We are home now and our trip has come to an end. I will be editing and linking photos from Croatia and Vienna that I didn’t have time to include.
Dennis says his favorite trip was our trip to Felsorakos He is ready to go back to Croatia and see all the places we didn’t have time to explore. Where Budapest is concerned his favorite thing was Margaret Island, the island city park that sits in the middle of the Danube. “Hikes, ancient ruins, river views and beer, how can you beat that?” Dennis did think they could improve the food available. The hot dogs and pizza weren’t that great and we couldn’t find gelato there.
Leigh’s favorite thing in Budapest was the zoo. She especially liked the Elephant House. I’m sure her favorite trip was Croatia but I will ask.
My favorite place in Budapest was the Castle in Buda especially the less traveled north side. The think I am missing the most is being able to walk in Pest and find narrow streets with interesting 19th century building and the occassional odd ter (square) with a statue or a fountain or both. As I walked up to Rosaurers I missed the variety of postage stamp size yards in my neighborhood. Instead of long expanses with lawns and trees on house would have a mini-vinyard and a vegetable garden, another was all planted in flowers, then a lawn with flower pots or a mini-orchard. Of course there were the occassional weedy neglected yards, the ugly graffitied walls and some badly neglected housing estates but the urban area provided so much variety I never got tired of exploring.
On returning our single story building and wide lawns seem like so much unnecessary space. I can’t hold the shovel anymore because I have done too much weeding the last two days. I find I really miss the mass transit whisking me to the big city any area with no effort on my part. Of course I am glad to get back to hiking around “Near Nature Near Perfect” Spokane.
There were too many possible illustrations so I compiled a favorites slide show. These aren’t always the best pictures but they illustrate some beautiful, typical or just plain quirky things in Budapest. It also includes the beautiful Croatia. http://picasaweb.google.com/Janwingen/Favorites
My last official act was to close out my university bank account. I would have just withdrawn my balance and let it go but Zsuzsa insisted that I needed to close my account as part of my check-out from the university. My bank is on the university campus and all university staff have accounts where salaries are directly deposited and bank statements are sent to college e-mail.
Zsuzsa did the translation and I could tell right away things weren’t going as planned. Bank managers were called both in person and on the phone. It seems that you can’t close your account if it has been active in the last 30 days. Even if I hadn’t been withdrawing money like crazy while traveling with Leigh & Dennis my last pay check was deposited in June.
The solution was for me to authorize Zsuzsa to close my account. In a truly Hungarian manner a handwritten document was composed on the spot with Zsuzsa and the bank clerk struggling over the correct wording. Hungarian really is a difficult language even for Hungarians. The document included my birthday, passport number, Zsuzsa’s birthday and her bank account number and of course I have no idea what else. The handwritten document was xeroxed and I signed 2 or 3 copies of the document each one was signed twice.
I’m not the only exchange faculty at the university and it seemed so odd that they didn’t dive in to the file drawer and pull out the correct fill in the blank form. Almost as quaint as when the bank clerk used pen and paper rather than a calculator for my final balance.
After deactivating my debit card the bank clerk calculated all the fees I will incur for maintaining the account I am not allowed to close. It took almost two hours but I was given my cash and I bid farewell to Hungarian bureaucracy.
There is no way I will get my pictures all done before I come home. I have edited the Brasov pictures and added some info to Krakow.
I think Brasov, Romania and Rijeka, Croatia really were the best examples of towns with a lot of LOCAL café life. I suppose it probably has something to do with local living conditions. If you live in a hot stuffy apartment well obviously…. Brasov seemed to have a well developed social life as exemplified by the people playing chess, backgammon and checkers in the park and just as many locals giving advice to the players. Brasov had AT LEAST 30 outdoor bars or cafes downtown and the metropolitan population is about 400,000 that is slightly smaller than Spokane. Where are our pedestrian malls, squares and cafes?
One other thing we have noticed all over Central and Eastern Europe is the memorials. I think Romania has is typical and then some. Felsorokas had memorials to the 1848 revolution as well as WWI & WWII. We think that Brasov had about five war memorials that saw including a memorial to those who died in the 1989 an upheaval overthrowing Ceasescu. We usually think of the changes as bloodless in most of Eastern Europe.
Today Dennis & I went hiking in the Buda hills. Even at three in the afternoon the birds are chirping loudly. It looked the same as my previous pictures except leaves are on the trees. We only got slightly lost. I am starting the clean-up and packing ordeal.
I called the office of the Consulate General in Los Angeles about my visa application after waiting a month for something that was supposed to take two weeks. “We cannot process your visa application. It will be mailed back to you today.” What a coincidence!
I picked up my application and passport along with the following informative letter.
The Republic of Hungary will join the Schengen Area on December 21, 2007. Due to this alternation…All these mean, that these travelers are not required to apply for a visa before entering Hungary….In order to be a legal resident in Hungary, you are kindly asked to contact the competent regional bureau of Hungarian Immigration…For further and detailed information please visit www.bmbah.hu
Dennis warned me to be sure and not go to the incompetent regional bureau. That would be the wrong place.