Where's ma beanie???
We were flying out mid afternoon so could not plan any big excursions - we settled on one gallery and a climb (elevator) to the top of the Bell Tower to hopefully see Croatia. The gallery was excellent and once again appealed to my sense of the ludicrous. Some pieces like the balloon dog were brilliant and some (which I can't show you because I was not allowed to take photos and every time I tried some diligent gallery attendant would poke their nose around the corner) were dreadful. Most of the time the only question that came to mind was "who decides what art is?"
When we got to St Mark Square to climb the Bell Tower, there was some sort of military parade going on and most of the square was at a standstill. As it was all in Italian and as I am an ignorant Aussie, I had no idea what was going on but it was kinda cool anyway to see the oldies still marching in their colours.
Consequently we did not see Croatia before we departed Italy.
The flight to Budapest was uneventful and, like Rome, I had not booked any accommodation - I was leaving it up to the gods (hawkers) to show me the way.
We knew we definitely wanted free wireless internet and everything else was negotiable. We didn't really care if it was a 8 bed dorm in a hostel - in fact it would probably be a good option as we had been spending a kings ransom on our lodgings lately. I'd be happy as long as I had free wireless internet so I could spend some decent time reading, researching, booking hotels, catching up on emails and uploading photos - without paying a fortune.
We found the Information Centre and were so surprised to actually see real proper information brochures and maps and pamphlets on every conceivable topic. In our excitement we took one of each - about 100 in all - even if they were in Norwegian! What a shame we are only here for one day.
There was a distinct lack of hawkers at the airport waiting to do my bidding but the nice young fellow who booked the minibus immediately started phoning around hotels for me. I kept repeating my one request like a mantra - free wireless internet - and I rejected the cheap hotel with internet "next door" to get my FREE !!!! WIRELESS !!! INTERNET !!!
Finally he seemed to understand and the next hotel he rang did indeed have wireless in the room but the price was 110 euros per night. After I stopped rolling on the floor laughing I explained that I wanted to pay hostel rates - ie. 25-30 euros each. He then laughed at me and we reached a compromise - 70 euros for the night in a double room with private bathroom and INTERNET!
Did I mention it was raining in Budapest ....... and it's 9o C !!
Bit of a shock to the system so we had to unpack in the airport and dig out our woolies.
The minibus dropped us at this very swish, very fancy hotel, with gold paint in the lobby and big glass doors. At first I thought there was some sort of mistake but I strode up to the marble reception desk and booked in like I belonged. Our room was indeed worth every penny of the 110 euros they had originally asked - right down to the heated towel rails! Nice to enjoy the luxury for only 70 euros. The bubble burst however when we discovered that although there was wireless internet in the room - it was not actually free!
I half expected it really - I was actually not that surprised or angry.
I love it when people are techno illiterate and only half know how to operate a computer system. I purchased the first half hour of internet and then they left their server port open... so I hacked into the system and got myself some free wireless internet for the next few hours.
We had a brilliant dinner in a wonderful restaurant where the waiters didn't even attempt to speak English and animated gestures managed to order us a very nice authenic Hungarian meal. I took us about 20 minutes to figure out that leaving a 500HUF tip was only about $2 and the entire meal had only cost $15.