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Kostia and I spent the weekend in Prague. It won’t be any news to you that it is a fantastic city and we really enjoyed it. Pictures to come…

Things have been busy. Kostia and I went to Rome for a mini-vacation last week. Eventually I’ll get around to posting some pictures. It was a fun trip but even though we planned it during the only four-day window that both of us could manage to get away before the holidays, it was still a mistake for both of us to take off in the middle of the term. Just too much to do.

When I’m procrastinating, I’m obsessing over the election. Next Tuesday will be like Christmas. Hopefully there won’t be any coal in my stocking, i.e., McCain winning. Speaking of Christmas stockings, I’ll also have to post a picture of this amazing thing I found in the 1 Euro Shop in Rome.

Oh, and it’s snowing here. A lot. Instant winter, though I’m sure it will melt (and snow and melt again) before winter sets in for good. This morning Kostia said, “Ooh! We haven’t seen snow in so long!” And I said, “The last snow was in MAY. Five and a half months ago. That is NOT a long snowless season.” But I’m getting better at accepting that winter lasts six months or more here. When we went to Rome, I just couldn’t conceive that it would actually be warm somewhere in late October, and didn’t bring any shoes other than the knee-high boots I was wearing (with accompanying knee socks). It kind of sucked to be uncomfortably warm when all I wanted to do was enjoy the nice weather.

I’ve been lazy about writing about Budapest because I didn’t have it in me to sort through the 150 photos we took there and choose the best ones. Kostia did, however, and you can take a look at his blog, where he mostly writes about this lovely little cafe where we spent an evening drinking white wine and eating fresh bread. They had live jazz and shelves with homemade pottery, jam, wine, and other delicacies for sale.

Here are some photos that didn’t make it onto Kostia’s blog.

This photo is dedicated to Veronika, who has a thing for parking

Ronald Reagan, blya

The parliament building was impressive, but I’m not sure it was worth waiting in line for so long in the hot sun to go inside. You only get to see four rooms.

Movie poster for “Szex es New York” in the metro. I should have taken a picture of the metro cars, they are the same ones as in St. Petersburg and Moscow – and perhaps in the entire rest of the former Eastern Bloc?

We climbed to the highest point in Budapest…

…after which we were happy to have a refreshing swim in the indoor swimming pool at the Gellert Baths. We didn’t take advantage of any of the other options, like hot tubs, saunas, outdoor pools, and massages.

On Kostia’s blog you can see another place we went, Memento Park, an outdoor museum of the communist era, which was a bit anticlimactic – I was expecting something much bigger. And we had quite an adventure getting there, as we took bus #7A to its end somewhere in the middle of what Russians would call “the sleeping districts” instead of the #7 which goes to the intercity bus station from which the bus to Memento Park departs.

In general, it was a great trip. Hungary is the first former Eastern Bloc country that I’ve visited outside of Russia. There were a lot of things there that reminded me of St. Petersburg in a nice way – the architecture, the products in the supermarkets, the little 24-hour shops with cheap alcohol, the public transportation, the oversized pillows – but it is a much cleaner and friendlier place than SPb. And unlike SPb, very affordable for tourists. They don’t seem to operate under the principle of “charge them as much as humanly possible”. Certainly, lunch in a touristy restaurant costs at least twice as much as at a restaurant for locals, but at 6 euros it’s still pretty reasonable. Highly recommended.

I’m back in Falun after four days in Budapest! I’ll write about it soon.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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