Finally the day has dawned not so bright, and from our hotel window we can see the tops of the trees swaying, and flags fluttering and tangling around their flag poles. When we venture out, I am only just warm enough in my short sleeved t-shirt. Some relief from the hot weather at last.
A rain squall sweeps through and sends us underground, where we discover an arcade of souvenir shops. I am not much of a shopper, but that reminds us that we really should think about what we will take home. After all, we are leaving Europe in the morning 🙂
The rain does not last long, and we continue on our meander up the main pedestrian mall called Vaci street. This is a major boulevard, and features all the leading retailers. We discover it is also tourist central: cafes and souvenir shops one after the other. It is a pleasant enough walk all the same. It is nice just to walk along without having any timetable to meet.
At the end of Vaci Street stands the Central or Great Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. The stalls on the ground floor offer produce: meat, vegetables, pastries, spices, paprika and so on. We always enjoy browsing around the food on offer. We see a peach that is flat, as if something heavy had been sat on the crate on the way to market. We see two men each carrying a huge marrow over their shoulder. I find one butcher shop that is specialising in offal meat.
Personally, I think offal is awful – but just after we finished our chat the butcher was swarmed with customers. What first attracted my attention was the tripe, then I saw he had huge livers, kidneys, tongue – all manner of internal organs. Then he showed me something I had never seen before, it looked like a roll of intestines, but it was actually – pig’s penis. He and his offsider took great delight in showing me the “action”, so to speak. I have no idea how you cook and eat it, and I hope I never have to find out.
The first floor is souvenir and food stalls. It was swarming with tourists. The food stalls in particular. I strained to catch sight of what people were eating as we tried to slip through the crowd. Many people had langos, a deep fried flat bread that can be topped with just about whatever you want. Most people had opted for a savoury version, but I did see a woman trying to cut up one that was topped with fruit and cream – like a pavlova topping. I am not sure it was intended to be eaten like that, she was getting into a right old mess.
I had one last thing on my bucket list before leaving Budapest, and so later in the afternoon we went up market and headed to the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Hotel. This building has captured my attention from our first walk around Budapest. It was built in 1906 for the Gresham Insurance company, and is a fine Art Nouveau building. The four of us had decided on having coffee and cake there as an excuse to get inside and have a good squizz around the building. It did not disappoint, and the service was impeccable. The building was restored in 2004, after having fallen into disrepair during the communist period. Today it is one of the most expensive and attractive hotels in Budapest. (Bill is still muttering about the cost of a cup of coffee – but he put on a brave face at the time :-))
Saturday 10th August 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Budapest
Gresham Hotel Exterior
Gresham Hotel Exterior close-up
Gresham Hotel gated side entrance, external view
Ornate gate seen from the inside
Chandelier in foyer
Afternoon Tea setting at the Gresham Hotel
Even your teaspoon gets its own holder