It’s been a full week. Of course most weeks are full of something, so I guess that isn’t too far out of the ordinary, but this week in particular has felt filled to the brim with moving, catching up, prioritizing tasks, wishing I could get more accomplished in a day… basically I’ve been “running just to catch my breath.”
Oh well, I guess that’s the way a week of transition tends to go. I’m not mad about it, just feeling a tad overwhelmed at the moment. 🙂
Ok… lets see, what all do I need to put in this post? I think the main thing to cover is the last weekend in Budapest and the trip home.
The Central Market Fiasco
The Central Market is said to be a must visit location if you’re visiting Budapest. Since the beginning of my stay in Budapest I knew that I wanted to get down there. In fact I made plans to do just that several times.
The Market is known to be a bit of a tourist trap, so it can get quite busy and crammed. Me, being an introvert, and basically not liking being a part of anything that is even remotely close to crowded, decided that I’d rather get down there early one morning.
The Market opens at 6 a.m. most days of the week (except for Sunday when they are closed) and closes at 5 or 6 p.m. (except for Saturday when they close at 3). From a bit of research it sounded like the early morning hours of the market is when the locals go to do their shopping… that sounded like a much better group of people for me to “shop” with than the throngs of tourists which would arrive later in the day.
Friday morning I got up around 6 and prepared myself before heading towards the Market. It was raining a little bit, so I decided to grab a taxi to get down there more quickly. After about 12 minutes of riding through twisting streets I was dropped right in front of the Market.
As soon as I got out of the car I was struck with the quietness and lack of people. I was pretty confident that I had indeed made the right decision to come down here early on a weekday. I headed towards the entrance to the Market. I was expecting more people to be milling around, even if the locals were the only ones shopping.
When I got to the entrance it was closed. There was even a sign proclaiming this truth. What! Why on earth would a huge Market be closed on a random Friday morning when their website and Google clearly said that they open at 6 a.m. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated. I had gotten up early, paid a taxi to bring me here, and the goal of my excursion was closed.
I decided to cut my losses and head back to my apartment. Regardless of how frustrated I was I still had to start work before too long, but I decided to walk back instead of getting another taxi. I figured since I had been planning to spend a little while in the market, I might as well spend that time hiking through new streets on my way back to the apartment.
As I neared the Parliament building I started to hear some strange sounds. It sounded like a marching band was warming up in the square just in front of the Parliament. I made an adjustment in my course and soon found myself in front of a bunch of military folks parading around. There was a bunch of guys on horses. A line of guys carrying flags. A marching band was indeed part of the festivities.
I watched them parade around for a while, and eventually raise the Hungarian flag on the huge flag pole. It was all kind of fascinating to watch… even though I couldn’t understand a single word of what was being said over the speaker system.
After I did eventually get back to my apartment I did a bit of poking around and apparently I had chosen a holiday as the day that I would pry myself out of bed and go down to the market. That was the reason the market was closed, and that was the reason that I got to watch a bunch of marching and hear a bunch of music.
Saturday I repeated much the same trip… except this time the market was actually open. When I first arrived between 6:30 or 7 the only stalls that were open were on the entrance level. People selling everything from sausage to paprika to vegetables. Over the next couple of hours I hiked around through most of the corners of the market and slowly the “tourist stalls” started to open.
Over all I’d definitely say the Central Market is a must visit “attraction.” If I was a “normal person” who wasn’t more interested in taking photos/video and was just interested in perusing the touristy wares, I’d probably recommend arriving about 8:45 a.m. seems like most of the stalls are open around 9 a.m. and the rush of tourists picks up by 10 or 11.
So, that’s the story of my Central Market fiasco. Obviously it is all fine now looking back at it, but its a bit unsettling when, after having done a fair bit of research to make sure I arrived at the proper time… the place was unexpectedly closed. Oh well, all is well that ends well!
Monday morning I left the apartment a bit after 8 a.m. for the return trip to the US. I was a tad worried about how long it was taking to get to the airport. I’m the type of person who likes to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The crawling traffic in downtown Budapest was agonizing.
