I write to you all at 3:40 am, as I sit in my bed wondering why I am not asleep. The past few days I have had a small bout of the flu, so I was really looking forward to getting some solid rest tonight. Looks like my body had other plans. After tossing and turning for 2 hours I figured out my problem, hunger. So I grabbed a slightly stale croissant and some warm chocolate soy milk and booted up my computer. I figure this is a great time to tell everyone about my birthday week!
Festivities started last Tuesday when I decided at last minute to buy myself a ballet ticket. For a mere $10 I got to see “Taming of the Shrew” in the gorgeous opera house. I got even luckier when the people in the box in front of me never showed up, thus allowing me to sit in seats that probably cost somewhere closer $50. It was a gorgeous ballet, and I already knew the plot so I could actually follow what was happening.
Thursday my friends and I decided to try a new restaurant that we had read about in Funzine, an English magazine for students in Budapest. They usually have AWESOME recommendations (see later in the post) but they missed the mark on this one. The restaurant had a weird vibe, like a place the Budapest Mafia might show up to, and the food was only mediocre. I did however havegreat Dobos Torta for dessert. The cake came as two mini cakes, with creamy chocolate icing between each layer and a wonderful hard caramel topping.
Friday as soon as class ended, we headed to Trofea, the all you can eat/drink buffet. As we were seated the hostess told us we could only be there for 2 hours, which we knew was not true. With our extensive knowledge of Hungarian (numbers and time are the Beginner’s class specialty) we were able to show the hostess on the brochure that we were promised a 3 hour stay. She obliged. When it comes to food, I am not some tourist that can be scammed! The food was delicious and plentiful. My favorite was a cold raspberry cream soup. After Trofea we went to a party store to buy party hats for the next days festivities (see pictures below). I was then dragged to Szimpla, our favorite ruin bar for my first birthday drink of the weekend. While having palinka when the sun was still up seemed wrong, I wasn’t going to turn down a drink that my friends payed for. After a rest and a quick dinner, my friends continued our celebrating an outdoor bar on Margaret Island which is finally full of blooming flowers just in time for my birthday!
Saturday afternoon was the main event: the beer bike. After seeing a few around the city, my friends and I decided that it was a must for my 21st birthday. The pictures pretty much say it all. 10 friends and myself peddled around the city (with a guide who was braking and steering) while drinking beer out of a keg on board the bike. It was a hilarious and ideal way to spend the afternoon/evening. Since we had to propel ourselves, we barely went faster than a person can quickly walk. In fact, at an uphill part, one of my friends had to get off and push!
The Beer Bike
In my birthday crown and my friend Margot in her party hat (hard to see with the light)
Pretending to steer as my friends get rowdy. Don't worry, the bike was parked at this point
Sunday I had brunch at a ruin bar that serves food by day, called Most (meaning “now”) in Hungarian. For just $8 I had a Bellini, eggs benedict, and a piece of chocolate cake! Sweet deal. I wanted to get the quiche but they were all out by the time we arrived. Obviously I will need to go back! Then my friend Maribeth and I decided to explore one of the hills in Buda by riding a chairlift, as Funzine had recommended to us. After a 40 minute bus ride, we ended up in what seemed like the middle of New Hampshire. Rolling hills, green trees, lots of camping and wildlife, and a chairlift! As if there might be skiing in Budapest…hah. We rode the chairlift to the top and discovered that we could hike a short while to a castle-type overlook. It was gorgeous! We could even seen the Parliament from across the river! A great escape from the city. We even found a cool playground to play on for a little while.
The castle at the top of the hill
Hi Parliament! Its kind of hard to see...can you spot it?
View of the Hungarian countryside
After going to Thai food for dinner (still weirdly one of my all-time favorite places to eat here) my friends bought me a delicious chocolate cake from Marodi and we polished it off in one sitting. Afterwards, we tried a new bar that is famous for having Belgian Beer on tap, pretty cool to find in Eastern Europe!
Marodi does not mess around with its baked goods
Monday (my actual birthday) started off with some friends cooking me breakfast. It was divine and included real drip coffee and an omelet with all my dream ingredients, even 3 types of cheese! The rest of the day I was SUPPOSED to do homework, but I couldn’t motivate myself (shocking). So I lounged around and watched TV and then went out for one last birthday beer with friends.
Overall – a fantastic way to celebrate my 21st birthday! I am so glad my friends indulged me and let me celebrate over the course of about 6 days.
Now I really must get some sleep. 4 friends and I are off to Croatia tomorrow on a road trip since we have no school again until Wednesday. I am excited to finally see the ocean after so many months and soak up the sun! Get excited for some gorgeous coastal pictures.