Budapest

Our order is taken, a set menu of three traditional Hungarian courses our final night in Budapest. A gaggle of languages surrounds us from Hungarian to French to English, not counting the various Eastern European tongues spoken at each table. I empathize with the waitress who struggles to find understanding with prospective patrons who arrive not recognizing the set menu written on the wall outside is the entire menu. But my focus is directed to the table before me once our food arrives, a warm goulash and simple, varied appetizers as the starter.

Parliament Building

Our main course appears, chicken covered in paprika with fresh pasta and duck served with an arugula salad; simple yet decadent. It feels the same rule applies to European cities which I always imagine with wide boulevards and stunning architecture. Budapest excels at this. Years of varying empires and influences have left marks ranging from memorials and statues to castles and bridges. And of course, churches abound. The Danube separates Buda, the hills and Castle to the west, from Pest, the downtown areas including the basilica and Parliament. A few short days wandering and I feel I have only barely scratched the surface. Again, simple yet rich.

Danube, from Castle Hill St. Stephen’s Basilica

We share some laughs and brief conversation with the table beside us; they having just arrived, we already on our desserts. Our time in the city has been incredibly short, just over 36 hours to explore and enjoy. We sneak into cafés to escape the occasional light rain then enjoy beautiful waterfront strolls during sunset. It’s definitely spring but chilly when compared to the past week. Finishing our homemade ice cream and pavlova, we enjoy the walk back to our hostel; though relatively quiet with only four of the maybe 25 beds occupied, we still find kind, engaging travelers with whom to chat late at night. And being Europe, we find a 599 HUF (about $2.70) bottle of wine to enjoy before retiring for the night.