20 December - Long Time No See

We got up a little after 08:00 today.  Crystal wasn’t in much of a hurry to go out, and Justin was antsy, so we split up again.  Whilst Crystal leisurely enjoyed her morning, Justin went to St Stephen’s, first going up to the top of the dome, and then walking around inside.  It was fairly hazy outside, but hazy skies were infinitely better from cloudy or rainy ones.  Inside, some people were using a chainsaw to cut Christmas trees for a display.  We’d heard some loud construction noise in two churches in Florence, but a chainsaw was one level extra.  He wasn’t sure why they couldn’t have used the saw outside, then brought in whatever the finished product was.

Crystal arrived at the Christmas Market out in front of St Stephen’s around 10:30, just as Justin was exiting the church.  We wandered around Pest, heading south along the riverbank.  We got some ideas for possible boat cruises, as we’d enjoyed one back in 2018 and thought the rest of the group might like it as well.  We also walked past Cafe Kor, where we were slated to have dinner, and Crystal confirmed the reservation she’d made via phone before we left San Diego.  We had lunch at Red Pepper, where we’d eaten plenty of times before.  Justin ordered the goulash soup and the chicken paprikash.  Crystal ordered the duck breast.  Justin got some rum, and Crystal got some wine.  We also got some palinka before heading out.

We met Heidi and Tom shortly after leaving lunch, as all 4 of us were interested in seeing the Buda side.  [Dewey and Clarita had gone to Buda in the morning.]  We couldn’t walk across the Chain Bridge, but we could take a bus, so we just found the closest bus station, got online tickets (Crystal and Tom separately downloaded the local transportation app onto their phones), and took a quick bus across the Danube.  We got dropped off maybe 2/3 of the way up to Fisherman’s Bastion, and walked up the last 1/3.  

At the top we got some mulled wine and took in the views across the river.  Tom lived in Budapest for a few months, but close to 10 years ago.  Heidi hadn’t been here since 1999.  The 4 of us headed over to Ruszwurm and got some pastries and some schnapps.  We’ve now been there every time we’ve been to Budapest, and it’s never disappointed.  The best thing we ate was Crystal’s sour cherry strudel.  We should remember that for next time (presumably next year).

We left the Fisherman’s Bastion area and took in the sunset, the first one we’d seen in a while.  The sunset was just after 15:30, as this was a day before the shortest day of the year.  From there we walked northeast towards the Buda bank of the river.  The lights started to come on at the tourist spots around 16:00, as we were approaching the Margit Bridge.  We walked across the bridge slowly, stopping to take photos here and there.  Back on the Pest side, we walked on the east side of the Parliament building, where we checked out the giant Christmas tree.  We also saw some soldiers folding the giant flag that had just come down from the massive flagpole in front of Parliament.  

From there we walked quickly back to the hotel, as Crystal needed to pick up some Hungarian books at 17:00 (they hadn’t been delivered the day before).  We arrived back about 5 till 17:00, and Crystal stayed down in the lobby, where she met Kati’s brother.  Inside the hotel, Kati’s brother showed Crystal one of the rooms in the common area, and told Crystal that his sister (not Kati, a different sister) was the one who had designed and painted it.  Indeed, he showed Crystal a picture on his phone of the original artwork before it was done on the walls.  What a small world, and a crazy coincidence.

At 18:00 we headed over to Rumpus Tiki Bar, just a couple blocks away, and we hoped for better than last year.  [The short story is that the drinks were good but the service was awful; they just completely forgot about us.]  This year we sat at the bar, figuring it would be tough to be forgotten when sitting right in front of the bartender.  We did get our order right away, two Zombies.  Our only real concern was the hostess, sitting not too far away, who seemed to have something between Covid and the Plague - we hoped we wouldn’t catch even 1% of whatever she had.  Justin got a second round, a Kua Li’li, whilst Crystal continued to enjoy her Zombie.  Our last round was a Mai Tai for Crystal, Moana for Justin.  All of the drinks were very good.  But then we waited to pay…and waited…and waited.  

Eventually Justin left so that he could meet everyone at the hotel in order to walk them over to Cafe Kor.  Crystal waited some more, then eventually was able to get someone’s attention to purchase a mug and pay our bill.  The group of 5 arrived at Cafe Kor right at 19:00 and mentioned Crystal’s name on our reservation.  Our table was right near the door, but also right by the heater as well.  Justin saw on the “specials” board that they had the baked duck leg, so that was a welcome relief, and he texted Crystal.  The waiter asked if our sixth was coming, and Justin said she’d be right there, but she already knew what she wanted anyway.

The two of us, and Heidi, got the duck leg.  Tom and Dewey got the veal goulash.  Clarita got pork chops that were prepared more like schnitzel.  We split a goose liver pate to start, and also split some wine.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy their food, which was great since we felt bad for whoever didn’t order the duck leg.  After dinner, Tom led us to a bar near our hotel, Café Vian Liszt Ferenc.  We got one round, then headed back to the hotel.  The elevator at the hotel was quite small, so after the rest of the group got in the elevator, we said we’d just catch the next one.  We did, but only after getting one last drink (and plenty of water) at Tuk Tuk.  We headed up the elevator just before 00:00 and crashed.

Previous Entry
Next Entry