Baths and Culture

It’s funny how easy one get can used to freshly pressed orange juice and instead of being happy for the luxury get annoyed when there is some stupid tourist who takes too long time ahead of you. I guess the comfort is one can get used to not having awesome breakfast as well, at least I hope so. The plan for today was to walk all the way to the Széchenyi Baths, passing Szimpla again since it was a farmers market today.

Szimpla was almost crowded, which is rather impressive given it’s size, with people 20130107-201822.jpg selling various vegetables, sandwiches, jams, cheese and what not. The smell of mulled wine mixed with sound of some band jamming along and some (well behaved) children laughing made in all a very friendly experience – in the end we didn’t buy anything though but instead continued our walk.

After finally getting to the baths, renting some towels (which looked remarkably like bed covers) and locking in our belongings we huddled through the courtyard into the warm open pool. After getting warm, but not too comfortable we ventured out in the cold again, and headed for what turned out to be the saunas. Széchenyi is huge, there are no maps and the few signs are in a language outside my realm of understanding. It took the lot of my Hi-Potion searching skills to find all baths and saunas on this level to get 100% completion. After close to three hours and with the nice ending of the being in the warm outside pool in light snowfall we called it a day.

The snowfall was beautiful, but not so warm so instead of walking all the way back we went to a nice old school subway station, turns out the line was opened in 1896 and is the 4th oldest one in the world. Instead of going all the way back we decided we would stop in the Jewish district again for some food and then go directly to a classical concert we had booked tickets for.

We grabbed a burrito at El Rapido, a mexican place close to Szimpla – we were told yesterday by the guide that she thought the name was funny because they were everything but fast on service – but that their tequila selection compensated well for the wait. We can only state that empirical tests have shown that indeed slower service has only been found in regions of South Africa in prior travels – it tasted nice and was ridiculously cheap though. We then hurried to pick up our tickets at St Stephen Basilica, turns out we were one hour too early – good that we rushed 🙂

20130107-203009.jpgIn order to kill an hour we chilled at Costa Coffee nearby. I was impressed by four groups of students “studying” on a Sunday evening – it looked just like in Sweden where youngsters (not myself of course) play with their iThings, flirt, drink chocolate and in general do anything except actual studying. When we left we overheard them speaking Swedish with each other…

The concert was really good, especially the guy playing the organ. The basilica itself impressive but not sufficiently heated for my liking. After an hour and half we headed home in the now rather empty streets. We realized that today we spend more money on coffee than food, or put in another perspective, we ate for about less than 2% of Fridays budget – it’s definitely possible to live cheap here 🙂

Street Art and Ruin bars

After yet another grandiose breakfast, we took a stroll to the Buda side while enjoying the weather. After coffee, a cookie and a few photographs we turned back however, the main activity for today would be the Alternative Budapest tour so we didn’t want to walk too much in one day.

The tour was great fun, we passed lots of nice Street Art, such as above Dancing Girl by Sobr, we came across a replaced cobblestone with an Invader and also some impressive legally painted murals. We were spending most of the time in the Jewish district and were shown various boutiques and ruin bars in addition to the art. Mona fell in love with two clothing hangers from some Russian lady’s garage sale and we also spotted a gift for someone in another store. We were also showed a usb-stick cemented in the wall at one street, this was part of Dead Drops an offline peer 2 peer file sharing system. Perhaps more retro than useful but quite fun idea that seems to have catched on.

In general if you are interested in punk/hippie/recycling/Eco-friendly/underground art this seems the place to be and we’re glad we took the tour early so we can get back to the various sites. We went quickly into Doboz, one of the ruin bars which have gone quite a bit to the posh side but settled for Szimpla Kert. This bar was apparently voted to 3rd best bar in the world by Lonely Planet or similar recently – it has a very nice grubby/crack-den design with a friendly alternative/hippie/punk vibe.20130107-110843.jpg

After some mulled wine and getting additional tips on where to go and what to do from the guide we rushed to some Thai food nearby, Kis Parázs, since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Tasted great, quickly prepared and very cheap – I enjoyed a sweet and sour noodle soup while Mona ordered a red curry, got a green one but one can’t be that picky.

As we walked home we passed a well lit tram depicted below. Back home we chilled until Mona got restless (Netflix didn’t work) and she went out for a stroll to a ruin bar on the Budapest side.20130107-110953.jpg

Strolling ‘n Dining

20130105-134215.jpgToday is a good day to eat. Starting with the much anticipated breakfast which met our high expectations. The sparkling wine wasn’t the best I’ve had but good enough for breakfast…

After making sure we wouldn’t be hungry for a few hours we took a stroll in the neighborhood, we spotted a somewhat intoxicated gentleman who tried to enter a nearby pub with this beer in his hand, he was obviously not welcome and got out after a few seconds, chugged the beer can and entered the next pub, and we didn’t see him get out so it seems that his determination to avoid getting sober paid off.20130105-141716.jpg

We stopped in many stores to look at many things, Mona got herself an army cap in some shop which sold 2nd World War memorabilia / miscellaneous old stuff or to quote a character from a game I’ve played too much “Some may call this junk. Me I call them treasures”. I know my father could have spend months scavenging items there but we left after less than an hour. After quite some walking we stopped at Cafe GianMario and had a pizza for lunch, the establishment was Italian which also meant that the male owner chatted with his customers while the female staff where working hard with a constant smile on their faces.

When returning to the flat I checked the blog and realized that the server was no longer responding, and recall that I didn’t turn off Transmission which had this nasty kernel-level bug I had seen a few times before. Well well, I did have the blog cached so I threw up a temp blog on WordPress and will sort out that later. After a bit of rest it was time to visit Costes which had received a star in Guide Michelin so we thought we would try a tasting menu. It was nice and earned, especially the deserts where splendid and well presented although the service wasn’t quite as good as could be expected. We left fully satisfied and barely able to walk home before falling a sleep after another day of Budapest.