Budapest, Day 2: Tourists in the Rain

(This is the 19th post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Monday, June 30


We begin Day 2 in the rain, but still have to stop to see the beautiful manhole covers.  I know there are plain-jane ones in these countries we travel in, and perhaps this is just putting on the dog for the tourists, but I love the detail and the signifier that You are not in America.

BudapestDay2_2 BudapestDay2_3 BudapestDay2_4 BudapestDay2_5

Always on the lookout for interesting pattern-whether it be on a rainy sidewalk or a window or a manhole cover.  BudapestDay2_6 BudapestDay2_7 train

We switched trains somewhere underground, finding our way to the beginning of the walk.BudapestDay2_7a tiles BudapestDay2_7b train yellow BudapestDay2_7c train BudapestDay2_7d train doors

No, I don’t know why I took picture of all the trains we rode on that day, but there you are.BudapestDay2_8 soccerWe made our way to the beginning of our Rick Steves’ Pest Town Center Walk, so we get off at Vorosmarty Ter metro stop and arrive in a large square with a giant soccer ball on a pedestal.  The shops are just beginning to open, but we’re headed for the Danube Promenade.  I read off Steves’ bon mots as we scurry by famous shops, shopping streets and buildings.BudapestDay2_9 The Bard

We pass by the Bard on our way to other sights.BudapestDay2_9a BudapestDay2_9aajpg

The view across the Danube to Buda, and above that, the bas relief map that tells us what we are seeing.BudapestDay2_9b

We found the Little Princess, wearing a jester hat.  I made Dave pose for the photo for about 3 minutes, trying to get the exposure right.  I came home and Photoshopped it alive, so you can see how everyone touches the statue’s knee, a common occurence with statues around the world: a body part rubbed shiny by the visitors.BudapestDay2_9c BudapestDay2_9d

I’m shaking the hand of this statue, although in reality, she’s reaching for the dog’s ball.  I even have one more late one night, of Dave shaking some other statue’s hand. We always get a kick out of English, as translated by the locals.  Thanks God, it’ Happy Hours.  Our favorite one was in Italy, when the owner of the hotel was trying to describe the newest building addition to the old restaurant, and called it their “outhouse.”  We didn’t know whether to tell them that they’d used a term for an outdoor latrine to describe the wing of the hotel where our rooms were, or not.  I think we mentioned it briefly, knowing that nothing would change.


A big concert hall: the Pesti Vigado.  We watched tons of videos about how to get tickets to concerts and to the all-famous baths, but ended up doing nothing but the usual.  I think those are things that require a lot of foresight, or a local to show you around.BudapestDay2_10a BudapestDay2_11 First McDs

The famous McDonald’s–the first McDonald’s behind the Iron Curtain, during Communist times.  Apparently when it opened, lines stretched around the block to get a taste of the West.BudapestDay2_11a soccer

Still soccer madness going on.BudapestDay2_11c

First and only traditional dress seen in Budapest. BudapestDay2_12 frieze BudapestDay2_12 Parisi Udvar

The facade of the “Parisian  Courtyard,” a “grand, hidden gallery with delicate woodwork, fine mosaics and a stained glass dome,” which we didn’t see because it was all locked up.BudapestDay2_12a Parisi Udvar BudapestDay2_12b Parisi Udvar BudapestDay2_12c window boxWe amble to the next stopping place, admiring even this touch of beauty in a cement windowbox.BudapestDay2_13 doorknobs BudapestDay2_14 pattern BudapestDay2_14a

The walk takes up this way, and I do a double take–it’s the sweet little plaza with the book fountain from yesterday evening.  I love it when our paths cross again.  As a tourist (and probably readers of travel blogs) eyes can glaze over at all the new! fabulous! historical! sites, so when you re-visit something, there’s a lovely frisson of happiness: “I know this place.  I am not lost. I am “getting” Budapest!”

We find out it is called Egyetem Ter, or University Square.  One building on this street houses the law school for ELTE, and at 30,000 students, it’s one of the biggest universities in this city.  (ELTE stands for Eotvos Lorand Technical University, named for an influential physicist.  I love Rick Steves’ books.)BudapestDay2_14b BudapestDay2_14c BudapestDay2_14d

We peek inside one of the university buildings bordering this street and find this lovely courtyard.  Dave reaches for my camera and the screen goes dark.  “WHAT??”  Now two cameras are out of whack?!? I take it back from him, and try a few buttons, and end up pressing the “Display” button at the bottom of the camera.  The screen comes to light.

Dave looks at me.  “That’s all?” he says.  He pulls out his supposedly broken camera, turns it on, and presses the Display button.  Well, la-dee-da!  Camera fixed.

I start laughing, asking “You mean you didn’t try that before?” He shakes his head no, and I giggle some more.  “Glad to help you out,” I say, feeling dumb that I hadn’t thought to try it.  But I just took his word for How Things Were.  Glad we are back in business with two cameras.BudapestDay2_15 BudapestDay2_15aInteresting door and window in a round iron facade.  We wonder if it’s not some sort of night club.BudapestDay2_15c BudapestDay2_16 market hallFinally!  We’ve arrived at Market Hall.  It’s still sort of gray and rainy, but the roof is full of those little tiles like the church on the hill and I’m sure in the sunlight, it would be grand.  I’d said all along I wanted to buy a matryoshka when we got to Market Hall, one of those nesting dolls.  BudapestDay2_16aWe walked in–and started gawking and staring.  It’s just such a huge scale with so many shops, most selling paprika, like the ones below:BudapestDay2_16b BudapestDay2_16c BudapestDay2_16dRick Steves said to head upstairs for lunch, so we do.BudapestDay2_17 lunchWe wandered and wiggled our way through the crush, finally stopping at the last stall on the upper hall.  I ordered roast chicken and a version of pickled cabbage, which I call rotkohl, but it goes by other names as well.  It was amazing.  I had no idea what any of the Hungarian words said, so I just pointed at the array of food, and they served it up (although it took some time to get to the front of the line.)BudapestDay2_17a lunch

Dave got some goulash, and while it looks just like any other regular soup–the flavor was also incredibly delicious.  We ended up talking to four British tourists who shared our wobbly benches and table, and got their traveling stories.  They said they’d been there before and knew to come to this stand.  So if you are going there, face the hall on the upper level at the back, head down the right-hand side and eat at the last stall.BudapestDay2_17c snack BudapestDay2_17d snack

Snacks to have on the way out in order to console me, because there wasn’t one matryoshka that didn’t look like it had been made in China. . . or looked like Dolly Parton, with huge eyelashes and tons of paint/make-up; they all were over-produced, mass-produced.  I was so sad, for that’s what I’d been hoping to get here on our trip for my souvenir.  Now. . . nothing.  BudapestDay2_18a

Back outside we admire the buildings surrounding the square.BudapestDay2_18bBudapestDay2_18d homeWe found our way to a tram stop, found the right tram and headed home to Palazzo Zichy Hotel for a break.

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