This morning we headed to… a playground! This one is called Olympia park, in honor of some local sporting event, and was rumored to be a good one. Plus it is near parliament, where we planned to meet Dave for a post-lunch tour. First we stopped to buy sandwiches and a new book for mama at the English bookstore. Blasted through the only one I brought, and it turns out I’d already read two out of three New Yorkers. Whoops.
As seems often to be the case, this one also had a structure shaped like a ship, but this one was the most impressive. Again, too, it was recess time for some school nearby, indistinguishable from all the elegant buildings. This is our first park to have a topiary bicyclist and Olympic Rings, however.
After some ridiculousness trying to purchase more data time for my cell phone (using the trip planning app and posting photos during the day has done me in), and receiving multiple illegible text messages in Hungarian from the phone company, all the while trying to prevent children from spilling ice cream all over a cafe, we were ready to meet Dave. Boy was I ready.
Turns out the Hungarian parliament building, third largest in the world after Bucharest and Buenas Aires (!) was designed to house all the representatives in Hungary, including Transylvania and Slovenia. Then WW1 happened and Hungary lost more land than it kept thanks to the Treaty of Trianon. As a result, the current parliamentarians have plenty of elbow-room and gold-leaf to go around. My particular favorite detail are the cigar holders, each numbered, so that one may leave a burning cigar there, go in and vote, and come back to it later. I used to do the same with chewing gum around the house…
After the tour, Dave returned to work and the children and I took another commuter boat to Margaret Island, fitting since their grandmothers are Mary-Margaret and Margaret Mary. This trip, while only two stops, was not without drama. First was the surprise switching of boats mid-voyage (for unknown reasons), and then was the wind-swept, desolate, “sorry. This staircase is under construction. Find another way up to the bridge from the river bank”, epic walk-carrying-preschooler. If nothing else at least we saw a totally different part of the city where the shiny office buildings are? When we finally arrived on the island, we rented a “family bike”, ie: I pedal. Kids ride. For those paying close attention, this island was also the site of my bootcamp class and was previously noted to be almost entirely under construction. Still is! Most-notably the paths! Had to get out and push the vehicle through rocky mud patches and I forseen curbs at least four times. The children loved it. Freeloaders…
That night the babysitter came one last time (hurrah!) and Dave and I had a date of buying sneakers. This brand, Tiszo, used to be the only brand available under communism. Once opened to the West, Hungarians rushed to by Nikes and whatever else they could get. These were considered horribly gauche. Then some marketing genius figured out how to capitalize on the nostalgia and ethnic pride in hungarian shoes, and they are once again a hot commodity.
After the shopping, we had dinner at the last of the places I found on Instagram, Mazel Tov, in the Jewish Quarter. (Duh). We had good drinks and Israeli food. Fortunately we’d been warned they only take cash.