Jul 08 2005
I never got around to writing about the cute funicular that took us up the side of a mountain to Brasov’s imitation of the Hollywood sign (“brasov” spelled out in big white letters, high, high up), or the cute little medieval(?) part of the walled city, or our fellow travelers, who were quite funny, or our issues with the money – romania changed currencies (dropping four zeroes) while we were there. Suffice to say all of this happened/was there.
1) Budapest is a lovely, graceful, fun city, and I highly recommend it.
2) I am sure that Budapest is much more all of the above when you haven’t broken your arm.
Yes folks, with the absolute grace and talent that only a few possess, I tripped over my own shadow and fell on hard, hard pavement our first day in Budapest, and fractured a bone in my elbow (and severely sprained my wrist). I know this because J. made me go to the hospital, where (after we found it – we went on a walking tour of Pest’s clinics and pharmacies, since it was a Saturday afternoon and many places were closed) they took x-rays and slapped plaster on my arm. My first ever cast (which is removable, and actually pretty cool) is a Hungarian one, then, and goes from my upper arm to my hand. I am just now getting to the point where my arm will almost completely straighten — it’s been crooked for days. It was a super minor break though — Ibuprofin is all I’ve needed, and I went sightseeing the next day.
Still though. Damn. The whole thing cost $180, cold cash, no insurance needed. Which is pretty good, all in all.
Anyhow, Budapest is grand, and I especially recommend the thermal baths, which come from natural springs and are housed in 19th century bathhouses. The water really is healing – I soaked my arm – sans cast – for a couple of hours and it came out considerably more flexible and less painful. We also saw buildings & the Danube and the remarkable Doheny Street Synogogue (thanks rimrunner).
And, in answer to rimrunner’s question – Budapest is SO much more on top of things than Bucharest, as far as reconstruction and the tourist trade. Apparently, they have been working like mad to clean things up the last few years, and it shows.
We also found the yummiest vegetarian restuarant ever – a rariety in meat-obsessed Hungary. I had tofu in paprika sauce, and it was delicious. Heh.
From BP (where we stayed an extra day, thanks to the arm situation) we took a train to Munich, and then to Berlin. There was only a couple of hours layover in Munich, then, and I can tell I’d like to go back there. I’d planned to walk into the central square – we got there just at dusk – but after we got a few hundred meters in it started POURING and so we abandoned that plan and ate mediocre thai food near the train station instead. I do want to go back though, particularly to go to the Deutches Museum, which sheer_panic’s father always recommended.
I am madly in love with Berlin and I want to live here. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. Maybe it’s the U-bahn, or the cafes, or the edginess, or the sexy people, or the sense of something new, along with history. There certainly are new things – J., who was here five years ago, says there are dozens of new buildings and far less construction. The city is being reborn under one’s eyes. It’s been raining a lot here but we’ve gone walking a lot anyway, mostly seeing buildings. The city is an architect’s wet dream – they have embraced new buildings, new styles, edge — as they have to, since there is hardly any of the old city left. The war is in the very skyline. The consciousness of what has happened here has settled down into the pavements, subtle and omnipresent, and people carry on – no, do far more than carry on, they live – anyway. This city is a kind of phoenix.
So we have been to monumental things – like the Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie (where there is a phenomenal museum), and the Reichstag, and Potsdamer Platz – and less monumental things, like Zoo Station, which makes me want to start humming the U2 song every time we pass through.
Speaking of U2, as a combination birthday (for J.) and graduation (for me) we went to see U2 here — here! — last night. We bought tickets from a random guy who is currently travelling in cambodia(!) – against all odds he gave them to a friend who we met at a U-Bahn stop the day of the show to exchange cash with. And the tickets worked! and were there! Craig’s List wins again. And then, by some miracle, they were perfect seats, close to the front, down low!
The show was grand although I was a little pissy because my arm hurt; no worries though, I got to see Bono try out his terrible German, as well as hear Zoo Station live! and then take the U2 line back home! changing at Bahnhof Zoo! It was all rather remarkable. The Olympiastad where the concert was is also remarkable – it is the stadium that was built for the 1936 Olympics, and is a stunning, monumental piece of work.
Between the setting, and the 70,000 enthusiastic people, and the show’s message itself — on this tour, they have a set piece about all religions being equal, and tolerance, and then tonight, tragically, Bono dedicating songs to the London bombing victims — I had chills. In Berlin, and there is a video screen with computer images of a cross turning into a star of david turning into a star and crescent – and the entire stadium – the same stadium where Hitler gave speeches – is cheering madly… it felt historic, but perhaps only to me personally, which I suppose is good enough.
And, on the more mercenary side, I have a t-shirt with the European tour dates.
So that is that. Other things: J’s parents are here, which means I have met them now, which is only slightly nervewracking. They are nice enough, and sweet. His dad is also an architect, and his mom is an urban planner, which means it has been non-stop buildings and maps, while I tag along. It’s an interesting group of people to travel with, at any rate.
Also, I have taken the entire afternoon off to do internet, as we splurged on a fancy hotel that has a) the world’s most comfortable beds (I am never leaving) and b), computers and internet in the room, which is very, very exciting. Internets! I’ve been working on my presentation for Wikimania, which is coming up in a month, and is actually quite interesting & refreshing to work on. I think I’m in withdrawal from work and school and computers — it’s comforting to do something that feels like work, that uses the part of my brain that was in overdrive such a short time ago.
So, I think we’re going to Prague tommorow via Dresden, and I will update when I can. This is the fanciest internet I will have for a while, but I am trying to keep up with people’s emails. Hope all is well with you!
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