Saturday, November 22, 2014

Budapest by night a beautiful sight

The next morning we took a taxi to the station, this time one ordered by the hotel rather than one of the more expensive "rogue" taxis. We were on our way to Budapest. While waiting for the train I made a visit to the loo. I think everyone has paid for entering a public toilet at one time or another but this was a different experience. A grim looking lady was installed in a booth collecting forty cents before allowing anyone to enter the toilet area via a turnstile. I'm not sure what the forty cents got me. It certainly wasn't terribly clean and the hand driers didn't work at all.

Things were much nicer on the train, where we sat in an old fashioned compartment watching the countryside flash by. First of all it was quite flat with lots of fields full of cabbages. All the graves in the cemeteries we passed were covered with white and yellow chrysanthemums, probably because it had been the day of the dead not long ago, a special day when people visit their departed relatives. We enjoyed seeing the trees in their fall colours, yellows and golds, something we don't see in Spain. The old villages we passed were quite lovely with lots of charm. I enjoyed some onion soup in the dining car. I thought I had ordered some kind of salad with cottage cheese but it turned out that it was a very moist little cake with fruit. What a nice surprise.

Once we were settled in Budapest we went for a walk along a long pedestrian street near the hotel.  We thought we would try some genuine Hungarian food but the cabbage goulash with some meat just wasn't to my taste at all. Somewhat fortified we continued walking through the town. Most of the streets were pedestrian only, which made for easy walking. The streets were lined with the usual busy, high street stores. There was a lovely buzz about the town.

Our walk took us through a big main square with a huge barbecue area in the middle. It was a restaurant where you could order cabbage rolls, various types of roast potatoes, grilled vegetables, huge sausages and pork knuckle. The smell was amazing. Seating was at nearby outdoor trestle tables.

We continued our walk and passed through a square where a few demonstrators were speaking through microphones. This was attracting a large police presence. I knew that the week before there had been huge demonstrations against Internet tax. I asked a member of a camera crew what was happening. He explained that these people were demonstrating against government austerity measures.

Later that night we walked along the Danube for quite a distance. The view was stunning with the brightly lit castle dominating the skyline. This was a perfect ending to our first day in Budapest.

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