Being with a big group helped make this activity special though. We spent a good amount of our time getting separated and finding each other again as different people were drawn to and slowed down by different exhibits. Plus, it was nice to be around "nature" and to pass a slow morning laughing at each other's random animal phobias and Dennis's utter inability to read a map. Going to the zoo and back was also the only time we got to ride the subway, something that Will, as a self proclaimed "foamer" was very eager to do.
We'd booked tickets for a sunset river cruise on the Danube river that evening (which Dennis insisted on pronouncing duh-NOO-bay), and I'm pretty proud of how much we packed into the intervening hours between the the zoo and when we were due at the dock.
We went to the Central Market, a huge market and food hall that was conveniently very close to our apartment. In keeping with other central markets I've seen in Europe, this was a sprawling, high-ceilinged place. Produce, meat, and other sundries were sold on the ground floor. Clothing, home goods, and souvenir vendors were on the upper level whose labyrinthine layout on suspended walkways gave you a sense of vertigo that was counter balanced by the suffocating backups in foot traffic. We ducked into a sit down restaurant and had a cafeteria-style lunch that was much needed and really delicious.
I distinctly remember the feeling I had upon leaving the market and walking into the adjoining square. By then it was afternoon and the sun had found its way to a low angle in the sky, warming the pavement, creeping under the umbrellas over cafe tables, stretching shadows, and casting gold tones all around. Time slowed down for me and I was completely, mindfully, present in the experience of this moment on this day in Budapest. It was as if my inner voice said "I'm here." Golden hour.
I took that feeling with me as we stopped at wine bar next. There was one little round table set up on sidewalk and we piled six wicker chairs around it. We had such a great time there, eating local cheese and cured meats and slowly getting drunk on inexpensive local wine while chatting with the super friendly shopkeep who had some crazy back-in-the-day stories.
|photo credit KQ|
We left this meal somewhat reluctantly, causing us to be in a rush to get to the dock on time. In fact, we had to run to the meeting location specified on the tickets.