November 30, 2007

Salman Rushdie in Budapest

As lines queued up in front of the store and waaay into the mall, us reporters gathered at the couch where Mr. Rushdie was going to sit. The colorful posters are the front covers of the Hungarian translations of the authors latest works. He was late in arriving and so we shuffled.Whether it was due to my humble Cannon or the others pushing in and my arm not being steady - it really does not matter. Bottom line is, these are the best photos I can offer you of this author with a gentle soul.
He sat down and the others positioned themselves either on his two sides or crouched down to below eye level with their cameras. That left me standing there conspicuously in the middle in front of him. As noone had actually said anything or introduced him - I felt the time was right.
"Good evening Mr. Rushdie - welcome to Budapest. Would you be so kind and autograph this book for my daughter, please." No pen? No problem, I've one you are welcome to. It was a miracle of miracles - never in my life had I produced a pen from my bottomless pit of a purse in such record time! "Thank you Mr. Rushdie."

November 29, 2007

You know you are in the country when....

Can't take credit for this photo, I've borrowed it from a previously mentioned expat site but thought it funny and wanted to share.

November 28, 2007

If It's must be doors

Last Wednesday I've promised you doors once a week. It is hard to beat the doorway you've seen first, so let's follow with a famous door. These are the center front doors of the opera.And THIS! is the ceiling of the drive up portico right before these doors. Simply magnificent.
Enjoy your day and thank you for coming by to visit.

November 27, 2007


There is a private clinic beneath my apartment where they specialize in treating athletic injuries complete with surgery. There are also two dentists on board and it appears that one may be moving or getting a new chair. Whatever may be happening, this poor fella had been made to stand in the corner for the past few days.

November 26, 2007

Alexandra Books & Wine

The first attempt to copy a Barnes & Noble in Hungary is the chain store Alexandra Konyv es Bor. In addition to being able to sit around and read publications, you may sit in the cafe corner and also order wine. The young woman the book store is named after is the daughterof Mr. Oszter, who is having some difficult events facing him these days. First of all, he is a man! As such, being a father of an attractive young woman is proving most difficult for him. First, there was the open debate about Alexandra accepting Playboy's invitation to pose in Playboy. (As the cover claims "The pictures that made Sandor Oszter (that would be papa) lose it".

Latest news is that Alexandra is heading to Hollywood to advance her career. She will be the next "guest" in the home of fellow Hungarian, director Andy Vajna. (The last such guest, actress Kata Dobo, decided to return to Budapest, where she's had some good works since then.)

November 25, 2007

Window Shopping

Things are definitely headed that way. This is the window of a fine interior design establishment. Look what they have by the door. :) An equally fine, tall, elaborate, beautifully decorated - Christmas tree!

November 24, 2007

The Budapest Operetta Theater

You've seen the statue of Kalman on the bench in front of the theater If you look carefully at the enlarged picture, there he sits quietly in the dark on the bottom left of the photo. His shoulder is outlined by the light. Now here is the theater itself. It has a somewhat mysterious glow to it in the dark. Doesn't it?

November 23, 2007

A Bright Spot

Have you had enough of the grey and dreary for now? I have. How about a couple of summer shots from the bank of the Danube. This beauty of a building below is the Pesti Vigado. This is a building used for concerts, offices and restaurant. The outside had been sandblasted and the interior at the moment is being renovated so it is vacant. By the way, do you see the statue by the flower pots? It is a figure of a sitting girl playing with a dog.
From the Vigado looking across the Danube is the Royal Castle building which now serves as a museum. The grounds are used annually for the wine festival - a most noble venue for such noble substance. The very chic boat on the Danube is one of the River Cruise boats traveling between Budapest and Germany.

November 22, 2007

Operetta Anyone?

Imre Kalman was a famous composer of operetta and this is a statue of him in front of the Operetta Theater in Budapest on Nagymezo u. - also known as the Budapest Broadway.

November 21, 2007

Doors and Doorways Series

Perhaps once a week I will show you some interesting doorways from around town. More than that would be boring - but here is a spectacular sample to start off with. You've seen the details of this wooden door in an earlier post, well here is the 'rest of the picture'.

Absolutely love walking through those doors at least twice each day - my office is located in the building.

