Monday, April 20, 2009

Budapest :: thermal baths, yurt living, music fests and hitchhiking!

3 fellow Couchsurfers who i spent afternoon with upon arriving in Budapest!
3 fellow Couchsurfers who greeted me upon arriving in Budapest at the train station & guided me back to our "Couch"...a 2 bedroom home a Hungarian man so kindly let us stay in FOR FREE! yay for !!!

I finally left Krakow and Poland for good this trip. All in all about 2 of my 4 months were spent in Poland, mostly because of having a good friend and girlfriend became home-base. Also, the Outrageous Bus Tour became an Outrageous Pain In The Ass for me, and all involved. The bus went through a series

of mechanics garages and was delayed 2 months past the initial May 1st launch. The big problem was that we never knew when it was going to be fixed-it was always next week...and then the next! After waiting patiently, and not so patiently for many weeks, I finally gave up and left on my own to Budapest. I wanted to experience

this is what Couchsurfing is all about!  someone has spare room...and woo laa...sleep at last!
this is what Couchsurfing is all about! someone has spare room...and woo laa...sleep at last!
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more of East Europe and I heard nothing but good things about this old city and country. Besides, I had hope still that the bus would get fixed and meet me there at its first destination of the tour (but i wasnt holding my breath anymore).

I had a very smooth transition into Budapest as I was greeted by 3 couchsurfers at the train station and led to my hosts home. I stayed with Gyorgy and fellow couchsurfers for 2 nights, but then moved to Dora's apartment, another friendly couchsurfer because there I had the place to myself. The first night at Dora's we walked to the Buda castle grounds to her favorite viewpoint of the city. There we had a drink and talked til about midnight. I loved her irish-english-hungarian accent that she got from spending time in Ireland! She had to work at 7am the next morning and I felt bad for keeping her up, but she insisted we hang out. Turns out almost everybody I met in Budapest is working 2 or 3 jobs or going to university as well as a job. The gals that helped me out at Vista Travel were jealous of my travels. They were too busy working there to take such time off to afford to go all over the globe. Not to mention that the average minimum wage is about 2 euros an hour (compared to 8.50 euros an hour in UK). I felt rich and lucky that I can take this time off work to reflect, relax, and enjoy life in a non-rushed manner. At the same time...I am realizing that I actually miss working! I miss having a sense of purpose and fulfillment that a good job brings. I am in fact jealous of some of these

GyÓrgy, my first Budapest Couchsurfing host for 2 nights.
GyÓrgy, my first Budapest Couchsurfing host for 2 nights.
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people that are so career oriented. Perhaps later these people will have big jobs and be able to travel in the future when i'm still wondering what work to do to save up for the next trip!

After Dora's I decided to try my 3rd and final couchsurfer for Budapest, David Klein. Actually, he lives 30 minutes outside of Budapest in a big village named Erd. I had to take up Davids offer to host me as he lives in a big Mongolian yurt (the type i want to buy). He not only has a big yurt on the property, but a small house with kitchen, bathroom, office, and 3 turtles, and a very small hobbit-house to my very own! And...I had a place to sling my hammock! This was heaven indeed, for as stated earlier...I was tired of being a tourist over & over in big cities with old buildings. It was time for a retreat! But first...a yurt party! The night I got there David threw a party for about 30 guests. A gal ended up getting too drunk and sleeping on my bed, so I being the nice fellow I am, did not kick her out but slept in my hammock until she left. I slept the 2nd part of my morning back in my room and was woken up by a guy that I had special ordered some 'palinka' from. You see...palinka is one of the Hungarian specialties...stronger than vodka, very potent! His grandfather in the neighborhood makes it (turns out everybodys grandpa makes it!), so I felt it was a good idea to buy some. I stayed about a week out here enjoying reading books, catching up on internet stuff, and having many long philosophical talks with David. David is quite the character. He is a semi-celebrity here in Hungary as he has climbed Mt. Everest three times and is attempting summit again...without supplementary oxygen (only 100 of the 3000 who have reached summit has done it this way, he would be the first Hungarian). David also has a keen interest in India and has travelled extensively there. I was pleased to meet another kindred spirit on my travels.

