Thursday, July 24, 2008

Final post on the Circus blog and Urban Pasadena is alive once more!

The Circus has left town!!!

This is the last blog on my One- Person Circus blog and it will be active again when I am on another extended travel.
A photo diary of living in Los Angeles will take place of this blog.

A contest of 3 cities! Bratislava, Budapest, Prague in a showdown.

Budapest, Bratislava and Prague are similar in many aspects the most obvious is that they were parts of the Soviet Union and this is what I think of them: (Vienna is not part of this contest because unlike these three cities Vienna stayed independent and wasn't terribly effected by the war and it had a wonderful time to flourish after the war)

Most beautiful- Budapest
Least beautiful- Bratislava

Cleanist- Prague
Dirtiest- Budapest

Best Subway- Prague
Worse Subway- Budapest

No subway- Bratislava
Best transportation-Budapest
Worse transportation- Bratislava

Most American like cities (in apperance)-Bratislava
Least American like cities (in apperance)-Prague

Most Capitalistic- Prague
Least Capitalistic- Budapest

Most Socialist like- Budapest
Least Socialist like- Bratislava

Most attractive Men- Budapest
Least attractive Men- Prague

Most attractive Women- Bratislava
Least attractive Women- Budapest

Best food- Budapest
Worse food- Bratislava

Happiest Residents- Prague
Saddest Residents- Budapest

Most prograssive- Prague
Least prograssive- Budapest

Most expenisve- Budapest
Least expensive- Bratislava

Most English speaking- Bratislava
Least English speaking - Budapest

Most drunks and Homeless- Budapest
Least drunks and Homeless- Prague

Best shopping- Prague
Worse shopping- Bratislava

Most bars- Bratislava
Least bars-Prague

Most Chinese population- Bratislava
Least Chinese population- Budapest

Best place to live- Prague
Worse place to live- Budapest

Best art scene- Budapest
Worse art scene- Bratislava

Friendliest People- Budapest
Least friendly people- Budapest

Best music- Budapest
Worse music- Prague

Most interesting the first day- Prague
Least interesting the first day- Bratislava

Most interesting after 3 days- Budapest
Least interesting after 3 days- Bratislava, Prague

Most designed-Prague
Least designed- Bratislava

Most money hungry- Budapest
Least money hungry- Bratislava

Most money making- Prague
Least money making- Budapest

Most Romantic- Budapest
Least Romantic- Prague
Best dressed- Prague
Worse dressed- Budapest

Budapest Day 46/ Los Angeles: A return...

pic left: Budapest airport
pic right: London airport

My last day and final time in Budapest for a while. I got up bright and early and enjoy my likely last breakfast at Medosz hotel and what was absence was the abundance of cake selections. I will miss them.

I did a bit shopping at the airport and spent 35 dollars on Budapest t shirt and said my goodbyes to this wonderful experience of a lifetime. I arrived in London and had a delicious lunch at Gordon Ramsey's Airport restaurant. The long flight took me back to Los Angeles and the weather was just perfect and the freeways lined the landscape and palm streets doted the cityscape. Finally, I am home, once again.

Vienna Day 8th- Budapest Day 45: Death and Goodbyes

pic left: view from the "middle"
pic right: little old lady twins at the train station

The hostel was alive with noise early in the morning so I decided to wake up early and see a few sites before leaving Vienna for Budapest. While eating breakfast at the Hostel's dining room I got to know my roommate of 1 night pretty well.

He is Phil from Australia and will be traveling in Europe for the next 6 weeks and is on his way to Budapest today. He only stopped in Vienna for one night and didn't see anything around town at all. He decide to tagged along and travel with me to Budapest but first we went to St. Stephen and climbed the center tower (only allowed in the middle 22 out of 45 stories) it was some workout but the pay off view was amazing. I wonder what it would like to be on the very top.

I than took a tour under the Cathedral in the catacombs. It's a 25 mins tour of the old and creepy, saw tons of sculls, coffins and dead bodies. Sculls and bones stacked up from the ground up to the ceiling, jars with body organs, ancient coffins with real dead bodies from the 12 century, even a well with bodies of people died from the Plague loved the experience too bad no photos were allowed. We got on the train and it was good traveling with someone and it was a breeze!

