Gerry, Atlanta Jim, and I arrived to snow flurries in Budapest Thursday afternoon, and after we checked into the swanky New York Palace hotel we sampled the guylas (goulash), which interestingly in Hungary it’s a delicious soup and not a casserole, at the lobby café. Following our snack, I had a great workout in the cave gym - it was a bit difficult to see the buttons on the machines but I managed - and then a relaxing bath. At dinner I met the local partners I will be working hand in hand with for all of Eastern Europe. The intros were a big success and my new partners, Gabor, Sandor, and Marton were great fun. And the traditional Hungarian dinner we had was fantastic, fried (Easter) chicken with boiled potatoes and some surprisingly tasty local wine.
After work on Friday, we had another tremendous dinner with Gabor – this time duck breast – then met a bunch of our coworkers at a very cool warehouse-type club called Corvin Teto in Blaha Square. The Eastern European scene was very much what we expected, an incognito entrance, funky techno-type music, fencing & gates separating different rooms – it was extremely cool.
On Saturday we walked the sites of Budapest, first stop was for a fantastic pizza (who knew!) then by the Szent Istvan Bazilika (St Stephen church, a tribute to Hungary’s first king) on our way to the Danube river to check out the castle on the Buda side and the medieval Szechenyl Lanchid “chain bridge.” Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to go into the castle so I will have to wait to experience the underground labyrinths on my next trip. Back on the Pest side of the river, we enjoyed a coiled, cinnamon & honey pastry on the walk back to our hotel.
Saturday night visited the 400 year old thermal baths at Rudas Gyogy furda. There was a large tiled central bath surrounded by four smaller hot-tub sized baths ranging in temperature of icy-cold to super, super hot, and two saunas, one wet & menthol and the other dry – both temps were 200 degrees at minimum. The baths did not open until 10pm and this particular one is only for men throughout the week but women are allowed in on Friday & Saturday night. We did not get home until 3am!! It was a very different experience, but very relaxing and interesting.
After we closed the show on Easter Monday, which is a day off in Europe, Atlanta Jim and I found a wine tasting festival we had heard was going on in one of the city squares. It was amazing to see that Hungary produces such tasty wines! After the wine fest we met our colleagues for dinner at a very trendy, contemporary Hungarian restaurant called Menza. My friends told them it was my birthday so I would get a dessert with a Roman candle in it...it really is the little things that excite me. The city was just amazing, the company with me fantastic, and my first international business trip very memorable & successful!