The first day sets the tone for a whole vacation, so there’s probably no point being sleep-deprieved in this situation. With this in mind, my family slept until…maybe 9 or 10-ish. The plan for the day was amended. When had fewer things to see, but in the morning I was planning which ones we should cut out and if we could put them in at the end of the vacation. Some of the cuts for today were the Parliament building/ Shoes memorial and Kerepesi Cemetery, both excellent photo opportunities which will be added in when my family returns in two weeks. Also we passed on the Central Market, which is on my parents’ must-see list. It is open until 3 on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays, but we will fit it in for sure later. St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is only open until 1 on Saturdays is postponed, too. We could have seen those but the visits would have been very rushed. With those two out of the way, our day was much freer and we could move through the city in a much more efficient way.
We started with the ¼ mile walk to the Corvin-Negyed metro stop where I purchased a 24-hour group pass. This pass has two benefits. 1) It is a single pass. That reduces the chance of someone losing a ticket, and when tickets need to be presented to inspectors, there is only one. 2) It is an enormous bargain. For the price of 11 rides, this pass allows 24 hours of access on all metros, suburban trains, trams, buses, cogwheel railways, and local trains for up to 5 people. To prove how valuable this way, I will tell you that we each used public transportation 9 times today. A total of 45 rides for the cost of 11, and the pass is still valid until we leave town tomorrow. From the metro stop, we went one stop to Kalvin Ter to visit a coffee shop for drinks and breakfast. In my online research, this place seems affordable, has a good vibe, and has good food. It didn’t let down…the best cappuccino I have had since coming to Europe. We then wandered…toward Vaci ut, which was just a few blocks away. My dad shares the hobby of photography (and HDR processing) with me, so I love walking around with him. It’s like being on a photo tour (with someone who has a much better camera than me and is more educated about photography). I love it.
As I write this, we are on a train. My dad and I are sitting at a table by ourselves, several feet away from the others. We are both photo processing on our respective computers. I am also listening to Tori Amos and her song is occasionally interrupted by one of us asking the other a Photoshop or Lightroom question. Full Disclosure: I am typing this a day late!
We walked on Vaci, peeking into Szent Mihaly Church and then turning toward the water. Quickly we were on the waterside across from the Citadella and close to the Erzebet Bridge. The #2 tram, which goes along the water, happened to come by so we jumped on for a minute and arrived at Vorosmarty Ter. This is the site of the big Christmas Market (which I was disappointed with) but it so happened that there is a Spring Market going on now. I enjoyed looking through the stalls, taking some photos, and then we jumped on the Milennium #1 Metro all the way down to Heroe’s Square. As we surfaced, there was an enormous group behind us, a procession of the cross, which shortly passed us by and reconvened in the square for a pre-Easter (?) service. That group didn’t interfere with us, and we were able to look around, ponder, and enjoy the weather. Oh, we saw our friends Jesse and Scarlett (Kosice trip) on the metro. They are in town for the day before flying out for their own Spring Break excursion tomorrow morning.
It really was sort of a photo tour today. We got back in the metro and retraced our path a bit to the Opera stop, emerging in front of the National Opera House. Next to Castle Hill. This involves taking the metro another couple stops, transferring, then exiting at the base of Castle Hill. I wrote down directions for how to locate the bus (free public trans) that would save us from a 20-30 minute uphill walk. We emerged in a low-traffic quaint little historic neighborhood. We were going to eat dessert at Ruszwurm, but it is such a small building there was not enough room for a larger party to sit and it was kind of breezy and chilly outside. It was cool to walk in, considering that this shop has been in existence of a couple hundred years, and a dessert store (actually gingerbread) was at this exact site over 500 years ago.
For the next hour-plus, we hung out at the Fishermens’ Bastion and Matthias Church enjoying the view and the photography process. Beautiful views! Eventually, we heading back down the hill, but it was still about an hour and a half until our dinner reservation at 8:30.
So, we stopped by the Great Synagogue on the way. It was closed, but we weren’t planning on going in anyway. We against just enjoyed the site, relaxed on a bench, and took some photos of the memorial tree which represented the Holocaust victims. Then it was on to dinner at Vörös Postakocsi on Raday utca.
This place is highly rated on Tripadvisor, is close to our apartment, and by looking at the website, I noticed a good variety in the menu. Some traditional dishes, but not too…strange. I made a reservation online and we had a large table reserved for us. There was a band of two or three men playing music but only came near us once and didn’t really make us uncomfortable at all, like some groups do. I think everyone in the group is uncomfortable with the groups who come to serenade your table. Of course, they just want tips. But sometimes I would rather have a conversation with someeone at the table!
Among us, a variety of dishes were ordered: some gulyas, a few of us got an eggplant ravioli, and my dad got the “Transylvanian Wood Plate.” It is officially described as:
An assortment of juicy and tender beef tenderloin, pork chop and goose liver slice (foie gras), fried in a pan to perfection with a chunk of smoked bacon. Comes with roasted potatoes and mixed homemade pickles. Made according to the original recipe by Károly Gundel, famous Hungarian restaurateur.
Quote/Humorous interaction of the day: As I ate my gulyas, the topic of conversation turned to marrow bones as a menu item (it is common in Hungary and other places). I poked my spoon around in my bowl to see if there were any bones, and I commented, “I wonder if they put marrow in this soup.” My dad pointed out that he could see some spicules of marrow on the surface. And because I truly was interested, I asked my dad, who is a medical laboratory director, about the nature of marrow spicules. My question about the structure of marrow spicules was immediately met with, “Well, haven’t you ever done a blood marrow biopsy…no. Of course, you haven’t…” Then he explained about glass slides that show marrow.
We got some wine, some beer, and I convinced my dad to try pálinka. I wish we had a video camera going…I don’t think he was expecting to be overwhelmed by the strength like he was. While I downed it in two gulps, he took a bit longer. It was certainly a memorable first time trying pálinka for him.