Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The American Pests in Budapest

We're not really that much of pests, but puns are fun.

It's Day 3 in Budapest, and things are going great. Travelling here went through without any major hitches. The whole overnight flight thing was awesome, except for the losing a night of sleep thing. Jenny managed to sleep the entire flight because when you go from China to the US to Europe within 3 days you tend to get a little off.

First thing we did upon actually arriving in Budapest was find an ATM. The Forints to Dollars conversion is 250 to one. That means we're carrying around bills up to 10,000 forints, and a few of us even got 20,000 forint bills. That's quite a bit of money in one bill. Our math skills have been quite handy in converting money and splitting bills.

They have really long escalators to the Metro. Hi, Miriam!

Food here is cheap compared to the other places we will be going. Our first meal was pizza (it was legit pizza, not some chain place, so don't worry) and each pizza was the equivalent of $4.50. Our most expensive meal has been Fatal Restaurant, which had fatal portion sizes (as in big, not fatal to our wallets). Not all of us ate our money's worth there.
A lookout point by the church

On Monday we explored the Castle District, which is the area around the main castle, not an area with a lot of castles. After touring Matthias Church (because no trip to a European city is complete without going to an old church) we spent a few hours running around in underground tunnels. It was a lot more fun than it sounds.

Tuesday we started our actual history of math studies. Our first mission was finding where Paul Erdos was buried. This involved trekking from our hotel in an attempt to find the tram station, and we ended up going up a staircase to nowhere in the snow. Turns out just following the tram tracks doesn't necessarily lead to a station. We turned around and went back to our trusty Metro station at that point.

Absolutely terrifying
Once we finally arrived at the cemetery, some of us gave our presentations on Hungarian mathematicians (Erdos, Lovasz, Von Neumann, Halmos and Polya). It was still snowing at that point, so what were we to do but walk around in a cemetery looking for the graves of Erdos's parents, since his ashes were scattered on them?

The cemetery was quite extensive and we were not successful. It would have been cool to say we found it, but cemeteries are an interesting place to find out more about a country. Names that pop up over and over again are probably the popular ones in a country. We also found a portion of the cemetery dedicated to Polish soldiers who died in WWII.

We split up into different activities for the rest of the afternoon. Some went to the National Museum, which turned out to be all in Hungarian, some explored the area around the Parliament building, and others went to the mall. We met up for supper at a vegetarian Indian restaurant, then went to look over the Danube and at the buildings that are lit up at night. The general consensus is that Budapest is even more beautiful at night. The lights are breathtaking.

Today is our last day here, and tomorrow we get on a train bright and early to head to Geneva. It's been a spectacular start to our adventure. Lisa was the only person on the trip who had been to Hungary before, so we're amazed by everything here.

We're going to try to update this more often, but hopefully this is sufficient for all you parents who were just absolutely dying to know what we've been up to. No one has been lost and no one has been really late when we meet together, if that makes you feel better.

Ciao (because we don't know the Hungarian version of that),

Megan and Emily


  1. Just making sure that the comments are working!

  2. Dear Mega and Emily,

    I am glad that you had a good time in Budapest. As a mathematican myself, I would like to help you with finding Pál Erdős's grave if you come back to Hungary. He is resting with his parents in the Kozma Street Jewish Cemetery in parcel 17A at grave 6-29.