Budapest, Mimi and Dede

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Budapest is becoming a special place for us.  Water parks, Hungarian friends, a new season and a new side of the city each time we visit.   Now we’re here for the second time with Mimi and Dede and finding neighborhoods that are way more hip than we were dressed for.  Has Budapest changed, or are we just getting older?

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Jake and Eli still love the yellow trains and the shiny yellow cabs.  Riding in a taxi is like being at Disneyland!

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Mimi and Dede got us rooms at the Marriott, which was a refreshing experience compared to our usual style of travel on a shoestring.  We realized we’d been doing apartment rentals too long when we carried our grocery bag full of extra shoes into the lobby and set it on the luggage rack next to Gucci suitcases.  That was a little embarrassing!

The kids really liked this pegboard display of doughnuts.

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I thought the view was really nice.

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One night we found ourselves walking through an edgy club scene to have dinner at a place called Stone Soup.  Because it was called Stone Soup!

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It was in a bustling part of Budapest that we were probably two decades too old for, but we were impressed.  When we came here 13 years ago, I remember thinking it was hard to communicate in English, or find restaurants that were open.  Now there are dozens of restaurants selling hamburgers and tacos.

I’m not sure hamburgers and tacos are a mark of progress, but it DOES make it easier to order your beer.

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Or maybe an ice cream sundae for breakfast…

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Breakfast was fun.  The sidewalks were crowded with cafes where you could sit outside and order coffee, croissants, and English skillets of bacon and eggs.  The food is beautifully prepared, and the service, with cloth napkins and attentive waiters, is remarkable.  I don’t know if this type of breakfast is Hungarian or just part of the tourist market that Budapest caters to, but whatever the reason, it’s easy to find someplace nice to sit with a cappuccino.   Eastern Europe’s appreciation of beauty, and the art of traditional cooking, is part of why we love it.

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The people-watching is nice too!  And the nouveau decorating ideas.  I thought this was a very creative way to make a low-budget chandelier.

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Mike also booked tickets ahead of time for us to visit Budapest’s beautiful Parliament.   We were grateful for a few air-conditioned hours touring one of the world’s most famous buildings.  It’s full of gold inside!

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Our tour was also memorable for our guide’s enthusiasm, and all her fantastic details about Budapest’s history.  These little numbered trays outside the doors of the meeting room were made to hold cigars.  No smoking was allowed in the meeting, so all the men would come out to smoke, then put their cigars in the numbered slots so they’d be able to find them when they came out again.

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Life must have been quite smelly in those days, with all these buildings full of smoke.

Thus the need for a bath!  Hungarian tradition swims in public baths, and the one at the Gallert Hotel had us interested until we learned we’d need to wear bathing caps.

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Okay, that would be fun someday, but maybe without the kids?  Maybe a park full of huge slides would be a better way to spend today!

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Yes, definitely.  Afterward we wandered through the Great Market Hall, bought a kilo of plums, and gazed a little spellbound at the huge counters of meat.  It reminded me so much of the Zhitny Market in Kyiv, with more versions of tomatoes and sausages that I could ever imagine a purpose for.  What is it about these Eastern European countries and their sausages?

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As the afternoon grew hotter, we watched the Changing Of the Guard in front of Parliament and jumped around in the misting sidewalks.  Then thought we’d better find a pool before all of us started to melt.

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Next Stop:  Margaret Island.  See next Post for details.

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