This time around, Budapest definitely did not disappoint. The opportunity to share this experience with my brothers was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We found a very nice hostel just outside the center of downtown and went out for an evening of hungarian goulash, fantastic beer and lots and lots of photos along the Budapest waterfront.
Our first stop was a restaurant called "For Sale". Home of 1100 Forint litre bowls of goulash, this place is a must see when you visit Budapest. A cozy dark brick room welcomes you along with straw hay strewn about on the floor. A basket of peanuts on your table for you to enjoy... simply discard the shells on the floor. Somewhat reminded me of a tasteful version of the Pioneer Pub in Richmond. Then the Goulash. Litre bowls of it. Thank goodness we were sensible and ordered two bowls for four people, complete with three different types of chili powder. The hungarians love their spice... and I love hungarians!
After dinner was the start of the photo/video excursion. Which is probably where our groups opinions of how it went differ. When you're a photographer/camera man it's quite easy to stay warm. Your day is usually comprised of stopping to take photos of the group, interspliced with hundred meter sprints to catch up with the group. It's a great way to stay warm, but if you're trying to convince people to pose for a photo its a great way to piss off the group as they are slowly getting colder and more disguntled with time.
I always told myself that if I returned to Budapest with an SLR digital camera, I would have a field day. You can ask Katarina, Miles or Emmett and I'm sure you'll get a different opinion but I certainly made a damn good effort to balance my subjects and desperately try to gather as many quality night shots as I possibly could at the same time. We made our way up to the Buda palace at the top of the hill and took some shots of the city. One of my favourite places to explore when I was there back in 2007 it was an experience that was extra special when shared with my brothers. Getting to show them around such a magical place at night was a real treat.
We made our way to "Simple" bar. Simple is a very cool place to say the least. It's similar to what you get if you took East Vancouver alternative lifestyle and mated it with eastern european socialism. A studio warehouse literally turned into six different bar rooms. Take something you found on the sidewalk and attach it to the wall. The place was a decoration in itself. Everything on the walls including plenty of advice. Cheap beer, good crowd and an amazing atmosphere. It was artists commune turned into a bar. Very very cool.
The next morning was the big day. We woke up and enjoyed the free breakfast at the "Aboriginal Hostel". I must say after working at many hostels over time, this definitely had the best breakfast of any hostel I had been to. Waffles with chocolate, Museli and proper brewed coffee were the highlights. We packed our things and prepared for a 7 hour day of driving through Ukraine up to Lviv. We were optimistic as we drove through the beautiful hungarian countryside. The new highway was a delight with it's modern fuel stations, wide shoulders and 130km/h speed limits. Little did we know that Ukraine would be very very different.
Three things I did not expect.
- The underside of your car will bottom out against the ground. A lot.
- Passing other cars is a national sport in Ukraine.
- Expect the unexpected when driving outside of any Ukrainian town. Pack of dogs on the highway? Horse drawn carriage coming at you in an oncoming lane? A tractor pulling a wagon full of potatoes across four lanes of traffic? Yeah all normal in Ukraine.
But that's a story for next time.