November 20, 2007

Opera Christmas Garb

Here it is - dressed for Christmas. This may not be such a big deal for any other country - but for this "former" communist country - it is simply TOO RED. Especially, considering that this was the location of the PM's speech for the anniversary of the 1956 uprising.

Yes, the sign claims ELEKRA - but interestingly enough all of the posters throughout town that advertise the performance have a green background. So, "who's zoomin' who?"

The building below sits directly across Andrassy ut from the Opera. It was the former Balett Institute. The building had been vacant for some time and is rumored to be considered as a luxury hotel (yet another). You may remember this building from the crane photo. The crane had been set up on the right side to raise another floor onto the existing structure - the modern way to multiply scarse downtown building space.

November 19, 2007

New York Palace

A Budapest landmark - the New York Kavehaz (Cafe) had been a center of the literary scene in the not so distant past. Famous writers spent their day at its tables reading and writing; polititians plotted, argued and came to agreements.

As most buildings, it too had fallen into disrepair during the past decades as there were no funds to appropriately remodel it. The building was covered with scaffolding for close to 10 years as the state attempted to find investors. It was not until the end of last year that the Boscolo Italian luxury hotel chain opened a hotel in this beautiful building. The restaurant and coffee shop remains but the classic furniture had been substituted with some rather controversial modern contrast. Flashy and beautiful, but perhaps the literary minds of old may find it a bit cold. Here you may find some historical facts and photo updates of the inside.

November 18, 2007

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter in Budapest's 7th district had fallen into disrepair. Some of the buildings had to be torn down because they had become unsafe. Over the past 10 years, however, there had been a drive to revitalize the area.

This drive appears to be affective as there is now lots of new construction and repair of the handsome old buildings.

There is so much color, so much simple and extravagant design in the buildings that it is a gift that there was a response to the call and the buildings for the most part will be saved.

A long term project, for sure, but so beautiful!

November 17, 2007

Hungarian State Opera House

This beautiful building is one of the jewels in the crown of Andrassy Blvd. Here you can read more details and see the programs.

A closer look at the facade of the building with statues of famous composers lining the upper balcony. They look as though they will step off of there and join the audience.

Another day I will show you the photo of what the Opera looks like "dressed for Christmas". 'Tis not a pretty sight.

November 16, 2007

"Thanksgiving Comes First"

Today I'm dedicating this blog to the effort of reminding merchants that Christmas is on December 25th. We all know, we have always known and do not want or need to be reminded of it months in advance. I'm personally beginning to resent Christmas because of the buying frenzy the public is whipped into that by the time the holiday arrives who can really enjoy it? If you feel the same way or had similar thoughts - please visit these blogs and do what your conscience tells you. You have the RIGHT to enjoy and savor your holidays - the first thing we must do is reclaim them.

November 15, 2007

Szechenyi Ter Statues

A few days ago you've seen the grand building that houses the Gerbaud closing one end of Vorosmarty Square. This is the cluster of statutes that sits in the middle of the square. Its location (so close to the Danube) and the start of the pedestrian shopping street (Vaci u.) places it on every tourist's list - and with good reason.

November 14, 2007

Khmm.....and the same to you?

This monstrosity was parked along the sidewalk where the crane (from yesterday) was being set up. Yes, the sheer size would have been worth photographing, but it was what I saw in the window that made me do it. Don't know about you, but if I saw that in my rear view mirror, I'd get out of the way. :)

November 13, 2007

Stairway to the Stars

Have you ever... These monstrosities are all over town working, but I've never actually been this close to one as it was being set up. It must be incredibly flexible as it bends out of sight. It is times like these that I regret not having a better camera - but it is still amusing and amazing. I'm 5'10 and the orange cabinet to enter the crane was above my head.

All of this in the middle of traffic at the end of a busy day across from the opera.

November 12, 2007

First Snow in Budapest

As long as it had to be cold and gray, it might as well be decorated. It was - the first snow in Budapest on Sunday. Began with a drizzle of sleet then huge flakes of snow for a couple of hours before turning to rain that lasted into the night. Too bad that my camera did not do justice to the vision that lay before me from the bedroom terrace.

November 11, 2007

The Famous Gerbaud

The Gerbaud building forms one side of Vorosmarty Ter from where the walking street - Vaci utca - begins. It's history you may read at the link, but this is also the facade that displays the advent calendar, Christmas fair with booths and mulled wine, then one of the locations for New Year's eve street parties. The pastry shop/cafe was the most fashionable in all of Budapest along with the New York and Central.

