18 Sep 2011

Budapest/Berlin – Saturday, September 17, 2011

Posted by Deborah

(By Seth)

On our last morning in Budapest, we got up early to see the inside of the Parliament building. It came well advertised as I believe it’s the second largest parliament building in Europe, behind British Parliament. They’re actually very similar architectural styles. However, when we got there right at the opening time, we were disappointed to find it was closed due to some visiting dignitaries or something. Apparently we weren’t the dignitaries they were prepared for, much to our chagrin. We salvaged the morning by walking to the river to see a brass shoe sculpture in memorial to the Jews who’d been lined up and shot into the river, leaving only their shoes behind. We pulled some death-defying maneuvers to cross the busy street back to a tram stop that would take us further along the river to a large indoor market. We thought we knew of a nearby recommended cafe for lunch, but the kitchen wasn’t open when we got there so we scooted across the street to another place. The food there turned out to be quite unimpressive, but at least the people watching was good and the fresh air was nice.

The market was reminiscent of the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, albeit a bit more organized. While Deb picked up a few souvenirs, we met a traveler that would spend the rest of the trip with us: Little Mole, a character from a Czech children’s show modeled after Mickey Mouse. He hopped onto our backpack and we were on our way. We eventually realized that all the prepared food you could eat right in the market was upstairs. It would have been good to know that before we ate…guess we’ll just have to come back on another trip!

From there, Deb, Little Mole and I rode the subway to see the statues at Heroes Square. We’d heard that a temporary horse racing track had been installed in the park for a special festival that day, so we were expecting a crowd. We didn’t expect the crowds to be so large, however, that you couldn’t even see the track! There was a large video board for viewing the race from afar, but we didn’t have time to stick around for the next race. Instead, we walked back down Andrassy Ut toward our hotel, perusing the cultural displays, vendors and food stands lining both sides of the street. It was almost like walking through a Renaissance fair, especially when groups of people dressed in traditional garb from their respective regions broke out into song and dance in the middle of the throng.

We spent the rest of the afternoon traveling – an easy train ride to the airport, then a short flight to Berlin, and a train/subway route to the Pfefferbett Hostel. Even though the hostel was right near the subway stop, it was tucked away in a renovated warehouse complex that you couldn’t see from the main street. We ended up asking for directions twice and walking in a wide circle to get to the entrance. That wasn’t the end of our walking in circles, unfortunately. After dropping off our bags, we headed off to find a Middle Eastern place that was supposed to be walking distance from the next stop on the subway line. Of course, we walked the wrong way when we got off the train. Even after we corrected our mistake, we couldn’t seem to find the restaurant, so we settled on an Indian place that we’d passed instead. We’d heard that Berlin had a number of excellent Indian places, and this lived up to that reputation.

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