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Published: September 27th 2018
Language is always challenging but especially in Budapest where I know a meager 3 words: jo napot kívánok
(good day/hello), köszönöm
(thank you), and szia
(hi & bye). Back in 2000 during my first visit here, I could have sworn that non-English speakers here were saying "hello" upon meeting and leaving, like szia
. I was always saying "hello" and "see ya," the latter exactly how to unknowingly pronounce szia
Fast forward 18 years. While Budapest has gotten a lot schwankier, the local usage of hello to mean goodbye to English speaking foreigners has not changed. I re-discovered this yesterday just before my very short hike to Kékestető, Hungary's highest peak @ 1014 m ASL (3326') about 100 kms northeast of Budapest. I didn't want to take the bus all the way to the top so I got off at Mátraháza, a few kms shy of the summit, with no idea where to pick up a trail. I asked a local using a struggling display of hand signals to indicate I wanted to walk. Once I got an idea where to head, I departed hearing the familiar "hello."
$US ≈ 275 Hungarian forint (HUF or Ft)
2 nights/3 days here. Needed an entry point in the region serviced by American Airlines in order to burn through my ever decreasingly valued frequent flier miles. The bulk of this trip will be south of here: Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Greece. With Hungary's high point bagged on this trip, Macedonia and Greece in 2012 and 2000, respectively, along with Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, and the other ex-Yugoslavia republics over those 2 trips, I should have nearly all of Eastern and Southern Europe's high points after hikes in Serbia and Kosovo next week. Missing Czech Republic's for now but I'll call that Central Europe. Accommodation and food
Staying in a dorm at the sprawling Avenue Hostel conveniently located right at the Octogon metro stop. Total price was 7180 HUF or €22 (euros seemingly accepted almost everywhere but slightly better to pay in HUF). The hostel was OK, nice breakfast included, coffee could be better. But far worse than instant coffee, my first night's dorm bed was literally crawling with bedbugs. ¡No muy bueno!
Down the street is a Turkish kebab/cafeteria, 1400 HUF for a huge plate of food. Transport
Airport bus direct to city center at Deak
Ferenc Ter is 900 HUF for the 40 min ride. Slightly cheaper to take the local bus to metro line 3 for 530 HUF including the one transfer. Single trip on metro or bus is 350 HUF.
For Kekes, I took the metro from Octogon to Mexicói at the end of the line, 10-15 min, dep every 1-2 min. Then had to find the Kacsóh (ka-CHO) bus stop for the 09:30 Volanz bus (national carrier) to the mountain, 2010 HUF including 150 HUF surcharge for buying from the driver, cash only. Can also depart from Budapest Stadion but it's much farther from the hostel. Took about 1½ hours to Mátraháza and another 30-40 min on foot to the summit. 12:30 return bus leaves from Kekes Sanitorium a bit down from the summit. On the return, the Kacsóh stop has a different name so I missed it but the driver kindly dropped me in the street at the first red light so I would not have to go all the way to Stadion.
Tonight take the night train to Novi Sad, Serbia. Dep 22:15, arr 04:45. Border formalities will take place at o'dark:30, around 02:00. Price was €22 in
a 4 person couchette and I was able to buy the ticket thru the MAV website at home before I left. This works only if departing from Hungary as the ticket needs to be printed locally from a kiosk at any number of rail stations. Free Walking Tour
Many on offer twice per day starting from Vörösmarty Ter at 10:00 & 15:30, tips based. I did the Communism Walk which was very good.
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