Oct 29, 2007
We just arrived in Budapest, after a taxing 40 hour train ride (though not as taxing as the night in the train station). Pictures and stories to follow...
A splurge in Budapest - Nick writing
After our 40 hour train ride, and after the night in the train station (which was in clear violation of the Geneva convention on treatment of travellers), we decided that we should treat ourselves in Budapest, at least for the first two nights. After that we could return to our regularly scheduled travels of finding cheaper rooms.
Another reason for the splurge at a real hotel was my complete lack of clean laundry. At this point, I was tired of washing things in the sink, and just wanted to pay someone else to clean everything for once. (Note to consider for later comprehension: this worked at a bunch of hostels in Turkey, where you could just hand over a bag of laundry and have it cleaned for about 10 Lira).
So we booked into the Hotel Ibis, in a great location, and set about enjoying the city (which was great), and the splurge room, which was also great. BBC world. A hot shower. And a willing receptionist, who took my two bags of laundry, and said they would have them cleaned in a day and a half.
After two great days of exploring, we got ready to check out, and move over to the Hostel Astoria (which was also great, with our own apartment and a shared kitchen). When checking out, I learned another of those great life lessons, which don't actually seem that great at the time.
Ask what the price is before you hand a hotel a bag of laundry.
I think I'll just repeat that, in case anyone else is travelling right now.
Ask how much it will cost for the hotel to individually iron and press each one of your freaking socks and underwear.
The laundry was cleaned beautifully, even artistically. Little tags on each piece.
However, it cost more than the room for one night. And it was now time to pay the bill; the bill that was more than 1/2 as large as it should have been, because I wasn't clued in enough (polite way of saying "too stupid") to ask how much it would cost up front. My shoulders sagged, my mouth dropped, and my brow started sweating. Had I ruined our entire budget because I wanted non-sink-cleaned nice-smelling laundry?
It definitely hurt to sign that credit card slip, especially since it was coming out of our splurge account. I thought of all of the other splurges that we may miss out on because of The Laundry Incident. We could have spent another night at the IBIS, and even saved a few bucks. However, Kyla helped me see that it wasn't the end of the world, and we did really well budgeting in Budapest with our own kitchen the next four days, so it turned out OK.
And the laundry was really, really clean.
The Ballet - Nick writing
While in Budapest, we went to the ballet. (Actually, I thought we were going to the opera, since we bought tickets at the State Opera boxoffice. Turns out Giselle is a ballet. I was a little thrown by that, but ready for anything). The ballet was great, the tickets cheap, and the building incredible, so I just wanted to highlight a few thoughts that I had while there.
It seems that in almost every ballet, someone dies because they danced themselves to death. And no-one seems to be able to stop them. I would venture that, if Kyla was dancing herself to death in the streets of Vienna, I would at least try and throw a cross-body block and take her legs out (avoiding her oft-injured knees, though), just to let her take a breath and relax. But, in the ballets they just let them dance away, spinning and piroutting ever closer to that grand abyss (death, not the orchestra pit) until they collapse in a heap. Then everyone mourns for the rest of the ballet.
Another ballet-ism that I've noticed is the commonness (OK, I've been to three different ballets in my life, but it seems common to me) of the "dance-off". The main story pauses, the main characters head off to the sides of the stage, dozens of other people congregate at the edges, and a bunch of dancers who we haven't seen yet do a dance-off in the centre of the stage (well, there isn't any knives or hands-tied-together, and they all dance separately or in pairs, but to me it feels a little bit like Beat It).
(Beat It referrence is brought to you by the Society of Early Thirtysomethings Who Once All Thought Michael Jackson Was Cool)
Sometimes it really doesn't feel like it has anything to do with the plot, and more about showing some fancy dancin' (which, truly, is the point of the ballet, I guess).
But don't get me wrong - we had a fantastic time at the Budapest ballet, even though there were two little annoying children behind us kicking our seats and blowing their noses and coughing hacking coughs EVERY TEN SECONDS. Really. If you are going to bring your three year old to the ballet, at least make sure they don't have pnemonia (when angry parents write in response to that comment, please make sure to cc our hotmail account, so that we can both read any rants about our insensitivity).