Oct 7, 2004

Home again

Hello again all!

It's quite weird to be home and writing about my trip. But I wanted to finish off the tale, giving you dedicated readers (both of you) some closure. ;)

Back to Budapest - after the scary scary bike ride, in which I invoked several Gods and swear words repeatedly, I was keen to just chill out for a bit. And chill we did, with a bit of wandering through the city. We went across the bridge to the Buda side again, and to that hill of St Gillert I mentioned earlier. There is a Cave Church in the side of the hill, going into the rock. It's maintained by Polish monks apparently, and is built to resemble the worship site at Lourdes in France. We unfortunately couldn't go into the main part because they were having mass. Fair enough. We contented ourselves with a walk round I guess you'd call it the "lobby" area, then wandered halfway up the hill again for views of the city.

Back down we headed to the wonderfully named "Beer House" for a refreshingly cheap pint (for Debs and Jules anyway) and a few games of cards. At 7pm we trundled to "Fatal" (pronounced Fay-taal), a well-known restaurant our guidebook recommended for big portions and traditional Hungarian fare.

Well, big was the understatement of the year. GIGANTOR was the name I would have given our meal. Greg and I got a platter to share. It was meant for two people - and if so, it means the Hungarians have mighty big appetites. It could have fed four. Turkey breasts, chicken legs and chicken breasts were surrounded by a potato-and-onion mash, rice-with-vegetables and a virtual river of potato gems. I got some video footage of this food mountain, so you can all marvel at it.

We headed home for another pint in the Marco Polo pub (in the hostel downstairs) before turning in.

Friday we got up and checked out, deciding to split up on the final morning. Greg and Debbie went to the Terror House Museum, which Greg assures me was very good. Julie and I went cruising the shops. We didn't have much money left, so I couldn't buy up big, and besides, clothes etc in Budapest are nowhere near as cheap as the beer. As they improve their economy to fit more into the EU, prices will no doubt rise more in Hungary, as they have done in other well-known "cheap" places like Prague.

We headed to the airport around 1pm, and flew back into Luton around 5pm. We released our massive heavy bag from Luton Storage, and hung around with Debbie and Julie for an hour while they waited for their flight back to Glasgow. We then had to say our fond farewells to those two lovely lasses, promising to visit again soon.

Getting back to Twickenham thankfully proved a bit easier than I expected. for 5 quid each we took the easy bus to Hendon Central Tube station, then the underground to Waterloo, then the overground to Strawberry Hill. We were lugging 5 bags around, but we managed to get home in one piece. We did have a slight scare on the overground train though. We were standing on the crowded train, which got a bit less crowded after the first few station, enabling us to hear the lively conversation of a group sitting near us. Two of them were older punks, and obviously together. Then a weird young bloke standing near us starting getting a bit mad, and making not-so-quiet remarks about "queers" and "f***ing faggots". The punks, to their credit, just ignored him, but Greg and I found it a bit unnerving. But of course, the homophobe was just a coward, and eventually one of the punks gave him a good stare and he retreated to a back seat, still muttering. Idiot.

Eventually the punks got off, then we got off. Luckily the bloke was still on the train!

After Friday night at Norman and Tessa's, we headed into London for a busy day on Saturday. We first went to Trafalgar Square for some net time, and to my joy I realised interest had come through on my account, giving me some much needed cash for the day!

We cruised around the Square, past the National Gallery into Soho, into Leicester Square, then onto the Tube for Tower Hill. We walked around the Tower of London and used our Heritage Passes one last time to see the Tower Bridge exhibition.

I must say the Heritage passes worked really well for us. They cost us $150 each for a monthly pass, but we reckon we got $420 value EACH from them. A substantial saving - plus it helped us plan our journey, as we visited mainly Heritage Pass places. That's over 600 properties though, and we reckon we saw maybe 45 of them. So there's still a lot to go!

After Tower Bridge we headed to Oxford and Regent streets for some old school London shopping. Boy was it packed! thousands of people pushing their way around the Oxford Circus. Greg got quite tense! I was looking for Von Dutch stuff for my fashion-conscious brother, but balked at paying 45 pounds for a cap, the only item I could find. I bought him an FCUK shirt instead!

Saturday night we were lucky enough to see one of the Spontanaeity Shop's shows. The Shop is run by our good friends Deborah and Tom, who we stayed with in Camden. The show was hilarious - we got to see "Dreamdate" the show they're filming a TV pilot of in November. Now we know what it's all about!

We headed back out to Twickenham for a restful night!

Sunday we had to pack. Boy that was fun! Trying to squeeze everything in. I must say though I'm a brilliant packer and got it all to fit. Around 2pm, Jax and Ben came round, and we went out to lunch. It was really great to see them one last time, and I have some great video footage of the two of them which I will play for the girls!

They left around 5:30, and at 6:15 we got our cab to Heathrow. And after several hours of frantic perusal at Boots, the English chemist shop I love so much, we finally boarded the plane home. ;(

Many hours and repeats of Spiderman 2 later and we were back. A massive queue in Customs and Immigration saw us out around 8am.

And so we're back! Journey over, but the fall out beginning. How will Natalie edit 10 hours of videotape into a watchable DVD? How will we get the over 300 digital photos into some kind of album? How will Natalie eat with no job at home and no immediate prospects of employment? Hmmm. It's all adding up to an interesting couple of months!

Cheers all, and here's to the next trip!

Love Natalie.

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