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A last minute, whirlwind romp from Amsterdam to Budapest-A gal on the go-the mini sequel

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Sep 10th, 2006, 02:54 PM
  #21
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Thanks noe. The airport shuttle to our hotel took about 30 min. Robin dozed off on the ride but I woke her when I saw the view of the river Danube seperating Buda and Pest. It was around 9pm and the buildings along the river were lit with soft yellow lighting casting a sepia tone down the river. It was really beautiful.

We arrive at the Kempinski located just in front of Vaci Utca on the Pest side. Man o man this is one gorgeous hotel and for 80 Euro a night thanks to Robins Delta crew discount we were psyched! At check in we were secured only the first two of our three nights but they put us on the waiting list and the next day room opened up so we were all set.

Our room was great, I love a hotel with turn down service where they leave a fancy boxed chocolate on your pillow. Bathroom was huge, shower was awesome, beds were unbelievably comfy. Robes and slippers, what more could we ask for. Food that's what, it was 10:30 and we was starvin!

We went downstairs and checked out they menus for the hotels 3 restaurants. The prices were crazy expensive so we ventured outside. To the left we walked to the end of the block. There was a concrete barracade because the British embassy is right there. There were 2 policemen we asked where we could eat and they pointed to the left where we saw 2 restaurants. One authentic Hungarian cuisine, 1 sushi house. We opt for the local fare.

Inside it was packed, mostly with Brits, guessing from the embassy. We were really confused with what to order. Growing up my mom made some americanized hungarian dishes but I couldn't recall the names.

Ok, just my opinion (and Robins), I've been to alot of places, but hands down, no bar best food I've EVER eaten-HUNGARIAN!

We ordered 3 dishes and shared them, we laughed because we kept moaning about how good the food was must have looked like when harry met sally. We ordered stuffed peppers in a paprika sauce-AMAZING, meat filled crepes in a paprikash sauce with I think sour creme on top-AMAZING and chicken breast in an apricat sauce with apricot slices and candied walnuts-REALLY AMAZING. Would have had dessert but they were all out of chocolate crepes which is what I wanted. Dinner for 2 with drinks about 45$. It's around midnight and we had been on the go for 2 days with little sleep and were exhausted so we turned in early Tues night, I slept for 9 hours straight-I never do that.

Next up a full day in Buda.

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Sep 10th, 2006, 04:07 PM
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This is an amazing report. Thanks for sharing your family history - really fascinating and makes the report even more interesting.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 04:12 PM
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Amazing invitation, amazing trip report, amazing pilot and amazing family history laartista!! Thank you so much for sharing. Now I understand why you are a "get and go" gal..it is in your strong and adventerous genes!
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Sep 10th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Wed. Sep 6 a day in Buda
*** WARNING*** long day ahead

We slept in til 9am, we were so tired but it was beautiful out about 75 and sunny so again 2 girls, 1 bathroom, 2 hours later out the door. No breakfast at the Kempinski at 30 Euro a head which wasn't included. We did however order up a pot of coffee, I just can't function without it. It's a long day ahead we don't return to the hotel until 11:30 that night.

Armed with map and guide book we head out to the Chain Bridge built so the guy in charge at the time could go to his brothers funeral. Bridge was about a 10 min. walk from the hotel. It is a beautiful bridge with large lions guarding either end. Once across the bridge we get tickets for the funicular to take us up to the Royal Palce.

The views from the top are awesome. Most of the tourist sights are on the Buda side. My aunt had advised me to do any shopping on the pest side for that reason. We were a little overwhelmed not exactly sure what to see first. We decided to head toward the palace grounds. There were all these little wood huts that you would find at a X-mas market in Germany and soon realized that they were setting up for something - it was the Borfesztival, a yearly wine festival with wine vendors from all over the world. More on this later.

First stop was at Matyas fountain on the castle grounds and then to the Budapest History Museum. Before entering the museum we headed out to a deck on the backside of the building. Had a chat with a nice Hungarian guy who told us about something we should see the next day.

