Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Budapestiful Christmas and New Years!

Yay! Budapest!
Make sure you read my post below! I posted the one below minutes before this one! These all take loads of time to do! Plus you just gotta read my life chronologically yo!

So off Katie, Grant and I go to Budapest! Yup! Just the 3 of us. We were hoping for more, but due to some unfortunate and uncontrollable circumstances, others could no longer make it. Budapest was super lovely though, it reminded me of a bigger Prague only dirtier. The beautiful, beautiful architectured buildings are creamed with dirt and graffiti. It was pretty sad to see. Also, it was FREEZING! With no snow, any sort of cold just sucks! It made it really hard to want to go anywhere! Not only that, but everything was pretty much shut down the whole time! Everything was closed on the 24th (our arrival date) and the 25th for Christmas day, and the majority of things were closed down on the 26th. So that limited us quite a bit! Also, things shut down early on New Years Eve, like 2pm early, if they were even open at all, and closed the next day –actually we heard most would be closed until the 5th of January! Mainly, people celebrate the holidays with their families in their houses –so it made the town pretty desolate for most of the time. After coming from a busy, crowded, and noisy Istanbul, it felt like the world had ended and we were the only ones left! I was also hoping to make some friends at the hostel to hang out with and leave Katie and Greg on their own, but there wasn’t really anybody until New Years. So that was a bit of a bummer. But the hostel staff was super duper cool and the hostel was awesome! So I managed to talk with them lots! Actually, one of them, Scott, is also a DJ from LA. He literally mapped out one of our nights (Katie and Greg’s place was across the street from the main hostel that I stayed in)! It was such an awesome night! Greg was going crazy white-boy dancing/jumping/flailing about! It was both hilarious and embarrassing! Lol! At one point he came up to Katie and I and was like “Out of the whole year of 2008 this is the best night! The whole year!” Haha!

After getting settled in to our hostels, we walked around looking for open things. We took a gorgeous night walk along the Danube River to Vaci St, the main shopping street, where we were told we should be able to find some sort of restaurant open. Sure enough we did! It was a cozy pub filled with tourists! Naturally, I ordered sausage! And we all got NON-Efes beers! Mmmmm! What a rare delight for us over here!
Christmas day was more walking and wishing for things to be open. I really wanted to go to a Christmas Market while they were still open (most shut for good by Christmas day) and while we were in a Christian country. So we went to the biggest one, only most of it was closed! But! The food places were open, and ooooweeee that was worth it! They had huge, huge sausages, lots of giant and super tasty potatoes, and both white and red mulled wines to warm you up –you can openly drink anywhere there! Oh so good! Afterwards, we walked around the Jewish quarter. On our way back we stumbled upon an Irish bar around the corner from our hostel. Unfortunately it was also closed, but we did manage to go back several times there after! That night we exchanged presents at Katie and Greg’s as we watched super cheesy MTV music videos from the early 90s! Anyways, I called it a night pretty early, wanting to let them have a Christmas night together –so I went back to the hostel as they went out to eat.
The next day we walked over to Margaret Island. It has some
historical ruins on it and was super pretty just to see lots of greenery and trees, which Istanbul so lacks! We walked the whole of the island and decided that we needed to defrost in a bad way. So we decided to take our chances at the Irish bar. It was open and great! Caught some football (soccer) games and enjoyed cider!!! Yay!!! Cider!! So exciting!
The next day we went to the Gellert Bath House. Budapest is known for its natural baths, and I decided it was necessary to go to one! Plus I slept really badly the night before and wound up with a kink in my neck! I got a massage as well, it was only 20 mins long, but well worth every penny and every second! Oh baby! It was good! Otherwise, I’m going to say I like the Turkish baths better. The Budapest ones were just that, baths. The Turkish have some baths, but it’s mainly steam room style as you wait your turned to be scrubbed down and massaged –I guess I just like the massage part of it! Plus, in the Hungarian baths, you have to stare at saggy old women all day that no one should ever have to see nakie. Whether you’re looking or not, there’s no avoiding it! Yuk!

Then we went back to the same Christmas market and it was opened! So awesome! Lots of tiny little wooden shacks with random arts and crafts for sale along side some amazing food places! Of course we had to chow down on some more sausage!

We even got in a long ass line for this special Christmas treat! It’s this dough wrapped around this round metal thing and slowly turned over the fire. Then you get your choice of cinnamon, sugar, chocolate or pecan toppings. I got a cinnamon one! Mmmm, kinda tasted like the mini donuts on Pier 39, only without the poof in it. Yum! That night we went to Szimpla (this underground, grungy looking, crazily cheap bar) and Corvin (enclosed rooftop club) that Scott had suggested us to go; whereupon Greg had the best night of his 08 ever!
The next day I let Katie and Ginger do their own thing. I took my time getting ready and talked to one of the girls that worked there for a while –actually she owns the place. So that was nice. I then just went over to the nearby mall as I only had a few hours until I had to meet Katie and Greg at the Irish bar. After a few drinks there we hit up a Japanese food place for dinner! Also very exciting –again deprived of any sort of Asian here even though we live on the Asian side! Weird! I think that night we called it an early one and I went back and talked to 2 girls I met. They had all of this boy drama going on and just had to tell me all of it every chance they got! It was pretty funny and I’m not sure why they were so interested in telling me! Haha! They were amusing!
Next, we went to Statue Park. They took all of these giant communist statues that were once placed all over the city to this park on Pest side, located far away and up a mountain, after the war. That was by far the coldest day ever, and I wasn’t so thrilled to do an outdoor thing! Hah! But I sucked it up and it was cool to see the enormous statues! There was frost everywhere but no snow, though it did make it gorgeous!

