Final Hours in Budapest (Day 3)

(This is the 22nd and final post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Tuesday, July 1

BudapestDay3_11We continued walking down the main boulevard, and seeing this one we both instantly thought of all the Communist propaganda that must have spilled from this building, the Hungarian State Television building.  It’s now been converted into luxury offices and apartments, or so says our guidebook.BudapestDay3_12

While I loved the stylized sculpture found on the side of a building under reconstruction, it was only after we got home that I was able to look it up and see what it was (from a Hungarian website, translated into English):

“Saint Kozma (Koszmasz) and Saint Damján (Damianosz) (3rd. century) Christian doctors [and apparently twins].  Damján came from Arabia and engaged in medical practice with Kozma in Minor Asia, Cilicia Aegea. Both were very zealous Christians and suffered martyrdom in 303 because of the the Roman emperor Diocletian’s ordered christian persecution. They were later canonized and honored by the Justinian church pilgrimage by thousands of patients in search of healing. When in 1260 formed the first college of surgeons in Paris, they opted for the patron, and since that time respect them as the patron of the doctors and surgeons.  The sculpture is located in the district on the wall of a polyclinics.”

They are often depicted holding a box, to dispense medicine.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1a

This was our destination: St. Istvan’s Basilica, only about 100 years old, built in Hungary’s millenial celebrations in 1896.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews7 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1b

Budapest St. Istvan_1 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews3 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews3aSo, no.  I don’t know why there is an 1851 on the arch outside.BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews4 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews5 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews6 with DAEHi, Dave!Budapest St. Istvan_3BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews1aa BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8 BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8b BudapestDay3_13 StAndrews8cBudapest St. Istvan_2

This church’s claim to fame is the “holy right hand” of St. Istvan, kept in this jeweled reliquiary.  I like how Dave caught the stained glass windows in this photograph.

We decided to walk across the Chain Bridge–a Budapest landmark, and sauntered dragged ourselves that direction, when Dave found a National Hungarian Souvenir Shop.  We found our last chance for some souvenirs!  A necklace for me, and two carved birds for him were what we purchased, but there were many lovely things to choose from.  Satisfied, we walked on. BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge

According to the guidebook, this bridge was commissioned by Count Istvan Szechenyl, after he was stranded on one side of the Danube for week during the winter, as there were no permanent bridges then, missing his father’s funeral.  Built by Adam Clark by 1849, it became a symbol of the joining of the two cities: Buda and Pest into Budapest.  The original was destroyed by the Nazis (like so much) but it was rebuilt after World War II.BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge1 BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge2 BudapestDay3_14Chain Bridge3

Yes, even here we find those hideous locks of love.  Done! we say, and find our way back home, as we’ve planned all along to go to our favorite restaurant.BudapestDay3_15 DinnerThe Matryoshka Bistro, across from our hotel in the little square.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner1 BudapestDay3_15 Dinner2

I can envision them in the kitchen with some tweezers, placing the leaves just so in the dollops of sour cream.  This was blini with lamb and homemade sour cream.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner3

I couldn’t leave without having the amazing cold pumpkin cream soup once more.  I love their “ham crumbs” and dill jelly garnishes.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner4

The reason why we travel: at the end of a trip, sitting at our last meal, enjoying the culmination of the experience.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner5

Dave had the rolled lamb ribs, mashed potatoes with butter, spinach and roasted tomatoes.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner6

I had the daily fish filet with roasted vegetables and hollandaise sauce.  Their plating is as gorgeous as their food is delicious.BudapestDay3_15 Dinner7We shared the desert, which I think is their version of “szirnykiki” or cheese pancakes (they are really more cake-like), floating in vanilla sauce, garnished with sliced pear.  We found out that this restaurant also supplied the ice cream to the little ice cream shop next door, so yes, after this we shared an ice cream cone, while sitting in the Loreinc pap ter (square).BudapestDay3_16 square BudapestDay3_16 square2

We watched the shadows deepen, the small children cross the square on the scooters, the office workers meet each other at the pub next door, and heard the church bells ring, calling the faithful to evening mass.  We drank it all in, knowing we will probably never come back, even though we say we will.  We lingered long, then finally made our way up the stairs to our room.BudapestDay3_16 square3

Sculpture in the ceiling of the hotel entry way.BudapestDay3_16 square4Good-bye Hungary.

A Train to Budapest

(This is the 17th post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Saturday, June 28

Zagreb_last pictures1We ate another amazing breakfast, sneaking seeded rolls & slices of ham back to our table, then making small sandwiches for the train ride ahead.  Good thing we did.

Zagreb_last pictures2We thought we had paid for a high-speed first-class rail ticket, but apparently there was some problem with the train, or our brains when we made the reservation (don’t think so), or something, so we were we to take Train A and transfer to Train B up the line.Train Station

So what was supposed to be a quick 4-hour ride, ended up being a train ride to oblivion.  Because we had fancy tickets, we had to kick out some squatters in our seats.  By some miracle the numbers matched up and they left.

