I remember my first trip to Europe after waiting years to get there. It was Paris in around 1985, on a student trip (yeah, what a good lie it would be to leave it at that and not say I was a teacher/chaperone instead of a student...). My old friend Ingrid was with me and instead of watching the surroundings from the bus, she watched my face to see my reactions to my first sight of Paris. Ingrid's parents had taken her to many places in Europe, Egypt, etc, and I stood at my window and waved goodbye as they took off for the airport. My parents' idea of travel was Lake Tahoe or other places in driving distance. I was mesmerized seeing statues in the middle of streets with fountains and old gorgeous buildings. My travel bug had hit, but it wasn't until Matthew and I met that I had the money and partner to really go places.
I thought this table cloth was cool...the table has grooves in it and the cloth goes through so it's not in your way, people don't mistake it for their napkin or move it and everything on it when sitting down or getting up.
Matthew had a delicious dinner here last night, but I wasn't so happy. I do have food pictures, which are very unappetizing looking. It's how I felt about my dinner. Rick Steves recommended this place, and to me, it's another indication he cares more about value than taste.
First, we shared "asparagus au gratin," which looks worst than it tastes. Nice to have something green, even if you have to search for it.
Today, Monday, we took our third and last food walking tour. Each one has had a different flavor (pun intended). We met at the Great Market Hall, so decided to brave the metro. Somehow we missed where to get our tickets stamped (remember I now have a phobia about this after my tram flight, so I let Matthew keep my ticket for stamping). When we got off the Metro at our stop, two women with badges stopped us and asked for our tickets. We handed them over, they asked why they weren't stamped and we said we didn't see where to do it. It's a box before you go down the escalator, but no one showed us and we didn't see them. I think they saw 2 US citizens (which they knew for sure after taking our passports) with money, so they charged us a fine of $30 each! One showed me where it says it in some guide she had, and I walked over to a man who worked there and asked if these two were legitimately working there. I was afraid to argue and be arrested...hell, I'd already paid for the food tour and didn't want to miss out.
We arrived at least 10 minutes early and found one exasperated French woman already complaining because she had been waiting there for 10 minutes. I said the tour doesn't start until 10, but that didn't seem to calm her. I don't want to spend much time on her personality because I could go on and on so suffice to say she had an attitude about everything, often comparing how the French version was better or the original, and by the time we got to the last stop with the wine, forget it. She seemed to annoy several of us and insult the owners.
Our beauriful tour guide's name is Zsofia. We had two extra people join our group due to a mix-up, so we had 7 instead of the max of 6, which turned out to be fine. Besides the Parisian, we had two singles, a young man from Munich and a young woman from Los Angeles who grew up in Mountain View, and another couple, two men from Boston. Everyone got along well and moved around to have conversations with each other as we walked from place to place. Lyka was traveling on her own and had been in Krakow the same time as we, but had taken the night train to arrive in Budapest, then was heading to Prague and doing the same food tour there we did.
|We started with a digestif .... I had the sweeter of the two, but only had a few sips. It was strong! Zsofia said it would help us get started and be ready for a day of food sampling.|
|Next the pastry shop with both sweet and savory strudels. Mine was plum and sour cherry; Matthew had the poppy seed. We ordered differently all day so we could share and taste more.|
|Art shot? This is the chocolate store where we sampled 2 kinds of bonbons between breakfast and lunch.|
We got to choose from many types of Hungarian pastries, and when Zsofia started explaining, the French woman pointed out the macaroons saying they are not Hungarian and would not taste like the ones in Paris. She also snorted when Zsofia mentioned the sacher torte originated in Austria but it was during the Austria-Hungarian Empire, so is Hungarian as well. She again interrupted Zsofia a few minutes later when she was explaining each pastry to comment about the macaroons, so she finally had to say, "I am not talking about the macaroons. I am only explaining about the typical Hungarian desserts." I am surprised the rest of us did not applaud.
|Catherine, Frank, and Marcus|
|Doesn't her face say it all?|
|Mark enjoying the wine|
Tonight we didn't think we were hungry enough for a big meal, so thought we'd find where we ate 10 years ago -- a place called Menza -- and maybe just have something light. But for the prices, it's not hard to order a main course and eat part of it. Well, I ate part of it...