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yk's Trip Report - 11 days of Art Nouveau in Vienna & Budapest Spring 2009

yk's Trip Report - 11 days of Art Nouveau in Vienna & Budapest Spring 2009

Old May 9th, 2009, 03:33 PM
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hi again, yk,

I suspect that you might have enjoyed Budapest if

a) you hadn't just been in Vienna, and

b) you had gone in Winter.

having never been to Vienna, Budapest did not come as a disappointment to us. and the heating of the museums is great - you can take your big coats off, leave them in the ubiquitous cloakrooms, and wander round the exhibits in comfort.

regards, ann
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Old May 9th, 2009, 06:08 PM
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Your trip report literally takes me back to Vienna. Wonderful photos--particularly of the Wagner buildings. Very interesting report overall. Am glad Budapest is growing on you. Don't know the area where your apartment is located but for the price, you got the deal of the century!!
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Old May 9th, 2009, 07:30 PM
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<b>Day 9 Budapest, Part I

Parliament Tour, Museum of Hungarian Art Nouveau</b>

From our apartment, we walked 3 minutes to the tram stop and hopped on tram # 70/78 (can't recall which but both runs the same route). We were at the Parliament Sq in no time.

<b>Everything you need to know about Parliament Tour</b>
I have read multiple reports on TA's Budapest forum that visitors tried for days lining up to get tickets for the Parliament Tour without success. I was resolved to have our group arrive super early to get in line. I have checked the Parliament's website multiple times, and all it says is that individuals do not need advance bookings.
http://www.parlament.hu/angol/eng/tajekoztato.htm

Fortunately, while browsing through some old Budapest threads here on Fodors, I came across a post where the person emailed the Parliament tourist office and was able to secure a reservation (normally reserved for groups only). I followed the same instructions. The email address I used was : [email protected]. In my email, I asked to reserve for a morning English tour on May 2 for 5 people. The next day I got an email reply with a confirmation for a 10am English tour for May 2nd (this was booked 3 weeks in advance).

The confirmation requested that I arrive 10 minutes early and go to Gate X to buy my tickets. Sounds simple, right? In reality, it was nothing but.

We arrived 25 minutes early. When we got near the Parliament building, we noticed that a 50-yard radius area from the Parliament building is chained off. Along the chain near Gate X, there are 2 signs each with a line. One sign says "For ticket holders only" while the other says "For ticket buyers only". It wasn't clear to me which line I should be in, so I walked up to the guard (in military uniform) at the "ticket buyers line" and asked. He took a 1/100th second look at my confirmation, and gestured to the end of the "ticket buyers line". Hmmm... so what's the point of making a reservation if we have to line up just like everyone else???

We stood in line for several minutes (during which it barely moved), when I saw someone else with a print-out who was allowed to cross the chain to enter Gate X. Now, apart from the military guard, I spotted a man in a suit at the "ticket holders line". I went up to him desperately with my confirmation. He looked at it and told me to go directly to the front of the "ticket buyers line". The military guy started to protest, but the suit guy said something to him in Hungarian. I was ready to jump over the chain to get to Gate X, but the military guy stopped me. It turns out that his job was to let <u>1 person at a time</u> from the "ticket buyers line" to enter the <i>sacred zone</i> to buy his/her ticket. So, I had to wait until the person came out of Gate X before I could enter.

I was going to have M come with me to buy tickets, but the military guard said,
"No, it's not possible! 1 person!"

I crossed into the <i>sacred zone</i>, entered Gate X (which is just a door to the ticket office). I showed the agent my confirmation. While tickets are free for EU passport holders, they are expensive for non-EU visitors at 2820HUF per person (total 14100HUF for 5 of us). I handed her 15000HUF. She asked if I had 100HUF. I didn't. She said,
"No, it's not possible! Pay with credit card please" because she has no change.

Okay then, the window has VISA/MC/AMEX sticker on it, so I handed her my AMEX.

