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Published: July 20th 2009
Budapest looked a lot different, 20 years ago, when Hungary was still a Communist country. The changes we saw were mostly positive and the development was impressive. Restaurants and shops seemed to be doing a good business even in the present economic situation. The malls were big, flashy, and busy with lots of book stores and designer shops. The Internet Cafe that we used was in an old restaurant called, "Johann Strauss Cafe and Caviar Bar". It looked like something straight out of the 1800's.
Navigating the city was the biggest challenge. Buying tram, subway, and bus tickets was a bit tricky with machines that were totally in Hungarian without any numbers or price denominations, or that had ticket booths that were closed or non-existent. Walking the crowded sidewalks, which were shared with the bikes, was also a challenge. The bikers didn't slow down and we had several close calls with the local speed demons. After 3 weeks on the peaceful alpine trails of Switzerland, it was a bit much to endure.
We did LOTS of walking and tried to see as much of the city as possible in the 4 days we were there. It was much cleaner
and was a much more pleasant visit since we had nice weather. My main memories from our first visit were cold weather, rain, gray buildings, and plywood toilet seats. Happily, this time, those memories were not repeated.
From Budapest it was on to Slovakia, Czech Republic, and into Poland in 3 long travel/sightseeing days. We're now settled into Zakopane, Poland for 5 days enjoying the Tatra Mountains and having NICE weather.
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