We arrived in Budapest and I helped him with finding a hostel, direction and Budapest advices and went seprate ways. I have returned to the Medosz hotel and it's like I have never left. It felt like home which is a little bit scary.. and I really want to come home to LA at this point. I saw Beata and exchanged goodbyes and some warm words.

I met up with my friend Sandor for a drink in a lounge and suddenly a pouring rain with horrifying winds blowing through the city followed by a half an hour of hail. Budapest is always surprising! After meeting with Sandor, I went to Attila's restaurant to say goodbye and a little snack. It was wonderful to have a least a little bit of time to say goodbye to some friends.

Vienna Day 7th- A buffet of art and food!

first- upper palace
second- lower palace
third- one interior
four- marble room

My only full day in Vienna and I the full ay planned since I was last here.

I want to eat more of the of those delicious gyros from little shops around town, more of crêpes, and more of everything! I want to see art, visit the Belvedere gardens and fill myself with Vienna until I am ready to puke!

First, Gyros and ice cream than I am off to Belvedere Gardens and unlike my last attempt I was lost and 50 miles away from Vienna. The Garden is a lot smaller and more urban than I have pictured. The beautiful sculptures adorn the gates of the garden and steps of both palaces. They are wonderful welcome art to the public. I started my tour on the upper palace museum and saw the many painting from 1800-the mid 1900's. I was blown away by the carefully selected collection and wonderful display of painting and art for each artist. It was one of my most enjoyable classical, neo- classical painting viewings; before I knew it 3 hours had passed.

I walked trough the gardens felt the sensibility of European gardening and how its different than Americans. I didn't lingered too long because I know the Lower Palace's Vienna Fantastic Realism exhibition which made me terribly excited!

The gallery space is smaller and only on one floor unlike the 3 levels of display spaces at the Upper palace. The art here is more modern from the 1940-1990's and fantastic!!! It took me 2 hours to finish looking at all of the art works.

It was chance encounter, I met a wonderful new friend Jim in Vienna from NYC, we had a long and fun conversation and it was the first meaningful in depth conversation since arriving in Europe. He used to live in vienna for 7 years and for some reason I knew this would happen on my last night in Vienna.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Czech Republic day 5/ Vienna Day 6: A Lucky day to be back In Vienna!

Wow, today is my lucky day! unlike a few days ago the omen was looking over me today is my lucky day. My alarm clock broke a few days back so I was a bit worried for not being to wake up in time for the train to Vienna . I got up half an hour before and once at the reception someone just happened to find my contact lens storage I lost the day before. I made my way to the train station, got some food item and went to a vendor and got a peach and realized the train arrives at 1023 not 1030 and it was 1022. I made it just one min before it took off.

Everything can possibly gone wrong went right! I even got on the nice Czech train not Hungarian too cheap for air conditioning train. It was actually cold and I had to put on a jacket. I slept like a baby but the train was delayed for about an hour due to unforeseen reasons.

It was a breeze getting to the hostel from the train station too. I began to worry a little because everything was so perfect. I checked into the hostel and rushed to the Leopold Museum but only had 40 mins to see the exhibition before closing. I hesitated for the short time and 15 euro entrance fee but the perfect day continued... the ticketing agent said it's free just don't tell anyone! I ran up stairs and saw as many art as possible but only managed to finished 3 floors out of 6.

A nice evening stroll near St. Stephens followed...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Czech Republic day 4- its much worse and better than I thought!!!!

photo left: st. charles bridge
photo right: a russian doll retail store

Today is my last day here and I wanted to see as much as possible even though I didn't get up in time for lunch. The room almost got a entire group of new people. Hostel culture is so very strange, it's like fast food friendship. I rushed myself to St. Charles Bridge on the right bank and walked over to the left bank there are even more tourist today because the weather is nice and even though it's Monday the bridge and the surrounding areas are packed with tourist, wall to wall just like Las Vegas.

Vendors and "artists" sell their crafts and goods and the bridge is nice with picturesque view of the river and the antique towers on both ends.

