And then the drilling started

Our lovely, luxurious, seemingly quiet accommodation turned out to be more like a building site as the clock moved towards 9:30. Mirinda was not best pleased. She rang up reception and told them what she thought of them. Given the apartments are in a separate building, she’d have booked a couple of hotel rooms had she known they were rebuilding part of the hotel directly above us. So, rather than improve, the holiday continued to go downhill.

And if the hotel construction wasn’t enough, we also had problems with the puppet theatre people…

Mirinda: Do you have any tickets?
Ticket Person: We have no tickets.
Mirinda: For today or the rest of the week?
Ticket Person: We have no tickets.
Mirinda: So you never, ever have any tickets for any performance ever for as long you exist then?
Ticket Person: We have no tickets.

Unfortunately their website is only in Hungarian (except for the home page) and impossible to work out. I guess that sort of limits our chances of going. A pity because they’re doing the Nutcracker.

And then, just to wind us up a little bit more, we encountered the Hop-On Hop-Off Demons of Liszt Ferenc ter. Or as well seasoned tourists call them, pain in the arse ticket sellers.

All we wanted to do was get on a Hop-on Hop-off city bus, like we do in every new European city we visit. You’d think it would be simple but not in Budapest. There’s four different companies with varying degrees of pushy ticket spruikers. They seem to work to the principle that if you talk loud enough and close enough without taking ‘no’ for an answer, eventually their victim will give them some money. Well, not in our case.

We hid in a bookshop for a bit then I called one of them a liar. Mirinda told me not to have a go at him so we ignored him and, eventually, managed to get onto a Hop-on Hop-off city bus with a modicum of dignity left.

I mean…really? Is this what Europe has come to? I expected it in Beijing (and wasn’t disappointed), I really disliked it in Marrakech (and was surprised that Muslims could be so aggressive in their sales techniques) but in Europe it doesn’t really seem necessary. Maybe I’m just a snob…or out of touch. Whatever, I don’t like it and it seriously puts me off this country.

Anyway, moving right on along…once we were sitting on the bus and driving around Budapest, everything seemed to dissolve into the misty world around us as the voice in our head told us all about the buildings we were looking at. We then changed from the green to the pink bus and were entertained by a very knowledgeable lady with a microphone who dropped us off at the Central Market Hall.

market

What an amazing place! More meat than you can count, more paprika in more types of packaging than you’d think even remotely possible. Originally built in 1897, it was constructed in order to control the selling of food to people. By ‘control’ I mean making it illegal to kill people with unhygienic practices. Originally a set of railway tracks ran down the middle in order to deliver goods by train as well as an underground passage to the river for goods to arrive via boats. It was an amazing operation. These days, of course, it makes a lot more sense to clog the roads up with trucks, close off the river with a branch of Lidl and fill the balcony area with tourist tat.

It really is a beautiful building, reminding us of the Hotel de Ville in Beaune.

marketroof

And, having unsuccessfully managed to get mum money out of an ATM, we adjourned upstairs for genuine Hungarian cafeteria food while being entertained by Benedek Csik and his Orchestra.

Benedek Csir the violinist

Benedek Csir the violinist

Though, to be honest, I reckon ‘orchestra’ is stretching it a bit. I really have no idea what constitutes an ‘orchestra’ but would think an electric piano and a xylophone doesn’t really do it. Even so, they were very good…if you like gypsy music and Christmas songs played in a gypsy fashion. We must have liked it: we bought a CD.

After lunch (which proved quite entertaining for Mirinda as she witnessed just how rude a drinks waiter can be…not serving her, I hasten to add as I reckon that would have just about finished off this holiday) we strolled around the market a bit more (and I somehow managed to miss the cheese…seriously) before heading out across the wonderful Liberty Bridge and went in search of the Cave Church.

We’d never heard of the Cave Church. Mum had. She saw a TV programme about the Cave Church in Australia and really, really wanted to see the real thing, having heard (and seen) all about it. It would seem that the Hungarian tourist authorities don’t really want people to visit the Cave Church because there’s no signs and very little information. Maybe the Hungarian tourist authorities are actually Communists (it was Communists who concreted the Cave Church up in the 1950’s and martyred a whole bunch of Pauline monks). Who knows?

Anyway, we found it and thoroughly enjoyed (if ‘enjoyed’ is quite the right word) it. Mum said it was seriously her favourite site so far this trip. She loved it even more than her new red leather and fur lined gloves!

After a lovely bit of site seeing, we wandered back through a delightfully pedestrianised area where mum decided to eat soap. A young chap dashed out, offering everyone free samples of what appeared to be sweets. He did make a big thing of saying they were soap but, of course, mum didn’t hear him and instantly put it in her mouth. This caused instant consternation and everyone shouted “NOOOOOOOOO!” until she pulled it out of her mouth, asking us what the problem was. After a while the flavour sunk in and she realised she had a mouth full of soap (direct from the Dead Sea…apparently) and was not happy. Still, she survived and saved money on buying toothpaste.

We then had a wonderful trip back to the hotel aboard a couple of trams (I DO love a tram). Actually one was an old skinny one and the second a swish modern one. Variety is, after all, the spice of life…or so I’ve been led to believe. Of course, I could be wrong and variety is actually the worst thing since sliced bread (“What the hell was wrong with unsliced bread and a knife?”).

We rested up a bit then went to dinner where mum upset the kitchen staff by demanding that her beautifully presented lamb chops with mashed potato and grilled vegetables be served on a plate rather than a step ladder.

Actually, I thought the meal was fantastic if you ignore the raspberry ice cream which was a bit too fruity for me but the wine…oh, the wine. What a delight.

Anyway…that was our day. Nothing happened, really.

The Budapest parliament made out of marzipan

The Budapest parliament made out of marzipan

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