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Travel log - Page 7

post #91 of 127
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by von Rothbart
Did you mean Hungarians were from outer space or the empire extended to other planets in the solar system? Sorry, pal, I can't resist.

I really enjoyed strolling along the broad boulevards and the quiet side streets. Budapest is full of grand old elegant buildings desperately in need of restoration. Even if they're in disrepair, somehow I still found them charming, their decay poetic. You should check out the Gresham Palace Four Seasons Hotel, a grand Imperial building spectacularly restored.

Looking forward to your next report.

Today is my last full day in Budapest, so I'm planning to visit Castle Hill and now that you've mentioned it, maybe I'll have lunch or afternoon tea at the Four Seasons.

I agree, the buildings definitely reflect the glory of a bygone era, and yes, their decay has poetic undertones, in much the same way as the great structures of Buenos Aires, another forlorn former glamour capital. They both remind me of Ms. Havisham of Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations." Great, rich and formerly grand beauties that time has passed by.
post #92 of 127
No report on your evening activities? Should we assume that it entered into the realm of the un-postable? If so...please include me on the PM list
post #93 of 127
Originally Posted by Alter
No report on your evening activities? Should we assume that it entered into the realm of the un-postable.

If so...please include me on the PM list
Me too.
post #94 of 127
Thread Starter 
Went to tango last night, on the Buda side of town. It is actually quite close to the Sofitel, which is about 150 yards from the entry onto Chain Bridge, the grand structure you always see in photos of Budapest. The milonga (tango salon) was about four blocks from where you exit the bridge on the other side. All in all, an easy distance to traverse.

It was in a beautiful community center right on the river embankment, providing a wonderful view of the Danube and the illuminated government buildings back over on the Pest side. Upon entering I introduced myself to the hosts, and young husband and wife team with whom I had exchanged e-mails before arriving. They were very warm and welcoming, and told me they looked forward to seeing "LA style."

As is my custom, I sat for about 40 minutes, reading the room and watching to see who is who and what is what. Of the 40 or so people in attendance, including a couple of Asian guys who, like me, appeared to be visitors, there were about 4 or 5 women who were really good; none of the guys, with the exception of the host, were really any good (they don't feel the music, or as we say, they lack musicality. They can do steps fine but they wobble -- indicating a lack of balance -- and often not dance in time with the music. To a developed eye, it looks horrible). Shame.

Any way, after finding out who the dancers were I approached the first. Name is Esther, whom I later learned was married to one of the lots of steps-but-no-musicality guys, and had just had a baby (which would account for the very healthy uh . . . milkiness of her dance). I could see that Esther has some dance chops and could handle the ride. So, I gave her one.

We danced about five songs, getting better and more acclamated to one another with each dance. She was great. With that marker set, as I sat down I could feel the eyes of other women calling for my attention. (In tango culture, particularly in Buenos Aires -- where this convention is pretty strictly enforced -- it is considered impolite to approach a woman you don't know to ask for a dance. In fact, women and men sit on different sides of the room. So, for a man to walk into a woman's "camp," as it were, and put her on the spot -- forcing her to either accept even if she doesn't want to, or to decline, causing him to lose face, is deemed impolite. Remember, its still very much a macho culture down there.

The way you invite someone to dance is through eye contact. If she wants to dance with you, she'll meet your eyes with a sustained gaze. Then, if you smile or begin to rise and she responds, you know you're on. The two of you then meet at the edge of the dance floor. Conversely, if she doesn't give you contact, or if she diverts when your eyes accidentally meet, you've been snubbed. The women of BsAs are very selective about whom they'll dance with. You have to establish your bona fides either by dancing with lower skilled dancers and be seen as being a superior dancer, or going directly for one of the top dogs among the dames -- my preferred method (only because I have the confidence and chops to do so; twasn't always thus). How do dancers separate the wheat from the chaff -- its all in the footwork; the feet don't lie.

