December 19 - “Yes You Do”

Crystal woke up at 06:30, and Justin got up around 08:00.  We slowly got ready, checking for things to do, what days certain things were open and closed, etc.  There were two things that we very much wanted to do, which we failed to see/do on our first two trips, and we put those at the top of our list.  Indeed, for the most part, they were the entire list, with the exception of Crystal practicing her Hungarian, which she could do pretty much anywhere.

First on our list was the synagogue.  It opened at 10:00, and we left the Airbnb just after 10:00.  The walk over there was only 10-15 minutes.  As we approached, we saw a ticket window open and people standing in it, so we felt pretty confident that today was going to be the day.  The third time was in fact the charm.  Interestingly, after all of the cathedrals and churches requiring that people take off their cold weather hats, here it was no issue, as it seemed the men wore either a yarmulke or their cold weather hats.  The synagogue is theoretically the second largest in the world, and it was quite large, but it seemed tiny compared to so many of the huge cathedrals we’d seen around Europe or mosques we’d seen in the Middle East, Iran, and Central Asia.  There was a merchandise shop out front that had a humorous shirt stating that Moses was the first person to have a tablet that downloaded information from the cloud.

After perusing the synagogue and its grounds, we walked over by the river.  We went inside another Lidl, and yet again it was a zoo.  Crystal was looking for beigli, a traditional Hungarian roll.  Janka had told her that Lidl had one of the better beiglis.  This Lidl didn’t have any, at least not today.  We walked across the Elizabeth Bridge, the bridge to the south of the Chain Bridge.  We walked across because we were considering going to Rudas baths, which are normally open to women only on the weekends, but we saw something online indicating that they might be open to women the entire coming week, in which case we could go on Monday or early Tuesday, but we wanted to confirm in person.  Sure enough, it was going to be coed.  We walked right back across the bridge, with Crystal needing to put up the hood on her coat because it was so windy that her hair was going everywhere.  It was absolutely frigid today because of the wind, even though it was sunny.

Back on the Pest side of the river, we walked north along the river until we were back over by St Stephens and our Airbnb.  We dropped some stuff at the Airbnb, then walked over to where Crystal had scheduled a massage for the next day.  She wanted to see it in person, in case there were any issues.  It was on Andrassy Street, just a couple minutes from us.  On the way we passed by the Opera House, which is still under construction.  Theoretically it is going to re-open in March.  Whenever we come back next, the Opera House will be on our list, as it’s been closed all three times we’ve visited.

After confirming the spa location we took the M1 metro line to its northeast terminus at the Mexikoi station.  From there we took the 69 tram out to Ov Utca.  We knew to do this because we’d done it in 2018, going out to Plehcsarda, only for it to be closed.  It was also closed in 2019.  We were hoping that the third time would be the charm for here as well.  When we got off the tram, it was even colder than when we’d crossed the river.  It was bitterly cold (to us at least), but we had only a couple blocks to walk.  The restaurant was actually open, and there was a line of about 8-10 people.  Everyone in front of us was making to-go orders, with plastic bags of absolutely enormous schnitzels.  Crystal ordered without incident, and we were the first ones of the day to actually eat at the restaurant, albeit outside.  

Whilst Crystal got a soup, Justin attempted to eat one of the schnitzels.  The schnitzel was priced by weight, and we’re guessing based on the price that his schnitzel was between 1 and 1.5 kg, or between 2 and 3 pounds.  It was entirely too large.  He ate about 90% of the pork, and about 70% of the breading, before he gave up.  His hands being frigid made it difficult to eat as well.  We took the 69 tram back to Mexikoi, and thawed out a little bit in the process.  At the Mexikoi station we took the M1 back to our Airbnb.  We used the facilities at the Airbnb and also did some Duolingo.  

