Saturday, March 10, 2012

Budapest: First Impressions

We enjoyed some appetizers and a glass of Hungarian red wine in the Hilton Executive Lounge last night before heading out for dinner. The friendly young attendant speaks reasonably good English (and some German) and mentioned that he's studying Finnish. Now there's ambition, although we'd learned some years ago that Hungarian and Finnish have some historical grammatical connection.

We strolled around the neighborhood and down as far as the river four or five blocks away idly looking for a place to eat. There were numbers of bars but not many restaurants. We entered one noisy restaurant only to find out they were already full. Friday night in Budapest is a time to go out.

We finally settled on a place that was as much bar as restaurant. We were conventional and chose goulash with potatoes and pork medallions with spätzle, both quite decent and reasonably priced. We were the only ones we could see ordering dinner. There were eight or nine other tables of customers and only one other woman in the place. Apparently it's Boys' Night Out here, at least when it comes to beer and cigarettes.

Yes, a lot of people smoke here. It's something we notice right away that contrasts our part of the world.

More people speak English than on our last visit 30 years ago. They still appreciate it when we say Köszönöm szépen - thank you - to them.

Today we move from Pest to Buda and stay for two nights in the Hilton Budapest, the only Hilton located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We made good use of Hilton's January sale and have enjoyed our stays greatly so far.

We're going to try to make it from one hotel to the other without getting lost once. Just in case, we'll keep practicing Köszönöm szépen.

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