Anyway, I could feel the eye contact, but I averted making contact with all but the next girl, Sylvia. She was more technically proficient than Esther, but less organic, i.e., she wasn't good at improvising or adapting to a new body as readily as her apparent partner (with whom she'd danced exclusively to that point). No biggy; after two songs we hit a stride. She, too, was great. After Sylvia I was approached by a guy named Gabor, who hosts another salon on a different night. He asked if I would be in town to come to his masquerade event on the 10th. When I told him I was leaving on Friday, he asked if I would mind dancing with his girlfriend, Diana. (You gotta love a guy who is so welcoming that he offers you his girl's body.) What was I to say? -- "sure."

Diana was also quite good, but more than that, her body was scrumptious. From the moment she pressed them soft babies against my chest, I was hooked. Of the three girls mentioned, she and I had the best height match (which affects your stride in the dance; I tend to alternate between long and short strides, and she could match me to a tee; Esther wasn't bad either, but I had to reign in some of my long strides to prevent her from sliding or tripping). She was giddy with excitement, and afterwards asked me to teach her two moves I had led her into (acutally, I was "putting them on" her but, remembering how nice Gabor had been, I retracted my claws).

Anyway, I danced again with booby Esther, got into a fun discussion with a Budapest native who now lives in San Diego (Lojosc, pronounced "Loi-osh") then the evening ended (they stop at 11). A number of folks came over to shake hands, which is always nice -- tango dancers love to welcome and acknowledge visitors, except in BsAs, where the natives can be quite snobby about "their thing."

I enjoyed the short walk back across Chain Bridge; the lights on the government buildings in Pest illuminated the night, giving them a spectacular elegance that made the walk much more enjoyable, even though the bridge itself was quite spectacular to begin with.

As I exited the bridge and turned toward the hotel, a violin player smiled and bid me "bon nuit;" when I paused to clarify he changed language (presumably believing I didn't understand his French) and said "good night." We both smiled and I said goodnight back. My, another nice guy! First, one guy offers me his girl, then a random street musician bids me goodnight; these are some really nice people.

As I neared the hotel, a nicely dressed woman, in a dark overcoat with a leopard print collar -- who appeared to be waiting on the valet to bring her car 'round -- approached me and with a soft smile asked, "do you want to have sex tonight"? I couldn't believe it, but I was on another plane and wasn't interested. She then offered the added benefit of sex and a massage, telling me it would relax me and send me right to sleep.

I told her I had actually taken in a spa massage earlier that day, and felt sleep wasn't far off. We chatted for a few friendly minutes, her trying to find any possible opening, me trying to let her know I wasn't interested but could be tomorrow (which is now, today). So, we bantered back and forth. Thinking I was casting her off, she asked if was leaving tomorrow (today), I told her no, Friday. Sensing she wanted me to ask, I did -- "are you here tomorrow," she responded "I'm here every day." Now there's a woman whose clearly escaped the shackles of state planning to seize capitalism full-on by the balls, literally. Gotta love 'er!

In any case, the jury's still out on whether I'm up for any hanky panky at this stage of the trip. In fact, this is getting very near to the end of my log. I leave at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, heading for the CSE in NYC.

I found it ironic that my day began with the reference to Van Gogh, having fallen out with his family over his religious extremism taking up with a pregnant, alcoholic prostitute and ended with a proposition from a woman who, to my mind, had all the markings of a middle class housewife. Cross reference, yet again, to the "Hookers" thread.

I'm off on my last day of excursion around Budapest. Hope to update later.
post #95 of 127
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by von Rothbart
You should check out the Gresham Palace Four Seasons Hotel, a grand Imperial building spectacularly restored.

I just found out that its right across the street from Sofitel. Literally, kitty korner to where I am. I even took pictures of it last night because the building is so beautiful. Im off for morning coffee and croissant. Ciao.
post #96 of 127
Thread Starter 
The Four Seasons/Gresham Palace is so beautiful it makes me sick; literally, I almost lost control of my bodily functions as I stood there in the lobby envying the bastards rich enough to surround themselves with such luxury. It was not at all surprising to find La Perla and Brioni boutiques on the ground level, because after all everybody knows that well dressed men love women in fancy lingerie.

