Meeting Hedgehogs and Dogs on a Hill
We began the month with a hike to the citadella and the liberty statue in Budapest. It’s quite a steep incline but it’s something all people really should do when they visit our fair (adopted) city.
On the way up, to my great pleasure, we met a hedgehog!
I was so surprised that hedgehogs are not really afraid of people and tend to be quite curious. When we cautiously approached it, it actually came closer to us! B reached out to touch it, reminiscing about his childhood spent feeding backyard-dwelling hedgehogs, and only then did it really ball up and try to pretend it didn’t exist!
A man walking his dog (a Hungarian Vizsla, another favourite breed for us) stopped by and the dog was completely baffled by the hedgehog.
At the top, the citadella (a fortress, essentially) was full of tourists and market stalls selling the usual touristy souvenirs.
Further around, we found the Liberty Statue. This was erected to thank the Soviets (!!!) for liberating the Hungarians from the Nazis. Oh, the irony.
It is the only Soviet-related statue left in the city – probably because it stands 40m tall on the highest point of the city, and is actually quite beautiful. Parts of it were removed (with all the other Soviet statues, that are now located at the aptly-titled Memento Park, outside the city) and the inscription was changed after the Soviet occupation of Hungary ended in 1989.
The view from the top is stunning. On a clear day you can see all of the leafy Buda hills and every rooftop on the urban Pest side.
After an ice cream, some obligatory photos and a little wander around, we began our walk back down the hills, thighs shaking and knees a little creaky. (Probably the ice cream)
Exploring Budapest’s Design Shops
B and I spent a morning compiling a list of design shops to visit and set out to see how they fared. After a few disappointments (B: “I think Hungary’s ‘design stores’ are Melbourne’s novelty stores.” Think Urban Attitude in Melbourne, for those of you playing at home) I found the one shop I’d heard a lot about – Rododendron Art & Design. Lots of local designers are stocked there, and they have lots of nifty things like tote bags, clothes, jewellery, knick-knacks and books.
I splurged (by Hungarian standards of shopping) on a dress designed by local woman Beatrix Fehér. Her label is called Camou. I loved that the dress was made/designed and screen-printed by her and had the little collar that slightly resembled a hood.
Finding More Places To Eat
Before Easter, B took me to the most amazing cake and sweets shop I think I have ever seen. He found it whilst walking on one of his many ‘aimless wanders’ around Budapest.
The place is called New York Sugar and not only does it stock ridiculous amounts of sweets/lollies (a whole wall of Jelly Belly jelly beans! Hello Kitty Sweets! Pick n mix to your sweet heart’s content!), they also serve delicious cakes, macaroons and ice cream. YUM!
Easter in Szentendre
On Easter Sunday we caught the train to the little town of Szentendre, which was beautiful and bitterly cold. I almost spent about $300AUD on a handmade wool coat but I think that was simply because I was freezing. Trust me, the blue skies in these photos are deceptive. I really needed an extra layer that day – I’m normally not so remiss with my dressing abilities here.
As you can see, plenty of pedestrian-only cobbled streets, old buildings and small shops & cafes.
We ate lunch in the courtyard of this eatery, where you are given a plate and a choice of food from the grill. I could have eaten twice of what I had – it was so delicious. Spicy and smoky, rich without making you feel ill. It’s a cunning plan, grilling the food at the entrance. The smell fills the entire street. How can you not go in for lunch?!
Plenty of design and art shops, galleries, ice cream shops, cafes, touristy places selling souvenirs to cater for every taste. I found one shop stocking only Hungarian food specialties… Tokaj wine, paprika in every form imaginable, Hungarian saffron and kits to make Hungarian gulyás soup (‘goulash’ as we’ve always known it as in Australia… alas, my friends, the ‘goulash’ you’ve tried is NOTHING like it is here.) I bought the two latter items but have not yet experimented with the gulyás kit. It calls for cooking fat and cuts of meat I’ve never heard of, so the next cool day we have I will head to the shops and buy the other ingredients and have a go at it. As for the saffron… well, I don’t know if it’s real saffron or some gimmick, but I put some in a risotto and I dare say it made not a scrap of difference. Ho hum.
The past two weeks have been quite hectic. I began some part-time work as an English tutor, got my visa and we’ve travelled to southern Hungary, Bratislava in Slovakia and I popped solo over the pond to the UK to spend a weekend in London with my friends Allie and Ross. Last night we saw The Prodigy and Death in Vegas live (AMAZING) and tomorrow we head to Prague in the Czech Republic for 4 days.
We have had stunning weather lately too – 25+ degrees Celcius (28 both days this weekend) and I have continued to foster a relationship with my neighbour’s cat, a very timid tabby who has learned not to run from me but in fact come to be fed from my hand. It’s been a slow process of building trust but I am feeling proud as punch to have affirmed my status as ‘cat whisperer’ here in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you’re curious about recent happenings, here are links to the relevant Flickr albums: