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Archive for the ‘Places’

In the dungeon where Dracula was imprisoned

May 22, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Places, Traveling No Comments →

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The non-claustrophobic can go down to the Castle Labyrinth (Entrance fee: 2,000 forints), the long, dark, very cold tunnels where the kings kept their prisoners. The most famous inmate of the dungeons was the prince Dracula of Transylvania, which used to be part of Hungary. Dracula was the son-in-law of King Matyas, for whom the fabulous Matyas Church was named. Old Vlad D was accused of being in league with the Turks, who invaded Hungary many times. He was reportedly tortured in the dungeons. Repeat, Vlad the Impaler was tortured in the labyrinth, and if I ran the tour there would be background music punctuated with bloodcurdling shrieks. My main fear was not that Dracula would appear, but that I would wander into a secondary tunnel and disappear. Outside it was noon; inside it was so dark and cold you could imagine vampires eating babies. The tour operator relieved the monotony of endless walls of rock with mannequins dressed as characters in a Mozart opera, finds from archeological digs, and other tchotchkes, but all you need is bad night vision and an active imagination.

Read our article Budapest Saves the Day at the BusinessWorld Weekender.

The couch where psychoanalysis was born

May 14, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, History, Places, Traveling No Comments →

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The couch in Dr. Freud’s office

We didn’t get to read The Interpretation of Dreams, which we’d packed for our trip to Vienna. There was so much to see that we could not look at pages. And then we took lots of photos at the Sigmund Freud Museum, which used to be the Freud family apartments. Since we’re maniacal about organizing our files, we transferred the photos into our Mac, which was stolen two days later.

Book unread, photos stolen—if as Dr Freud said there is no such thing as an accident, what does this mean?

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Dr. Freud and his dog

Fortunately we bought a couple of postcards from the little museum shop, which carries Freud’s books.

The museum is a recreation of Freud’s office where he saw his patients, with shelves containing his books and collections of tchotchkes, and plenty of photographs. Some rooms are used as contemporary art exhibition spaces. There is a replica of his famous couch—the original is in London. Apparently he didn’t write his books in his office, he would work on them during his travels. There are also home movies narrated by the doctor’s daughter Anna. In one of them, Sigmund is hanging out with his grandson Lucian Freud the artist.

The Freuds fled Vienna for London when the Nazis came to power. They took their furniture with them, and of course their beloved Chows.

* * * * *

Speaking of dreams and the contents of people’s unconscious, some images from The Art of Dreams in the Public Domain Review.

henry fuseli
The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli (1781). People who have experienced bangungot say it feels like a monster is sitting on their chest. Voila.

blake
Job’s Evil Dreams by William Blake (1805).

hokusai
The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Hokusai (1814). Tentacle porn is older than we think.

durer
Dream Vision by Albrecht Durer (1525) with text describing what he saw.

Please bring strange things: A poem for wanderers

May 13, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places, Traveling No Comments →

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Prater, Wien

Initiation Song from the Finders’ Lodge
by Ursula K. LeGuin, from her novel Always Coming Home

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.

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Terror Museum, the former Nazi HQ then Communist prison, Budapest

May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
walk mindfully, well loved one,
walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

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Blue dog on palazzo balcony, Venice

The ex-most beautiful cafe in the world: Caffe Florian in Venice

May 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Food, Places, Traveling 1 Comment →

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Venice is atrociously overpriced, crowded and touristy and we still love it. It has extracted our pound of flesh (which we have gained back plus plus). The second we board the vaporetto from Tronchetto (the car park) we feel weirdly happy, knowing full well that we will be gouged, swarmed and our senses assaulted with kitsch. Incidentally, the answer to the question that gets asked a lot is: No, we don’t smell anything.

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Caffe Florian on the Piazza San Marco is the city’s most famous cafe, and it turns 300 in 2020, making it the oldest cafe in the world. Every would-be ruler of the planet has stopped by, from Napoleon to Hitler. The cafe probably overcharged them, too.

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Nine euros (Php 414) for a cup of coffee! 13 for a croissant with ham in it. And if the orchestra is playing outside, 6 euros for the music.

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The waiters are more elegant than the diners and you feel like you have to mind your manners or be judged.

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But what an exterior (and the interiors aren’t plain, either). After coffee, you are compelled to conquer something.

Is the New York Cafe in Budapest the most beautiful cafe in the world?

May 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 6 Comments →

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While wandering around the city, we heard that the New York Cafe in Budapest is the most beautiful cafe in the world. We don’t know who gives out these titles, but after hearing it many times we were intrigued enough to go. It’s one of the stops on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour we took (Most efficient option for people with no sense of direction who would otherwise waste hours looking for their destination, or end up taking taxis).

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More beautiful than Caffe Florian in Venice? we thought. What nerve. (Just because our name was invented for The Merchant of Venice, we think we’re linked to Venice haha.)

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Then we shut up because holy crap, this is what greeted us.

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It’s two centuries younger than Florian, but it’s vast, light and airy and holy crap, those walls and ceilings. Built in the 1900s, it was recently renovated. At one point it was the world’s most beautiful warehouse.

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In the early 20th C its regulars included the writers Gyula Krudy and Deszo Kosztolanyi (Thank you, NYRB Classics, or we would never have read them), and the filmmakers Alexander Korda and Michael Curtiz (Casablanca).

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For our very late lunch we had a latte macchiato and a spaghetti with a very rich beef sauce that made dinner redundant. We like Hungarian home cooking. How you feel about it depends on how you like goulash (like a soupy mechado) and paprika, and we love the stuff. It’s so filling, you have to walk across Budapest to digest it.

So you dine under a fresco, and the cost of spaghetti and coffee: 6,370 Hungarian forints, or PHP977, which is cheap for that splendor.

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Outside, bustling streets. The lamps are held up by devils.

Sleeping cat in Venetian store window

May 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Language, Places, Traveling No Comments →

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This is one of exactly two cats we’ve seen on the whole trip. One was inside a carrier at the Market Hall in Budapest. This one was in a store window in Venice, around Castello. The sleeping cat looks like Saffy. (Saffy: That was me. I bilocated.)

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Next to the cat, a sign telling people not to tap the glass. Some linguistic confusion here. “E io mi irrito!!!!”— The cat gets irritated by the tapping, the storekeeper gets irritated, or is the cat in the window because she annoyed the storekeeper?