That whole day Katie and I were planning on going for Mexican food! We even had a count down going all day long! We were even more excited because we decided to go to this Mexican place Scott suggested to me. He told me that a Californian guy owns this place! Yay! Authentic! If you can find Mexican in Istanbul you’re going to get yogurt instead of sour cream, need I say more?! But we wound up at the Irish bar for get your body warm drinks before hand and never left! We ended up hanging out with the band that plays there and hangs out there on a regular basis. They were just hanging out at the bar, drinking and talking when they started singing and one was playing the guitar (one guy is Irish and the other is Hungarian that knows English). They weren’t performing, just singing for fun. They even played some Dave Matthews! Katie even mentioned how she likes Jon’s voice over Dave Matthews to Grey Street! I tell you, they’re good! Anyways, they came over and talked and sang some more, their other friends filtered out not too long after as it was a work night. So we really only hung out with 2 of them in the end. It was a lot of fun! Plus we got 2 shots of nasty Polinka, the special and strong Hungarian alcohol. Oy-vay! Nasty! But it turned out quite nice after the cheap shots of it we got on New Years….
Another day I left Katie and Grant to be together and did my own thing. I would have done it many more times, but they needed my money. Greg managed to get a replacement credit card in time, but it only let him take out so much money –good ol’ banks, tell them your out of country and you still can’t get anything out, and Katie had nada, so I couldn’t leave them. Anyways, my day solo I went to the Ethnography Museum, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Opera House, and walked up to Castle Hill to meet Greg and Katie at the Hungarian House of Wines.

Which major bummer: it was closed!! So we had a warm mulled wine at some place and made our way down Castle Hill, wound up at some hole in the wall pub –had a ridiculously cheap glass of tasty wine and literally ran to the Chinese place! We were doing sprints we would have to do when we were all on sports teams in high school! Haha! Hey! It was cold out! We literally feasted family style at the Chinese place! There was way too much food for the 3 of us to eat, but we polished it off like champs! Hey! We’re deprived in Istanbul! The Chinese food was great, not the usual -but all in all, amazing!

A few days prior, Scott also told me about his New Years Eve plans and invited us along! So I was super stoked to have others around that we knew for the holiday! Plus going to a place a dj knows, you know it’s gotta be good! Right?! It was electronic music and was super! Only everyone there was like 15! Lol! Scott has only been in Budapest for 5 months (before that Prague) and has never made it to Traffo, the place we were at. He had heard great things about it –even the hostel staff mentioned how great it is, but once we got there, all of us were like oh crap! It’s a kiddy club! But the music was soo good! Plus we already paid to get in and we didn’t know where else to go and actually make it into before midnight! So we decided to stay! Plus they had free Polinka shots ready to go at the door! At one point Greg came down (dance in basement, enter at ground floor), and said he saw older people waiting in line to come in! So after a few minutes, Scott, Evan and I decided to go check out upstairs to see if other dance rooms were filled with older people. Sure enough, empty, but we managed to quickly grab more Polinka shots on our way down! We proceeded to do this a few more times! Also, some chick knocked over 4 of our beers –which I don’t think she really did, but she felt so bad and went and bought all of us another round! So that was sweet! The countdown was in Hungarian, of course, but I didn’t know the numbers, so it didn’t feel like a countdown, or maybe I was just to drunk to know it… However, we did get a free glass of champagne at midnight!
Anyways, stumbled back with really only enough time for a catnap before it was time to leave and catch the plane. By morning, the ground had a good dusting of snow on it, and it was absolutely gorgeous –plus no longer cold! It was a perfect ending, minus the bad hangover!
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to Parliament.

I almost went on my day alone, but knew Katie and Ginger would want to do it so I waited it out. The day we were going to go was closed due to the New Years holiday. I also didn’t make it to some other places I would have enjoyed, primarily because it was all freaking closed! But I did really enjoy the things I did see, and have more waiting for me to go back to…in the summer months…someday! The hostel was one of the best ones I’ve ever stayed at and it was super homey, which helped make the holiday. Plus, the morning we had to leave to catch our plane, we were eating our free breakfast at the hostel and this new Japanese guy was sitting next to me. When Katie came, she brought me two leftover packages of ketchup from McD’s from one drunken nights as a joke (Turkish ketchup is not ketchup). This guy immediately pickups up my ketchup without asking or hesitation and opens it up and spreads it on his buttered bread!!! Lol! Katie and I looked at each other in utter shock, dumbfoundment and had to hold our laughing in, I think I teared. We couldn’t tell him since he was chowing down, nodding his head with satisfaction! Plus he even went for seconds!! So he must have enjoyed it! Lol! Yuk! There’s a hungover treat for anyone to see! Yum! Haha! I really do wonder if that next morning he asked the staff for some more of that red spread and wound up confused with!
Upon return, Katie and I showered and watched movies. Mike brought back a giant chocolate cake for Katie’s bday and we sung to her with a match as our candle! Katie finally got 1 of 4 big boxes her family sent her, in it lots of American grub that makes anybody’s mouths water. We enjoyed chips and salsa and then bed!
Getting back to work is always draining, but it’s fun to see my classes.

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