Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hungarian Adventure

Our week in Budapest has flown by, but here are some of the highlights (in photo form). On Christmas Day, we wandered over to Budapest’s version of Central Park for some skating in front of a castle. Ben had never ice skated before, but he was a good sport, and we all managed to take a few spins around the rink without damaging any vital organs.

The skating rink in front of Vajdahunyad Castle
That evening, we headed to the Hungarian State Opera to see La Bohème, despite everyone’s worries that our massive Hungarian dinner and our glasses of mulled wine would send us straight to dreamland. Melissa and Fareed called it a day after about half an hour, at which point they ignored the judgmental looks of the coat check lady and headed straight to a ruin bar. Ben and I stayed until the end, reveling in our cultural superiority.

Hungarian Christmas dinner

Feeling classy at the Hungarian State Opera

On Thursday, we went on a walking tour of Budapest, crossing over the Danube and taking in a view of the city from the Buda side. While Ben and Fareed initially made fun of Melissa and me for walking at the front near the guide, they were the nerds busting out correct answers every time the guide asked a question about Hungarian history.

The Chain Bridge and the Danube at dusk
Our next stop on Thursday was Escape Maze, where we partook in a game that tested our logic and intelligence.  But when Melissa signed us up for this, she was unaware of our combined inability to even open a door. For example, within five minutes of getting settled into our flat, Ben had managed to lock himself in the bathroom, and Fareed was so puzzled by our apartment keys that we inadvertently slept with our door unlocked the first night.  They also insist that one set of keys doesn’t work, which has led to them “Spider Manning” their way over the gate to our building on two separate occasions. We probably should have thought about this before being locked into a labyrinth; after sixty minutes, we were still trapped in a basement with a dead German soldier, a wall of clocks, a TV screen, and a heavily padlocked door. The owner came down to rescue us, then asked us in bewilderment, “But you have all the keys and combinations, so why couldn’t you get out?” A very good question.

The only visitors to get all the keys but not make it out

Friday found us at the Szechenyi Baths, a bathhouse experience I might like even better than the Russian banya experience.  The complex is huge, and I managed to get in a 45-minute swim, a one-hour massage, and so much sauna time that I nearly passed out in my catfish paprikash at dinner.  On Saturday, we hit up the Central Market and took a walking tour of the Jewish District.  Feeling rather embarrassed about my early Friday night bedtime, I decided I needed to bring back my college self for Ben and Fareed’s benefit.  This led to far too many palinka shots and a tour of Budapest’s weirdest bars, but I still couldn’t keep up with the boys and left an hour before they did.  However, my inability to navigate anywhere meant that I arrived home roughly 15 minutes before them.  Melissa had been woken by a neighbor pounding on the door at 4am, so she was wide awake, prepared to defend herself with a frying pan if it came down to it, and very relieved to see us when we returned.  We recapped the night for her over wasabi chips and embarrassing stories before collapsing into bed at 6am.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t get an early start on Sunday, but still managed to rally for a third and final walking tour, this one with a Communist theme.  Today is our last day in Hungary and I’m terribly sad to be leaving, but it’s been a wonderful Christmas week.  For the grand finale of my trip, I plan on staying up until my 4am cab ride to the airport so I can take advantage of my last evening with Ben and Fareed.  Hopefully it won’t be another 6.5 years before our next reunion.

1 comment:

  1. So jealous! I need to be there the next time!!!