Rome, Italy to Budapest, Hungary: aka the 22 hour layover

06.20.2010

I got up bright and early, around 5:30a to get ready.  My Argentinian friend and I went out to catch the bus to Ostiense Station, then caught the train to Leonardo da Vinci Airport.  This was not the way I would have gone, but it ended up saving us almost 6€ over the cost of the Leonardo Express, so I was happy.  We arrived at the airport and figured out where we were supposed to be going and realized we were going to different terminals so we said goodbye.  I cannot recall her name, but she was 33 y.o. and on her way to Spain before heading back to Argentina.  Very nice and very patient with my horrible Spanish!

I went to check in for my flight.  I was flying on Malev airlines to Budapest for a 22 hour layover.  I booked a hostel bed at the Red Bus Hostel, close to most of the sights in Budapest.  The flight left a little bit late, which I am getting used to in Europe.  Nothing ever runs on time!  I arrived in Budapest without any problems.  Hungary is a Schengen country, so there was no customs to go through.  First order of business was to find an ATM because they are not on the Euro, second order of busines was to find the airport shuttle recommended by the hostel.

I found an ATM and proceeded to take out entirely too much Hungarian forint for the amount of time I was going to be in Budapest!  I didn’t check the exchange rate before I took the money out, so I ended up taking out a wee bit too much.  Oh well, I will just change it back tomorrow.

I located the airport shuttle desk, and was able to book a return shuttle for the morning too.  It was fairly reasonable too.

I got on the shuttle and got to see some of the scenery.  Hungary is a very beautiful country and it was nice to get to see some of it while driving from the airport into the city.  It took about 30 minutes to get into the city, then the driver started dropping everyone off at their stops.  I was the last one and he dropped me off right at the door of the Red Bus Hostel.

I checked into the hostel and was shown my room.  There were two bunk beds and a single bed.  There were lockers but my key was broken off in the lock so I didn’t have a way to secure my stuff.  I have developed a system to lock my bag that I carry my backpack in at the airport, so I locked that up and brought my netbook and other valuables with me.

The guy at the reception desk gave me a decent map and gave me some suggestions of things to go see.  I had been told to go to St. Stephen’s Basilica and so that’s where I went first.  It was pretty neat.  They have a chapel in the back of the church that has the hand of St. Stephen, still intact.  It’s never decomposed.  It was kind of freaky to look at!  Some of the relics these churches have are amazing.  I met some Australians on the steps of the church and chatted with them for a bit before deciding to go across the river and take the funicular to the top of the hill.  There was another church that looked interesting and I heard the view from up there was really good.  I took the funicular and walked around the top of the hill.  There was another church I wanted to go to but they were closed for Mass, I believe.

I took a bunch of pictures of the doors on some of the buildings.  They were so neat!  I walked back into town and started looking for dinner.  I settled on a place not too far from the hostel and sat down to peruse the menu.  The first thing that caught my eye was they had paprikash!  Anyone who has seen the movie, “When Harry Met Sally” should know why I found that really funny.  I ordered a fruit salad and chicken paprikash with a lemon mint drink to wash it all down.  When the fruit salad came out, it was not what I expected.  It was made with green, iceburg lettuce, oranges, grapefruit, apples, avocadoes and tomatoes, with a tahini-based dressing and some kind of black seeds on top.  I didn’t know what to think, but I tried it and it was absolutely delicious!  Paprikash is basically a Hungarian dish made with different kinds of meat (I had chicken) in a sauce made with paprika, peppers and onions with sour cream on top.  It’s served with a side of schnitzel.  It was so good!

I went back to the hostel to get online and continue with planning for the Israel portion of my travels.  I met one of my bunkmates, a guy from Australia.  He left to get dinner, so I decided to take the opportunity to Skype my parents.  I was able to talk to them for a it before one of my other bunkmates came in.  She was from Colorado, so we had a bit to talk about.  Our other bunkmate came in too, but I don’t think she spoke any English, so we never really found out anything about her.

I explained to everyone I would be getting up early and would try to not make too much noise.  Everyone was cool and said not to worry.  I thought that was very nice.