A breakfast in September birthed the idea of a weekend together and it all came to life last Saturday. Cat and I met Susi and Tici at the train station (Cat well prepared with a bottle of pink sparkling wine and some plastic cups) and we were on our way to Budapest.
We arrived right on time at the Keleti train station (gone are the times when you had to wait at the border) in Budapest which is a beautiful old building.
After a brief discussion with a local cab driver we decided on taking the metro to our hotel. The Palazzo Zichy was only two metro stations from Keleti away. The M4 line was opened this year and it looked brand new and shiny.
The stop at the hotel was only used to freshen up and get ready to meet with Sylvia and Eva at St. Stephen’s Basilica. The name alone made us feel at home but we found out the hard way that we were all strangers in this city. With ill-founded confidence we walked out of the hotel, immediately going in the wrong direction. When we ended up next to the Danube instead of the Basilica we asked some locals and were guided to the nearest metro station. The M3 turned out to be one of the oldest lines and of course we had to take some pictures
(the pics which look as if done by “David Hamilton” are from Susi’s camera which adds a permanent grey veil over everything)
So with only 15 minutes delay we arrived in front of the Basilica where one of many Christmas markets was held.Lots of food stalls but also a fair amount of craft stalls which really offered something new compared to the stalls in Vienna. Just noticed though that I didn’t take a single picture of a craft stall (I wonder why?).
The apple punsch we tried left us disappointed but decidedly warmer on the inside and we were ready to search for a place to eat. This turned into an odyssey since a group of six is not easily accommodated and it was Saturday evening. We walked a lot that first evening in a constant drizzle of rain (rain wise this was the best evening) and saw already a lot from the city.
We also passed the Alexandra bookstore which has a beautiful café on top.
While walking and trying to find a nice place (we already got turned down by one place and I as usual was picky at where to eat) we arrived in front of Menza, a place we had seen in the Wallpaper City Guide for Budapest and deemed as visitable. The place was packed, but looked exactly like the spot where we wanted to spend a great evening. We set up camp at the bar and waited for a table.
When we finally got one, it was well worth the wait. The food was delicious, giving a twist to traditional Hungarian dishes. Check it out yourself and take a closer look at the garlic soup with Lángos.
Sylvia and Eva went home after dinner, but we girls were ready for one more drink. The nightlife of Budapest has an excellent reputation and we wanted to try that ourselves. Madame Noi was supposedly right around the corner but after passing the address twice we gave up. Later we learned that it was closed, so Wallpaper City Guide needs to update its books. At least there was another place (also in the Guide book) on the way so we walked to kolor. Which was definitely not worth the visit. The service was slow and inattentive, furthermore we had to pay right away although we set at a table and the lemon in the G&T tasted moldy. Not a classy ending for an otherwise fantastic evening.
Upon leaving the bar it was raining harder, so we were glad to catch a cab almost right away. A cab which had a taximeter, something essential in this city!