Monday, June 13, 2005

A Hungarian village & Budapest by Night

Hungarian flag next to the European Union flag in St. Andrew, a charming vilage along the Danube River, just outside Hungary. I took trip there today to enjoy the sunshine, some more Hungarian food and a little shopping.

More Hungarian for your reading pleasure.

The Hungarian language has a lot of little symbols going on.

Just a sunny day in Budapest.

All European Union countries are changing their license plates to look like this. Where once individual national flags were used, now there is the EU flag symbol (a circle of gold stars) over a single letter representing the country.

This poster shows what a Hun looked like. Pretty fierce if you ask me. The Huns founded Hungary under Attila the Hun.

Hungarian grafiti.

St. Andrew, a charming village just outside Budapest.

The village of St. Andrew, just outside Budapest.

Csaba's girlfriend Sofie and I pose in St. Andrew, a charming village on the Danube just outside Budapest. We went there for lunch today.

Two Hungarian cats watch over us as we enjoy lunch on a restaurant patio. The brindle cat reminded me a lot of my cat Diva back in San Diego (thanks for babysitting her Junior!).

Csaba's cigarette box shows that Hungarians see health warnings far larger on their packs than do Americans.

National spice of Hungary, paprika.

This street sign was on display where we ate lunch. It says "May 1st Street" and is a relic of the Hungary's Communist days (May 1st being of course a sacred laborer's day in Communist ideology). When Communism fell in Hungary, street names like this were changed to help usher in the new era. But for a period of time, the new street names stood side-by-side the old street names until locals got used to the change. To signify the old, soon-to-be-erased names from the new, red x's would be spray-painted over the Communist street names.

This was my desert after lunch today. It's called "turos gomboc" and features two cottage cheese dumplings smothered in a sweet yogurt sauce with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. Thank goodness I'm competing in the Eurogames tennis tournament in Holland later this week. Maybe I'll be able to shed some of the calories represented so bountifully by treats like those above.

Another insane (and weirdly delicious) Hungarian specialty I tried today in St. Andrew. OK, let's see, its pasta noodles covered with yogurt and sweet cottage cheese, with chunks of bacon fat sprinkled throughout. It's called "turos csusza." How do they come up with such concoctions, anyway? And for those not in the know, that's the Hungarian flag.

Standing under gobs of Hungarian paprika, the national spice here.

Hungary - Day 3 - Sunday, June 12 (Happy Birthday lil' sis' Krista!)

Hungarian desert. If it's impossibly rich and tasty with heavy cream or custard, it must be Hungarian.

Csaba's family.

Csaba's wonderful mother made this wonderful lunch for us. Potatos, pork with gravy, fried cauliflour and cucumber salad.

Budapest detail.

Since Janos said I dressed like an American and not a Hungarian, we traded jackets for this shot, and I even held his cigarette to try to get the full "Hungarian" look down. He tried mine on to look more American. Anyone convinced?

Me and Csaba's friend Janos. Janos said I dressed like an American, not a Hungarian.

Close-up of Csaba's Hungarian crepe.

Csaba takes on an even more ridiculous Hungarian crepe creation -- it has bananas, chocolate pudding, "fruit punch-flavored" pudding, heavy cream, custard and more. He was only able to finish half of it.

These aren't your ordinary crepes. They're Hungarian, after all, so they're smothered in luscious heavy cream, filled with rich custard and highlighted with Cherries and chocolate sprinkles. This was a meal unto itself.

This is a menu for Hungarian crepes, a favorite late-night snack here.

Budapest's "Chain Bridge" over the Danube. See the lions? Csaba says legend has it that the bridge's designer dared anyone to find something wrong with his "perfect" bridge. When an observant citizen pointed out that the lions had no tongues, the bridge designer was so devastated that he killed himself.

Csaba's friend Janos strikes a pose at the Hungarian freedom monument.

Csaba's friend Janos and I on a hill overlooking the lights of Budapest.

Two nice Hungarian girls who agreed to have their picture taken with me.

Hungary's "Satue of Liberty," a gift to the country from France. Sound familiar?

Csaba, Sofie and Csaba's friend Janos at a monument signifying the coming together of two cities on opposite sides of the Danube River -- Buda and Pest -- to form, you guessed it, the Hungarian capital Budapest!