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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Budapest - Day 1

Swarms of taxi drivers seem to be milling around the train doors - they are pretty friendly, they aren't the aggressive type, but unfortunately for them, I've pre-booked a taxi. As I walk down the long platform, I feel kinda sorry for them but since I have no knowledge of Hungarian whatsoever, I thought the best plan was to go for the booked taxi. I know the cost of the trip, he knows where I'm going and there shouldn't be any surprises.

And there weren't.

Waiting at the end of the platform was the driver, I certainly was relieved to see my name on his card. Taking a bag we trundled out to the taxi and headed off. Catching a quick glance at the neighbourhood around the station my decision became an even better one.

It wasn't long until we arrived at the address - though the nature of the building was slightly suspect (think crackhouse). My level of worry increased when the driver ended up calling the base to make sure the address was correct. They reassured him it was and only then did he give me the okay to go. He also made sure I managed to get into the building before he left. I think that was nice of him.

Now I should explain that the entrance to this building were by massive double doors - I could imagine carriages might have gone through them and indeed, behind these doors was a most magnificent foyer - or it was a most magnificent foyer 60 years ago!

This is the foyer I'm taking about - my instructions are to go right and up a few stairs - at this moment I'm feeling a little uncertain. An older women who must be a resident, was nearby and probably could tell I wasn't quite sure that I was in the right place. Even though she couldn't really communicate with me, she looked at the name and the address I had and managed to convey that it was okay and directed me to the lift.

The lift was a bit of a worry - so were the stairs that wrapped around it. Not only did the outside look like a crackhouse but so did the inside.


I braved the creaky elevator to the fourth floor where my host was waiting for me behind this door...

Now you must be thinking what type of hell hole have I got myself in - but rest assured, the apartment that laid behind that door was lovely - it's definitely a case of not judging a book by it's cover.

Not only was the apartment very nice so was the owner. He and his brother have renovated the place and converted it into four self-contained apartments. I even get internet!

I'll include some interior shots later.

After a bit of a chat and a confirmation of the markets location I decide to take a walk around the neighbourhood.

Though I'm soon distracted by lunch and a lovely looking tapas bar that is just around the corner. This should be good practice for Barcelona.

The place is called Pata Negra - and it's funky and could easily slip into Brunswick street without missing a beat. You're probably wondering why I had Spanish food in Budapest - well, I figured I'd at least be able to read the menu and order in Spanish!

Which is what I did. And being slightly famished from the extra long train trip I decided to sample a few dishes: Potatoes bravada, chicken brochette and Jamon croquettes washed down with a glass of Manzanilla sherry and a bottle of mineral water. The food was delicious - some of the best I've had. Everything was made fresh behind the large bar area - chunks of crispy potatoes napped with a spicy tomato based sauce, fresh chicken pieces skewered and char grilled, succulent and juicy and the croquettes, a crunchy shell encased an oozing jamon studded bechamel.

What could be better, hmm, maybe the flan I had for dessert! And all this for less than $12! A sandwich and a coffee would cost me more back in Melbourne!

Feeling totally satiated I continued down the street to see one of the things I've marked as a must do - Budapest Market. The market or Nagy Vásárcsarnok (which is far easier for me to type than say) was opened in 1896 and it was designed in what was called "Eiffel style" by Samu Petz. It probably ended up looking a lot like the inside of the building I'm in but luckily it was renovated in 1991-94 and is now one of Budapests gems.

Now the pictures I have of the market aren't that flash since I only took the cameraphone with me - but I'll be back to take some better shots.

This is the main market entrance - it's a mighty impressive sight with it's combination of decorative tiles and brickwork. It's one of the more beautiful market buildings I've seen.

This is just one of the long lanes of the market -

I should mention that the market has a mezzanine level where you'll find, cafe's and craft items - the tourist objects are the lace tablecloths, but they also had some lovely leather bags.


I have to say that this market was a bit confronting for me - and I'm used to market shopping, but the produce here was certainly in it's more basic and least manipulated form.

Now, the chicken stalls kind of confused me because of those egg yolks, well I think they are yolks. The yolks were placed inside the open carcass - I have no idea whether that's a local thing, I'd be interested to find out.

This cabinet is full of pig trotters...
and this one had all the other pieces of pig - some unidentifiable - though I did recognise the half heads.


Some people won't like this - but it's a Horse butcher - that horse head (not a real horse head) kinda gives it away....Oh in case you wanted to know what horse meat looked like, here's a pic


You can all stop screaming, here's something more appealing (cowards)


don't all these peppers look fantastic!


Finally here's a view from the mezzanine

Today certainly was a most pleasant day, crackhouse and all. I've got internet so I'm madly sending photos back home and Paalo is most happy that he can now see what I've been doing (well almost everything I've been doing).

I feel reinvigorated and I'm looking forward to the next couple of days!


  1. Anonymous00:52

    Nice to see those pics!! We must have been in the same places!! ;-) I was in Budapest in October 2005!


    Fun city!

  2. Hi Bea

    I just loved Budapest - it's such a wonderful place and the market is amazing.


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