May 27, 2009
The hydrofoil linking Budapest to Vienna seemed like a good idea, and yet the landscape is flat and I feel like I’m riding in the back seat on the NY State Thruway in western NY. The six hour trip upstream includes 30 minutes 2 sets of locks. I had irrational hopes that Eddy would use this transit time for study. The fact that he is not should 1. not surprise me and 2. is probably responsible for my somewhat pissy mood.
Ah, now passing what was a fortified medieval town on a hill judging by the renovations in the works. There are also blocks of eastern bloc apartments from the 50s looking the worse for wear, but I don’t see any city names on the piers. We do stop for 1/2 hour in Bratislova. We have seen the large river cruisers – hotels on a boat, and some industrial barges.
May 27, 2009
Monday – gorgeous weather – we walked through the old Jewish district with the largest European Temple to the Central Market where fresh fruits and vegatables looked fabulous on the ground floor and goodies like embroidered table clothes & blouses, leather bags and more salami with snack bars and a restaurant tempted the shoppers upstairs. I got a chess set for our cat sitter and Eddy added to his key chain collection.
We crossed the river from Pest to Buda, saw a chapel in a cave where Catholocism had its Hungarian roots and climbed a hill to see some heroic old Soviet monuments that the Hungarians renamed to suit current political winds.
The guys head back to the hotel – may I observe that lunch time beers seem to sap energy? I strolled along the Danube still in Buda, dodging bicyclists as work crews install tracks for a new tram line following the river. I hopped on the funicular up the hill, toured the exterior of the National Gallery and several other official buildings (all closed on Mondays) noting that I strolled within feet of the office of the President of Hungary with no discernable security. Basically I walked my feet off and deserved my strawberry ice cream cone.
The area around our hotel was growing on me, its a neighborhood in transition with musicians. While renovations are more extensive in some favored areas, ie along the river and Andrassy Street, its still random, so that a 5 star hotel as pure as a Disney Palace is next to a building with equally beautiful bones that is covered with the grime and wear and tear of a war zone. Near our hotel, we found a street with many cafes and had dinner across from the Liszt music school. The music school has 2 concert halls and terrific live piano music floats out the windows non stop. For dinner? another peppery stew filling a pancake but this time with a crisp, fried pancake and sour cream on top. I’ll have to check out that cookbook Phil’s mom gave me.
I’m typing this on Tuesday as we ride the hydro foil Vienna. Don’t know when I’ll be able to post this. Phil’s sister said she’d take care of a place to stay for us, don’t know where or if there will be any computer connections. The Budapest hotel room internet was, er, intermitent.
May 25, 2009
Late arrival on Saturday night – Budapest looks a bit like NYC during a rough decade. In the am we stroll to mass at St. Stephen’s Basilica, a smashingly over-the-top church in Marble and gilt and on to a cafe where Eddy first complains of vision strangeness and a headache. Then to the Chain Bridge – half way across the headache has become a deal breaker and we dash back to the hotel where Eddy throws up on the threshold of our room. Oh have I mentioned that the cat sitter has the key for the basement – not the front door and we have let them know that its ok to crowbar the door between the basement and the 1st floor lest Alfie eat all the remaining food and then Mathias would eat Alfie. OK, just a bit of stress going around. So after (Eddy is badgering me to delete whining and) napping, Eddy recovered and we tried what seemed to be a shorter walk along Andrassy which is a lovely tree lined wide boulevard with stately old buildings in various degrees of disrepair. We arrived at a park with fresh air and dogs and an amusement park at the parameter. There was a most miraculous recovery . . .
May 25, 2009
Saturday, 2 days ago, was the all day train trip – up at dawn, more wonderful Swiss coffee and nearly runover by a trolley outside the train station. From the northwest corner where Switzerland, France and Germany meet, we are traveling back through Zurich and further east through the mountains into Austria, Innsbruck then north catching a small segment of Germany to Salzburg and on to Wein. We changed there for a train to Budapest arriving after 10 pm.
I’ve sketched, nagged Eddy about Latin and enjoyed the panarama car. Eating “out” all the time is already feeling limited.
Surprises? Ogee shaped church steeples and May poles still up alongside buildings decked out with solar panels. Lots of windfarms in the plains in eastern Austria and Hungary.
Staying in a place for only a day or two is not the kind of traveling that I’ve done much of before – a certain hit and run quality. Certainly some days I’m very blurry eyed.
May 22, 2009
The skies were grey, the paintings super, in galleries just before the Van Goghs were “friends” – several terrific Corots, one of a Duck Pond.
What is this large wooden horse about? I’ve no idea. We’re packed for tomorrow’s am train to Budapest. We’ve walked a lot. Every cup of coffee has tasted wonderful. Getting computer time is difficult.