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Back from Budapest

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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends!

I am home! Just back from Budapest, Hungary, where I spent three days this week for work.

It was definitely autumn in Budapest, much more so than in Paris. It was cold, especially at night, but the sun was shining.

I had been warned not to expect healthy food in Budapest, and I wasn't disappointed!!! The biggest shock was being served a plate of salami for breakfast (with a very white, sweet bread and margarine...). My Hungarian colleagues assured me that salami for breakfast is usual in Hungary. This is totally impossible for my stomach, but I did try a few Hungarian delicacies later, like the Mangalica pork ribs, which were delicious with a chilly sauce...

Mangalica pigs (called 'Mangalitsa' in the US) are an Hungarian breed, originally wild. They look like this:

Then my colleague Gabriella introduced me to the rétes temptation! (Picture found on the Internet, mine didn't make justice to this little marvel!)

These are strudels with a flaky pastry and various fillings: ricotta, apple, poppy seeds and pumpkin, cherries and cinnamon, etc. Choose a good shop - like Gabriella did for me - if you try one in Hungary, it is worth having a really good one! :)

On the Thursday morning, Gabriella and I met in Ráday utca (street), one of the most touristy of Budapest. After our meeting, she showed me a few Art Nouveau treasures in the street...

Then we had lunch in a typical Hungarian restaurant (this is where I had the pork ribs!), where the waiter served us sparkly water in this old soda syphon bottle. I would love one of these!

After lunch, my colleague Otto took me to visit our project among refugees. It was also in the city center and I loved looking at the old buildings on the way.

On the evening, Otto took me to a concert at the Palace of Arts, recently built along the river. (It is the first time ever I am taken to a concert during a work trip, my Hungarian colleagues really spoilt me!)

Without knowing how much I love jazz, he had bought tickets for a famous Hungarian jazz singer, Veronica Harcsa.

Here is a link to her singing Tracy Chapman's 'For my Lover' at a festival last year. It was probably my favorite during the concert:

Yesterday morning, I had a couple of hours to myself before I headed to the airport. Not enough to see the city properly, but here are just a few more glimpses... I followed the Danube river to reach the heart of the city...

... and crossed one of the bridges between Buda and Pest, called Erzsébet hid.

I wanted to visit the Central Market, a beautiful 19th century building with many interesting stalls (you know how I enjoy markets!).

(The red vegetables in the middle aren't tomatoes but a kind of pepper I had never seen before!)

I crossed the street to take the famous Vaci utca shopping street.

Unfortunately, there were extensive building work going on in the heart of the city, which made walking and enjoying the buildings very difficult, so I left Vaci utca when it became too much for me.

I stopped briefly in the Parisian Court ('Parizsi Udvar') in Brudern House. The style of the 1909 Parisian Court is a mixture of Neo-Gothic, Eclectic and Art Nouveau architectural elements inspired by Moorish buildings and motifs. It was sad to see this hidden gem so neglected.

Across the street, I went into the Franciscan Church, but there was a service taking place so I couldn't see it properly.

I continued to walk north, through the famous Vörösmarty tér (square), then Dorottya utca...

... then St Stephen Basilica...

I had hoped to be able to reach the famous Hungarian Parliament, but I couldn't make it, so I turned and followed the river for a while, admiring the Royal Palace on the way...

before turning left in Vämhäz krt., crossing Calvin's Square...

... and taking the tram back to the guest house, just in time to pack and catch a taxi to the airport!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of Budapest through my eyes! Have a beautiful weekend!

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