"No, it's not possible! VISA or Mastercard." Okay then, I gave her my MC.

I exited Gate X with a victorious smile on my face. Yes!!! I got our tickets and we didn't have to stand in line for hours like those pour souls there! Now with tickets, we were allowed in the "ticket holders line". Seconds turned into minutes... Before long, it's 10am and no sign of an English tour. Another 5 minutes past and we started to get anxious. Did we miss the English tour? Well, we found out <i>everyone</i> in line is waiting for the 10am English tour. Finally, at around 10:07am, a guide showed up and we were let inside the <i>sacred zone</i> to the entrance door.

The poor couple in front of us was not let in. Their tickets are for the German tour, which doesn't take place until 11am! They have another hour to wait.

Well, our English tour is huge - at least 50 people. First task was for every person to go through metal detector/security check. That took another 8 minutes, so now it's 10:15am and the tour finally begins. Our guide, a middle-aged female, has a very heavy accent. With such a big group (plus a couple of screaming toddlers), it was difficult just to hear her, and more difficult to decipher with her accent. I had to pay 100% attention to her or I'd be completely lost. Even taking a photo was enough to divert my attention and lose track of what she was saying. I guess the positive thing is photos are allowed inside the Parliament.

She started with a brief history (if that's even possible) of Hungary while we were in the foyer. Everything gold inside the Parliament is real gold, and there's LOTS of it. We arrived at the Grand Staircase. The stained glass on the side walls is quite amazing, with this one looking like real curtains.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3547.jpg

Next stop is the Parliament Dome where the famous <u>Crown of St Stephen</u> is kept. Around the dome are statues of past emperors.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3549.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3558.jpg

Next stop is a room/lounge with a valuable carpet (I think 10,000 knots per ??). This is followed by the <u>Council Chamber</u>. There are 2 identical chambers in the Parliament, as there used to be an upper and a lower house during the Austro-Hungarian empire. Nowadays, only 1 is used since Hungary is only 1/3 of its size compared to prior to WWI.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3565.jpg

Here we come to the end of our tour. The end? Already? It was only 10:45am, which means that the actual tour only lasted for 30 minutes.

So, what's my verdict? Okay, I agree it's pretty impressive inside. But, when you add up: the hassle of booking/getting tickets, the cost, the huge size of the group, the short duration of the tour... I'm not sure if it's "worth" it. I certainly would not waste hours standing in line for a ticket. So, if you want to take the tour, make sure you get a reservation beforehand. FYI, there are only 3 English tours daily: at 10, 12 and 2.

The "No, it's not possible!" guard/ticket agent experience strongly reminded me of my visits to China in the 70s and 80s. I guess communism is the same no matter where, East or West.

M and her parents decided to split off sightseeing on their own. C & I next visited the <b>Museum of Hungarian Art Nouveau</b> (aka, Bedo Haz), just a few blocks away from the Parliament on Honved utca 3. It opened in 2007.
http://www.magyarszecessziohaza.hu/

Their website is only in Hungarian, but you can read about it in English here. http://www.budapestinfo.hu/en/things...an_art_nouveau

Facade & Close-up:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3593.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3574.jpg

Art Nouveau entrance
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3575.jpg

Admission is 1000HUF, with 3 floors of display: basement, ground floor, and 1st floor. The lady who works there is extremely nice (her desk lamp is an antique Tiffany-style lamp from Nancy). She escorted us down to the basement, showed us where the bathroom is, then explained that we can take as many photos as our hearts contend, and... you won't believe this ... we are welcome to <u>sit on any chairs</u> in the collection!

While there is no display at all for any objects, and the entire place almost seems almost like a warehouse with tons of furniture and objects, we had a fun time there trying out various chairs. A few I tried on creaked a bit and I jumped up right away, as I didn't want to be responsible for breaking a 100+ year-old antique chair!