The Budapest History Museum was very interesting. Also, in addition to your ticket you have to buy a photo pass to take pictures- so we did. At one point a museum guard started yelling at me in German. I kept saying, "Ich sprechen Kine Deutch" English. He just kept saying mocking me English, Deutch- it was all very weird. I got the impression while I was there that the Hungarians aren't that keen on the Germans and Austrians. We headed out to the courtyard and up to the viewing tower. The scenery was breathtaking.

On our way out of the palace grounds we stopped to get a ticket for the wine festival for later. For about 10 bucks they give you a pouch to hang around your neck with a wine glass and tickets for 2 free tastings. We head toward old town passing the Hungarian National Theatre which seems to be dedicated to Beethoven.

Old town is really cute dotted with little yellow buildings. We stop in the pharmacy beacause after wearing my chucks for 2 days straight without socks I had blisters on my blisters. Bought a big box of blister bandages, took a seat right there in the drugstore and bandaged every toe on my right foot-got some pix of that too. We also bought some bottled water there.

Here's the thing about the bottled water in Hungry. There are 2 kinds both offering with gas and without. There is the Hungarian kind called thermal or something like that- stay away from this stuff unless you like drinking a tin can. Honestly it has such a strong metal taste- it says mineral water but no- not good. You have to get either dannon or nestle for no aftertaste. The other stuff is probably better for you with all it's minerals but when your thirsty it just doesn't do the trick. This water issue would plague us all day until we figured it out. Must have spent about 25 bucks on water. Enough said. Next stop Matyas Church.

Quick history the church built between 13 and 15 centuries, Turks convert it to a Mosque mid 1500's. Liberation of Buda pretty much destroys the place and was then rebuilt by Franciscan Friars, damaged again 1700's restored in Neo gothic style and they did a damn good job because IT IS BEAUTIFUL. The windows reminded me of St. Chapelle in Paris.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 07:32 PM
  #25
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Directly behind the Matyas church is Fishermans Bastion a monument to the Guild of Fisherman built on the site of the cities old defensive walls. There is a lovely restaurant overlooking the river and Pest on the underside. Tickets are like a dollar. The views from there are great and it is a super interesting piece of architecture I think. Also right in front is a famous statue of the king who first brought christianity to Hungry. I forget his name.

From Fishermans Bastion we walk a few blocks in old town to Uri Utca. On the corner of that street is a great gallery where I buy a beautiful ceramic wall hanging while Robin uses the restroom. Down Uri Utca at #9 is the Labyrinth of Buda Castle. Hold onto your hats extreme creepiness ahead.

So this labyrinth otherwise known as super creepy wet dark caves and walkways were originally formed by hot springs,, became refuge for prehistoric people and eventually were used for various things, wine cellars, torture chambers, treasuries etc. Can I say creepy one more time. Hardly anyone down there, so dark I had to literally light a match to see where we were walking at times and all the while scary movie music is playing along with an unsettling droning drum beat. I felt like I was 9 years old in a haunted house. I kept telling Robin to go first- and she's like no, you go first LOL, it was a riot. At one point a German guy jumped out from behind a statue to scare us while his girlfriend laughed on the sidelines. Honestly we couldn't wait to get out of there. I shudder. By the time we emerged from the the dark, wet, caves of Buda we were ready for some wine tasting.

It was 5 we had asked the concierge to reserve us tickets for the Hungarian Folk Dance show at 8 but when we got to the wine festival not only did they have wine and food but also folk dancers. We head over to a hut, get a tasting and ask the guy to borrow his cell phone to call the hotel to cancel our tickets. We want to stay at the party and we did until 11pm.

This was an awesome time, tons of wine, I bought 5 bottles, Robin bought 6 all Hungarian except for my bottle of Bottega White Chocolate Grappa, love the stuff. Great food, all hungarian specialties. We bought a bunch of different food and ate at the long wooden tables amongst our new Hungarian friends. Watched some folk dancing, took pictures, saw the mayor of Budapest and best of all the singing, travelling wine waiters. Oh, I have got to tell you about these guys, they were hysterical.

Seems there is a group of about 30 or so men all wearing long blue aprons accompanied by an accordian player. All night long they travel the fair and park themselves next to different huts, different wine vendors. Then they sing lively happy Hungarian songs, and after EVERY SINGLE SONG, they drink, they drink their whole glass and the vendors hut where they are standing then comes and refills EVERY GUYS GLASS. This craziness goes on all night long-it was hysterical.

