Thursday, June 30, 2005


Off to Venice on Friday, so the weekend starts here! Flight was booked ages ago but only managed the hotel last week. Hopefully it'll be a steal of a deal at special last minute rates and not a rip-off.

Never been before and really looking forward to it. I've heard stories of how it can be flooded (I thought that was the point!) and how the smell and the mosquitos can get to you. I'll let you know how it goes.

And for those of you staying in Budapest. Forget it, there's nothing of value in the flat, even the TV's second-hand.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Helping Out At McDonalds

Walking down the street the other day I was stopped and asked for directions. Not an uncommon occurance in the tourist center of Budapest but this was slightly different. For starters it was a girl in a McDonalds uniform (and quite cute too, I should have got a pic), on top of that, she was desperately trying to find her way to er.. McDonalds.

Read moreI thought the situation was so ridiculous that I actually looked around for camera and asked if she was taking the piss playing a joke on me.

Turns out that she was fairly new to McDonalds and was normally working at Oktogon but had been sent down to the Deak ter outlet to help out. She got off a stop early then spent the next 15 minutes asking people where to go. Poor thing was quite distraught as people kept giving different directions. I guess that's the trouble with so many fast food joints in one area.

I tried giving directions but she was really was fretting too much. So I did the gentlemanly thing and showed her the path to the Big Mac. Then took her to McDonalds. Boom Boom.

The Earth According To Google

There seems to be quite a bit of news from yesterday but I swear I found this just before it hit the press. I clicked on "More" on the Google homepage, something I very rarely do, but I must have been bored. An interesting Google Earth caught my attention so I downloaded and installed.

Read moreAll I can say is "Wow!". In fact that's pretty much anyone could say when I showed it to them. It allows you to search for any place on the globe and then "fly" there and zoom in to a satelite photo. Some places have excellent detail (Budapest). Some are quite blurry and can't really get that close (Vienna). Some places even have the buildings mapped out in 3D so you can get down to street level, view it horizontally then take a tour of the city (San Francisco).

It's a bit demanding of the poor old computer. There's a lot of info at Google about what computers should be able to run it but even so, I'm sure it was the reason for a couple of program crashes so far. It's still worth it. If you're up for being an experimental test mouse for Google's beta program then go and get it. Once it's installed, just type some place names into the search field in the top left and as Mazda says, Zoom, Zoom.

Google Earth view of Budapest. You can get a lot closer than this though.

Heroe's Square and a bit of the park.

The London Eye, in er... London.

We'll always have Paris.

While hunting around the Swindon area for decent detail I stumbled upon a plane.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cuppas and Glassas?

I'm definitely an Englishman abroad when it comes to my morning rituals. Breakfast isn't breakfast without a cuppa. And by cuppa, I mean a nice cup of tea.

A dash of milk. No sugar and definitely no lemon. Recently though, my days have been dragging and I feel the need for a pick-me-up in the afternoon.

Read moreOf course, while a nip of Unicum would probably help digest the latest plate of NetPincer nosh, I fear it wouldn't go down to well in the office. Instead I've gone back to the post-dinner coffee. A important difference to my Hungarian style coffee to the one's back home is that i) it's coffee and ii) it's in a glass. With a glass, there's more than just the taste and the smell, it's able to stimulate another sense by looking dark and mysterious.

I've got nothing against coffee cups but sipping from a glass just takes me back to afternoons discussing ridiculous get-rich-quick schemes in Szimpla where of course, it's always in a glass and sometimes enhanced by a side-biscuit. Perhaps I should put in a purchase order for some of those too.

The Big Kiss

It was an interesting weekend. A couple of bridges closed off to traffic, free concerts galore, a birthday party, a kicking Gödör Klub, oh and the world's biggest kiss. And that was just Saturday.

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Started off with a hunt through Westend with the Lovely Lady for a birthday present and must-have clothing. Socks. Normally, I'd say they really are a must-have, but right now, I'd rather stick with sandals. Socks and sandals? No thank you. Oh, and before you think it, no, the socks were not the birthday present.

Then after a quick beer at good ol' Capt' Cooks (affectionately known in my household as "Jack's" but that's another story). Realising that the Lady's favourite band was due to start playing (for free) on Erzsébet hid (Elizabeth Bridge) in 15 minutes, said pint was downed and we rushed off. Of course, everything was running late. PUF wasn't to start for another couple of hours. We watched a bit of hillbilly rock from the Mystery Gang and I think there was another beer involved. Then went back to wrap presents.

The Bridge earlier in the day.


A naked bridge

Beer on the Bridge

This is how close I was to being on the telly.

Right, out at the bridge again a little while later and the schedule is slipping even further. Listen to a bit of Colorstar and actually sign up to take part in the world's biggest kiss. Well, why not. I was with the Lovely Lady afterall. PUF finally get to play, bang out 4 tunes then have to get off. The Csók Király (Kissing King) Fenyő Miklós, started his rock 'n' roll thing and the countdown to the big kiss began. Let me tell you, there were fireworks. No, seriously.

