We left the pretty Bergenland and drove the short 2 1/2 hour drive to Budapest in Hungary. The countryside at first was flat as a pancake with fields of crops stretching off. Through the fields ran high tension pylons in all directions. Not terribly picturesque. We got off the highway for a while and drove over to the Danube thinking it might be more scenic. Nope. We did find an ATM in one town so we could buy some Florints. It has been very strange to use a different currency. There are around 265 Florints in a dollar. Hard to convert.
Budapest is not an easy city to drive in. We had a pretty hard time finding our hotel but finally we did and got checked in. Budapest has several main areas. Central Pest is where we are. There is also the Parliament district and the Castle district. The city is divided by the Danube river.
We did a little preliminary looking around and got our bearings. We tried unsuccessfully to go to one restaurant so made a reservation for two nights hence. We ended up eating at a Russian/Hungarian place across the street from our hotel. It was not notable but the people were friendly and we could eat outside. It was cool enough that they brought a blanket to put around my shoulders.
Friday we headed out after a good breakfast with most anything you could want. We decided to explore the Pest side of the city and go to the Buda side on Saturday. We walked a LOT. Our guidebook had walking tours of the main shopping area and the Parliament district. We took both of them. We had a nice lunch at Klassz. Mine was a beautifully seared tuna steak salad. The tuna was coated with sesame seeds and on a bed of spinach with apples and a wasabi dressing. It was hot enough that I did a little dance with my feet as my eyes teared and it went up my nose. It was good though. I hadn’t had anything like that in a long time.
Here are some pictures from our tour. Budapest is known for it’s Vienna Secessionist architecture which managed to survive communism. There were some incredibly ugly buildings of THAT era too but I didn’t take any pictures. This doorway was incredible.
This was the top of the Egypt bank building. Very ornate
The first walking tour in the shopping district. It had lots of nice cafes where you could sit with a coffee or beer.
This is the Buda side of the river from the Pest side. That is the Palace.
More of the Vienna Secessionist look.
Our lunch wine. Hungarian Pinot Noir and very good.
Parliament buildings. They charged about $20 a head to go in if you weren’t EU citizens. Seemed a bit unfair to me! So we didn’t go inside.
Department of Agriculture building.
Monument to Imre Nagy. He was a pro reform communist prime minister who rose up with the people in 1956. It cost him his life 2 years later. It was a nice monument.
Finally, the roofs on the buildings around Budapest are very ornate and beautiful. Here are two examples.
For dinner last night we treated ourselves to a Michelin one star called Onyx. We had a good time but it was a bit over the top. To start they tried to sell us two glasses of white wine that cost about $40 a glass. Luther was on the ball and turned that down. Still the red we bought was very expensive. We were not up for a tasting menu so ordered a la carte. They brought an amuse bouche of a potato soup with a crisp fried dumpling. Then the bread chariot came over. It was a big rolling cart full of house made breads. There must have been 30 different types. The man heaped our breadbasket. No two humans could finish it all. Then two more amuse bouches – one a crisp potato chip with sour cream onion and buffalo on it. I couldn’t discern the buffalo but the rest tasted like good old fashioned onion dip! The other was a potato cake with the famous Hungarian pork on it. I can’t remember the name of the pork but it was full of accent marks as is everything here.
For our orders. We both got the tuna tartar to start. I had venison for a main. Luther had a flank steak. It was yummy. We didn’t have a dessert but they brought petit fours. They even gave us each a little box with two “cookies” in it. It was good but not great. We took taxis there and back as at least my feet were not up to walking a long way after all that walking and sight-seeiing.
Tomorrow the Buda in Budapest.
Wine and food are the unofficial languages of travelers.