McDonalds in the Old World.  Are you really "Lovin It" ???
McDonalds in the Old World. Are you really "Lovin It" ???
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I only went out to see one music show, but it was a good one! Anthony B played

his fresh styles of reggae and dancehall at this club on a boat, A3, which i went to with Dora. "mo' fiya! yagga yagga yo!"

By far, the highlight of my stay in Budapest was soaking in 3 thermal bath spas! On my 2nd day I went alone to the huge outdoor pools at the big park (forget the names now). These were nice, but the 2nd ones I visited, Rudas baths, were incredible!

These were inside a 500 year old Turkish building, and previous to the Turks were

Dora, my 2nd Budapest Couchsurfing host.
Dora, my 2nd Budapest Couchsurfing host.
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modified by the Romans. Being inside these smaller pools was so timeless. looking up at the sun rays shining through portholes in the ceiling, going from bath to hot bath. I cant explain it anymore with words...look at this link i found of other peoples

pics of this amazing place:

The third bath i went to was Gellert spa. This place was more posh and modern, but still oh so relaxing!

Mongolian yurt on property i stayed over one week outside Budapest...i want one..or two!
Mongolian yurt on property i stayed over one week outside Budapest...i want one..or two!
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I noticed something different about Hungary. For one, the people are much different than those in Poland. There is more of a free spirit that i sensed here, less conservative, more alive! Maybe it's the influence of the nomadic spirit of this people's past, combined with a high population of Roma (gypsy) people, and a history of Turkish influences as well? It very interesting that the Magyar people came in massive migrations from Central Asia and took over the region of Hungary around the time of 895 A.D. The Magyar language (the official language of Hungary) is not related to the Slavic languages in East Europe I had been hearing (Polish, Slovakian, etc..). In fact it is unrelated to most European languages, as Wiki says "As one of the small number of modern European languages that do not belong to the Indo-European language family, Hungarian has always been of great interest to linguists." The people not only came from Asia, but the Turks lived here for many centuries and had a great influence on the language and culture.

The hobbit house on the left is where is stayed, and kitchen-office-bathroom on right.  Simple but effective housing!
The hobbit house on the left is where is stayed, and kitchen-office-bathroom on right. Simple but effective housing!
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I decided to get out of the city and go to the No Mans Land gathering, an outdoor 4 day music gathering. I borrowed a tent and pads from David and took a bus to the site. There Summer came down from Krakow to join me on some more travels. This festival was mostly a trance gathering, but also had a stage with live bands and chillout djs, and another stage with breaks and more live bands. The highlight for me was seeing Gaudi, one of my favorite producers. He had a microphone hooked up to a megaphone and did some unique vocal stuff while playing his original songs on cd. I also enjoyed seeing Vibrasphere and a few other original live p.a. performances. It was a fun festival, but not as jolly as I expected, so Summer and I decided to go to the allmighty Fusion Festival near Berlin. This was about 10 hours from Budapest and Summer was on an extremely low budget, so...we hitchhiked instead of paying $115 euros for a train or $85euros for a bus. At first I resisted the idea of hitchhiking from Budapest to Berlin. I wanted things to be easy. I wanted to make it there by Thursday to leave my big bag at Ians in Berlin and go to the site with him. I wanted to be there Thursday afternoon so I didnt miss any good music.

Inside the yurt, my host David, has decorated it quite nicely...fireplace, cabinet, altar, bed, beanbags...
Inside the yurt, my host David, has decorated it quite nicely...fireplace, cabinet, altar, bed, beanbags...
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But I surrendered to the unknown mystery and phenomenon we call hitchhiking!

Complete surrender and trust. Actually, hitchhiking teaches us alot of useful ways in life. To trust, let go of planning and live spontaneously, to be in the moment, to be self-sustainable, to live with a lighter eco-footprint, to enjoy nature and free things in life...etc. With this adventure we ended up getting 5 rides in cars, 1 in a diesel truck, and 1 small train ride to Munich. It took two and a half days full of ups and downs.

