How long has it been since we updated this blog? Let me start with cleaning up the cobwebs and wipe this surface over here so I can sit down and tell you all what has happened to us the past couple of months. Assuming any of you want to know what’s going on to us…
First of all… we just came back from this journey across the country to visit the in-laws. It was definitely a dedication which was paid off when I had that huge spoonful of traditional British Sherry Trifle — apparently from the family recipe handed down to Grumpy’s stepmum from her grandmother.
I wish Grumpy had as much fun as I did, but I know he did not. He has not been well for awhile, and we still are not sure why. I think one of the the reasons was the weather. We had one of the worst, coldest, wettest winter for the past couple of years. At least since I came to this country…
To be honest, last year was probably not the best year for us. Our highlights of the year was probably the most wonderful trip to Hungary. And, of course we are planning for another visit, but probably not in foreseeable future.
And suddenly new year came.
Most of the time I embrace new year with optimism and hope, and all the things that are encouraging. But somehow, it is so difficult to do that… I hope when the sun come out in the end of this winter, Grumpy will be on board with me with this optimism thing.
On that optimistic note… I wish you all a very happy new year. I don’t care if it’s 6 days too late, because… better late than never.
I apologise in advance that I have to break our holiday story in few parts because there are a lot of it and I know for some people it would be too tiresome to read a whole dissertation about how much fun we had in Budapest.
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, not to be confused with Bucharest which is in Romania. Close… but not quite. I had to correct few people for this, and had to endure the awkwardness of being the one who knows better. It is big and busy, it looks beautiful and tough at the same time. Not sure how to explain it, I might just give you some photos…
We bought a couple of Budapest Card, for each of us. Budapest card… is a card that would give you access to the whole public transport system in Budapest — metro, train, and bus (at least those all we know of), a free entrance to several museums there, and also give us discount price for entrance fee and dining — if you wish to do so. I have to make a disclaimer now, though — this Budapest Card works for us because we intended to visit museums and galleries, so it is helpful for us to get there and get an entrance. But if your intention is to go to the city and look around, you might just get a daily travel pass for your transport instead as they are much cheaper.
In Hungary we use Hungarian Forint. When we were there, the exchange rate to GBP is 330 ish HUF for a pound. In few places, they also accept Euro — but I found having Forint at hand is much easier as the pastry shop in the train station don’t accept Euro. I found it much easier to draw money from ATM than to bring cash and exchange it at a money changer.
Our first destination was Buda Castle. I made a mistake by taking bus instead of a metro. Well, there’s nothing wrong with the bus, but I just don’t know where to stop with bus as it stops everywhere in the city. They do announce when they stop, and where they stop, but it meant nothing to me as I don’t understand a word. With the metro, at least you know which was the station and we take it from there.
So, Budapest is divided by the river Danube. One side is called Buda, and the other is called Pest. Guess in which side the Buda Castle is? Of course it is in the side of Buda, it is not a trick question.
Buda Castle is a massive, massive historical structure on the top of the Castle Hill. In Buda Castle housed at least one gallery (Hungarian National Gallery — we went there), and one museum (Budapest Museum of History — we went there as well). In the surrounding complex you could find Houdini Museum (I didn’t know that Houdini was a Hungarian), and a bunker (we went there… and we have a lot to say about this place).
Now, I told you that we made a mistake taking the bus instead of metro? Yessur… we spent the whole morning trying to find this Buda Castle. One of the most recognisable architectural structure in the city, and we got ourselves lost by missing the stop. That was the last time we took bus in Budapest.
I did mention earlier that some part of the city did let me down, but I have to say that IF I ever decides to move to this city, it must be because of the people. Yessur… not the tourists I am talking about, but the people of Edinburgh.
At first, I thought Edinburgh is just the northern version of London. I mean, you see the building constructions, the crowd, the traffic, the noise, the late night entertainment… even the parliament. I thought the only differences were the accent and the sense of fashion, but after staying for only few days in Edinburgh, I was proven wrong.
People in Edinburgh were very friendly, and kind to me, and were incrediblty thoughtful.
When I was in the visa application centre, I had to make another photocopy of my passport because the copy I brought was not the correct standart photocopy they wanted. Fair enough. They have got a photocopy machine in the reception area which everyone can use for 20p per sheet — I suspect it happens a lot when people forgot to make a copy, or something like that. And I walked to the photocopy machine, with my passport on my hand.
Okay, I have operated photocopy machine before, but one photocopy machine is not the same with the other. I don’t know this one, and I don’t like how it looked… these guys were a bit shifty. So I went to the reception and asked the lady there how to get going with these machines.
After knowing that I was only going to make one copy, she decided to make one copy with her own machine. For free. I mean… what?
On the way back home, I took the bus which costs £1.60 for a single trip. Which is totally fine. I had the money, and I was prepared to pay. No biggie.
But I had it in a big banknote, and I guess the bus driver didn’t have change for that. So, instead of sending me off walking back to the city (or make me buy some sweets from poundshop), he asked me how much I had in change. I showed him all the pennies I had in my pouch, and he said…
And off I went.