I don't think the pieces there are collectors' items or very valuable, though I am no expert at all. Overall, I thought it is a neat place to visit if you're into Art Nouveau. The ground floor/entrance level also has a cafe, with antique furniture. Unfortunately it wasn't open during our visit. Even if you don't want to visit the museum, I think it'll still be pretty cool to have coffee/tea at their Art Nouveau cafe!
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3584.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3590.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3583.jpg

To be continued...
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Old May 10th, 2009, 01:42 AM
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hi yk,

are you going to be entering this piece as your applicaiton to the Hungarian tourist board?

clearly they were doing you a favour alowing you into their valuable building! we came across this many years ago when we went to what was then Yugoslavia, but on our more recent visits to Prague and Budapest we were pleasantly surprised. but then we didn't try to see the Parliaments of either country. All credit to you for making the effort.

keep it coming,

regards, ann
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:39 AM
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yk-
I had similar feelings about Budapest. I am still conflicted. My mom and I kept wondering if we'd like it better in summer because we were there in early (cold) spring. We also had the same "it is not possible!" experiences as well as being screamed at by a House of Terror museum guard for taking a picture, even though there were no signs posted saying this was not allowed. In the end, we decided to cut our time in Budapest and go to Vienna a day early.
In Vienna, exiting the metro up onto St Stephanplatz was like going from the darkness into the light.
BTW, the Hungarian train from Budapest to Vienna was absolutely clean and fine in 2nd class.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 01:27 PM
  #66  
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<b>Day 9 Budapest, Part II

Szabadsag Ter, Central Market Hall, Cafe Gerbeaud</b>

Quick recap: We toured Parliament in the morning, then C & I visited the Museum of Hungarian Art Nouveau. We spent no more than an hour there.

A block away is <b>Szabadsag Ter</b> (Freedom Square). In the center of the Square is the <u>Soviet War Memorial</u>, the only remaining Soviet-era memorial that has not been pulled down and carted off to Statue Sq. It commemorates the "liberation" of Hungary from Nazis by the Soviet Red Army at the end of WWII.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3597.jpg

Surrounding Szabadsag Ter are several notable buildings, one being the <u>US Embassy</u>. This is where Cardinal József Mindszenty stayed for 15 years right after the 1956 uprising. He never left the building until 1971. Behind the Embassy, is another masterpiece by Ödön Lechner (who designed the Museum of Applied Arts), the <u>Former Postal Savings Bank</u>. The best feature is its beautiful tiled roof; however, one cannot see it from surrounding streets due to the angle.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3598.jpg

From there, we headed towards the Danube and got on the famous <u>Tram #2</u>. It runs N-S along the Pest side of the Danube, thereby giving a great view of Buda Hill plus numerous beautiful buildings on the river bank on the Pest side. We had a great view of <u>Matyas Church</u> on Buda Hill, and the <u>Pest Concert Hall</u>, before we arrived at the southern terminus.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3619.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3601.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3602.jpg

From the terminus, it is a short walk to <b>Central Market Hall</b> (Nagy Vasarcsarnok), designed by Samu Pecz. Like many other buildings in Budapest, the roof is decorated with Zsolnay tiles.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3603.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3604.jpg

The street level is lined with stalls selling produce (fruits, meats, veggies) as well as souvenir food products such as paprika and foie gras.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3609.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3617.jpg

The upper level mainly consists of non-edible souvenir stalls, plus a small ready-to-eat food section. C & I headed there first, and oh my, we were tempted by every single one. After scanning all of them, we decided to share several dishes from different stalls. We tried a tripe stew (Pacalpörkölt) and the famous fish soup (halászlé). The stew unfortunately was too salty for our taste, but the soup was unbelievably good. It tasted very fresh and has a great flavor. We moved on to another stall and got a plate of sausage with sauerkraut. There must be a special Hungarian recipe for sauerkraut, because it tastes way better than German sauerkraut! C & I both commented on how good it is. The sausage was good too - crispy skin on the outside. I don't recall the cost of the stew, but fish soup was 650HUF, and the sausage-sauerkraut combo was 800 HUF, all very affordable.

