A little Buda, a lot of Pest: Days 4-6

Isn’t it amazing how, as soon as you complain about something not working properly, it fixes itself? *Sigh* Life.
Anyway, to continue:

Sunday, Day 4, dawned ungodly bright and early. Saying we were used to it would be true, and unfortunate. But, we were on vacation and getting early starts is kind of necessary.

After breakfast at Frohlich Bakery (slowly becoming our favorite place to eat), we met up with M&E for a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter.

We met in front of one of the many drinkable fountains in the city – it turns out that Budapest sits on a naturally pure water source, so all the decorative fountains have drinkable water! And yes, we saw many people filling their water bottles from lions mouths and, ahem, other bodily openings.
Our guide Zoltan was informative, funny, and native-born Hungarian who lived in the Jewish Quarter despite a lack of religious credentials. The Jewish Quarter, it turns out, is home to many non-Jews because it is so centrally located within the capital. It also happens to be the center of the party scene in Budapest and is home to the famously infamous Ruin Pubs.

(I maintain what I said in my previous post about how nice everyone is – they could be even nicer if they would just be a little quieter while wandering the streets in their drunken dazes)

After 2.5 hours, Hubby, Nooshkin, M&E and I backtracked to the Dohanny Street Synagogue for a look inside. We decided against an official tour and just wandered around taking pictures of everything.

The interior of the Dohanny Street Synagogue

The interior of the Dohanny Street Synagogue

A close-up of the Aron Kodesh (where the Torah is kept)

A close-up of the Aron Kodesh (where the Torah is kept)

The cemetery in the courtyard

The cemetery in the courtyard

There was even a guestbook that you could sign so the synagogue would always remember and cherish your visit…that’s not weird in the slightest.

During the morning tour, I learned that Franz Liszt was the Shabbat Goy at the Dohanny Street Synagogue and played the organ during services!

Yup, accurate.

Yup, accurate.

How crazy is that?!

Once that was done, we all headed back to our respective abodes to relax and get ready for the wedding!
Which was on a boat in the Danube River with Buda Castle in the background.

The couple was gorgeous, the party went all night, and a good time was had by all. The craziest part was, they hired a second wedding planner who took care of the Kosher food for us and M&E. Actually, that isn’t so crazy once you really think about it.

Especially because they kept eating our food....

Especially because they kept eating our food…

What is crazy is how everyone seemed smitten with Nooshkin…nope, also not so crazy.

Day 5 was my plan. We were taking a roadtrip through the Hungarian countryside to Nyiradony, which is about 20 minutes Northeast of Debrecen, which is 2 hours from Budapest. It’s the village where my grandfather was from.
More about that in a different post.

Day 6 was devoted to shopping til we dropping. Which we were incredibly successful at (we are kind of professional). And, of course, taking more pictures of the sites around us.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack everything up. While the trip was wonderful, it was also incredibly exhausting – to the point that, fairly frequently on day 6 Hubby and I would look at each other and say “Yeah, I’m ready to go home”

I guess that is the best sign of a successful trip. That, and the swag we brought back 🙂

Currently Grooving On: Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody

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A little Buda, a lot of Pest: Days 1-3

We’re back!

Our travels safely concluded, and the laundry finally completed, I can finally get down to the business of posting lots of pictures and causing people to experience FOMOism.

FOMO: acronym, Fear Of Missing Out; commonly characterized by a desperate need to do something, even if that something is staying up until god-awful hours of the night/morning waiting for something to happen, all the while nothing is happening because every normal person is sleeping and is therefore doing nothing. Commonly experienced by high school and early college-age individuals, especially at summer camps.

As mentioned previously, Hubby Nooshkin and I traveled to Budapest for a week to celebrate the wedding of our friends J&E.
I very much recommend Budapest. As far as capital cities go it was clean, modern, and filled with friendly people. The architecture was amazing, there was (naturally) so much history around every corner, and the FOOD! There is nothing like traveling to a country that has its own food culture, handed down for literally centuries. Delicious, even if we only stuck to the Kosher stuff.

BUT – in the summer, the sun sets at 10pm and rises at 5am. Yes, those times are correct. Nooshkin was up super early every day ready to go – Hubby and I needed at least 3 cups of coffee just to get out the door. Also, this wrecked havoc with all our sleep cycles. Needless to say, by the last day we were very much ready to head home.

So, on to the important part.

Day 1 was spent arriving, settling in, and exploring. We stayed at the Nova Apartments, located in the Jewish Quarter. Once we divested ourselves of the luggage we wandered around the neighborhood. We did a little shopping for food, but mostly took in the sites of the city. We also met up with our friends M&E who also came in for the same wedding and stayed up the street.

The Budapest Opera House

The Budapest Opera House

Um...I don't remember...

Um…I don’t remember…

Some cool detailing

Some cool detailing

Day 2 we walked to the National Gallery of Hungarian Art at the Buda Castle. About half of the galleries were closed for renovations, but what we saw was incredibly interesting. The Gallery was only Hungarian artists throughout the centuries, so it was really cool to see non-Italian works from the Renaissance and other eras.

The Buda Castle on the Danube (cue the waltz)

The Buda Castle on the Danube (cue the waltz)

Afterwards we had a nice picnic lunch near the entrance, and took some pictures of the Pest side of the city.

I was getting really good with Panorama mode

I was getting really good with Panorama mode

We then slowly made our way back to the hotel and got ready for Shabbat.
Friday night services were at one of the three local synagogues. I was kind of keen on going to the famous Dohanny Street synagogue, but the services started super early and there’s a two-hour minimum stay when you enter. (The synagogue is closed to tourists on Shabbat; so if you go in they want to make sure that you really want to go in, which I completely understand). As it is, the Dohanny Street Synagogue has a significantly different prayer style than most European Jewish communities, so we wouldn’t have been able to keep up anyway.
However, the synagogue we went to was really nice. The interior was a time machine back to the 1700s when it was first built, with super vibrant blues, greens, reds, and golds. Jewish starts and menorahs were everywhere, and each window had stained glass – even the ones on the ceiling.
There was also a playroom which Nooshkin took over. So that was great, because I was able to actually take in the place without worrying about her.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment and passed out from exhaustion – it had been a super long day.

Shabbat morning, after several rounds of breakfast, we took a long walk around Budapest, followed by lunch. Followed immediately by a nearly 3-hour nap.

This was Hubby's idea

This was Hubby’s idea

We then walked to Margaret Island, smack in the middle of the Danube River and spent a few hours wandering around. There were tons of attractions, and although we didn’t get to do everything there was plenty to see: a zoo, lots of playgrounds, a huge fountain with choreographed displays (music included), the famous Rose Gardens (sans roses, due to maintenance issues), and – apparently – the Budapest Summer Festival.

A good time was had by all, especially Nooshkin, who got to see peacocks for the first time. The zoo also had an eagle, and some ravens. Also storks who were doing this weird clacky thing with their beaks, and nobody could figure out if it was a mating ritual or a defense mechanism.

We took the long way back to the apartments, at which point it was starting to get dark outside and we were finally able to fall asleep.

Currently Grooving On: The Blue Danube Waltz (because, duh)

International Woman of….something

The Restless Mama family is going to Budapest!

Our dear friends J&E are getting hitched, and they graciously invited us so we naturally graciously accepted.
Hungary is one of the many countries we want to visit anyway, so this is the perfect opportunity to cross it off our list.

I cannot guarantee posts while abroad, but who knows? Maybe there will be some restless moments (ha, yeah right).

At the very least there will be lots of pictures when we get back.