Zagreb_last pictures6Zagreb_last pictures3 Zagreb_last pictures4 Zagreb_last pictures5

All the cars had been tagged with graffiti.

Zagreb_last pictures6_banging tiresThis guy came around and banged the wheels before we were boarding–a metallic hammering sound.  I have no idea why. Scenes from the trip:

Train View1Train Views Enroute to Budapest1Train Views Enroute to Budapest2Train Views Enroute to Budapest3Train Views Enroute to Budapest4Train Views Enroute to Budapest5Train Views Enroute to Budapest6Here’s the wheel banger guy.

We kept stopping and adding more cars. The train would shudder as they’d connect, then we’d slowly take off again.  This was repeated several times, until at the above stop, we added cars and then chugged backwards.  We had started out with a relatively small train in Zagreb, but when it was time to get off the train in Budapest (nearly an hour late), the train was so long, that those of us in the nice car (which had been at the front at the beginning of the trip) were so far back we had no train walkway to land onto — only train tracks.   Instead we walked through several cars to get to where we could see the train platform of sorts — this was patchy asphalt — but worried about being carried back to Zagreb, so hurriedly got off, dragging our suitcases until we made it to the less-patchy asphalt platform.   We weren’t in Kansas, Toto, and it felt like it.

Budapest_train stationTrain Station eats.  We found out we had landed at the less nicer of the two train stations.  No kidding.  Now comes the game to change money.

Budapest_train station2Okey dokey.

We try to hit the bathrooms before figuring out the next transportation hassle, but the bathrooms require coins.  Florints, Budapest coins.  So we finally find an ATM, get some money, but need change, so we buy our subway tickets (someday we are just going to take a cab, I know it), get the change.  Then we take turns watching the luggage while the other person uses the bathroom.  Holding our subway tickets in the air, to show the guards at the top of the escalator we are law-abiding tourists, we head down into the mass transit system.

Dave is in front of me by two paces, and as he rounds the corner toward the train, the doors are open and it is waiting.  He starts to make a run for it.  I holler at the top of my lungs, “Don’t you dare get on that train!” and he freezes just before jumping inside. I can envision him being whisked off to somewhere in Budapest while I am left on the platform to dissolve in tears, weeping as he leaves me behind, no money (he had all the florints), no husband, nothing.  Luckily our marriage was saved by his good reflexes, and we caught the next train.

Budapest_street signWe took the train to a street-level tram (signs on the street, above) and by following the maps I’d printed off at home, make it to our Palace.  No kidding.  It’s Hotel Palazzo Zichy and it used to be some nobleman’s palace of a home-now-turned-hotel.  We loved it.

Hotel Zichy EntranceBudapest_hotel zichy room numbersThey speak English!  Our room is ready! and this is where the room number is in the hallway: at foot level.  Our room is perfectly lovely.

IMG_8853View out our window, into the inner courtyard. 

Zichy SquareThey recommend several restaurants for us, but we are interested in the little bistro just outside our hotel in the square: Matrjoska Bistro.

Matryoshka Bistro Sign Matryoshka Dinner1 Matryoshka Dinner2

Citrus-y Bulgar SaladMatryoshka Dinner3Freshly baked bread, two varieties

Matryoshka Dinner4Garlic and sour cream — garnish for the borschtMatryoshka Dinner5

Chilled pumpkin cream soup with dill jelly (detail, below)Matryoshka Dinner5aMatryoshka Dinner6

BorschtMatryoshka Dinner7Grilled Catfish and VegetablesMatryoshka Dinner8And to finish off, cake and ice cream (they make the ice cream next door to the bistro, but it is owned by the same people)Matryoshka Dinner8a

Poppyseed cakeMatryoshka Dinner8bVanilla ice cream

(Many of my reviews of Budapest are found on TripAdvisor.)

Church scenes1 Church scenes2Bordering this little square are the hotel, a church, a very fancy (apartment?) building, and a more normal apartment building with a pub in the basement.  In the dimming light, we take photos of the surroundings.

Church scenes3 Church scenes4 Church scenes5 Church scenes6 on Zichy Square_Budapest1 on Zichy Square_Budapest1a on Zichy Square_Budapest2Count Vichy

More details about him on the hotel’s website.on Zichy Square_Budapest2aWe are too worn out to do anything else, so after these two tasks: eat an amazing meal and explore the square, we walk back across the street to hotel.

Translation of my blog

Our internet works fine, and I laugh at the translated website: “Perhaps a little maintenance on our own selves is why summertime is such a tonic, even if we don’t know what ails us.”  The bistro and this hotel are the tonic tonight, complete with chocolate on our pillows.

Budpaest_chocolate on the pillow

Next post: Camera-less Tourist and Castle Hill