Monday, August 27, 2007

Buda + Pest

Guess what… I’m now a coffee drinker! Quite an accomplishment since I’ve been flouting coffee since my early teenage years. I could never get over that chalky taste… even with a full pack of swissmiss hot chocolate floated on top. I somehow made it through college, professional career, and MBA without drinking a full cup of coffee (instead, relying on mountain dew, sleeping in on Saturdays and red bulls, respectively). But, I’ve finally started to drink the kool-aid (mixed metaphor). Barny, I can’t wait for our next backpacking trip so I can join you for a cup of joe in the morning.

Lia and Mark joined up with us for the next few legs of our trek. Now we got enough to play 4 player games like hearts and round robin backgammon—a great distraction for the long train rides.

Also, the long walking tours and hikes between sites lend themselves to some interesting conversations. We would easily spend upwards of an hour talking through what would take 20 seconds on a Google search. For example, what are the top global brands and how much are they worth? Our guess… Coca Cola es numero uno! Correct! The approximate value is $65b. In running the search just a second ago, I discovered that Microsoft, IBM, and GE are the 3 others above the $50b mark according to interbrand. I guess it might be a good idea to trademark company and product names!

The recommendations for Buda+Pest were right on… the night boat cruise was spectacular with all the principal buildings and statues lit up. The Terror Haza was absolutely chilling. The building was the site for over 20 years of brutal torture and thousands of murders. Also most of the exhibits were in Hungarian, they provided comprehensive English descriptions to guide non-native speakers.

When our legs started screaming, we headed to the main drag and pulled off at one of the many sidewalk cafes for afternoon beers and people watching.

We did stumble into one land mine… the Gellert baths modeled after ottoman baths from over 500 years ago. If you are a germ-o-phobe (like Lia), or if you just prefer more than a couple feet between you and the guy rockin the hiked up European bikini, then you might want to pass on this spot. Too bad we didn’t even get a chance to swim… because we had waaaaay too much energy for the overnight train ride to Praha… and much too little space in the sleeping car. Oh well, sleep isn’t happening with the border police relishing each opportunity to pound the glass of the sleeping car with the butt of their pistol.

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