Saturday, July 03, 2004

Eger, Hungary--Budapest, Hungary—Day 154

Today Sarah and I had breakfast and walked around Eger for a bit before getting a taxi back to the train station. The train ride to Budapest was fine (less interruptions than our night train!) and we made it back to the main train station and got a taxi to the hotel.

After checking in, we got on the Budapest Metro (their subway station) and headed straight to the zoo. We found the zoo (one of the oldest in the world!), bought our tickets and then realized that we have absolutely NO clue how to say “hippo” in Hungarian, let alone ANYTHING in Hungarian, come to think of it. We went to the information desk but they couldn’t help us, so we figured that we would get lunch before finding the hippos.

After having lunch at the zoo’s cafeteria, we went in search of the hippos. We decided that the “African Savanna” area would be a good place to start. We couldn’t find them there, but did find a hippo’s skull on display, so we were able to find out that “hippo” in Hungarian is “víziló.” So we went in search of the “víziló” and finally found a sign for them in the elephant house.

The elephant house was huge and seemed like a pretty fantastic place to live for a hippo, compared to some of the other zoos I’ve seen. We found the hippos (two of them) and I started taking pictures. The two hippos kept swimming back and forth, and back and forth, and so we watched them for quite a while. It seems to be the trend lately—watching hippos swim in circles while we wait. Over the next, oh, three hours we stood there and watched them swim and occasionally get up and out of the water. It was really funny, the first time that they finally got out of the water they both climbed out, walked to the door that connected their outside pen to their inside pen, and then walked back into the water. It all happened really fast (ok, as fast as hippos walk) but the exact moment that they got out I was changing my memory sticks on my camera, so I totally missed it. It was so funny—but also so frustrating because after watching them so long they FINALLY got out and I missed it because I was switching things on my camera. Of course.

But luckily they got out two other times while we watched and I was able to find a zookeeper who helped me with their names: Justina (the daughter) and Tūcjōk (the mother). Once it started to get late we headed out of the zoo and went back on the subway. We got off farther away from our hotel and walked back through the Pest side of Budapest (for all who don’t know, Budapest is divided into Buda on one side of the Danube River and Pest is on the other) towards our hotel. We then got dinner at a nice restaurant along the river, watched the sun go down, and headed back to the hotel.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.