A Travellerspoint blog

July 2010

Hungary Owes me 14p!

Ten Forints look a lot like ten pence...

sunny 30 °C

I’ve been the UK long enough now that I don’t have to count my change. I get change back, and with a glance can usually tell if it is an appropriate amount. I know the size and value of the coins here, and can usually do some quick math in my head. “I should be getting back 4 pounds and 30p, and there are 4 pound coins, a 10 p and 20 p piece in my change, so I am good,” I will think (as an example).

Lately, though, I have been bamboozled with getting change back. I glance at the change, think it is the right amount, and only later discover that what I thought was a 10 pence piece is in fact something else entirely. Some mystery coin. This has happened to me twice over the past month. Expecting 10 pence, and getting something else.

As I am well travelled and a worldly sort, I was able to deduce that the coins origin was Hungary, as the coin was labelled with the word “Maygar,” which is Hungarian for Hungary. A quick internet search revealed that what I had instead of two 10 pence pieces totalling 20 Great British pence, was in fact two 10 Forint pieces, equalling approximately 6 pence.

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Ripped off! And because I don’t really know who gave me the change in the first place, I can’t go back to the store that passed off this less valuable coinage. There was only one solution.

So, I jetted off to Budapest to try and talk some sense into their central bank – to get them to (a) refund the 14 pence I am short and (b) change the size or shape or colour of their 10 Forint piece so it doesn’t look so much like 10 pence.

Hungarian Flag

Hungarian Flag

Sadly, the Central Bank of Hungary did not see the logic in my explanation, and refused a refund or a countrywide recall and redesign of their coinage.

In between high level meetings with the Central Bankers, I did manage to get some shots of Budapest for your viewing pleasure.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle


Alley in old Buda

Alley in old Buda


Britney Spear and Shield

Britney Spear and Shield


Atilla Street

Atilla Street


Buda Castle Hunting Fountain

Buda Castle Hunting Fountain


Buda Castle terrace

Buda Castle terrace


Danube River

Danube River


Danube River and Gresham Palace

Danube River and Gresham Palace


How Sharp is My Sword?

How Sharp is My Sword?


Hungarian Cafe

Hungarian Cafe


Hungarian Parliament Building through Archway

Hungarian Parliament Building through Archway


Matthias Church and Sun

Matthias Church and Sun


Matthias Church in old Buda

Matthias Church in old Buda


Mythical bird Turul

Mythical bird Turul


Water Nymph in Old Buda

Water Nymph in Old Buda


Yellow House in Old Buda

Yellow House in Old Buda


Trebant, (in)famous East German cars

Trebant, (in)famous East German cars


Stairs Up to the Old Town

Stairs Up to the Old Town


Church on Krisztina at night

Church on Krisztina at night

Pretty city, though somebody there still owes me 14 pence.

Posted by GregW 11:17 Archived in Hungary Tagged photography Comments (0)

A Move to a Royal Borough and Holland Park

My new place in West London

sunny 24 °C

It has been about a month since I moved into my new flat, and I’ve finally settled in. All the boxes are unpacked and necessities for the house have been purchased. Minor repairs have been undertaken, and all my mailing addresses have been changed to reflect my new digs.

The place is on a leafy, quiet street in West London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Neighbourhood boundaries are quite fuzzy around here, so I could say I live in Shepherd’s Bush or West Kensington, but I have settled on saying I live in Holland Park.

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Holland Park (the area) is named after Holland Park (the park), a 22 hectare green space smack-bang in the middle of the area, and a few blocks from my house. The northern part of the park is wild and forested, while the southern section is more open green space for sports and manicured gardens to walk through.

The park was named after Holland House, a Jacobean mansion that was partially destroyed during World War II. The remaining parts of the house now serve as the backdrop for an outdoor amphitheatre hosting opera performances, as well as providing a youth hostel.

Holland House, now a youth hostel and Opera backdrop

Holland House, now a youth hostel and Opera backdrop


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Outside the park is some of the most expensive real estate in all of London, though not on the street I live on. Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of the world’s largest steel firm ArcelorMittal, owns three houses worth a combined £500 million on Kensington Palace Gardens, the most expensive street in London, though technically that street is just outside the accepted boundaries of Holland Park. Living in the area defined as Holland Park are Paul McCartney, Simon Cowell , Brian May and Richard Branson. On Tuesdays, the pub down the street from me offers free curry, and I have to say I was surprised that none of those folks showed up last Tuesday for the free nosh. I would have thought Cowell was a curry fan.

Kensington Palace Gardens, the richest street in the UK and home to fourth richest man in the world, Lakshmi Mittal

Kensington Palace Gardens, the richest street in the UK and home to fourth richest man in the world, Lakshmi Mittal


Trades entrance, because you don't want them tracking their poverty through the front hall

Trades entrance, because you don't want them tracking their poverty through the front hall


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Kensington Pub, Russell Gardens.  Free Curry on Tuesdays!

Kensington Pub, Russell Gardens. Free Curry on Tuesdays!

The one thing I can be sure of in the new area is that I won’t be short of shopping opportunities. Just to the south of me is Kensington High Street, and to the north is Westfield Shopping centre, the largest urban mall in Europe. Westfield also plays hosts to cinema premiers, so there is a chance for some star gazing, though I haven’t seen any stars yet.

Kensington High Street

Kensington High Street


Statue on the church grounds at the corner of Kensington High Street and Kensington Church Street

Statue on the church grounds at the corner of Kensington High Street and Kensington Church Street


Interior of Westfield Shopping Centre - fancy swooping roof!

Interior of Westfield Shopping Centre - fancy swooping roof!


Westfield Shopping Centre

Westfield Shopping Centre


The shops and decor of "The Village," the fancy part of Westfield

The shops and decor of "The Village," the fancy part of Westfield

The new place is like a mash-up of my three previous homes here in London. It has the typical row-house architecture of my first place in Brent, though the flat is much nicer than the one I had up there. It’s well connected like King’s Cross was, with four tube stations serving the District, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Central lines all within a 10 minute walk. The new place is much quieter than King’s Cross though. I can sleep with my window open at nights, unperturbed by traffic noise or screaming drunks as I was in King’s Cross. That is a feature that the new place shares with my house on the Isle of Dogs in east London.

All in all, a move I am happy to have made, almost making the pain and stress of moving worth it. Though, hopefully, it’ll be a while before I have to go through that again.

A flower blooms over the garden wall along my street

A flower blooms over the garden wall along my street

Posted by GregW 07:28 Archived in England Tagged living_abroad Comments (3)

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