Last Thursday (17th February) my little Hungarian short, A Cafe in the Sky, was screened at the delightfully independent Kino Cinema.
It wasn't a big crowd, but those who attended seemed to enjoy the screening. The final cut of the film works well I think, not outstaying its welcome by a second. I also gave a bit of a talk about some of my other film and TV projects, all inspired by this part of the world. My sincere thanks go to the management and team of Kino Cafe and Cinema who really went out of their way to make it an enjoyable occasion. Afterwards we relaxed in the cafe, a hip but cosy sort of place where you can enjoy a bracing coffee and a nourishing sandwich before or after a movie, and even take advantage of free wifi.
Scott from New Zealand
After working in London, Auckland, Buenos Aires, Florence, Beirut, Vancouver and Seoul, probably my favourite city of all is Budapest. To me, Budapest offers the unbeatable combination of a rich historical background mixed in with a very up-to-date urban pulse. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with people who appreciate both.
Melanie from the UK
I have always loved Budapest as it encapsulates everything that I find interesting and exciting about Europe – history, heritage, architecture, classical and folk music and dance, a passion for gastronomy and wines. I worked hard to learn Hungarian but I am still not as good as I should be. As long as I am still one step ahead of my four year old, I will be happy!
Christian aus Österreich
Mein Name ist Christian, ich bin in Innsbruck, Österreich geboren. Nachdem zog ich 1998 Budapest nach all den vielen bereisten Ländern, wurde nun Budapest meine Heimat, die sich als beste Wahl für mich herausstellte. Ich leite meine eigene Firma budabike.com, die Radtouren in Budapest und Ungarn anbietet.
Sylvie de France
Depuis un an et demi que nous habitons à Budapest ma famille et moi-même sommes tombés sous le charme de cette ville. Tout d’abord par son incontestable beauté et ensuite par son ambiance qui nous convient très bien. En bref, une capitale à taille humaine où il fait bon vivre avec des habitants discrets et chaleureux. Une ville où on se sent en sécurité.
Carlos de España
Carlos Rodero vive y trabaja en Budapest desde el año 2000. Actualmente desarrolla su carrera profesional en Hungría y dirige, junto a Daniela H. Faith, la compañía de danza-teatro Misero Prospero Project, compaginando su trabajo como director con otras actividades educativas, culturales y de divulgación de la lengua española.
Luca da Italia
Mi chiamo Luca e vengo da Santa Maria Capua Vetere, una piccola città vicino Napoli. In Italia sono laureando Scienze della Comunicazione presso l’Università di Salerno. Conoscendo la città ho cominciato ad amarla, mi piace definirla “la più mediterranea delle non-mediterranee” per il calore dei suoi abitanti e la loro attitudine a godersi la vita.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Last Thursday (17th February) my little Hungarian short, A Cafe in the Sky, was screened at the delightfully independent Kino Cinema.
Budapest has a lot of nice and cosy Retro Style Art cinemas and one of those is KINO at the Körút. And the even better news is, that this cinema has also a nice coffeeshop, which even without watching a movie is worth to visit. They have tasty cakes, an excellent white chocolate and great beers: Krombacher from Germany and San Miguel from Spain!
I should have had at least one beer before the private screening of a documentary by my Ambassador colleague Scott, who produced a documentary about the writer of the so called suicide song "Gloomy Sunday". We are all still alive!
It was a great experience to watch this very interesting documentary about the life and song of Rezső Seress, who being so loyal and dedicated to Hungary, never went to USA to collect his royalities from his famous song! In 1968 he committed suiced.
Private screening in a wonderful Budapest Retro cinema, another small aspect of our Budapest way of life!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Read below in English
La “Cultura del Cafè” a Budapest
Uno degli aspetti più interessanti di Budapest e dei suoi abitanti è la loro “cultura del cafè”, cosa che ho avuto modo di conoscere durante la mia permanenza quì. Gli ungheresi sono delle persone molto socievoli, che amano ritrovarsi insieme ai loro amici in uno dei tanti bar in città per bere qualche birra insieme e fare quattro chiacchiere.
Secondo la mia esperienza i Cafè non sono solo dei luoghi di ritrovo, essi ricoprono una funzione fondamentale nella vita di tutti quelli che vivono a Budapest, infatti nei Cafè ci si va anche solo per rilassarsi davanti ad una tazza di thè. Non c’è da stupirsi se già alle cinque del pomeriggio i bar siano pieni, affollati da persone che chiacchierano, leggono il giornale o controllano la mail ( infatti la maggior parte dei bar è provvista di una connessione wi-fi).
D’inverno questo fenomeno è alimentato dalle basse temperature, quindi quando la morsa del freddo si fa troppo dura da sopportare non c’è niente di meglio che rifugiarsi in un cafè e bere qualcosa di caldo.
Il più antico e famoso è il Cafè Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér 7), che fa dell’eleganza e dell’atmosfera raffinata il suo marchio di fabbrica. Una delle tendenze che ha preso piede negli ultimi anni è quella di “personalizzare” il bar, questo porta alla conseguenza che ogni cafè ha un anima diversa.
Il più famoso è il Szimpla kert (Kazinczy utca 14) che si trova all’interno di un edificio fatiscente nel centro di Budapest, l’atmosfera un po’ “sgarrupata”, per dirla alla napoletana, fa parte del piano che gli architetti avevano quando hanno arredato questo bar, infatti troverete vecchie sedie e tavolini arrugginiti, automobili e vasche da bagno trasformate in divani e tante altre cose che vi faranno ricordare di questo posto.
Essendo il più famoso, il Szimpla è anche il più affollato, se volete un posto più tranquillo vi consiglio Csendes (Ferenczy István utca, 7), anche qui rimarrete sorpresi dall’arredamento vintage e po’ kitch.
