Thursday, September 5, 2013

To Market We Will Go

After a very solid sleep last night we awoke, anxious to see the town as it were. Actually Budapest is two separate towns on either side of the Danube River. Buda is on one side, Pest on the other. Although truthfully....ahem, I was not sure which was which at this point.

We had a short discussion with the front desk staff prior to leaving. We asked a couple off questions and it rapidly became apparent that we weren't speaking the same language. We wanted to take the Subway to Deak Ferenc Terrace. (Now, to us that would be similar to deek fur enk terrace),

 In Hungarian, not so much. It turned out it was more like dee (as in Sandra Dee), Ack (as in what's that on my shoe?)  Fur (as in nice kitty) Enz (as in Split Enz the band?) and Terrace was abbreviated (I just got as tear in my jeans).
When we put it all together it was something like Dee-Ack Fur-Enz  Terre.....yikes

 Here is the entrance to the Metro. As previously mentioned it is about 10 minutes walk from our hotel...sheesh. I'm tired already and we haven't even gone anywhere yet. Oh well...downward and onward.

When we arrived at Deak Ferenc we climbed the stairs and shot instantly backward in time from stale screeching Soviet Era public transportation to the 19th Century. We both went snap happy immediately.

The architecture, as in so much of Europe is functional but also maintains a higher standard of design than what we normally experience in the West. I frequently wander about with my mouth open and eyes agog saying things like "well I never, will you look at that or well I'll be".....sheesh what a maroon.

We entered into this courtyard to cambio some dollars into Hungarian Forint. The setup here is similar to other places we have been with a hallway wide and high enough to accommodate initially horses and carriages, then moving trucks. There are usually businesses on the ground floor then several floors of apartments.

There was a display of bicycles for rent. We both looked at them then simultaneously thought "shall we.......not!!"

The courtyard interiors are quiet and belie the fact that the city bustles by unabated just outside. Several floors of apartments are connected with exterior walkways. People seem to take for granted that you just carry your groceries up to the fourth floor. And...oh yeah....they shop every day!

Enough of this foolish prattling, time for something of substance. And that thing is...drum roll please....The Chain Bridge. Arguably the most well known bridge in Budapest, it's construction was actually overseen by a Scot, Adam Clark. He came to work on the bridge and fell in love with the lovable Hungarians, married a local girl and lived here for the remainder of his life. The cast friezes at the end stanchions  depict the Hungarian Royal crest.

The Chain Bridge is actually quite the engineering feat and when it opened in 1849 it had one of the longest center spans in the world. It was built piecemeal in Britain and shipped to Budapest for assembly.

The Danube is at it's widest navigable section passing through Budapest and plays host to a bevy of trim river cruise ships. We chatted with a couple who live in Connecticut and cruised from Passau in Germany to Budapest aboard this one.

The river is fronted by numerous apartment and office buildings. Pricey real estate no doubt. Imagine a view of the Danube which incidentally is not blue even if Strauss composed it that way, flowing by dialy.

And here was our destination, the central market. It is the largest and oldest continuously functioning Farmer's Market in Budapest, and was opened in 1897.

On our stroll from the bridge to the market there were a couple neo gothic buildings worthy of a picture. On the plaza there was a fountain with some pigeons bathing in it. Scooterchick thought them cute. Those of us who know their true "bird-sonalities" as rats with wings were less impressed.

We were a little hungry and seeing it was lunchtime stopped in at Anna Cafe to see what they had to eat.

Patsy settled the Hungarian version of crepes. They were filled with something and came with something else custardy on the side for drizzling. They were artfully served with a sprig of mint and mixed berries, and dusted with powdered sugar. Altogether tasty looking.

I decided to go with the Farmer's Plate. There was a little of this, a tad of that, a schmekel of the other along with some pickled onion, some pastry puffs, an egg, some greenery and all served with some fresh crusty bread. I managed to finish but barely. Together with coffee and a glass of water altogether satisfying.

