A Hankering for Hungary

An old friend from home joins me on a jaunt to Budapest.

Well, it has been a while, hasn’t it?

A friend flew in from the states to join me on a one-week, three-country trek through Europe, starting with Budapest, Hungary. 

The two of us decided to split the cost of an AirBnB located a twenty minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the city-centre. While it was a bit of a hike to visit the sites, our place was nicely furnished (with air conditioning!) in a quieter area of the city.

20170711_181100

That said, something I’d never seen before:

20170711_171600
Imagine: a water heater, seemingly unsupported, hovering over the shower.

Given our arrival time, our first jaunt into the city was to find sustenance. We ended up at Kazimír Bisztró and enjoyed a lovely evening on the patio. My meal was gloriously delicious.

20170711_190559
Chicken breast, honey apple, camembert cheese, and mashed potatoes.

We ended the evening with drinks; my travel companion was inspired to try the Cocaine shot.

20170711_191320

From there, we meandered through the city, heading towards the Danube (a bucket list item for me.) On the way, we found several murals on the fire-walls of buildings.

20170711_201801
Fun fact: Ernő Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, was born in Budapest.

We also found a beautiful Holocaust memorial. While the area surrounding it has (most unfortunately) turned into a toilet for animals, I did manage to snap a picture without destroying my shoes or my sense of smell.

20170711_204733
From the sign: “Life and death take turns from the beginning of the time as an unstoppable whirlpool. The sculpture offers memory for this ongoing circle by the use of the closed geometric and the open organic forms.”
20170711_204818
From the sign: “The number spiral refers to the camp tattoos and to the loss of identity. We may associate this form to a fingerprint from a distance, which is our main identification.”

We reached the banks of the Danube and wandered alongside it for a bit, getting a feel for the city as the sun began to set.

20170711_203923

Then, knowing we had at least a 30 minute walk to our residence, we turned around and headed home for the evening.

Day 2

We decided to join in on a free walking tour of the city in order to get our bearings. Unfortunately, our tour guide was not one of the best (it was actually her first day…) and we ended up leaving the tour about an hour into it. Here are some things I found more interesting than our in-training tour-guide.

20170712_112143
This city believes in Sherlock Holmes…
20170713_170603
To the very depths of my core, I believe this.
20170712_141205
I mean, if you say so…

We ended up, briefly, on the Buda side of the Danube River after crossing the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, where we took the funicular to Buda Castle and explored (and shopped) a smidge.

20170712_124825
Budapest is split in two by the Danube. The western side is called Buda and is known to be hilly and semi-suburban, with winding, narrow streets. Pest is the urban center of the city, on the east side of the river.

Once back in Pest, we stopped for lunch at Trattoria Pomo D’Oro and had some fancy Italian. We slowly wended our way back by shopping a bit and stopping for gelato at Gelarto Rosa.

20170712_150201
The problem with Gelarto Rosa? The gelato looks so pretty, you don’t want to ruin it by licking it…

We finally stopped by the Pop Up Park and did a mini photoshoot of me being ridiculous on the wavy benches.

Later that evening, we braved the Budapest Underground to catch a ride up to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. I hate to be that person but I felt the baths to be overhyped and needlessly expensive. They were no different from any other outdoor public swimming pool, but without chlorine. I did briefly enjoy the sauna, but there were so many people there, it was tough to relax. Also, word of warning, if you’re body-shy, this might not be the place for you. Changing takes place in an open locker-room (no cubicles or stalls) and if you wear shorts over your bathing suit, you will get side-eyed all day long.

We decided to walk back from Heroes’ Square (Hősök Tere) and stopped at a local grocery to pick up fixings for dinner. We rounded out the evening by playing cards (I taught her how to play Gin Rummy) and watching The Internship in Hungarian (I’ve seen it enough times that I could roughly translate the film for her).

Day 3

We began our last day in Budapest with high hopes for a different free walking tour, this one dedicated to the Jewish aspects of the city. (Spoiler alert: this one went MUCH better.)

20170713_150932
Hello from Lion Fountain (Oroszlános kút) where all our hopes and dreams rest on a better experience than the one before.

The most recognizable stop on this tour was the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe and second largest in the world.

20170711_202210
Taken from Wiki: The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, with the decoration based chiefly on Islamic models from North Africa and medieval Spain.
20170713_161648
Taken from Wiki: The synagogue’s Viennese architect, Ludwig Förster, believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose “architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs”.

Fun fact: the Synagogue also houses a museum which is built over the remains of where Theodor Herzl’s was born. Theodor Herzl was one of the fathers of modern political Zionism. Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel. For more information, go fall into your own Wiki rabbit-hole. …I’ll wait.

Intriguingly, I had such fun on the tour and enjoyed interacting with the tour guide so much that I didn’t manage to grab many pictures, though I feel I learned loads.

One thing that I had been desperate to see prior to our tour was another one of the Holocaust memorials in the city, located right next to the Dohány Street Synagogue, which contains Imre Varga’s willow sculpture.

IMG-20170713-WA0000
Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs — at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis. The willow resembles a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims.

We finished the tour at Szimpla Kert, a vast ruins pub.

20170713_175212

On the way home, we stopped at Street Food Karavan Budapest and grabbed a Kürtöskalács (aka a Chimney Cake). This is a bready-cake dessert cooked on a spit; the smell was irresistible.

20170713_201047

Finally, in following with the theme of the day, we stopped for dinner at Ricsi’s World’s Jewish Street Food and had some deliciousness. I opted into the Memories of Marrakesh.

The next morning, we took the bus to the train station and hopped the Eurorail to Vienna.

But that’s a post for another time… Until then!

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now seeking a full-time something-or-other. Nice to meet you!

One thought on “A Hankering for Hungary”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s