Posted by Rainer Brockerhoff (away):
A few more quick notes from Budapest. I finally hit upon the trick of selecting the US keyboard layout and not looking at the keys… works well for English, less so for e-mail in German and Portuguese.

Yesterday in the evening we walked about half an hour up to the castle hill – a walled-in part of the old Buda town. Several museums, churches and restaurants there, and a beautiful view of the Danube and the Pest side

In the morning we purchased day tickets for the Budapest public transport system and spent several hours on the Pest side. A guided tour of the Parliament was very impressive. Budapest is unique in that it has three Parliament buildings – after the architect’s competition in 1900 (or so) the second and third-placed architects were allowed to build their designs on the same square, one is a museum and the other a public building.

The Budapest subway is the second oldest in Europe and surprisingly well maintained and signed. On the other hand, it was disquieting for me – in all of my previous trips (a small, guided trip to Tunisia in 2001 excepted) I was able to understand at least some of the signs and of the language people spoke. But Hungarian is completely alien, and there are very few cognates. On the other hand, most people speak a little English (for the younger set) or German (for the older), so one can get by.

At one point I caught my camera strap on a bit of Velcro and dropped the camera with some force on the pavement. The battery flew out and I had the awful impression of other expensive innards strewn about, but after replacing everything it still works flawlessly. A corner is rather dented, but looking closely I may be able to undent it after removing the outer shell – after I get back, that is.

Tomorrow we’ll leave around noon and drive up towards Prague in the Czech Republic, with a stopover in Brno to visit a friend.

More later, as usual.