Penso che trascorrere qualche ora in uno di questi bar sia uno dei must di Budapest, ma prima di entrarci preparatevi ad essere “affumicati” per bene, infatti in Ungheria è ancora permesso fumare nei luoghi chiusi, un Paradiso per noi amanti delle “bionde”…
Alla prossima, godetevi Budapest,
“Café culture” in Budapest
One of the most interesting aspects of Budapest and its inhabitants is their “café culture”, which is something that I got to know during my first stay here. Hungarians are very sociable people who like to come together with friends in one of the numerous coffee bars in the city to have a few beers and to chat with each other.
According to my experience, cafés are not simply meeting points but they play a fundamental role in the life of those living in Budapest. Actually, even if you are alone you may still go to a café just to relax in front of a cup of tea. It is not surprising at all that already at 5 pm coffee bars are full of people talking, reading newspapers or checking e-mails (most coffee bars offer Wi-Fi access).
During the winter months this habit is also fuelled by low temperatures. As a matter of fact, when it’s biting cold outside, there is nothing better than to find shelter in a café and drink something warm.
The oldest and most famous one is Café Gerbeaud (Vörösmarty tér 7) known for its elegance and sophisticated atmosphere. During the past few years there has been a tendency to “personalize” the coffee bars. The result is that now every café has a spirit of its own. The most famous outcome of this trend is Szimpla kert (Kazinczy utca 14) located in a crumbling building in downtown of Budapest. Its rather “shabby” atmosphere makes part of the plan that the architects had in mind at the time of furnishing the interior; in fact, you will find rusty tables and chairs, automobiles and bathtubs transformed into sofas, as well as many other things that will surely help you to remember this venue.
Besides being the most famous, Szimpla is also the most crowded place. If you want something more quiet you may wish to try Csendes (Ferenczy István utca 7), where visitors are surprised by old-fashioned and kitsch furniture.
I think that spending a few hours in one of these coffee bars is really a must when you visit Budapest. However, before entering you must be prepared for the “smoke cloud” as it is still permitted to smoke in confined spaces in Hungary, a real heaven for us, cigarette lovers...
That’s all for today.
2 February 2011, 7.30 pm - 10.00 pm
Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Bartók Béla National Concert Hall
John Adams: Slonimsky's Earbox
Bernstein: Symphony No. 1 - Jeremiah
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A minor, op. 92
Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
The Los Angeles Philharmonic is considered the most progressive symphonic orchestra in the United States. “We are focused on the future,” says the orchestra's Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen, “not on reviving the glories of the past like so many others.” In keeping with this philosophy, the orchestra maintains close ties to contemporary artists and has been highly successful in attracting younger audiences. Equally, it is not above playing popular themes from television programmes and even video games. To prove the point, Herbie Hancock currently occupies the position of creative chair for jazz until 2012. Meanwhile, John Adams, remarkably popular for his highly accessible work in combining neo-romanticism with minimalism, was appointed resident composer two years ago. In 1996, he wrote Slonimsky’s Earbox, adapted from Le chant du rossignol by Igor Stravinsky, a former conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic himself. The fifteen-minute composition was created in memorial to Adams's Russian-American friend Nicolas Slonimsky. The author and composer wrote the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, a publication that had a profound influence on Adams. Slonimsky’s Earbox will be followed by Jeremiah's Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, considered by the New York Times to be the most talented and successful composer in American history. Written in 1942, the work is inspired by the Biblical story of Jeremiah's Lamentations. After the interval, the audience will hear the Beethoven symphony referred to by Richard Wagner as the “apotheosis of the dance”. In the conductor's pulpit, Gustavo Dudamel appears for the first time in Hungary. The young Venezuelan is currently in his second year as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His fairytale career has taken him from the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar to one of America's finest orchestras. Amazingly, he only recently celebrated his 30th birthday.
Presented by the Palace of Arts
Prices: 5100, 7900, 9900, 12900, 14900 Ft
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3 February 2011, 7.30 pm - 10.00 pm
Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Bartók Béla National Concert Hall
Mahler: Symphony No. 9
Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
There are not many people in the history of music who have occupied the music director's chair at the tender age of 18. Still only 30, Gustavo Dudamel was appointed to the top position at the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, Venezuela's national youth orchestra, in 1999. And this was just the beginning of a meteoric career. In 2005, he conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra at the Proms in London as a late stand-in. The following month, he was named Principal Conductor. It was not long before he was appearing with some of the top names in classical music, such as the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, and gracing La Scala in Milan. He was also head-hunted by the Boston and Chicago Philharmonics. In 2007, Dudamel was named musical director to succeed Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Los Angeles from the 2009–2010 season. Here, the orchestra will play Gustav Mahler's final symphony to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the conductor's death. It first performed the piece in 1969, conducted by John Barbirolli. Lasting the entire evening, the work is one of symphonic music's finest, defining the genre according to the atonal philosophies of Schönberg, Berg and Webern.
Presented by the Palace of Arts
Prices: 5100, 7900, 9900, 12900, 14900 Ft
More information: www.mupa.hu
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Read in English below
Prendre son thé, son café, son capuccino ou son chocolat chaud en dégustant des pâtisseries fait partie de l’art de vivre à Budapest au même titre que d’aller aux bains. Et on s’y adapte avec grand plaisir !
Situé derrière le centre commercial de Mamuth (Fény utca 8) et près du marché, l’extérieur de cette maison ne paye pas de mine mais une fois la porte passée, notre regard est irrémédiablement attiré par les appétissants gâteaux de la pâtisserie. A l’étage supérieur se trouve un salon de thé très cosy. Plus de 130 ans de tradition pâtissière familiale s’y perpétue. Présent aussi côté Pest (augusztcukraszda.hu)
En hiver quand ma famille et moi-même revenons des collines enneigées de Normafa, on apprécie sa décoration chaleureuse avec ses petits salons qui font qu’on se sent comme « à la maison ». L’été on profite du grand jardin de cette belle bâtisse. La variété de gâteaux est grande et ils sont délicieux. On peut acheter des gâteaux ou confiseries à emporter.
