Pest for a Day

29 Nov

I don’t have a traditional commute (defined as a route I take the office daily), as I work from home.  But more often than not, I am on the road and can define my commute as the path I take from my hotel to wherever I meet clients.  And certainly even my home base of Rome makes for some of the scenic commuting in the world.  10 minutes early for a meeting?  Why don’t I just nip into this 500-year old church with a Michelangelo sculpture?

(My friends, please stop laughing hysterically now at the thought of me 10 minutes early for anything)

It gets dark early now in Pest...I took this at 4:20 PM on November 29

I consider myself extremely fortunate in that my work allows me to travel all over the world.  This wanderlust can also be stressful, as most days I am trying to get to entirely new locations in unfamiliar cities in languages I don’t know.  However, the languages I can manage with various degrees of proficiency: English, Mandarin, French and Italian – can take me quite far.

As I write this over a quick meal, I recognize my coping strategy for a quick nutritious lunch in almost any city (as opposed to resorting to American fast food in Europe).  Spending 2 days in Hungary has done little for my proficiency in the language, so ordering what I’d like, and making sure it can be delivered quickly can best be accomplished with that ubiquitous fixture of any city in the world: the Chinese restaurant.

Anyway, while I am fortunate to travel to some of the most incredible cities of the world, my schedule rarely allows me to step into many sights.  I expect I hold the world’s record for lifetime visits to Paris without seeing the Louvre (which distresses me greatly). But fortunately my travels allow me to do 2 of the things I adore the most abroad – walk around and explore neighborhoods, and enjoy a quiet dinner at a local bistro.

Christmas Market getting underway in Budapest

For the last day and a half I’ve explored Budapest between appointments, and have been delighted by this city.  Budapest was never at the top of my list of places to see – no particular reasons for this, it just never stood out for me.  But I’m delighted to stumble across its charms.  I don’t know the names of the buildings I’ve passed of their illustrious histories, but that detracts none from their beauty.

I’ve stayed mostly in Pest; Buda is on the other side of the Danube River that slices in between the 2 historic twins. Throughout my wanderings in the city I’ve seen magnificent architecture throughout the city; a generally refined and elegant style that contrasts Rome’s equally delightful chaotic-ness.  The pedestrian street that runs behind my hotel (Bohem Art Hotel – stylish & efficient with free wifi and great breakfast) that is lined with little vendors selling mulled, hot wine.

Yum...hot spiced wine is perfect for chilly evenings

If this blog had “Smell-o-Vision” you could experience the spicy sweetness that warms you as you pass by each vendor.  The pedestrian laneway runs to a Christmas market, which seems to be still getting underway. Never mind, I’ll be on a veritable Christmas market pilgrimage this week – with stops in Bratislava, Brno and Prague.

For dinner last night I treated myself to an old and elegant looking bistro (Central) whose food and wine did not disappoint.  Proudly featuring Hungarian wines exclusively I was pleasantly surprised by both the flavor of a Pinot Noir-style wine as well as the fact that the restaurant served it in a proper glass.  The warm mushroom salad was nothing memorable but the oven roasted pork leg…heavenly.  Hungarians like their meat!

Roast leg of pork in Central Bistro...

Chariot for Caesar!

After dinner I walked along the Danube and reflected on the history that has passed along its banks.  There are tiles marking the reigns of Roman emperors…I couldn’t actually read them but could recognize that Flavius Csaszarok would have been Caesar Vespasian Flavius, the builder of the coliseum.  Further along, I smiled to see a posh restaurant called Imperator (the ancient military connotation of Emperor in Latin) along the banks of the Danube with a limo parked out front.   I think Julius Caesar would have liked this.

On to Bratislava!

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