Saturday, May 31, 2014

Budapest Panorama

View from the Halászbástya looking east over the Danube toward Pest.

More church

It's a Church!

I never tire of these. Same floor plan throughout Europe, it's the details that matter. Mátyás Templom, flanked by the Halászbástya, exudes a Snow White-cum-Khazad Dûm vibe. Lovely chalice collection, too.

I Been to Budapest on a Horse with no Name

And the touristy crowds were insane/
They came to see Matthias and the church that bears his name/
Didn't have to stand out in the rain.

La, la, la la la la la/
La la la, la, laaa

To the Disney minarets, all the people came/
To see the city laid out on the plain/
Buda's on the west side, up a twisty lane/
Pest's across the Danube which explains the name.

La, la, la la la la la/
La la la, la, laaa

Budapest street view

NOM and the AFA are Here, too?

Isn't there enough hate to go around in America already? Do they really need to franchise (I mean, beyond Uganda)? How is it that...what? The "A" is for Alexander? And Alexander Bigot was the ceramicist responsible for much of the decor at the Paris World Fair in 1900?

Never mind.

Museum Banners

The Iparmúvészeti Múzeum advertises itself via an image of the first chew spittoon. Can't wait to see what else is in the collection...

Tutti fruiti

The highlight of the Museum of Applied Arts was an exhibition of political and advertising posters from 1930s Hungary.

Architectural mash up

What happens when you create a building inspired by both the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Alhambra in Spain? The strange and wonderful Museum of Applied Art in Budapest.

The Architecture...

Well, it seems to pair well with the weather. Odd juxtaposition of Baroque, Soviet stack-a-prole, and post-modern. Don't really know how else to shoot it, other than "kind of vaguely threatening."

Coffee clatch

We're warming up for the legendary Viennese coffeehouses with a stop at Centrál Kávéház here in Budapest. Strong espresso, several variations on the egg breakfast, all served up in a decidedly regal atmosphere. I love a city that appreciates the brown caffeine elixir and suspect that Budapest and I are going to get along just fine...

Mmm. Macarons.

These apparently baked by Rainbow Bright. First stop: breakfast.

Ah, Budapest

You had me at hello. Shall I consider thee the Spain of the Danube, an enchanted land that magically transforms grapes and pigs into delicious amusements, or perhaps an inland Naples, somewhat impenetrable, but with the same fascination with prosciutto and vino (and pizza). No matter, your pleasant lack of Starbucks and big box stores and Starbucks inside big box stores is most invigorating.

Friday, May 30, 2014

In the Land of the Magyars

There's an old story about how some physicists at Los Alamos did a back-of-the-napkin estimate on how long it should take to colonize the galaxy, at sub-light speeds, using a land-settle-build-move on model. Their answer? Sixty million years. So the next obvious question was, "Where is everybody?" "They are here," replied Enrico Fermi, "and they are the Magyars."

Apocryphal, perhaps, but the jest was made in reference to the Hungarian language, which bears no resemblance to any other except maybe a variety of Finnish that was never written down and is no longer spoken. As usual, though, everyone speaks English and is happy to help. Unreadable, impenetrable, and nearly unpronounceable to one as tone deaf as me, I'm just happy to have learned hello, goodbye, yes, no, please and thank you. You know, the basics. Still can't count.

Speaking of counting, Hungary remains on its pre-Euro currency, the Forint, which is adorned with portraits of people resembling Vlad the Impaler (wrong country, I know), and trades at 225:1. So take off the last two digits, divide by four, and round down. Basic stuff is fairly inexpensive: a midrange bottle of wine at a midrange restaurant is about $18, and a pizza or donor kabab--both of which are ubiquitous to the point where they are arguably two of the Hungarian national food groups--goes for around $5.

There are still remnants of the Soviet era, mostly in statue form, like this sample outside the train station, and the occasional Trabant. Otherwise, it's typical European, with sleek, modern hotels, hot showers, and a Burger King every half mile or so. It's also hip in that Eurotrash couture kind of way, which means it's time to ditch my cargo pants for the skinny jeans. You know, so I blend in.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Eat Here Now

All ten of you who follow us might have noticed a recent uptick in posts. That's because we're back on the move. I won't spoil any future surprises, but we just returned from a nostalgic few days in Seattle and Portland, and I'm in Boston for the next 72 hours. So...

Next time you make it to Boston, make a point of eating here. A steakhouse in the finest tradition, housed in the old armory, two blocks south of the commons. Smith & Wollensky. I recommend the tartare--tuna of the meadow--but their expert staff will undoubtedly guide you to the perfectly aged, perfectly cooked cut of your choice. I just find cooked meat so...barbarian.

Chihuly, Cthulhu, Who Can Tell?

They spelled it wrong, but the sentiment is so right.

This was a glass museum interactive exhibit--that's why there's all those letters in the background. Anyone could spell out their name, or a message, or whatever. The character limit is imposed only by the ability to sort a limited number of vowels.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Choosing my religion

Big balls and glory holes

We're in the Pacific Northwest enjoying a few days of r & r post museum conference. Yesterday we ventured deep into the land of Chihuly to visit the Museum of Glass, seeing glass art in all of its myriad applications. Two cousins under ten greatly enhanced the experience.