Published: June 16th 2012June 14th 2012
Buda lies on the hill side of the Danube and Pest, the flat area, lies opposite. The st of the name is pronounced with the 'shh' sound. Goulash is a soup not a stew. I only saw Bobosh Torte once and did not taste it. There was an opportunity to shoot with a bow and arrow (as Hungarian warriors are depicted) on the hill during the Goose Festival. Many buildings have been carefully restored. Many more are in need of attention.
The seven day visit to Budapest needs to be summed up in one blog. The arrival day counts as day one only because the arrival was at such an ungodly hour ... 08:30 ... thankfully not too early for the man Sandor from the Blue Danube Hostel to pick me up in his green Peugeot.
After a circuitous route which made absolutely no sense and was extremely disorienting ( later figured out it was because of the one way street arrangement) we arrived at a building in a sort of rundown street. Across from the hostel was one of the first 'ruin bars'. Once this became a popular fad drink places popped up in all
kinds of dilapidated buildings and court yards ... although I did find out that they need a permit.
The room was colourful and had numerous beds ... its strange how quickly one's imagined concept can be dashed. And Sandor was Mr. Information Overload himself. My head was spinning after a quarter hour of listening to him as he marked up a map of Budapest to the point where a new one was needed so as to be able to read relevant place names.
Two dutch sisters were also staying in the hostel. I had booked two beds. One sister was sleeping in my second bed. The sisters were moved into the bigger room but the second bed was never restored so I actually did not have access to the second bed I paid for since the sheets had been slept in ...took me long enough to figure that one out and make an issue of it ... be thankful Sandor.
I had taken a shower on the train ... first class included that and I had paid the conductor 20euro into his pocket to keep the compartment to myself as if there was a full booking in
first class ... more like LONLEYVILLE. Did he get 20euro from someone else too? Or is it just mine face that signals “easy touch'?
Having had said shower I headed off to explore. The Metro was the first challenge. The escalator went so deep that added speed was needed. The speed was frightening...try as I might I could not bring myself to step on the escalator. A woman took my arm and helped me get on. Three subsequent times I needed help but eventually I did manage the deep ride on my own ...especially after watching a two year old get on with her father ... felt seriously foolish after witnessing that.
Went to the Opera House for the afternoon tour at 15:00. I also bought a ticket for Madame Butterfly. Met two women from Australia who had a list of great adventures to tell and we sat and had coffee beside the Opera House.
Walked the route back to the hostel that I proposed to take back on the night after the opera.
I had shopped for breakfast food before going out and on my return I cooked another one pot special menu ... a
Knorr package of some kind of stew, sausage, a collection of root veggies in small pieces with an overabundance of carrots, and started with some fried onions. OK too much detail.
Took part in A Free Walking Tour which begins at 10:30 in Vorosmarty Square by the lions. The guide recounted the history of Hungary very succinctly. There were so many people at the lion fountain that three groups were formed.
We walked about stopping at interesting sculptures, charming buildings and enthralling bridges. Crossing the Chain Bridge we continued to walk up to the Buda Castle District. There is a funicular which costs money and climbing up the steps and graded paths took us to the top in about ten minutes.
There is no real castle but the president has found residence up here and Hilton, even before 1989, bought up real estate to create a hotel. During the walk we went past St Stephan Church; he being the founder of Hungary and canonized somewhere in the middle ages. St. Mathias on the hill has special world famous tiles covering the roof and steeple. When the tour was done the leader took those who
wanted to eat well and inexpensively to the university canteen. My university should take a lesson from the tasty and plentiful plate received for 1200HUF = $3.50. When serving the lasagna the woman needed two hands to transfer a portion to the plate.
After eating with two young Belgians who had a great list of travel accomplishments (I need another lifetime) I continued down the street and heard my name just in front of a most lovely building ... the Budapest Archives were closed to the public but I took a few shots from the turnstile... It was the the dutch sisters who were also on the hill with the HoponHopoff bus tour.
And as luck would have it I needed a toilet BADLY. Deeked into a restaurant for a coffee .... tanksbetogot! After an espresso and much relief, continued on my way. By the time I was on my down from the hill the need arose or came down ... whichever way you look at it ...again. This time the girl in the Palinka shop told me that there was a toilet in Mammut ... the Mall. I made it to the streetcar terminal and found a
pay toilet that was reasonably clean . Tanksbetogot! Palinka is an especially potent Hungarian alcohol. The bottles for sale were either too small or too big so Barabella did not buy any!
Bought a sprig of lavender from an old lady ... is it always the old ladies that come in to the city from their garden to make little extra money. Wanted to return on the number 6 tram but there had been an accident on the bridge so a bus was put into service. The yellow trams were lined up all the way to the terminal. There was one other transport nation breakdown and that was when I came back from Herend.
Herend is a town one hundred and thirty kilometers away from Budapesht where beautiful porcelain is produced. The first pieces were produced in 1826 and a history of mergers and sell offs and reuniting of family tell a rich story that accompanies the delicate roses, open cut bowls, plates and woven dishes that made this company famous.
Of course there are bus tours arriving regularly and actually most had reservations. I signed up to make a porcelain rose but did
not sign up to paint flowers on paper.
