Thursday, 6 January 2011

why am I looking so cold & miserable? Read on ...
last night i was at the hotel wine-tasting with andrea colla - the assistant director of food & beverage. he took me through some of hungary's greatest wines. as you probably know, white wines don't agree with me so the tokaji's were wasted on me ... but we did have a good stab at the "bull's blood" and some other quite - erm - different red wines. i am no connisseur but i think that you have to be quite careful which hungarian wines you choose to drink. they are ... erm ... mixed in quality & taste. by the way - "bull's blood" ... in days of old when the magyar (this is the proper term for hungarians) went to war - most of the warriors had large white beards. by drinking deep, deep red wines and swamping their beards it in, they looked rather scarey and formidable to opponents. it looked like they had bull's blood dripping from them ...
an interesting and unique magyar red ... very rare ... and "distinctive" in taste!
OK - i am VERY tired ... as i have been up since 0600 (0500 at home) ... as my first stop was to szechenyi - outdoor thermal baths! at 0730 we rocked up at the baths ... and dipped in 34/36 & 38 degrees pools ... that wasn't the issue .... the minus 2 degree air (with a further wind-chill) outside meant that jumping from one pool to the other was not fun!
i say "we" ... the hotel's poor PR - mrs martina vavrova - was roped into my bathing request! reminds me a bit of my dear friend gena downey from the biltmore in santa barbara - who i forced to paddle-board once!
brrrrrrrrr on my face ... ahhhhh from chest down!
there are 19 pools here ... and many natural hot spring spas around budapest. people get up early for a swim ... or a game of chess! the steam made photography rather tough!
after a quick breakfast we met up with gresham palace's executive chef simone cerea who took me on a tour of the central market hall. this place is THE place to buy food, drink and clothing in the city. it's a wonderful "art deco" styled building ...
which sold EVERY part of an animal you can imagine ... including pig's noses! hmmm ... yuk!
we then popped in for tea and cake at the famous gerbeaud -- yum.
we then spent the afternoon exploring the city. budapest is AMAZING! the stories are fabulous ... for instance - outside parliament is this flagpole with the magyar flag with a huge hole in the middle. in 1956, the russians took the maygar flag and popped a hammer & sickle in the middle. magyar students cut a hole in the flag in defiance and were shot & killed for their trouble ... this is a memorial to those brave souls.
martina and my hat ... overlooking the river danube and "pest".
parliament by the danube ... from a hill in buda ...
the statue of liberty -originally a "gift" from the russians. after the "revolution" became a symbol of liberty for the magyar people.
my tour guide - the wonderful katalin czeller - what she doesn't know about the country isn't worth knowing!
the four seasons - gresham palace - by night ... surely one of the most stunning hotels in the world ...
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