A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

And On to Birmingham

semi-overcast 6 °C
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Rather than go straight to Birmingham I thought I'd look for somewhere nice between London and Birmingham with a Travelodge offering a £9 room and came up with the Cathedral town of Worcestor - famous for its sauce, porcelain and composer (Elgar). What I didn't know when I booked my hotel was that to get there from London, you go through Birmingham anyway. So, I had a tedious trip in a Megabus up the M4 and got dumped in the middle of Birmingham. Luckily it was near to the train station, so I was straight on a train out to Worcester. While the main street was pretty standard main street, there was a very nice secondary street, what possibly was the former main street. This one had interesting old pubs and quite a few Tudor buildings which, despite looking a bit crooked, seemed well maintained and still very much in use.
This provided for a very nice space in which to wander - I managed to not even get to the river before darkness fell, so that joy is still in front of me.

My hotel was nothing like that - it was just a tower protruding from a shopping mall, but it was directly opposite the Cathedral

Dinner was in Ye Olde Talbot, an inn dating back to the 13th century, although you'd hardly know it to look at it. [Post script added 1 February: curiosity and 20 quid for bed and breakfast got the better of me, so I am presently back in Ye Olde Talbot Inne - one part of the bar shows definite signs of being really old, what with the timbered and very sagging ceilings, as do some of the internal (and quite crooked corridors). Has to be one of the best bargain stays I have hit.]

Since I was so close, I decided to take in the midnight showing at the cinema - Slumdog Millionaire. I read the book on which it was based a couple of years ago (Vikas Swarup's Q & A), and don't think a whole lot of liberties were taken. Although the dwellers of the slums in which it is set have since claimed it is a completely unfair representation. Funnily enough, very little of the movie is actually set in the slums, and it tends to take a once over lightly approach to their physical environment - the focus is on Jamal's escape, one which is so unbelievable that when he wins the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he is declared a cheat and arrested. The story reveals how he knew the answers to the questions - which often involved stuff that happened in the slum, such as the way in which gangs would seize "orphan" kids and deliberately maim or blind them so they'd be more effective as beggars (particularly if they were nice singers).

So, it was Sunday afternoon that I arrived in Birmingham for real, and checked in to the Birmingham Central Plaza Travelodge. I took the evening to wander around the centre of the city, which seems very built and organised, and was so surprised to find that here Nando's do table service (and beer) that I had I had to go in and have dinner.

As it happened, I actually only stayed there the one night - I had the week booked out at Wolverhampton, a mere 16 miles away. Getting to my hotel was a disaster - I must have read the map upside down or something, but I walked for a long long time in what I thought was the right direction around the ring road without seeing any sign of it. Just to add interest to my walk, the rain was quite persistent (and, remember, this is the coldest its been for twenty years). I've never been so glad to see a McDonalds - I went in and had dinner and used their wifi to reassess my map, and go back the way I had come. It was a pretty bedraggled Barry who presented himself at the Travelodge. The staff were nice, and the hotel was new and warm, so I was soon happy again. In fact, by the end of the week, I'd have been quite happy to live there - I got into a nice routine of watching Masterchef, then taking my book (still Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, which really is a book of sad genius) into the bar for a nightcap. I think hotel living suits me.

Work was a different story; I turned up on the Monday, and no-one seemed to know I was coming. I had to wait for someone to clear out of the office I'm to use and was then left to my own devices. The fellow who invited me didn't come say hello, in fact for the whole week I was left entirely on my own! I had no connection to the University computers and only had a library card because I hit a security barrier trying to get in, and found out for myself how to organise one. The reception staff insist that I sign in for a key every morning and return it when I leave because, apparently, I am sharing. The only colleague I have seen is actually from a different university in Birmingham, who is teaching a winter short course here. She's going to work on orgainising me to go visit their university, which sounds good.

It also took a wee while to sort out optimal travel arrangements out to the University. On my second day, I took the bus. Big mistake! It took two hours to get into Birmingham, ducking and diving up various narrow streets, and at times the distance to Birmingham actually increased. Going home, I did find a faster route, but I shared with a quite disgusting young man - he kept hassling this girl, a complete stranger, asking for all sorts of very personal information and generally being a pain (she, curiously enough, tended to answer him). When she got off, he turned his attention to a young guy, bragging about all these games he robbed from some store and then using one of the seats as a urinal - provoking giggles from his companion. Ah, well, I had a very pleasant meal at one of Wolverhampton's pubs (almost all pubs over here seem to be having big promotions in which food and drink are reduced dramatically) and that helped my mood recover and I have found the trains to be cheap and quick, if you get on the right one.

Wolverhampton (famous in New Zealand as being the home town of Suzanne Paul, but is also the site of the first traffic lights in England (yes, they're stretching) and of Chubb locks and Goodyear tyres and the present champon English sausage maker) isn't bad as a town (sorry, city - it was given that status in 2000), as it happens. Sure, it seems to close down early at the beginning of the week, but I've found quite a few interesting buildings - the library is a wonderful old pile (built 1902 to commemorate Queen Victoria), it has a good art gallery, St Peter's Church is a spooky presence as I walk past at night, lots of cheap food joints and pubs as well as some nicer places and one of the most awful feeling shopping malls I have ever been in.

Posted by NZBarry 14:54 Archived in England Comments (0)

London (Finally)

overcast -6 °C
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I had several worries in my mind as I flew in from Hamburg to Heathrow - the first simply arising from the fact that it is Heathrow, notoriously chaotic and a real time-drain (I have no idea what the Government plans to do about Terminals if the recently announced third runway actually happens, which presumably will simply increase the flood). Then travellers on the Thorntree keep reporting horrendous things happening to them when they go through Immigration, even if they're prepared. And, to cap it all, I have my own personal history with the Immigration people - I did sue them and they did respond very high-handedly in making sure I left the country last time.

So, it came as a complete surprise to find a mere four people in the line in front of me, with two Immigration Officers. Mine was so friendly and off hand, I wondered if we were secretly in the pub - he thought it a great lark that I could be sent round the world on full pay to "research" (yes, the quote marks were obvious in the way he said it). I had a bundle of paperwork ready for him, but he glanced at the top page and stamped me through. Done and dusted - I'm in London!


So, I was on the tube, creeping towards the Tower of London - the first of my nine pound hotel rooms was in the brand new Travelodge (it opened three weeks before my arrival) there. After checking in, my first instinct was to have a pint, so I popped around the corner for one. My second instinct was to eat (the pub only had fake pub food) and I'd been craving fish and chips, and I knew just where to go. It is a fair old walk - google maps reckons on it being three miles, following the most logical route; I failed completely in that, so I have no idea how far it was. London put on quite a show for me; I was going through the city, and it was about 5:30, so basically rush hour (more for people rushing to find their trains than vehicles - the streets were narrow, with tall buildings). It was well and truly dark, and to add interest, a heavy fog had fallen and London was in a cold snap. So, basically there were these millions of spectral beings, rushing towards me (I definitely felt I was going against the tide). Here is an indication of how foggy it was - it even drowns out most of the Tower of London:
and it was cold enough for this

But it was an extremely productive trip. I found a decent coffee shop (which has turned out to be a chain of decent coffee shops, with branches in most places I get to - Caffe Nero). I'd seen a telecoms company in my travels through Europe offering good deals on mobile internet, so when I saw an O2 shop, I popped in and bought myself a USB modem - they have a pay as you go mobile internet plan for fifteen quid, and gave me a SIM for my phone as a bonus (that gives me 500 FREE minutes from a nominated post-code (I nominated the University one, as it covers a big area). Most importantly, I found the Golden Fish Bar:

I won't pretend to have remembered it all these years as being the best fish shop in London, but someone made that claim on the Thorntree a couple of months ago, and it brought back memories. It is not a flash place


but it truly does do a nice cod and chips. For entertainment, I had the waitress and her boyfriend - I have no idea what language it was they were speaking in, something from Eastern Europe, but they maintained a passionate argument the whole time I was there. She'd be summoned to deliver some food and go "wait one minute" to him (yes, that bit was in English). They'd hit some sort of peak and he'd snatch up his smokes and storm out, ready to resume when he was done. Then there was the couple my age, but obviously on a date, but he was such a dweeb, I doubt there'll be many more - she kicked off all the conversations, he basically just agreed and said nothing, then she gave up talking.

The Golden Fish Bar may have faded from memory, but its neighbours certainly had not. I have no idea how many late night kebabs I had from the Farringdon Grill:



and the idea of the Quality Chop House always impressed me


In one window, it says "Progressive Working Class Caterer" and in another "Quick Service", "London's Noted Cup of Tea" and "Civility". I liked the idea of it, but never went in - because (a) they never once had chops on the menu and (b) it is actually quite a posh place.

As might be obvious, these places were very close to home - maybe 200 metres from my house, and it was really nice to see they're still there nearly two decades after I left. I never really had a local pub - there were at least a dozen within two blocks of my house, and I never settled on any except, maybe this one

Behind them, in Roseberry Avenue, all I can remember is a curry house but there's quite a bit going on now in terms of eateries and pubs, including


After eating, I couldn't resist any longer, I had to see what had happened to my house, as the idea had taken hold in me that it had been demolished. It was, after all, condemned in the 1980's, then my flatmates moved in as squatters (I was part of their cunning plan - they'd spend the summers in France but had to demonstrate continuous occupation in order to wrest ownership from the Council - that was satisfied by them having tenants). I could see one end of my street dominated by a huge Holiday Inn, but the other end was still the same (my car is even parked where I left it!)
and, hooray, my house is still there
(the two windows on the right, second floor were my room). Oh, my God! The last I heard from my flatmates, Agoshaman had had a damn near fatal accident in India, Iklusha ran off and Umiak was in despair - I have just googled and seen that they are famous - they finally won their court battle in 2004. Maybe they even still live there?!? The irony of me being a tenant of squatters, and thus a sort of squatter myself, never escaped me. What was my job? Lawyer for the Housing Department of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and we were tight on squatter control. Camden, on the other hand, was very leftist and didn't believe in it.

Another long walk, and I was back in my hotel. Around 2:00 a.m. I got the munchies so popped across the road to the non-stop. Coming back, I had an encounter. I'd seen this fellow come out of the hotel, to have a smoke I thought, and just had this feeling that he wanted to talk, so I took evasive action (wasn't really in the mood). But I was right - he did want to talk and he'd seen me, so he came after me. Nice fellow, as it happens, but a bit cut up, crying even. When I told him I was a New Zealander, he let loose - he was in town to see his dad off, who was going to join the rest of the family in, where else? New Zealand and he was very very upset at the thought it would be the last he'd see of him. So, I had about an hour long conversation with the bloke, in the freezing cold.

One consequence was that my start was not the earliest on Friday - I had more memories to track down, and I woudn't be satisfied until I'd had a proper pub lunch in the Barge Aground in Barking. Since I biked out to work quite frequently, I decided to take the bus so I could recapture those days. Big mistake - it took an age! The main street of Barking was much the same:



but the pubs, the pubs, they were gone. The Barge Aground seemed to be a closed down Romanian Restaurant. The other pub we'd go to for lunch, the Captain Cook, was still there but empty (on a Friday lunch time) and not serving food. They were great places, places my Property Department colleagues and I would routinely go for lunch. Ah well, at least Barking still has good all-day breakfast places where even the teenaged servers from Eastern Europe call you darling (yes, Eastern Europe was very much in evidence in Barking on this trip, to the point there's even an Eastern Europe supermarket).

My workplace was still there
although the nature of the work has changed somewhat - Barking and Dagenham is doing the opposite of outsourcing its legal work - it competes to do the legal work of other councils. In front of the town hall there used to be a big square with a brick library to match the town hall. Not any more! They're building flats
and this, believe it or not, is the library (with flats above it)

and an art gallery beside it

I just liked this wall of the flats
Shocking confession time - since I've not been in a library for a while, I went in and stayed reading magazines until closing time.

One thing I did do before scuttling into the library was to visit Barking Abbey

It is not really an Abbey - it was an Abbey and there are still elements of it there but is really St Margartes Parish Church. The Abbey had quite a history - started in the seventh century to covert the the East Saxons (which was bastardised into Essex) to Christianity. Then William the Conquerer had some sort of problem in London and based himself in Barking for a while. Henry VIII put an end to the Abbey.

Saint Margarets Church is not without fame, either. If you had been standing here on 21 December 1762 DSC_0886.jpg
(provided you got the time right) you would have seen Captain James Cook (master of the Grenville) and Elizabeth Batts marry.

Posted by NZBarry 15:38 Archived in England Comments (0)


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I specifically sorted it out in my head that I was not coming to Dresden. With only two days remaining before my flight out of Hamburg, it seemed more sensible to make my way straight there, rather than overnight in two different cities. But plans must give way to realities; when I requested a ticket from Prague to Hamburg, the shock of the price nearly killed me (I knew from the website it was 30 Euro, but they wanted more than a hundred, because I was not booking far enough in advance). So I booked through to Dresden, thinking I’d work out a solution. As it happens, I was early enough to take advantage of the book in advance fare from Dresden.

