Budapest seems like a really cool city. There’s a lot of pretty architecture and the Danube is beautiful. Unfortunately, my attempt to escape cold, grey, rainy weather has failed. It does rain differently here, though. Whereas the Netherlands was prone to long downpours interspersed with periods of not-rain (I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘dry’ since the trees would be dripping and the streets damp) at entirely unpredictable intervals, Budapest seems to have very long spells of extremely light sprinkling with only the occasional serious rain. Also, the umbrellas are dirt cheap. I picked one up for 500 Hungarian Forints (about $3).
I went on a caving trip yesterday, along with my friend Rachel from Pomona, who’s also here in Budapest. I thought it was a pretty cool trip. We went into the raw, undeveloped part of some of the many kilometers of limestone caves which lie underneath Budapest. We had to do a fair deal of scrambling over rocks and squeezing through small spaces. One particularly tricky one was called the “vinklie” (spelling?), which according to our guide means “90 degrees” (right angle?). Basically, the passageway was shaped roughly like an isosceles triangle (with the narrow angle facing downwards), and about large enough for your shoulders and hips. To quote our guide, “You have to lift your hips up, or you will get stuck…not forever, but maybe you leave a shoe behind.” So you wiggle along lying on your left side, using your left arm and one leg to try keep your hips and shoulders elevated in the wider part of the passageway. Then, about 2 or 3 meters along the passage, it turns abruptly to the right (hence the name) and you have to sort of worm your way around the corner.
Our guide was pretty amusing in his own right. He was apparently a very avid caver, and spent a lot of time bragging about the really cool caves he had explored. At the same time, he was critical of boastful show-offs in the caving/mountaineering community who walk around the street wearing carabiners and talk about their adventures constantly. In his defense, we were in a very cave-oriented situation, so it made some sense for him to regale us with stories of his travels.
He also wins the award for the most inadvertently profound-sounding statement of the trip. When we turned off all our headlamps in one of the rooms, our guide was heard to remark, “Without the light, the people can see nothing.”