:: taps mic ::
Is this thing on? Sorry for the delay; technology seems to hate me nowadays. Anyway, shall we continue?
Wait, I forgot one thing. Do you know what I forgot to mention in my post
about arriving in Budapest? When we were going through our luggage
after checking in, I looked for the knitting project I had
packed for this trip. No, not the Budapest Slouch, but another project
- something I had been working on for weeks and wanted to finish.
Anyway, before we left I put it in one of the front pockets of my
suitcase because I didn't have room for
it in my carry-on. Upon arrival, I immediately looked for the project
in my suitcase...and it was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. I couldn't find it
ANYWHERE. I started questioning myself: did I really put it in the front pocket, or did I put it inside? Did some TSA agent with a yarn addiction swipe it? I got SO MAD when I thought of all the time I put into the
project and now it was gone and existing somewhere in the
great divide between Los Angeles and Europe. I wanted to cry, I was so
sad and mad. Best. Travel Day. Ever!
December 30: Budapest
Jen and I woke up to a very chilly New Year's Eve, uh, Eve. The first thing we did was turn on the TV and make friends with the German music channel, Viva. Oh, how we loved Viva! I'm going to write more about this marvelous network later, but you should know that the only channels we watched were CNN International, BBC World News, and Viva. Yeah, there was German MTV, but it showed American MTV programming with German subtitles, so it sucked. It was just like home!
We had a lot of ground to cover during our short time in Budapest (places were going to be closed early on New Year's Eve and Day), so we got started early and made haste to the hotel's complimentary breakfast buffet. Mmm, buffets.
Clockwise from upper left: oatmeal; wheat toast; scrambled eggs; spinach; pineapple; kiwi, and crepes, all washed down with orange juice and tea. When I am rich, I am going to hire someone to make this for me every morning.
The first stop of the day was St. Stephen's Basilica, home of King Istvan's mummified hand. I really wanted to see the hand, people. The church was a few blocks from our hotel, so I (very stupidly) thought I could handle being outside without a hat. No, I wasn't smoking crack. SO STUPID, I know, because it was FREEZING. We made our way to the church and all I thought of on the way was how I was going to lose my ears if I didn't cover them soon. Yikes.
The Virgin Mary statue.
One section of the church's interior. We were packed like sardines into one corner, so this was the best shot I could take.
A nice shot of the dome and a terribly blurry shot of the altar with its two Christmas trees. We were cordoned off from the pews so this was as close we could get without paying for the tour - the tour which included seeing King Istvan's hand! That's right - we didn't get to see the hand! (Well, we could have, but neither of us wanted to pony up the cash, plus the tour was going to take long.) Color us sad.
Another shot of the dome, this time with more detail.
This looks like it would be the main door to the church, but we in fact entered through another door on the side.
This is one of my favorite shots from the trip. I was in line to look at the rosaries for sale and Jen went to the plaza to take pictures of the church. See that person standing to the left of center? That's her. Hee.
Detail of the statues above the entry.
St. Stephen's Basilica with Christmas tree.
By now I couldn't feel my ears (!) so we went back to the hotel for my hat. This was when Jen and I started talking about how we (okay, I) wanted to buy a big fur hat because it was SO COLD. The "How cold are we?" topic came up often and in various permutations. After spending less than five minutes outside, I thought it would have been smart to have knit this. Sigh.
I love this picture.
Our hotel! It had a casino; you can see its entrance in the lower left of the exterior. The name of the casino? Las Vegas. Really.
I don't know why our hotel had a plane hanging in its lobby, but it did.
Now armed with a hat, it was off to the Chain Bridge. Lucky for us we didn't have to go far as it was right outside our hotel.
Jen's Requisite Photo In Front Of Royal Castle and Chain Bridge.
My Requisite Photo In Front of Royal Castle and Chain Bridge.
The Chain Bridge with its lions facing Pest. Did you know that Buda and Pest are actually two different cities? Buda is on the other side of this bridge and is where the Royal Castle is located. You can see part of it in the center of the photo.
The lion on the left...
...and the lion on the right. Remember what they look like. I'm just sayin'.
The Royal Castle and the Danube. So pretty!
The Four Seasons Hotel in Roosevelt ter. It was next to our hotel and faces the bridge. We were excited about eating and knitting at its famous coffeehouse but we checked it out and it was WAY fancier than expected, so we didn't go.
