Sunday, September 10, 2006

Budapest, Day 1.

Ha ha. Quoth Enrico Fermi (says the legend), renowned Italian physicist, when asked if he thought there was life in other planets: "Extraterrestrials do exist, and they live among us. They call themselves Hungarians."


Ran errands today and mostly ran a reconoissance mission by wandering about town. Dropped by the Museum of Fine Arts, for instance (the exhibits were closed), a very nice building with Turkish-style interiors.

The curious thing about Budapest is, that it doesn't really seem to have a very well-defined center. There is no main square, or plaza, or place where everyone gathers, or where all the restaurants and shops, theaters and museums and government buildings are concentrated. Instead, the shops are spread about along one or two main streets, the government buildings like city hall and parliament are spaced several blocks apart, and so are the theaters. So it is a bit difficult going somewhere to just "hang out" and people watch, for instance. That, and the fact that Budapest is fairly large, makes for some very tiring walking. And, because nothing is concentrated in one place, you sometimes have to walk through some rather uninteresting/unkempt areas before you reach the pretty place you want to get to.

But it is very different from what I've been used to before in the West, and therefore very interesting, for your mind has to use some different sets of brain cells than usual, not just from "learning" a new city map, but deciphering the language (dealing with a Hungarian-only speaker little old lady last night to rent a room for overnight stay, for instance), and the customs, etc, which is refreshing.

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