Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Budapest and Beyond

The view of the corner opposite our hotel. Love the details and colours of the buildings here - Budapest is such a mix of incredibly run-down and beautifully maintained. The parliament buildings are white and shiny when viewed from the river or from Buda, but from the bus in Pest the rear is sooty and a bit dreary.
This is the (I know I'll get this wrong, but I'm in the airport and don't feel like looking it up) church of St Matthias in Buda Castle. I was so taken with the colorful roof tiles that I took too many pictures (for me; taking snapshots in general not being what I do, but I was given orders before leaving, so pictures-r-us). The detailing on the building, the whiteness of the exterior (yes, it looks grey. It's not really quite so grey at all) combined with the shiny brightness of the roof just got me right here (punches chest).
See? Pretty!
And the view of the Danube isn't so shabby either.
Yeah. More roof tiles and baroque details.
The kids weren't so much into palace tours or church interiors (yup, I'll have to come back some day), but did agree to see the labyrinth, which was very dark and dank and cool.
I'm not entirely sure why they were building a concrete throne underground, but I'm sure there's a good reason for it. Imagine the king that would hold court underground - there has to be a movie in it somewhere.
The above was actually the first building we saw in the castle area. It was used as military headquarters during the war, and as you can see, they didn't fix the bullet-holes in the walls.

After the castle we went to the Great Market Hall.

It's three floors of Stuff.

The ground floor is produce: beautiful strawberries and asparagus and kohlrabie and cherries, dried sausages and fresh meats, everything pickled you can imagine, dried fruits and nuts and candies and baked goods and spices (the price of saffron is insanely low). Hunger-inducing.

The basement is the fish market and a supermarket.

The upper floor is more of a balcony area, as it mostly hugs the exterior walls, leaving the gloriously soaring ceiling wide open, and is filled with traditional foods (we tried stuffed cabbage and hotdog in a croissant and mashed potato between a pair of crisp-fried meatloaf patties and then sadly were too full for dessert) and stunningly inexpensive and lovely leather purses (a gorgeously soft leather bag which would have run me $250 in the US was around $50), embroidered peasant blouses and folk art and tourist crap, among which were the ever-popular scarves that we've seen in every city so far.

I had bought one in Krakow labelled cashmere and silk (70/30 if I recall correctly), but it seems that labeling is utterly random. Some are labelled cotton and cashmere, or silk and cotton, or pashmina (which as we know IS NOT A FIBRE) and silk, and so on.
Some of the heavier weight scarves are labelled 100% pure cashmere, and they're nice, but may well not be pure cashmere, and as you can see, some are even labelled 100% angora, which is so far outside the bounds of reason that it's purely laughable.

I think they're most likely rayon, possibly with a bit of silk, though I'd need a burn test to be sure.

After the market we took in one of the traditional bath-houses, though unfortunately not the one I wanted, as it didn't have mixed (gender) bathing. The one we chose (Szechenyi) is a large building around an oval courtyard with a few outdoor swimming pools. Inside the building are thermal baths of varying temperatures. Instead of the usual smell of chlorine and feet that I associate with public pools, there's a faint eau de sulphur from the predominant mineral. The entryway with its little foot bath through which you have to pass to get to any of the thermal baths list the minerals, but I didn't pay too much attention, so all I remember seeing is iron and calcium in the list of a couple of dozen.

Next time in Budapest I'll set aside most of a day for the baths (and I'll go to Rudas, the one I really wanted to visit) so I can have a massage and facial and all that good stuff.

Right now? I'm in the airport waiting for our flight to Munich and then on to Split, Croatia, where I'll spend my birthday tomorrow.

No comments: