Friday, April 9, 2010

Eastern Europe

Budapest has been a unique experience compared to previous cities visited thus far. The recent influence of Nazi and Soviet occupation is obvious as I walk the streets of the city. The prices are extremely low and the buildings have an eery feeling as many of them expose their concrete foundations. With that said, there is remarkable beauty and a sense of subtle pride umongst the people.

The hostel I am staying at, Carpe Noctem, has shaped the experience ten fold. The atmosphere feels like home. Only accomidating 25 people at a time, the temporary residents are instant roommates that begin to bond on the spot. The group mentality cannot be avoided and undeniably welcoming. Suzie, the owner and resident who greeted me upon arrival, started this hostel after stepping away from corporate life, creating a safe haven for visitors from around the world.

My stay here has been brief but energizing. This afternoon I parted with the group for the first time and treated myself to an unbeatable hour long Thai massage. My thoughts drifted as she worked the oil into my skin, pushing out the aches and pains from carrying my heavy pack, sleeping in crappy beds, and enduring lengthy train rides. It was the perfect conclution to a chilled out day. Even though I will ultimately only be here for two full days, I extracted great vibes, indulged in enthralling conversation, and bonded with several new friends. Tomorrow I venture off to Krakow, Poland with a fellow traveller to experience Auschwitz. I'm glad I'm not doing this alone and with someone with a deep connection to his Jewish roots.

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