Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Budapest, part 2
We arrived in Budapest Friday evening, checked into our shared apartment, and set out to peruse the neighborhood and scout some dinner. The first two places our guidebook recommended were closed-down, but we ended up in the courtyard of an artist's colony with large trees and candles. It was gorgeous. After dinner we walked along the Danube through the very touristy and over-priced Belvaros neighborhood. We witnessed many drunk Americans and Brits eating at Cuban/Mexican/etc margarita bars. Why would you go to Eastern Europe to eat ala North America? Bad move!
The next morning Ryan woke me up with his muttering. I planned 90% of this trip, doing my usual printed an itinerary with our sight-seeing destinations clearly google mapped. I had also taken care of estimating costs and getting the necessary Hungarian money from the bank. Normally, banks charge the least commission when changing money, but our new bank (Deutsche Bank) this was not the case! Their commission was almost 20% and Ryan had begun to worry that we wouldn't have enough money to do everything we wanted on the trip.
I pause at this point, reflecting on the fact that this was our one-year anniversary trip, and at this point in the game I should take Ryan's financial worries with a grain of salt. He tends to get worked up about these things until I get worked up and then come back and say "oh its not really bad at all" as if he simply enjoys worrying.
So, momentarily freaked out, I slashed at the itinerary, removing the walking tour, concert, and other expensive items and replacing them with free museums and picnicing. And the next day when Ryan realized he had overestimated any money glitches, I wasn't disappointed. (I might have slugged him, but the free things we did were great)
We breakfasted at McDonalds (not our first choice but Hungarian cafes don't open before 10 and we starve by then!) and hit the Hungarian National Museum (history), the Great Market Hall (picnic supplies), and walked across the colossal Danube over to Buda and the Castle District.
This district is atop a hill and walled-in. Very touristy, but I love these old city centers. Rough Guide redeemed itself with a walking tour through the old sites and up to the castle. Inside are three museums: Military History, National Gallery, and Budapest History. We hit the almost free National Gallery, and on our way out ran into some belly dancers passing out fliers in Hungarian. I couldn't read the flier, but it figured it was a belly-dancing show and was only 500 Forints (about 2 euros) so dragged Ryan to find it. It turned out to be some kind of Renaissance Fair/battle reenactment that we'd normally never go for, but hey we're in Hungary, so we sat in the grass and spent 40 minutes watching the Hungarians defeat the Turks.
We ate picnic supper at Fisherman's Bastion (see photo) which has beautiful views of the city, split a bottle of red wine from the market and Ryan dragged me back across the river a bit tipsy.