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.

Nail Stickers

I was recently in Las Vegas with some friends when I was sucked into my next fashion focus: nails. While wandering around in one of the many malls, I needed to have my gel nails removed and I didn’t want to try and pick them off any more than I already had. I went from salon to salon asking how much it’d be to get them removed and I was quoted $35. That’s obscene. As I continued to wander along, I stumbled upon Incoco which changed the way I looked at nail polish.

INCOCO is the first ever nail polish that is “bottle-free” and dry to the touch at the moment of application. This exciting new technology is a dry nail polish strip which means that the user gets no smudges, no drips, no messy nail polish bottles and a beautiful salon manicure at home!

The flat nail strips contain 3 real layers ….base, color and top coats. Every nail strip holds evenly distributed smooth coats of color. The nail strips are easy to handle and can be applied ANYWHERE … an airport, an office, even in the back of a taxi!

Sounds perfect for someone who lives out of their suitcase! DIY, cheap and readily available. Cheaper than getting an actual manicure, easier to apply by yourself (no heating by UV lamp or hair dryer) and they’re supposed to last up to 2 weeks. Needless to say, I bought quite a few sets after the lady at the Incoco stand removed my nail polish and gave me a manicure. Check it out!

The process is super easy.

  • Cut/File nails into the shape you want
  • Grab nail strip. Take off the clear, top layer
  • Remove color strip from backing
  • Place color strip on nail. Peel up and start again if you want a different placement
  • Pull strip down over the edge of your nail and mush of the end
  • File nail strip (and nail) down a little further to seal the deal

Piece of cake, huh? If you’d like to buy some of your own, check out Incoco’s Online Store. The strips run between $8-$12. That’s more expensive than if you buy a bottle of polish and do it yourself, but it’s less than if you have a salon do it. Sally Hansen has a similar product out called Salon Effect. Those strips are “toluene and formaldehyde-free, odorless and do not need to dry. [The sets] will cost just under ten dollars which contains sixteen strips (room for mistakes!), a cuticle stick, a mini file-buffer and full instructions.” I recently bought a set but haven’t tried one yet. I’ll update this post once I’ve tried them both and let you know which I prefer.

Wow, right? That’s an example of the high end brand is called Minx (I think they were the first brand that came out with nail sticker). You’ve probably seen Minx in music videos, magazines, television, the red carpet and the internet. Several celebrities have been seen sporting their Minx nails, including Beyonce, Solange Knowles, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry (pictured above), Rihanna, Fergie and many others. The Minx process takes a little bit longer, requires a heat lamp, and costs about $40-$60/set. Oh yeah, and you can only get it professionally done. 🙁

Two other brands you can check out are Inque Nails which has a crappy website but really fantastic designs and are about $16/set and Nail WOW (think infomercial) which are about $9/set.

Have you guys tried these things before? What do you think?

Traveling – rant

One of the many exciting things about traveling so often is that so many things can happen before you arrive to your destination.

Last week I came back from Quebec and it took me twelve hours to get home. I had looked at my ticket, but hadn’t quite focused on my return flight. Had I, I probably would have taken a 7:00 flight vs a 10:00 am flight and would have had a shorter layover subsequently. Gar!!!!!

Currently I am in Europe and I have already had quite the travel experience. I flew into Paris and then took 2 trains to get to Grenoble. To get to the Lyon St Exupery airport, I had to take a tram to a bus and from there, I am scheduled for two more flights before I arrive to my next destination.

For this tour, I arranged it I’d so I wouldn’t have to purchase my own flights. Unfortunately by doing that, I lost some control on how and when I travel. Normally I book direct flight for myself unless they are $150 or more than something with a layover because frankly my time is with something. I did, however, forget to specify that I’d like to check ALL the details of the travel plans and approve them before they are bought. So really it’s my fault that I have a travel schedule that I am not pleased with. Arg!!!!!!!

Ok, that was my rant for the day. I might need to do it again when I switch cities.