Budapest: 14th September

The morning began with a visit to the Vajdahunyad Castle, which was built in 1896 to celebrate Hungary’s millenial as an exhibition, torn down, then rebuilt by popular demand. Even though all the buildings are actually replicas and mostly just facades, it is a lovely place – a peaceful and beautiful spot in the middle of a bustling city.

The castle has buildings from different periods in history: the medieval bit (above) the Baroque style palace:

and a very-old-looking (techinical architectural term – ask Ted Mosby) chapel:

As part of the excursion, we were given a lovely little organ concert in the chapel, featuring some Bach, some traditional folk dances and the Hungarian national anthem. The music was lovely, but it was during this concert that the stereotype of the obnoxious american tourist reared its ugly head in a big way.

Let me tell you a story about the Latimers.

The minute the Latimers stepped on the bus I disliked them. I thought unfairly at first, because my only reason was that the lady looked EXACTLY like a really evil character from a Poirot film. Which is not a good enough reason to dislike someone.

I found many good reasons on this trip.

During this gorgeous concert, given by a quite distinguished Hungarian organist, the Latimers talked, sighed and – worst of all – laughed. They actually spent the whole Hungarian national anthem laughing (making, by the way, the whole pew we were sitting on shake).

I wanted to scream at them.

It was so completely disrespectful, not just to the musician, but to our guide Sophie and everyone else in the room. I wanted to ask them how they’d feel if I went to their country and laughed during the US national anthem. I s’pose I shouldn’t have expected anything else, seeing as they had spent the whole tour up ‘til now complaining about every little thing which was different.

ARGH. It’s pissing me off just writing about it.

Anyway, after the concert it took me a while to cheer up again, so I didn’t get any pictures of the rest of the amazing park we were in. Damned Latimers.

Next up we went back to the Basilica, to see inside it, which I have, again, seen before, but it was worth it to go back with a significantly better camera..

After the Basilica (which by the way has its very own relic: the hand of St Stephen. Which is well creepy


we went to have the pancakes with nuts and chocolate sauce, the speciality of Gundel’s Restaurant, a famous Budapest establishment which has hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Mick Jagger, and Oprah. And now us.

The coffee was good and the pancakes were nice, despite the fact that they weren’t quite as good as they sounded. It was a lovely place (which had bathrooms that reminded me of the room of doors in the Department of Mysteries).

After that, it was back on the bus and onwards to Wien (Vienna)!


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