We only walked 12 miles around Budapest today?! We were having so much fun that it didn’t really seem that we had walked that far until we found ourselves in the Gerbeaud Bistro at the end of the day. Tony pulled out his phone and said, “Well, we’ve walked over 25,000 steps and almost 12 miles today. I guess that makes up for this dessert we’re about to have.” While I’m not sure it quite made up for it, the dessert was decedent. The café was recommended by many, so we had to try it. And it was well worth it!
We spent most of the day just strolling casually from place to place. It seemed that every corner we turned there was another street lined with cafes and restaurants, or a street lined with Christmas decorations and vendors selling Christmas decorations and treats. The streets smelled of cinnamon and hot wine and sausage and candy. And the chatter and smiles amongst the people was incredibly heartwarming. There are bright, lit up Christmas trees, that tower over the buildings, on virtually every block. The Hungarians surely must love Christmas! And I understand why…the whole city is ‘in the spirit.’
On our trek, we saw a few castles and churches, and the Dohany Street Synagogue (the world’s second largest synagogue, second to New York). I haven’t been to nearly as many synagogues as I have churches or mosques, and I must say, it was very impressive. Tony was required to wear a paper kippah (the Jewish hats for men), and the place was very quiet, similar to a church. A very cool experience.
We also saw the famous Opera House and the House of Terror. One of the neatest things we saw was a large – very large – ice skating rink filled with people of all ages. As we watched the skaters from inside our lunch café, I said to Tony, “We should do it. It would be fun!”
“Can you ice skate?” he asked.
“Of course I can. I’m like a car on ice…I stop when something gets in front of me. But come on. It will be fun!” I often think of myself as a ‘normal’ person, someone who can walk. I like the clickity clack of my high heels on the floor. And I like to climb escalators. I like to do all the things that anyone with functioning legs can do. So it didn’t really faze me that ice-skating would be an issue. I figured I’d just roll up to the rink and start sliding.
We found the entrance where we paid our admission fee. Actually, only Tony was charged, but nonetheless. He proceeded downstairs where he would get his rental skates and I stayed on the upper level with the ticket woman. I was expecting her to tell me how to (or get someone to help) get to the elevator to reach the ice-skating rink. But she went back behind her desk and straight back to work.
I tapped on her desk and asked, “Elevator? Lift?” with my hands in the air, not sure where I was supposed to go. She looked at me with a blank expression. She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Hungarian. We were like a cat and a dog, just staring at each completely clueless. She pointed outside, and I assumed that there was a lift. But nope. Nothing there. So I went back inside and started the process over. This went on for about 20 minutes and I started to think Tony and I would never be reunited again. I figured that once he had his skates, he wasn’t allowed back upstairs, which was exactly the case. So we both, without knowing it, tried to find each other in a world of language barriers.
Finally, after 30 minutes, I heard a lot of clanking coming up the stairs. I turned the corner to see what it was, and lo and behold, Tony was attempting to find me, skates and all. He had been scolded by the security, but at least we had found each other. We ended up finally finding someone who could translate for us, and we found out that the elevator was not working. After a bit of explaining what had happened, we were able to get our money back (the equivalent of $3). So, at the end of the day, we never did get to go ice-skating. But I have a new appreciation for language. The good, the bad, and the barriers it creates between so many people. If only we could all understand each other. Every word. Every intent. The world would be so different.
We ended our day climbing the stairs to our AirBNB. Ninety-eight stairs. Marble stairs. Elegant, historical, marble stairs. Me on my hands and knees, and Tony carrying the wheelchair. Hey, if we’re going to be in Budapest, we may as well live like they do in Budapest, right? And besides, I have a high calorie dessert I’m trying to burn off. 😉
Please feel free to read Tony’s perspective of our trip at http://www.whereistony.com.