Today we woke up to another warm and sunny day in Budapest. We decided that after breakfast, we were going to take the M1 Metro Line to Heroes Square, the very end of Andrassy Utca, which is like Budapest’s Champs Elysées.
The M1 Metro Line is significant as it is the oldest underground metro line in continental Europe. Although they don’t have the beautiful art deco signage that the Paris Metro has, the M1 is very nicely built and maintained, fast and clean, and unlike the Paris Metro (and the Skytrain, for that matter), doesn’t smell like piss and armpit.
Getting off the M1, we headed above ground to the vast Hösök Tere, or Heroes Square, a monument erected in 1896 to commemorate Hungarian heroes such as the 7 Magyar founders at the base of the column, notable leaders between the columns, odes to war, glory and knowledge, work and wealth, and peace along the top, and finally the Archangel Gabriel at the top of the centre pillar, holding the Hungarian holy crown in his hands.
After ogling the grandeur for a bit, we hopped back on the M1 and exited at the Oktagon, which is a major intersection and not some sort of fighting ring. Hopping on another tram, we headed south until we reached the opulent New York Cafe.
The cafe is an hommage to the Hapsburg years of yore, and we all agreed that it had a similar feel to the Sacher Cafe in Vienna. The menu boasts some breakfast items but the establishment is more notable for its desserts, so Ma had some cake and Pa and I each had an ice cream sundae.
Soon after we ordered, the band in the corner started to play, and of COURSE they played the Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss. The whole situation – fancy, overpriced dessert, ostentatious surroundings, and schmaltzy Austrian music – put the biggest grin on my face. The place was full of tourists and a large group of them couldn’t seem to get enough of the band, clapping on 1 and 3 to If I Were a Rich Man.
After 20 minutes and some tunes by Hungary’s native son and fan of diminished sevenths Franz Lizst, the band took a break and out came the pianist, playing hits by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Burt Bacharach (sadly did not take requests so I couldn’t hear the lounge piano version of Little Red Corvette).
We finished our desserts and lemonades, paid the hilariously expensive bill, and were back in the sunshine in the 21st century, heading back towards the Oktagon and Andrassy Utca. We decided we wanted to stroll down Andrassy and peer into the windows of all the fancy watch and shoe shops, and popped into the Hungarian State Opera house:
After some more ambling, we decided to find the home base for what our activity would be later in the afternoon – a Danube craft beer river cruise. We still had a bit of time to kill, so we grabbed a shady table on a beautiful patio, sipped on green apple lemonades, ate some fries with mayonnaise and people watched (were also unreasonably enthralled by the city worker repairing a wonky area of cobblestone).
When it was time, we met up with our group and headed for the boat at the base of the Chain Bridge. On this cruise, we were to each get 5 beers and then we could pick a full bottle of our favourite to have at the end but because Ma doesn’t care for beer, Pa and I split her share. This experience had two of my favourite things – beer and boat cruises.
I guess not everyone had a great time.
It was cool to be able to see some of things we’ve already seen from a different angle, and also see some of the things we wouldn’t be able to fit in due to time constraints. After 1 1/2 hours and around 7 1/2 beers, Ma and Pa helped me back to the B&B so that I could drink some water, send an embarrassing text or two, and sweat out some of the boat cruise, and dry up enough to write a somewhat comprehendible blog post.