Thursday, March 23, 2017

Beautiful Budapest

Today, I was purely a tourist, and on my own.  Strange to think that this was what so much of my trip was like last year, but this year I've been surrounded by friends and by purpose throughout my trip.  It was an adjustment today to go to pure tourist mode, but I had a good time.

Dawn arranged for my van this morning, which picked me up directly from her house.  It was just me and one other passenger for awhile, but we picked up a bunch of people in the city of Arad.  I got lazy about trying to speak Romanian, so I was just the silent American in the back of the van.  I tried to stay awake til the border...but did not succeed.  The others in the van woke me up to ask for my passport.  I was amazed that I just had to pass my passport up, the driver handed it to the agent, and nobody ever looked at my face to see if it matched!

How can a new city be intimidating when some of the first
words you see are "coffee to go" and some of the first people
you see are cute little kids holding hands?
I got to Budapest 3 hours before I was due to meet my host, but I made the most of it.  I'm in a super touristy part of town, so I didn't feel out of place with my touristy ways.  I sat on a lovely patio for lunch and enjoyed conversation with the host working there.  He is fluent in 5 languages and has learned some restaurant language in many others, so he plays this game where he tries to guess someone's language as they walk by and calls out to them in their language - "great food, excellent coffee, free internet..." etc.  He was so good at this!  And it turned out he was born in Romania, so I felt like he was meant to be my friend. :)

my building
After lunch I wandered a bit, then met my host's brother, who let me in to this amazing apartment I get to stay in.  I'll have to get some good pictures of it later.  I got settled in, then went exploring.  I got a pass for the "hop on hop off" tour, which includes bus routes and a boat tour, so I did the whole bus route this afternoon to get a feel for it.  This really is an amazing city.  The weather's gorgeous, so I was disappointed that I didn't get an open-air bus...but maybe tomorrow.  The pass is good til Saturday.

I'm staying right on the main pedestrian street here, Vaci Utca.  So I got off the bus a few blocks down and walked back through there.  I ate at a delicious Italian place for dinner, and treated myself to gelato afterward - I don't think I've bought any ice cream this whole trip! It was less than a dollar for this little cup, and it was well worth it.

Tomorrow, I have huge plans for seeing as much of the city as I can...and I'm also preparing myself that those plans might be a little over-ambitious.  Really, I'll be satisfied with whatever I can see, and am thankful for God's provision in things big and small to allow me to be here.  Tonight is my first night alone this whole trip...and I still feel far from alone. I've been so well cared for these last couple weeks, it truly blows me away.

First on tomorrow's agenda - starting the morning at a coffee shop!  I learned today that Hungarians are known for their love of coffee and bookshops... I think we will get along quite nicely. 

I mix all the bridges up, so I can't remember which one this is. 
But they're all pretty amazing.

Vaci Utca bustling with evening crowds.
I get to live here for 2 days!

Not sure if this statue has any significance,
but I liked having him in the foreground
for a sunset-over-Buda picture :-)

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