days 55-58: budapest, hungary

august 28-30, 2023

marcus and i got into budapest around 3 pm after being on a train for 2.5 hours. the ride was fine, scenic, and then became increasingly uncomfortable and hot as more people boarded. 

we passed through fields and fields of corn and sunflowers. at first i was surprised to see them, idealizing their function beyond sunflower seeds until i finally realized and remembered that the sunflower oil business is a big one. 

they are sunflowers, kat, not poems

eventually i fell asleep, sitting across these 2 british women around the same age as us. they had these huge backpacks, worn in. i was self-conscious about sleeping with my mouth open. 

the budapest station is big and kind of gritty. the signs to catch the local trains are confusing and the ticket booth logos don’t match the train logo. but luckily we didn’t have a long ride and once we got back into the hang of matching names to destinations and train direction, we were good. 

when i got up the stairs to the main road taking us to our airbnb, i stopped to look up at the buildings. wide roads lined by aged roman style architecture. there are stark contrasts between old and new, and some places were straight up falling apart. some parts of the city are grey this time of day, loud, unfamiliar, but still, i quickly liked it. 

we waited until 7:45, then the lights came on at parliament

we walked past a couple sitting on the curb smoking ice or crack (i heard foil crinkling), and it didn’t bother me that much, although it was memorable. SF either really trained me for this or i’m just tired/ready to be here. the prospect of an air-conditioned future also made me really happy. we haven’t had AC in the heat in 3 weeks. 

our airbnb is on the 3rd floor of an old building that looks dodgy but once we got into our apartment, it was complete modernized and COOL. finally. air conditioning. a luxury. i thought of the 99% invisible episode on how AC allowed people to move into previously undesirable parts of the US, like the arizona desert. there’s a small sign in the apartment asking us to turn off everything when we leave due to “well-known recent world events” causing resources to be limited — so vague but nonetheless true and applicable timelessly. 

i thought of how even AC and electricity can be considered a right or luxury that can wield, sway power and influence over others. discomfort can cause people to make irrational decisions. even just being in the cool apartment for 10 minutes immediately changed my mood from irritated to jovial. until marcus said something to me, i forgot how annoyed i have been with him. 

i’m writing all of this in a stream of consciousness that feels good and real and unrushed and unlimited. i have been writing for maybe an hour or more, and have gone through feelings of resent then resolve. i have wondered about therapy for travelers moving across countries since therapists are typically licensed for one state or one country. for a little bit of time, chatgpt was useful, but writing like this and working through my thoughts is more gratifying and i feel proud because it’s self-sufficient. sometimes i need someone else, like a real person, to help.

when the rain stopped, we took a small tram around the city center to get the szecheyni baths. the trams run underground and are old, narrow, party made of wood, rickety but sturdy, and have low ceilings. the stations we stopped at are also a thing from the past. unchanged. the tiles are white and maroon with the station names in hungarian. 

rainy day, we play golf

a few stops later we were in the park where szecheyni baths are. it’s a huge building with tile art, gold embellishments, and tiles everywhere. the baths are located inside and outside. the big, scenic ones i saw in photos are located outside. everything except 1 pool is thermal, eggy.

there’s a mix of tourists and locals here and there’s even a chessboard at the end of one of the pools where a few older men were playing. we stayed there for practically the whole day until closing. here i decided i should go to baths more often. it’s really relaxing but not exactly part of my routine. the water in the pools outside is a bright turqoise and the structures look roman. tall columns, big, muscular sculptures of men and women. it felt luxurious?

we left and took the train back to our neighborhood and was more impressed with how locals/people can take the tram and go to this bath pretty easily. often i think, wtf is going on in sf. it’s expensive, public transportation is not that extensive, some people can be so cranky. the weather is mild year round although i would love to have some warm summers without having to drive 2+ hours. 


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