New World, Old World
My arrival in Budapest yesterday afternoon was largely uneventful*, and today's my first full day in the city. Already, however, I can see what the primary theme of the visit will be: transition.
Hungary is still in the midst of its transition from a beaten-down member of the Eastern Bloc nations into a fully-fledged part of the family of Europe. It's been a member of the European Union for a few years, but is not yet in the Euro zone. Advertisements for mobile phone systems are ubiquitous, but the communication infrastructure offers mixed quality, at best. Western mega-chains are present, but by no means ubiquitous -- I've seen numerous McDonald's, for example, but apparently Starbucks remains unknown. Individually, none of these are particularly deep observations, but they seem to link together for me.
Transition is an old theme here: Hungary was part of the Ottoman Empire at its peak, and many of the churches here still show signs of once having been mosques.
I'll be posting pictures to Flickr, under the tag "Budapest trip."
(* The flight in from SF was actually pretty uncomfortable, and I'm going to avoid flying KLM in the future, but not worth going on and on about.)