That should be PUF

What can I say? We kissed, there were fireworks.

More bands.

The happy hippy bridge.

Clever lighting

Crowds get caught up in pyschedelic jam

Throughout the concerts the bridge had been taking on a more phsycadelic nature. Part of the event was to have the bridge "clothed" in colourful murals from local artists. It worked quite well.

No time to take it all in though. Off to the birthday party at Akácfa Galeria Cafe. An okay-ish place in a divey area of town. Was sweltering hot but managed to keep cool with a couple more beers. That was until they decided to close all the windows and refuse to let people drink outside.

Fire twirlers, glowing cocktails and there's banging nightclub through those eerie blue doors.

On the way home, passed through the Gödör which was having a knees up (and a lot of other things thanks to the go-go dancers). Apparently their license is being revoked and so they're closing down. The went out in style though, with several days of parties, concerts and what-have-you. No idea what will replace it. Probably go back to the ghost pit that it was while the politicians fought over whose fault it was that it ran out of money. As we passed through at 1am, it was alive with drinkers, dancers, strange fire-twirling people, all drinking glowing cocktails. Fantastic.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Picture Perfect (2)

Wow! Blogger Photos are working for me now as well. I'm on a roll (or a zsemle or something).

I guess I should go out and buy that lottery ticket just in case.

If this thing is really working then you should be looking at the pic I used for The Hungary Years header. Perhaps if you click on it you'll get to see the original size? Careful, I uploaded the huge original from the camera.

I can even add more photos! They get plonked at the top of the post but it looks like I can drag and drop them where I please (well, sort of). Excellent.

Heads Up

After a bit of fiddling with this Blog's template and learning to take the preview function with a bit of salt, I've finally updated the header of The Hungary Years. Just cast your eyes up to the top of the page.

The pic was taken by yours truly about a month ago but battling with Blogger templates proved too frustrating. It's there now. Phew.

Also decided to discard my anonymity and stick a photo into my profile. Yes, that be me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Picture Perfect?

There should be a photo on this post. Uploaded by Blogger itself. Have I finally got it sorted out?

Damn, this wasn't the picture I wanted to show but so be it.

I guess I'll keep on using Flickr for the moment.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Day Out In Buda

This could well be the last phone photo from when the visitors where here. I'll have to make up find more news.

The folks were keen to show off the Children's Railway, known not just for being great for kids as passengers but also great for kids that want to grow up to collect tickets on the intercity to Miskolc. Yes, they don't get to drive the engine (I hope) but they do go through the carriages and demand to see your tickets.

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Apart from child labour, the other great thing about the railway is the small patch of Buda hills that it passes through and the leisurely pace that allows you to take it all in.

You can take the train quite a way but we only went a couple of stops to János Hegy where there's a good old lookout tower. Didn't go up there though, too much energy required. Instead we opted for the lazy chairlift that takes you down the hill and then back up if you so wish. We wished.

After that, a pleasant stroll through the woods and some great views, finished off with fresh rétes (strudel - surely that's not English either). Bon appetit (damn).

Oh, the photos...

Beware in the dark, dingy metros..... the ogres can strike at any time.

That's a kid, I swear. Oh okay, they do have grown ups to make sure the passengers don't bully the little 'uns.

The chairlift make a gentle rumble when you pass the towers. But it's not allowed to swing the chair. Boo...

No jumping allowed either. Keep those feet firmly where they are. Oh alright, maybe it's okay to ruffle some of the trees as you go past.

So peaceful, with such great views and ...breathe in.... fantastic clean air.

Free Concerts

There seems to be a spate of free concerts going on around Budapest. The lovely lady enjoyed her Bikini over at Zöld Pardon a couple of weeks ago, then went to see mega-(old)-rockers Omega at PeCsa the other night. While she was listening to classic Hungarian rock, I happened upon PUF (I think) playing at the Gödör.

Next I hear that they're playing another freebie on one of the bridges on Saturday. Probably a mix of bands and hopefully they'll actually close the bridge to traffic.

Some pics

Band in the hole!

I look down on them but only in the literal sense.

Plenty more came out for the summer songs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Creative Lighting

Gosh, who would have thought I still had so many photos on the phone. Here's a quickie of the creative lighting the have at Leroy's over on Liszt Ferenc tér.

Looks like quite a posh chandelier for the quite a posh restaurant.

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On closer inspection it turns out to be a big bunch of plastic bottles (probably water) all hooked up with a light bulb in each. Personally, I think it's genius. Phil, if you're reading, take note!

I'm fond of anonymity but what the hell.

I've been impressed by Leroy's. They had excellent food. I seem to remember my dish was chilli chicken noodles and it was perfect. Plus, the waitresses were lovely. And... they do lunch specials. Hmmm....

