Budapest, Hungary: We slept-in a bit this morning due to late night (difficult to get back to our hotel after the meet last night), so had a late start to our planned adventure o-the-morning. Dave worked-out and had a bite to eat while I blogged and showered... then we bought tickets for the Hop-on/Hop-off tourist bus (we are tourists), climbed aboard and exited the double-decker bus at the bottom of Buda Castle or Buda Palace, what ever name you choose. Hungarian royalty have been living on this spot since 1247, and though I can make no sense of any of it, there seem to be palaces constructed next to palaces all along the hillside overlooking the river.
Dave and I just started walking all around the palace grounds, stopping to photograph the views and the occasional statue or building. (PS: The west side of Budapest is called Buda; the east side of the river is Pest. Now you know.)
More walking ensued. Next we entered the courtyard behind the castle. How many people did it take to clean this joint? Can't even imagine.
We continued walking around the upper part of castle hill. There were more famed sites, such as Fisherman's Bastion, and then there was a nice little neighborhood. We came upon a post office. This was important as I had postcards to send and no stamps (and our hotel said they would mail the cards for us for 5 euros EACH. Hard no). The post office hours were listed as 8-5. It was 2p. Closed.
Time for lunch before heading over to the stadium. We ended up at a nice looking place, only because it had chicken paprikash on the menu and they had an open kitchen - so we KNEW they had a kitchen! Much better than our terrible choice of the other afternoon. The 21 Magyar Vendeglo Hungarian Kitchen was perfectly fine, and had a lot of empty tables at this late hour, so we chose to dine indoors in their icy air conditioning. From our table, we could see the chef dancing and singing along to the music playing over the sound system!
Dave ordered the Crispy Duck, which turned out to be a roasted breast, cooked medium and served over a bed of some sort of sweet paprika sauce, grilled chiles (not spicy) and the most amazing "dumplings" that were finger-shaped pasta gnocchi-type-things deep fried. Over-the-top yummy. My French aunt used to make this same marinated sliced cucumber salad with sour cream and I make it myself several times a year. So refreshing.
Time to head to the stadium, stopping for a glass of icy champagne before we headed to our seats. Not a huge night of competition this evening, but the night started with the men's 5000m heats. No Q couches for these guys. Two heats. You finish in the top 8, or you go home. No messing around. The usual cast of characters advanced. No surprises.
During the three women's 200m semis, YUUHOO hid behind the Q couch and scared the heck out of the girls waiting to learn their fate. It was pretty funny... because I wasn't sitting on that couch. Gabby Thomas and Sha'Carri Richardson never had to move to the Q room, but you know who did? Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast. That was a surprise, but in the end she did advance. The final is tomorrow. There was a little excitement in the men's 200m heats tonight. When the three heats were being introduced, the screen showed HEAT 2. Wait a minute? Did we miss HEAT 1? No, they were starting with HEAT 2. The crowd were buzzing. What was going on? The second heat was finished, and they introduced HEAT 3. Still no HEAT 1. This is when the word came out that while transporting the eight racers entered in HEAT 1, the golf-cart-type vehicle they were riding in had a minor crash with another golf-cart-type vehicle. No one was seriously injured, but a volunteer was EJECTED from the cart. The fastest man in the world, Noah Lyles, was on that golf cart! People in front of us were passing around their phones with the video of the crash. We later learned Jamaica's Andrew Hudson, who was in the cart with Lyles, needed a bit of glass removed from his eye. He finished 5th in the heat, but has been placed as a 9th runner in the final, due to the unusual circumstances. Three Americans in the final. Let's see if Noah Lyles really is the fastest man in the world... because he surely is the luckiest. The men's 200m final is also tomorrow.
Bryce Hoppel, the only American to make the 800m semi-final did advance, but there was some sofa time for him before learning his fate. Canadian Marco Arop advanced, along with Algerian Djamel Sedjati (his leg was prominently featured on this blog Tuesday).
Five finals tonight. Greek long jumper, Miltaidis Tentoglou redeemed his devasting loss at the last World Championships in Eugene, when he led the entire evening only to be outjumped by Jianan Wang of China on Wang's final attempt. This time, Tentoglou won on his final jump, ahead of two Jamaican jumpers, in 8.52 (nearly 28 feet!). It was the longest jump of his life, and what a night to fly.
No records were set or broken (nor were there any personal bests) in the women's hammer final, yet is was still a thrilling competition with three of the long-time world leaders/favorites battling it out for the gold. In the end, Canadian Camryn Rogers, beat the two American throwers, Janee' Kassanavoid and DeAnna Price. Dave wore his HammerTime tee shirt from the 2016 Olympic Trials to honor the ladies this evening.
Jamaican Danielle Williams won the gold medal in the 100m hurdles, followed by Puerto Rican Jasmin Camacho-Quinn and American Kenni Harrison with the Bronze. American Nia Ali finished 8th - her three children have been sitting with us for several days.
Lots of surprises in the men's 400m final. One of my favorites, South African Wade Van Niekerk finished seventh. He is ranked #1 in the world. Former Olympic and World Champion, Kirani James of Grenada stepped out of his lane somewhere around the track and was disqualified! The race was won in 44.22 by Antonio Watson of Jamacia, with Matthew Hudson-Smith of Great Britain earning the bronze with a personal best of 44.37.
The last event of the night was the women's 400m hurdle final. Crazy busy race, considering it only took the Dutch racer Femke Bol 51.70 seconds to get around the track and over the hurdles). Femke Bol is the world leader and has enjoyed a fantastic season (except when she took a face plant earlier in this competition). The silver medal went to America's Shamier Little in a season-best time of 52.80, and Rushell Clayton of Jamacia getting the bronze medal in 52.81 - and a personal best. Though she ran the fastest 400m hurdle race of her life (53.34) America's Anna Cockrell finished 5th. There isn't much more one can do than their best, is there?
Not only do we have an fun adventure planned for tomorrow, it is also the first day of the decathlon. Until my next update, I remain, your castle-conquering correspondent.
Pedometer: Only 9000 steps? After all that walking on Buda hill?