The trip there was fantastic, one of the best I’ve been on. The train was new and very smooth, I had good company in my compartment (a pair of students from Sydney Eurailing their holidays away, and an older couple – he was French and oh so dignified looking, she was Czech and had a touch of the glam, they lived in Hannover) and the scenery was wonderful. We followed a river plain most of the way, with steep banks up to either side of us, mostly tree clad but with dead flat areas of river flat. All heavily laden with snow and the sun was out, making the world sparkle.

Apparently it hasn’t snowed like this here for eight years, so it was quite a treat (even if my Australian companions objected to their freezing feet, they admitted the views were worth it). The only small blemish on the trip was the price of things on the train; six bucks for a Pepsi (cheapest thing on the menu) and I only had half that in local currency.

Dresden is an odd sort of place. Not long after we crossed the border into Germany, we struck some buildings that made me think this has to be the dreariest place I have ever seen – apartment blocks and hotels these indistinguishable six story concrete boxes.

Much to my surprise, this was Dresden. Of course, it was nearly completely obliterated by the Allies towards the end of the war, so there is very little of old Dresden to see, just one section of the inner city
including a couple of churches (one rebuilt),
an art gallery
and the Zwinger (Palace).

But whatever was built in its place seems to have gone also – the main thoroughfare leading from the train station is very modern, not Stalinist at all (silly guidebook)
and so too are the apartments leading towards my (huge) hostel,
which seems to follow the house style for Dresden, based on a zero budget for design. The interior is very reminiscent of a hospital; it is huge with long corridors (I was thinking of Maxwell Smart at one point) and virtually empty.

Arriving fairly late in the day (we had a delay while they did something with the train engine) I didn’t have much time for sightseeing and besides, I was curiously in the mood for some serious shopping. I have been SO good, bought nothing except for cold weather gear. Haven’t even bought books (oops, yes, I snuck one in in Singapore). And Dresden has these two amazing clothing stores – they’re five or six stories, entirely given over to clothes. In the first, I saw something I’ve wanted for a long time, a dark, fine corduroy jacket. The only reason I didn’t buy it was that I know some people object to such things, and while I can’t see it, I can see that a corduroy suit is a bit of a no go area. But, well, I went into the second store and they had an even nicer one and it was SO cheap (under a hundred Euros). So, I own a corduroy suit. And a couple of corduroy shirts. Sue me.

By this time, I couldn’t really face going to a nice place for dinner, so I foodcourted it, on chips and schnitzel. Nice beer, but. I’ve decided that pretty much everything is improved by beer, even drowning.

By about 10:30 I was feeling a bit stir crazy in my empty hostel, so wandered over to what is called the New Town, which has a reputation for being very alternative. For a while, I couldn’t see it, as I wandered this long street of banality but I found that the further I deviated from it, the more interesting things got. My guidebook had suggested a place called Raskalnikov (the name alone sold it for me) and for once I managed to get somewhere without getting lost, only to find that this was a peculiar sort of café, as it sold no beer. No matter, I wandered up the lane a couple of doors and found a bar called, I think, Side Door. The perfect sort of place; walls and ceiling a deep red, a nice wooden bar, maybe a dozen booths, people eating, playing cards, talking, Tom Waits on the stereo. After midnight the place was still going strong, but it was time for me to call it a night as I had a fairly long (and very cold) walk back.

My cheap train trip to Hamburg had one small complication; they’d sold out of cheap fares on the direct services, so I went for one which involved three changes, one with a bare six minute space between trains. Sure enough, the train to make that connection left six minutes late and was 18 minutes late by the time we got to it. But big ups to German Railways. They could have just said, well there’s another train running that same connection due in an hour. It is all I hoped for, but they found a way to get me to Hamburg a little quicker. They put me on a normal train to Hannover, but from there, they put me on their premium train (the one that goes more than 200 k an hour) and they put me in FIRST CLASS. While thanking German Rail, I should also thank them for their website, which gives pretty comprehensive train information for all of Europe.

One consolation I had hoped to derive from my roundabout journey to Hamburg was a good look at the countryside. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can report that the northern half of Germany was extremely flat and covered in snow and its train stations seem to have good bakeries.

My knowledge of Hamburg is about as detailed. I got in about 7:00, found my way to the right metro stop for my hostel, then got lost for more than an hour, trying to correlate the directions I was given with the map and with the reality of the ground I was walking over. Turns out that they were all wrong; if I had been told that the hostel was that gorgeous building directly above the station, and has steps directly to it from the station, it could have saved a lot of bother. So it was about 9:30 before I was finally able to set off for the Reeferbahn in search of something people don’t often go there for, an internet café. It is Hamburg’s notorious street of sleaze – peepshows, table dances, cinema and who knows what else. Luckily I found the internet café under my own resources, because the area the fellow in the hostel sent me to was decidedly not where you’d find an internet café.

