Wednesday, March 18, 2009

du bu(dapest) fl

Again, sorry for the delay! I got all wrapped up in my seemingly endless to-do list of which blogging, unfortunately, was not first priority. For those of you who have already scanned through my Hungarian experience, here's a little explanation; for others who have not, without further adieu, I give you... Budapest :).

This large city market was spectacular and our first introduction to the culture. The fresh produce was plentiful and grains, nuts, and spices were around every corner!

Then there were stands that sold already prepared food; a perfectly quick alternative to fast-food and probably a whole lot tastier.

I could smell all of the delicious paprika present in each entrée!
This is stuffed cabbage, my favorite of the hearty Hungarian meals.

And if that wasn't enough, they even had many "tourist-trap" souvenir places. I've gotta admit the items were beautiful and so unlike those sold in Western European capitals.

Following our visual "taste" of Hungary, our hosts brought us to their home. Who were our hosts you ask? Oh you know, just the extended family of my old neighbors at home... the most generous people ever.

Even though we'd technically ate dinner, they had a nice dessert waiting for us. My slice of this meggyes pistóta (or cherry sponge cake) was delectable and not too sweet for me like most things are. The cherries came from their tree in the backyard and had been preserved since the summer for the winter pastries.

With this, they graciously opened a bottle of Hungarian wine as we mapped out the next few days of our trip. Their 21 y/o daughter, Judit, told us would be providing us with a "program" to show us Hungarian nightlife. In between, the 14 y/o, Noemi, spent her days directing us through the city. She's only a young teenager (with great English) and she missed school to do it. I miss them both.

[The Basilica]

[The Parliament]

[The Parliament from afar a.k.a. Liz's new favorite building in the world]

[An afternoon pick-me-up cappuccino]

[The Palace]

[The King's baths] It was a tragically beautiful sight I wish they'd restore.

[The butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Musuem]

[Peach Krémes, our afternoon snacks, courtesy of Noemi's grandmother]

I was unable to get a picture of our dinner that night, Marha Gulas, but here's a great summary I found to describe it and other traditional foods to you: Hungarian cuisine has been influenced by the French, German, Italians and Turks, not to mention the Polish, Slavs, and Asian. The result... a rich blend of one-pot meals cooked for hours and pastries that would put Vienna to shame.

[The Opera House]

Elizabeth (Noemi's mom) came with us the second day.

[Liz's candid of a random conversation] I think it's cute :)
[St. Istvan]

[Heroes Square]

That night, we met Judit's boyfriend and friends. So sweet. Despite the language barrier, I think it's safe to say that everyone had a blast playing pool, foosball, and darts while listening to old American classics.

Before we left the next day. the girls' grandmother presented us with these doilies that she'd made for us "with love," as Elizabeth translated. They had already gone so above and beyond what I had expected that I didn't even know what to say at this point except,

Köszönöm. We learned a little bit of Hungarian while we were there too :) that means thank you! I had never been to Eastern Europe before and I would go back there in a second. Liz and I nearly wanted to cancel our trip to Italy to stay. It's a good thing we didn't though, stay tuned for l'esperienza toscana. Happy Humpday!

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