Budapest is dreary under the leafless trees that line the boulevards on this February afternoon. The Hungarian masses, dressed in black, trudge along slate-colored sidewalks littered with cigarette butts.

Looking out over the streets from the Corinthia Hotel, itself a historical landmark that barely survived the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the city retains only hints of a relatively brief communist past.

The only streak of color is a yellow trolley running back and forth in front of the hotel, shuttling people between the two halves of the city— Buda and Pest — for free. Not that there isn't a charge for the service, but most people, as with the metro system, don't bother buying a ticket, since no one is checking.