Europe 2007 - Hungary
Budapest would represent the easternmost point on the trip. A quick stop in the college town of Gyor in the west of Hungary was made extra-interesting when one of the tour group got lost and was almost left behind. Thankfully she turned up before being abandoned but it did serve as a caution to everyone else that the bus would NOT be waiting.

I have to say my impressions of Budapest were not the greatest. The city seemed to still be suffering from a sort of post-Cold War malaise - or maybe it was just our hotel, with barely functioning elevators (I ran up and down the stairs from the 10th floor more frequently than I took the elevator), non-functioning air conditioning (naturally it was sweltering out) and general unimpressiveness. Our itinerary was also not the best, offering little opportunity to explore the city independently.

Looking to make the most of the time available, I headed out the first night from our hotel in Pest to the Castle Hill. The main sight there was the Fisherman's Bastion, which was as impressive a castle wall you were likely to see anywhere. Again, the light of sunset and dusk were on my side and I got some truly striking photos of the structure in the dimming light if I do say so myself. Also adding to the atmosphere was a lone busker sitting on the castle steps.

The next morning was mainly a bus tour of the Buda side of the city with only a single brief stop at the Heroes' Square for photos. Then it was back to the Castle Hill where I'd been the night before. Since I'd gotten my best pictures the night before, I went and explored the old city instead. Found nothing.

In the afternoon, it was field trip time with a longish journey north to the town of Szentendre - home to the Skanzen park where they were preserving examples of traditional Hungarian villages. Then it was into the town itself, which I was pleasantly surprised to find suffused with art installations.

While I wouldn't say I was disappointed with Hungary - that would imply I had some expectations, which I didn't - it was somehow one of the less impressive stops on the trip. And the more I think about it, the more I blame the hotel. Seriously, those elevators were messed up.
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