Wasn’t it wonderful, the kindness and thoughtfulness. They obviously know that I was alone, and that I wasn’t from the neighbourhood. I mean… I did look a bit like a lost puppy sometimes. But really… That would never ever happen to me in London…
BUT… the most memorable character in Edinburgh is definitely the woman who I call “The Singing Punk Spinner of St. Giles Cathedral”. Why I called her that? Why not?
Okay… If you ever had the chance to go to Edinburgh, walk the Royal Mile to St. Giles Cathedral. I saw her there twice, and I assume that it was her spot. It is not easy to miss such a character like her there — a skinny lady with punk hair spiking straight up. She wore a tartan corset, and a pair of leather boots. She sat on he wooden stool, spinning on her wooden spinning wheel. Like I said, she’s hard to miss… but just in case you don’t see her, try to listen…
She sang a kind of folk song about spinning wool… sometimes in English and sometimes in Scottish. I wish I could understand what the song was about.
I didn’t take her photo, nor record a video of her, because she refused to be photographed or videotaped. I think it is only proper to respect her wish not to take her photo or video without her consent. If you’re there and you want to take photo or video, make sure you ask her first. Okay? Remember… without consent… it is B A D.
I think one of the best thing I like being in the UK is the trains. It is so easy to travel in this country, compared to where I came from. I think the transport system is very well maintained, and managed, and it is very comfortable too (especially if you are in the “QUIET” carriage).
Of course a lot of people here love to moan about the train. But they do love moaning about everything under the sun — see Grumpy for the best example.
Anyway, I came back from Edinburgh. It is, I believe, the capital city of Scotland. That was my first time ever visiting the city, and I was extremely excited about the adventure that was about to happen. Although, I must say, that my main mission to go up North is to apply for a Schengen visa.
Why didn’t I apply in London, though? Well, that’s a good story of mismanagement, and disorganisation. Lesson learned — organise better next time.
Now back to Edinburgh… It was… uhm. I wouldn’t go as far as disappointing, because I love museums, and Edinburgh has loads of them — free and paying. Just on the top of my head they have: The National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Edinburgh, The People Story, Museum of Childhood, Surgery Museum… and those don’t include places like The Edinburgh Castle, or the galleries.
The buildings were incredible — something that Grump could appreciate better than I did. The gardens were so beautiful. And the view… Oh the view was majestic. Unlike our lovely Norfolk Broads, Lothian has this hill and valley, the terrain that add this extra seconds of breathtaking moments. It just can’t be translated into words. This is where picture does better than my mere explanation…
But… oh what a dirty road. I mean… not just dirty with dirt. There are a lot of dog poos, and they’re everywhere. I don’t know… in Norwich they are very rare, and most of the time you won’t find it in the high street. But you do in Edinburgh… in front of one of the museums, even. So I assume dog owners don’t bother with criminal persecution for not picking up after their dogs. NOT the kind of people I want to be around, obviously.
And the city… It is so crowded and so touristy. You bump into people everywhere. It’s almost as packed as London. The city is big, but the street feels claustrophobic, especially with the construction sites everywhere. It doesn’t feel welcoming, although when I was there it was unexpectedly warm — well, warmer then the Southern part of the island anyway.
But in the end, I must say, I enjoyed the whole experience. I haven’t done it for a very long time, and I was most definitely refreshing and inspiring. And as much as I do love coming back home, this little trip to the North has a wonderful reminder why I was a wandering Alien to start with.
Aaaaand, I will write about it another time, because it’s lunchtime, and I love my lunchtime.
Where I came from, there is no winter. The days are either sunny and dry, or slightly wet to a little bit flooded. The temperature ranges from warm enough to get your bread dough happy, to hot enough to fry a sunny side on the pavement. I used to like cloudy days, because it means that the slightly cooler wind would slip through the opened windows. I used to love the rainy days, especially that moment before the rain falls, and you can smell it… the smell of the rain.
The smell of the rain, though… That idea used to be very romantic. Until QI popped the bubble for me. Apparently it’s just the smell of the fungi being frisky. I wish I have never known that, because now everytime I thought of the smell of the rain… I am actually smelling fungal sex.
The reason I wanted to say something about weather is that it is apparently the favourite topic of conversation in Britain. I didn’t know why, because coming from a place where weather is pretty much predictable, weather is a quite a mundane topic. However this is not the same here in the UK.
It is hailing outside. In April.
You saw strawberries on the shelves, they are in season. You saw the flowers blooming. You think it is spring, don’t you? Especially because it is bloody April. You would have thought the day of scraping frost from your car window the first thing in the morning before going to work was over. But nope, my dear Watsons… not here in the UK.
Overnight, the temperature dropped, the wind had changed and that warm clothing you thought you would never see again until September is back on the rack.
Bloody hail… (was going to go out to take video of it… but… yeah right)
Is this how the universe is punishing us for voting for Brexit? If this is how they’re trying to give us cold shoulder… phew… what a shoulder. Maybe someone deliberately forgot to send the memo to the Great Britain to start Spring-ing.
Oh well… Luckily, I am indoors… I wonder how Grumpy would grump tonight when he come home from work… That would be interesting 😀