Tag Archives: forralt bor

fun with sarah

Sarah’s here!

Sarah just got off a plane

She’s a stronger woman than I, because when I got into town, I immediately wanted to nap.  She opted to stay awake, so we stopped at the Tesco to get more forralt bor stuffs (it’s seriously becoming an addiction), and went to the apartment to make the wine and drop off her bags.

If drinking forralt bor every day is wrong, I don't want to be right.

The wine went into the thermos, and we took the thermos to Margit Island to enjoy the afternoon sunshine (and the unbelievable 50°F).  We didn’t get time to explore the Island really, since there was wine and sun to be enjoyed, but we did see the Centennial Monument.

The Centennial Monument

Wine and sunshine, as it turns out, do not mix well with jet-lag, so in an effort to keep our companion alive and with us, we moved on to our lunch destination: Marxim Pizzeria.

Having been to Statue Park and the Terror House, I found myself hesitant to fully enjoy Marxim at first.  I mean, everything I’d experienced up til this point solidified in my head the idea that Communism wasn’t funny.  And it wasn’t.  But I can appreciate dark humor and camp as much as anyone, so in short order I checked my guilt at the door.  And thank heavens, because this place is hilarious.

For one thing, the booths are lined with chicken fencing and barbed wire.

Working for the state of inebriation

Then there were the menus.

Not pictured: my selection, "Gagarin's Favourite", with smoked cheese and broccoli. (Just guess which one Jim ordered)

And then there’s just the overall aesthetic of the place.

And finally, there was the pizza, although in the throes of our revelry I completely forgot to take pictures of it.  But it was delicious.  And, true to the spirit of the place, we all shared.

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half-hearted wanderings

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.

Donuts + rum. every. damn. day.

Speaks for itself, really.

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!).

Commence diabetic coma.

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.

Enchantée, mon chèr.

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.

If the price list is to be believed, the lowest-tier opera ticket costs about US $2.50. We may have to see an opera while we're here.

After that, we continued on.  A few more blocks down the way, we came across a familiar site.

Terror House. Enough said.

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:

happy

yeah. 🙂

That’s all for now!  Hopefully my next post will involve the words, “I’ve stopped coughing!”.  Cross your fingers.

Szia!

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castle hill

It’s just after 9am.  As I write this, Django Reinhardt is playing on our alarm clock, and I am waiting for our adorable little percolator to make me an individually-sized cup of coffee.

oh god give it to me...

Such has become our morning routine: I get up, turn on some lights, make some coffee, and start in on my various writings, while Jim intermittently rises to snooze our Django alarm.  This will continue for the next hour or so.

Since Friday, I’ve started feeling a little under-the-weather as well, though not nearly to the extent that Jim has.  So far, all I’ve had to complain about is what I’ve diagnosed via Internet as mild bronchitis (slight burning in the bronchial tubes, light but occasionally painful cough).  This hasn’t helped us improve upon our departure time, as you might imagine, but we still manage to get out. Yesterday, we decided on an afternoon walk to Castle Hill.

We’ve been to Budapest once before, in December 2005, for about four days, and we visited Castle Hill then as well.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, and full of things to see.  From the Pest side of the Danube (or Duna as it’s called here), you can see the Palace, the Gothic spire of St. Matthias Cathedral, and many other steeples and eminences, all majestically set into the hillside.  Since we weren’t really going to have time to do any in-depth exploring this time around, we decided to turn it into a reconnaissance mission for when Sarah arrives, since it’s one of those places any first-time visitor has to see.

The Royal Palace as seen from the Chain Bridge

Once we crossed the bridge, we had to decide if we were going to buy tickets for the Funicular (or, as we’ve affectionately dubbed it, the “Fun Car”) or ascend the hill on foot.  We decided we needed the exercise, so we proceeded on foot.  Ahead of us, a group of people making the same trek turned off the main trail and disappeared into a wall.  Naturally, we followed, and it turned out to be a shorter way to the top, lined with very interesting graffiti.

Found this on the shortcut to the top of the Hill

Once we got to the top, we were greeted by another bird: the Turul.  The Turul holds an important place in the origin myth of Hungary.  As legend has it, the bird appeared first to the wife of the leader of the nomadic Magyar people in a dream, wherein she was symbolically impregnated by it and a great river began to flow from her womb, signifying that she would bear a son who would father a long line of  great rulers.  The Turul also appeared in another dream, to another Magyar leader, in which it rescued his people from attack and instructed them to migrate to what would eventually become Hungary.  The Turul represents the will of God, and it sits on the Tree of Life and carries the Sword of Attila (thanks, Wikipedia!).

The Turul Statue at Castle Hill

Once atop the Hill, we began to search for a place to get coffee (this seems to be a recurring theme with us).  The first place we found was Korona Cukrászda, a pastry shop near the National Gallery.  We sat down near a picture window looking out at the Palace and began to peruse the menu.  One of the specials listed was Forralt Bor– hot wine.

Context: On our last trip to Budapest, we’d spent one of our days at Statue Park just outside of town, and returned at the end of the day famished and exhausted and in search of a Mongolian Barbeque restaurant that was highly touted in our Lonely Planet guide book.  We ended up getting mega-lost, finding the restaurant only after they’d stopped seating for the night, and so we made the long trek from Buda back to Pest in the lowest of spirits.  Upon crossing the river, hungry and dejected, we turned a corner and stumbled onto a Christmas festival full of music, delicious street food, and– best of all– forralt bor in mass quantities.  It was then that we first fell in love with it.  So of course we ordered it now, with a slice of sour cherry strudel alongside.

yum yum yum yum yum

The service here was a little lacking– our clean plate and empty glasses sat for a good while before getting cleared away, and then it was another considerable chunk of time before it occurred to anyone to bring us the bill– but the wine was near perfection, and the strudel wasn’t bad either.

At this point, it had grown dark, and we decided to make our way through the district, down the hill, and back to the Pest side of the river by way of a different bridge.  The Castle district is lined with cobblestones and every road is flanked by unbelievably quaint and picturesque rows of houses and storefronts.  Once we left the busier sections, and descended into the residential hillside, the only sound was that of our footsteps on the cobblestones.  We weren’t exactly sure how to navigate our way out, but we were on an adventure, after all.  Once at the bottom of the hill, we found the river, and the bridge we needed to cross.  And then we saw this.

Parliament building at night

Suffice to say that Budapest at night is unrivaled in its luminescent beauty.  There are so many historic structures, all of which are lit up like a Christmas tree as soon as darkness settles.  It makes for a lovely backdrop on an evening constitutional.  The view from the bridge we crossed to get back to our side of the river wasn’t bad either…

Parliament to the left, Castle Hill to the right, and the Chain Bridge over the Danube in between

Such was our Saturday.  Today is Sunday and I have no idea what we’re going to do.  Jim is finally awake and showering, which is a sure sign we’re going to be out by noon, but our only destination so far is coffee-related (what did I tell you?).  After that, it’s anybody’s guess.

Til next time! 🙂

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