Budapest, Hungary (Round 2)

About six weeks after my first stop in the city, I made it back to Budapest! Despite having spent almost two weeks here the first time, I still managed to take a good amount of pictures.

The first treat entering the country was a strip-search of my train, performed two times, by the border police, who are visible through the glass door scaling a ladder to inspect the crawl space of the train.

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These are not the droids you’re looking for.

There was also more than one solar farm along the railway, which is confusing both because it didn’t seem like there were enough people in the countryside to actually consume the electricity, and because “Hungary” and “sun” are rarely used in the same sentence.

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While I’m still on the train I’ll just get my rail-related observations out of the way. First, I got to check off visiting another one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world, Szent Gellért Square.

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And second, at this station I caught the line 4 metro–which is completely driverless, and also without those awkward glass sliding door walls that normally accompany such systems.

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Look ma, no hands.

But unfortunately it’s tough to get excited by the thought of the line being more efficient–each station is staffed by two employees to monitor boarding, and it apparently has an operating cost that is eight times as much as some of the other “traditional” lines in Budapest.

Back on the aboveground side there were a few interesting things as well. First, since Thanksgiving isn’t a thing, they could go right ahead and set up the Christmas markets in mid-November.

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No complaints there. I then got to witness the funniest city maintenance habit I’ve seen so far: vacuuming leaves.

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It’s a full-time job.

These guys are on a leaf-rampage both on the streets (above) and in the city parks:

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I do have to give Budapest credit for developing the best parking solution I’ve seen: an automatic parking machine. Unfortunately, despite waiting for at least ten minutes I didn’t get to see one come or go, but I do have a vivid imagination to fill in the details.

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I had to wonder whether it would park me if I paid to lie down on that thing.

The city also has a chain of super-modern laundromats, which for whatever reason chose to use the same exact font as Build-a-Bear (above and below the orange numbers).

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For whatever reason I hadn’t noticed the super impressive Parliament building before. It’s tough to capture the scope of it in a picture; it sprawls for a good portion of the Danube river.

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This time I left Budapest by air and, in the theme of noting impressive things, saw one of the most modern terminals I’ve seen so far.

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With local Hungarian staples like KFC seen in the background.

And of course guarded in true Hungarian style by two guards with machine guns.

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They add some legitimacy to the Mercedes-Benz ad they’re hovering over.

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