Mr. Bear at the Chain Bridge.
Parliament - George Clinton not included. (Speaking of, wouldn't it be cool if George took pictures in front of every parliament building? That would be AWESOME.)
We wanted to take the tour of Parliament but met this instead:
The Kossuth memorial, also in Kossuth ter.
After being disgruntled over missing out on the tour of Parliament, we made our way to the Hungarian State Opera House. More walking, walking, walking, which did very little to keep us warm.
I really like taking pictures of mailboxes. Here is a Hungarian one.
The Imre Nagy memorial in Martyrs' Square.
In order to get to the opera house, we had walk up Andrassy ut, one of the finest streets in Budapest. I like their street signs; they look so pretty.
The Hungarian State Opera House on Andrassy ut.
Everyone on the tour had to wear protective booties. Here is a shot of our feet.
The nicest concession stands I've ever seen.
The old smoking corridor, which was about the size of a closet. According to our tour guide, this was where the men would light up during intermission when it was too cold outside. I was surprised that it didn't reek of smoke.
The staircase. I kind of want to sweep down it while wearing a fine ballgown, opera gloves and diamonds.
The royal staircase. This entrance is used only by the royal family to get to their box. There were people at the bottom of the staircase blowing up balloons for the opera house's New Year's festivities.
Another shot of the royal entrance. The ceilings and fixtures were stunning.
We got to take pictures of the opera house from a balcony. This was my first shot of the ceiling.
Aaaaand here's my blurry shot of the interior. Gah. I tried SO hard to get a nice still, too.
The tour ended with us in the seats of the house. This is a shot of the ceiling from below.
And here is a close-up.
The stage! It's so very grand, no?
By now we were getting hungry, so we decided to start looking for food. My copy of Top 10 Budapest mentioned a place that had the best name we had ever heard, so off we went to find it.
Oktagon Square. We went here for New Year's.
Don't you love my stealth shot of this woman and her fabulous style? I'm not one for patchwork myself but this totally works on her. Awesome.
Andrassy ut at night. Sparkly!
We walked and walked and walked some more, and after some time we couldn't find the restaurant and were getting mighty annoyed, not to mention really cold. Grr. Just when we were about to give up:
There it was! The Marquis de Salade! Best Name Ever! That is about all I can say about it because we did not end up eating there. It's a long story. The proprietor should sell merchandise with the restaurant's name, because I was all about buying a Marquis de Salade shirt.
It was getting late (or so it seemed), and we were quite famished and even more cold. SO COLD. We walked back towards our hotel in the hopes of finding food and ended up on Vaci utca, a major pedestrian thoroughfare that reminded us of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.
Pertu Station was where we ended up eating because of its non-smoking section, which is pretty hard to come by in a place where smoking is still permitted inside restaurants. I was quite amused by the Hard Rock Cafe-esque logo.
My goulash and Hungarian beer. I really wanted some goulash while in Budapest and Pertu's did the trick. It was warm, spicy and just what I needed to warm up. I had a Hungarian roommate in college and I remember her goulash being much thicker, but this was very good, too.
And with our stomachs full, it was time to head back to the hotel - the warm hotel with our warm room and warm TV. Ooh, warmth. And TV.
Hungarian forints, in case you were wondering what the currency looked like.
EEEE! You all know how much I love Cash Cab, right? Look what I found: the German version of Cash Cab! Yay! I wonder if Ben Bailey knows. Someone tell him, okay? Also tell him that I LOVE HIM AND HIS SHOW, won't you? Thanks!
And now here is the first photo of my Budapest Slouch in progress. I used Wendy Bernard's Le Slouch pattern which worked so well for me before, but called the project the Budapest Slouch because it was made for the trip. The hat is made out of less than two skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Cafe au Lait, and was knitted on size 9 and 10 needles. Being that the yarn is a wool/mohair blend, I could not WAIT to get this done so that I could keep my head really warm!
We got some Britney video-watching in that night, too. If we only knew that we would be hearing the Craziest Britney News EVER later that week!
I ended the day with the treat from my Malev chocolate fairy. And with that, it was time to turn in!
If you made it this far, thank you! I hope you didn't find this annoyingly long. Be sure to tune in later for more!