Mike and I are back in a hotel in Budapest for two nights, but one of our suitcases isn’t. It is our guess that since the airplane was full they just left some of the bags behind. My concern is with customs. Often, or maybe always, when bags are delayed and then sent out to you they are inspected in detail. We didn’t declare anything because we are leaving Hungary very quickly and not really bringing anything in. Who knows if a huge hub cap for an RV, or ink for a printer, should have been declared. Even worse, the suitcase is literally full of my meal replacement chocolate powder. Australia once called the powder food and said that it wasn’t allowed in while other countries have had no problem with it. The quantity might be an issue. I have no idea what Hungary’s rules are, and I didn’t want to find out. I am a little concerned. Let’s hope todays flight isn’t full and that our bags make it tonight. A bag was just delivered to the hotel, four days after it went missing. We won’t be here in four days.
The good news is that it turns out that August 20th is St. Stephen’s Day in Hungary and it is a big public holiday. St. Stephen was the original founder of Hungary and the first king about 1,000 years ago. He is the one who brought Christianity to this part of the world. Apparently, we have already missed the Air and Water Show that was held this morning while Mike and I were still asleep. I am expecting booths and entertainment throughout the day. It is now lunch time. As soon as I get this written and uploaded Mike and I are going out to wander through this humid city. The highlight of the day is the huge fireworks display over the Danube tonight. I gather that the crowds are really large for this. Cars have been stopped from entering all sorts of areas in the city, including the bridges over the Danube. These areas are for the pedestrians today. Even the trains and trams will be stopped tonight because people will be crowding on the tracks near the river to watch the fireworks. I will let you know what today is like, assuming that Mike and I are awake enough to enjoy it after our red-eye flight with no sleep for more than 24 hours. This definitely affects me more than it used to. I really should do some planning and start looking into the places we are visiting sooner. We are just lucky that we didn’t miss today’s celebrations by one day or something like that. This probably isn’t going to happen, but I guess surprises like today are nice also.
When we arrived at the hotel yesterday we went straight to sleep for a few hours. We then got up and wandered around Budapest at night. The temperature and the breeze were very nice, but it was still very humid and uncomfortable at times. Budapest has a large Ferris wheel called the Budapest Eye. Many cities have these Ferris wheels right downtown these days. Toronto should get one. I looked at the Budapest Eye when we were here previously and decided that it probably wasn’t high enough to be worth the lineups to ride it. When I saw it with all the lights shining last night I decided that I was going to go on it. Mike hummed and hawed, and then decided to join me. He isn’t keen on Ferris wheels. It really wasn’t worth it. The lights on each car, while very pretty from the ground, ruined the view and any photos from the air. It was OK, but I wouldn’t do it again in Budapest. After our ride we wandered down a street full of cafés. It was quite surprising to see some musicians inside an open window.
As we were walking around we saw a statue of Columbo and Dog. For those who don’t know that reference, Columbo was a TV show many years ago. He was a forgetful detective, always looking like he had slept in his clothes. Columbo was played by Peter Falk who was born in Czech, not Hungary. His grandfather was probably born in Hungary. There was a very well-known Hungarian family with the name Falk. There is nothing that actually ties Peter Falk’s family to them but nonetheless his statue is in the middle of the walking area. As I have said before, I really like Europe’s love affair with bronze statues everywhere.
Mike and I met quite a few people in the Toronto airport who were heading to Budapest for a river cruise up the Danube and Rhine rivers to Amsterdam. They had been notified that the rivers have dried up in sections due to this summer’s heat and dryness. They will be taken by bus around the “dry” portions of the river and meet up with another boat on the other side. It isn’t as nice as unpacking once and staying put for the journey, but no-one has control over Mother Nature. We were recently told that some of the asphalt roads in the Netherlands were actually melting due to the heat. One Dutchman told us that they were putting the salt, used in the winter time, on the roads now to stop them melting. Neither Mike nor I had ever heard of this treatment before.
While we were waiting for our plane to Budapest in the Toronto airport, we had quite a few people ask us if we were also on the river cruise to Amsterdam. When we got to Budapest and were waiting for our luggage we were asked a few more times. When we arrived at our hotel, which is one of the Viking hotels, we were asked yet again. Do we look like cruise people? I think it is probably our age, which is a little depressing. Apparently, the people on this river cruise were told that they would be met at the airport and taken to a hotel in Budapest for the first night and then transferred to the riverboat the next day. They did not know which hotel “a hotel” meant. This turned out to be a problem when some of the cruise travelers where among the passengers missing their luggage. One family was missing four suitcases and couldn’t tell the lost and found where they were staying for the night. Worse than that, the next day they would be on a boat leaving Budapest. It is even worse for them than it is for Mike and I. It is just our luck that we booked the basic airfare and had to pay extra to get even one suitcase on our international flight. Somehow, the luggage not arriving after we paid for it the day before just seems wrong.
It was great to see our family and friends again over the last 10 days. It was very obvious, how different our two lives feel. Even when we didn’t go out or do much one day we somehow still felt more rushed than we do in our camper. I am really growing to love this relaxed feeling. I will be pleased when the weather cools down a little and we can get back to more activities and exploration than I can handle in the heat. I do miss our family and friends and wish that we could just fly back home for short visits without any preplanning but that obviously isn’t going to happen. It is surprising that while we do more walking and sightseeing while we are traveling and have less days doing nothing we still feel more rested and relaxed. We will be back home in December for a few months and will see everyone we missed then.
We will let you know how St. Stephen’s Day turns out. We will also let you know what happens with our luggage!