David, owner of yurt, famous Hungarian mt. Everest climber, and my host for week.
David, owner of yurt, famous Hungarian mt. Everest climber, and my host for week.
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The ups were getting quick rides the first day. One down was getting out early from a ride we had to central Germany because i thought my friend in Vienna had a ride to the festival for us...which he didnt and we were now

off course and slowed down an entire day. ( time i travel in Europe

I need a SIM card that is good for all countries to communicate better with people).

Another up was camping just outside of gas station properties in the forest. yes...

Friday night yurt party!
Friday night yurt party!
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this was fun! Who says traveling in Europe has to be expensive? With couchsurfing

and hitchhiking you can travel and stay in Europe for what it costs to cook

your own food, have a few drinks, and other normal costs. I figure I have

been only spending about $10 to $20 a day here. It is cheaper for me to stay

Rudas furdo, my favorite thermal bath in Budapest!
Rudas furdo, my favorite thermal bath in Budapest!
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here than back home in Canada, where I have to pay rent and live for about $35 day

including bills,rent, food, etc...

So, we made it to Fusion Festival, and although I had to haul all of my bags there, and I missed the Heavyweight Dub Champions feat. Dr. Israel (which i really wanted to see!)...all was well. We found Ian easy enough in the crowd of 30,000 people and together Summer, Ian, and I had a great time checking out the diverse music at about 10 different stages! This whole festival takes place in an old Russian communist airport, with 5 of the stages inside the old hangars! Quite a unique venue! The hangars are decorated with various themes, one was completely devoted to cabaret, circus themes, and performance art. Others hosted live bands, one which I saw new dub artist Noiseshaper play with full band, and Masala SoundSystem (from Poland) played an incredible live set! Other stages set outdoors reminded me of Shambhala, with the "Dubstation" stage on imported sand (sorry, no river here) devoted to chill-out djs and bands all 4 days, and another stage which is like the "Ewok Village" hidden in the forest with tree forts and hammocks. I saw ModeSelektor , mc Tenor Fly with a ragga jungle dj, and some wicked wicked dubstep in this polydome stage! People say that Fusion Fest is the Burning Man of Europe, but really it is unique itself. Burning Man has more of a wild free spirit that only the Wild West in America can bring. Fusion Fest does not have the art installations, wacky costumes, and extreme vibe that Burning Man is famous for. But nevertheless...I had a fantastic time and highly recommend this festival to any lover of music and alternative culture!

another pic of Rudas...islamic architecture thanks to the Turks who built this in mid-1500s!  mystical place!
another pic of Rudas...islamic architecture thanks to the Turks who built this in mid-1500s! mystical place!
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Oh and...we decided to hitchhike back to Berlin and got an easy ride right to Ian's doorstep!

After spending a few more days in Berlin, Summer and I parted ways again.

She took a job offer to sail the Mediterranean and help out on a big catamaran boat

for 4 months. I took off to Vienna to spend my last week in Europe in Austria.

I didnt do to much there so I will just briefly sum it up on this blog.

I arrived Saturday morning and was met by my friend Manu (whom i met in India).

He spontaneously offered me a dj gig with him that night in Salzburg for a multi-cultural event, "sommerszene07 - a festival featuring china and india". So, after

a few hours in Vienna, we were off on a 3 hour drive west to Salzburg and went

directly to the soundcheck and a late, late night of music and dance.

We ended up staying an extra day and night there so I got a chance to look around

this town with many big old white buildings, big white castle, and posh people.

Back in Vienna we went straight to the Dub Club weekly night at Flex club, a night

made famous from the Dub Club compilation cds of new dub-dancehall artists from

Vienna. It was so nice hearing these songs and more on the big soundsystem!

Maga Bo from Brazil was the headliner and he played a very original set of

global ragga-hiphop styles. The rest of my time in Vienna has just been about

getting ready for Nepal, spending lots of time on the internet, and walking around

the center of the city. Manu and I went to the spa yesterday to soak in the sauna (for a whopping 15euros we went into two steam rooms for an hour. i do this

for $2.40 back home, 15euros is about $23!). Tonight I will be recording a dj

set of originals, remixes and more for Manu's eCube radio show that will be aired

next week. And to Nepal for my first visit there!

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