I finally got around to buy some souvenirs and it end up costing a lot because I am somehow still with the Slovakia exchange rate, I don't know how the total comes up to be 70 dollars for just a few things like t shirt and key chains This city is really gearing itself towards tourism and nothing else matters to them at this point. Many things and buildings look beautiful in the city center but once you are out of the city it's "eastern Europe" everywhere but they are doing a great job in getting the tourist dollars.

I met up with my new friends Michael and Hanza from the night before and we went for some drink and followed by a wonderful Czech dinner. I really enjoyed the food here too after all I am not as picky as most people thought. I liked everything so far.... yummy.

What happens if a go go dancers is a terrible dancer and can't dance at all (think of a 80 year old women with one leg dancing) the only thing he can do is to dance to even wore music, songs from Air Supply, Village people, Judy Garland.... I never knew people can dance to air supply songs... it's so strange. They are still stucked in 1979. After dinner I rushed back to the hostel and got ready for bed before my journey to Vienna again. I thought Vienna was fake but after visited Prague, Vienna is as real as South Central Los Angeles.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Czech Republic day 3- Did Disney buy Prague too, isnt Time Square enough

I managed to get out before noon today and one of my roommate checked out eariler than expeceted. He met a local girl and he will be staying with her for free, lucky Champ.

I decided to stay on the left bank today and not going to downtown- oldtown area. I have heard great things about a castle and palace near by so I took the street car there and I didnt know what I would expect to find.

What came in front of me is this wonderful brige leads to a me a medieval gate and tall tower very much like what you will find in story books. Once inside the gate is a beautiful medieval town with everything intact and orginal. the streets snake through the hill above. Its very different than the oldtown in Budapest or Bratislava. This is pure medieval and very gothic. The town doesnt seem to be affected by wars and is well kept. Tourist everywhere but it is so beautiful the pouring rain didnt affect much. My shoes are soked and the little umbralla didnt sheild me from the wind or the rain. the buildings are beautiful and much taller than ones in Budapests oldtown and totally differnt in style. I wonder why its in such perstine condition.

The city has great tourist singnage and all sites are marked at major intersections. I feel as if the people at Disneyland is also running this city. Every attraction has the same entrance price of 70 Czech Crowns, student is 50. I climbed the towngate tower and it was 159 steps before i reached the top with amazing city views.

I also went on a replica of the Eiffel tower built on a hill via a wonderful funicular ride. I went up to the observation deck and it was 296 steps up. The information stated the observation deck is about the same high as the orginal because the hills boosted its high.

Than it was the hall of mirrors.... who came up with this idea.... it was something from a amusement park. The space looked great and was fun but than when I started to feel the material of the interior and realized its all molded plastic. I felt tricked by this beautiful gotic interior and this is no different than Disneyland. It was a guilty pleasure because I hated that its fake but really enjoyed the experience. After it was the useless technology museum from the 1940s interesting.... and again every place is 50 crowns for this very faux student.

I came to think of Budapest and how different it feels here and there. I dont know if people in Budapest apperciate their city and great romantic architecure style and heritage.

If the city is not apperciated by people for its beauty is it still bautiful?

Czech Republic day 2- a good life

You know life is good when you are able to go out until 4am, sleep at 6am and get up at 2pm.
Its hard to get on a reasonable schedule when there are just so much to do and see. I took a long shower in the nice bathroom at the hostel and soon after it was already much later in the afternoon and no one was even around to see me naked in the room.

I decided to go back to the oldtown area and explore a bit more. The district is much larger than the one in Bratislava and its actually massive. the retail market is thriving and is one of the best shopping places I have been other than Taipei. Goods are much more reasonable then Budapest but still a bit more than the US especially imported goods from the States. It seems like I just have been walking from hours and hours from one side of the city to another

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Slovakia day 4 and Czech Republic day 1- lets see how lost I can get...

pic1: lost
pic 2: in Prague now and again

pic: first building in prague
pic3: oldtown gate tower

I got up early today and got ready for the ř hour train ride to Prague. The train ride was uneventful and it was a Hungarian liner and of course they are cheap so the air condtion is only turned on once every 20 mins and lordy, it was HOT, somewhere around 80 to 90 degrees inthe train. Its not like most of the buildings in Budapest this machine has air condition but thez just dont want to turn it on because it cost money.

