Part of me is glad that, if we were going to have to be sick for any segment of this trip, it’s while we’re in the city we’ve previously visited. On the other hand, our half-hearted wanderings don’t make for very interesting travel-blogging. But we still try.
I hadn’t gotten to sleep until nearly 5am Monday, and so I slept in until about 11:30am. My one order of business was to make it to a music store and get a microphone cable, since I’d meant to bring mine from the U.S. but cleverly grabbed a 1/4″ cable by mistake. After some Google Map research, I decided the most likely place to have what I needed was Tajti-Music, near our old stomping grounds on Károly Körút. Another preliminary search showed that the Hungarian phrase for “microphone cable” is “mikrofon kábel”. Score!
So we walked there, went in, and found what I needed. My tiny victory of the day was saying “mikrofon kábel” with such stunning accuracy that the man behind the counter answered back with a lengthy stream of Hungarian. The blank stare I offered in response tipped him off to the fact that I had no idea what he had just said, which somewhat diminished my tiny victory, but without missing a beat he simply repeated what he’d said in English, which was to ask me what length I needed. The rest of the transaction proceeded without incident, and in minutes we were ready for the next destination, which was– what else?– coffee.
Jim knew where he wanted to go, and led me down some adorable side streets to get there. Before long, we came to a café that had some top-notch signs.
As it turns out, this place with the awesome advertisements, Cafe Gerlóczy, was the exact place Jim was taking me to. The signage belies the swank factor of the interior, which was decorated with marble and plants and lots of dark wood. We sat down and took a look at the menu. Jim went with the “tea menu”, which inexplicably involved no tea– rather, it was a choice of hot or cold chocolate, accompanied by pistachio cake and some kind of cream sauce. I snapped a pic of his hot chocolate but the cake was gone before I could document it (I did get a bite, though– finom!).
I went with a less indulgent pairing: café latte and a macaron. I’ve been hearing the virtues of proper French macarons extolled with increasing frequency over the last few months, and once I saw that I had the opportunity to try one, I couldn’t say no. Merci à Dieu that I didn’t, because it arrived on my latté saucer like a shy little ruby-encrusted secret. How enchanting.
After we were sufficiently indulged, it was time to walk a bit more. We decided to hoof it over to Andrássy Út, Budapest’s biggest avenue and a World Heritage site. My original intention was to walk to the end and see Heroes’ Square and City Park, but the avenue is quite long and so we never made it that far. We did, however, take a gander at the lobby of the Opera House.
After that, we continued on. A few more blocks down the way, we came across a familiar site.
Behold the Terror House, located at the former headquarters of the Hungarian Nazi (Arrow Cross) party, as well as the Soviet secret police. We won’t be going there this time; we’ve already been once before, and once was enough for me. The museum is a palpable retelling of the horrors of the back-to-back Nazi and Communist occupations (they don’t call it Terror House for nothing), including a refurbished Soviet state car, the likes of which would be used to “disappear” dissenters in midnight raids, as well as a Soviet tank in the lobby. Next to the tank stands a multi-story mural of all the faces that disappeared during the occupations. The museum tour ends with the triumphant exit of the last Communist from Hungary in 1991, but that only comes after rooms and rooms of desperation and despair. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it– but plan to do something light-hearted and fun afterwards, because it is a bit of a mind-f*ck.
Once we passed the Terror House, we both decided it was time to head to the grocery store for more forralt bor makings, and then back to the apartment for dinner. Soup and hot wine does wonders for the sick traveler, after all. On the way home, I saw this sign, which summed up my feelings at that moment:
That’s all for now! Hopefully my next post will involve the words, “I’ve stopped coughing!”. Cross your fingers.