We arrived in Budapest on a dull grey, overcast day, a day that made it easy to remember that Hungary was once safely tucked behind the Iron Curtain. Does any generation besides ours know about the Iron Curtain? About the Cold War?
On our way in we saw some deteriorating, Cold War-era apartments ….and on the next block window washers dressed as Santa Claus hanging from the eighth floor. Times have changed.
When we arrived at the beautiful Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, our time travel was complete. Its luxury would have been unheard of in the old days of the Communist regime.
Our hotel lounge.
This is an inviting and beautiful lounge. Love love love it.
Some of our room.
Our hotel restaurant.
On the staircase door outside our room.
View from our 7th floor window.
This guest was so friendly to me!
He jumped up on my legs, very cute!
Seriously delicious on offer at breakfast
Breakfast. Where I had to defend our table from marauding Hungarians and in the process made friends with a Scottish couple who cheered me on.
Made completely of paper and hanging in our hotel lobby. More intricate than this small photo shows.
Candy looks more interesting in a foreign language. in hotel gift shop.
I’m not sure any of this would’ve had a snowball in hell’s chance of existence in the Budapest of the 1950s and 1960s.
Doesn’t this remind you of t-shirts with English phrases but made in foreign lands? The ones that make no sense?
There is something a little off about this saying…perhaps it sounds better in Hungarian. It rhymes, so someone thinks they are a poet. Rose are red…
We found a display of these in our cab.
Oh, before I forget, let’s rewind a minute…our taxi cab had its own magazine rack with these glossy beauties. A cool format smaller than 8.5 x 11 inches. The driver was solicitous and polite. So unheard of in the U.S. I can tell you for certain that our nasty Silicon Valley cab drivers wouldn’t have a chance here.
And these promotional flyers for an Elvis tribute and other December activities were tucked into the same display.
Sorry! Back to the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus.
A huge Christmas market was lit up in progress nearby, we could see it from our seventh-floor window. It looked so cool at night.
Exhaustion prevented us from exploring until the very next day. When it was pouring rain for the first few hours of our exploration. So much for my winter wonderland fantasy of snow, red cheeks and sleigh rides. Walking Budapest in the rain was not part of it.
But, we had to go sightseeing –even in the rain.
Oh, it was POURING.
Wearing gloves, holding an umbrella and dodging others’ umbrellas and the Christmas market crowd, it was almost impossible to get photos of the beautiful buildings in the rain and grey.
.But the architecture was so interesting, I gave it a try.
Sculpture is very big on buildings.
Sometimes it looks like it’s holding the building up.
On this dreary day, many of the historical buildings looked like creepy asylums. But, here comes a world we know much better:
A restaurant that rivals any in San Francisco.
The modern world co-exists with history in Budapest.
Well, sort of.
Eastern Europeans love to smoke.
We saw less of this in Budapest than we expected. Maybe because of the rain.
Like anyplace else, change is afoot. Later, we walked by again and saw the finished product.
Of course. Brand new.
A place Riley might have enjoyed.
Europeans have been decades ahead of us on natural stuff.
Drug stores are different from pharmacies. This is a drug store called dm.
I was glad to get this photo of the Christmas market sign because when we came back by a few hours later, these were standing in front of it, blocking our view.
These portable johns are a step up from our flimsy ones. America, take heed!
Neither rain nor rain….throngs of people at the Christmas market.
A Christmas market is like a fair, with merry-go-rounds, food booths and lots of little stalls offering goods like honey, Christmas ornaments and hand crafts that make wonderful gifts. It’s very festive. and for this post, I’ll just walk you through some of the booths we saw and goods on offer.
Some of the goods were hand-made, others not so much.
Hungarian is so different from languages I’m used to.
Our gift to ourselves. This tiny wind-up music box plays Silent Night.
Beautiful blank journals.
I loved this.
Hats were very big.
Old-fashioned wooden toys.
Cute little change purses.
These stalls went on for blocks and blocks.
Let’s not forget the merry-go-round.
And of course, street performers were in evidence. The rain may have kept most away, but a few hardy souls gave us their best.
Have you ever seen a guy playing waterglasses? Watch this and you can say you have.
Walking Budapest in the rain turned out to be fun! We spent several hours out enjoying the festivities, and then walked back to our hotel, nearly getting run over by this pedicab:
Holy moley, there are children around!