Last night I left you with us in search of hot food. Well, we ventured out via the Christmas markets. I personally think that these stalls are all selling the same tat, but not according to Sue and Karen and they all had to be approached in a methodical military manner to make sure that they didn’t miss ANYTHING. By the time we had examined every item on every stall it was gone 9:00 pm and we were starving.

We headed out to a restaurant that had been recommended to us, but it appears that it had been recommended to every other visitor in Budapest and we couldn’t get in. So we adopted the standard protocol in these situations: if you can’t get into your first choice restaurant, then go to the one next door (well the nearest one that we could afford in this case). The restaurant in case seemed nice enough: good menu, nice wine list, good price.  The was just one odd thing about it. It was empty bar 4 other people. Now these people didn’t look like they were having an horrendous time and were wishing their night away waiting for the bill.  They didn’t appear to be looking ill from the food. In fact the looked like they were having a nice time.  So, why so empty, when all the neighbouring restaurants were heaving?  I smelt a rat (not literally.  If I literally smelt a rat, that would be the answer to my question.  This was a figurative rat).

Sometimes, for no apparent reason, a thought crosses your mind.  You may never normally think this, but for some reason at key points in your life you think “I wonder if….”  In this case I wondered if they took credit cards.  So I asked.  They didn’t. Rat well and truly discovered. We hastily checked through our wallets and purses to see how many forints we had on us.  The problem with currencies which are in thousands is that you lose all sense of proportion. We had thousands and thousands of these things on us in notes and coins of varying denominations.  In reality we had less than £30. There was only one thing to do. We left. With red faces we donned our coats and headed out into the cold night looking for a restaurant with a lovely card machine.  The only saving grace to this whole situation was that Daz did notice that the bottle of wine he had just opened for us had a screw cap. I’m sure some cash rich customer will soon be along to enjoy a well aired bottle of the house red.

Today we headed up to the castle area of the city. We were going to get the metro and then the funicular. However when we arrived at the station we were greeted with a sign familiar to any week train traveller across the world. “Closed due to maintenance work.  Replacement bus service in operation”. There’s a lot of building work going on in Budapest at the moment. The city was razed by various invaders but they keep rebuilding it.  The last lot of invaders are tourists and the council seem to be spending a lot of money digging up old cobbled streets and replacing them with….new cobbled streets. The other day we had to give way to a mini digger before we could walk down the pavement.

On our journeys today we ended up (surprise, surprise) at another market. There was music playing, sausages being consumed, gluwhein being quaffed and suddenly a group of about 6 lads began dancing. Now this wasn’t your shuffling about waving your arms in the air British lad dancing.  This was proper, in time, co-ordinated , thigh slapping, one leg hopping traditional Hungarian dancing.  We were impressed. But then a few girls joined in, and then some more.  I smelt another rat (in this case it was a real rat, it was in the bins behind one of the stalls). This wasn’t just a well co-ordinated stag do…this was a flash mob, Hungarian style!  Before long there were dozens of them twisting, swirling and singing. At the end they all bowed and I began looking for the cameras.  I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to end up as T Mobile’s latest advert in Hungary. As we walked away I said to Daz that it was a a flash mob. “What’s that?” he asked. Just to explain, Daz isn’t really up with modern things: he likes his Mach 2 razor, Windows 95 and retro denim shirts.* I explained all as we walked back. We are heading back that way tonight, so knowing our luck Dom Jolly will be out filming the pilot for his new Hungarian show and we’ll be caught on camera all over again!

* Daz has commented that some of these blogs have a certain degree of artistic licence to them. As he said to me last night after reading yesterday’s “I don’t remember it being that exciting”. ” It was in my head Daz, it was in mine” I tell him. So bearing that in mind I may have exaggerated Daz’s luddite nature for comedic effect. But I can with 100% conviction say that one thing on the above list is indeed, true.


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