We arrived into Hungary's capital mid-afternoon and were hassled as soon as we jumped off the train by taxi drivers and people offering us a bed in their hotel (I never take them up on their offers, I'd always much rather look for a place myself). It brought me back to times in Asia where we experienced the same. We brushed past them and headed for the information booths where we were sure we'd get a much more complete and unbiased list of available hostels - turns out we were wrong and one guy even asked, "Why would you want to stay in a hostel?" It was then I realised that for me the scariest part of travelling is arriving in a completely new country, new language, new city with all of your worldly possessions on your back and not knowing where you are or where you're going to sleep that night, and having this itching suspicion that it might not be advisable to trust people trying to help you. On the flip-side, I find that the best part of travelling is waking up the following morning, stepping outside, and realising that the place is really not that scary after all.
Well, thank God for WiFi again (Maccas this time helped us out) and we found ourselves a hostel for €6/night which was about half of what the info places said we would be paying. The 11th Hour Cinema Hostel had a homely feel to it which was great, we were happy - they made us coffee. But unfortunately we could only stay for 2 nights as they were booked out, hence the CSer.
Like a lot of European cities, Budapest is set on a river. It is split by the Danube river into two parts, the "old town" called Buda, and the "new town" known as.. you guessed it... Pest. Our hostel (along with the shopping strips and majority of the clubs and restaurants) was situated in Pest. There are some quite grand and picturesque buildings on this side of the river, most notably the Parliament building set along the waterfront with its red-capped roof and spires that make it look somewhat like the building is being suspended by invisible ropes. In Buda there is an equally grand and huge building on Castle Hill (Várhegy) that houses the National Gallery and affords a great view over the city. The surrounding neighbourhood boasts a lovely old-European feel with the colourful buildings and abundant churches, although it seems that just about every church in Europe is annoyingly obstructed by scaffolding at the moment, undergoing some sort of reconstruction or restoration work.
We came across some great traditional Hungarian food in a market here. Take batter, chuck it in the deep frier, add grated cheese and ham or spinach, et voila! Really cheap, really tasty and really greasy... This was of course after sampling the famous Hungarian goulash the evening before.
October 2nd marked the end of our 7th month abroad. We spent the majority of the day updating blogs, etc. Dinnertime came and I hid my laptop under the blankets in our locked dorm while we nipped out for a quick bite with Henry, an Irish fellow we met at the hostel. 45 minutes later, we came back and the laptop was gone along with my external harddrive and another fellow traveller's laptop. Immediately informing the hostel staff didn't prove very useful as they let us search all lockers in the hostel but turned up nothing. I have my suspicions that it was actually the Swedish guy whose laptop also was "stolen", but I think it's pretty impossible to prove anything. The first thing I did the next day naturally was report it to the police which was a task and a half in itself - a several-hour event.