Christmas in Budapest – 2008 Edition

I’m thinking about spending Christmas in Budapest again this year. Last time was in 2006, so while it hasn’t been that long, it’s been a while. I promised everyone I’d go back last summer, but I had just started a new job and I didn’t have the money to do it. So I promised to return this summer so I could to the Sziget festival, watch the Red Bull Air Races¬†(highlights) and see the fireworks for one of Hungary’s holidays in August. However, I forgot about the fact that since my job involves toys, we’re totally swamped with projects for the holiday season all summer up until October. Christmas in July! and August! and September!

Christmas gives me a great opportunity to leave as we get a week off anyway and then I can use some paid time off (PTO) to extend that vacation. So I’m thinking of taking a week and a half off before and after that Christmas holiday and make my vacation 4 weeks long.

My roommate Gabe’s parents live just north of the Hungarian border in a small Hungarian town in Slovakia. It’s only a few hours train ride to Budapest. We might also stay over in Dublin on our way back to Hungary since he has friends there he wants to see and because I’ve never been to Dublin or Ireland for that matter. And yes, the Guinness factory will be on the list of places to visit. I hear it tastes better than in the U.S.

Also, my Russian friend Elena, who I went to school with at Corvinus might be in Prague in December, so I guess I *have* to go to Prague and see her. Oh darn, Prague. Last time I was there, I went with my friend Tristan and Izzi and had such an awesome time. Gabe hasn’t been in a while so he’s excited about coming with me.

I definitely want to spend a few days in Budapest and see my friend Kriszi and that gang, Tristan, my old advisor Krisztina and others who I haven’t seen since I left. I also want to pick up some Corvinus college t-shirts and maybe a sweatshirt. The thought never occurred to me to buy any university swag while I was there, probably because I was a poor college student who had just enough money to eat. Now I’m rich (even though I’m still paying off the tuition from Corvinus AND Virginia Tech).

Traveling in Europe

I just wanted to mention, that traveling in Europe is so much easier than in the US. I never want to travel here. In Europe, it’s almost effortless (at least for me it is). I like to fly fapados (lit. wooden bench) airlines and all airports have train stations within walking distance and those will take you into the city or anywhere else for that matter. From there, mostly all cities have a great network of buses, trains, subways and street trams. You honestly don’t need a car, as long as you don’t mind having to walk your fair share. Having a car would be more of a hassle than anything else.

I travelled¬†alone for 2 weeks once, from Hungary, to Germany, to Switzerland, to Slovakia and back to Budapest and never once had a problem with transportation or wish I had a car. I actually enjoyed it since in Europe, people actually talk to each other on public transportation and I would always meet a ton of people just randomly. Which is why, I suppose, I get kind of upset when people here won’t even return a ‘hello’ or my favorite: “howdy.” So anti-social!

It says a lot about a culture when you have large areas within your city where cars aren’t even allowed to go. It’s amazing how nice it is to be able to walk around a city and not have to cross any streets or worry about getting hit by cars. In NYC you have to cross a street every 100 feet or so. There’s a stark contrast in attitudes and it’s obvious in the construction of a city.

So I encourage everyone to just brave it and travel Europe (again if you have already). I keep telling myself I don’t have time to go back, but when will I have time? I’m still young and stupid and so now is as great a time as any to just take off like I don’t have a care in the world.