To come tomorrow.
Eating and walking…again :)
Sunday was a very long day so this is a quick post.
Here is the restaurant where we ate:
This is what it looks like inside - but we sat outside. I had salmon and my Dad had chicken. It was yummy. You should go there.
Then we walked through Nagymezo Street and I found this man and we chatted. Go to this street. It’s one of my favorites. Tons of outdoor restaurants and a cute little nightlife.
Our hotel, some food and street walking (but not in that order and not that kind of street walking although we did see two hookers)
Oh lordy has this been a lengthy but awesome trip. Let’s see what’s happening. Yesterday we slept in and then went out and had some breakfast. Gerorge has been tracking every step - literally. Yesterday his pedometer calculated over five miles walked. Between he and I, our sense of direction is for the birds so that helped us add in some extra steps and burn some extra calories.
After breakfast we planned on heading to the Terror Museum but an important fact to know is that all the Museums are closed on Mondays so we are saving the Terror Museum for Wednesday (tomorrow). Instead, we strolled over to the Fashion District located near Le Meridian Hotel. It was pretty small but I enjoyed walking in and out of stores comparing Hungarian Forint to US Dollars. My conclusion: when it comes to the expensive stuff - it’s all expensive stuff.
After walking in a couple circles and in and out of stores, we sat down for a lovely lunch at a restaurant and enjoyed the weather and scenery. They served us real water here. can you believe it?
As we made our way back to our hotel (we got a little lost…again) we stopped at a small outdoor market where my Dad made some lovely conversation with a man who wouldn’t bargain with me when I bought two scarves from him. Instead, my Dad made friends with him and bought his CD called 1 + 7…Can you guess why the CD is named 1 + 7?Because he is 1 man playing seven instruments…pretty clever, wouldn’t you say? My Thoughts exactly. Here is the cover of the CD. It’s actually pretty calming (Hungarian?) music.
We finally found Andrassy ut (ut means street and is pronounced ootz - this is the main street running through downtown Budapest and once you locate it, getting anywhere else is pretty simple), but before turning the corner to continue on, we couldn’t resist stopping to photograph the name of this store. Kaka means shit in Hungarian.
Once we arrived at the hotel, I had places to be. Earlier that morning I made an appointment for 6 PM in the evening to have a deep tissue massage at the Royal Spa which is located in the hotel where we stayed. Our hotel was called The Grand Royal - part of Corinthia Hotels. The hotel was great and is well known for this spa. I would recommend this hotel to people visiting Budapest.
For those of you who don’t know, Budapest, amongst other things, is known for its turkish spas and baths. Check out the spa in our hotel. All the those doorways you see are entrances to massage rooms.
After my massage (and my Dad’s nap) we had an AMAZING dinner at the hotel. I had Tandoori Salmon and it was fabo! We shared desert too. We had this chocolate cake thingy that came with a raspberry and strawberry liquid filled pipette. See pics of Hotel, the restaraunt and food below. I didn’t remember to take a photo until I was half way through my meal but you get the point. I guess my salmon doesn’t look so fancy anymore.
Hotel Restaurant Brasserie & Atrium
Cultural Differences - shoes and toilets
1) I’m not sure if it’s just my family or what, but every house I’ve been to, I’m asked to take off my shoes and on two separate occasions when I had no socks on, I was given slippers. I guess when in Rome…
2) There are two buttons on most toilets - a big one for a “big” flush and a small one for a “small” flush. A good idea so water isn’t wasted? What’s with the water conservation here anyway?
3) I also saw a “stop” button next to the flush button in a bathroom.
4) The bathrooms here are called toilets - not bathrooms, not rest rooms - toilets.
Family Tree (in its simplest form possible)
1st Generation: Grandma Magda & Laszlo = Brother and Sister
1st Generation: Grandma Magda -> Son George Losonci
2nd Generation: George Losonci - > Son Leslie & Daughter Sara
3rd Generation: Sara & Leslie
1st Generation: Laszlo - > Sons Gabi & Peter
2nd Generation: Gabi - > Son Kiki & Daughter Zsuzsi
3rd Generation: Kiki - > Sons Marci & Boti
4th Generation: Marci & Boti
2nd Generation: Peter - > Son Tami & Daughter Rita
3rd Generation: Tami - > Sons Dani & Benji
4th Generation: Dani & Benji
3rd Generation: Rita - > Son Adam and Daughter Hannah
4th Generation: Adam & Hannah
MORE WATER PLEASE!
What the hell? Do the Hungarians want me to dehydrate? If you expect to receive a normal glass of water (or what constitutes as normal in America) when you sit down at a restaurant, think again. The waiter MIGHT bring you a little bit of tap water in a shot glass but don’t expect more than this. When you order water anywhere in Hungary, waiters will bring you soda water in a large glass bottle. If you want regular water you have to order water with “no gas” and they will still bring it to you in a large glass bottle which you pay for. No such thing as free water in this country - no sir.
Something else I’ve noticed is that the size of coffee here is also miniature. It took my dad 5 days to finally find a place where they gave a decent sized cup of coffee. BUT, with that said, the coffee here is amazing and as we all know - America’s portion sizes for everything are disgusting and obese - don’t want to look like a pig in this country! I’ve been making do with tiny water and coffee.