Fish Soup:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3612.jpg

Sausage and sauerkraut:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3613.jpg

The food stall with the longest line is the Langos stall (remember, the savory fried dough?). I was sooooooooo tempted. There are stalls selling beer and wine. I don't drink but C is quite a wine connoisseur. She spotted a stall that serves <i>Tokaji Aszu</i>. She ordered a glass of the 3 <i>puttonyos</i> (ranges from 3 to 6, with 6 being the sweetest), and insisted I try a few sips. Wow, it is so good. It is very smooth, and after I swallow it, I can still taste the sweetness in my mouth.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3615.jpg

With our stomachs happy, we went down to the ground level to browse the souvenir stalls. We plan to return to Central Market Hall in a few days, but we wanted to check out the goods and prices first, so that we can sleep on it and decide what we will really buy. Just a quick walk-around made us realize how much the prices change (for the same goods), depending on the stall location.

We returned to Tram #2 and rode it northward to <u>Vorosmarty Ter</u>. Even though we just had lunch, we decided it was time for coffee and cake at the famous <b>Cafe Gerbeaud</b>.
http://www.gerbeaud.hu/

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so Gerbeaud was very busy. After a few minutes, we were able to snatch a table in the corner of the Green Salon.

C had a latte and I ordered a cappuccino. We both liked our coffees. We split the famous <u>Dobostorta</u>. It has alternating layers of vanilla sponge cake and chocolate cream, and topped with a layer of hardened caramel. C liked it a lot more than I. I thought the flavors were great, but the sponge cake layers were very, very dry.

The service was understandably slow due to how busy the cafe was, but our waitress was nice and courteous, smiling every time she came to our table, even though I could see that she was super busy. There are lots of naysayers here about Gerbeaud, saying it's a tourist trap and it's expensive. Perhaps, but C & I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance and our experience there. 2 coffees plus 1 cake was 2600HUF (15% tip added already to the bill), which is like 12 bucks - not much more expensive than what we can get at Starbucks with coffees served in paper cups and some super sweet pastry wrapped in a paper bag!

Gerbeaud building facade:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3626.jpg

Green salon:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3622.jpg

Dobostorta:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3625.jpg

To be continued...
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:52 PM
  #67  
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<B>Day 9 Budapest, Part III

House of Terror, Sunset Danube Cruise</b>

After our coffee and cake break at Gerbeaud, we hopped on Metro Line 1 to <b>House of Terror</b> (from Vorosmarty Ter station to Vorosmarty Utca station).
http://www.terrorhaza.hu/index2.html

Many people raved about this "museum". It is located at 60 Andrassy Ut, which is the exact same building where the Nazi's Arrow Cross operated during WWII. After Hungary's "liberation" the Soviet secret police moved into the building and carried out plenty of atrocities there.

C & I visited it together, while M went on her own earlier in the day. When we compared notes at the end of the day, we all expressed disappointment. I think the museum has got great potential to be a lot better. Why didn't we like it?

1) The layout is confusing and there are no signs to direct visitors the correct route (as a result, C&I started on the wrong floor and the wrong end)
2) Most displays are in Hungarian only, including videos without English subtitles
3) At the entrance of each room, there is an English leaflet; but:
a) many of the leaflets are too wordy. I tried my best to read it but lost my patience many times
b) even when I read the entire leaflet, there were still a lot of displays I didn't understand what they were
4) While I emerged with a much better understanding of the recent history of Hungary and what the people had to endure during the last many decades, I didn't find the displays that moving or touching. (In contrast, the Holocaust exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London really had a strong impact on me.)
5) Like the Museum of Fine Arts, the House of Terror was uncomfortably warm.

As I said, I think the museum has the right intentions, but it has the potential to be so much better, esp for non-Hungarian visitors, if they could tweak things a bit.

