Last full Budapest day
Trip Start Oct 02, 2011
26Trip End Oct 27, 2011
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The day began with another trip down the rabbit's hole of a subway system to the Parliament building, which has figured in a number of photos since our arrival, as it figures in many views of Budapest due to its ponderous prominence. We took yet more photos (see below) while our guide related the interesting history of the place
We then walked randomly around the nearby Leopold Town section of Pest, enjoying the antique shops and galleries and Art Nouveau buildings. We stumbled on a large indoor market and were startled to find a booth selling elegant vegan food. The photo shows the lunch that Annie and I shared. The next one is of only vegan chocolate cake I ever had that didn't taste like a recycled paper product. Note the decoration at the top, which I took to be a gooseberry. Actually it turned out to be a "banana ball." Annie and Carole badgered the nice chef for the cake's recipe, which he finally revealed: The icing consisted of cocoa power, dates, and bananas, while the cake itself was heavily influenced by dates as well.
Early on in our travels this day I noticed a young man with a right-angled metal device in one hand, black plastic bag in the other. A green digital camera hung around his neck. He would approach a light pole or a sign post and begin vigorously scraping off small signs and residual bits of paper with the razor at the end of the shorter arm of the metal device. Then he grabbed the camera and took a quick photo of his handiwork
Much later in the day we ran into him once more in a very different part of town! Annie, being both curious and bold, went up to him and said, basically, "excuse me, but what in the world are you doing?" He said he was scraping paper off the poles. OK, got it so far. And the camera? He was documenting his work. Was he in fact doing conceptual art? Well, no. He was hired by the city to keep the poles looking tidy, and had to document his work to get paid.
One of the seriously non-joyous aspects of travel is finding a place to eat. Somehow all four of our digestive tracts were tuned to Italian, so we set off in search of the perfect Hungarian trattoria. Fortunately for the reader I won't document our two-hour quest, which included not one, but two great-looking places that were fully booked. Finally I bullied everyone into lowering our collective standards and we actually entered a not particularly crowded restaurant called a not too promising "La Italian Restorante," whose windows were graced with vertical strings of blindingly blinking white lights
Well the menu looked OK, and we ordered. Shortly thereafter a roundish woman with a blonde pony tail and a white blouse that looked like a chef's shirt appeared. She mounted a low platform, sat down, and picked up her little electric guitar. After switching on a strong karaoke track, she twanged her guitar and began singing. Let's just say she wasn't the Hungarian Maria Callas. She seemed very sweet, and very enthusiastic, but I have to say we weren't disappointed when she took a long break. When she returned to her platform, in high spirits, she began singing Hava Nagila and other Hebrew favorites. Amazingly, people at several tables sang enthusiastically along. Had we stumbled on the Italian-Israeli district of Budapest?
When she finished Annie gallantly gave her a big round of applause and stuffed some Hungarian forints into the jar on the platform. The singer came to our table to thank Annie, and we asked her where she was from. "Well, I'm pretty mixed up," she said, "Gypsy-Hungarian-Deutsch." Was she a native of Hungary? "Well, sort of, not exactly, I'm not sure." OK, we left it at that, again complimented her on her singing, and finished our reasonably decent pizzas.
Note that because this was our last full day in Hungary, Hungary has become our world. So today's superlative offering is actually Hungary's superlative, not the world's. Please see the last photo.