March 8, 2017

European Vacation 2014, Part 8

We took Ryanair from Brussels to Budapest. It was my first Ryanair experience, and it was great. If you set your expectations really really low and have good earplugs, it's no problem.

Why Budapest? It started the first time I saw Shop Around The Corner (1940) filmed entirely on a studio lot somewhere. The setting seemed romantic and the names of the characters were unusual to me, and it's a great movie. I asked mrguy to take me to Budapest, and he did. It was awesome, if brief.

Prior to our visit I had had all sorts of notions of what we'd be doing in Budapest, and where we'd be eating and we did almost none of that. Instead we ate at our hotel both nights (and it was super yummy) and did what we could do by bus. If I'm not mistaken, we'd done so much at this point that we were pretty pooped. I still regret not getting to the park where they gathered all of the Soviet statues. But if we'd done that we would have missed other things.

Our hotel is the orange one on the right in the background here:


What I didn't realize was that Castle Hill, in Buda, is a tourist destination. But during this time of year at night, all of the castles and monuments are lit up and you have them to yourself. Mrguy and I walked around a lot after dinner and looked at the parliament building across the river. Insanely big, that building.

Looking back at my photos I realize that one of the things that I loved about Budapest was that it was so immersive. The Hungarian language has no Latin roots to hang onto. The city is full of old buildings and there are commemorative plaques everywhere telling me important things that I can't read. I have many photos of plaques that I should translate. Just for fun, I'll pick one at random:

OK, well that's ten minutes of my life I'd like back. This plaque commemorates a "Hungarian royal home office clerk." But there were many cool things to see in the small slice of Budapest we saw. Does anyone know what the BSD daemon has to do with Hungarian cuisine? The B does not stand for Budapest!

We went here: 

and came out with smoked paprika. I know this is typical tourist fare, but it is now my go-to spice. Paprika does not need to be terrible, People!! Major revelation. Smoked paprika makes all food taste like bacon, and I do not have a problem with that.

We had a tasty falafel, bought curtains by the pound, and I almost had to save a woman from walking backwards into traffic while staring at my hair. I was prepared to grab her by the coat collar if I had to.

My all time favorite thing in Budapest was the Hungarian National Museum. The earlier parts of the museum were easier to follow (more English signage), but it was all interesting. Especially fascinating was a description of contemporaneous civilizations in Hungary (not sure of the period, but AD) separated by the Buda River. They were as different as could be. One was almost Iron Age in its development, and the other seemed centuries ahead. Yet if two people from those cultures stood on the banks of the river they could see each other with the naked eye. It blew me away.

Oh Budapest, I'm longing to see you again. Lord knows when that will happen again, and the government is being harsh to immigrants, so I'm conflicted.

Anyway, on to Vienna

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