This post covers our last couple days in Budapest and the trip back to Seattle. I've also posted a lot of pictures on the Budapest page.
Friday the 30th was Melody's last day at the conference and it was another day of doing not much for me. After her conference was over, we headed over to the Buda (west) side and looked at a few things on Castle Hill. It was starting to get a little late and we ended up at the Royal Palace after dark. As you can see there were great views from the hill.
The next day we intended to see more of Castle Hill, but first up was getting to Memento Park, where much communist artwork eventually found a home. There were a couple options to get there, since it's outside the city. Rather than using public transit, we decided to take the park-run bus, since the pick-up location was quite convenient and they provided plenty of time at the park before the return trip.
When you pull up to the park you can't help but notice the pair of boots on a platform. This is an exact replica of a platform and statue of Lenin which used to be near City Park. During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, some demonstrators toppled the statue so that the only thing left of Lenin was the boots.
There was also a Trabant at the park, which is an East German-made car. They were small and noisy, but were in production for a long time.
After riding the bus back to Budapest, we grabbed lunch and worked our way back to the Buda side to continue our Castle Hill tour. First up was going through the Hungarian National Gallery, which included an impressive collction of winged altars. We saw a huge one in Kraków's St. Mary's Church, where they ceremoniously opened the altar doors every morning (it's said to be the largest one in Europe at 11 by 13 meters, and was built in the late 15th centry).
We also made it to Matthias Church and the Fishermen's Bastion, which had great views of the Pest side of the river. Afterwards we wandered down the hill to shop for breakfast and get some dinner. We went to a crêpe restaurant and got both dinner and dessert crêpes for a total cost of about $5. That left us with 20 forint, or about $0.10.
After getting back to Mariá and István's place, we chatted with them for a while. Mariá's lived in that home for her whole life. I described the high ceilings last time, and this photo is of the kitchen, where there's a laundry drying rack that can be raised and lowered with a rope. The doors are the same size as you'd see in a house over here.
They were telling us how they both had to learn Russian when they were young, but they don't remember much if any of it now. They both speak English and German pretty well, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were another language or two they also knew.
We turned in early that night, since we knew we had to get up early to catch our flight. We got down to the subway just before it opened at 4:30, caught the first train to the end of the line, then caught the bus to the airport. Our flight was a little late, but we had a 90 minute layover so we figured we were fine.
Our plane landed and taxied for a bit, then stopped. Everyone got out and started getting luggage out of the overhead bins, then a flight attendant got onto the PA to announce we weren't in our final position yet, so people should sit down. We were on a Lufthansa flight, so the message was first in German then repeated in English. Not everyone sat down, so the message was repeated again, this time only in English; that got everyone sitting again.
Since there were many delayed flights into Frankfurt, our layover airport, there was a wait for the shuttle busses. Ours finally came, and we boarded, wondering how far we were. Due to all the delays, it was about 30-45 minutes before our next flight was due to leave. The shuttle ride was extremely long, but we did see our gate, but it went by and we kept on going for quite a while. Once we were finally let off, we started running. We had to go down several flights of stairs and then from one terminal to another. Once we got there, we figured it would be smart to ride the elevator up rather than run the stairs, since we had to go to the upper level. We got there, then had to go through passport control (since we were leaving an EU country). Melody got through fine, but the checker (before you got to the people who actually stamped the passports) decided to cross-check my ticket and passport, and was having trouble scanning the latter. He finally went to another agent who cleared things up, then once I got my passport stamped, we started running again. We made it to our gate (which, of course, was not close) and people were already boarding, so we did the same.
Happily, we were able to sit together on this flight. The flight left at about 10:30am local time, and landed in Seattle at about noon local time. We saw daylight the whole flight, execpt one side of the plane saw twilight for a little while over Greenland. After landing, some people once again got up early while taxiing, and this flight attendant didn't bother with German and asked in English for people to sit back down.
After another shuttle, light rail train, bus ride, and short walk, we were home.