The only flaw: the only time you can't get a meal in one of their two restaurants is between 11 am and noon; its 11:30! S'OK, I'll be back for dinner. Dinner here followed by a good Cuban (and perhaps a turn with the housewife) would be a good way to conclude what 'till now has been a great trip.
post #97 of 127
This butcher's cur is venom-mouth'd, and I
Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best
Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar's book
Outworths a noble's blood.
post #98 of 127
Thread Starter 
As the sun begins to set on Thursday evening, the hours grow short on my European vacation.

Spent today touring about Castle Hill which, again, is across Chain Bridge.
To get there you take a finicular tram up a steep incline. Once atop, you exit right at Hapsburg palace; a beautiful place. The entire castle complex is quite spectacular, as are the views back across the river of the parliament and a massive church (don't know the name). I spent about 1.5 hours drifting about the grounds, snapping photos and ducking in and out of various shops. It was well worth the effort, and a must see on any trip here; but it still doesn't change my overall view of Budapest. In that regard, I see Budapest as any large megalopolis; full of great and wonderful things, but just too big to manage. It reminds me of a neighborhood of big fancy houses where the current residents haven't be able to afford the upkeep, so everything gradually degrades.

They have a lot of fancy and upscale restaurants and clubs within some of these old buildings, but the exteriors of the buildings are, in some cases, just decrepit.

On the trip down the hill, I counted the photos I've snapped since leaving LA. I took 11 in Amsterdam, 50 in Prague and 37 in Budapest. That's a good indication of how memorable I believe each to be. (I'll do a final summary and comparison upon returning home on Sunday.)

I also bought a few trinkets for my daughters, including two t-shirts. Here's the story behind that. I was drifting from shop to shop, checking out the souveniers and window shopping. While pausing at one shop, the door opened and out came a smiling, pretty young woman (mid-30's-ish). Strike one. She immediately began speaking in English. Strike two. She then lured me inside by flashing that 18K smile and turning to reveal the most perfectly shaped derrier I've seen since arriving in Hungary. I tried to tell myself "don't look directly at it, look away -- or off to one side," but it was too late. Steeeeriiiike three! She gestured for me to follow, "come, said the spyder to the fly."

While trying to keep my composure as she ran hither and yon pulling every color and design of t-shirt trying to complete the sale, all the while making sure to keep me interested by alternately turning to flash the smile at one moment, and the form fitting pocketless hiney the next. The small talk bordered on flirtation, to which I was more than mildly open. When we found suitable alternatives to both of my original choices, she rang me up; it came to around $40 -- for two kids' t-shirts! And they're made by Fruit of the Loom!!! Had this been LA -- where you can get 3 t-shirts for 10 bucks -- I'd have told her to drop dead. But, its not; its a small shop in Budapest; with a pretty smiling girl, with a luscious tail. The legend of Mata Hari lives!

After leaving, my momentary "high" dissipated and I began scowling and kicking myself at having just been rooked. I immediately thought of the line in the Bell, Biv, Devoe song, "Poison": "never trust a big butt and a smile." Oh well, it gave me something to remember.

While channel surfing when I arrived in last night I came across an ftv (fashion television) program called "Midnight Hot." And boy, was it. I don't know how often it comes on, but it is basically a series of model photography shoots with girls in all stages of undress. Every one of them started in a bathing suit and pair of heels, and gradually removed their tops, all the while striking different poses for the camera. There is background music but no narration or voice over. I watched about 10 minutes (OK, it was more like 20), just to find out what the hell it was. No one went bottomless, but they didn't need to; they were all hot as fire -- especially one that appeared to be (East) Indian or Pakistani. Holy smokes; she put the two blonds to shame; although the blond team was redeemed by a preview for another night's program featuring a smiling, big booty blonde in black patent leather knee boots . . . uh oh, another big butt and a smile.

