Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arrival in Budapest

Today was our first day in Budapest and the beginning of our trip, a day more devoted to travel recovery and getting our bearings than visiting sites. We arrived at the airport and soon found our luggage, an ATM and a taxi. We got to our hotel in early afternoon and were pleased with its ambience. The hotel is MaMaison Residence Izabella which is located in the VI district on the Pest side of Budapest. It provides a modern apartment with a complete kitchen, wireless Internet, fitness and laundry facilities. Located off of Andrassy and Izabella, it is close to the Kodaly Korond metro stop.

After two sleepless nights we were running on limited energy so decided to explore our immediate surroundings and run some practical errands. Around the corner we found an Italian restaurant Millennium Da Pippo and had a pleasant vegetarian meal. Typical Hungarian food often includes meat, but we are looking forward to checking out a well-reviewed vegan restaurant near our hotel that offers vegan versions of traditional Hungarian cuisine.

We walked down to the West End shops which are connected to the train station. A szupermarket (pronounced “supermarket”) was attached to the complex as well as a wide variety of shops. The West End shops are the largest multi-use shopping area in Europe. We sampled the ice cream at one of the many ice cream vendors. Thus far we’ve discovered excellent ice cream in Budapest, more like gelato in the rich flavors which are offered.

As we wandered the nearby streets we found ourselves thinking of other cities in which we had traveled. The West End shops reminded us of shopping areas we had visited in Shanghai, the streets with open air cafes reminded us of Montparnasse Ave in Paris.

Tomorrow we will begin our explorations of the Jewish district and the synagogues located in Pest.

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