Today, in ‘European politics are inscrutable unless you’re there’, I discovered that while Hungary is a European Union member, they don’t use the Euro, but still on the Forint, with a variable exchange rate. There’s resistance to fully adopting the currency here.
I changed money to Euros in Newark since I had time to kill, but that left me in Budapest when I arrived without money that small vendors will accept. Doubly so the bus, who requires exact fare.
I ended up being waved onto the bus, however much a mistake that was, because it was so full. Disaffected drivers are a particular frustration on bus routes for me.
I ended up at the exchange point to get on the Metro (K-P P+R), but without a valid ticket to exchange. I ended up having to wander around to figure out how to get away from the Metro station; it turns out it’s attached to a shopping mall. I withdrew 15.000 Ft., considered trying to get some food at Tesco, and decided against it and went to the train.
Tickets are confusing … I misvalidated my first one, destroying it. After some I-don’t-speak-Hungarian-you-don’t-speak-English with the ticket attendant, she showed me how to validate a ticket and I finally got on the Metro.
Got off downtown, realized I was at the wrong Hilton; of course there are two. I’m at the less convenient but much more beautiful one one the hill across the Danube. At least taxis are affordable here.
I didn’t notice when I booked this hotel that it’s at the top of a small mountain. It’s not a long walk to the conference, but it’s a steep one.