Thereafter we checked out some of the nearby Christmas Markets at St Stephens and at Vorosmarty.  They were nice, but a little more crowded than we’re used to (which is more of an issue when we’re in the middle of a pandemic), and they were also a little more commercial, with more chalets selling stuff from a specific brand (e.g., Jack Daniels) than local food and drink.  At Vorosmarty there was a light show that was pretty cool, similar to what we’d seen in Brussels, but smaller.  After enjoying the markets for a bit we walked back to the Airbnb to warm our hands, which couldn’t stay warm even with gloves and our hands in our pockets.

We reserved a Covid test for Christmas Day at a place we found online that wasn’t too far outside of the ring in Vienna.  After getting warmed up, we took a short walk over to Rumpus Tiki Bar, maybe just 5-10 minutes away.  The place was really well decorated, with cool artwork and a color palette of orange, yellow, and red.  They sat us in a corner, right next to another table, which wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that only the Christmas Markets were checking for vaccinations; for all we knew we were sitting next to whomever.  The menu was in English, and had ratings for the strength of the drink and a color code for whether the drink was spicy, sweet, bitter, or sour.  It was a well-thought-out menu, and others should use something similar.  Justin ordered a Manoa (it had passion fruit, lime, pimento) and Crystal ordered a Zombie (her third in four days).  Everything tasted good, and we were looking forward to more rounds.

And then they completely forgot about us.  Our waitress entirely disappeared.  No one else checked on us.  Probably 30 minutes went by.  Crystal finally got someone’s attention, but instead of ordering another round (or two), we just got the check.  We had thought about getting a tiki mug from here to add to our collection, but decided against it, as we didn’t want to remember this visit.  So we just walked a block or two over to Tuk Tuk Bar, which we’d visited in both 2018 and 2019.  They didn’t have any availability at the bar itself because of upcoming reservations, but there was a comfy table right by the bar where we got a seat.  When we arrived, it was just us and 3 other people in the opposite corner closest to the street.

Justin saw the bartender’s name tag said Teddy, and Justin asked him if he worked on Christmas Eve two years ago, to which he said yes.  Without saying anything else, Justin told him “I owe you some Lakers tickets,” to which Teddy nonchalantly responded, without skipping a beat, “yes you do.”  In 2019, we were at Tuk Tuk Bar on Christmas Eve, when basically everything else is closed.  But Tuk Tuk Bar is connected to a hotel, and we (correctly) guessed that it might be open.  It was, and it was basically empty except for us and Teddy, who chatted with us for a couple hours, including about the NBA and his favorite team, the Lakers.  We could tell he wasn’t stoked to be there, but he made the best of it and we had a great time.  So we messaged Teddy after we left that night and told him if/when he visited California, two Laker tickets are on us.  Well, not only did he remember that, he remembered us, he remembered Justin’s cold weather hat, and he remembered where we were sitting at the bar.  So apparently we made an impression.

Tonight we checked out their new menu, which Teddy worked up during Covid (the bar just re-opened in October).  It was in the shape of a record case, with the drinks named after the Chinese Zodiac animals.  As you turned the circle, the name of the drink was visible at the top and the description was visible on the side.  It was a pretty cool design, a little bit like we saw at Trick Dog in San Francisco several years ago.  Crystal ordered a Rabbit and Justin ordered a Dragon.  Only after we ordered did we realize we’d each chosen our own Zodiac animals.  For the second round, Justin ordered a Rat, whilst Crystal got a martini with pepper, similar to Gin & Tonic she had in 2019.  For the third round, Crystal ordered the same thing, and Justin ordered something that was on the menu before, a Geisha, which Teddy fortunately had the ingredients to make.  

The place got busy between 20:30 and 21:15, and we left around 21:45.  Perhaps the next time we see Teddy it will be in California, who knows.  Just before getting back to the Airbnb, we stopped at a corner store to get a bottle of Cabernet Franc (because apparently we hadn’t had enough to drink today), and back inside the Airbnb Justin watched NFL Red Zone on spotty wi-fi while Crystal did a crossword puzzle whilst enjoying some wine.  Justin went to sleep a little before 23:00 and Crystal just a little after.

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