Surprise Birthday BBQ

Not so much of a surprise for the birthday boy as he arranged it all, but we didn't know it was that special time of the year for him. If we had known we would have brought presents. Though the kolbász wrapped in bacon that we took with us would have been hard to beat.

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Where they put the magic into Meaf. The Texas Ranger and the Meaf Factory, nah, sounds like porn.

The big smoke. A fantastic array of food that just keeps on coming.

Buda houses = gardens. Plenty of room for meandering and mingling.

Hey this garden is even big enough for volleyball round the corner. Have to use an extra large ball to fill up the space.

Looking down on it all is Mr Rich being his cool self.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Quickie Spoon

Just a very quick one, still finding photos on my phone from when the folks were in town. Here's a set of pics from Spoon the posh boat restaurant.

I was a bit aprehensive about going here as it's one of those places that could surpass everything else or fail spectacularly. In this case, everything was fantastic. Food, service, view and general atmosphere, all excellent.

Tripping the light fantastic down to the boat (or up to the boat if the Danube is high).

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Attention to detail. Everything set just right. Including the funky cutlery.

The chocolate dessert, like the rest of the food was fantastic.

Some of the best views in the city. These were taken from the roof terrace they have.

We could see all this from downstairs but went for a wander on deck after the meal. The staff didn't seem that bothered by us exploring.

Strange thing is that when I mentioned Spoon to someone else after the event, they said they'd had a terrible time with surly waiters. Maybe they fixed it by the time we went. They couldn't be faulted. Great for when you want a great food experience and have some money to pay for it all (came to about 8,000 ft per head). Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Crosstown Traffic

I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead. Popped out to the shops this morning and saw that they (it's always they) are putting up traffic lights on the main road so that cars can turn left coming off the Chain Bridge.

Supposedly it will help traffic and parking problems simultaneously by feeding cars directly into the underground car park nearby, but I'm doubtful. There's another underground carpark about 20 meters up on the same road as the new lights and it never looks busy. I have a feeling it's just going to choke that main artery and make our own street into a rat run. We'll have to wait and see.

With all that equipment being shuffled about on the main road and workmen wandering around, it's a good job they closed off the street. Oh wait, they didn't.

Moziünnep - Cinema Celebration

Moziünnep is upon us, rejoice! For one week you can see loads of films for just 320 ft. That's just under a quid and about a third of the normal ticket price.

I started off on Thursday, opening up my mind with a 1971 Bollywood classic, Pakeezah (aka "A Pure Heart" aka "Egy Tiszta Sziv"). With great lines such as "My leg bells ring naughtily" it was interesting to watch if a little long at two and a half hours.

Friday was more standard fare with The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (excellent) & B13 (very like Escape From New York but with more running and jumping off rooves a la Yakamasi, all recommended).

There's more about Moziünnep at I would normally recommend to go direct to the Moziünnep site but it looks like they haven't paid their bills. Maybe they're back up, go have a look.

Friday, June 17, 2005

House of Fun

It's not Madness, just a trip into the houses of parliment in Hungary. Went there with the visitors last week to escape the rain. Great thing was that it's free for EU citizens. So if you're over on holiday from another EU member state, bring along your passport and pop in for a nose around.

After going through airport-style security, everyone in the group waits inside near the main entrance. To be honest, the entrance was big but the stairs looked better to photograph.

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Those stairs lead to these stairs. Huge. Lots of statues and busts (the marble kind, steady on).

Taking photos of the wrong thing, this is a huge chandelier and although it looks bright here, it's almost in night-mode. Apparently there's hundreds of bulbs in it and the only way to change one is to go into the roof and then down a special passage into the chandelier itself. It's massive and looks just like the death-ray thingie that the big ships use in the film Independence Day. The crown jewels are on display directly beneath this thing, so maybe it doubles as some sort of anti-theft device.

Go on, guess what it is. Looks like some huge cogwheel is meant to run over it but this is one of the many cigar holder racks just outside the main session halls. Aparently smoking was allowed everywhere in the building accept in the debating chambers. So MPs going in, would have to leave their cigars in their specially numbered slot and pick it up afterwards. They said the quality of the speaker was judged on the cigars left outside. A good speaker would be "worth a havana".

The seats of power. Well, not really but almost. We were in the other half of the parliment that used to be like the equivilent of the English Lords. That ended a while ago and now this bit is used for conferences but we were told that it looks exactly the same in the other half of the house. They even have the little voting buttons set into the desks. Oh, one more thing about this place. Gold. Lots of it. Loads of gold leaf used in the building and especially this room.

A quick view to the outside showing the foul weather we were sheltering from and were about to head back to. In truth, we didn't experience much of the bad weather as we just headed to a cafe for some warming gulyas (aka Meaf soup).

Overall I thought the parliment was great. A bit stuffy for some, a bit quick for others, but if you don't have to pay you can't argue with the price. Recommended.