Dans le quartier du Varnegyed un peu en retrait de l’église Mathias, se trouve la célèbre et imprononçable pâtisserie Ruszwurm Cukraszda, toute aussi réputée que le mythique salon de thé Gerbeaud mais disposant d’un cadre plus intime, moins chargé et surtout moins flamboyant, bref, propice à la flânerie intérieur. On se régale de francia krémes (cube de crème à la vanille et de crème fouettée nappé de café), de somloi galuska (génoise au rhum badigeonnée de confiture d’abricots et saupoudrée de cacao)…etc. Il être très agréable d’y venir dans le plus froid de l’hiver et se réchauffer à la chaleur du poêle de Saxe.
Le café Provence
Depuis que nous habitons côté Buda à proximité de la station de tram Huvosvolgy j’y vais régulièrement. Situé dans une petite maison c’est l’endroit parfait pour le petit-déjeuner, le déjeuner, la pause ou le dîner dans une ambiance conviviale sans prétention. J’y apprécie le petit-déjeuner du dimanche avec des bagels faits maison. Un espace avec des jouets est dédié aux enfants et pendant les beaux jours on profite du charmant jardin dans lequel les enfants peuvent courir. Les vendredis soir des petits groupes de jazz ou de salsa s’y produisent en toute simplicité.
Café New York
Situé au rez-de-chaussée du luxueux hôtel Boscolo, ce lieu de rendez-vous littéraire mythique du début du siècle est aujourd’hui classé Monument historique. Dès que l’on y entre on est impressionné par le décor : merveilleuses fresques rococo, colonnes en stuc doré, voûtes néogothiques, colonnes torsadées, plafonds chargés d’arcs, moulures de peintures, velours rouge…sur plusieurs niveaux. C’est un lieu d’élégance incontournable. On peut y manger, soit dans la brasserie soit au restaurant plus chic mais très cher…(j’ai testé). On peut juste s’attabler pour goûter des pâtisseries ou juste boire un verre et ceci pour un coût raisonnable. Situé sur Erzsébet Korut on y accède très facilement par le tram 4-6.
Quand on se balade dans le quartier de l’Opéra les cafés sont nombreux et très variés.
La librairie Alexandra
Ce magnifique bâtiment a ré ouvert lorsque je suis arrivée à Budapest à l’été 2009. Au rez-de-chaussée se trouve une belle cave à vin, la librairie (quelques auteurs français). Le grand escalator central amène dans une pièce somptueusement décorée de fresques au plafond, d’immenses miroirs et aménagée en café où je peux vraiment me relaxer ou lire sur fond de smooth jazz. On peut assister très régulièrement à des démonstrations de tango en début de soirée à la fin desquelles le public est invité à apprendre les pas de cette danse. Il y règne alors une ambiance très sympathique.
Le café et restaurant Callas
A coté de l’Opéra National c’est l’endroit idéal pour grignoter ou patienter en attendant d’aller assister à un opéra. Il a été restauré en 2006 dans un style art déco. Les pâtisseries, les cocktails y sont bons. Les soirs de week end l’ambiance intime et tamisée s’accorde très bien avec les notes du pianiste.
Maison de la Sécession Hongroise (Magyar Szecesszió Háza)
Près de la place Szabadság, cette maison ouverte au public depuis 2007 représente l'un des joyaux cachés du style sécessionniste. On y trouve un petit musée sur 3 niveaux qui regroupe des meubles, des peintures et des sculptures de cette période. Dans cette atmosphère du début du XXème un espace café propose chaque matin des croissants frais et au long de la journée des pâtisseries faites maison et des cookies.
La petite française
Ce salon de thé à la française est dans un édifice classé monument historique, à 2 pas de Deak Ferenc ter, dans la rue Király où j’aime bien me promener pour ses nombreux magasins de décoration. Il s’est associé avec Arioso, une charmante boutique de décoration et c'est au milieu de ces jolis bibelots que l’on goûte une pâtisserie accompagnée d'un café ou d'un thé. A la belle saison on profite du jardin pour une halte rafraîchissante ou encore pour grignoter tarte sucrée, salée ou sandwich…français. On peut aussi y acheter des produits exclusivement français (fromages, sels, sucres, conserves de qualité, pâté, saucisson, vins, etc…)
Pour des « pause café » sans prétention mais néanmoins agréables je n’hésite pas à m’arrêter dans les chaines internationales anglaises « Costa Coffee », américaines « Starbuck Coffee » (West End et autres ouvertures en prévision) ou plus traditionnelles Jokenyer (surtout dans Buda mais vient juste d’ouvrir près du pont Margit).
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Read in English here:
COFFEE HOUSE CULTURE IN BUDAPEST
Sipping your tea, coffee, cappuccino or hot chocolate while trying the cakes is part of the art of living in Budapest, just like visiting the baths. You’ll take to it with great pleasure!
Located behind the Mammut shopping centre (Fény utca 8) and close to the market, the exterior of this place doesn’t seem like much, but once inside the door your eyes will be irresistibly drawn to the patisserie’s delicious-looking cakes. There is a very cosy tea salon on the upper floor. Over 130 years of family patisserie tradition are preserved here. There’s also a branch on the Pest side (augusztcukraszda.hu).
In the winter, when my family and I come back down from the snowy-covered hills of Normafa, you can appreciate the warm décor and its small rooms, which make you feel like you are at home. In summer you can avail of the lovely building’s big garden. There is a great variety of cakes and they are delicious. You can buy cakes and confectionary to take away.
In the Várnegyed or Castle District, a little way back from the Matyás Church, is the famous unpronounceable patisserie, Ruszwurm Cukraszda. It is equally revered as the mythical Gerbeaud tearooms but it has a more intimate, less busy and, above all, less flamboyant setting in which to stroll inside. You can treat yourself to francia krémes (a cube of vanilla cream and whipped cream layered with coffee) or somlói galuska (sponge cake sprinkled with rum and with apricot jam and cocoa powder), and so on. It is very nice to come here in the depths of winter and thaw out in the heat of the traditional stove.
Le café Provence
I’ve been coming here regularly ever since we started to live on the Buda side, close to the Huvosvolgy tram stop. It’s in a small house and it’s the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, a break or dinner in a lively and unpretentious atmosphere. I love their Sunday breakfast with the home-made bagels. An area with toys is especially for children and when it's fine you can use the charming garden, in which the children can run around. On Friday nights, small jazz or salsa bands simply turn up and play.