Today is one of those dazs no matter what you do and the decisions you make will be wrong. I missed the train stop in Prague and wouldnt get off the train for one hour because thats how its planned. I spent 2 additional hours to get to Prauge and when I fianlly arrived it was another shocker.. maybe not as much as I did for Bratislava because I think am getting used to the idea of Eastern European cities.

The train station was rundown and the area around rundown and its much worse than south centeral LA. Empty fields, dirty, grafftied and post war soviet buildings. Its not grand like Budapest and I made my way to the hostel. Sir. Tobys and it was lovely and very much like a boarding school in the turn of the century. Wonderfully restored with antique doors, high ceilings, big windows and spotless tiled bath room in black and white tiles. They even have a movie room, internet, island kitchen and wonderful eating area. Although the receptionist is a bit coocoo.. I think the hostel is rubbing off on hom a bit too much he is ultra friendly and a bit Nazi like but he said he is just being motherly. lol

I went out to the town and the city is a bit better than Bratislava but still kinda bleak and graz. I was told to go to the oldtown area there where everyone goes, tourist or not. Its their oldtown and like Bratislava is the old city behind the old city wall and gates... but before I even see this I was got lost again and this time i lost 1hour by getting on the streetcar going the wrong direction.

Finally I arrived within the old city wall and its what you expected... a grand virsion of San Fraciscos Union square plus Rodeo Drive, plus Third street in Santa Monica. Its old and its beautifullz restored and its shopping heaven. I think this is why Amercians love the most a faux sense of the ancient culture. I feel the as Prague is two different countries seprated by the patcialy standing old city walls. This is the same with Bratislava but Bratislava does seem more American in apperance and Prague doesnt.

Its beautiful with larger squares and public gatering places and wider streets than Vienna. Its a gaint shopping mall like the Grove in Los Angeles. The streets are newly laid with tummbled marble tiles and the area is extensive. This is where tourist and locals come to hangout and shop and unlike Bratislavas oldtown its exculsive for tourists.

The rain started to fall and I tried to find shulter and my trip back to the hotel took about 45 mins and two night bus. I uploaded new photos for all of you and went to bed at five am.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slovakia day 3- redemption

oh Lordy.... I was out till 330am and today I didnt get up until 1pm I dont know how I slept though all the noise the Austrian boys made. They are so inconsiderate!!! I have seen most of the city and was not impressed because it's too much like America and felt the Solvakians have lost their sense of identity thorugh their massive westernization (minus the old town district).

I took one of the afternoon buses to castle Devin just 20 mins outside of the city and within 10 mins the urban presence is long gone. The trees, river, adorable houses, and the hills are beautiful and very different than Hungary. The Hungarian nature landscape is flatwith grassland but the Solvakian lanscape is dramtic and wonderful.

I arrived at the hill top castle and it was built in the 13 century but with much longer human history in the area and the castle had been attacted numerous time but only Neopolian
managed to destoryed it. the castle only reminds in parts and it's built into the hill and I am sure it was once amazing. The views of the surrounding valleys, rivers, and the mountains are simply breathtaking. Slovakia had redeem herself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Solvakia day 2- When You are on a Ham holiday, Steal!

pic: ceiling of the bath room in hostel
pic: a typical building in Bratislava

I finally got some badly needed sleep after being up for about 40 hours. of course it was a rude awakening in the morning... what else can I expect from this hostel.

One of my roommates (of 10 roommates) went to the bathroom in the morning and when he came back his bag was taken; gone!!!! He didn't take more than 5 mins and a thief had taken it. I stronly suspected it's an inside job one of us did it and I thinkI know who was responsible. I suspect it's the Algerian man; he was alone like me and told me he is on a Ham Holiday. It didn't resgister my mind when he told me he was on a Ham hoilday, I thought it's like an urban myth but people actually do that.

