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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hungarian National Museum & Múzeum Cafe And Restaurant

Aloha Everyone,

Today is our last day to enjoy Budapest. We decided to visit the Hungarian National Museum.  

Founded in 1802, the museum has seven permanent displays with explanations in Hungarian and in English. It is a vast collection of art and archaeology chronologically displayed. There was also a small theater where they were playing historical films including Hungary under Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

The Múzeum Cafe And Restaurant is located in the adjacent building. We were informed that at the turn of the century, these cafes were used by members of parliament, writers and actors as meeting places where politics, arts, culture and current events were discussed. Today, there are but only a few remaining. Our choice of trout was prepared to perfection. For more detail, go to

J.J. and I would like to acknowledge Laura and Peter, part owners of The Ebony Apartments, for our wonderful stay in Budapest. Based on the location, quality and value, and strong WiFi, we are happy to recommend this accommodation to fellow travelers.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hungarian Language, People & Goulash

Aloha Everyone,
We heard that Hungarian is one of the hardest languages to learn. It is the direct descendant of a language spoken by the Huns. Finnish (Suomi) and Estonian (Eesti keel) are related to Hungarian. Here is my very limited vocabulary I've been using every day.
Köszönöm (Curse-a-nem) - Thank you 
Igen (Ee-gan) - Yes
Nem (Nem) - No
Szia (See-ah) - Hello
And my favorite!
Hogy vagy? (Hodge vodge) - How are you?
Hungary is located in the Carpathian Basin and landlocked by 7 neighboring countries: Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Austria. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain by one's feature who is ethnic Hungarian. Many are handsome men and women and they seem physically fit. They walk fast-paced often chatting on their mobile phones. We also noticed young parents being very affectionate and attentive to their children.

Goulash is Hungary's national dish. The soup always includes paprika, onions, and some meat, usually beef, pork or lamb. Each year, Hungarians consume more than 1.10 lbs. of paprika. 

Hungarians also call red peppers "paprika" and they are widely used in different dishes. I read that red peppers are excellent source of Vitamin C. After enjoying  this spicy dish in five different Hungarian specialty restaurants, I've become a bit of connoisseur of goulash :-)   Here is our dinner tonight. J.J.'s fried pike with potatoes and my peppery grilled vegetables and goulash. Yum!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Great Synagogue

Aloha Everyone,
The Great Synagogue also known as Tabakgasse Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style. Islamic and Medieval Spanish decorations adorn the interior. According to our guide, rather than having distinctive Jewish architecture, forms are of ethnic group that are related to the Israelite people. J.J. and I like the simple explanation given to us by one of the Hop On Hop Off bus guides: "Designed by architect who had no idea what a synagogue should look like, he designed something more familiar, in the style of a Catholic Church."

All male visitors were handed a paper disposable kippah (skull cap) while females wearing bare shoulder clothing were given a plastic sheet to cover them.
Our guide took us through the Great Synagogue, the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and ended our tour in the old Jewish quarters.
Each leaves of the Weeping Willow sculpture is carved with a Holocaust victims' name as a profound and sobering reminder. Once a large community of 800,000, today the Jewish community in Hungary is about 80,000 or less than 1% of the country's population of 9.8 million.
The graveyard was a powerfully moving and poignant reminder of a horrendous period in Hungary's history

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tour of Hungarian Opera House with Japanese Group

Aloha Everyone,

We booked a 4 pm tour for two  with an English speaking guide. This Hungarian Stare Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) is one of the "must" visit attractions in Budapest. Construction was funded by the city of Budapest and by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary.
From chandeliers on the ceiling to balcony boxes, the interior of the building is magnificent. During WWII, Budapest suffered major devastation. Miraculously this opera house sustained only minor exterior damage.

There were so many people for English language group that J.J. and I decided to join the Japanese group with 11 people plus us.

Our tour guide spoke flawless, educated Japanese with a slight Hungarian accent. She told me that she spent 4 years in Japan.

There were lots of aahs and ooohs including our quick stop in the royal box office. The seats are reserved for invited royals and dignitaries. One may stand but sitting on the thickly cushioned seats is not permitted.

Due to the rivalry between Austria and Hungary at the time of construction, this opera house had to be smaller in scale than the Vienna Opera House. To overcome this limitation, the builders made sure that it is superior in beauty and quality. Bonus of our tour was catching an earlier performance of "O mio babbino caro."

J.J. and I dined in the Hotel President's restaurant. Our 3-course menu included a choice of soup and dessert. J.J.'s main course of a leg of duck was very good. Our dessert of chocolate soufflé was wonderful, but definitely unhealthy! Sorry Dr. C!

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, May 27, 2016

Meeting a Fascinating Global Family & Concert In St Anne's Church

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I enjoy meeting new people. However it is a rare treat for us to encounter an extraordinary family. The threesome sat at the next table where we were having lunch. Overhearing their conversation in Spanish, I took the initiative of approaching them. The family was on a Viking River Cruise en route  to Vienna. Lilia, the mother, is from Columbia, Eric, the son lives in Chile and Knud, the father is a Dane. He has a business in Nyborg, Denmark.

We visited Cartagena and Santa Marta, Columbia last year. Our younger son was baptized in Randers, Denmark. We would love to visit Patagonia National Park in Chile sometime in the coming years. Talk about an interesting coincidence!  As to our lunch at Hungarian Hell's Kitchen, I had the best goulash soup so far.  

In the nearby Great Market Hall, I found a replacement shoulder bag. Here are the vendors, Georgia and Gabriel.

The two of us walked to St Anne's Church for the Duna String Orchestra concert. Five violins, two violoncellos plus concert master, Gabora Gyula and the soprano, Zsuzsanna Skoff, gave powerful, inspiring performances. Baroque style Ronan Catholic Church, St Anne is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Budapest. 

Great music evokes a strong emotional response. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as our hearts soared with music. 

Budapest on Friday night at 8:30 pm is alive and full of life! Cafés, bars and restaurants were packed. Amazed at the number of people enjoying the warm evening, J.J. and I took our time strolling back to our apartment. This was indeed a glorious, unforgettable day!

Aloha -- Cathi