I leave for Hartsfield Jackson at 6:30 pm for a flight that leaves at 9 pm. There are no lines, of course. Whoops, too early. So I drink a couple of glasses of wine at the bar while conversing with a cute Brazilian. I was hoping the wine would make me sleepy. It did, but not enough to actually sleep.
On the 8 hour flight to Heathrow I sit in a window seat. Next to me is an old Indian woman, dressed in a sari with a bindi on her forehead. She's around 70ish and doesn't speak a lick of English. She also smells, but that's neither here no there. She proceeds to spend the entire flight either trying to speak to me in her language, smiling at me and mimicking everything I do. She also hands me food packages so that I can open them for her. The cutest thing was when I had taken my headphones out of the bag, placed them over my head, and plugged them in ready to watch a movie she handed me hers. I took them out of the bag and gave them back to her. She placed them over her head not bothering to undo the cord and plug them in. She wore them like that for 2 hours until the flight steward pushed the cord in the outlet. I tried to do it for her, but she kept shaking her head. Poor cute little lady. I watch 2 movies on this flight and read my book.
We arrive in London at 10 am. I immediately hop on the Heathrow Express which gets you to Paddington Station in 15 minutes. I change trains from there and headed over to the Portobello Road Market, the World's Largest Antique Market! Anyhoo, I make my way down the road, popping in and out of the weave of indoor stalls. See a lot of shit, overpriced and/or repro. The street is packed out with people. It's hard to move. There are crepe vendors and all other types of food vendors on and along the sides of the street. I have been awake for close to 25 hours by this point and was losing steam quickly. After getting a pint and some fish and chips I head over to Kensington Garden, where I lounge in the sun for a bit before making my way back to the airport.
Back on the airplane for another 3 hour flight. Still no sleep. I get to Budapest around midnight. My friend B meets me at the airport. We go to her flat where I quickly take a shower, take a shot of palinka (a Hungarian favorite- tastes like moonshine), and then it's off to catch a tram. We head over to a rooftop bar where we have some wine tonic water spritzers. How very Euro of us. Head home around 3 am, pick up a chicken shwarma sandwich, and finally get the sleep that I crave ( I've only been awake for 48 hours at this point).
Early the next morning we head out. A latte and a bagel with lox in a gorgeous palatial room. We check out the opera house and photography museum. Later we head to the Danube for a photo opp.
Even later than that we go to the subway to catch the train on our way to Buda Castle for a beer festival. Some 70 cent tickets are stamped and some are notched when you use them - you should pay extra attention to this. We didn't, and despite the ticket inspector us waving us in after having mine notched in the machine we were followed on to the empty train and told that we were being fined for re-using a ticket. Fined $40 American, which is a huge sum in Hungarian forints. Despite trying to converse with the non-English speaking ticket inspectors and telling them we had extra tickets, and notching one to pay our fare, we still had to pay the fine. The inspector kept telling us that if we didn't have the money he'd gladly follow us to the ATM. Corrupt bullshit! This picture was taken right before the corruption went down.
Anyhoo money paid, inspectors off our backs, we head on a bus over to Buda Castle where the afternoon and evenings beer festival was. They had Belgium, Czech, Hungarian, and Slovakian beers. Good times were had. I met some great Hungarians and drank some good beer. Listened to some music.
The next day we woke up, got some delicious egg mcmuffins from McDonald's (don't judge), and took a train to Vienna, Austria.
*Next Post will be about Vienna. Hang on to your seats.