Even funnier are the people who are so drunk they are walking as if they just got off the spinning teacups at Disney after a 3 daylong ride. But the craziest thing we saw was the hit and run vomiter- that's right you read correct. This guy walked and vomited down the entire walkway where we were sitting never missing a step as he barfed, count them 4 times in a row. It was unbelievable. Even more unbelievable was noone looked, noone went eeeewww, noone flinched, noone but me and Robin. And for the next hour while we were talking I'd occasionally see Robins eyes wander to the walkway and finally I said are you counting how nmany people are stepping in that stuff and she just started laughing. She was.

Oh, it was a long, long day (which is why noones reading this) and we had another tomorrow, so we catch a cab. FYI, only take cabs that have actual company names like taxi2000. Back at the Kempinski we have a late night coffee, chat for a while and we are out.

Next up Pest.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 11:21 AM
  #26
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Thurs. Sept. 7- last day in Budapest

One more comment about the wine festival. Not sure if it is held same weekend every year but if you ever are in Budapest 2nd weekend in Sep. GO GO GO. It felt surreal to be there at the Buda castle at night all a glow with the views of the city behind and the music- again just awesome!

Early wake up thurs. out of the room by 10 am and then spent the next hour trying to get spa treatments for early evening. Budapest is afterall a city of spas, but to our diappointment none to be had. I really wanted a facial, massage and mineral mud wrap-oh well. We thought maybe we could just use all that icky mineral water that we had amassed the day before and just throw it on our faces.


We started our day with a short walk to Parliment. This is a massive building on the Pest side of the river front. It is undergoing a bath at the moment so half of it is scaffolded. You need to join a tour to go inside, but they are at set times. When we got there, there was a huge line and like an hour to wait. We wanted to see as much of Pest as we could that day so we opted to just take pix of the exterior, take a spin around the outside of the building and head off to the next place.

We walked from Parliment to Roosevelt Square and popped into the Gresham Palace (which is now a Four Seasons Hotel) for a peek. Wowsa, great art deco tiling and furnishings. The restrooms had square toilet seats. All vey posh. From there we head to St. Stephens Basillica.

St. Stephens was a really beautiful church. You can take an elevator to a first deck with some exhibits and then either stair it or elevator it to atop the dome. We walked up- I would take the elevator next time. It was really cool because before you walked out onto the viewing area you were inside the false ceiling of the dome. Once again the views were fantastic.

From St. Stephans we start our walk toward Andrassey Street. We passed a really old building that still showed it's scars from the war. It was interesting to see. We stopped into a small ma and pa grocery. I love to go to these type places when I'm travelling. See what the locals are buying. We bought some Unicum ( a supposed medicinal liquor that they used to treat the kings ailments with.) Hey, if it's good enough for the king....

We walked along Andrassey admiring the street. It reminded me of one of the broad boulavards in Barcelona, lots of trees, very pretty. Our first stop was a pharmacy. Bit of info for the ladies here. My family always brings me this Hungarian face cream that they always use. It's cheap like 8-10 bucks, but they swear by it and you know what- they all have great skin. It's called Helia, they also make an eye cream. It comes in a black box and can be found at the local pharmacies. I told Robin about it and so we went to get her some.

I was cursing my mother in that pharmacy that she never taught me Hungarian, I know like 8 words 4 of which are not very nice #$%*.Thankfully there was a lovely old woman-grandma type, who didn't speak English but seemed to understand English. The sales girl was getting frustrated with us and who could blame her. Funny thing, I kept thinking about my grandma who passed because this woman smelled like Jean'a te( spelling?). It's what my grandma always wore. We each bought a jar and and eye cream and were off next to the Opera House.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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We stopped at the Opera house, but it was not open at that time for a tour so we continued on to The House of Terror Museum housed in the old Secret Police Headquarters. I have read in other reports here that people found the museum not organized well as far as explanations of what they were looking at. Robin felt that way, I did not. I talked her thru it. I actually felt it was a very powerful museum especially when you first walk in and see the 3 story high wall with black and white faces of those who suffered at the hands of the Hungarian Nazis and then the Secret Police. Like I said before it is also my families history so I'm familiar with the stories. It's definitely a heavy museum, a downer, but it makes you appreciate our freedoms that much more. In the museum from the second floor to the basement is an elevator ride that is so slow you feel as if your standing still which I think is the point. A movie plays with a man talking about a horrible execution he witnesssed while this imposing drumbeat rings in the elevator. It was kind of wild. Also in the basement where the torture chambers used to be the have a long hallway with pictures of the Hungarian Nazis, alot of them still alive-almost outing them-KARMA.

