Sunday, May 27, 2007


Bus to Oxford, Britain 3:29 PM Friday May 25, 2007

I don’t like Britain. I know that’s unfair because I’ve been inside the country for precisely an hour and fifteen minutes, but I’m not too excited to be here. This is for a mix of reasons I’m sure not least being that I’m 3 days from being home and 3 hrs removed from departing my favorite city in Europe. But damn, this place is trying.

I think mostly what gets someone like me is the money. At least when there are hassles in Hungary you don’t mind because A) you don’t speak the language and B) everything is uber cheap. Now when you are asking questions in English and they charge 18 pounds for a bus ride from heathrow to oxford (something that would cost $1 in Hungary) you start to feel a little nostalgia for the old communist bloc. I think I might even understand Hungarian better than I understand British accents. I’m not going to let this dampen my whole trip, so instead this post is going to recount my fabulous last day in Budapest.

Probably what made it so great was the way it was typical of so many days throughout the year. I got off the train from Zruich at 11:30 and was at my university by 1 to say good bye to our director and assistant. Good bye could only start after eating at my favorite lunch restaurant in the whole city. Cafeteria style lunch with chicken and French fries usually.

The good bye was a bit hard. They were like our family over here and I’ve gotten to know them pretty well over the course of the year. It was a bit sad for all three of us but they will have a whole new set of kids next year and I’ll be back enjoying (hopefully) Middlebury

After the good byes I of course headed over to Eric’s while I sat and watched him watch lost on his computer. Just like all semester. Naw it was good to see the lazy bastard after the week abroad. After a bit of packing back at my place I took a long stroll through the city saying good bye to all my favorite places. Hero’s Square with its magnificent columns representing Hungary’s greatest figures. A stroll down Andrassy, Hungary’s most glamorous boulevard meant to remind residents of the Champs Elysees . Then off to our favorite restaurant in the whole city: Poszonyi Kisvedeglo. I got my last bowl of gulyas and Eric got his favorite roast beef with onion rings – I’ve never seen him get anything else. Dinner was with Szabi, my Hungarian roommate, Jeff from this semester and his visiting friend Kevin, and then Eric’s two Austrian friends Marcus and Andrea.

And finally as the end of the night was nearing Eric, Marcus, Andrea, and I summited Gellert Hill for one last night view of the city. Walking through the dark trees up to Budapest’s highest point kind of fit the mood. Marcus was a bit tired out by the time we reached the top so he insisted on a drink. He was nice enough to buy us all a couple of drinks as well as absinthe shots for him and Andrea. They had an interesting walk down at about 1:30 and we were off to Eric’s place to cap it off with a viewing of Boondock Saints. Just about a perfect day in Budapest. I was a bit sad to go but take whatever cliché you like: all good things must come to an end, one ending means another beginning, that’s that. Eric and I did a lot of ruminating about conclusions of our time in Budapest which I’ll probably put on another post, but now I can go back to ranting bout the British.

THEY ARE SMUG. I don’t think there is any better way to describe it. First story, the bus driver gets on with his little microphone and tells a couple of bad jokes going through safety procedures and then says that everyone must buckle seat belts (seat belts on a bus…what?). To illustrate he tells us a story of a child who didn’t buckle his seat belt and cracked his head open. As if this is not enough, he then says, “Subsequently, the parents missed their flight.” NO SHIT. Does no one else see the problem in worrying about a damn flight when a child’s skull is cracked?

Second story, well not so much a story but just general demeanor of everyone I’ve seen. The British waiting in line at the ticket counter, getting off the plane, and even at the bus station, smug is the best word for it.

Ok so I don’t hate all British. The lady that sat next to me on the plane, boy can she talk. I got one article read in the Daily Telegram (still mourning Liverpool’s loss) before she started talking. It was a 2 hr 15 minute flight and she didn’t stop talking. She was nice enough and told me all about Australia, Singapore, tea time, and her family history (If your last name is Lacon you might be related). I was looking to sleep but she was nice enough so I didn’t mind. And she wasn’t smug either.

And plus the British girl that is letting me stay in her flat is definitely not smug. I had this same feeling when I first got into Belarus, like where am I but I’m sure it will subside in the next hour when I meat up with Martha. Her phone doesn’t seem to be working so not sure how that’s going to work out, but these things seem to come out fine.

Not to seem too cliché on this grandest of all days but a) its raining and yes b) my ticket really did cost 18 pounds. Welcome to Britain.

Also, I don’t seem to avoid departing airports without cutting it close. I was at the airport well ahead of schedule this time, but last in line. So my time comes and British Airways in their mighty fine wisdom decided to only allow 1 bag up to 70 pounds rather than two with 50 as in exactly what I’m holding with 40 minutes until my flight leaves. ERIC! I get all my important stuff switched around and then my other suit case in left luggage at the airport in Budapest. It was this or pay 60 pounds just to get it to London. To finish off the story the ticket attendant came and found me and expedited my way through security – no waiting. We talked all the way to gate and she actually studies at my university and works at the airport two days a week. Hungarians work hard, they aren’t smug!

I must intercede just right here. I keep seeing people driving next to the bus and then no other lane. The British in all their smugness even have to drive on the wrong side of the road – Damn. Well that last paragraph was pretty random. I guess that means its about time to end the post. Should have plenty of time this weekend to write down my thoughts – can’t afford to do anything else. Then home to the great US of A.

PS: They speak English here!

Eric is right, see his comment about deserving recognition. He should be happy though because I bought him pogacsa in the morning out of the goodness of my heart. It was about half way through playing frisbee, i was Like oh shit, the suitcase is the broken one and Eric won't be able to get the handle up. I chuckled a bit but also felt really bad.

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