Undeniably, the greatest allure of European cities to the foreigner is the civic architecture – the ubiquitous monuments to fallen civilizations and bygone eras. But it’s not only the cathedrals, palaces, castles, and narrow cobbled streets that we romanticize, but the ornateness of the even humblest tenement buildings that represent a time when craftsmanship took precedence over profit margins. It’s difficult to not be constantly impressed in a city with so much amazing architecture, with styles ranging from Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Ottoman, Classical, Baroque, Romantic, and Art-Nouveau. As I walk through these streets so alive with history, I can’t help but wonder if the U.S. will ever be a place of enduring symbols of our civic past, or if the repeated neglect and careless replacement of our finest buildings and structures is a pattern from which we’ll never escape. Happy Tuesday!!
“Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”
- “Farewell to Penn Station,” New York Times editorial, October 30, 1963
This entire post is dedicated to Mikey. Earlier this winter, while battling the throes of S.A.D., we heard of a local rescue dog organization run by some amazing Norwegian veterinary students, and decided to take in an orphaned dog. BEST DECISION EVER. Mikey has now moved on to bigger and better things with his new adopted family in Oslo, Norway; and while he’s no longer with us, he and his copious amounts of hair will remain in our hearts and home forever.
‘I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of.
And I wish to you, joy and happiness.
But above all this, I wish you love.’
As John Keats famously wrote in his poem On The Grasshopper and Cricket, “On a lone winter evening, when the frost Has wrought a silence, what else is there to do other than lose money at the racetrack and take a dip in a steamy thermal bath!” Actually, I doubt Keats would’ve gone anywhere near a race track, especially after his father fell off a horse and died when he was 8, but I’m sure a thermal bath would’ve done his tuberculosis some good. Anyway, Kincsem Park is a racetrack on the eastern outskirts of Budapest, named after some dead racehorse. The maximum bet you’re allowed is about 2000Huf [10 bucks], and the beer is cheap. Stay away from the forralt bor [mulled wine] though, unless you like the taste of liquid hotdogs. Seriously, we don’t call it hotdog wine for nothing.
The St. Gellért Bath is one of the more modern bathhouses. Originally opened in 1918, and attached to the St. Gellért Hotel, it has a variety of pools at various temperatures, a small coed section, and separate male and female baths. Unfortunately, I could only take photos of the main pool, as photography isn’t allowed in the mens-only section, though I doubt most of you are anxious to see how the forces of gravity affect old naked men.
I never got around to posting this video from our recent Holiday escape to Belgium/Holland, so tessék!
Ok. So I’ve been shirking my duties as resident blogger. Sorry to disappoint all five of you who subscribe to this blog – I’m sure you’ve been losing sleep. Anyway, last month we decided to ditch town and see Budapest’s rich uncle, aka Vienna. We left town Friday evening, bought roundtrip train tickets at Keleti station for about 40 euro (including public transit in Vienna!), and 3 hours later we were in Vienna. I’m not sure why we hadn’t done this sooner. First impressions of Vienna: CLEAN, seemingly desolate in many parts of town, expensive, and lavish. Evidence of the opulence of the Habsburg Empire is everywhere, especially as you near the city center, where it’s palaces surrounded by parks and more palaces. The amount of world class museums in the city makes it difficult to decide what to do in a single weekend, but we decided on the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which houses an abundance of works from the old Spanish, Italian, and Dutch masters (ie: pictures of Jesus and muscular naked babies), and the Leopold where we were able to see a collection of Klimt paintings and an AMAZING Egon Schiele exhibition. All in all, it was short but sweet, and well worth it. We ate plenty of wurst, drank excellent beer at a couple of Vienna’s craft brew pubs, saw tons world class art and architecture, and our rooftop digs weren’t too shabby, either.