The tour did not include entry into the actual factory but it included a short film, demonstration stations, a museum with a longer much more interesting film and the ever present “shop”. In the museum was a vase that was made to commemorate the start of something big ... am thinking here, trying to remember. It stands 217cm high. The longer film showed how it was designed and put together using four different molds. The master worker thought it impossible and there was much rejoicing when it became a fait accompli! On the grounds of Herend there is also a training centre for future porcelain workers. In days past there were 800 students. Today the number is tiny ...around fifty, if that many.
Lots of potatoes grow in the fields. Tried get back to Budapest faster so stepped on to the first bus that came along ... with encouragement from a Japanese couple. The bus driver kept repeating the town V and I did know that it was on the way to Budapest. Any way it was a local bus I had boarded and i saw A bit more of
More Bread ?
Bread was served with every meal but this was the thickest yet.
the country side. V was the terminal and then with the help of the bus driver I found the bus to Budapesht ... but had missed it by 5 min. Actually , truth be told, the Japanese had no clue as to where to go. I waited for my bus and it came early and I safely without further hassle or misinformation reached Budapesht, only to be thwarted by the Metro. No access at the end station. Waited over a half hour and then pushed on with the best of them. The bus only went as far as the next Metro stop. Everybody out and into the underground. At my stop, Astoria, an old lady again was selling cherries. The bills have been confusing me since my arrival ... with all those zeroes a 10,000 looks similar to a 1,000. Any way to pay for the cherries I sort of had all my money in my hand. I paid the woman and put my money back into my “thief proof”pouch, even closed all the zips. At the top of the stairs I felt the slither of a pickpocket's hand. I yelled at him. He got nothing. A couple asked if
The Free Walk Leader
The brass policeman with his rotund belly exemplified the delicious food to be had in Budapest
all was OK. I went on my way ... pieces of S*%#t That was the excitement for the Herend Day ... could afford to buy absolutely nothing at the 'shop'. Ate in a small walk-in bar down the street from the Hhe rend Building. I also waited there for the bus to return to Budapest. I have written masses of detail on the backs of my expensive maps ... am now forced to keep these pages.
June 2 – Gelert Spa and Goose Liver Festival
Went to the famous Gelert Hotel to have breakfast and then to check out the spa facilities. The building is impressive but the food and service do not compare to the New York. I had been there to treat myself to a view of the building and to eat a scrumptious breakfast. The New York did not disappoint, At the Gelert on the other hand I would suggest a espresso is probably enough to give you a feel of the hotel part of the building. There are some interesting old pictures on the walls as you go to the WC and the stain glass window on the way upstairs to the restaurant is
amazing. I had not planned on going into the steam room but once in the part of the hotel that contained the baths, swimming pool and steam rooms, but once in this section of Gelert, I could not resist so I signed up for a massage and a pedicure.
The massage felt good but this woman's hands did not compare to Number 17 in Istanbul. The pedicure was an experience not soon to be forgotten. The woman's tools were arranged like a surgeons instruments. She shaved the callous off with an extremely sharp blade. When she cut the nails It sounded like the nails of a big pawed dog being clipped. Because the woman took care to cut away all the hard skin I considered this a most successful pedicure. When I looked closely I saw that she had cut away all the white parts of the nail. The cut was not as deep as a previous experience in Canada. The whites are already showing again only one week later.
Having spent considerable time at the Gelert it was time to walk along the Danube towards the Funicular and the Goose Liver Festival .... YES .... goose liver
that illusive product never seen inside my Christmas Goose.
Admittance was necessarily paid. A range of kiosks offered free tastes of mustard, wine, cheese but no goose liver, that had to be bought. There were masses of people ... young, old, locals and tourists. A group was singing Hungarian Folk Songs on the stage beside an absolutely amazing fountain. Watching the variety of people, clothes they wore and shoes they walked in was intriguing. The portion of goose liver that I bought was delicious. I also bought a few tiny ceramics so as not to acquire bigger pieces.
The view from the top of the hill was spectacular and as the sun set I took a few more shots of the Danube and headed backto the hostel.
The Ethnology Museum is contained in a glorious edifice set behind the fabulous Parliament Buildings which sits on the banks of the Danube. I used the tram to get there and it stopped immediatly in front of this fabulous display of Austro-Hungarian? Architecture. No info was available about the building. Inside could be found embroidered sheep coats, stitched shirts and blouses some elaborately covered in brilliantl threads
outlining intricate designs and flowers. Furniture, pottery, religious relics, old photographs of village rituals and a list and example of all that was required and contained in a brides wedding trunk. I walked thru the museum with a woman i had met at the entrance. We enjoyed the newly aquired collection of woven rugs and the special display that draws attention to the plight of Amazonia and the people living there. It is a big museum and there were very few people in attendance the day I visited.
Wandered through the streets and finally came out at the City Market just in time to witness all the sellers closing their stalls and cleaning up the days debris. The building is most impressive from outside. Inside it is basically a food market. Of course there are souvenir stalls. Found a restaurant and had goulash soup served in a pot hanging over a flame. The bread was good and plentiful and the beer washed it all down in a most pleasing way. Walked back thruVaci Utca which is a no drive zone lined with every kind of shop imaginable from tacky souvenirs to high end designer trends. When I realized how
geared it was to the strolling tourist I did not bother to looking for the 1000 Teas Shop.
It was the last day in Budapest. The train was leaving for Innsbruck on the 4th
of June at another ungodly hour ... 06:05. I walked the two metro stops tothe station and actually passed a bar that was still full of men sitting outside drinking beer.
Aufwiedersehn Budapest - GruessGot Innsbruck
There are more photos below