Something else I know about Hamburg – it has a harbour, I am sitting here in the hostel looking directly at it. Not that I am convinced that a harbour can happen on a river bank, but no matter. It is very colourful and great to just sit and look at (not so much in the early morning):

And the hostel itself is great,
has a nice bar, good number of people in. A nice place to finish off my trip across Europe, because it is now time to catch my flight to London.

Posted by NZBarry 16:41 Archived in Germany Comments (0)


snow -1 °C
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Going to Prague was a bit like going to the fourth floor of an art gallery. You know all the exhibits are wonderful, possibly better than all that has gone before, but you’re suffering a bit from enjoyment overload, starting to look for things to be truly spectacular before you unleash the camera. When the whole central city qualifies as spectacular (thanks to never having been hit by war), then you try to shoot everything or shoot nothing. I did the latter - I think these are the only random building photos I took, on my way to an English language bookshop and cafe:

Mind you, I wasn’t feeling very well. I got in on Saturday night, about seven, had some dinner and started to feel odd; very jittery, very cold (and Prague was comparatively warm, at about -1), coughing a lot and then, when I went in, sort of cold but on fire at the same time. So I did decide to take it easy. It was only when I got a bit of a pep talk from back home (thanks Shauna) at around lunch time on the Sunday that I gathered up the energy to go outside. I had no appetite, except for these great sausages they sell in wee cabins down King Wenceslas Square

I love that you can not only buy beer but Bohemian Sparkling Wine in little bottles, to enjoy with your sausage on a leaner on the snow-covered footpath.

I did force down a piece of chocolate cake, sorry a LARGE chocolate cake, as the waiter insisted, really a mousse. I thought I should buy something, as I was in the same café as formerly occupied by Franz Kafka for many years and also by Albert Einstein when he taught in Prague. It must have been quite a place; during the war, those who spent their time gas-bagging/engaging in deep political debate became so unpopular (with whom, I’m not sure) that all of the “appointments” were thrown out the windows – without, I suspect, anyone first taking the trouble to open the windows – and the place was trashed. So badly that it was not opened again until the 1990’s – you wouldn’t know it, as they’ve done a fine job of restoration.

I did wander around a bit, but not across the river to look at the castle, or into any of the sights (I did consider going to a classical music show) because the building looked fantastic, and they seemed to organise something different every day:

But I don’t think Prague liked ME very much, to be honest. Within an hour of me being there, after I’d eaten my cheap and nourishing meal of potatoes and chicken legs and taken a couple of pints of the local beer, I was window shopping in the Palladium mall when these two guys appeared from nowhere, security as it happens, and seemed to want me to leave. I wasn’t doing anything, just peering in windows, so it must simply have been on the basis I did not seem quite posh enough for their premises. Just as they were about to grasp me, I had the presence of mind to ask if they spoke English, which caused them to go into a mini-conference and wander off. Further evidence that Prague didn't like me? It tried to kill me! It has these lovely wee marble cobbles, I'm sure they look fantastic in the summer. But smear a thin layer of snow over them and have hundreds of people trek over them - they become as slippery as something very slippery.

Prague is just a wee bit tacky, however, with more than its share of dodgy souvenir shops, restaurants which put on a big show of authenticity but have no locals in them, just tourists, and the fact that you are never more than 100 metres from a McDonalds. In fact, my strongest impression about the place was how so many brands foreign to the Czech Republic had gathered in Prague.

On the Monday I was feeling a little stronger, so hopped on a local train out to Plzen, about two hours away. As an industrial town known only for being the place where Pilsener
and Skodas come from, I didn’t expect much. But the downtown area is very pleasant, many handsome buildings and more than a few grand ones. I decided it was time I ate something, as it was dark and the sausage from the previous night had probably provided all the energy it was going to. After peering in various windows, I found a very nice looking place in which locals had congregated, elevated above a small park in which a couple of kids were sledding. According the menu, this was the original Pilsner-Urquell restaurant – it was done out with old brewing memorabilia and photos of the brewery. Of course, it might have just been like a Speights Ale House, one of many. Beer was fantastic, but the food was pretty average.