<b>A Happy Accident</b>
In the early evening, C & I headed back to the Danube for an <b>evening Danube cruise</b>. The only company I've heard of and read about is <u>Legenda</u>, which is listed in every guidebook and brochure. I looked up their schedule and was planning to catch the 8:15pm sunset cruise (8pm sunset in Budapest during our stay).
http://www.legenda.hu/legenda/legend...page?nodeid=92

We arrived at the dock at least 30 minutes early, only to be told the 8:15 cruise was sold out! In a mild panic, we walked along the riverfront in search of other cruise companies. At the next dock is a company called <u>EUrama</u>. Normally, they only have cruises at 7pm and 10pm, but I saw an employee "hard-selling" to 2 tourists, so I stopped to eavesdrop. It turns out that today they have a privately-chartered cruise at 8pm for a tour group, but since there are a few extra seats, the company is selling those to casual tourists. At 3000HUF, it is a significant discount compared to Legenda, which charges 4900HUF for their evening cruise. As it was getting close to 8pm, we opted to go with EUrama.

It turned out to be pretty decent, but then, I don't have any other Danube evening cruise experience to compare this with. EUrama uses a very small boat with NO windows. Although we had to let the group tour board first, we still managed to grab an empty row. A female guide did live commentary along the way in English. She was really great. I'm used to taking cruises where the guides simply recite the descriptions without an ounce of emotion, but this guide really seemed to care about her city and the sights. During the last 10 minutes of the cruise, she went over the history of Hungary, and I could sense a tinge of sadness in her voice. Overall, I thought this was a good substitute at a significant discount.

Again, since I've never taken Legenda (their price includes free drinks and headsets for commentary in 30 different languages), I don't know how this EUrama cruise measures up. But I was perfectly happy to pay 3000 instead of 4900HUF for a 1-hr cruise. [BTW, I thought it's pretty expensive, even at 3000HUF, since I can take a Seine cruise for as little at 7 euros!]

Here are some pictures from the cruise.

Sunset over Buda Hill before take off:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3627.jpg

Buda Castle lit up at the start of the cruise:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3631.jpg

Chain Bridge and Gresham Palace in the back:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3637.jpg

Looking towards Parliament:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3642.jpg

Front view of Parliament:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3651.jpg

On the way back, Chain Bridge and Buda Hill in the back:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3656.jpg

Buda Castle complex:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3658.jpg

It was completely dark when the cruise ended. Here's a night view of Buda Castle complex:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3662.jpg

C & I got back to our apt street around 9:30pm. Funny, we didn't even notice the street lights being dim anymore.

<b>Impression of Budapest at the end of today</b>
Although our morning started with lots of snafu at the Parliament, the day got much better. We had a great time at Bedo Haz, LOVED the food at Central Market Hall, enjoyed our break at Gerbeaud, saved money on our evening cruise, and learned a lot about the story of the Hungarian people at House of Terror. I am starting to "understand" them and their city... And, instead of looking at Budapest as being "grimy and dirty", I'm starting to view it as "faded glory" and "rough around the edges."
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Did you see the small Leonardo equestrian statue at Szépmuvészeti Múzeum?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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Hi yk, Still enjoying your trip. I had no desire to see the Terror Museum when I was in Budapest so was interested in your comments.

You mention you're going back to the Central Market--you may already be planning to walk from the Central Market up Vaci Utca in direction of the Cafe Gerbeaud. There are some good examples of art nouveau along Vaci Ut--I particularly remember a florist (be sure to look inside).

Just behind the cafe is the main shop of Herend porcelain-I looked but didn't purchase.

We took a regular passenger boat back from Szentendre at nightfall and had views similar to yours. I remember the fare was quite cheap. However, my photos aren't as good!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:01 PM
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Hi Cathinjoetown - yes, that part (Vaci Utca), will be coming up.

