It probably will not come as a surprise to most, but there is no culture shock in London. If there is and I have overlooked it, it cannot compare to what some of my other friends are going through in countries like Africa and Asia. So as I made my way this past week from Budapest to Prague through Hungarian cities which I cannot pronounce, I had my first, “I’m seeing the world” moment. History has not been so kind to some parts of Eastern Europe, but during my 7-hour bus ride to Prague I appreciated looking at the influence of the former Soviet rule on the dimly lit cities we rode through. Since my bus ride was overnight, I looked at the people getting on at 3 am from Bratislava and other far away cities and wondered why on earth they were getting on here and now. But they probably thought the same of me, and so it goes.
When we first arrived in Budapest and somehow negotiated where we were going to a taxi driver, I was practically in tears to see how cheap everything was. Two dollars for a beer? In London, I can barely find one for six, and I was almost sure that this was a little piece of heaven on earth. But then we came to Prague and beers were fifty cents and I nearly kissed the ground of the grocery store. Although Prague and Budapest are not too far from one another, the differences between the two are like night and day—in Budapest you can find a smile only so often, whereas Prague had far more of an uplifting spirit to it. This was a great pace of change for my friends and I, especially considering a bomb scare at the hostel in Budapest that had us shivering in the cold, wearing next to nothing, from three to six in the morning. Fortunately, when you don’t plan your days you have the luxury of waking up at noon, and this surely helped.
Without going into too much detail of either city, it will suffice to say that I had a fantastic six-day vacation that, to me at least, was much needed. It is a strange feeling coming back to London after a week away, because in a sense it felt like I was coming back home, but nothing can replace that feeling of actually coming home, and I missed my real home then. For better or for worse, I have only three and a half months left in London, and I am surely making the most of it before I head to New York for a much busier summer than the life I live here. My next two countries to visit are Croatia and Switzerland, and I will provide a more in detail blog when I return in about a month from them.