Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Spontaneous, Hungarian-flavored excursion, by blogger of the month Talie Lewis

The King's Hotel lobby
Our group leaves the subway station

This past Friday, five classmates and I decided to book a 6-day Eastern European excursion for this week. Therefore, this post is actually being written in a hotel lobby in Budapest. We arrived this morning around 11 am after spending the night in Ben Gurion Airport and taking a 7:30 am flight to Hungary. Now you may be wondering how it is possible for us to take 6 days off of school. Well, it turns out we have a pseudo-five day break. Other than completing an anthropology take-home final, which we plan to write in an internet cafe tomorrow, we have no other academic obligations this week. This is a nice break that marks the end of our finals period, which, aside from out anthropology exam, came to an end yesterday following our epidemiology final. 

Now that I have hopefully clarified for any readers that we are not totally irresponsible, I will use this opportunity to tell you a bit about the connection between MSIH students and traveling. This shouldn't come as a surprise but many of my classmates love to travel. And it turns out there are a lot of really great package deals offered with Israel as a starting point. So when it comes to traveling, Israel is a pretty great place to be. Therefore, over the course of the year, people have gone to Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Romania, Spain, Hungary, some other exciting places, and of course, all over Israel.

While I have spent the previous breaks this year visiting family and friends around Israel, this break, I guess I caught the traveling bug. And after the first day of this change of pace, I must say, it's been great!    

At the airport this morning, we were greeted by a lovely man from the travel company through which we booked our trip. He gave us directions to board a bus with a whole group of Israeli tourists, and then we arrived out The King's Hotel, our home base until next Saturday night. The hotel is actually quite nice and we were pleasantly surprised. After dropping our bags off, we decided to take a self-guided walking tour through Budapest and hit some expected and unexpected sights along the way, including some a profoundly metaphoric monument, a lonely statue that just need some love, a body of water filled with pieces of modern art and a beer circus. Much of what we saw on the tour was quite intriguing and I think we all came out of it with an appreciation for the beauty of this vibrant, rich city.

Something else that seems notable is the Hungarian currency, which is the forint; 175 forints are equivalent to one dollar. So that means, when you buy a cup of coffee, it may cost 500 forints. That takes a little getting used to.

Well... tonight we discussed our plans for the rest of the week and they include what I am anticipating to be some exciting adventures. - blogger of the month, Talie Lewis