BUDAPEST, DAY TWO – Woke up fairly late today then headed out to the Szechenyi spa. Enjoyed the spa for about five minutes then became acutely aware was sat in a hot bath with a whole bunch of strangers, all of us barely clothed. There were so many people too. It was claustrophobic.
Afterwards had a great lunch at a nearby cafe and then popped into Vajdahunyad Castle. Vajdahunyad Castle was insane – a mixture of every fairy tale castle and horror movie castle you can think of. Totally bizarre. I wished I had my camera on me to take some pictures, but I had left it at home because of the spa. (That’s why there are no spa pictures either.) We headed back to the apartment to get changed and take a little break. I ate some cake that was way too rich but too delicious and I wish I knew the name of it. We then set off to find St Michaels church. We wanted to buy tickets to the organ concert being held there that night. Usually, there are organ concerts every week at the St Stephens Basilica, but this week being Easter, there was a break in that programme. I had managed to dig through the internet and find out about a organ concert being held at the smaller St Michaels. I was quite determined to go to a Hungarian organ concert, and my sister and her friend were reluctantly allowing themselves to be dragged in. It was a compromise – I hadn’t wanted to go to the Spa, but I did for them, and in return they would go to the concert.
The route to the church was a pleasant walk that took us along the river and past the white bridge. The church was on a pretty touristy bit of street with plenty of souvenir shops and people standing outside of restaurants that would call out to you and try and lure you in. We found the church and purchased the concert tickets we wanted. I had been very worried they would be sold out but there were no problems. We then walked to the nearby National Museum of Hungary. This was a fascinating museum. Unfortunately I went through the first section backwards which was very confusing – I know enough about history to have realised I was doing so, but not enough to be certain of it. Once I’d realised that I could enjoy it knowing I was reading about Hungarian history in the proper order. Going to this museum also helped to clear up lingering confusion from the Legislation Museum the day before. It was a big, grand museum stuffed with artefacts and information. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately though I lost my sister and her friend fairly soon into the visit and thus spent most of my time worried about where they were, whether they were worried or annoyed. I couldn’t text my sister as you have to give your bags in to enter museum and I had forgotten to get my phone out and take it with me. When I finally spotted my sister, I ran over to her and gave her a big hug…which was inappropriate but necessary.
Reunited, we went back to the tourist street and allowed ourselves to be suckered in to one of the tourist traps…I mean restaurants for supper. We really wanted to find somewhere else, but we decided to stick to the tourist street so we would have enough time to eat before the concert. The food turned out to be pretty good actually, and not too overpriced.
Afterwards we went to the concert. The church was very impressive – much smaller than St Stephens Basilica obviously, and still in the midst of its renovations. It was interesting to see the contrast between the parts that had been restored and the parts that had not. There was something a bit more sombre and slightly more severe about this church. Also, the pews were extremely hard. We sat for two hours on those extremely hard benches, completely unable to get comfortable. This was a long concert. My sister and her friend were pretty bored by it. And as for me, I was interested but also confused- where was the organ? Well, turns out that there wasn’t one. Or at the least it wasn’t connected to its pipes. I waited and waited and listened out for it but it never showed itself. It was a very good performance – a full orchestra, a full choir with some very good leading singers – but the uncomfortable seat and the fact that it dragged on without ever really climaxing was a bit disappointing. The balance between vocalists, choir and orchestra was not quite right too and didn’t utilize the space correctly. I wanted something grand. I wanted to feel the floor shake with the power of the music, as it had the last time I had heard an organ played. Ah well. It was still brilliant, even if the reality was quite different from what I had expected. I did feel slightly bad for dragging my sister and her friend to this. However, I became quite excited to go to the opera the next day.