New York Café
Located on the ground floor of the luxurious Boscolo hotel, this mythical literary meeting-place from the turn of the century is today classed as a historical monument. As soon as you enter you are awed by the décor - marvellous rococo frescos, gilt stucco columns, neo-gothic vaulting, twisted columns, ceilings covered with arches, painted mouldings, red velour - on several floors. This is a place of undeniable elegance. You can eat here, whether in the brasserie or in the restaurant, which is more trendy but very expensive (I’ve tried it). You can just sit down to try the pastries or just drink a glass of something for a reasonable price. It’s located in Erzsébet Korut and easily reached by trams 4-6. There are numerous and all kinds of cafés there if you’re strolling round the Opera District.
This magnificent building had just re-opened when I arrived in Budapest in summer 2009. There’s a lovely wine cellar on the ground floor as well as the bookstore (with several French authors). The big central escalator leads into a sumptuous hall, decorated with frescos on the ceiling and huge mirrors, converted into a café where I can really relax or read with smooth jazz in the background. You can very regularly take part in the tango demonstrations, where from the start to the end of the evening members of the public are invited to learn the dance steps. There’s still a really nice atmosphere.
Callas café and restaurant
Next to the National Opera House, this is the ideal place to nibble or spend time before going to an opera. It was restored in 2006 in an art deco style. Their cakes and cocktails are good. On Saturday and Sunday evenings the intimate and subdued atmosphere goes very well with the piano music.
Hungarian Art Nouveau House (Magyar Szecesszió Háza)
Close to Szabadság tér (Liberty Square), this building, open to the public since 2007, is one of the exuberant examples of the Art Nouveau style. There is a little museum over three floors which have assembled furniture, paintings and sculptures from that period. In that atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century a coffee bar offers croissants every morning and home-made pastries and cookies all day.
La petite française
This French-style tea house is in a building listed as a historic monument, two steps from Déak Ferenc tér, in Király Street, where I love to walk because of the home interiors stores. It’s associated with Ariosa, a charming home interiors shop and it’s here, among all the pretty trinkets, that you can try some cake along with a cup of coffee or tea. In ice weather you can go to the garden for a refreshment stop or again to nibble on a sweet or savoury – French - tart or sandwich. You can also buy purely French products here (cheese, salt, sugar, quality preserves, pâté, sausage, wine, etc).
For unpretentious but nevertheless enjoyable « coffee stops » I don’t hesitate to go into the international chains; Costa Coffee from England or the American Starbucks Coffee(West End and other openings planned) or the more traditional Jokenyer (especially in Buda but just opened close to Margit Bridge).
Monday, January 24, 2011
Those, who dont speak Hungarian, face a little problem in Budapest, they are not able to share the an important part of the great cultural life in Budapest, the theaters. There are a lot and Budapesters love to go to theaters. But there is one big chance for us, it is the Merlin Theater close to Déak Square, which offers English evenings on Mondays and Wednesday.
You can enjoy plays in English or Hungarian with English Subtitles. We had the pleasure to be invited by the Merlin Theater and could look behind the scenes and backstage (which later played a confusing "role" during my evening there). Then we were supposed to watch a play, called Pornography, which created some inner desires in myself and the desire to bring in a beer into the play. But that is strictly prohibited, but I could manage to bring it in.
The play was great, but during it I needed to go to the rest room, but that is also STRICTLY prohibited. I managed to go out, but it was so dark, that I ended in the backstage and crashed with the actors.. finally I managed to make it to the restroom, but then I was not allowed to go back to the audience. But I could enjoy the great cocktails (Happy Hour from 18:00 to 22:00 hrs) at the bar and then a concert in the bar area. And I was invited by Merlin for a free beer, for all the "complications" I needed to go through!
Merlin Theater is a great place for a very colorful evening: Cocktails, good food and beers, dramas on and off the stage and great concerts! Budapest at its best!
Read below in English
Mit der türkischen Herrschaft hielt der Kaffee Einzug nach Ungarn, aber wirklich beliebt wurde
die so genannte ,,schwarze Suppe“ erst zwei Jahrhunderte später: Im 19. Jahrhundert tauchten
die ersten Pester Kaffeehäuser auf, die eine Zwischenlösung zwischen den alten und einfach
eingerichteten östlichen Cafés und den reichen und bürgerlich eingerichteten westlichen
Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg entstand in Budapest die schnelle Variante der gemütlichen
Kaffeehäuser: der so genannte ,,Eszpresszó“. Man hatte keine Zeit mehr für langes
Herumsitzen und Zeitunglesen. Stattdessen gingen die Kunden nur auf einen schnellen
Espresso vor und nach der Arbeit ins ,,Eszpresszó“. Das Ziel war Funktionalität. Die berühmte
Kaffeehauskultur erlebte während des Sozialismus einen regelrechten Niedergang.
Der Großteil der klassischen Kaffeehäuser wurde geschlossen oder umgestaltet.
Erst in den 90er Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts – nach der politischen Wende – begann
wieder eine Blütezeit für die traditionellen Cafés. Die Stadt sehnte sich nach ihrer
Kaffeehauskultur zurück, alte Lokale wurden renoviert und wiedereröffnet, andere neu eröffnet.
Regelrechte Gastronomiemeilen entstanden in der Ráday utca und auf dem Liszt Ferenc tér.
Die berühmten Kaffeehäuser Centrál, New York und Astoria erscheinen in neuem Glanz.
Meiner Meinung nach kann man die alte Budapester Kaffeehauskultur noch im Cafe Central und im Cafe Gerbeaud spüren. Im Centrál ist der Service und die Qualität ausgezeichnet, im Gerbeaud sind mir zu viele Touristen, die Preise überhöht und die Bedienerinnen zeigen teilweise eine grantige Arroganz. Der launige Ober gehört ja mehr zur Wiener Kaffeehauskultur…Das New York hat für mich den Flair der Vergangenheit ziemlich verloren, es ist (fast) zu schön renoviert und gehört zu einem 5-Stern Hotel.
