Budapest, Hungary

Budapest was thrilling. Apart from the remnants of the Habsburgs (wide, tree-lined esplanades) and iconic buildings, Budapest had a really fabulous island park called Margitsziget, which was ringed by a sponged trail constructed with the same material used to create track and field ovals. I don’t mind running on asphalt, but the spongy surface was a nice change and probably benefits the people I saw running with serious pronation issues (and without shoes to address it). Enclosed by the ring trail, there are parks where people were playing soccer football, frisbee and just relaxing in the sun. Other parts of the island housed tennis courts, jungle gyms and remnants of a fort.

The hostel in Budapest was fun, but it was the first place I’d encountered on my trip where smoking took place all over the hostel, including in the bedrooms. It made my eyes water a lot since I’m not used to that sort of thing – having lived in San Francisco, New York and Toronto for so long.

While in Budapest, the American Express computers dutifully deactivated my credit cards due to suspected fraud, what with all these strange charges from across Eastern Europe. It took some time to resolve the issues, but I eventually got things sorted out, at the cost of a few hours and a couple of bucks for a phone card – inexplicably, the Hungarian operators apparently cannot charge American Express worldwide collect calls number, located in the US.

After exploring Budapest for a few days, I was off to Brasov, Romania.