Budapest: "Poets and Cabaret"October 13, 2019 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C
Our first day in two weeks where we were having to fend for ourselves, and we decided to ease ourselves gently into it. After breakfast we set off on foot to explore the immediate neighbourhood while picking up a few odds and ends from the shops. Even at 9am on a Sunday the streets were quite busy with both cars and pedestrians. Budapest is a city which never seems to sleep. Public transport runs frequently and almost non-stop. Shops open quite early and close late and the traffic is constant.
We phoned Brian's cousin Panni and arranged to meet her for lunch at 1.30pm, which left us with the morning free. Ever since we reached Budapest the weather had been perfect. Having experienced cold and rainy Amsterdam we'd worried that maybe we had left our trip until too late in the year. Certainly the current weather in Budapest and the forecast for the following few days had laid any doubts to rest. With temperatures in the low 20s,little wind and partly cloudy skies it was perfect for photography and for wandering around. Even though things were still quite busy, we were definitely clear of the peak season crowds.
We had only recently been told about the No.2 tram route which travels from the Pest side of the Margaret Bridge south along the river bank past Parliament Building, the big hotels, Chain Bridge and many other places of interest. With our seven day transport passes it was perfect for what we wanted.
We had the time so we decided to give it a go. The trip is only about 20 minutes from end to end and the trams run every 5-10 minutes, so it was perfect for what we wanted. This was just a trial run for our city exploration but we jumped off midway through the return trip when a particularly impressive building caught our eye. It turned out to be the Vigadó Concert Hall, a beautifully restored art nouveau building. We wandered into the main foyer which was really quite something in terms of its decor. It is up there with the best that we have seen anywhere.
We met Panni at the agreed time and then went looking for a restaurant with an available outdoor table, which wasn't easy because everywhere was packed with diners. Eventually found a table at a restaurant serving only chicken dishes and spent the next three hours chatting away vigorously and catching up with all the family news.
Brian and Panni have a second cousin, András Körner who has lived in the United States for most of his life. András is a retired architect and a very accomplished artist. He happened to be visiting Budapest for the launch of his latest book, his sixth. Panni had been invited and she suggested we join her for the 5pm event. Brian had met András once previously, in 1974 when he visited and his former wife at their home in New York. We have the first of his books, "A Taste of the Past," a thoroughly researched book about life and about food in the early 20th century in a rural Hungarian Jewish community. András had researched the old family recipes and tested each of them by recreating them with modern cooking methods and ingredients. The book contains many detailed pen and ink drawings of the life and times, all done by the author.
His new book, entitled (in Hungarian) "Poets and Cabaret" is exactly about that - the early 20th century cabaret scene in Budapest and the poets and performers involved. It is a substantial book containing hundreds of old photographs, and as with his previous books, it must have involved a lot of detailed research. This particular book is being published only in Hungarian so there was no point in us buying a copy.
The launch was held in a large bookshop in the centre of the city. It has an auditorium upstairs, created presumably for this type of event, and the place was packed with close to 100 people. Things were hectic but Brian managed to chat with András for a couple of minutes. He clearly remembered Brian's visit.
Panni had warned us that the entire event would be in Hungarian, so we more or less knew what to expect. We were still happy to go along for the experience and to meet up with other members of the Körner family who we knew would be there. The event was very well organised though, as expected, it wasn't all that interesting for the two of us when we didn't know what was being said. It ran for about 70 minutes.
We then retraced our steps, said goodbye to Panni, arranged to meet her again for dinner before we go home and headed off for a nice pizza Hungarian style.
Another full and enjoyable day. We now know that there is so much to see and do in this great city that we will have no trouble filling in our time here.Read more