It was 2:00, no food yet so we stop for lunch at a place called Wallstreet (go figure) on Andrassey. We ordered chicken parikash with spatzel like dumplings mixed with cheese and sour cream. All very healthy, good for your cholesteral. I swear I felt like a paprikash crackhead- I NEED MY PAPRIKASH! It was AMAZING. And filling. I think that's why these Eastern Europeans drink so much. They have to. Their food is so heavy they have to do 15 shots of Jagermeister just to catch a buzz. The first night when we checked in and asked the front desk for a place to get something light to eat they suggested a Bavarian Restaurant. A Bavarian Restaurant, I guess German food is considered light fare compared to Hungarian food. Well we waddled back to the hotel and just dropped our bags with the concierge before heading to Vaci Utca.

Vaci utca is supposed to be the main shopping street and like others who have posted I think Images said it I too was not impressed. But the atmosphere was fun and our goal was to get to Central Market.

I'm gonna finish this up in the next installment and then post some pix.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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laartista, I really enjoyed reading your report. You sound like a lot of fun to travel with!
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Sep 12th, 2006, 08:39 AM
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Really enjoying your report laartista. Looking forward to more.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Thanks you guys.

Heres a link to pictures, I'll add Robin's when she dowloads the, she has mor of Amsterdam.

I think remebering how to use a camera is not like riding a bike- because my pictures came out not great. Anyhoo, a few tacked on the end of the biggest housecat in the world weghing in at 23 lbs. No joke. It's Bear the cat.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 09:08 AM
  #31
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horrible typos in that last post-sorry
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Sep 12th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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OMG, I'm an idiot here's the link

www.bearcat.shutterfly.com

I must need more coffee
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Sep 12th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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The photos are great. Budapest looks fantastic, Robin's new hat is a real keeper, and Bear is well, large. It really looks like a fun trip.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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Laartista, this is the first posting of yours that I am reading, but I wish I could read more. Kudos to you on your interesting and detailed trip report; I very much appreciate your casual, fun style of writing and living, and above all your positive attitude. Its no wonder others enjoy being around you !

I happened onto Budapest for 2 short days at the end of my Croatian adventure in September 2004 and it immediately became one of my favourite cities in Europe. I went back last year for 5 days in May and loved it. This year, I'll be back for another week at the end of October after trekking around Turkey for 2 weeks.

In Budapest, did you pass any of the "Szendvich' shops ? Large glass windows with an eye-popping and mouth-watering array of delicious open-faced sandwiches ? I couldn't pass by without popping in, only to exit with a sampling of boxed goodies. And I had to chuckle about the water story ! Been there. Yep, every adventurous tourist who pops into local grocery stores for water must have the same story as us, finding a bottle to our taste.

By the way,- and I may have missed this - but what are Iagos at the Central market ?

Unfortunately, I cannot get your photos to go beyond the first 12, and even then, can't get any of the thumbnails to open up. Any idea what I'm doing wrong ? Do I have to sign up ?

Thanks for a great read.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 11:37 AM
  #35
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Thanks for the compliment math- did i write about the lagos yet. i'll fill you in on them in my central market report. Try hitting view as slideshow, shutterfly gets wanky sometimes. I did pass those shops, my mom makes those finger sandwiches and they are yummy. I'm gonna try to tack on a few days back there on my January trip and have my mom meet me as a translator.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 07:50 PM
  #36
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On to the Central Market, to Hungarians known as the Csarnok. This buliding is massive and at the end of Vaci Utca. The first floor is all market food stalls-anything you can think of. On the second floor is crafts, mostly embroideries. The Hungarians will embroider flowers on anything and everything and if they can't embroider it then they paint the flowers on. Also upstairs are stalls to buy ready made food and you can sit at the long high tables and eat. I didn't buy any embroidery because I have one from every year since I was 5 ,shirts, tableclothes, napkins etc....gifts from family members. Robin got a cool hat, bargained the guy down, I'm not good at that but my aunt says they expect it. It was 5:15 and the market closes at 6 but really the vendors start breaking down at 5:30. Then I remembered what Aunt Susan said, make sure you have the Langos at the Csarnok. Pronounced Langosh, flat fried dough with garlic ,TO DIE FOR. You can get it with meat toppings but we had a plain one.On the second floor, side closest to the river ,last food stand before the crafters, very small sign says Langos. If in Budapest do not miss this treat. We split one.

