Day 3 – Travel
Left Paris on no sleep, layover in Milan, then another in Rome (where I bought gelato—only to be hounded by the paparazzi because the guy ahead of me in line was an Italian celebrity), and finally got to Budapest in time for a warm goulash dinner and tea.
Day 4 – Budapest, Hungary
Diane and I were deciding whether to get mulled wine and then lunch, or the other way around, when we ran into Nathan, a friend from high school. It was a bizarre and pleasant surprise.
We walked around and went to the Fisherman’s Bastion (watchtowers along the Danube River, from the Middle Ages) for a stunning view of the Hungarian Parliament Building.
After checking out the northern part of the Castle hill and crossing the river, we heard loud noises coming from the Parliament and saw protestors walking away from it. Naturally, we walked toward it.
The Hungarian Socialist Party was protesting the predominantly conservative government over a myriad of issues. It was impressive how specific the chants and verbal barbs sounded. I didn’t understand what they were saying but whenever an official walked out of the Parliament, you could hear people trying to identify who it was and then start protesting (what I assumed were) specific issues relevant to whichever official was visible.
They had picket signs with “ELEG” or “enough,” a satirical banner of Putin’s face, and, most humorously, a prop that read “BITCH PLEASE” draped around the lion statue on the Parliament steps. Drums were banging, vuvuzelas were vuvuzeling. And when it started to look like this protest was going to turn into a riot, we left.
Day 5 – Budapest, Hungary
My time is Budapest, unlike my brief stay in Paris, had the ideal “Things I Want to Do” to “Time I Have to Do It” ratio. No rush or stress—just planned one or two things per day and winged the rest. A lot of wandering. I even got invited by a nice Hungarian lady to join her for lunch at a swanky looking cafe/restaurant. She had an agriculture business in New Jersey, of all places. I had a good time.
Diane and I went to a cool ruin pub called Szimpla Kert after our informative Jewish walking tour. Then, after dinner with some new friends, we all went back to Szimpla because it is that freaking cool, okay? (#1 Nightlife in Budapest on TripAdvisor, y’all.)
Day 6 – Budapest, Hungary
I loved Budapest so much that I decided to stay an extra day. Nathan cooked dinner for us at his British expat friend’s place. A mix of locals/expats/travelers from all over the globe gathered—Israel, U.K., Estonia, U.S., Germany. The night was filled with great company (among them, Yael, another friend from high school), delicious food, and 72% Taratea liquer.
During my extra day I also got to visit the famous thermal baths, which sit on hills with natural hot springs. There are many of these kinds of baths with beautiful Ottoman architecture scattered throughout the city, but I went to the Gellért Baths—recommended by the nice lady I had lunch with the day before. She said it’s her favorite one because it’s not as crowded with tourists as the other ones, so it’s a much better place to relax.
I think I’ll miss you most of all, Budapest.
Odds and Ends
- Freshly made kürtőskalács on a chilly day is the best thing your mouth can experience.
- The reason I started Day 4 around lunch time is because I spent the entire morning trying to figure out a way to ship €100+ worth of Ladurée macrons to my friends. As I mentioned in the Paris entry, this was the dumbest decision of my entire trip. Post offices and shipping companies were closed over the weekend, so I had to travel with and hold onto a bunch of macron boxes. I spent many hours and a stupid amount of money shipping it finally via Hungarian Post. The worst part though? I got back from my 17 day trip before the now-stale-and-broken macrons did.
The Polaroids above were taken of buildings whose colors reminded be of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Because of the unpredictable nature of expired Polaroid film, the soft pink and off white I was trying to capture looks more like a faded 70s orange and beige. One was taken in Buda and the other taken in Pest, for my ongoing series.