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18 July 2007 @ 09:10 pm
Happy Birthday to thelana!  
It's probably a day late where you are now-- thank goodness for email, since LJ decided to die before I could post this earlier!

I hope your birthday was as wonderful as you are, and that you took some time to celebrate yourself and your special day. You were one of the first and the friendliest people I met on LJ, and helped encourage me on my way as a beginning fic writer nearly two years ago.

May the coming year be at least as generous to you as you are to others, and offer you chocolate and all good things to sustain you body and soul. ♥
 
 
 
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on July 21st, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
Awwww, thankies.

Actually I spent my birthday in Budapest, Hungary. With the only downside being that we managed to book our vacation on THE THREE FREAKING HOTTEST DAYS OF THE YEAR. But on the plus side, we still managed to get most of our sightseeing done and our apartment was thankfully cool.

Budapest zoo => most gorgeous one in the world.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
Hungary-- wow! I really envy those of you in Europe-- drive for a few hours or a day, and you change your entire world!

Was this with your family, or with friends? And it sounds facinating. :D
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on July 22nd, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
I went with a friend. It was quite a nice birthday aside from the heat. But you know that I'm not a big birthday person :)

Hungary, very interest. Former communist state, though it is often said that they had at least some more independence than most. At first sight you don't actually see as much of it because on one hand Budapest is a tourist town and it still has a lot of influence from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy when it comes to architecture and such. Because of that, a lot of places felt a lot like home (especially Andrassy ut. and the opera house).

And it seems that they were better in protecting their city (or at least the parts usually accessed by tourists) from the really ugly Communist type architecture/housing projects. If the influence is still visible I think it's mostly that the wages must be really low. It's like they hire tons of people for every possible task. Like a small resaurant with four waiters and three musicians on the outside. A tiny supermarket with 3 ladies at the cash registry, one supervising them and one just returning the baskets you get at the beginning. Up to four people at about every second subway station checking tickets. People who lock and unlock your lockers at the public baths/swimming pools. The public zoo was basically swarming with people who wore the official zoo uniform t-shirts. Guards for all kinds of things from empty buildings to playgrounds.

I kept walking through it and thinking that in Austria nobody would ever be able to afford to hire people for these kind of things. Workforce is just too expensive.

But yeah, the city is extremely gorgeous and pretty. I was astounded at how much tourism there was from all over the world. Wherever you went you could hear British English, American English, German German, French, Italian, plus some Japanese.

Standouts to me was certainly the zoo (which feels tiny to even the Austrian zoo), but it's adorable. The Austrian zoo is a bit more focused on giving the animals a slightly more wildlife like environment and so they animals often have huge areas in their cages and as a result they are often far away and you don't see as much of them. Budapest zoo is much smaller and much more visitor oriented. For example they offer you the chance to buy animal food and feed the animals yourself (something strictly forbidden in the Austrian zoo for example). And the cages are often smaller (gorgeous butterfly house where you could basically touch them), and as a result the animals are closer. And a cool mixture of classic and modernized building. Lot's a funky statues and it felt very kid friendly to me.

The other standout was the Terror House, dedicated to the Holocaust in Hungary, the reign of the Arrow Cross goverment (the local version of the Nazis) and the Communist reign. It is obviously mostly targeted at the local population (information only in English and Hungarian and some of the witness video and audio material they have hasn't been translated or subtitled), but it's very impressive and you can see they take a lot of pride in it. For example we stopped there relatively late and they told us that the house would be open for one more hour, but that a proper tour would take two hours and so they wouldn't sell us any tickets. In a lot of ways it looks, in part, like a collection of the kind rememberance monuments (like the holocaust memorials you often find) collected in different rooms. Again, very strunning to walk through.