Wow, has it ever been a long time since the last blog post! It has been an incredibly busy couple of months, and it is a little hard to believe that it's already May. I'll try to do a little better with blog posts, starting with ... our latest travelling adventure! Diane and I hopped on a plane on the 1st of May bound for Budapest, Hungary. This is our second trip intended for travelling Europe since we arrived in Ireland (yeah, I know, we need to make a point of taking advantage of our close proximity to the rest of Europe more often!). We picked Budapest because we've got some friends who are currently living there ... so it was a good excuse to come see them, and impose on them to show us around the city!
We arrived just two and a half hours after departing Dublin, and were met at the airport by my friend Mike. We hopped in a taxi and delivered our bags to Mike's apartment, and then went out to wander the town a bit. The area around the Danube river is incredible at night: The magnificent buildings are lit up all over the place, including an impressive palace on castle hill, and a quite large statue not far from that.
Dinner was had at a place called ForSale Pub, where the four of us had a large bowl of Hungarian Goulash. It was delicious! The Goulash here is more of a soup than a stew, it is bright red in colour, and is served with a generous helping of fresh bread and hot peppers. You can season the soup up to as spicy as you like it. It was definitely worth trying.
The next day, the plan was to do a bunch of walking. We took the metro to Stadtwäldchen (or City Park), and wandered around there for awhile. People were out in force enjoying the nice weather. Mike led us to Vajdahunyad Castle which was pretty interesting, and then we wandered back out and bought some "Chimney Bread" from a vendor in the park. This was really neat: the operators of the stall bake some of this dough over open coals on a tube that rotates automatically to ensure even heat. The dough is similar to bannock, but they spread some sugar on the outside to make it sweet. The bread gets its name by the tube shape that results, and the steam that comes out the top as the bread cools. A very tasty treat!
We wandered back from the park toward the Danube along Andrássy út -- a lovely wide boulevard lined with trees and some pretty impressive looking buildings.
Next, we wandered across the river and up Castle Hill, where we got a very nice view of both sides of Budapest. By this time, the sun was starting to set, so I got a couple pretty nice sunset shots up there. We didn't go into any of the buildings, but we did see a lot of the outside!
Finally we got back to the apartment a bit footsore. A little relaxation was in order, so we planned to go to one of the thermal bath houses. On Saturday night, it's open late, so it seemed like a good opportunity to rest our feet. As we got close to the bath house, however, it became clear that there was something else going on there. The club next door was pumping some loud music, and there was a big lineup outside the door to the bath house. Turns out that relaxation wasn't on the menu that night! Turns out there was some strange cross between a rave and a public bath house ... and we hadn't actually brought enough money to enter -- so we turned around and returned to the apartment, passing a large crowd of rowdy, drunk, or quickly getting drunk people all the way back. Just about everybody we passed had some sort of bottle with a hard liquor.
So instead we relaxed back at the apartment. Today, it sounds like we're going to be taking a boat somewhere... I didn't catch the name. Should be a fun day, I imagine!