Backtrack to Budapest

Well, now that all of my independent travel trips are over and I’m back in Budapest to stay (at least until November 15, our next excursion), I figured that I should probably post an update about what else Kelly and I have been up to in the city. In all actuality, this post should really have come before the Athens series because that is when we did all of this stuff, but I was too busy before Athens to post it. Still, I don’t want you to miss out on the fun!

Over the fall break, Bekah’s parents came to visit her in Hungary. Since Bekah, Kelly, and I usually go to church together anyway, we all decided to invite her parents there on Sunday as well. We all got acquainted with each other, and her parents offered to take us out to lunch. Originally, we were going to try a place called Nagyi Palacsintazoja, which is right next to the bus stop in Batthyány tér. However, I’d read very mixed reviews about the place, and so when Bekah asked what I thought of it, I told her that a lot of people said that it wasn’t very good (the palacsinta are microwaved, not cooked on the spot). She decided not to take her parents to that place, and we went instead to a pizza place right next to Nagyi. 

I ordered a chicken and onion pizza with white sauce. It was good, although it was a little bland and I needed to add some salt. But after that, I enjoyed it.

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After I finished the pizza, we all also got desserts. I ordered profiterol, soft pastry balls filled with vanilla cream and dipped in chocolate, or the inverse.

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All of the food was good, and I was certainly stuffed after the meal! Bekah, Kelly, and I went our separate ways at that point — Kelly to see a museum, Bekah to take her parents to Szentendre, and me to go see some things in the city that I’d wanted to see but hadn’t yet. First up was to snap a couple pictures of the Church of St. Anne:

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Then, I stopped at the Great Synagogue, hoping to get a picture of the Tree of Life.

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Unfortunately, as I discovered when I got there, the Tree is inside the synagogue, and the reduced entry fee for students was 1900ft. No way. Sorry, tree.

Thankfully, I knew that my next destination wouldn’t cost me anything — the Shoes on the Danube. It took a little while to walk to them, but it wasn’t hard to spot them once I was close.

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This memorial was created in Budapest to honor the Jews who were killed by the Arrow Cross fascists in World War II. The Jews were ordered to take off their shoes and then they were shot there on the banks of the Danube so that their bodies would be carried downriver by the strong, fast current.

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It was getting to be about 5PM, so I called it a day and headed back to the dorm. A few days later, Kelly and I got up early to go and visit some more places that we’d always wanted to go, first being to Saint Stephen’s Basilica.

Of course I’ve been to the basilica before, but neither of us had ever been inside. Also, if you recall from the post “Chasing Around a Dead King’s Right Hand,” Kelly and I had attended the parade for St. Stephen’s hand but had somehow missed it. So, we headed into the church to finally get a glimpse of that severed limb.

The inside of the basilica is very beautiful, but after seeing Notre Dame I’d have to say that the French stained glass wins out. However, that’s not to say that the stained glass in this Budapest church was of poor quality. That’s far from true.

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Of course, there is a monument of St. Stephen, Hungary’s founder (and owner of this mysterious hand we’d been chasing for months) in the front of the church as well.

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After we’d had our fill of seeing the inside of the church, we went into the back room that contained the hand. After months of searching, we’d finally found the reliquary where the elusive hand was resting, and we found…that I was too short to see inside. Ah, life. “Nobody can tell what I suffer! But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied.” And so I continue to complain like a whiny little baby. 😉

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As an alternative to taking a picture of the hand that was too high up for me, I took a picture of a picture of the hand. Works for me!

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Having seen (kind of) what we came to see, Kelly and I left the basilica and headed back to the nearby Deak Ferenc ter, where we were going to have lunch at a place called Tejivo. On the way, we passed a street sign that I just had to take a picture of, as it’s one of the few of its kind which remain.

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The sign which is crossed out heralds back to the days of communism, when the street names were changed in order to line up with communist philosophy. The street names have since been changed back, but it’s rare to find a place where the sign from communism is still posted. Normally, they’re just removed. You’ll also notice that, especially when speaking to older people, they will often use the communist-era names because that was what they grew up with. Sometimes getting directions can be a bit confusing!

Anyway, we found Tejivo easily enough.

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See that little white piece of paper there on the left window? Yeah, unfortunately that was the piece of paper saying that, due to the national holiday, Tejivo would be closed from Oct. 22-24. We visited early on the 22nd, and we were quite disappointed. But, the show must go on! Instead, we decided to try another place that we’d always wanted to try but had not yet visited — Yummy Noodles.

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Many of the people in our Calvin group go to Yummy Noodles all the time, and they say it’s quite cheap, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. My idea of cheap and others’ idea is often quite different. Yummy Noodles was more expensive than I’d hoped it would be, even though we did get enough food for me to have both lunch and dinner from the leftovers. I ordered fried noodles with chicken in peanut sauce for about 900ft.

It was good; the chicken was tender and juicy, the peanut sauce was very good and very sweet, and the noodles were not too greasy. Still, I was a little disappointed that the place wasn’t really as Japanese as it claimed — its only real Japanese dish was sushi, and the maki rolls are insanely small (about the size of a quarter). Japanese people don’t usually fry noodles as often as they eat them in soups or eat rice. When they do, it’s called yakisoba (やきそば)and is actually a derivative of Chinese chow mein and not really so Japanese after all.

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Anyway, all things considered, I much prefer rice to fried noodles, and so I prefer my weekly Asian-food shop to Yummy Noodles, not only for cost but also for overall quality. I would go back to Yummy Noodles if I happened to be with the group and they wanted to go there again, or if I ever get another craving for peanut sauce, as that was definitely really good.

We obviously couldn’t finish the whole thing, so we bagged the cartons back up and carried them with us as we journeyed back to the basilica to have dessert at a small gelato shop there. But this is no ordinary gelato shop, my friends.

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In this gelato shop, the servers make the gelato into roses. I ordered two “scoops,” one a pine tree seed scoop and the other a pumpkin and plum scoop. Both were quite delicious — the pumpkin one was more bland than a pumpkin pie spice one, but in a good way. Not loaded down with cinnamon but still having that sweet taste. The pine tree seed one was interesting, and it reminded me of the smooth, creamy flavor of chestnuts; a flavor that touches the back of the mouth and is delicate. You have to focus on the flavor, and if you eat it too fast, you miss it. The cone was interesting as well; not sweet and very chewy. Almost like a stale unsalted cracker. Unique.

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Kelly and I also made a pit stop at a park near the Gelarto Rosa to take a picture of a unique “statue” we’d seen before but didn’t have the chance to capture on camera:

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This is a monument in the park where lovers can proclaim their everlasting commitment to each other by writing their names on locks and then locking them around the bars, throwing the key in the Danube afterward. There are some more feeble-hearted lovers, though:

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Just in case, I guess. 😉

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Thanks for tuning in, yet again! So, what’s on the schedule for the blog now that I won’t be traveling for a while? Don’t worry — my life is awesome, so I always have things to write about. 😉 Tuesday or Wednesday will probably be the next update, after Kelly and I visit some more Budapest restaurants for the first time (including the above-mentioned Tejivo, which should be open now!). See you then!

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