I went back to oldtown and ventured a bit more beccause it's safe and clean there. It's fun to see European cities before it's taken over by Starbucks. I did eventually go out the safe zone and saw the real city and can't believe how Americanized Bratislava is. Not only every fast food place is here, the invastment banks are also here, and many people speak English. This is very unlike Budapest, Hungary. Bratislava is like major u.s. cities before the major urban gentrfication since the late 1990. It's also a bit different than Budapest, people are less hungry for money, the restrooms are free so the street doesn't smell like piss and it's a bit cleaner than Budapest but a bit more seedy. People and stores here also don't try to over charge you because you are a tourist and it's kinda nice not be on the guard.

In the evening I went out to the same bar again and unlike last night with only 2 customers, today it was actually respectfully busy. I had a good converstaion with a Sovakian man and before I knew it it's 330am.

Day 44 Budapest - Day 1 Solvakia :wonderful highlights you can create your own experience by useing my keywords

pic: looking out at the hostel entrance: actual hostel is not as bad but not good!
pic: tourist and oldtown

I left Budapest in the morning and it was sad o say goodbye because it felt like leaving home. Bratislava is about the same distance as Vienna from Budapest and Bratislava is only 30 miles or less from Vienna so The city markets itself as the TwinCity of Vienna. I havent heard of it but it's always the evil twin that wants all the attention.

The arrival was a bit of a shock because the trainstaion and the surrounding is a bit rundown and I got on the street car and went to the hostel. Another huge shock, the hostel is really scary and run down but it's completely full. It's hidden behind a busy street and in the back of the courtyard; the buildings around are in various stages of deconstruction by nature. The room smells bad and the bathroom is moldy and has holes on the ceiling.

For the most part the city both modern and traditional unlike Budapest's city center. The building styles here are not as grand or ornate and much lower in high. I got a sense of how rich and the wealth Hungarians must have been at one point in history. The main street is a bit rundown and seem seedy. There are very little cars around and some streets are closed off to cars and only for street cars. At 5 pm there is no rush hour traffic just people walking, I wonder if North Korea is like this. I have necer been in Vietnam but this is what I have pictured it would be.

Old town is the center of the city is also the tourist center. Most buildings in this historic part of the city have been renovated and streets and alleys are florished with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, retail stores. It's a huge area with many hidden gems in every curved alley ways and public plazas. It was a total different experience from the outside and it's packed with tourist; I wonder if locals ever come. It's the size of maybe 10 Old Town Pasadena.

I also saw many locals are Asian and China seem to have a big presences here. Poster of the Sumemr Game everywhere and Chinese Restaurant on every 3-4 blocks. I ventured over to the Danube and in Bratislava it's just anotehr river and the romance does not exist. The riverbank is lined with modern mid rises and modern bridges and this could have been anywhere America.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 43- July 7th: It's time to go home: When .....

last pic: cave confession room in another corner cave

you start running into people you know on the street or/and when you know the city's mass transit system better than the locals!!!!

Today is my last day in Budapest before leaving for Bratislava, Prague and Vienna. I am excited and sad but I still have a few things I wanted to do before wrapping up my time here. Andreas and I went to an upscale outlet store (just one store) in the middle of nowhere and the prices are still very expensive and no small sizes so I didn't buy anything.

We than went to Gellert hills and it was more like a mountain..... high and a very hard to climb up. It was a lot of hard work but the pay off is just beautiful and the best views of the city is here even better than the palace. I really loved it and there is also an old military base the Russians and other militaries had used since the 1500's. The beautiful statue of liberty (of course its the Hungarian version) holding a giant feather is also on top.

We than visited the cave church because he haven't seen it and it was my second time but for me it was as much fun as the first time. We rushed back to the Pest side and went to the Central market and I got some food items to take home after I am finished with my travels. We rushed back to meet Beata for a short meeting before going to our goodbye dinner! It was delicious and the storm decented on us and once again I had to run back to the hotel....

My Hungarian friends also wanted to see me before I leave and once again we ran over to the meeting place and ran ran ran all night.. ..I hope there will be less running tomorrow and I am a bit scared of going to Bratislava.... the movie Hostel really scared me.

not sure if I will have time or the opportunity to write when traveling but will try...