Markets closed, no spa treatments, we'll take a river cruise. We walked along the Danube stopping at every boat. We weren't sure where to go. First boat a private yacht-no river cruise there. Second boat-going to Bratislava-not us. Finally, not our boat but a place to purchase tickets for our boat- will leave at 7 from dock 6. Another 15 minute walk down the river and boats not there yet but on I think dock 4 is The Columbus Pub. A neat riverboat restaurant and bar where they also have live jazz. We stop in for a coffee. Oh, I see the boat, we run to the gang plank, we want to get a seat upstairs where it is uncovered. Waiting on line I said to Robin WOW for 12 bucks that's a nice ride. Tables, a band playing, a bar-this is going to be awesome. Well it would have been if it were OUR boat, but it wasn't. Robin's like hey, this is dock 5 not 6 and points that's OUR boat. And there it was, like a dingy-bummer. But we run over anyway, Hey, they gave us a free beer. It was a fine cruise an hour total, down to Margeret Island turns around to the Gellert and then back to the dock.

Next up final night and final thoughts.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 08:06 PM
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Laartista, I love your style of writing..you take us right along with you as you enjoy your trips. I wish I had that talent. And the Langos, OMG, they sound so good, I love pastry and I love garlic. What a great combination!!
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Sep 13th, 2006, 01:00 AM
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Laartista, thanks for your report. It was wonderful to see what a fabulous time you had with basically no planning at all. I really enjoyed the Budapest part in particular as I picked up a number of tips for our forthcoming trip there.
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Sep 13th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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Thanks, Laartista; I am familiar with the Central market, as it is directly across the bridge from the Gellert Hotel where I usually stay, as I will be again in October, and I always walk into the market to see whats going on. The colourful displays of fruit, veg and paprika make for some great photos.

I'll be sure to head upstairs and look out for the langos stall, and eat one in your honour (!) They also serve great tasting goulash with egg noodles at those stalls upstairs. The real thing.

Among the bar/restaurants boats you visited is a tethered one called 'Spoon'. Good for a drink.
That entire walk (or jog, rollerblade, etc.) from the market to Margaret island along the banks of the Danube (but on the Buda side) is quite enjoyable.
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Sep 13th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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Thanks LoveItaly, Shandy and Math have a great time in October.

Our last night in Budapest we ate at a restaurant on the river over by the Intercontinental. There is kind of a restaurant row over there. Once again the food was amazing. After dinner we popped into the hotel bar for a drink and to listen to a 3 piece band play.

The flight home was uneventful, which is good. Just one snag at the airport. After we went thru security we stopped at duty dree and each picked up 2 boxes of chocolate covered liquor filled cherries. At the gate all bags were searched again and Yep, they took the cherries. Confiscated because they had liquid in them. I was NOOOOOO, not the cherries- It was like that episode from I Love Lucy when she's working at the chocolate factory with Ethel. I was shoving those cherries in my mouth, I could only fit 3 they were really big. I was so bummed.

It seemed like a dream, such a last minute, unplanned adventure. Just dropped everything and went. Never even checked my messages at the studio. It was AWESOME and I'd do it again in a second.

Budapest is a great city, more than I expected, only sorry I waited so long to go, I will definitly return and soon. It is steeped in history, a sad one and although the people are friendly they are a little reserved as is my mothers family. The architecture is beautiful, the food out of sight and tons to see and do. Two days was not enough. Oh, and now I know why everything my mom cooks is rust colored. It's all that Paprika.

thanks for reading
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