Two of the big non-US news stories that have been running since I've been here (in Europe) have been of the recent theft of two Picasso paintings, having a combined value of $66 MM, from his granddaughter's Paris apartment, and of an 8 year old kid in Scotland who weighs a whopping 200 lbs! The authorities have been threatening to take him from his family and put him in protective care on grounds that the family is letting him eat himself to death. You should see this kid; unbelievable.

Well, I have an 8 a.m. flight tomorrow and hope to get in one last update after tonight's dinner.

Thanks to all of you who've kept up with my wanderings, and especially those of you who've shared words of encouragement and interest. Those offerings have provided and continually renewed my motivation to share.
post #99 of 127
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by johnapril
This butcher's cur is venom-mouth'd, and I
Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best
Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar's book
Outworths a noble's blood.

vaclava, is that you?
post #100 of 127
Ron, very impressive, I didn't know you're such advanced ballroom dancer until reading your post. What's your specialty? Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha...? When you mentioned musciality I know exactly what you're talking about.

Where's the van Gogh exhibit? Do you know how long it'll run?
post #101 of 127
Thread Starter 
Thanks, VR. I've been dancing Argentine tango (not ballroom or international)for about 9 years now. Are you a fellow dancer?

The exhibit tuns through March 27.
post #102 of 127
Originally Posted by LARon
Thanks, VR. I've been dancing Argentine tango (not ballroom or international)for about 9 years now. Are you a fellow dancer?

The exhibit tuns through March 27.

Nah. One of my lady friends is an ardent ballroom dancer and I went to some of her exhibition performances.

I must have missed the van Gogh exhibit. Which museum is that?

The church you mentioned, it must be the St. Stephen Basilica:

post #103 of 127
Thread Starter 
Yes, it was St. Stephens (thanks for supplying the name). The museum is the Museum of Fine Art, up on the circle/square of heros. Isn't that shot amazing -- the building directly opposite from the bridge is Gresham Palace, home of the Four Seasons, and behind it is St. Stephens.
post #104 of 127
Thread Starter 
A trip to Budapest may well be worth it just to see Gresham Palace, home of the Four Seasons. It is indescribably beautiful. I know it doesn't make sense to travel a long distance just for a hotel, but this isn't an ordinary hotel. Its a former palace that was reclaimed and renovated by a British private equity firm and is now so palatial -- and sits right at the mouth of the Chain Bridge (see VR's picture above) -- that it has to be seen to be believed.

Its time to pack. If after getting that together and enjoying my final legal Cuban cigar I still have energy, I just might drift out into the night for a final walkabout. (Who knows who or what I might run into.)

Now my excitement is directed toward the CSE. Look out New York, here I come.

Goodnight from Budapest.
post #105 of 127
Thread Starter 
While standing in line here at the Budapest airport I realize that I haven't commented upon the subject of style in quite some time, and for good reason: except on a few online fora, it scarcely seems to exist.

The people here at the airport, and most of the people I've seen here in Budapest, dress like revelers in a mosh pit. The same was true in Amsterdam. Don't recall much elegance in Prague either, though I was so charmed by the place that I stopped noticing the people.

I will say that the most elegant people I have seen on this trip were in Prague; an elderly couple -- very well turned out, and could have fit in in any city, in any era.

I must seem a complete oddity to some/most: gray chalkstripe flannel SB suit, white shirt and navy polka dot tie, and a set of matching luggage (French's herringbone pattern), including large foldover suit bag, duffel and cluding a shoe case, where everyone here appears to have grabbed whatever was in the attic (or basement), or borrowed from someone else. Most people with more than one bag have bastardized sets, an amalgam of plastic, nylon and pleather.

Hate to be snobby or self righteous but I prefer an orderly existence, and the randomness of modern life (and dress) just underwhelms me. That's why its good to know there are others of like mind -- and I look forward to meeting some of them at CSE.
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