Sunday, October 07, 2007


So that last post? It's amazing that it worked, as I navigated the entire Blogger site in Hungarian. I do continue to impress myself sometimes...

And now, after four days in Budapest, it is time to go. I am sitting on the floor of the Budapest airport. Sipping a Cafe Americano that is sure to give me the shits in 5 minutes it is so strong. But where was I? Oh right - how effing much I loved Budapest!

After the meeting on Friday, the event planners arranged for all of us to go on an evening bus tour of the city. Budapest absolutely must be seen at night. So we boarded "the coach" just around 6:30 PM and looped around the Pest side of the city. Pest is more "downtown", more "urban", and more flat than the Buda side of the city, which is more residential and hilly. We drove through neighborhoods and stopped at a beautiful lookout point where we could see the entire city lit up.

After the bus tour, we headed to a famous restaurant, Gundel for the Gala Dinner. Due to rain, our cocktail reception hour had to be moved indoors, but we were treated to traditional Hungarian dance performances which were, um, AWESOME. Lots of clapping and stomping and spinning. I cannot remember a time I was more entertained by a dance performance... And coming from me, I think that is saying a lot.

After the dancing, we of course, ate more delicious food and drank more delicious wine. Wine I had hoped to bring back to the USA but due to liquid restrictions, I cannot. (I will find a way to order it online, though - it was that good. Hungarian wine is definitely my new favorite.)

Saturday, was finally MY day. After a short morning meeting, I switched hotels to the Hilton Budapest WestEnd, where I enjoyed a free night's stay. One of the perks of living in hotels as much as your own apartment is the ability to pick up a free night here and there. My room was again, AWESOME. A strawberry smoothie was waiting for me when I checked in, just the lift I needed to set out on a day of sightseeing.

And so I began walking. Down to the Danube River, along the river's edge. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I didn't really have enough time to go into any of the museums or castles, but I did take plenty of pictures of the buildings from the outside. Down the river's edge all the way to the Chain Bridge and then up through the shopping district again along Andrassy Ut, I stopped at Ring Cafe for a glass of wine and some more Hungarian beef, before heading back to my hotel to nap.

Did I mention that I went shopping at a Hungarian mall? Like everything else, it was AWESOME. I seriously have not been so excited to be in a mall since my mom let me walk all the way down to The Gap when she was at JC Penney back in 1993. So cool. I didn't purchase much, but walking around a Hungarian mall with Hungarian teenagers shopping for new Pumas was sensory overload, for sure. So fun.

Amazingly enough, I did get in a few more runs, and of course, there was a fabulous dinner to be eaten on Sunday night. Compliments of my client, we dined at a very nice Hungarian restaurant. Again, delicious wine, again amazing goat cheese, this time over beets and oranges in the best salad ever, followed by pork roulade over pumpkin-peach-cherry couscous.

And now, as I said, I am again at the airport, getting ready to fly through Frankfurt to Philadelphia for a few days... More on THAT later, but for now, I am going to board the plane and doze happily while remembering the fabulous time I had in Budapest.

Pics to come soon...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Always Hungry in Hungary

It has been a hell of a week.

It started with a Sunday trapped in the Charlotte airport. (After a beautiful weekend in Asheville, NC for the wedding of LGA turned LGAK.) It turned into an extra evening at one of Charlotte's most QUALITY INN's (compliments of United Airlines) and a very late arrival to a very stressful work situation on Monday.

And after another tough morning at the office on Tuesday, I boarded another plane, this time headed to Hungary. I honestly have never sat on a plane - or anywhere - for as long as I did on Tuesday. So long that my butt truly did ache, despite glasses of wine and Tylenol PMs.

Come Wednesday afternoon, Central European Time, when I did finally arrive in Budapest, and only an hour later to the Hotel Grand Royal, did it sink in. I am in Hungary!

And although I felt like I really hadn't slept since last Wednesday, the night before my Thursday night red-eye to NC for the wedding festivities, I forced myself to run 8K on the hotel treadmill. It wasn't too bad. Mainly because I really didn't have the brainpower to convert my km/hour pace to miles/hour, and I therefore had no idea how slowly I was running, therefore removing any frustration with myself. Also, it wasn't too bad because I was able to watch a Russian sports channel that was showcasing a gymnastics meet between Central and Eastern Europe teams while running. If only ESPN showcased more gymanstics!

After an amazing shower - European hotels really do have the most amazing bathrooms - I set out to do a little exploring of Budapest. And so I walked down Erzsébet körút and turned left down Andrassy ut into Jozsef Attila utca, got a little lost, but finally stumbled on DIÓ Restaurant & Bar.

What a find! Perhaps the waitstaff - all very handsome - felt bad for me. I was eating by myself - the horror! But the service was amazing. The wine was amazing. The salad? With goat cheese and cherries and walnuts - again, amazing. And my entree? Wild boar medallions served with a strawberry chutney over polenta with melted goat cheese.

A lactose intolerant non-vegetarian can eat very well in Budapest. Provided they like goat cheese...

After my lovely meal, I headed back to the hotel where I spent the majority of the past two days. Trapped inside a ballroom with 100 others for a conference. My presentation went well, though, and it is time to explore some more.

We are off on a bus tour with the group and onto what I expect will be another lovely dinner. Amazingly enough, despite all the good food, I am still hungry. But perhaps that is just how things work, here in Hungary...