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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Eastern Europe retroblog: Budapest

Kate and Elliot and I went backpacking through Eastern Europe in May and June 2007. We wanted to combine travel with some sort of service project, and while that part didn’t turn out exactly as we’d hoped (more on that in the Bosnia installment), we still had an amazing time. Just looking back over the photos is thawing out my toes (more snow tomorrow, says the weatherman, and these days the weatherman is always right), so I think I’ll start retroblogging a bit before the three- year mark.

(Three years! How did that happen?!)

We did Budapest for a few days, then RomaniaSighişoara, Braşov and Rasnov, hiked in the Piatra Craiului mountains, back to Braşov, Sinaia, and to Bucharest to meet my Romanian publisher–then a night train to Belgrade, one night in Kotor in Montenegro; then Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar Island in Croatia; then a night each in Mostar and Sarajevo, where we split up–Elliot had to go home, so he took a train back to Budapest, and Kate and I went on to Brčko (still in Bosnia) to volunteer at a summer camp for ten days.

There aren’t as many descriptive journal passages on this trip; I was focused on taking notes for stories and working on rough drafts of answers for a Mary Modern Q&A, because the book was coming out two weeks after we got home. I also read even more than I usually do when traveling–three Angela Carter novels, The Pesthouse, and a bunch of other good books. I copied this little gem from Wise Children (one of my very favorite novels) onto the first page of a new journal:

“It doesn’t matter if what happens next spoils everything; the anticipation itself is always pure.”

(So true, it hurts.)

(Kate going for attempted drowning #2 at the Gellert baths.)

I have to say, apart from the baths Budapest wasn’t my favorite stop–we had a weird hostel experience, and all the supposedly quaint and old-fashioned bars and cafes the guidebook recommended turned out to be tourist traps.

Of course, the middle-aged men in speedos at the Szechenyi baths made up for all that…

And here are a few shots from Castle Hill (the painting is a detail of Klára Zách I, on display at the Hungarian National Gallery; better view on Wikipedia):

Elliot: “It’s not that I’m being contrarian. It’s just that I’m right.”

Outside the opera house–we did the tour, which was worthwhile. (I have a thing for sphinxes. I don’t know why, except that they’re awesome.)

Next installment: Sighişoara, Romania (my favorite!)

8 Comments to Eastern Europe retroblog: Budapest

  1. Pare's Gravatar Pare
    February 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    This all looks so beautiful. Actually I am skill kind of reeling at the idea of
    "your Romanian publisher."

    What a beautiful painting! Putting on research list. (In another time, in a faraward land, I was an art history major…)

  2. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    You'll never live down the taking down of the Christmas tree. I'll never live down the "attempted" drowning of Jenni.

  3. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    March 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    1. You aren't allowed to bring that up. You weren't born yet.


    3. One of us was old enough to know better. And it wasn't me.


  4. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    March 1, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    p.s. Don't forget, I saved your life.

  5. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    1. Fine, I will never let you live down throwing my precious Barbie dream house down the stairs.
    2. You have just been told it wasn't put up properly by a biased source.
    3. I was too young at heart to know better.
    P.S. I'm sure at some point I've returned the favor and have saved your life.

  6. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    March 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    1. Okay, I deserve that.

    (Is this the same Barbie Townhouse you still play with every night?)

    2. A biased opinion is not necessarily wrong, unlike blaming a small toddler for toppling a six-foot Christmas tree.

    3. 'Too young at heart' is an excuse for doing outrageous things in public without any pants on, not for holding your cousin underwater.

    p.s. If you can't remember an event that important, then it clearly never happened.

  7. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    March 2, 2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    1. Yes, I have shrunk myself down and am living there now (think: Honey I Shrunk the Kids)
    2. If dolls can be evil (e.g. Chuckie) so can young children. hehehe
    3. Pulling your pants down in public is acceptable?! This opens up my world!
    P.S. I don't dwell on my moments of valor.

  8. Ryan's Gravatar Ryan
    March 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Jenni tried drowing me countless times in that pool. I think Kate was just sticking up for me.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.