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Published: April 9th 2018
Old house in the Jewish Quarter . Now used as a bar at night and this mixed food and produce market at night. They are mainly small artisan producers of cheeses, smallgoods or home cooked breads and meals
It was a busy day on public transport today; trams and buses zigzagging across Budapest for Natalia’s last day here.
The Ruin Bar, where we were meant to go last night but it was too busy, was abuzz with activity. It turns out it operates a very eclectic market of food, artisan produce, and home grown arts and clothes, before morphing into a very popular target at night. All the inviting colours and smells of the cheeses, salamis of all sizes, shapes and origins, combine with the ‘Free Bread’ stall to compile a visual sandwich that has your mouth drooling; and it’s calorie free. It turned out the bread was gluten free, not really free.
It’s a little intimidating at first as there’s so much random looking paraphernalia suspended from the ceiling, and various oddities wired, hooked or just stuck on the walls, that a safety helmet might be handy just in case. If it was all bundled together it would resemble a load I would dump at the tip; as it is, it’s art.
It was still early and the food stalls were hand blending masses of paprika into huge pots of simmering cabbage and meats, with
the stirrer dealing out the ‘add this, more of that’ type of directions. Spicy Hungarian and Serbian sausages spat and sizzled their presence at the crowd, but it was too early to submit to that temptation. A group of women called Hungarians For Migrants had a stall so I gave them a few coins, not realising at the time that my ‘generous’ donation of 1000 florints equates to a measly $3.30 or so. Makes me wonder how much I’ve been paying for stuff in this town. You need to understand the conversion, Steve !
This house, divided by a small entryway opening into a modest courtyard, had a plaque out the front with the simple but powerful message, ‘People once lived here.’ I’m not sure of the significance of this sign in the Jewish district but I’m sure it’s current use honours those occupants.
Natalia was keen to have morning tea at the Central Cafe so after the Market we gladly walked past the main shopping precinct, with some occasional pauses to window shop ( I’ll never understand that) , and were seated by the friendly staff . The Central Cafe was first opened in 1887, and is
The Market House
A plaque on the wall simply states, ‘People used to live here’.
still one of the premier cafes in Budapest. It’s Art Nouveau style and high ceilings honours Budapests strong cultural history, and while I think most of the original features have probably been replaced ( was LED lighting invented back then?), it still has a special feel to it. I’m sure you can have coffee and cake as good at many places, but not with the attention and service provided by the proud staff of this establishment.
A tram dropped us at the rear of Parliament House and you could immediately sense a heightened military and police presence in the area. Today the Hungarian people had a chance to elect a new government or stay with the known divisive but quite popular party in power. Maybe protesters were anticipated but we never witnessed anything. The voters voted, its more of the same, so life goes on. I’m out of here in 2 days and our country has enough to contend with so.....
If your wondering, the Budapest Parliament Building is the large white, castle-like building that you see on the Danube in most of the cruise ads. Behind parliament is the Liberty Square, a lovely green park flanked by
The Central Cafe
Old world charm and service
The Stock Exchange, a large Soviet monument thanking the Russians for liberating Hungary ( and then taking over), and the American Embassy, an imposing stately couple of classic buildings, all safely protected by a large metal wall. Pre-Trump but the same objective.
After watching police set up cameras in the park and a stage being erected for a victory celebration, we took ‘Tim’s Scenic Tour Of Backstreets That Don’t Serve Food’ looking for lunch. Eventually we settled on the Hommus Bar near our appartment , had a delicious, hommus packed falafel pita and went back for Natalia to prepare to return to Luxembourg.
We had no other plans for the day but at the last minute Tim suggested we visit the Gellért Hill where the Citadel and the Liberation Monument stand. The Citadel, built in 1854, once housed 60 cannons and was a sign of the Hasburgs oppression of the Hungarian people. The Austrians eventually left in 1897 and a section of the gateway was destroyed as a symbol of victory. The Liberation Monument towers 140 metres over Budapest, stands 14 metres high and is acknowledgment of the Russian liberation of Budapest in 1945. It depicts a woman
facing Moscow holding a palm leaf with 2 smaller statues at the base symbolising progress and the battle against evil.
These monuments are a major Budapest attraction, partly because of their historical relevance, but mainly because Gellért Hill provides the best night time view of Budapest bar none.The many tour buses and full car parks lay testament to its popularity and as night fell the crowd grew to about 200 . We caught a tram and bus to within walking distance of the peak but rather than joining the crowds leaving, we took the dark, unlit track that wound down the very steep decline to the Elizabeth Bridge. Tim and I were either side of Sue ensuring she was safe because, while the path was asphalt, it was difficult to see in the dark.
Once at the Bridge we caught a passing bus which dropped us at the end of our street for a short walk home.
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