Monday, May 9, 2011

Should you find yourself in Budapest...

I had the good fortune of being able to visit Budapest recently, and let me say, it was a beautiful trip--and the city itself one I wouldn't mind calling home for awhile. It's a gorgeous, bustling metropolis of two sides--Buda and Pest-- split by the beautiful blue Danube, full of intricate architecture, art and spas; bustling nightlife and aromatic bakeries. But most importantly, it's home to one of the great markets I've been able to experience (with Cleveland's--yes, Cleveland's--West Side Market ranking up there as well).
Budapest's Great Market Hall is huge and full of everything one would need, all under one roof. But not in a Costco (ugh, did that word really just appear in the Dole?) kind of way; this has beautifully crafted sausages, fresh meats and cheeses made by skilled craftsmen and women alongside the freshest produce; baked goods and the morning's milk; heaps of spices and beans and, importantly to a guy like me, a kiosk on the mezzanine overlooking the entire thing serving sausages, buttery pastries, coffee and beer. And for the tourists, they've got big ropes of garlic and paprika to smuggle back with a bottle of tokaji.
What did I do? Naturally, I hit those sausage kiosks and drank a beer as a mid-roam break. Espresso for the road to continue my exploration of this wonderful market and wonderful city. A long soak in one of those spas at the end of the day, and huge meals and drinks to begin the night, on one of which I met a one-armed trumpet player in a smoky bar over some absinthe. Yeah...I need to get back to Budapest, and soon.