ALL THE THINGS
HIRSH AND SARAH'S ADVENTURES THROUGH "GREATER EUROPE"
WHERE WE HOPE TO EAT, SEE, AND DO
ALL THE THINGS THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE HAS TO OFFER
On our second and final morning in Budapest, we started off with a Danube River cruise. If you have fantasies of a huge, romantic cruise ship with that catchy commercial music playing in the background, let me quickly dispel that image. For about €5 each the day before, we had purchased 24-hour public transportation passes to get around the city. This pass covers subways, buses, and public boats and it ended up being a great value. Our passes were going to expire at 2pm today, so of course we had to use them to the fullest. You know Hirsh. What better way to avoid wasting money than taking a cruise to see the Parliament Building for the tenth time? When our boat arrived, covered in rust and listing dangerously to one side, Sarah said "That's a government boat if I've ever seen one." It certainly was.
We cruised all the way past the Parliament Building to the next dock, disembarked from the boat, and then waited to board the next boat traveling in the opposite direction. We then hopped off at the Parliament dock and walked all around the building. It really is very pretty. Travel all the routes and enjoy all the views!
For our last adventure in Budapest, we had to figure our way out of an escape room! We had heard of friends doing this in other cities, and we decided to do it here because the concept was invented in Budapest. Here's how it works: you're locked in a room for one hour with almost no direction whatsoever, and you have to use common sense and critical thinking to solve various puzzles which ultimately unlock the room's door. Usually, this is done in groups of 4-6 people, but the two of us managed to escape from the room just in time! We are, however, still haunted by an algebra problem that took us way too long to solve (especially since we both love math).
On the walk back to our hotel, Hirsh stopped for a photo in front of the Opera House.
Then we hit the road for a 4.5 hour drive to Ljubljana, Slovenia, famed for being the once hometown of Melania Trump. Actually, it's famed for other reasons, like being cute and vibrant and being home to a very cool dragon bridge.
We arrived in Budapest late Monday night, but the benefit was that our introduction to the city took place when it's at its most impressive. Seeing the Parliament Building and Chain Bridge illuminated at night in all their glory will take your breath away. More on that later...
Tuesday morning started out with a leisurely walk along the Váci utca, the city's main pedestrian shopping street. Along the way, we were aggressively offered all manner of items for purchase, from massages to used and probably stolen iPhones. Nein danke. The street ends at the old Central Market, the largest indoor market in Budapest. We spent some time exploring the market and comparing it to the historic West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio. In many ways, this city reminds us of Cleveland. It's proud and tough and a little gritty, with tons of potential which it's recently begun to rediscover.
Lunch was at a great restaurant called Borbirosag, located just behind the market. We had traditional Hungarian goulash soup, pork-stuffed paprika, and dumplings with cheese and bacon. Delish!
After lunch, we decided to visit the House of Terror, a museum dedicated to chronicling the rise and rule of the fascist and communist parties in Hungary. Neither of us knew much about this history other than the very basics glossed over in our American public schools. We knew we had much to learn, but what we didn't expect was that this would be one of the very best museums either of us had ever visited. Everything about the place - from the architecture to the layout of the exhibits to the lighting and foreboding music - created an all-encompassing, incredibly moving experience. This museum was obviously very thoughtfully created and will stay with us for a long time. After we finished, we both had to sit in silence on a bench for awhile to mentally and emotionally decompress. We couldn't help but continue to talk about it for the remainder of the evening and throughout dinner. It's amazing what human beings will do to one another in the name of power, greed, and fear. We only hope our future leaders know and understand the rights guaranteed by our unique Constitution, and appreciate the importance of respecting those boundaries. Civilized, peaceful societies are fragile, indeed.
We ventured across the river to Buda for dinner and a good view of the Parliament Building at night. Dinner was at a restaurant called 21 Hungarian Kitchen, where we had more goulash soup (this time in a fancy lion bust bowl), tomato salad, duck breast with potatoes, and chicken paprikash with buttered dumplings.
You'll just have to trust us that these pictures don't do the city justice. It is pure magic at night.