October 31, 2007

Hunyadi Ter

A few days ago I posted photos of the district fair held on Hunyadi Ter. It is a lovely old square in the 6th district just a couple of blocks away from me. There is an outdoor farmers market on one side and inside there are a variety of merchants from butchers to pickle sellers, green grocers, bakery and fish stand. The district government had quietly pushed through a plan where the beautiful building was to be sold and made into a building of fancy shops and restaurants making some room for these existing merchants in the basement. The park was also included in the sale for the purpose of an underground garage to facilitate the shops next door.

The outrage of another back-pocket deal without notice to the residents had some resonance particularly with the foreigners living here. A small victory won - for now. Just thought I'd share it with you.

October 30, 2007

It must have set the mood...

Apparently, the run in with the BKV driver (oh, he has colleagues with similar attitudes) must have set the mood for me. I've just come across a video of the demonstrations. While I did stay away from politics on the anniversary - I would like to include this now. The saying goes 'You've come a long way baby..." Unfortunately, that is NOT the case in Hungary.

BKV - Budapest Public Transport System

It was the second time that a tram replacement bus attempted to run me down. I say attempted because I'm 5'10" so there is no way the driver did not see me. They are whipping these monstrosities through limited spaces at such speed that you can't convince me he is in control. This 'gentleman' did a U-turn and the momentum did not allow him to stop as I stepped onto the zebra and turned to see where the sound was coming from. The bus literally hit my arm and pulled me with him a step. Very frightening. I took this photo of him when he finally stopped at the curb where he was in such a hurry to. Pretends not to notice anything. I guess everybody has to feel important somewhere, but the people who do behind the wheel (especially of such large vehicles) simply scare me.

Day Trip to Szentendre

Szentendre is a short drive or train ride away from Budapest. Once upon a time, it was the out of city hide-away for the wealthy and famous Hungarians. As Budapest grows, it is becoming populated by people who wish to move closer to Budapest but can't afford the city and lately it is becoming an extension of Budapest for the wealthier families who commute to work but would like small town living. You can see why - quaint little cobblestone streets for the most part, with small shops and everybody knows their neighbors.Naturally, tourism had been a long time "supporter" of the city's economy and it seems to be on the increase. Door-to-door shops on the main streets and the tourists whom they wait to serve.

Would you think of going up on a narrow passage such as this? Perhaps not, unless you know what you are looking for. I've discovered this treasure back in the 80's when I was coming to visit Hungary. Come, let's look.
About midway up, there is this couryard that its enterprizing owners had turned into a goldmine. How? By simply selling deep fied dough. Don't turn your nose until you've tried it. Simple, tasty, fresh and inexpensive. You may have it served with salt and garlic, sour cream, grated cheese or with sugar and cinnamon instead. Greasy? You bet, but delicious.
Here is an unparticular store front but if you wonder in, there is an ancient coffee house (no wonder it is called Nosztalgia) but the courtyard that also accesses the street above......

...you must agree, this is a lovely place to spend the time.

October 28, 2007

Hosok Tere a Little Differently

The impressive size and location of Hero's Square makes it a frequent visiting point for tourists and locals alike. Rather than treat you to the same visions, I took some photos of the statues only.

Does this not look like a heavenly battle about to begin? Sort of like mythology coming to life.
Looking at this one, I would love to know the artist's intention. There must be a story of what it depicts - the female leaning, the male figure holding a golden something...unfortunately, I do not know. :(

October 27, 2007

Budapest National Fair

Last month I've covered the BNV (Budapest National Fair) where the theme at the time was improvements around the home. Some of these things were unique, others very tempting. Those of you who are aware of my yearning for a large(r the better) home, will immediately understand the photo below.

Take a look at this unique hamock. Yes, you could too lie in it all day! I know I could. It reminds me of the one tied between two palms at the Young Island Hotel in St. Vincent. I can feel the ocean breeze.

What an amazing tree this must have been and what a feeling it would be to curl up in this chair. The surface was polished to a silky soft finish and you were enveloped in hundreds of years within a tree trunk. You must have some pretty grand dreams in a place of such inspiration.

October 26, 2007

A Night Out

A lovely view from the Busulo Juhasz restaurant on Citadel Hill in Budapest. They not only have magnificent terraces overlooking the city, but a talented chef, great service staff and lovely facilities. What more can you ask for to make any night special.

October 25, 2007

Hospital Rules

Unless you read Hungarian this will not mean much to you - except give you the visual repression by its monopolizing size and dark, plain print.