The road that ran one street back from the river was narrow and truly European. Full of shops and offices, and clogged with tourists.

We went the other way after our lunch and entered the Market Hall. The first floor is nothing but comestibles so we immediately headed upstairs. We bought the requisite fridge magnet to add to our collection of several thousand, and looked at handicrafts, glassware and trinkets galore. There was also a veritable plethora of gewgaws and whatnot, all of which we walked by without opening our wallets once. Beat that Rick Steves.

Here is a view from the second floor. Quite large no? Yes, it is! If you put Pike Place, Lonsdale Quay and many other markets we have seen together, they still wouldn't come close to this size. Oh yeah, there's also a basement that's nothing but fish. In the interest of our stomachs and noses, we avoided it too!

Descending back to the main floor we found a bench to sit on for a minute and rest our feet. This stall sells about 250 varieties of Paprika, which is the Hungarian national pastime, paprika and the selling thereof.

They also had pickled everything imaginable. These pickles came with faces, how are you going to feel about eating something that either. Nor did I see anyone  else rushing in to buy any Face Pickles.

A look down the central promenade gives you another perspective of the size of the place. Keep in mind there are also left and right side aisles that are about 80% as wide as this one. Several zillion square feet of market space seemingly.

We left the market and jumped on a tram heading to the Buda side of the river. This is a picture of Gellert Plaza....ah yes Gellert, we'll get to him.

We rode out to the end of the line and caught another tram back in. We actually got off at Astoria, to get a cup of coffee and to get Scooterchick's glasses tightened as one of her lenses was a little loose.

We got some coffee at Fekete Coffeetime. It was good and service was fast, always a plus when you're jonesing for some caffeine.

They had a small seating area, where we could enjoy our coffee and enjoy the parade of folks walking and driving by. All too soon it was necessary to get on our feet again and carry on.

There is a pink granite building nearby to the coffee joint. I don't know anything about it except that it looks great, compared to the more usual grey or sand brown building so common here.

Nearly back at the Metro, I took this picture for the arch. I love all kinds of arches. They speak to me of motion because everyone under an arch is just passing through, on the way to somewhere.

There were a number of stalls selling woodcrafts, leathers and food but what caught my attention was the sun playing on these grasses.

This is a picture off the dome of St. Stephen's Church. More about this later too.

Soon enough we were heading back to the metro. This escalator moved at double the normal speed. You really have to motor to get on and it spits you out at the end with positive alacrity. Not to mention it seems like it's at a 45 degree angle. Wow!

Back at the hotel we congratulate each other on a fun filled day. Scooterchick looks positively adorable as per usual in spite of the fact that her dogs are barking.

I'll be the first to admit I look a little the worse for wear. I was actually nodding off in the lobby. Patsy snapped this picture before saying "wake up Christo!"

We decided to eat in so checked the menu to see what they had available.

Pat settled on Butterfish, which neither of us had ever heard of. it turned out to be a dense, tasty Whitefish served with Mashed Potatoes heavily seasoned with (what else) liberal lashings of Paprika.

I decided Risotto with Spinach and 2 Cheese would be lovely, and it was. Just what I needed. The portion sizes seemed small, but I think the plates were huge as we both just managed to finish.

I am soooooooo behind. i am just finishing this blog post and haven't even sorted let alone posted today's pictures. i was working on this post until 4 this a.m. and now find myself nodding off over the keyboard so I'll sign off for now. Bye! 


Helen Marie said...

Chris, you had me laughing out loud with all your adjectives. By the way what is 'piecemeal'?...when you spoke of the building of the bridge.
Thanks for taking the time to blog for all of us folk back here...Really enjoy it :) Bring back some paprika :)


Scootard said...

Piecemeal refers to something being constructed and shipped in pieces then built onsite. Everything was made in Great Britain, then sent to Budapest for erection and installation.