I needn’t have worried. The Budapest airport isn’t super huge, so they have a revolving system to check people in for different flights. Basically an airline will get a number of check in kiosks assigned to them so they can check people in for a specific flight. Once everyone has checked in they switch to another airline and they can check people in for their flight. I had to wait an hour after arriving to even check in with British Airways for the flight to London.
From my little bit of experience it seems like things move at a bit of a different pace in other countries. I was the first to my gate with about an hour and 45 minutes till we were supposed to take off. The plane hadn’t arrived yet.
I eventually decided it would be a good idea to get a bit of food in me, so I wandered back through the terminal to a stand that was selling pizza. It was the best piece of pizza I had had for a long time. Of course it was the first piece of pizza I had had for a while… but it was pretty good.
I had been keeping tabs on my flights via the British Airways mobile app and was definitely a bit nervous about the connection in London. My flight from Budapest (according to the app) was delayed a bit and was supposed to land at 4:30 p.m. The flight from London was supposed to leave at 4 p.m. In case it isn’t obvious, that math doesn’t work out too well.
Since there wasn’t really anything I could do about it (my flight to London was the only one I saw on the departures board) I decided I’d get to London and just figure out what to do from there.
When the flight from Budapest landed in London I turned airplane mode off on my phone and the time on my phone changed to 2:40 or so. Apparently the British Airways app hadn’t figured for the time difference. I, assuming that all times were in their local time, was much more worried than I would have had to be. (There is probably a life lesson in there, but I don’t feel like trying to find it right now.)
At any rate, I still didn’t have a lot of time to catch my flight. From past experience (on the trip to Budapest) I knew that getting from one terminal to another in London is a little bit of an endeavor. I hiked rapidly towards the connection area for terminal 5. As I got off the escalator and walked towards the queue area for the shuttle to terminal 5, I saw there was a shuttle just about to leave. Fortunately for me they held it open an extra 8 seconds or so for another guy which gave me enough time to get on before the doors shut. As we moved towards terminal 5 I heard the guy they were holding the door for say that it would have been 15 minutes till the next shuttle. I don’t know for sure that was true… but that would have made my connecting process more stressful!
When I got to terminal 5 I followed the arrows for connecting flights. I was just about to decide that I must have made a wrong turn on the trip over which had resulted in me needing to go through security again… then I rounded the corner and was ushered right into a security line. The line was moving very slowly.
I was starting to think of what my alternatives would be once I missed my flight. Surely there would be another flight to Washington later in the day… except it was later in the day already.
I finally cleared security around 3:30 and started to hike rapidly again towards my actual gate. When I arrived they were already boarding and my group was almost ready to board. It was a great feeling to finally get to my seat, stow my backpack and sit down.
The flight home was uneventful (which is the way I like flights to be). Immigration took a few minutes more than I’d have liked, but no sooner had I gotten in line than the number of people behind me multiplied to about twice the number that was in front of me. I just tried to be thankful that I wasn’t behind twice as many people.
My aunt picked me up and I spent the night at her place. I think I went to bed around 10:45 or so. My body thought it was still on Budapest time which would have been the middle of the night. So I went straight to sleep and slept like a very tired person till 5:45 a.m. or so. After a bit of breakfast I made the final leg of the journey home and then had a bit over a half day of work.
It’s good to be home. In even just a month my niece and nephews have grown more than I could have imagined. They are definitely the one thing I miss most when I get to travel.
I was also very happy to be able to wear a hat again. I decided against taking a hat to Budapest, instead I had opted for a beanie, which the first week or so was a really good move. However as things warmed up a bit I found myself walking around without anything on my head. I guess I am a hat guy after all.
Last thing before I let you go… this weeks video was published this morning. With the trip home and a number of things I had to do when I got home, I was definitely a bit behind on it… Oh well, its still within the proper week! Here it is – Central Market Budapest – Part 1
I’m a bit behind with everything it seems like… hopefully I’ll catch up by June or July. 🙂
Have a great weekend!