Tuesday in Budapest

Life is really, really good right now.

Two nights ago, Kevin and I arrived in Budapest and it’s been an exciting and delightful experience. After getting our luggage, we exited baggage claim to be picked up by a little, charming, old man who drove us to the Novotel. Kevin and I proceeded to check in, and found out that we were at the wrong Novotel. In fact, there are three of them in this glorious city.

We eventually ended up at the Novotel Danube which is situated across from one of the most stunning Parliament building in the world. Not only that, but there was free wifi in the hotel. Oh, Novotel, you know how to treat a gal right! After heading up to our room, I think I fell asleep around 10:30pm.

Yesterday was one of those days that just kinda happens to you. Little to no planning was involved, but everything I wanted to happen did. Kevin and I woke up around 9 and shuffled down to breakfast before it closed at 10am. I was (and am) thrilled that the food was really good. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, cheeses, breads, tea, coffee, oatmeal, granola, fresh juices, and quite the variety of fresh fruit. Yum!

After a delightful breakfast, Kevin and I came back upstairs, did some email, and then went to the gym to workout. After a good run and a stretch, we sweated in the sauna for a bit. Gaaah, it was fabulous. Why don’t I have a sauna everywhere I go? Freaking awesome! Then we came back upstairs and I decided I had time to primp. An hour and I half later, I emerged from the bathroom feeling like a new human being.

It was lunchtime, which meant we would wander the streets of Buda until we found nourishment fit for kings (shaking fist in the air)! Where did we end up? At a pizza joint. 😀 After replenishing our energy supply, we forged on with our battle to see the city (haha, yes, it felt that epic to us at the time). We climbed a good number of stairs, briefly considered taking the running-car-with-it’s-door-open for a spin, watched a bum, imaged what it would be like to scale a castle wall, and then climbed more stairs.

I’m still not sure where we ended up, but there were castles! Kevin and I played with some of our photography apps on our phones and took a few photos and then jimmied with the setting. Speaking of which, Instagram, I dig you. :p All of a sudden, we started hearing more English. Eeek, that must mean we’re near tourists. About half a block up, there was a Hilton from the 1970s (oh, that architecture really is…..errr….timeless?) and tourist traps. I figured now would be a great time to grab a pastry and Kevin reminded me that Hungary knows how to do dessert. Literally within two blocks of putting that into the universe, a confectionary magically appeared on our right. Sweet (pun intended)!!

We gingerly walk in and quietly take a seat up on stage. Haha, yes, there was seating on the floor AND on the random stage. Naturally, Kevin and I were drawn to the stage and…..ok, really, it provided the best view of the square outside. As we savored our cherry-chocolate cake and marzipan-chocolate cake, we sat back and appreciated the view. Well, that was until the bus load of tourists arrived and then we booked it out of there.

The stone work in this city is exquisite. After visiting Poland last week, where most of Warsaw had been destroyed in WWII, this city stood in stark contrast; so much of the city, in it’s historical glory, still stands in excellent condition. Kevin and I wandered around so we could better see what we had been looking at through the window, and played one of our favorite games: History in the Making!

Here’s how you play:

1) Find something fun/interesting that clearly has a great story behind it
2) Say what year it was created
3) Explain what people thought this thing was
4) Explain what it really is
5) Add someone or a group of people who were clearly involved in the story

Often times this game starts out pretty tame, but it slowly becomes slightly off color and potentially offensive. Oh my goodness, it’s so much fun! Best story wins!

Before we headed home, I told Kev that I thought we should try and see a show tonight. If it was at 7pm, we would be home by 10ish. He seemed happy to consider it. Near the end of our History in the Making session, we stumbled upon a “dance house” and found a 7pm musical with Hungarian dancing in it called “Tanckronika Dozsa Gyorgy tetteirol: Honved Tancszinhaz”. Done and done.

Around 6 we rallied and got a cab to take us to the Muveszetek Palotaja. Holy wow, was that a stunning building. Again, Kevin and I stopped to take pictures and then hustled inside. We had killer seats; fourth row, center, aaaaaaand we were sitting behind a kid. Awesome.

The dancing was thrilling to watch. There was so much energy and camaraderie on stage. I’m a little sad that it was mostly the men creating it, but the lady dancers did their fair share of dancing, they were just in the back. Uh, but the leg work….and rhythms…..and clapping….and the belts….and the handsome men….wow, it was just what I wanted to see.

Ok, the I’m not entirely sure what the premise of the show was, but here’s my best summary. There was our main guy, we’ll call him Dozsa, who had most of the singing solos and got to wield a weapon the most often. Subsequently, he started most of the dance battles. He also had the longest hair which proceeded to get wetter throughout the show. He through it around like he was a pained rockstar. He was kind of a “Lord of the Dance” sort of guy. Dozsa opened the show by battling a guy with a fu-man-chu who I think was supposed to be Arabic of some sort (to be honest, not sure). Dozsa ended up killing him and put his head on the top of his weapon. Yes….that was kinda shocking. Then the music changed from “traditional” folk music to a slow rock ballad when the hot, medieval ladies came out.

Mind you, this show is entirely in Hungarian so Kevin and I had NO idea what was going on. The only thing we could surmise was who the “good guy” was, who the priest was, and that the knights and men in funny hats were bad. Other good life-lessons to glean from the show are as follows: rock ballads are a sign of love, dance battles are done with friend and foe alike, and being drunk or having fantastical dreams reads as the same on stage without translation (ehem, Dozsa).

The music was a mix of old (live musicians) and new (recordings), presumably to help the younger generation better connect with the dancing of generations past. Some of it, I thought, was nicely done, and some of it was just silly. The storyline was good: hero protects city, has wild whimsical dreams, priest forbids something, knights come in and want something, hero feels torn about this “something”, and in the end, fights to the death. The stage was lovely, the props were good, the sound was fantastic, and the dancers and live musicians were awesome.

Once the show was over, we played transportation by ear and somehow managed to get home two trams and a good walk later. What a spectacular day.