tomorrow.

It's now one month into my trip, and I continue to love it. English continues to not be an issue, even here. The people we meet, even just on the street, are great. Chris and I met a woman a couple blocks from our room who told us all about the old Jewish sector here, and how here father save 40 Jews during the war, including her mother. Her pride in her city was infectious. She even invited us to see the courtyard of her apartment. This is what I was looking for when I travel: connecting with ordinary people, and it is proving to be even more rewarding than I had anticipated.

See you all soon!

Chris & Trish in Hungary
A cold lunch outdoors, outside of Budapest with Chris and Tricia.
(Note Chris' gloves)