Just to give some indication of how tropical Prague was:

Posted by NZBarry 16:25 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)


snow -3 °C
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My train was just a little bit late into Sighisoara, getting in at about 1:00 a.m on New Year's Day. None of the others waiting in the station got on, and I found that I had an almost deserted train to myself. After a quiet beer, I turned in and had a great night's sleep on the train - at least until I was woken by the border guards wanting to see my passport as we left Romania and entered Hungary. So comfy was I that I just wanted to stay in bed; there was no way I wanted to push myself to explore yet another city for a couple of days.

It took a fair while to find my hostel; I got out to the right metro stop, went backwards and forwards on a tram a couple of times, even went right to the address I had for the hostel without seeing it. It was only when I went into the Népliget bus station and had a helpful fellow there show me the address I had on his map that I decided the hostel had to be where it said it was, and went back for a third time. This time, I finally noticed the flag that had furled up, concealing the fact that it was my hostel. It was certainly in an odd location - nothing nearby of any touristic interest (except the bus station), a great place if you wanted to buy a car however, as it was between dealerships for Lexus and Lada cars.

Because I was so early, something like 11:00 in the morning, I could not check in, so was forced to overcome my lethargy and go exploring. So glad I did, because I had a great afternoon exploring the Pest part of Budapest. First off, New Year's Day lunch; a delicious bean and sausage soup followed by a tasty "Budapest Spaghetti" in a very friendly, homely cafe I found in the centre of town. After that, I just wandered around in awe at the formal beauty of the buildings - street after street of very handsome buildings, something like this:

I went a bit mad taking photos, so I won't burden you with too many but the Hungarian Parliament Building was wonderful, although very hard to get in one shot (it is so big):

Then there were a couple of churches which caught my eye:

Since it got dark and cold at around 4:30, I decided to make my way back to the hostel and take my chances in terms of getting dinner nearby. Bad move! I once again had the choice of McDonalds or McDonalds (why they had two, I have no idea). Luckily the petrol station was enlightened enough to sell beer, so after my McD's at least I had something decent to drink for New Year's Day.

On the Friday, I decided it was time to go across the chain bridge
and see Buda. It has a tiny railway (well, actually a funicular)
which promises a lot;

This is the old city, and largely focused on Castle Hill – the former Palace has been turned into the Hungarian National Art Gallery,
which had another fabulous collection. I was amused by the guard, when I asked about the special exhibition she was guarding (and demanding extra money for from anyone who wanted to see it): "It is a one man show - in the rest of the gallery, you can see ten centuries of Hungarian art". The first paintings to confront me were again huge things - Peter Kraft did a coronation painting which was life size - I measured myself against a fellow standing near the front of the painting and we were the same size.

One fellow whose work I liked a lot was Mihály Munkácsy - generally pretty dark in tone; I loved his "Tramps at Night" and another he did of John Milton, possibly dictating Paradise Lost. There was a lot of his work in various parts of the gallery.

Up on the top floor, they had the 20th century works, and I was captivated by several, starting with Sándor Bortnyik's "New Adam" which portrayed him as a dandy, but also on some sort of podium with a crank handle. "New Eve" was more obviously robotic. There was one painting I kept going back to, Tibor Csernus's "Modellers" - it kind of made me think of Eliot's Wasteland, but it was very carnivalesque - brightly coloured, with lots of model planes, some smashed, then other images of maybe just plane bodies and other random stuff happening. I tried really hard to get a photo of it but I think the guards were on to me, one kept following me around. But now I see it is on the gallery's own website, but it seems much more muted than the real thing:

I did score a few photos, and am pleased with this, of another picture that intrigued me, Andras Wahorn's "Running Boy with Woman"

After the gallery, I went in hunt of one of Budapest's famous cafes, but it was so packed I had to leave, just couldn't handle the bustle. There was no bustle (surprising, I know) at the Marzipan museum, but it didn't really do it for me, so I settled for a beer.

Back in Pest, I did get to one of the famous coffee houses, one of the places where Hungarian intelligentsia have been gathering for generations, the Central Coffee House. Surprisingly, Hungarian goulash turned out to be a soup, not a stew. So good was it that I really wanted to upend my plate into my mouth, but decided it was probably too civilized a place for that sort of behaviour:

I found that I had somehow run out of cash for the metro, and refused to get a $2 cash advance from my card, so decided to walk it - turned out to be only about half an hour. Two places really caught my eye on the way:

Finally, some pictures just to show how spectacular Budapest is:

Posted by NZBarry 14:18 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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