In the early hours of this morning I crossed the border into Hungary. It’s an external EU border, so I got to meet the friendly figures of FRONTEX. The other guy in my cabin was a Serb, and the Hungarian border guard was very suspicious of him. All the Serbian guy could say was that he was going to the EU for work. The guard took his passport away and had a little chat with the other guards, after some discussion they finally agreed to stamp his passport.
A little later on a customs officer came to check we weren’t importing any banned substances into the EU. The customs officer glanced briefly at my bag and waved me away, but they made the Serbian guy unpack everything. Actually I saw the Serbian guy did have a pack of cigarettes, which presumably weren’t allowed across the border, I don’t know where he hid the pack but the customs man didn’t find it.
Anyway, after that there were no more interruptions and I actually got a few hours sleep before the train arrived in Budapest.
The train emptied out into Keleki station.
I made a stupid mistake here, which I’m still bitter about. I went to change money into Hungarian Florins at the bureau de change in the station. The guy at the bureau gave me a miserably bad exchange rate, about 14% down from what the actual exchange rate was. After a while I started getting a sense there must have been something wrong with the exchange rate, and then I checked in a few other bureaux de change in the city, yep the one in the station was way off. This also happened with the Post Office in the UK before I left, they sold me euros for pounds at almost 1:1 rate. And all I learned from that was not to use the Post Office.
This bothers me because I’ve always generally understood that currency exchange offices might be a few percentage points off the market rate but it doesn’t change drastically between offices. Okay, you can’t trust currency exchange offices, I’ll be more careful.
I stopped to sew up some holes in my bag, it seems to be holding well for now.
I wasn’t sure what to do in Budapest, there wasn’t anything too important to visit, and it’s not a city I had much interest in. However, I needed a shower, and it turns out they have baths in Budapest. So, I decided to head for the Rudas baths.
Spotted a familiar logo on the way there, they have TESCO in Hungary!
These are the baths.
It felt so relaxing to hang about in the baths, for a while I just swam back and forth and didn’t think about much. That’s not something I was really expecting to be doing on this trip but I needed it.
Afterwards I decided to walk up to Buda castle, went past these statues outside an exhibition on the First World War.
Here’s the view over the Danube
And here’s the inside courtyard of the castle.
Those stalls are up from a wine festival. I had intended to go to the national art gallery, but the doors were locked.
I also visited a little exhibition on the early construction of the Budapest metro system. It’s tucked away behind a glass door within the ticket office at Deák Ferenc tér station. I was the only person there, which was strange for a city which sits in the path of a lot of tourist traffic.
I picked up some Hungarian chocolate bars in a shop.
The bottom one tasted okay, but we all know the real reason I grabbed it was that ‘Bumm’ is an immaturely inappropriate name for a chocolate bar. The ‘sports’ bar tasted like super-compressed nutella, which sounds nice but is actually super unpleasant.
I think that’s done for Budapest. I’ve already got my ticket to Munich - the train’s leaving at 8:40 and I have an actual bed for this one so hopefully I’ll get a solid night’s sleep.
Since I haven’t got much else to say about Budapest, this is a good opportunity for some meta-reflection on what I’m actually doing with this blog. I’m aiming write a post for every day I’m travelling, or for as long as I can keep it up. I’ve found the workflow with Jekyll is very well suited to my conditions. I write these posts in a text editor when I have spare time, such as when I’m on a train. I can then save the file to be published next time I come across a WiFi hotspot. It’s offline-first, and causes minimal friction to my writing.
There’s also been a development in the way I use my laptop. Earlier this year I put an M.2 SSD stick in my laptop (it had a spare slot on the motherboard, how about that), and I now use the M.2 stick as my main drive.
Both drives have different versions of Ubuntu on them. I can still edit the posts from my main drive and save them to the old one, and I consider the old drive as my ‘blogging system’ because that’s basically all I use it for. That means I’ve got some freedom to mess about with the old system because it’s not something I have to rely on day-to-day.
At the moment the top of my wish-list for improvements is handling of images. Firstly the process of copying images off my phone, renaming them, and copying them into the appropriate directory is time consuming. Secondly the images in my posts so far are at full resolution. If I’m uploading 40MB of images with every post, I’m aware that’s potentially a problem for people on limited/metered connections. I’ve seen a solution involving using imagemagick to automatically resize/compress images when deploying. It’s not likely something I’ll be able to try while I’m travelling, maybe I’ll investiage it when I’m settled next month.