June 18-20, 2001
This town is half way between Vienna and Budapest with a historic part center. It's fairly quiet and has made a good stop to catch up on some journaling; however, more than a few hours here is overkill.
I mistakenly made reservations for two nights at the (boring) hotel here, but I'll get a good sleep for an early train out of here after the second night.
The old pharmacy ceiling is a work of art and the interiors of the churches are worth a peek. It's actually amazing. And it's still a pharmacy/chemists. I've got more time to reflect then sightsee. Especially since the cinema's only film is one I this past winter. The new films are probably hitting cable in the USA by now.
Across the river is a little run down as is most of Hungary, but repeatedly adds style to the place. And the food is decent and so cheap compared to London, I could put on a few pounds. I find being cold and bored make my appetite soar, so keeping busy and dressing warm hold that urge at bay.
At night, there are the hustlers out to prey on the foreigners. Here it's prostitution or drugs being hawked, but a streetwise eye will pick up on these tactics. No sex or drugs will ever be exchanged. I've read about this from further in the East. It works like this: drugs or whatever are offered at a low price and if that doesn't work, well, why not let me take you to get a free sample. Then a few things can happen to separate you from your money in a generally unlit place. Put your hands up to take a look at something to buy and there's sure to be someone in your pocket, but most likely, it gets theatrical. The mother/father/uncle/brother/sister comes around and finds this going on and yells at who ever brought you where you are, then turns to you, says this is illegal and demands payment (money and/or drugs/sex from you!) or they will call the police.
This happens often. I think I saw it in a Russian film once done just like it's done on these streets. It's also one of the travel warnings backpackers might share crossing the border to a new land.
New friends and getting in with the culture are one of the best aspects of travel, so I suggest don't having a high guard up, but don't be vulnerable. Even giving the appearance of being organized is probably a big help. I've never been taken in, but have seen enough and heard enough stories to know it happens regularly. Maybe I'll put together some safety tips for other travellers in the future.
So if you come here, be careful, but definitely look up if you're in the pharmacy.