So here we go, a quick run down of the end of my trip so I can say that I finished what I started))
After Vienna, Roman and I spent three days in Budapest, one in Helsinki, and four days in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since my memories aren't as crisp as they were 10 months ago, I'll use some pictures from my Facebook album to help illustrate my story!
This city is very important to Roman because he has a family history there and spent many vacations there as a child. Also, Hungary has a really interesting story of independence and freedom fighting, uses a language that is one of the most isolated in the world, and (although I didn't really see much of the natural landscape) the architecture and environment of the capital is beautiful!
The picture on the left is a pretty good representation of the typical city street- broad, tree lined, half of the road is pretty much taken up by trolley-bus tracks and you can see all the cables crossing over head. It seems like a pretty public-transportation-driven city, which is great! Especially when you can sneak onto the trolley buses without paying for a ticket...because Hungarian is too difficult to figure out and we were too confused! Poor tourists ;)
The picture on the right is...me! And, more importantly, some buildings pretty indicative of Hungarian architecture, kind of a blend of art-noveau, neo-baroque...yeah, if you want to know more about Budapest's architecture than I do--> Architecture of Budapest
..............we swam at Szechenyi
We went to the park....................
And, maybe most importantly, we had great days sight-seeing and a magical night on Szechenyi Bridge!
Overall, Budapest was great! I really enjoyed my time there, but I'll definitely call it a vacation (although a super cheap, grungy, loosely structured, very brief vacation). I didn't really get a feel for the local culture or atmosphere, I don't think I talked to a single person whom I am sure was Hungarian outside of the tourism/service industry, and I certainly didn't talk to them about what it means or what it's like to be Hungarian or live in Budapest. The "hotel" had a nice breakfast spread which was perhaps indicative of Hungarian dining customs, but other than that it pretty much could have been any large, pleasant, central European city. Next time I will definitely shoot for more of a cultural excursion, get into the underbelly of the city, find out why being Hungarian is different and interesting! I can't wait for the opportunity to really form the character of "Budapest" in my mind rather than just a fond,vague, positive memory.
And then we went to Finland...which I'll discuss along with Rossiya in the next post)