Im wunderschön renovierten Jugendstil Warenhaus Párizsi Áruház auf der Andrássy Straße befindet sich das Lotz Kaffeehaus mit wunderschönen Fresken, für mich eines der schönsten Kaffeehäuser der Welt
In den letzten Jahren öffneten einige Ketten mit dem Starbucks-Konzept und auch Starbucks selbst ist nun in Budapest vertreten. Da gibt es z.B. Coffee Heaven, California Coffee oder Coffee Company. Aber diese gehören mehr zur globalen Kaffeehauskultur also zur Budapester, allerdings schmeckt der Kaffee gut und vor allem die überwiegend jungen Besucher schaffen eine positive Atmosphäre.
Man findet auch viele neuere kleinere Kaffehäuser in Budapest, wo der Eigentümer selbst noch hinter der Kaffeemaschine steht, meine persönlichen Favoriten sind das Müterem Kávezó in der Tavaszmezö Straße, das Moods in der Weselenyi Straße bei der großen Synagoge oder das Café Pertu in der Dob Straße.
Aber wo man meiner Meinung nach am ehesten auf eine authentische Budapester Kaffeehauskultur treffen kann, das ist wohl die (alte) Budapester Cukrászda (Konditorei), die teilweise noch im Stile der 50er oder 60er vorzufinden ist, speziell auch in den kleineren Nebenstraßen der Bezirke 6-9 in Pest. Nicht immer ist der Kaffee ausgezeichnet, doch die Torten und leckeren Kuchen schmecken immer und die Preise sind teilweise unglaublich niedrig. Einfach in Pest herumspazieren und nach Retro-Schildern suchen, wo Cukrászda draufsteht und je älter die Einrichtung und die Angestellten, desto authentischer ist die Konditorei, z.B. in der Dób Utca zwischen Karoly Körut und Klauzal Tér befinden sich mindestens 3 solcher Konditoreien und Kaffehäuser.
In Buda kann ich besonders das Ruszwurm im Burgviertel empfehlen, wo es einen leckeren Tiroler Apfelstrudel gibt, den ich allerdings in Tirol noch nie gefunden habe, obwohl ich dort geboren bin. Und ein Phänomen ist das Daubner in Buda, eine Konditorei ohne Sitzplätze, wo allerdings immer eine riesige Schlange davorsteht und man dann den Kaffee und den Kuchen im Stehen genießt.
Und eine echte Budapester Institution ist Jégbufé am Ferenciek Tér. Seit 1952 kann man dort zu sehr günstige Preisen im Stehen Kaffee und herrliche Backwaren und Torten genießen, und dabei die Wartenden draußen an der Bushaltestelle beobachten, wo immer ein paar sehr hübsche Mädchen stehen, was uns dann eigentlich wieder an Budapest erinnert…
Read here in English:
Café Culture in Budapest
Coffee arrived to Hungary at the time of the Turkish rule. However, the so-called “black soup” had not become really popular up until two centuries later. The first coffee houses started to appear in Budapest over the course of the 19th century, standing somewhere in the middle between old oriental cafés with their simple design and rich Western venues with their middle-class setting.
After World War 2, a “fast drink” variety of the cosy cafés was created; these were the so-called eszpresszós. People did not have the time anymore to sit around for hours, reading the paper; instead, visitors only dropped in for a quick espresso before and after their workdays. The main goal was functionality. The well-known Budapest café culture experienced a veritable breakdown during the Socialist era, with most traditional cafés closed down or redesigned.
A period of revival for traditional coffee houses had not started up until the ’90s of the last century, i.e. with the fall of the Iron Curtain. The city was eager to get back its old café culture; old venues were renovated and reopened, and some new ones established. Some real gastronomy miles were created in Ráday Street and on Liszt Ferenc Square. Central, New York, Astoria and other renowned cafés have reappeared in new glamour.
In my opinion, the old Budapest café culture is most distinctly present in Café Central and Café Gerbeaud. Central has high-quality service and offerings; however, Gerbeaud has, for my liking, too many tourists, too high prices and some grumpy and arrogant staff. Moody waiters should, as I see it, rather be part of the Vienna café culture... New York has lost most of its old charm; it is (nearly) too beautifully renovated and now part of a 5-star hotel. I believe that Lotz Café, located with its stunning frescos in Párizsi Áruház, a wonderfully renovated Art Nouveau department store on Andrássy Street, is one of the nicest cafés in the world.
Over the last few years, some franchise chains with the concept of Starbucks have been opened up; now Starbuck itself is also present in Budapest. In this category, you have among others Coffee Heaven, California Coffee or Coffee Company. These, however, are more part of the global café culture than the special one in Budapest. Still, they have good coffee and the mostly young clients create a really nice atmosphere.
You can also find lots of small, new coffee houses in Budapest, where the owners themselves stand behind the counter. My personal favourites are Műterem Kávezó in Tavaszmező Street, Moods in Wesselényi Street near the Great Synagogue and Café Pertu in Dob Street.
However, where you can find the café culture in Budapest in its most authentic form are most probably (old) cukrászdas (pastry shops), partly still designed in the style of the ’50s or ’60. Many of these are located in Pest, in the 6th to 9th Districts. The coffee is sometimes not that excellent, but the tarts and cookies are always brilliant and the prices are in some cases unbelievably favourable. Just walk around in Pest, looking for retro sings saying cukrászda. The older the furniture and the staff, the more authentic the pastry shop. In Dob Street between Károly Boulevard and Klauzál Square, at least three cafés and pastry shops of this kind can be found.
My special recommendation in Buda is Ruszwurm in the Castle District, where you can have a delicious “Tirol apple strudel”, which I have not yet found in the Tirol region, although I was born there.
Daubner in Buda also has a very good name—a pastry shop without any seats but always with a long queue in front of the building, where you can enjoy your coffee and cookies while standing.
