We had a good trip to Serbia and Hungary. We spent more time at Charles De Gaul than any two people should, and thankfully there were plenty of angry French passengers who had also missed their connections sitting around interminably in the new 2E. Mostly the trip was visiting Peter and by that account we spent plenty of quality time with Pops visiting Castles, Cathedrals, and all the standard relics of past European and proto-European conquerers. Belgrade certainly was the most characteristically post-Soviet, but not so much by virtue of the amount of Sovietesque architecture, I think just in the lack of newer modern buildings. The Fort and the surrounding park and view of the Danube and Sava rivers was phenomenal. Apparently the area of the hill, where the Kalemegdan Fortress now stands, was first settled in the 3rd BCE by the Scordisci Celtic tribe. Peter plays tennis regularly with a hired-pro on the 100 year old clay courts in the moat, they looked pretty nice. Most of the rest of the Fortress was from the middle-ages.
Before leaving Zoe and I stopped by the Nikolai Tesla museum. It was somewhat hilarious, for the all the wrong reasons, but somehow, we think Telsa would’ve been pleased with the blatant showman-tourist nature of the “exhibit” of his work. They also didn’t have any change for a $5.00 bill (equivalent in Dinar). We ran into this “no change” problem frequently with all sizes of bills in Serbia. Our last night in Serbia Peter took us out to a seafood themed dinner on the other side of the river (Danube?) and we hiked up some cobblestone streets to a massive tower, for an incredible view from the other side of where we had been at the Fortress. So yeah, the next day we drove to Hungary in Peter’s co-worker’s Toyota Yaris (4-door hatchback), which is not sold to Americans, only Canadians. Currently your best bet in America is to buy the slightly larger Toyota Scion xA, xB, or xD if you have a hankering for a sweet little hatchback.
Budapest was considerably more full of German tourists. And modern buildings. I think in the Spring or Summer, Belgrade’s cafe culture would’ve been inspiring, we simply arrived at the tail end with the rain. Budapest was infinitely walkable and St. Stephen’s Baslica was right next to our hotel. As was the hotel for some of the principal talent for “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” as we saw the actress Selma Blair hanging out with friends in the square of the Basilica. We had dinner at Peter’s friend’s house in the hills of Buda, a really nice 4 story multi-family which they owned with a nice garden and trees. It reminded me of the hills of Portland, Oregon a bit. Zoe and I went to the Hungarian Baths in the City Park up Andrássy Avenue, the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths, which were amazing and full of large hairy men in speedos playing chess. That night we went to a cellar style bar underground up towards the Opera House had a couple “classic” Hungarian beers in .5L glasses for about $3.00 each (woe be the US Dollar). Then we had a typical Air France experience home.
I am going to post the photos soon, need to cull a little bit. I shot 4 rolls of 35mm film, which was nice. Zoe’s new digital P&S worked well.