111op - No, I totally missed that! BTW, I didn't forget your Q about the Berlin Staatskapelle concert. It was the Mahler No.6 that I passed up, not the No.8. I wonder if No.6 is more "accessible" than No.7? But going to No.6 would not have worked out as well with our itinerary, since we went to Wachau Valley that day and wouldn't have come back early enough for the standing room (plus, we would have been exhausted!).
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:28 PM
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Mahler #7 is indeed the least popular of his symphonies. #6 is another massive work that's even longer in length than #7.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 06:39 PM
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bookmarking for later.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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Hi, that Leonardo statue is easy to miss (it wasn't in a gallery but by a staircase). I had to ask where it was.

#7 seems a little less popular, but I've actually heard it live a few times. People point out that #6 doesn't really end triumphantly (unlike #2 or #8), but it sounds pretty good to me. The nickname of this symphony, by the way, is "Tragic."

I think that you might have found #6 a little more accessible, but the "easiest" Mahler symphonies to start with are #1, #2, #4 and #5.

Anyway, you could come to NYC on Tuesday for Mahler 6 with the same guys (assuming tickets are still available).

I don't really have a good collection of Mahler symphonies, but for what it's worth, I checked the timings I have on my CDs:

#6 with Mitropoulos and Cologne (rec. 1959): 74:42

#7 with Scherchen and Vienna (rec. 1960): 73:45 [in case you're curious, the label is Legend, so could be a bootleg]

#8 with Haitink and Concertgebouw (rec. 1966 or 1971): 75:51

What I find surprising is how close the timings are (within 2 minutes of one another). I purposely chose a recording of the 8th symphony that fitted onto 1 CD, however. If I remember right, Scherchen is generally known as a "fast" conductor.

I don't necessarily recommend any of these recordings (they were chosen without much thought), but the Mitropoulos recording is supposed to be well regarded (but there's supposed to an even better Mitropoulos with NYPO).
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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:11 PM
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Off topic, but on the question of Mahler symphony popularity, someone has compiled a discography:

http://gustavmahler.net.free.fr/us.html

Over 200 recordings of #1, followed by #5, #4, #2. Least recorded is #8 (fewer than 60 recordings).

No timings, unfortunately.

The Scherchen I mentioned looks to be the same as 1950 on Orfeo with VSO (not VPO).

It's just amazing what people provide on the internet.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:41 PM
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really enjoying your report YK! Keep it coming
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Old May 11th, 2009, 05:29 AM
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I have heard Mahler Nos. 1, 3, 5 ,6, and 10's Adagio live, and now No.7, so I guess I'm <i>slowly</i> getting there...

MomDD - glad you're enjoying this.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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Just in case it matters, let me correct myself. It's the Staatskapelle <b>Berlin</b> that's the orchestra.

You had it right in your report. I wrote Dresden. I guess when I see "Staatskapelle" I automatically think Dresden, but it's Berlin that's doing the cycle in both Vienna and NYC.

Anyway, try to go for #2 or #4 next, and keep an eye out for #9. I checked the discography page and #9 is the one that has the fifth most number of recordings. It doesn't come up often either -- not sure why, perhaps because it's really quite bleak. But the earliest recording is a really famous one by Bruno Walter (made right around the Anschluss in 1938).

I've actually never heard #10. I normally don't think about it since I don't really know the whole story -- not sure how much is orchestrated by Mahler and how much by Deryck Cooke (but according to Wiki, the Adagio was indeed mostly complete by Mahler's death).
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Old May 11th, 2009, 05:45 AM
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By the way, if you're aiming for "complete" Mahler, you should count Das Lied von der Erde. I forget the story -- but I think it'd have been the ninth symphony. Mahler was superstitious so he decided not to call this the ninth symphony since people seem to die after writing nine symphones (Brucker 9 is incomplete (however, there are symphonies 0 and 00...), Schubert's 9 is complete but 8 is incomplete -- in fact, nicknamed "Unfinished").
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Old May 11th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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yk
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Hang in there folks... only 2 more days left to report.