Another genuine establishment of Budapest is Jégbüfé, located at Ferenciek Square. Since 1952, visitors have been able to enjoy coffee and some gorgeous pastries and tarts at reasonable prices while standing and watching people outside at the bus stop. There are always some really nice girls, reminding you again and again of the fact that you are in Budapest...
Friday, January 21, 2011
Café Culture in Budapest
It would be worth coming to Budapest just to sample the café culture! It is equally pleasureable in summer basking in the sunshine outside or in winter enjoying the cosy atmosphere inside. It is a place for lingering, reflecting, people watching, reading, chatting, smoking (as there is no ban yet!). Coming alone is just as common and acceptable as coming with a friends or colleagues.
When I first came to Budapest as a visitor in 1990 the Gerbeaud on Vörösmarty Tér was THE place to go and a coffee and cake cost less than a EURO. It is a different story today, and although still stunning, the Gerbeaud is only really for tourists who want to spend double the amount for half the service quality. The same is true of the regenerated New York café which is gorgeous to look at but pricey by local standards and not very friendly. Some of my old favourites such the Müvész and the Lukács have recently been modernised and have taken on the glitzy characteristics of a wine bar rather than a café. The prices increased too and as a result, I no longer go there very much. Instead, I prefer to visit cafés like the Gerlóczy, which is tucked away behind Vaci Utca in a charming leafy square. It is reminiscent of a French-style café. Good lunchtime menu too. Centrál Café near Ferenciek Tere is also lovely. The service is friendly, the prices are low and the environment is beautiful. Auguszt café near to Astoria has a very special atmosphere and nice service. The little Ruszwurm café near the Matthias Church is a real gem if you can get in. It is very busy because of its proximity to the castle. I love the Ruszwurm Torta (pure chocolate heaven). If you see a Szamos café too (it is a chain), this will always be worth a visit, especially if you like marzipan and a quaint atmosphere. BUT my latest and most favourite café is the Alexandra Bookshop Café in the Párizsi Department Store on Andrássy Avenue. The ceiling frescos are incredible and almost detract from the deliciousness of the fruit tarts which are also outstanding!
For a more modern touch, I find the Duna Park café near Szent István Park a really relaxing place with a pianist at weekends. The cakes are amazing there! Déryné in Krisztina Tér in Buda has lovely décor and is a great place for brunch or afternoon tea. If you have children, then it is useful to have a play area. I really like Tranzit café just off Kosztolányi Dezső Tér as it used to be a bus station and has a bohemian arty atmosphere, but is also very child-friendly. The carrot cake is legendary. Having said that, unlike in England, all cafés tend to be child-friendly in Budapest as the Hungarians love children and don’t try to dissuade parents from bringing them to public places!
I could go on about the cafés in Budapest all day! One thing I would say is that there is really no need to go to the newer chain cafés like Costa, California or Coffee Company. I like these too, but in comparison they are over-priced with indifferent service and have no local characteristics. In the old days, it was impossible to get anything other than an espresso in a Hungarian café, but now the whole range is provided and you don’t need any elaborate explanations and gestures to get a Café Latte as I did when I arrived six years ago!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
On wednesday January 19 an almost full compliment of we tourist ambassadors went to the theatre. The Merlin Theatre to be precise. As I understand it, this has only been in operation as a theatre for less than a dozen years, yet it already feels like an institution. Not least the English language Monday and Wednesday nights. We went to see Pornography. No, your eyes did not deceive you; only it's the name of a play by one Simon Stephens which actually doesn't have much to do with pornography, but more to do with the emotionally fractured and sexually confusing lives of a group of Londoners, at the time of the 7/7 bombing attacks. As something of an actor myself, I was impressed by the class acts of Mike Kelly and Matt Devere - we've come to expect no less from the founders of the Madhouse Theatre Company. But the whole cast delivered. Alexis Latham real and raw and versatile, there was a lovely comic turn by Sylvia Llewelyn, and a real bravura performance by Sophie Thompson. Of course, a good script helps. Go and see it if you haven't already.
Scott Alexander Young
The Merlin theatre is a little gem for foreign residents and visitors alike. It is tucked away behind a main road so it is easy to miss, but if you go down the street next to the lovely Gerlóczy Café the entrance is easy to find. The Merlin has a really special atmosphere which could best be described as arty and bohemian. This is partly created by the quirky decor, wall paintings, lighting and furniture. It is also cosy and intimate and if you have lived here for a few years like me, you are bound to bump into a few old friends in there. Even if you are not seeing a play, the bar is worth a visit as it is relaxed and serves tasty, reasonably-priced food. The play we saw has been running for a while and is called Pornography but is actually about a terrorist attack in London.
For me it had a lot of emotional resonance as I moved from London one day before the attack and I remember that day in time so clearly.The acting was superb and everyone was impressed, moved, shocked, and enthralled all at the same time. After the play we were treated to a kind of story-telling concert where a charismatic Black singer told a tale to the backdrop of jazz music. It was quite a unique experience and fairly unusual for Budapest. At the same time we enjoyed beers and tapas. Overall, this theatre is perfect for anyone whose Hungarian is not good enough to go to Hungarian theatres, for Hungarians who wants to see plays in English, and for anyone who enjoys an intimate arts venue with a great atmosphere.
by Melanie Smith
See Merlin's webpage here
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Be part of a special duel at the Tourinform-office, Sütő utca (at Deák tér) this Friday! The duel marks the beginning of a competition where Budapest Tourist Ambassadors challenge touristic experts in the Sütő u. office of the Budapest Tourism Office (BTO)!
Following the clash the ambassadors will write on the Budapest ambassador blog about their experiences and support the work of the capital’s tourist organization with concrete recommendations.
Join us on Friday and check out what really goes on behind the scenes!
