A blog post by SWMBO.
We set out to stroll around the centre of Budapest and to hit three architectural sites I particularly wanted to see: Synagogue, Market, Library. These sites were all located within 3 kilometres of our apartment. Onlyboy needed a break from sisters and parents so he stayed behind and agreed to put the roast in the oven at 3 so it would be ready for us when we returned.
Heading towards the river, we came across a charming area of vendors selling food and crafts. Parked next to the vendors was a beautiful old car that was available for hire. For 30 euros ($45) per adult, minimum 2 people, the driver would take you for a 1 1/2 hour private tour of the city. I would say that that is one fine way to spend $100. On our next trip to Budapest, we should budget for that splurge.
We continued on our way to the Dohány St. Synagogue. I was excited because I have never been in a synagogue. We came upon the building and it was gorgeous.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe. Unfortunately, it costs over $10/adult to enter. It seems a bit cheeky to force people to pay to pray. We decided to forego that expense so I still have never been in a synagogue. Here is what we missed…
We continued walking towards the market. On the way we saw this:
The Budapest Central Market dates from the turn of the 19th century and was voted the best market in Europe by CNN. It beat out La Boqueira (Barcelona), Portobello Road (London), Les Puces (Paris), and the Grand Bazaar (Istanbul). Having now seen the market, I can say that it is very nice but too antiseptic and characterless for my taste.
Where was the variety? The chaos? The farmers and beekeepers and cheesemakers and foragers? The market building is indeed beautiful from the outside but so are many other market buildings. The inside was filled with a series of medium sized businesses selling either meat, pastries or Hungarian specialties like paprika. There were a handful of veg stalls and a couple of stands selling dried fruit. At the far exit there was a small forgotten area where the real deal was found: mushrooms picked from the forest by the individual selling them, jams and jellies made by the lady sitting behind the card table and raw milk and yogurt direct from the farm. That’s what a market should be.
This experience confirms to me my suspicion that CNN doesn’t know what it is talking about. I have been to three of the four markets that lost out to Budapest and I would pick any of them over this market. Especially La Boqueira!!! Now there is a REAL market. The most impressive thing about Budapest Central Market is how big it is. Whoopdeedoo. Size doesn’t matter, as they say.
By this point, the girls were tired (and maybe we were too) so we decided to skip the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library. Paris was desperate to go to Lush (a handmade cosmetics store from England) so we strolled over there instead. She splurged on a face mask made from natural ingredients. To tempt you and to strengthen my resolve to return to Budapest, here is what we missed at the library:
We returned home to find that Onlyboy had accidentally burnt the dinner. Luckily we had leftover pasta to heat up! It might seem like the day was a bust but in fact it was a wonderful day in a wonderful city spent with a wonderful spouse and wonderful children so what could be more perfectly wonderful than that? What could be more perfectly wonderful is that our 14 year old son attempted to prepare dinner for us.