Day 42- July 6th: It's Sunday again!

Today is another typical Sunday for me but it's also one of my last days in Budapest before I start my travels and depart the residency. It's emotional that everything is coming to an end and what happened yesterday was also tragic and still fresh in my mind.

I did all my laundry and cleaned up my living quarters. I packed and looked out the widows for a long time once again because I am not sure when will I be back in Budapest and it's hard to leave after being a full time resident of the city for over 42 days.

In the evening I went for a walk in the city and had dinner at one of my favorite sidewalk cafes. Things have returned to normal again and the evening air fresh once more.

Day 41- July 5th : A perfect gay day ruined!!!

Today is the Gay Pride Festival and Parade and I have disregard the warning of danger and came face to face with the detractors. Andreas and I went out to the streets around 10am and the riot polices are already in full gear and we were told there are 4,000 police on the streets today; mostly areas surrounding the short parade route. The barricades are all in places and each intersection has a police check point. The parade is still 6 hours away and the air is stiff...

At any given Saturday Ardassy Utca is always busy and packed with people and tourist but today the street empty and police cars lined the streets. In 2006 the Parade was at it's peak with 3000 people marched with it's festive colors. In 2007 the Hungarian nationalist Nazi's came and the the attendance dropped by 1000 and countless parade watchers also disappeared. This year I wonder what will happen and from the surrounding atmosphere, things are not good at all. All my friends are scared to go out today and they are certain a riot will happen. I just hope no one will be hurt today because 4 people had lost their lives last year. I did some work at the Internet cafe an came back to the room as the time passes on the more police swamp the area. 320 pm I can't wait any longer and took to the street what I saw was brutal, uncivilized and ugly.

The Hungarian Nazis mobilized in small groups took over the side walk from all directions and chanted “Kill the fags, kill the stupid diseased gays”, they voiced their hate with such clarity and mixed with songs of nationalism and old glory. They laugh, drunk, pissed on the street, they tried to break the barricades and shouted at the police. The parade is still half an hour away... This is like a horror movie or Armageddon... some lost tourist are confused, scared and locals are angry and this section of the city is in virtual locked down.

Public transportation is stopped 3 stations away, cars are blocked and people have difficulties going from one street to another. I was concerned but never scared even though I know they are also racist.. I watched and photographed; I listened and saw. I want to experience this because this is part of the experience even though it's unpleasant and hurtful. I know hate exist but I want to look them in the eyes. 10 mins before the the parade starts a group of 100-200 Nazis organized a march on the side streets where police weren't paying very much attention.

They shouted “Kill the fags, kill the stupid diseased gays” as they walked one short block and the near by Nazis clapped and were rejoiced. The group came towards me... and one man walk up to me.... He scream at me in Hungarian and said fuck China in English (I later found out he said go back to China). He pushed me and tried to grab my camera but I didn't let him, yet he pushed me even harder... just in the nick of time two by standers came over and made him stop and escorted me to the sidewalk. They said “ no problem” but just as they tried to comfort me 2 pipe bombs went off 30 feet away from me. The Nazis had thrown 2 pipe bombs at the police and their march dissipated.. the riot police started to chase them... I still wasn't afraid but am disgusted at the violence and I have seen enough. I am not going to put myself in danger because there are just too many people care about me.

I left the area and went for a spring bath. I had dinner at Attila's and told him what I had saw. It was also my last eating at his restaurant. I wonder when will the next time be? Later that evening I went to Sandor's apartment and had a nice visit. He told me only 300 people participated in the parade and they faced 1000's of Nazis and some were hurt. I am uncertain if there will be a parade next year because the violence and the record low attendance.

I think the parade marchers should throw fresh flowers at the Nazis when they throw spoiled eggs, acid bombs, fire bombs, and rocks at them. They should hold peace signs and dress in white, bring their children, their uncles, aunts and grandparents to show the world gays and lesbians have families just like the Nazis. It doesn't matter who you choose to love.

Day 40- July 4th: Soviet times and clam before the storm.

