Monday, 20 August 2012

A Perfect Day in Budapest

The perfect day in Budapest started off at the Margit bridge, Pest side of the river Danube, heading towards the chain bridge. Walking along the riverfront here isn't the easiest - there isn't a nice esplanade - you have to skitter along tiny half-pavements, step over low chain fences, dodge speeding traffic to cross the road, jump over road barriers, and avoid eye contact with policemen guarding parliament grounds - but if you're game it's worth the walk. You get a good view of the gothic parliament building from here.

Further along the Danube, you come across the memorial to those shot by Arrow Cross (the pro-Nazi Hungarian party in power during the 2nd world war) into the river. One of the most powerful memorials I have ever seen - I had read nothing about it and just stumbled across the vast collection of realistic steel shoes strewn across the wall along the river. So powerful because each shoe is an intimate portrait of the person who might have owned it - each pair was a different style, a different size, worn in different parts - they were utterly human. And seeing them discarded along the Danube, you knew what had happened to the owners of those shoes without knowing any of the details of the actual story. Haunting. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Following two fabulous days at Lake Bled - the most picturesque lake I have ever seen - we arrived in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. After wandering through the central markets, we came across a cute café and stopped off for coffee. Café Cokl, Krekov trg 8, named for the family name of the owner, Tine Cokl. Tine is absolutely passionate about coffee – if you get him started on the subject, you’ll have a hard time getting away. His knowledge is immense and his enthusiasm is catching. It was hot, and we ordered Tine’s iced espresso, €1.50; strong espresso, a little sugar, poured over ice to beat the heat, and topped with frothed milk. Excellent. And as cool as anywhere you’d find in East London.