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Funicular, funicularen’t

June 21, 2010

Yesterday I went to the baths with some of my fellow hostelers. At the ticket window, you pick the services you want, and the pools you’d like to visit. You’re given a sort of wristwatch that has a sensor in it. This opens your locker and any turnstiles you come across. We sat in various warm pools that smelled like morning breath; we felt our eyelashes curling from the singeing heat in some saunas, and we relaxed in the foggy, womb-like peace of a steam room that smelled like mint. We sat in a tepid pool for a while discussing the oil spill and other matters. After a while, it occurred to us that we were mostly sitting in a stew of other people’s shed calluses and body hairs. That is when we left.

I hope I did not over-hype the blog. The stuff I’ve mostly been doing here has included: chewing the fat with other hostelers; spending entire mornings and/or afternoons walking around; staring at people. It doesn’t make for thrilling blogging. Sorry. It’s just that I haven’t felt particularly called to go into tons of museums or anything. I think I am still getting the hang of solo traveling. It took me a day or two to start feeling fully confident about going out and wandering around. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to write when a bunch of Irish guys are like “HEY, MICKOOOOO!” Or when there’s a rousing card game to be played.

Anyway, so! Today I walked all day, from Pest to Buda’s Castle Hill district, and back through Pest again (in search of a SIM card, and a mobile phone store with a helpful staff person. I succeeded and am pumped about it). I started down Vaci utca, which is a pedestrian thoroughfare, and mostly a big tourist trap. (I am pleased to report that any time I am walking alone, the young men and women hawking sightseeing tours from street kiosks do not bother asking me. This is either because I am successfully blending in, or because I am mean-mugging real hard.)

From Vaci utca, I took the Erzsebet hid across the Danube. That is, I crossed from Pest to Buda.
For 10 minutes or so, I was traveling in an amiable, silent, and unacknowledged partnership with a guy about my age who was also out to see the sights. We generally stopped at the same points along the bridge to take pictures. It was nice, until I lingered a moment too long, and lost him.

I did NOT take the funicular up the hill to the castle. No, sirs and ma’ams, I walked. It wasn’t bad, there were lots o steps. I was accosted by a bossy, funny woman from Spain who wanted me to get a picture of her with a view of Pest and the Parliament building behind her. It kept coming out with her figure silhouetted against the sky, she fussed over “panorama mode” for a while and I futilely tried to explain how it worked, and why silhouettes happen, and she eventually turned the flash on and settled for a picture where she looked pissed and was tinted a strange gray-blue by the flash. Oh well. I tried. Then I watched a rain storm make its way up the Danube, headed straight for me. Sure enough, it rained the rest of the morning. Anyway, here are some pictures…they are mostly there to show you the sort of weather I was working with. Not a great day for picture taking. I’m a bad tourist, because when I stop to take a photo, I look at my point and shoot, look back at the breathtaking view before me, and then I look at the other tourists all taking the exact same picture, and I think to myself, “I bet someone has posted a really great shot of this on flickr.”

ALSO. Everyone! Please sleep easy tonight in the knowledge that the hipsters here are pretty much like the hipsters at home. They wear keffiyehs and skinny jeans with Nike Dunks; fixed gear/single speeds are ubiquitous (saw the “sup, lookin’ cool” nod pass between two dudes doing track stands waiting for the traffic light to change); you can try on rompers in H&M while listening to Beach House, juuuust like at home. JUST SO YOU KNOW.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 4:56 pm

    Mika. Don’t for a second question the interest level of your blog. Its wicked high.

  2. June 24, 2010 5:50 am

    kristin, you;ve made my heart soar!

  3. katherine permalink
    June 24, 2010 3:33 pm

    The aging hipster in me wants to know what keffiyehs are!?

    • June 25, 2010 11:37 am

      oh you know, just another example of cultural appropriation! they are traditional arab headdresses that are now trendy checked scarves for sale at urban outfitters and other hipster clothiers near you!

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