I had to catch up with some work in the morning and went to Sandor's apartment later in the afternoon.

We talked about gay pride and the festival from previous years. The news is not good on the street and they are expecting a large Nazi turnout this year. A few pipe bomb went off at a couple of gay establishments and violence are creeping around in and out of the shadows.

Sandor's apartment is unique to people of western cultures and gives a good glance of what it was like during soviet times. It's a 2 bedroom apartment with hospital like hallways (the ones in see in a bad horror movie) and centralized elevators. The kitchen is small and no room from a dining room table and according to him, this is the governments' effort to prevent family members to talk about politics while eating dinner together. Small kitchens and little eating spaces make the families eat in shifts and little chance for conversations.

There is also no living room or family room just 2 rooms for sleeping and it's a typical layout for a family of 3 or 4. People work and come home to sleep... like machines. The bath and toilets are separated in to 2 smaller rooms. This 17 story high-rise was built in the high of the soviet times in the 60's.

We than went to a movie at a art theater, the film is called" Come Back", American gay film with Hungarian subtitles. It was terrible and I was very embarrassed y the trash we make in the States just to try to make money from the gays. Low budget, bad scrip, bad acting, bad art direction, it was all around terrible. The theater was enjoyable with great art and assemblage all around; a wonderful space.

As I walked home the city workers are putting up faces on the main parade route. It's coming!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Special edition: I almost gave my clothes to a male Hustler; not really..

pic: Benjamin Page is not a Hustler

This is special edition of my blog that is dedicated to the hard working men and woman of Budapest.

I didn't come to Budapest to meet hustlers, nor was I interested in talking to them but for some strange reasons I find them fascinating!

If you have read my earlier blog you know that I had encountered a male hustler while walking on the bank of the Danube. He had some interesting conversations about his life and why he is doing this for work. (see day 13). I never saw him again.

This is the second time Andreas and I went to the the river for the spectacular sunset and the city light that will follow the dramatic sunset. We sat quietly for about 30 mins and young man come over to us and started a conversation. He is 20 and well dressed and nothing strange came to mind but as soon as he told us he is an escort things changed. His name is Steve and he is savvy, boyish and good looking hustler. He asked us for 100 euros each for sex and we refused and it was discounted for 2 of us together for 100 euros. We laughed and told him we just do not do this. He than tried to con us to buy him a beer and said no. We talked a bit more and he went away to look for other possible clients. At 20 he was slick and worldly and his innocence was long lost.

The next evening I had an unexpected trip to Deak Frenec area and just a 2 blocks from the Danube and I said why not. I went for another sunset at my favorite spot of the corso. I meditated and did some yoga and Steve appeared. This time he was more pleasant and less pushy, we had a long conversation about his life in the orphanage and how he got sucked into this business of hustling. He is not gay nor bisexual and just doing this for the money. He told me he had met a 17 year old girl walking her dog just a few mins before he saw me and they are going on a date tomorrow.

He than started to ask me about my life but I didn't feel like revealing myself very much. He than ask me if I would ever have sex with a girl and I told him no. He was shocked and didn't understand why I would say that... He than said what if someone has a gun on your head, would you than? I said maybe than I will think about it!

Our conversation covered many aspects of our lives and He compartmented on the quality of my clothes and ask me if he can have some. He wanted to us to go to the hotel and pick them up immediately. I said no because I needed them....but for a moment I did feel bad enough to want to help out. A few moments later he brought up hiring him for another discounted price of 50 USD my sympathy dissipated once again.

Like the night wind sweeping the river he got up arbropetly and disappeared into the night, I thought maybe he saw another possible client.

I watched the lights for another 30 mins and decided to go check out a club he had mentioned just 4 blocks away. Half way there he emerged from the darkness once more...

He said he saw a really beautiful woman so he ran over to talk to her and he had just walk her home. I was amazed how he he can maximized his time working as a male hustler and finding dates with women at the same.

I told him he can come with me to the club and I offered to buy him 2 drinks in exchanged for the time we spent together. We really had a good time together!

