Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Budapest Brilliance

Budapest Day 2 was a jam-packed smorgasbord of culture and culinary delights. We chose each of our hotels based on certain requirements, namely location, free wifi, and free breakfast. That allowed us the opportunity to have a comforting meal every morning no matter what state we were in and also gave us a bit of a reverse curfew. We had to be up and about by a certain hour or risk our early day nourishment, something we would never ever do. We discovered that sometime later in the day our little breakfast nook actually turned into a Cuban-style café called Castro... Interesting environment for two American ladies. After breaking our fast, we ventured out to the streets of Budapest with more sightseeing on our minds. We saw St. Stephen's Basilica, the Hungarian State Opera House, and of course Buda Castle, amongst many other things. We took pictures with statues, frolicked by the river, and spent some time popping into the local shops. There are many chains that we began to discover just exist in every big metropolis worldwide nowadays. McDonald's, Starbucks, H&M, and even my past employer... Nespresso. I was fortunate enough to find a cute little dress that displayed a newly defined mantra (see below) and decided to wear on the daytime portion of my birthday a few days later on. 

Before going to our official afternoon destination, we made a stop at a famous café, known for it's decadence and delectables. Oddly enough, it is called the New York Café, apparently based on the grandeur of the Belle Epoque. It really is quite opulent, with many NYC stereotypical selections on the menu, but we chose a plate of Hungarian sweets accompanied by Hungarian coffee, full to the brim with espresso, wine, honey, and some spice. This proved to be a perfect fortification for our next stop... The House of Terror!!!

Not at all what it might sound like, the House of Terror is less a scary haunt full of ghasts and ghouls, more of a historic journey through the reigning domination of naziism and communism. You're not allowed to take pictures inside, though one of the more significant moments was wandering through the old prisons and torture chambers in the basement, some too short to stand in and some too narrow to sit in. Regardless of anything, it certainly reminded me how lucky I was to grow up in a notable democracy. After this dreary excursion, we treated ourself to an afternoon pick-me-up before our night's entertainment.

From the House of Terror to Hungarian Folk Dance! En route, we were once again fortunate enough to choose a random restaurant with profound results... Fine, maybe not profound but certainly sumptuous. I had a delicious piece of duck accompanied by perfectly cooked spinach and a baked apple on the side. I was in desperate need of some greens, and since the bottle of wine over dinner proceeded to extraordinary absurdity later on in the evening, I was quite glad I had eaten a nice round meal. The Hungarian dancers were fantastic, I'm sure the whole setup is rather touristy, but it was a whole lot of entertaining if nothing else. All I know is that those women have ridiculous energy and I firmly believe if there isn't already a Hungarian Folk Dance workout video, then there really should be. Get on that, mass media.

As we were walking through the foyer to exit, we became momentarily irritated because there was some sort of holdup in the doorway. We were getting a bit New Yorker on their ass for about 30 seconds before we realized that a miniature hurricane had apparently taken residence outside, the rain was literally pounding down on the pavement. Luckily, I had a small umbrella in my bag, but as Cousin and I tried to make our way down the street under one little canopy, the rain got progressively worse and we finally took sanctuary under the roof of an outdoor restaurant where two young men were also waiting for their ride. It was a matter of moments before they began flirting with the two blondes fate had brought their way, but only a few minutes more before we were abandoned for their arriving taxi. Once the rain settled just a bit more, we too fled the scene and finally found a cab to take us to our final setting for the evening. 

There are many old ruins in Budapest that have been converted to pubs, the most famous of which is called Szimpla Kert. Though it was raining and though they only accepted cash and though the ATM wasn't working and though we had to walk a million miles out of our way to find one and though by the time we got back Cousin had a massive blister festering on her foot, we finally... (Did I say finally?)... FINALLY made it into the pub, sitting down with a plum beer and a shot apiece. Once we had our bearings enough to get the lay of the land, we saw a truly impressive labyrinth spread out before us. All of these small rooms and chambers, some with open ceilings allowing the rain to cascade over our heads. We were quite delighted with the setup once we had our drinks and found some stools to perch upon in glory.  Pimped out in the bright colors and graffiti of modernity, the ancient feel of great history swept each new lair we walked through. This is of course where charming day out about town turns into relative night of debauchery, so I will keep it simple. As I generally attract native English speaking males from all countries other than the U.S., we were very soon approached by a British man who wanted to join us with his friend for a drink. Long story short, this gentleman was delightful, humorous, cute, and we hit it off right away. His friend, however, whom my poor Cousin had to put up with for way longer than humanly possible, slowly revealed his true colors as much more than the word douche bag could accurately describe. Needless to say, I was able to succinctly excuse ourselves from the clutches of said evil villain and become reunited with charming prince not long after. Never fear, Cousin was not abandoned to the wilderness of the ruins, for she too found a young knight to save the day. We drank and danced in Dionysian splendour until the early hours of the morn, and while no, I did not OFFICIALLY stay in my hotel that evening, I DID enjoy my Castro breakfast in time. Enough said...

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