Thursday was March 15th, Hungary’s National Day, a remembrance of the 1848 revolution. Unlike the UK, lots of places were shut. The breakfast bar that I had planned for my early morning fuel stop – shut; the corner shops – shut; the Spar supermarket – shut. This theme continued for much of the day. It was a McDonald’s that stopped me from going hungry in the morning and I don’t think I needed to be so sheepish about speaking English to order. One thing that threw me was the breakfast menu structure – you buy a muffin and then add items at 200Ft each unlike the meal deals in the UK. I didn’t realize this difference as I tried to order, so I ended up with just a muffin and coffee. I could have gone back to order a hash brown, but my waistline is probably better for sticking with what I got, not by much, I know.
Today I splurged on a one-day ticket for public transport in the city. At 1650Ft (£4.70), it was good value for getting around and equivalent to roughly 5 single-journey tickets. It also meant I didn’t need to worry about validating a ticket each time I got on to a tram or entered the metro.
My first stop for the day was Heroes Square. Metro line 1 was a fun experience. I think it is the oldest of the lines and felt like stepping back in time. There were a couple of museums that I could have popped in to at Heroes Square, but there were long queues to get in (free entry for National Day, I think) so I decided to just continue with my meandering look around the city. As it started to rain I took a tram that circled the east side of the city, then a couple more transfers to end up at the government buildings. Again there were crowds gathering around a stage and this time the museums were shut.
More wandering and I found a place for lunch that served a tourist menu that allowed me to sample goulash, paprika chicken and a dessert that was tasty sponge cake. A very efficient use of a meal for sampling local dishes.
Late afternoon I visited Csak a jó sör, on a top 10 of list of craft beer bars in Guardian Travel. The beer I tried was a coconut accented IPA that was smooth and palatable.
Tagged with: budapest
Posted in travel
Today I was up early and ready to do a lot more with my day. After a buffet breakfast that set me up for the day I took a tram to the Castle Hill district. I was so early that I had to wander around taking in the vista until the museums opened at 10am. First was the History Museum, then the National Arts Museum with a wander around the Castle Hill area in between. By the end of the day my knees ached and I was limping as I made my way back to the hotel, a product of all the standing, but at least I could say I had done a lot more with my day. The museums were pretty engaging, there was plenty to see in both of them and it was interesting to learn more of the history of the region. During my walk in between museums I caught a glimpse of the changing of the guard which seemed to have its biggest display at 12 noon, but possibly had something happen every hour if the drum beat on the wind was any indication.
Tagged with: budapest
Posted in travel
Today was the start of my last minute holiday to Hungary. I stayed in the Yotel at Heathrow Terminal 4 overnight on Monday so that I wouldn’t have too far to go for check-in very early on Tuesday morning. The rooms are small, but clean and nowhere near as tiny as the Japanese capsule hotels whose style they borrow from. I have stayed at the Yotel in Gatwick so I knew what to expect in terms of room configuration and facilities.
My checkout from the Yotel was early enough that the first time I headed to the Underground platforms they were still shuttered. After a walk to the Heathrow Express (also closed) and back again, the Underground platforms were open and the first train was due at 05.02am. Soon I was checked in and through security with lots of time to spare.
The flight was uneventful save for a noise like a howling baboon or someone sawing through metal coming from the undercarriage as we taxied. Thankfully the noise didn’t persist once we had taken off and only began again close to landing. This was a new sound that I hadn’t encountered on previous flights, but it was more wearing than alarming. If anyone knows what makes that noise on the plane, I’d love to know.
Transfer into the city from Budapest airport was easy enough – 950 forint (350Ft ~= £1) and a 30-40 minute bus ride. This seemed to be the cheapest option, but also pretty convenient. I decided to walk over the bridge to the Buda side of the river to get to my hotel as I wanted to take in my surroundings and because I didn’t know how tickets worked for public transport.
The Danubius Flamenco Hotel was the cheapest option I could pick on the BA website when I booked my flight + hotel deal. Before I arrived I thought my penny pinching might leave me with a room just large enough for a bed and a suitcase, but it’s been a very comfortable place to stay. Even with an economy room booking, there’s plenty of space in the room (honestly I’d be happy if I could rent a flat this big at home); it’s clean, there’s lots of storage space and a TV with a few English news/business channels but mostly German and Hungarian TV.
