Well, this past week has gone by fairly quickly. Seems like just yesterday I was packing my bags, and soon after was climbing off the airplane and trying to find my way around in the muddled London Heathrow airport.
It’s been a bit of a strange week. I mean, not too strange, but definitely different than my normal week at home.
Since I can’t seem to come up with anything more interesting to write about, and since I thought it might be interesting to read this myself in 50 years… this weeks post is going to be a little summary of my first week here in Budapest.
If that doesn’t sound overly interesting to you I don’t blame you. I apologize, kind of. 🙂
Airplanes and Airports
Friday afternoon I arrived at the Dulles airport and breezed through security. Within 25 minutes of getting to the airport I was at my gate patiently waiting for boarding to begin.
The airplane was huge… one of those 3 seats per side and 5 seats in the middle guys. As I headed down the aisle towards 47C I was curious whether or not I’d be sad that I hadn’t paid the extra $35 per flight to choose my seat. Instead I was assigned one of remaining seats when I checked in, and it was an aisle seat.
I love sitting by the window… I think its the 8 year old inside me that loves to watch things outside as the plane taxis and then takes off. Oh, and the clouds are usually pretty too.
I stowed my stuff and sat down in my aisle seat. A lady came along and I had to let her get to the window seat… two of the three chairs in my little row were full… who would the third person be? Would they be nice? Hopefully they wouldn’t be the talkative type. I was hoping to sleep on this flight.
I was shocked when the pilot announced that everyone was on board… and I still had an empty seat beside me! I literally didn’t see another empty seat on the flight. (I didn’t go looking too far though to be honest.) The flight across to London was smooth.
At some point after we had been in flight for an hour or so the crew came through and fed us. Yep, that is something that doesn’t happen too often in my limited experience. Sure, most flights will give you something to drink, but if you want anything to eat they’re going to charge you for it. British Airways actually included real food… A nice change.
London Heathrow eventually came up on the monitor in front of me, and after making about four circles we landed. I had an hour and forty five minutes to catch my flight to Budapest.
I was not impressed in the least with Heathrow… hopefully no one there reads this before I go back through in a couple of weeks, but it was a serious pain to make my connection. First I had to switch terminals, which meant riding around on a little bus thingy. As I was switching terminals I got a notification on my phone that my flight was boarding.
After getting to terminal 3 I had to go through security again. Then it was a fairly long, convoluted hike to get to my gate. As I arrived the gate monitor said “boarding closing.” There was still a pretty long line of people to board, so I was able to slide in to the back of the line and make my way to the plane. I made it, but I was a little bit concerned with how much running around I had to do!
Budapest airport was pretty simple. We landed, exited the airplane and were almost immediately in immigration. A lady jabbered at me in Hungarian and pointed at my passport, I showed her that it was an American passport and she pulled me over to a line with zero people in it. I was wondering if I was being singled out for searching, or perhaps they thought I was a spy, or… I don’t know exactly what the deal was, but the immigration officer stamped my passport and said welcome to Budapest.
I walked around the immigration booth and was immediately in baggage claim. No sooner had I got there than I spotted my suitcase. Thanks to the tape that I had carefully placed on the handles. (Seriously, if you want to make finding your bag easier, put some tape, or colored ribbon or something on it.)
Fifteen minutes after getting off of the airplane I was headed out the front of the airport.
From reading other peoples stories I knew that the best way to get a taxi at the airport here in Budapest was to walk out front to the taxi office. They’ll make the connection with a legit taxi driver and you avoid the frustration of getting in a taxi with a crooked taxi driver.
I got my little slip of paper and waited at the curb for my car to show up. A middle aged fellow helped me load my backpack and suitcase and we headed off towards downtown Budapest. He spoke broken English and we conversed about the weather, where I was from, whether I love Mcdonalds or not and a few other things.
After about a thirty minute ride he dropped me off on the sidewalk at the address of my AirBnB. I walked around and eventually found the correct house number on a door. Then I waited.
I was supposed to meet someone who would show me the apartment. I started to freak out a little when they didn’t show up after ten minutes. I texted the number I was given… no reply…
I realized pretty quickly that I was going to be spending the night sleeping on the sidewalk. As I started to look for shrubbery where I could hide my bags someone walked up and said “hello.”
My contact was a few minutes late, but they did show up and I didn’t have to sleep behind some bushes.
The apartment is pretty nice. It’s not huge, I’d say its kind of long and narrow. The shower is nice. The clothes washer is tiny. They do bedding differently here. The internet is fast. That pretty much covers everything I could need.
After stowing my stuff I went looking for a couple of necessary things. First up I needed to find an ATM. The first place I went (a bank) was closed for the weekend. I walked a few more blocks and eventually found an ATM. It was on the side of a building and about two feet higher off the ground than normal ATM’s should be.
I carefully folded my Hungarian Forints into my pocket and set off for an Aldi. The second order of business was to get some groceries. I ended up with some bread, eggs, cheese, butter, tea, honey, bologna of some kind and a bottle of water. I also bought a cheap frying pan because I noticed that there wasn’t one in my apartment.
Once I paid for everything while trying to stuff all of my purchased items into a bag (which I also purchased), I walked the half mile or so back to apartment. The code worked on the outer door, I found my way back up the steps to my door and the key worked. I officially survived my first foray into the wild streets of Budapest.
Sleeping (or not) and Working
Sunday I slept in. Then I went for a hike to explore some of my surroundings. Turns out I’m pretty close to the Hungarian Parliament building. I’m also about 100 yards away from the Danube. I was pretty tired, so I didn’t spend too long exploring before heading back to “my place.”
Sunday night I slept great. Monday night I slept decently. Tuesday night I couldn’t go to sleep till 2:30 a.m. Wednesday night I slept decently. Thursday night I couldn’t go to sleep till 1:20 a.m. Jet lag has turned out to be a frustrating bugger. I think that, combined with drinking too much tea late in the day is why I’ve had a hard time sleeping. It’s 8:30 p.m. Friday evening as I write this, I’m sleepy which seems like it might be a good thing.
Most of my days this week were filled with work, a little more exploring, buying groceries, eating a gyro or two and some Thai food. I’ve mostly been cooking here at the apartment just to keep things simpler and cheaper, but there are a few little restaurants close by that I probably should try at some point.
Tomorrow (today when this is posted) I’m planning to head over towards the center of the city. I don’t know what all I’ll get up to, but hopefully it’ll be at least somewhat interesting!
Wrapping it Up
Welp, that’s pretty much it for this week. Most things this week have ended up being very “normal.” A fair bit of sleeping (or trying to) and working… which sounds pretty much “normal life” to me, but that works just fine in my book.
If you’re still keeping up with my weekly video publishing you can relax. This week I published Travel to Budapest | First Glimpse of the City. A pretty short conglomeration of clips from the trip over and a couple from hiking around here.
If you’re still reading this… I don’t know whether to say thanks, or perhaps I should apologize. I think I’ll say thanks. So, thanks for your interest!
Have a great week!