Sunday, August 22, 2004

Beautiful Day

I'm back home now from my holidays. Budapest really is a fine city and I'd recommend it to anyone. There's easily enough things to see and do to keep one occupied - for at least a long weekend anyway. When you get there take a bus tour of the city from Andrassy Street. It's sort of the main boulevard that runs from near the Chain Bridge on the Danube, starting at St. Stephen's basilica, up to Heroes Square. The bus tour will give a good, quick overview of the city and will help plan any itinerary. I must also recommend a visit to the House of Terror, which is on Andrassy (website is in Magyar but will surely have an English version soon?...). It's a museum based on Hungary's history of totalitarian dictatorship starting with the rise of fascism in the early 1940's followed by the Soviet occupation and the Stalinist puppet regime that ruled until 1956. The building itself was the HQ for secret police / thugs during both eras. Those of us inclined to anti-Americanism in these times of instability, and whose anti-Americanism leads to a kind of sneaking regard for the old USSR, really have our eyes opened to the brutality of communist regimes in places like this. Is the USA the most benevolent "imperial" power the world has ever witnessed?

Athens, too, is a fine city. I'd heard it was a bit of a hellhole but because of the Olympics the place looked really well and the public transport - particularly the new Metro - was a dream. A dream we'll be having for Dublin for another decade, probably. We Irish just don't like dense housing!... I was only in Athens for 4 days so I missed the Track and Field. I never really got to soak up the Olympic atmosphere - partly due to the short stay and partly due to the indifference of my co-travellers to the whole thing. Still, what I saw I enjoyed. I must take the opportunity to recommend Wizz Air for travelling to Budapest. They are a new low cost airline that got us from Athens to Budapest on time in a spanking new plane with designated seats. They're only starting up but Central and Eastern Europe is a great, cheap place to visit and this crowd will make it even cheaper.

I'll get back to pontificating at a later time.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Beautiful Day

I feel pretty annoyed at myself for not trying to post more often. Sometimes I just couldn't be arsed. I always have something to say but I often struggle to put my swirl of thoughts down on paper... or computer screen. I just lack articulation or the decisive piece of information at crucial moments. Anyway I'm in Greece at the moment on holidays. Two days in Santorini followed by seven days on Ios. Today is my first day in Athens on Day 1 of the Athens 2004 Olympiad (23rd?). I'm here until Tuesday and then I'm heading to Budapest until Saturday. I'm back to work on Tuesday week. I'll be missing all of the Track and Field but I have tickets for Volleyball, Beach Volleyball (tee hee...), Water Polo and Handball i.e. bizarre team sports you would never see in Ireland. I'll report later.

Finally I've been reading Stasiland and Pretty Straight Guys - fantastic books that I really recommend. Pretty Straight Guys by Observer journalist Nick Cohen has fuelled my epiphany begun by Mumbo Jumbo and Status Anxiety. More on that later as well.

Back to my holiday with Dirty Dezz and Estoban Burnos
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