Budapest, Part 2

I mentioned earlier that Budapest was much, much larger than I expected.  This is reflected in the amount of photographs I took over the span of a few days in the city.   On one of our mornings in the city, we went to the Central Market Hall, the largest and oldest covered market of the city.


There’s something very much like this in Frankfurt, Germany-  lots of places to buy fresh meat, cheese, vegetables.  In short, a regular market hall.


Fresh produce was everywhere.


There were some fascinating vendors of Tokaji, or Hungarian wine. The blown-glass dragon decanter was particularly amazing.


I also thought the trident-toting devil decanter was quite fetching.


I get why you might want a Russian doll painted with Barack Obama, Gene Simmons, Freddie Mercury, or even Angela Merkel, but who on Earth would want a Bin Laden doll?  Unless you were fresh out of paper targets for the gun range, I mean.


The Market Hall is a daytime visit.  In the evening, we tried to check out one of Budapest’s famous Ruin Pubs.  These are formerly abandoned buildings that have been converted into giant bar complexes.  We went to Szimpla, one of the most well known.


The decor was interesting, part junkyard and part Maker Faire.


There were multiple bars inside the building, set on two levels.  There were lots of places to sit and enjoy your drink.


Movies were projected on some of the walls, and music was played in other areas.


Some of the chairs were made from former cars.  The place has an incredibly interesting atmosphere.


I know a bunch of people who would have loved Szimpla if only for the random bikes hanging everywhere.


This giant plastic kangaroo near the front entrance was a big hit.  Lots of people stopped to take a quick ride.


I mentioned in the previous post that Budapest has many fun statues.  Here’s Janene and Chris with the Fat Policeman.  Locals say that if you rub his belly, you’ll eat well.  We didn’t need the help though, because the food in Budapest was amazing.


The Kiskiralylany Szobor (Little Princess Statue) is apparently very popular.  I think it’s her crown that draws people in.


This girl with her playful dog are a recent addition, placed on the promenade by artist David Raffai in 2007.


I’ve saved my favorite for last:  Peter Falk and a beagle.   This Columbo statue was placed to honor Falk because of his Hungarian ancestry.  There is conjecture that his great grandfather was Miksa Falk, a Hungarian writer and politician.


This led to some great puns as we walked the length of the city to find this Falking statue.  It was right by Cafe Picard, where we stopped for a Falking delicious lunch.  Make it so!


Have you ever been to a Ruin Pub?  How did you like it?


Halloween In Germany

Halloween isn’t really a traditional German celebration, but it has become more popular in recent years, especially with children.  Most people seem to think this is partially from seeing it depicted in American television and movies, and I suspect that’s a big factor.  Here, costumes are more commonly seen around Fasching.

German youngsters only go trick-or-treating (“Süßes oder Saures!”) in certain areas.  Yesterday, I saw only three children running around with pillowcases, and that might not have been for candy-  they might have just been running around with pillowcases.

I did find that there are a few traditions that are similar to Halloween’s origins in Europe, without being exactly Halloween.

  • In the regions of Bavaria and Austria in Southern Germany, Catholics celebrate the entire period between October 30 and November 8 as Seleenwoche or All Souls’ Week.
  • November 1st is Allerheiligen, or All Saints’ Day. Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs and those who have died for the Catholic faith. People may also visit their family’s graves to beautify them with wreaths and small lanterns. Sometimes a mass is said at the gravesite and the grave sprinkled with holy water.
  • In some areas, November 2 is observed as All Souls’ Day. Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died. Prayers for the dead are said and votive candles are lit to honor their memory.
  • In Austria, there’s an entire pumpkin (Kürbis) festival in late October, Kürbisfest.
  • Jack O’Lantern decorations have become more common in Austria and Germany in late October.

Meanwhile, those of us who grew up with Halloween look for places to observe the holiday, and most of those places turn out to be bars and pubs.

Last night, I visited two in particular.  Murphy’s Law, the better of Regensburg’s two Irish pubs, was having a Halloween event.  The Piratenhöhle (Pirate’s Cave) was having a Zombie Halloween party.

In both locations, I saw lots of vampires, zombies, and pirates.  There were a few people dressed as Warcraft characters, one amazing Peter Jackson styled Orc, and more people with random fake bloodstains than I can shake a stick at.

My costume was not as well known as I expected-  roughly 90% of the Germans I ran into had no idea what I was dressed as.  Amusingly enough, only Americans and Canadians call him Waldo.  In the rest of the world, he’s Walter or Wally.  I also learned last night that I can walk around the Altstadt in powder blue pants, and nobody will bat an eye.  Oh, Germany, you make me laugh.

A few people I passed exclaimed “Hab dich gefunden!” (Found you!) as I walked past, so that was gratifying.  And kind of hilarious.