OK, I know that title is a poor pun. But if your home state has a band called The Hungry Kids Of Hungary, surely I can point the finger at them. By the way if you like jangly pop, You Tube can do the heavy lifting.
Yesterday was my introduction to Hungary and we got off on the wrong foot. I was a weary, slovenly Australian. This happens when you are wearing the same clothes for two days, you have to channel Chariots of Fire to get through Dubai airport (late plane) and your arsenal to reinstate regular body hygiene is a roll-on deodorant and an airline supplied toothbrush/paste. Think of the smell of roadkill masked ever so slightly by Glen 20 and you get a fair idea.
Like any relationship we were both at fault. She has the reputation of an exotic European. Her countrymen and women included the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube (the original “Cuber”), Zsa Zsa Gabor and a litany of adult film stars (according to a good friend) just to name a few. Enough of the introductions, the point is, when I got here it was raining at levels that haven’t been seen since Noah was contacting zoos so I wasn’t all sunshine and smiles.
I organised an Air BnB after positive experiences in the USA. Instuctions via email were detailed and in good English but when you are sleep deprived, stink and soaked to the bones, the old synapes doesn’t work at optimum levels. I did find it though, in a building that on the surface looks like it had seen better days but inside it was the complete opposite. More about it later.
I get in to the place after drying off and have a shower. The time is 4:00PM so I decide to lay on the sofa while the phone charges for a power nap. I wake up at 2:00AM the next morning, feeling $1 million bucks (or 198 million HUF). My discovery of Hungary had to be put on hold to restore my biorhythms, some of the greatest expeditions had the odd hiccup at the start.
The apartment (I am discovering) is in the ideal position. Also it is owned by an interior decorator.
That is on one wall and this hangs above the bed…
We are talking about the textbook definition of open plan. There are two rooms, the bathroom/shower and the other room. With Wi-fi, heating and a decent shower it ticks all the boxes
The above shot reminds me of Hungarian Melrose Place (sans Heather Locklear, the random bitchiness and the pool).
After waking at 2:00AM, I tried to work out what I was trying to achieve. First problem was no money so that had to be rectified. Second problem was the weather. The Beast From The East had returned after a couple of weeks on holidays. For the uninitiated the Beast is a weather phenomenon which started in Russia and makes the rest of Europe unseasonally cold. Apparently the weather was -6C and for a boy who grew up in Queensland, just reading that makes me shiver. The good news it was expected to hit a balmy 2C later. Where’s the beanie?
The best thing about being -6C was that I might see snow for the second day in my life. I saw snow in Canberra once but that is Australian snow so that doesn’t count and I only saw the aftermath of the snowstorms in Portland last year. I was looking forward to conquering the elements, until I opened the door. I swore and slammed it shut. Plan B, extra jumper and scarf.
It’s 6:00AM and the only thing harder than walking in the snow were my nipples. I am trying to avoid the muddied slush that is super slippery, puddles from the day before, traffic and other people stupid enough to be out at this hour. I was like a baby giraffe on skates. There was a couple of times where I slipped but saved myself before getting a facefull of a brown snowcone.
Snow looks great in the movies. It looks romantic and the media have made it look like the most fun you can have with clothes on. It is a lie. While it is still on the ground it is the most frustrating thing to fall from the sky. Remember at this point I haven’t eaten for more than half a day, I had no local currency and I was struggling to stay upright.
Let me prove another adage wrong, money can buy happiness. Once the ATM vomitted out 80,000 HUF ($400 AUD) the day changed in an instant. The snow had melted in such a way that walking became easier and the temperature was no longer of concern because I could not feel any part of my body. On a related note, cotton pants do nothing to keep legs and testicles warm.
Snow melting and money in hand I found a place, Meatology. It was mentioned in most of the “When In Budapest…” lists. Like much of Budapest on a cold Sunday they didn’t open until 10:00AM so I was fanging for some food.
The team here specialise in modern Hungarian in a small speakeasy. That term means western food with great mustard and more vegetables. Breakfast options are limited to only three and I wasn’t yet ready to tackle the lunch blackboard so I opted for the Full Hungarian Breakfast.
The breakfast was two eggs, handmade sausage, bacon and assorted vegetables with mustard. Add to that a large glass of tap water and two espresso coffees and normality had been restored.
Will definitely be back. Menu items include rossted pig’s ear salad. That’s got to be worth trying?
I came across a Ruins Pub. There are many of these in Budapest, named because they were derelict and have been restored as pubs, catering for the backpacker niche. This one is Szimpla Kert and apparently every month they have a farmer’s market in the morning before the hormones and bad language take over the night shift. This place has got shit everywhere. If Willy Wonka had a pub this would be it.
Scattered between the gymnastic equipment (has a pub ever had a pommel horse?) there were spreads, cheeses, meats, fruit and pastries made by locals trying to turn a dollar. But hidden down the back in front of the gin bar and in the shadows of a cut up car and a Mr Bean cutout was a stall run by older Hungarian ladies trying to raise money for a school.
Will have to leave the Hungarian bake sale until tomorrow. Phone needs charging. Oh the suspense!