Budapest, Hungary, has become a rest day, of sorts. We arrived late last night - Friday, if you are lost - and immediately entered a Hungarian birthday party that lasted until 4am. I did not. My body collapsed just after midnight and I crawled into a corner and fell asleep. Bodies were everywhere across the apartment in the morning and it smacked of a party from a Kundera novel.But Hungarians party well.
I had a plan when I retreated. I wanted to explore the city and there were far too few hours if I were to be suffering from a late-night party. An early start was essential .. At least early enough to be out and about at business hours.
By morning, I had one of the great personal pleasures, something that is forgotten in daily life but means everything when budget traveling - I had a shower. With lots of hot water and a full tube of soap. This was heaven - a chance to shower and shave, wash hair, scrub days of train off my flesh. You have to travel on a budget to appreciate this.
Free of the decaying sense of self, it was off to explore Budapest with the true Canuk in the crowd, Mark MacKenzie. A walk to the Opera House and then rental bikes and we were out into the city. Zigzagging the downtown core, taking one bridge across the Danube to Buda and then a dash down the river to a distant bridge and a return to Pest. But at least we can claim to have visited the entire name.
It might be clear now that we were separate from the rest. The other five had been spirited away during the night to sleep with other Greens who had volunteered their homes. Only Mark and I remained and we took advantage of the chance to have a breather.
If you think about the definitions of the perfect guests, you should never discuss religion or politics (so they say in polite societies). So here we are with seven people traveling for politics. .. Sometimes a space is just nice.
Budapest is one of the great cities. It has been on my list of placed to visit. Like Prague, it has always been one of the destinations that need to be seen and not just read about. Novels inspire you, but the city takes on something more when seen for itself.
But we have all regrouped and are on the train to Bucharest. We all have tales to tell from the one, lone, single, solitary day apart. But when you are in a different city, in a different country, using a different language, there are usually a few entertaining moments worthy of sharing.
Oh, and this is the city where I slept in a house, had access to a shower, there were plugs in every room - and I forgot to recharge the iPhone, laptop and camera battery. It was a day of make-shift, make-do from photo to photo. Gratefully the train has plugs in our (small, cramped, three-bunked) rooms.