Mad Dogs and Englishmen – A Heat Wave in Central Europe

Back in May 2005, I took a trip to Budapest in the middle of a heat wave. I’ve just found my notes for that trip, so here they are…

As Paspartout and I got off the plane in Budapest, I immediately thought, “Am I wearing warm clothes again? I am, aren’t I…?”

The coldest it got itself down to was 28 degrees (that’s Celsius – what’s known as “proper money” to all you weirdy Fahrenheit lovers), and that was at 0900 and 1930hrs, respectively. In between that, it darted up and down its own peculiar temperature chasm. No, I’m lying – it was pretty much 36 degrees and higher all the time we were there – what I like to think of as a damned good reason for a nice long beery sit down. Of course, this means that Paspartout’s itinerary went for a Burton because yours truly was lagging behind all the time with a demeanour half way between a surly teenager and a dog with a winter coat on. I’m exaggerating, of course – Paspartout had no itinerary, and I found myself looking up all time (the architecture – that has either been fixed or just not twatted by the earlier communist regimes – is quite stunning), so I wasn’t able to cover the ground with my natural gazelle-like pace. However, she does walk very quickly for a dwarf (I’d never challenge her to a race if I were you, appearances can be deceptive).

The apartment was light and airy (no, I said “airy”), with exactly the right kind of amenities one doesn’t usually make use of on holiday (still, nice to know it’s all there). We were in a building almost opposite the most stunning Parliament buildings I’ve seen, on the banks of the Danube (all together now: “dah dah dah dah dah, da-da, da-da…”).

Just as an aside, after I downloaded all the pictures to my PC, I immediately formatted the hard drive following what turned out to be a rather dodgy backup. Yes – you guessed it – three and a half years worth of digital pictures gone! Luckily, Paspartout has a copy of the Budapest ones (amongst a few others), but pretty much everything is gone. I’m a dumbass (oh, this is probably going to turn out to be a bit of a recurring theme, don’t you think!?).

I’m told that the second language of Hungary has changed over the years from German to English, but what that practically means is that they now have three languages, but English now sits as their first second language, demoting German. Everywhere you go – restaurants, bars, shops, etc. – you here all three being spoken. Which is just as well, as Paspartout and realised that we’d arrived in Hungary without knowing a bloody word of Magyar. Not a word – all we had was the frankly semi-useless bits in the back of the guidebook. Still, it’s amazing how far you can get on hand signals and ignorance!

Along with Venice, Budapest has now become a place I’d like to visit frequently.

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