Road Trip to Olaszliszka & Satoraljau-huh?
Dear Copy & Paste, you are my new best friends - for I can’t pronounce Satoraljaujhely but I can pronounce Olaszliszka (gold star for me!) but I can’t continue typing them out.
For three hours this morning my Dad, Gabi, Peter and I made our way to Satoraljaujhely & Olaszliszka. The city of Satoraljaujhely is where my Grandma & Dad were born. Eventually my Dad, Grandma and Grandfather moved to the town of Olaszliszka where my Aunts Agi & Suzie were born. The family lived there for the next 10 years until they escaped the country after the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Today, we went back to both places.
The car ride wasn’t too bad and the scenery was actually quite breath taking. On both sides of the road were nothing but mountains, vineyards, farmland for the entire drive. I mean, THIS is what people are referring to when they say “The Country.” I was literally in the middle of nowhere today.
The road trip began at 8:30 AM Sunday morning where I found myself in the car with three sixty-something year-old men singing along to Proud Mary in broken English. I never doubted Tina Turner’s international influence but if ever I find myself in a debate on the subject - I’ve got the proof right here in Hungary.
The highlight of the drive for me was peeing behind a bush. I haven’t done that since…wait - I have done that recently but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, you can see the bush pictured below. It’s to the right of my Dad & I. This picture was taken right after I peed :)
It wouldn’t be fair to continue writing without thanking my Auntie Suzie for suggesting I bring toilet paper on that trip. I packed the TP whine I was still in New York & it came very much in handy today. Thanks Suze!
Ok, now the important stuff. Today was pretty sweet. I finally have accurate mental images to go with years of stories my Dad has told me about his home in Olaszliszka, Hungary.
For example, once my Dad threw a cat from the attic window to see if it would really land on all fours. See attic window pictured below (small round window).
And Yes, the cat landed on all fours. But more importantly - this was my Dad’s house in Hungary! Pretty sweet! Today, the house belongs to a nice Ukraine couple who use it as their summer home. They were kind and trusting enough to let us come inside and take a look around. They even gave us soda water (damn soda water - reference: http://tmblr.co/ZfURJvLq1x1W ). Anyway, I hate to say it but apparently the owners don’t know much about interior decor because indoors the house is kind of a dump. However, the exterior of the house looks close to how I imagined it would. To me, the exterior is more significant because most stories I’ve been told took place outside.
Another story. When the Hungarian Revolution began, my Grandfather was working in another town outside of Olaszliszka and couldn’t safely make it back home for days. My grandma didn’t know if he was dead or alive - in her mind - he was missing.
After two weeks, the revolution began to quiet down and in the middle of the night one night my Dad and Grandma heard noises outside. My Dad grabbed a flashlight and they went to see what was happening. Frightened, my Dad saw three shadows climbing over the green fence pictured below and into the yard. When he shone his flashlight on the shadows to see who it was he heard “Shut off the light! Shut off the light!” Afraid someone might see him, it was his father returning home with the help of two other men.
For those of you who don’t fully understand the significance of my Grandfather’s return, the way in which he returned (sneaking into his own home) and the story surrounding this scene, I’ll be writing about it soon so it can be read and understood in a different posting.
Another story: During the Hungarian revolution when my Grandfather was missing, my Grandma decided to go looking for him. She brought my Dad & Aunts to another family members home to look after the children and set out to search. On the day she was to return, my Dad was playing marbles at the end of the driveway with his cousin when two revolutionaries/guards showed up in long black leather coats on motorcycles and forced my dad to come with them. He was kidnapped and taken to town hall where he was questioned for hours on his Father’s whereabouts. My Grandfather held a high position in politics and while the country was experiencing mass chaos on the political front, anyone who played any role in the government - was sought after - and if you were a Jew - you were doubly targeted. My Dad hadn’t a clue where his father was and couldn’t give these men any information. They got up in his face and were screaming and yelling at him with guns held to his head. My dad was so damn scared he peed in his pants - can you imagine being a 10 year old experiencing such a thing?
After what seemed like hours, they asked my Dad where his mother was and he told them she was out looking for his father. Next they asked when she was to return and he told them today. They took my Dad down to the train station and when my Grandma walked off the train onto the platform my Dad was to point her out to the guards. So, he did what he was told and when she exited the train - he pointed to her. My Grandma took one look at her son with the guards, understood what was happening and fainted then and there. Pictured below is the train station platform:.
Front of Train Station:
Train Tracks and my Dad standing on them - yeah not the best idea:
When she came to - she begged the guards not to kill her son - they could have anything they wanted. The guards told my Grandma to return to her home and they would meet her there with my Dad. After searching the home for weapons - they found a gun my Grandfather had and took my Dad back down to Town Hall for more questioning. He knew no useful information and when the Guards became fed up, they brought my Dad and another Jewish boy from the town down the street to the river where they planned to murder them. My Dad is blurry on this next part so take it for what it’s worth - but it turns out that either one of the guards or someone knew our family and decided to save my Dad’s life. They took him under their arm, put their hands over his ears and told him not to look back. All my dad heard was a gun shot and the other boy wa gone but they saved my Dad.
Pictured below is Town Hall:
Pictured below is the river:
* More to come and have some editing to do but wanted to get this up!