There are tourists, mostly Europeans. I've heard a lot of German, Russian (maybe Ukrainian), Scandinavian, French, Italian, Spanish etc,. and lots of Israelis too (Israelis love to travel - I don't know anyone, except maybe infants, who doesn't have a passport). Sights are not crowded but there are visitors. At restaurants and bars I hear a lot of Hungarian and English with an accent - probably people on business connecting with locals.
I must say, restaurants are not all that good. Like in Israel, they are having a bit of a struggle getting back to normal. Service is generally excellent, but kitchens are not up to snuff yet . . . not bad, just not quite as good as pre- . . . . Kadarka is as good as always, and nearly as busy. Last night there was a huge private party that took over the place and spilled out into the street. Tonight was full but no one was turned away.
Yesterday was outstanding. I went to Obuda (thank you James for the idea). The Vasarely Museum is closed for a month for renovations. I loved the sculptures of Imre Varga. And then I went a bit farther to Aquincum to see the Roman ruins. Okay, I've been to many in Italy and of course at home in Israel, we have our share of them (and very fine they are), so I was less than impressed but still it is a bit of a kick to walk through walls and walks that people built millenia ago. My great joy there though was to walk on grass and enjoy the many trees beginning to show their autumn golds and crimsons (not something I get to do/see at home).
I spent the better part of Monday at the zoo. I loved, loved loved the Elephant House. The weather was sunny and warm (16-17C) and some of the animals were out and about. The 2-hump camels looked so strange to me - at home we have the 1-humpers - but they didn't look as mean and ugly. I wanted to cry when I saw the polar bear in its tiny enclosure. The baby elephant was cute but again, those beautiful creatures shouldn't be confined to such small spaces. Much better to get up close and personal with their brethren at a nature preserve in Thailand, for instance. The afternoon ended with a photo op at Heroes Square in the late afternoon sun.
Yesterday evening I went to a piano concert at Vigado Concert Hall that was most excellent. Beethoven, Liszt, more Liszt and Mussorgsky. The pianist - Endre Hegedus - was wonderful. I think this will be the highest highlight of my highlight-filled week. The hall is beautfiul, the seats are more comfortable than any other place I've been and of course the acoustics are great. Mr. Hegedus spoke before each composition and I wish I could have understood him. His delivery was folksy and humorous.
I spent an afternoon up at Buda Hill, mostly at the Hungarian National Gallery. I spent almost as much time enjoying the view from the terrace as inside the building. It felt almost criminal to waste the glorious weather on a museum, but the collections - especially the Gothic altar pieces are a joy to the eye and the soul.
Well, it's past bedtime, so that's it for now. Thanks to all of you who helped make my visit so wonderful. I wish you could all be here with me.