Basically what I planned for daytrips from Budapest are:
Two of the first three may be done on the same day. As for the last one, another online search didn’t yield very appealing photos to me – at least not now, and while the town seems closer to Vác than to BP, Istvan from Vac also said directly that he isn’t interested when I inquired him for a possibility to visit this town from Vac. Ok.
I chose to do the first two on July 18. The box office was simply unhelpful – while it’s fine that she doesn’t speak English (or let’s say that we don’t have a mutual language), she opted to stare at her screen, didn’t let me see the screen or try to make me understand, and talked the her computer rather to me, totally not caring whether I understood or not. When I was about to knock the shield glass to protest, a young lady with voluptuous hair with natural big curls asked me whether I needed help. Yes I do. There’re also two types of buses from BP to Esztergom: one has a shorter distance and a cheaper price.
Anyway I slept almost all the way on the bus. Stepping off the bus, the sky was great, and I went into a tiny “express” type of supermarket (more like a grocery store) to get some chocolate waffles.
Normally I would choose a young woman when I need to try my luck at finding someone who can speak English, but here I don’t have a lot to choose from anyway, so I picked a young fit lad with medium height. He didn’t speak any English but was willing to help, and he came very close when checking my map. Well, basically, just go straight on – that was the message. I thanked him and walked past the somewhat interesting marketplace. A vendor, probably Turkish or some Middle Eastern, smiled and used English to ask if I wanted to buy some of his belts. People, this is how to do business.
Which wasn’t exactly what the LP-recommended pork knuckle place did. Some people just really don’t want to move their butt when a customer entered. Anyway.
The Basilica is very very nice. As I finished the basilica and went outside, I found a very young tourist info clerk, who nevertheless doesn’t understand any English and couldn’t offer any kind of guidance. It was funny, though, to find an elevator at a corner of the square in front of the Basilica – the elevator goes down to a wine cellar-slash-restaurant. Interesting design. Again there are some lavenders in front of this place.
I found the place LP recommended, where one can see a “dramatic” view of the Basilica from below. The price of the lunch menu is very very good, the soup is not bad, and the dessert is very lovely. I don’t know how to call that kind of light yellow cream but like it anyway, especially with those forest berries.
I was distinctly SLEEPY before I got on the bus from Esztergom to Visegrad, and I felt I didn’t get enough sleep as I stepped off. The castle ruins on the mountain looked a bit far, and after spending some time to find the right path and yet somehow failed, I decided to give up. The palace ruin down below, which isn’t far from a bus stop, doesn’t look promising, and I chose to return to BP rather than to explore. From the hindsight, I probably should have tried to restore my stamina for proper sightseeing. But those pictures just didn’t look tempting.
The driver of the bus back to BP (a different bus station) was really nice, saying thank you in Hungarian and showing me it’s the final destination with a smile when we arrived.
A meet-up with a young friend Aron was pretty nice, and we even enjoyed some pizzas. It’s odd to have pizza with ham (and without chili), but that’s a part of Hungarian experiences, let’s say.
July 19 was for Szentendre, and I had much bluer skies. I had to take a suburban train from a BP metro station, and since I already have tickets for BP public transportation, I need to show them and buy “extension” tickets. The weather was agreeable enough, but this town – maybe my expectations ran too high – was reasonably atmospheric while very dismissible. Or I was simply going through the “prone-to-dismiss” phase as a rude ignorant foreigner.
At least this should be a nice place for one to walk with some nice companion and mock how silly some souvenirs can be – they are everywhere –, although some folk-themed things are actually pretty nice. One old lady from one of the numerous souvenir shops played a finger puppet, said “konijiwa” and made cutesy faces as a group of mainly middle-aged female Japanese tourists walked by. That was pretty funny. And maybe because Szentendre isn’t very far from BP, there’re again quite some Chinese tourists.
It took some time for me to fall asleep on the train back, but I fell asleep in the end anyway and was waken by a fellow passenger.
I had lunch at an LP-recommended Middle Eastern place. Not bad, and while I didn’t expect to like the dessert (something alleged with yogurt but looks very sweet in realty), the utter sweetness of the taste turned out to be unexpectedly appealing, even somewhat putting me into some oddly nostalgic mode. Odd, of course, but I’m odd.
After lunch was quite some walk I planned for myself – first to an Alexandra bookshop to get the Kurtag CD (works for soprano), and then to the CD shop “Concerto” I found the other day. Originally I thought they only have expensive things, but it turns out they do have a couple of Sylvia Sass issues with fine prices. The young slim clerk tried to introduce a number of vinyl items to me, but I can’t bring or send vinyl and don’t prepare to collect any, and the fun thing (for me) was that, whenever he presented something to me, I would say “Yes, I have that [already].”
I decided to be willful and got two of the three Sylvia Sass recital albums. The third is a collection of “popular songs,” such as her singing operetta pieces in Hungarian translation (curious rarities, indeed), but I don’t think I want to hear her sing various numbers of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s.
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