I didn't come to Budapest to write about hustlers and I have never encountered people like this in the States. Budapest forced people of all classes together, tourist or not; the hustlers exist quietly under the shadow of the Danube and the international tourist that came to the river for it's beautiful sunset. On the other hand American hustlers live parallel lives on the Internet and erotic services ads on the back pages of the weekly paper.

I hope Steve's date with the girl went well today and he will finally find happiness.

Day 39- July 3rd : Today was action packed, and again my poor feet! Strange o'rama

try telling me this is not scary

After some breakfast and a lot of laziness, Andreas and I finally got out of the room. It's strange how two of us end up hanging out together but with the others. I guess because we share a room and we are actually very similar; I see a lot of my younger self in him. I can understand him.

This residency is a bit different than the last, this group of artists are fairly independent from one another. Even though Andreas and I have two other suites- mates, Gregory and Howard we don't rally hang out together. Howard is a middle- age photographer with the hormones of a 19 year old college student, so he is always out and about trying to find beautiful Hungarian women to photograph. Gregory... It doesn't seem like he's even this the residency at all. We don't see him other than right before bedtime, he only likes to hang out with his formal student; a Hungarian high school exchange student in the US, now 18. I don't know if he even likes us. The girls are in their girlie world and we can't seem to penetrate. It's all ok because I enjoy hanging out with Andreas.

We went to the castle district, a wonderful collection of Museums and other culture institutions in the old palace castle and old town area on the Buda side. We spent 5 hours walking and sight seeing none stop and there were just so much to see and just the architecture and the views of the city were enough to blew me all the back to America. I love how the old city was laid out and the Palace is just amazing and it offers the best view of the city, naturally.

The highlight of the trip which is also the one of the highlights of my Budapest residency is the Labyrinth under the Buda's old town. I expected caves, mazes and a little spook but it was a out of this world experience. Bizarre is the only word to decribed it. A system of old tunnels used for military, storage, shelter and other purposes since the 1600's and now made into an art, Alien, ghostly, poetic and even per-historic experiences with strange and anything goes art (loosely) installation.

Sounds of a beating heart from a caged wells, red wine flows though fountains in almost complete darkness; half of a huge had sculpture in the middle of the large cave.... spooky army like stone sculpture guarding every corner. This is just too much fun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day38- July 2ed : When have a better understanding of Budapest's mass transit than locals, it's time to go home!!!

have to catch up....
lah lah blah

Day 37- July 1st :Modern Architecture in Budapest

come see the ugly

I skipped breakfast and had lunch with Balasz and his boyfriend today. We than took the train and went to Alex's apartment to hang out. The apartment is near one of the last stop of the Blue metro and is one of the city's “newer” suburbs. The building gave out clues of the areas age and I think it was mass developed in the 60's and early 70's. Most building are fairy utilitarian and not very attractive. It looks like the projects in the U.S. But the area does feel safe. Upon entering his apartment I notice how many gates he had to pass, exterior security gates, interior gates and finally the apartment door with 4 locks.

I fell in love with his rodent pet! I am not sure what they are but they are utterly adorable. They are so cute but they do bite strangers... I think of them as miniature puppies.

After the visit I met up with Andreas for a “scary adventure” we took the Metro and picked a couple of random stops and see what would be awaiting us at the other side of the exit. First it was ....... stop and we saw a collection of contemporary buildings just on the out- skirt of the city. The style of these building are very geometrical with very little design elements. They are pretty bad in terms of design and offered almost nothing to the architecture community and Hungarian culture. There are also buildings that are 5 blocks long with no signs of design and style and they would have continued the block for miles and no one would noticed or not noticed.

We went back on the train and went to the last stop and it was worse... modern buildings disappeared and ornate Gothic buildings feels like a few light years away... What what there was South Central Los Angeles low rises with fast food joints and unkept sidewalks, overgrown empty lots, and trash littered streets. We walked around briefly and went back to the Metro station.

It's strange how “newness” became the universal language for “better”. The real estate here never shows exterior photos of any beautiful ornate buildings of Budapest. The only time exterior photos are show if the building is new or newer and often times they are just another soul-less “contempoary” building that can be found anywhere in the world; simply just buy the plans in insert it in any empty lots.