BTW, I am sorry about mixing Hungarian and English when it comes to names of places.

<b>Day 10 Budapest, Part I
Hungarian National Museum, Cafe Central, Chain Bridge</b>

In the morning, we visited the <b>Hungarian National Museum</b> (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum) near Kalvin Ter.
http://www.hnm.hu/en/fooldal/mainPage.php

Entrance facade and interior hall
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3664.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3663.jpg

The museum (1000HUF) is about the history of Hungary, starting from pre-historic times until 1989. The ground floor galleries cover pre-historic era until around 800 A.D. The upper level galleries hold the crux of the museum. The organization is superb. Each gallery starts with a brief overview of the time period the gallery covers, in both English and Hungarian, and there are a good number of English placards among the displays. Even though by now I'm pretty well-versed in Hungary's history, I still enjoyed the museum's good and detailed overview.

In a small room located off to the side of the main entrance, is where the <u>1000 year-old coronation mantle</u> kept. There are no obvious signs directing visitors to see it. If it hadn't been mentioned in my guidebook, I would have definitely missed it. There is a guard outside of the room. When we went in, she followed us one step behind, just like a secret police.
http://www.hnm.hu/en/kiall/MonthlyArchive.php?id=21478

We spent almost 3 hours there, and all of us thought it was an excellent museum. Well worth the admission.

For lunch, we went to the famous <b>Central Cafe</b>. It is another historic coffee house, over 100 years old. However, C & I didn't think the interior decoration and ambiance measure up to Gerbeaud. Our lunch was really good though. I had duck confit with "cabbage pasta". What that really was, was sauerkraut wrapped inside a pasta sheet. Just like the sauerkraut we had at Central Market Hall, this was very tasty. This was the most expensive meal I had in Budapest - came out to 3400HUF per person - still very affordable when you convert back to USD. Since folks here have complained about Gerbeaud being expensive, I checked out the prices of cakes at Central. Each piece is around 1000HUF, compared to 7-800HUF at Gerbeaud. Therefore, I don't understand the argument of Gerbeaud being the more expensive one.
http://www.centralkavehaz.hu/index.php?mid=1&LangID=2

Entrance to Central Cafe: http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3673.jpg

Interior: http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3666.jpg

Duck confit with "cabbage pasta"
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3668.jpg

We caught a city bus to <u>Roosevelt Ter</u>. BTW, deciphering bus and tram maps at stops is relatively straight forward, as long as you know the names of the streets or squares you want to reach. We popped inside <b>Gresham Palace</b> - now a Four Seasons Hotel. It is a beautifully restored Art Nouveau building (1906). The staff there obviously is used to tourists going in and snapping photos. Definitely don't miss this if you are in Budapest!
http://www.fourseasons.com/budapest/

Hotel Facade:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3687.jpg
Lobby:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3678.jpg
Art Nouveau interior:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3674.jpg

Details (glass, windows, light fixture, flower pot, floor mosaic)
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3679.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3681.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3682.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3684.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3683.jpg

On the North side of Roosevelt Ter is the <u>Academy of Sciences</u>, housed in a Neo-Renaissance building (1865).
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3686.jpg

Directly facing Gresham Palace, is <b>Chain Bridge</b> - THE symbol of Budapest.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3695.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3697.jpg

Views from the Bridge:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3693.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3692.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3690.jpg

We walked across Chain Bridge and arrived at the lower terminus of the historic <b>siklo</b> (1870), the funicular that goes up Buda Hill. Fares are 800HUF one-way, slight discount for r/t.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3700.jpg

Part II coming up next...
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Old May 11th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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yk - I was one of the people complaining that Gerbeaud was overpriced, but that was for coffee, I didn't eat anything there. Did you get a proper printed bill at the Central? One time the waiter there cheated by giving me a handwritten bill instead.
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