Austria/Slovakia/Hungary – Day 18 – Budapest

Success! We returned to the market to retrieve our forgotten cheese and they were very gracious in returning it. So of course we bought more cheese, this time deer and forest mushroom cheese. They all were fantastic, but the basic old farmers cheese was the best.

Saturday morning was clearly a popular time for the Paris cafe, so we ventured to the subway station for our trip to the National Gallop Races. We found a mediocre coffee shop beside a Starbucks and felt it was better to support local business.

And then the ‘subway event’. It turns out that after purchasing our tickets, we failed to validate them. This results in a SERIOUS fine – $75 Cdn, and there was no talking our way out of it despite the fact that the ‘helper’ we had at our entry station failed to inform us of the need to validate, although he did direct Derek & Marketa to do so. Seems very much like a tourist money grab. We were NOT impressed – Hungary can be quite brusque.

Once at the races, we paid the 1600Ft ($7 Cdn) for wrist bands needed to enter the seating section for the races which in the end we could have skipped. As we were a bit early we strolled around the park which included the largest Budapest spa – Széchenyi. There was also a ‘recruitment’ display set up along the promenade with some interesting army displays (well for Michael at least). Then back to the race track where we ended up trapped in the central area for the opening ceremonies, but at least we did use our seats for the races. Mike & I sat behind the Cseko team support section. They had a horse in the youth races as well as one in race 1 of the formal races. The youth did not fair well, but the main horse and rider were winners in their heat much to the joy of our seatmates. They continued on to the next round to be run the following day. As it was to be a long day of races, and there was so much to see, we decided to venture on.

The promenade leading to the races was fantastic – full of crafts and restaurants and a booth for every team with a horse in the race. Given that the race entrants are based on local winners, that resulted in a great variety of towns and even countries hosting booths. This included many local Hungarian townships as well as China, Britain and nearby countries. It was well over a km long I would guess. After finishing the strip, Marketa wanted to return to an early booth to pick up something for her mother, so Mike & I headed back.

We passed St. Stephen’s Basilica which we were tempted to enter, but the lines were very long, the fee was not cheap, and the inside was very dimly lit so not a great photo op. We did luck out though when a dance troupe put on a show out front, and a procession of dancers from other countries came along waving at us happily.

Back at the apartment we had some wine and cheese and toasts. Derek treated us to another home cooked meal of market goodies. The sausages, peppers and onions accompanied with more wine lulled us all into a quiet night in with a final round of euchre to keep Marketa refreshed on the rules!

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