Its grandeur is preserved in the structure and its central location adds it to the 'must see' for most tourists. Today it is quite overpriced the waitresses are not the friendliest and the pastries do not stack up - in my opinion - the to quality of the tiny and ancient Buda establishment - the Ruszwurm.

Tomorrow, stay tuned for the statue that graces the center of the square.

November 10, 2007

Take Note

Cold weather returned and once again the contrast was what struck me most. Here it is the colorful advertising post, the remaining and yellowing leaves against the gray sky.

November 09, 2007

A Glowing Facade

After the dark cloudy afternoons, Thursday greeted Budapest with brilliant sunshine. Caught this impressive facade on the opposite side of the street walking to work. It was enough to bring a smile to my face. Hope it will do the same for you.

November 08, 2007

Lazy, Rainy Afternoon

It was raining by the time I was finished with my 'to do' list today and did not feel inspired to go out to take photos. Instead, I've dusted off a couple that are fun anyway. The one below I caught from across the street - it is a beauty shop for gentlemen - including facial treatments and manicures.

The photo below is a park in District 7 that had been beautified recently when the Ramada Inn took up residence in the neighborhood. The playground is particularly well equipped and car traffic was reduced a great deal in the neighborhood.

November 07, 2007

Blah Day

Wednesday, midweek already. That's the good news. Outside it is gray, cold and dismal. Traffic is picking up at the Oktogon.

November 06, 2007

Just Like in the Movies

Took a different route to work as I had chores to do in the morning. This time I ended up on walking streets that had been created during the past few years to beautify and civilize the downtown area. Lovely.

Something did strike me as odd, there were too many yellow vested security people around. As I approached the Opera there was one posted in front of each building entrance. Too early for anything official to be going on, perhaps preparation?

As I got up to the Opera, there was a FOG in the air? Strange, it is a clear morning. But wait, what's the white stuff on the ground?
And Christmas decorations? Around here? no major stores and Louis Vuitton is on the other corner facing Andrassy...

:) I've found myself on a movie set! Just one of the many that is constantly blocking off parking spaces on the streets of Budapest. Did not stop to ask which movie was being filmed but caught a headline elsewhere that DeNiro was in town. Who knows, perhaps this is the set he works on.

November 05, 2007


On my way to work I've looked to cross the street and look what caught my eye. Among the drab old walls there is a new, vibrant sign inviting people to a dance studio. The name is Ladies Choice (Holgyvalasz = Holgy (lady) valasz (among other meanings, this time it is used for 'choice'). If contrast stirs your soul as it does mine, this will be for you. Enjoy :) Click on the photo to enlarge it and bring you up-close.

November 04, 2007

Gloomy Sunday

We were promised the beginning of a cold front today and the battle is apparent on the sky. One one side the sun is trying to triumph but the rest of the sky is gray.

There are so many beautiful details in this city that one never runs out of finding yet another morsel. They simply don't make them like this anymore.
Doors such as this are virtually everywhere on the large downtown blocks. Small visual gifts for the eyes of the beholder.

See what I mean - here is another example. Simply beautiful in the middle of downtown.

November 03, 2007

Sunny Afternoon

Another beautiful sunny day, the third of the four day week-end. Strolling on Andrassy I've noticed the much lighter shade of leaves - they are almost yellow.

One more look at the Parliament also, this is a somewhat less recognizeable portion, but equally attractive. I guess I'm focusing on domes? or just have a great desire for a roof terrace....?

November 02, 2007

Parliament - Budapest

You've seen photos of the Hungarian Parliament building before, I am sure - here is the dome as it peeks through a side street arriving from the American Embassy. Truly a majestic structure.

November 01, 2007

Out for an Afternoon Stroll

Photos are available of the St. Stephen Basilica so I won't bore you with that. Instead, here are a couple of photos of the more mundane areas: like the side of the basilica. Enlarged, the photo reveals these iron figures along the rail. Details that enhanced but are missing from modern structures. This picture was taken from the entrance of the church under the basilica. I peaked in to see if a good angle was available and the guard invited me in to take a balanced shot. Lovely surprise.