Though my flight arrived at 11.30 I think it was close to 2pm by the time I was sitting in my hotel room. Fatigue got the better of me and I ended up taking a nap instead of bouncing out the door to find the sights. I think it was a good decision. A quick internet search helped me find out that the nearby tram stop had an automated ticket machine. It wasn’t long before I stepped aboard my first tram of the visit and headed into the city to look for dinner. A few of the online guides had suggested the ruin pubs as a good place to visit, so I headed there. After a little wandering I passed by Deep Burger and decided to stop there for a Hungarian burger and a beer. It was pretty tasty and a reasonable price. Though I hadn’t done much with the day, I felt like I’d achieved something in exploring this part of the city and trying my first Hungarian beer.
Tagged with: budapest
Posted in travel
At the beginning of the year I took the motorcycle CBT course with my friend Mark. I thought of it as an experience day, like flying in a microlight. Though I had ridden a scooter in Taiwan, I wasn’t sure how I would cope with riding a geared motorcycle, having to coordinate clutch and gear changes along with balancing and cornering. It turned out to be great fun and a new way to enjoy the road. After the course I started looking at motorbikes and bought a second-hand Honda CB125F with only 800 miles on the clock.
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Tagged with: bike
Posted in biking
, Brighton & Hove
It is with a wry smile that I remember the number of times that I have avoided an important task by reading blog posts and articles explaining how to avoid procrastinating. While it may not have been the most appropriate use of my time, sometimes these searches have dug up some useful websites and methods to counter a tendency to procrastinate. Wait But Why is one such website and Your Life in Weeks the post I am going to talk about today.
The panic of a looming deadline can be a strong motivator when procrastination has set in. That is a relief for the things in life that come with a due-date such as coursework and exams, but it isn’t perfect. Firstly, the panic never sets in until the last possible moment, so the quality of the finished work is never of the best quality. Secondly, the most important things in life don’t come with a built-in deadline: calling family and friends, making long term business/life decisions, exercising, etc.
Sometimes we need a reminder that time is passing whether we use it wisely or not. That is where something like the 90 Year Calendar in Weeks can be useful. Starting with the week of your birth it shows each week of your life as a block for a lifetime of 90 years: 52 columns, 90 rows. Each row starts on your birth-week.
Used wisely, the calendar can lend some focus to the stages in our lives and what we want to achieve in the long term. Of course, it is a very unforgiving way of looking at a lifespan. Even with a generous span of 90 years I am roughly halfway through. I look on the calendar in the same way as a budget. For years I didn’t budget properly. When I tried to stick to a budget I would give up within the first month or two after overspending and feeling like I had failed. It was only much later in life that I changed my approach and accepted that whether I budgeted or not I would have the same amount of money to play with, but by tracking my overspend and adjusting my targets I would have a better idea of what was possible. The 90 year calendar is similar – time passes regardless, but keeping track of it can bring in to focus my priorities and help with planning my next steps.
Wait But Why sell large posters of the calendar, but an A4 spreadsheet can be useful for sketching out events and plans. I have created a macro script for OpenOffice/LibreOffice that I use to give an overview of where I am and what I have done. You are welcome to use and change it.
Just a little something to lighten things up after my last post:
Tagged with: election
Posted in random
There is only one more sleep until the general election on 8 June now. As if I needed another reason to vote against the Conservatives tomorrow, Theresa May has said today that if human rights laws “get in the way” of tackling terror suspects, “we will change the law so we can do it”. In support of this I received an election email from the Conservative party boasting that they will quite happily chip away at our human rights in order to win the fight against terrorism. Nick Clegg among others has pointed out that there are much more effective things the government could do [BBC News].
Why is there so often a rush from authority to take away our freedoms when a crisis comes knocking? After the Manchester bombing Amber Rudd called for a stop to end-to-end encryption in messenger apps like WhatsApp, something that is still very much on the table. This article explains why that is a bad idea. When you place a back-door in a system so that government agencies can monitor what is going on, you break it wide open for hackers and criminal gangs to also gain access. Sabotaging encryption is bad for businesses that need secure methods of communication, it is bad for personal privacy and in the long run it will only temporarily hamper efforts by those who wish to terrorize us.
Please go out and vote tomorrow and please vote tactically to oust your Conservative MP. Message me if you need someone to swap votes with.