There is something that happens after a certain number of hours on an airplane. Giddiness sets in. Melody and I aren't exactly acting like the seasoned travelers who sit quietly in our seats and don't disturb anyone. At the moment we have been flying for ten hours or so, and we are giggling. Uncontrollably.
The seasoned traveler who is sitting next to Melody is not amused. I don't think he has smiled once throughout this entire flight. He does speak English, as we know, because he informed me gruffly that the button that turned on the overhead light was in the remote by my seat and not next to the light. Ok Ok. I have flown in lots of airplanes where the dang button is over my head. I am not completely stupid. Really. Except I spent the first half hour of this flight trying to operate said remote in the seat arm before I discovered that, oh, the remote unhooks and I could hold it in my lap. oh. Melody figured this out when she turned to Grumpy and saw the remote in his hand.
Then of course, I had a remote that didn't actually work, and after trying to hit the button repeatedly to the left to WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE, I used said remote to call the flight attendant. I had paid my 2 bucks to watch "Newsroom" on HBO, but the sweet attendant said, "Can't you watch something else? I am very busy right now."
Now we are approaching Amsterdam and my little seat monitor says we will be there in 1 hour and 04 minutes. It has said that for some time now, and Melody's flight tracker says we will arrive in 41 minutes. I guess she will get there before I do. There is something a bit disquieting about small computer glitches on a very big airplane that is 41K feet or so in the air, especially when NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE! Of course, acting like a seasoned traveler is a bit difficult when I have Melody grabbing my arm and looking terrified every time the plane does a dip or a drop. Somehow I never imagined she would be afraid to fly.
By the time we reached Amsterdam Melody was a bit more calm, but landing in the rain and fog on bumpy clouds didn't do a lot for her. Amsterdam is a very nice airport, and the map on the internet and in the Skye magazine made it seem a very simple place to get around. We had almost an hour and a half to find our gate, from G to D81. Once we started following the signs however, things were a bit less clear. Add to the interest with the secret that my daughter likes a smoke now and then.
She did well, not smoking for 24 hours and two a day is about her limit, But then when her limit is reached she is READY for a cigarette. We found signs but couldn't find the smoking area until a gentleman helped with the very nice comment, "down there in the black box". When Melody arrived at the black box, she quickly did a turn around and said, "nnyuh uh!" The Black Box was literally that, about 8 foot square filled with several very large Middle Eastern men with very big bellies all jammed in there and smoke so thick you couldn't see. She opened the door, took one look and backed away immediately. Great way to quit smoking!
Once again in the air on Dutch KML airlines, we flew the short distance from Amsterdam to Budapest, with most of the window view obscured by clouds until we were almost over the city. We had a lovely window seat this time and I could lean over Melody to peer out the window and the beautiful Danube River winding through the countryside below us. I think that is the moment that I first felt the excitement of the trip.
The landing was smooth, there was a gentle warm sun creating an early afternoon glow around the city, and the half hour drive from the airport to our downtown hotel was delightful. We are staying at the Maramar hotel, just a few blocks from the river and Parliament in one direction and a few blocks to city park and the Szechenyi baths in the other direction.
After settling into our room, adequate but interesting with a truly nice bath and thank goodness a balcony door that we can open, we decided to go for a walk. I knew we shouldn't sleep, even though we were both seriously rummy from 24 hours of traveling. We wandered toward Parliament and the River, confident that we wouldn't get too easily lost with as much time I have spent virtually walking this area on google earth.
At 5:30 we met downstairs in the Atrium to visit with our tour guide and to meet our fellow travelers. That is always an interesting time, with people coming from many different places and backgrounds, blending their personalities into some kind of cohesive group, or not. I guess we will find out as the days progress.
Lorena, our guide throughout the trip is charming, a young Argentine girl who emigrated to Germany and has led tours with Go Ahead for the last 13 years. After out get together, we all walked the few blocks to our dinner spot, the Red Pepper. We had a great meal of red beef paprikash, spicy and rich with Hungariam paprika, and spaetzle, started with some warm bread and a perfect light creamy chicken mushroom soup. The three ladies at our table opted for wine, something I read about in advance, and they were quite jealous of my large frosty glass of good beer as they sipped there 3 ounces of chardonnay.
Today we will begin to see the city in earnest, with a morning tour of both Parliament and the Castle Hill before we take off for an afternoon at the Szechenyi baths on our own. Both of us are feeling much better today after a good night's sleep on the somewhat hard, but surprisingly comfortable bed, down comforters and all. I am still working on my somewhat limited skills at putting photos where I want them with blogsy, but hopefully I'll get better at it as we go along. Erin suggested some alternative blogging platforms, but somehow I never managed to actually have the time to find them, download them, or learn them, so for the time being, Blogsy it is!