Buda and Pest

We met a couple at Budapest’s Central Market while scouring for a place to sit and grab some Hungarian Goulash in the packed lunch crowd. We shared the table with an American doctor based here and his wife/girlfriend is probably Hungarian cos she seemed to understand a bit of English but he had to translate. 10-minute friends 🙂

The Goulash was wayyyy oily. And meaty with soup. No veggies. What?! Good thing we shared the bowl. It must have looked odd to the couple cos all we had was that one bowl (plus two slices of bread) and a glass of lemonade. “You’re just having the lemonade? No beer?” They must think we are monks, abstaining from excess and alcohol.

The market was conveniently located opposite the Vaci Utca, Budapest’s main mall that stretches into the intersection between Joszef Attila and Andrassy Avenue – its “Champs-Elysees”.

We didn’t have to topo much cos we depended on the hop on hop off buses to take us everywhere. After awhile, you will know how and when to get around on foot. The HOHO ticket also included a boat ride along the Danube River. The boat’s nothing to shout about but the sights were breathtaking. Everything good you read about the Parliament House, Chain Bridge, Royal Palace, Citadel, Gellert’s Hill, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion are all true and more. The Four Seasons Hotel has pride of place opposite the Royal Palace and you see it once you come off the Chain Bridge on the Pest side. A nice night there would probably set you back over a thousand euros. The sights will enrich your mind and then the pockets will need to be enriched.

A tour would never be complete without a visit to the souvenir stands. Folk art dominates the scene here – painted eggs (wooden, porcelain mostly and real – I kid you not, it’s not even easter though, for them, it doesn’t need to be), pens, napkin rings and embroidered cloth, dresses.  Mostly flowers, as colorful as those used in Spain but not as distinctive as the focus on the Edelweiss in Austria.

Budapest is definitely a place I can see myself staying a little longer to wander around and just be in. Except for language, everything else is kosher and holds much potential to be more. We’ll miss this place and hopefully it will blossom into something past exceptional the next time we come.

[First published: 5 May 2014]

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