Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weekend in Budapest

Last weekend Celia and I made a 4-day trip to Budapest. I don't remember how long I've wanted to go there; I was anticipating elaborate architecture and jewel-colored thermal baths. For the baths, the Hotel Gellert Spa did not disappoint. A thermal spa isn't much like Canyon Ranch. Instead of calesthenics, you sort of laze around in water that is geothermically heated and supposedly the minerals in the water are good for you. What do I know. In any case we managed the language barrier (Hungarian? Koskonom means thank you. That's all I could retain) we booked massages and a manicure for me, a pedicure for Celia. The manicure featured all sorts of sparkeldy nailpolish, I chose pink. I am looking at it now. It is fairy princess my little pony pink.

Our hotel, Soho Boutique Hotel, was on the Pest side of the river. The hotel, newly finished in August, was staffed with handsome young men whose English was perfect. They encouraged us to ask for recommendations and advice, which we did several times a day. Very helpful, very nice room, great breakfast, I recommend it.

So we mostly wandered around, maps in hand, or took one of the four transport modes: Underground, Tram, Street Train, or bus. Like most european cities, Budapest has a lot to teach the US about public transportation. Otherwise the cars all seem to be burning diesel fuel which made the air kind of nasty at rush hour. The city is all you think it is: cosmopolitan, ancient, elaborate-amazing, and there are remnants everywhere of the Soviet era. Fabulous food. We shopped at tiny grocery stores also every day for snacks and mystery food.

We visited more museums than I will remember here: The Textile Museum, the Applied Arts Museum (in a fabulous tiled art nouveau building), the National (art) Museum, the History Museum, the Jewish Museum... the Castle, the embassies, the bridges (all), the Central Market (see photos). Well. Here are the photos:

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