The competitors of the 2nd round:
Scott Alexander Young from New-Zealand - Ambassador of Budapest Tourism – Author/Scriptwriter/Travel Writer/Actor/Voice Actor
Vilma Magyar from Budapest – touristic expert, owsner of the budapestUNDERGUIDE company organising personalized walking tours in Budapest
Coffee House Culture in Budapest
It’s freezing cold outside and snowing, you practically burst through the door to get inside, where it’s toasty warm and all is congenial; you shake off the cold and take off jackets and hats, gloves and scarves. And there, waiting, before you, is the friend you’ve come to see - they got there a few minutes earlier. You kiss on both cheeks and shake hands too, then slide into opulent chairs or deep, welcoming booths. Does friendship ever seem more vital than when you meet in a 100 year old café in the heart of winter? More like the ‘staff of life’? I think not. Winter in Budapest? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Three classic ‘Grand Old Dames’ of Budapest café society are Café Gerbeaud, Café Centrál and the New York Café. And they each have a history which tells you something about the life of the city over the last 100 or so years. The oldest is Gerbeaud, which opened in 1858 and soon began to cultivate a reputation for its cream cakes and pastries – the only thing richer than the chandeliers which drip from the ceiling. It was one of the few institutions of its kind to stay open during the dreary and oppressive days of communism. Café Centrál meanwhile first opened its doors in 1887, and was a centre for the city’s intellectual life. The well known Hungarian journal Nyugat (West) got its start at a table in this café. Centrál was closed between between 1949 and 1999, when it reopened and fast became this writer’s favourite among the café classics. Last but not least, when the New York Insurance company built premises in Budapest’s 6th district back in 1894, they installed a café on the ground floor. Hence, the New York Café. It was nationalised during the socialist era, and at one point was even used as a sporting goods store. Completely restored under the new ownership of a luxury hotel group, that seems hard to believe now. Remember to look up though, because cherubs frolic on painted ceilings above as you sip your coffee.
But I can’t leave out Liszt Ferenc tér, and my particular favourite among the strip of cafés and bars there, which is Café Vian. Well, I’ve been eating Croque Monsieur sandwiches off-and-on here for years. It may not have the long traditions of the classics, but sometimes it’s nice to take part in creating a tradition. Vian is a long room with a comfortable ambience and a nice place for people watching, every season of the year.
Take it from me, expats do like to moan, and you’ll sometimes hear them grumble about how service can occasionally be slow in such places. I suppose so, compared to the USA anyway. On the other hand, you’re not pressured to keep ordering something every five minutes. You can sit with a coffee and a friend – or alone with a book – for hours without being pressured to consume more. And long may things stay that way. Of course, if you are meeting with someone in any of the cafés mentioned, remember there’s something you should bring to the table. Good conversation!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Read below in English
Venni per la prima volta a Budapest tre anni fa, ed era inverno. Rimasi incantato dall’atmosfera che che mi accolse, ho imparato con il passare del tempo che questa città, come un camaleonte, cambia con il susseguirsi delle stagioni, adattandosi di volta in volta per offrire il meglio di se.
A dir la verità il primo impatto fu un po’ traumatico, per un “uomo del sud”come me adattarsi al clima non fu proprio facile, era freddo, un freddo pungente. Quindi il primo consiglio che mi sento di dare a coloro che si accingono a venire a Budapest è di portare vestiti caldi ed essere pronti ad un clima che tocca gli zero gradi già a novembre per arrivare fino a -15 a gennaio. Ma non preoccupatevi, il freddo non vi impedirà di avere una esperienza indimenticabile in città, anzi ci sono una serie di attività che “sfruttano” questo tipo di clima.
Per cominciare in bellezza c’è il mercatino natalizio che si trova a Vörösmarty tèr, si arriva con la metro gialla(c’è una fermata direttamente nella piazza) oppure da Deak tèr ci si impiega qualche minuto a piedi. L’atmosfera del mercato è a dir poco coinvolgente, una delle sue peculiarità principali è il fatto che solo gli artigiani locali sono autorizzati ad esporre le loro creazioni nelle bancarelle che si trovano nella piazza, quindi non troverete niente di kitch “made in china”. Mentre camminate per le stradine del mercato probabilmente verrete attirati da una serie di odori provenienti dai vari stand gastronomici, vi consiglio di provare il vin brulè ,vi aiuterà a combattere il freddo e il retrogusto di cannella è ancora uno dei miei sapori preferiti, questo è sicuramente uno dei must di Budapest d’inverno.
Ci sono una serie di eventi che caratterizzano il periodo natalizio in città. Gli amanti dello sport, quelli invernali nello specifico, non possono non andare a pattinare sul ghiaccio nella pista che si trova in cima al centro commerciale WestEnd( fermata Nepliget palyaudvar-metro blu), è possibile affittare l’attrezzatura lì stesso. La mia pista preferita si trova nel parco a Varosliget (fermata Hosok ter- metro gialla) ed è una delle più grandi d’Europa, purtroppo quest’anno sarà chiusa per lavori ma ricordatelo per la prossima volta, vi assicuro che pattinare insieme centinaia di persone con sullo sfondo il Castello Vajdahunyad, il mio preferito, è un esperienza che ricorderò per sempre.
Tipico d’inverno è salire sulla collina di Normafa (bus n.90 dalla fermata Moskva ter-metro rossa) anche solo per una passeggiata e un bicchiere di vino, ma il vero divertimento comincia con le prime nevicate, a me piace andare con uno slittino e lanciarmi a tutta velocità giù dalla collina.
Il 31 dicembre è il giorno della corse, nel pomeriggio è ormai una tradizione andare all’ippodromo che si trova a Pillangò utca (fermata metro rossa). L’anno scorso ci ritrovammo con degli amici e fu molto divertente, tra innumerevoli brindisi e qualche puntata sui cavalli dai nomi più improbabili salutammo l’anno che finiva.
Un'altra attività che mi ha aiutato a combattere il freddo ed al tempo stesso godermi la mia permanenza a Budapest è stato andare alle terme, luoghi per cui Budapest, a ragione, è famosa in tutto il mondo. Le mie preferite sono sicuramente le terme Széchenyi (fermata Széchenyi fürdö-metro gialla), infatti per me non c’è niente di meglio che rilassarmi per ore nelle acque che arrivano fino a 38°, e lo stesso possono dirvi le moltissime persone che le frequentano, tipico è per gli abitanti di Budapest trascorrervi l’intera giornata, quando vidi dei simpatici vecchietti giocare delle interminabili partite a scacchi distesi comodamente nelle piscine pensai “questa si che è vita”.
