10 August 2015

Budapest Revisited

Twelve years ago I visited, not only Budapest, but Eastern Europe for the very first time. I hated it. I did not get why people liked Budapest so much. It did not help that it was still fracking winter and snowing and bitterly cold. Or that I was getting a little culture shocked from the Eastern European mindset, or that I couldn't speak the language.

Well I still can't speak the language (I'm sorry Hungarians but really?) and my German is actually worse now than it was 12 years ago but now I'm a lot more accustomed to being able to communicate without a firm grasp of the local language. Plus, a lovely, cool summer day makes just about any city enjoyable. So on the one day we had free from the travesty of a work event that had me stuck in Hungary I took a train into Budapest and enjoyed the day.

First up of course was Mass at Szt Istvan Bazilika. In Hungarian. Sigh. I miss Latin.


After Mass I met up with my colleague with whom I had taken the 7AM train into the city. We wandered a bit, had a drink a schmancy hotel near Saint Stephen's, and then saw this:

You can't really see it in this picture but it's a Georgian restaurant called Hachapuri!! A GEORGIAN RESTAURANT!!!! We had a moment of mind meld and headed straight for it without a word. Heaven. Pure heaven. We stayed there eating, drinking, and talking for about three hours...just long enough for all the grey clouds to disappear and the sun to come out!

We had those eggplant rolls with walnut paste (I can never remember what they're called: let's go with transcendent deliciousness), khachapouri ajari (the only khatchapouri in my book), mushroom khinkali, and beef/pork khinkali. And there was wine. Georgian wine! A lovely Rkatsiteli, perfect for a summer day.

After we pulled ourselves away from the Georgia restaurant (where I bought a bottle to go!) there was more wandering around.

While walking around we found the synagogue and I was reminded of how much I love this building. Sure I think Saint Stephen's is stunning (although the interior is a little too Byzantine for my taste), but the synagogue is stunning. The largest in Europe, it is over 150 years old and built in a Moorish style. Sadly we didn't have enough time to take the tour but maybe next time.

The train ride back to the middle of no where was a nice end to the day. I forget how much I love trains. We had a spectacular sunset to admire as we raced (well chugged along speedily I suppose) through the Hungarian countryside.

Between stalls at the festival and dutyfree I came home with a pretty decent haul: five bottles of Hungarian wine, one bottle of Georgian wine, one bottle of vodka, one bottle of rum, 3 pounds of brown sugar, and a giant pork sausage.

And Sherlock was almost as happy to see me as she was to play with the suitcase.

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