10 Oct 2014

Budapest by abbieredmon


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After perusing the stalls at Central Market Hall this morning with my parents (and buying a tiny framed etching of the Chain Bridge), I spent the rest of the day on my own.

Budapest is a hip city, with lots of thrift stores, "ruins" bars, and cafes for beer-drinking, smoking, and people-watching. I usually only participate in one of those activities, but it's still nice to be European for a while, enjoying literally everything al fresco.

Lots of people ride bikes in the city, and the bike lanes are frequent and well marked. Cars seem to generally respect them, too, which is usually another matter altogether.

My last night in Budapest, while sad, also came with a fun little surprise. I met back up with my parents for dinner at a mostly-outdoor sidewalk cafe called Komédiás Kávéház, which is one street up from the opera house, and thus gets a fair amount of theatre foot traffic. (I think there is actually another theatre on this street, too.)

Halfway through our meal, an old man started playing the piano at the entrance to the restaurant, which made our already-pleasant dinner all the more pleasant.

My parents were catching a show at St. Stephen's Basilica, so I had the evening to myself. I ended up spending most of it in the building next door to this restaurant. They had an event going on and were projecting huge images onto the outside wall, above the door. I was sufficiently intrigued to peek inside, and since it was free, I continued in.

Turns out, the building used to belong to a famous Hungarian portrait photographer, Mai Manó, and now it's called the Mai Manó House, and it's used for photography exhibitions and events. So they had two floors of space showing old portrait photographs of families, children, men, women, and couples. A lot of the kids were holding something -- like a teddy bear or a toy -- and it was fascinating.

On the third or fourth floor, there was a big room with a huge wall of windows facing the street. They had it set up for portraits, and there were period costumes you could wear if you wanted. Actually quite cool! I think I was too late to catch the portraits -- they seemed to be taking down all of the equipment. I bought a couple of cheap postcards on my way out. What a fun thing to stumble into!

I strolled home the long way, and in one of the main squares near my house, I discovered the other cool thing to do on the weekends in Budapest: If you don't want to go to a ruins bar, just buy some cans of beer and take them to a square or a park. They are literally swarming with kids, drinking, hollering at each other, flirting, whispering, smoking, and showing off. Any public square seems fair game to become a massive outdoor BYOB bar once the sun goes down.

Viva Budapest!