The text reads: We request that patients do not take breakfast or lunch to their room but consume it in the lounge/lunch room. Underlined for emphasis. I guess food you bring in or even dinner is OK to take to your room? I would be the one to test it if I were a patient. :)

Below, it continues with a very Hungarian request - that patients do not take hospital utensils to their rooms. All of you know why? Because, everything that isn't nailed down.... it is a leftover habit from the communist days when it was thought that all belonged to the people. The people still believe they are simply 'borrowing' their own.

TOLNI - simply means PUSH and Kerjuk Becsukni - asks that you please close. Alas the Hungarian lesson for today.

October 24, 2007

It bothered me that I didn't have any fresh photos for today so I've surfed the other blogs and one of you happened to be in the same boat. She resolved the 'problem' by posting a photo of a memory. Decided to follow suit. Hope you'll forgive me for cheating - but at least there is no 'hole' in the flow of things.Last year Budapest had undergone a substantial flood. The roads along both sides of the Danube were closed and the water kept coming until it was even level with Margaret Island. What that meant for Pest, as you can see, was that the steps of the Parliament building were in the Danube.

This little building is the ticket office for the Danube sightseeing boats on the bank. As you can see the water came up to the middle of its doorway, covered the road next to it entirely - leaving Budapest wondering 'how much more'?

The boat restaurants were not to be outsmarted and put this little ramp from the dry shore through the flooded road onto the ship. Unfortunately, I can't find the photo where you can also see the restaurant - but this photo does convey an eerie feeling of walking on water into ......

October 23, 2007

Update: Evening of October 22, 2007

Since I could not provide you more accurate information of last night's events, I would like to attach the following links for anyone who is interested.

There are other related links at the bottom of the article in case you want to read the background stories, last year's events that lead up to the current heated situation.

October 22, 2007

Quiet Before the Storm

After another sunny morning, things got cloudy in Budapest by afternoon (Oct. 22nd). Roads were being closed to prevent demonstrators from 'spilling' into official function locations. PM Gyurcsany was to give a speech at the Opera House and as a result Andrassy was closed from the Oktogon to the next largest street (Bajczy-Zsilinszky), the section including the Opera. People who lived in the area had to be collected at crossing points and escorted to their homes by police.

The picture above is the approach from the Korut to the corner of the Oktogon where Andrassy crosses. Smell of rain in the air and a sense of unusual calm.

Here is around the corner of Andrassy at the Oktogon. Yes, there is another flower vendor and look, Burger King. If you don't tell anyone, I'll admit that occasionally I simply MUST have a Whopper.

View from Andrassy looking toward City Park. Although it is not entirely clear on the photo, the new Siemens trams are just passing each other in the middle of the road.

The closed off section of Andrassy, the beautiful boulevard, that runs between the Oktogon and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky the Opera a couple of blocks up on the right.

By 8 p.m. there were special bulletins of police disbursing crowds with tear gas, some trash cans set on fire but I've no pictures of that as I opted to stay in. I did put my shoes on but decided against going out. Instead stood on the balcony in the rain (by then) looking towards the Oktogon which was sealed off on all sides. Suppose it was to prevent marchers to collectively go to the House of Terror museum on Andrassy below the Oktogon.

As the rain persists today and more demonstrations are expected, call me a coward, but it seems a perfect day to stay inside.
Here is a photo of the back side of the Sandor Palota on the Buda Hill. It is visible from Pest as it is perched on the hill along the line of the Royal Palace. It had been renovated and currently houses the offices of the president of Hungary.

The photo below is of the summer castle of the same Sandor family, 45 km outside of Budapest, in the town of Bajna, Komarom County.

October 20, 2007

Long Week-End in Budapest

In remembrance of the 1956 revolution, Budapest is observing the 23rd as a holiday. It will mean a three day week-end for most people who worked today in order to make up for Monday.

Perhaps that is the reason for the light turnout at the district fair. Purposely stayed away from the political commentaries or photos, although at some point this week-end I may decide to 'treat' you to some.

The photos of the fare are far more colorful and less emotional. 1956 was of great significance to Hungary and Hungarians and being an emotional people, it is dificult to remember objectively.

October 19, 2007

Heros and Farewells

Here is a group of statues at the base of the central column on Hero's Square. Wanted to leave you with something of Budapest while we say our farewell with my daughter, who is leaving Budapest today. It seemed like a long vacation but all good things must come to an end. We are about to have lunch.

October 18, 2007

Another beautiful day and while waiting for tram #2 to take us along the Danube to Margaret Bridge, I had to take my camera out and preserve the image behind us of the Vigado building. I do love this city.

