Tryst with Buda-Pest

While Prague is one of the few cities in Europe which was not bombed in the second world-war (hence the old beautiful city), Budapest is one of the few cities which was bombed twice, first during the Second World War, next during the left-right struggle. The city is actually a ruin city; many structures are ruins from outside, a modern structure from inside. You can walk in many bars and could witness a wonderful combination of ruins and modernity. A must see – if you are an avid traveller.
We decided to go there by train (I mentioned the train experience in my story on Prague) and arrived in the morning. As soon as we came out of the station, we decided to head directly to our hotel; we had booked a boat hotel, a hotel floating on the beautiful Danube River. Danube River divides Buda from Pest. Buda and Pest are something like twin cities, Buda an old city with its magnificent fort, while Pest a modern city with the majestic parliament building where you can actually visit many parts from inside.
Punam had booked a non-refundable non-transferable no-change-allowed ticket for the Parliament, and a couple of days before our arrival we noticed that it was actually booked for the next month! We wrote a letter, requesting them our fault and to pre-pone our date. To our surprise, they obliged happily!
When we came out of the station, we decided to walk to our hotel in order to get a sense of the city, though it was some 7-8 kilometers away (both of us are avid walkers)! We met a couple, in their fifties, and looked like Indians; they were coming towards the station and we decided to get their experience of the city. As soon as we stroke a conversation, we realised the man’s hatred towards India; he said he was a Srilankan living in England and he sounded like he hated India. Anyway, he asked us not to walk on the streets, as Budapest was not safe, and someone might snatch our belongings. After thanking them for their advice we decided to catch up the local police to get the real idea about the environment, and to our surprise the police gave us a contrary view and assured us that it was as safe as any other European city, at least during day. Though, the police woman standing near suggested not to walk to our hotel because it was a bit too far and it could take an hour. We decided to walk, we were there to see the city, and there is no better way to see a city than to walk in its non-tourist lanes, and we walked. It was a bit far, indeed, the distance added psychologically, because we had arrived by an overnight train.
Next day, on our parliament visit, I had written an email to Suparna, a friend from my JNU days, who was doing her doctoral degree from Budapest. She met next day and we caught up some old days and got some very useful suggestions from her. Also, she took us to a nearby Indian restaurant and we had a good Indian food after a long time.
There are many things to do in Budapest. They have very good Hammams, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to go there the next day again. A real rejuvenating experience, they have very cold water, then cold water, then normal water, then warm water, then very warm water, then sauna, so many other relaxing activities. A real treat.
On the third morning, Punam decided to buy a good perfume from one of the big shops. We got there and after the usual one-hour looking around, she finally decided to buy one. The one she decided was for 200 euro with a 50% discount. So it was for 100 euro, a good price. She bought that and we paid with my credit card. We came out satisfied, soon we realised that the price we were actually charged 200 euros! After a brief discussion between us, she decided that she will go again to the shop and get everything cleared, though I had advised her against it as I thought that she might had misread the discount part, but the kind of woman she is – you better not take her for a ride!
She went inside and explained everything to the man at the counter, he went with her to the place where the perfume was placed and it DID NOT have any discount there! She was furious as she had seen the discount herself. Soon, the stall-incharge lady was called and she said that there indeed was a discount banner which was valid till yesterday and she had just then removed that banner. But since the perfume was bought when the banner was still there, the manager of the shop realised his fault, and apologized and returned our 100 euros. We became richer by 100 euros instantly!
There are some very beautiful structures, the Lenin-Stalin remains, the beautiful Danube River, the city itself is very beautiful. We had our train back to Prague the fourth day, and it was one of the most enjoyed trip we ever had!
Why we did not feel very comfortable in Beijing, in my next post…

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