In questo periodo a volte non desidero altro che una fumante cioccolata calda che mi aiuti a combattere la morsa del freddo, per provare la migliore di Budapest vado al Aztèk Choxolat (Károly krt. 22 qualche minuto da Deak ter), tutto di questo posto mi ricorda il film “Chocolat”, dall’ambiente caldo e accogliente fino alle decine e decine di tipi di cioccolate disponibili nel loro menù.
Quando ho qualche ora a disposizione scappo dal caos cittadino e mi rifugio a Szentendre, una cittadina a meno di mezz’ora del centro, arrivarci è molto facile, dalla fermata Battyani ter-metro rossa prendete il treno locale HEV. Mi piace camminare per le stradine del centro storico e curiosare nei tanti negozi d’artigianato. Ma è soprattutto quando è imbiancata dalla neve che Szentendre si trasforma in uno di quei paesaggi da favola, passeggiando lungo la riva del Danubio ne coglierete lo spirito romantico e un po’ nostalgico che è l’essenza di questa cittadina.
Budapest è una città molto stimolante anche dal punto di vista artistico, quest’inverno ci sono tante mostre che vale la pena di visitare, io ho trovato molto interessanti quella del Szepmuveszeti, il museo delle Belle Arti, (fermata Hosok ter-metro gialla) in cui vengono esposti dei capolavori di Klimt e Botero, e la mostra del fotografo Munkàcsi al LUMU(fermata Lagymanos hid- Tram n.2).
Da parte mia è tutto per adesso,
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Read here in English:
Budapest in winter
It was in winter when I arrived at Budapest for the first time three years ago. I was enchanted by the welcoming atmosphere of the place, and with the passing of time I learnt that this city – just like a chameleon – changes with every season, adapting itself every time to offer its best.
As a matter of fact, the first impact was a bit traumatic, because adapting to the climate was not easy for a “southern man” like me, as the weather was cold, bitter cold. Therefore the first advice that I must give to those who plan to travel to Budapest is to bring warm clothes and to prepare for a temperature that falls to zero already in November and that may sink to as low as minus 15 centigrade in January. But do not worry: the cold weather will not inhibit you from having an unforgettable time in the city; what is more, there are lots of activities that “benefit” from this kind of climate.
A real nice start is the Christmas fair at Vörösmarty tér that is accessible by underground on the yellow line (there is a stop right at Vörösmarty tér) or with a few minutes’ walk from Deák tér. To say the least, the atmosphere is captivating; one of the main peculiarities of the fair is that only local artisans are allowed to expose their own products on the stalls placed all over the square, which means that you will not find here any kitsch “made in China”. During your walk along the little streets of the fair you will most probably be attracted by a series of pleasant smells arriving from the various food stands; I suggest that you should taste mulled wine because it will help you withstand the cold – besides, the aftertaste of cinnamon is one of my favourite flavours – and it is definitely a must if you happen to visit Budapest in winter.
There is a series of events that typically go along with the Christmas period in the city. Sport (mainly winter sport) lovers cannot miss a fine ice-skating on the ice rink on top of WestEnd City Center (Nyugati pályaudvar underground station on the blue line), where they can even rent the necessary equipment. My favourite ice rink is in the City Park or Városliget (Hősök tere underground station on the yellow line), which is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe; unfortunately, this year it is closed for renovation works but do not forget to visit it next time because ice-skating together with hundreds of people, just a few feet from Vajdahunyad Castle (my favourite), is something that you will never forget.
A typical thing in winter is to go up to Normafa (bus no. 90 from Moszkva tér underground station on the red line) to take a walk and have a glass of wine, even if you do it alone, although the real fun starts with the arrival of the first snow. I love going up there with a sledge and plunge down at full speed from the hill.
December 31st is a day for horse-racing; in the afternoon it is already a tradition to go to the race-track (Pillangó utca underground station on the red line). Last year we were there with friends and had a wonderful time saying good-bye to the old year while giving countless toasts and placing bets on horses of the most improbable names.
Another activity that helped me fight the cold weather and still enjoy my stay in Budapest was to go to the spas, for which Budapest is rightly renowned all over the world. My favourite one is definitely Széchenyi Bath (Széchenyi fürdő underground station on the yellow line), because for me the best thing in the world to relax for long hours in fine spa water (with temperatures up to 38°C); this could be confirmed also by the many people who regularly go to spas as it is typical for the inhabitants of Budapest to spend an entire day there; when I watched the nice old gentlemen stretching out comfortably in the water and playing their endless games of chess, I thought to myself “that’s what life is about”.
Sometimes in this period all I wish is a steaming cup of hot chocolate to help me withstand the biting cold; to get the best one in Budapest I go to Azték Choxolat (Károly krt. 22, a few minutes from Deák tér); the entire place reminds me of the movie “Chocolate” with its warm and welcoming interior and the dozens of different types of chocolate on the menu.
When I have a few hours of free time, I escape from the urban chaos and go to find some peace in Szentendre, a nice little town at less then 30 minutes from the city center; going there is very easy, just take the suburban train (HÉV) from Batthyány tér (underground station on the red line). I love walking along the little streets in the old town center and browsing in the numerous artisan shops. However, it is mostly with the arrival of snow when Szentendre transforms into a fabulous landscape; strolling along the Danube bank you can get a glimpse of the romantic and nostalgic atmosphere of the place, which is the essence of this town.
Budapest is a very stimulating city also in artistic terms; there are lots of exhibitions this winter that are worth visiting, including some at the Museum of Fine Arts (Hősök tere underground station on the yellow line) where the masterpieces of Klimt and Botero will be on display and the exhibition of photographer Munkácsi at the Ludwig Museum (Lágymányosi híd stop on the line of tram no. 2).
That’s all from me now.