October 17, 2007

Lazy Afternoon

We were to share a bottle of red on a bench in the middle of Margaret Island. A friend I've not seen for a long time, mellow reunion, people watching, catching up. It turned out that both of us brought a bottle and with the crusty bread and cheese, fresh air and several hours at our disposal - it proved to be just the right amount. Sometimes memories are harder to digest than one would think. Yes, we both walked away sober and vowed to do it again in less than 5 years.

October 16, 2007

Healthy Clean Up

Hopefully, I'm not the only enthusiastic 'health nut' who buys at the green grocer only to end up having the produce become centerpiece. Yesterday, I thought I'd salvage what I can and juice the bowlful.

It turned out to be a quick job with very tasty results. The combination of apples, oranges, grapefruit and ginger!! Lovely, healthy and nothing went to waste. :)

Finally, don't want to leave you without a photo of Budapest. We did go for a walk in the crisp, fall sunshine - here is a shot of my lost balloon on Andrassy ut. By the time we crossed the street I only had the stick in my hand - no balloon, then we looked back and...

October 15, 2007

Lonely Watch

Took this photo of the lonely patron surveying the street below (can you see his head and shoulders?) behind the five star hotel Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal. The bridge connects the main building with the next block where they've developed long term rental apartments, known as Royal Residences complete with a grass lawn on the first floor!! This area had shaped up beautifully in the last decade to where even the back street is attractive.

October 14, 2007

City Scene

Between construction, street repair and rush out traffic it was not an easy day to navigate on Wesselenyi ut in Budapest. Unfortunately, it seems that most districts have construction going on in addition to the new metro line being dug so the future stations above ground mean additional traffic blockage.

Hope you are having a peaceful week-end.

October 13, 2007

Hungarian Hospitality?

One of the most difficult thing to come by in Hungary is - good service. The old habit of making you feel as though the clerks are doing you a favor when they finally pay attention to you, appears difficult to shake. Whether this was the case here or simply new shipment arrived, or perhaps some cleaning done...? who knows. There was nobody withing ear shot in the store so snapping the scene seemed fair game.

October 12, 2007

"Papa's Got a Brand New Bag...."

The automobile landscape had come a long way in Hungary from the days of the Trabant, Moskvics, Lada and Skoda's. This car struck me not only because it was shiny and new - but look at that plate! :) I wonder if the owner even knows? or are those initials? The picture was a 'must have'

October 11, 2007

Doctor's Visit

Not sure why, but most Budapest buildings have a very high 'ground floor'. Both my apartment and my daughters requires you to go up a flight of stairs in order to get to the lobby. These stairs must be climbed in order to get to the 6th district Health Care Facility on Csengery u. As it was late afternoon that I got there, unfortunately there is nobody on the stairs - but you can well imagine the ill and elderly. There is an elevator in the building, however, and notice the thoughtful tracks for wheelchair access. (The Psychiatric Care Institute is across the street in an equally dismal building but with only a few steps up! :)

October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007

The statue of gentle author Jokai was utilized by an ad campaign this week.
Perhaps they thought it would give the statue color? or perhaps his good name would enhance their campaign? :)

October 09, 2007

October 9, 2007

You have to be REALLY looking to see what it looked like (by clicking on the picture it will enlarge the photo, so you can see it better) - but yesterday, as I was waiting for a bus on Andrassy, a flurry of wind was helping the trees undress along the boulevard. It literally looked as thought it was snowing with these small yellow leaves falling. I dug out my camera and made an attempt to preserve the magic of the moment.

October 08, 2007

Downtown Budapest - October 8, 2007*

This beautiful park (Erzsebet Ter) is in front of the Kempinski and the Le Meridien hotels in downtown. Because it is in the business district most locals run through it with heads down on the way to or from their destination. It is only the tourists, the young mothers with children or the elderly who pause to admire what a beautiful oasis it is in the middle of the city.

*I see a problem here. When it is morning of the next day for me in Budapest, the blog is still in the previous day US East Coast time. No, I didn't write 2 entries in one day, just appears that way. :)

October 07, 2007

Sunday Drive

Since the promised rain stayed away, we took a drive to the country. We came across this scene in the village of Bajna, (Komarom megye. It looked colorful so we stopped to inquire. They were celebrating harvest festival and the performances were by guests from surrounding villages and took place after a parade through town (which we've already missed).

As always, children enjoy such things the most. Hope you enjoy the photos minus the aroma of 'langos' in the air and wine boots offering local wines.