First, there was the biggest wine festival in Budapest, which was held at the castle. I went on Sunday evening, meeting up with my colleague Michael and his partner Sharon. So many wines, so little time. I find it’s helpful to have a plan for a wine festival, especially one that offers so much selection. I decided to start with sparkling wines. That didn’t last long; I soon moved on to reds. We ended the evening trying a number of Jackfall wines. We especially enjoyed the Jackfall Grand. I stayed a bit later than they did and enjoyed some more Grand, gazing all around me at the amazing setting and wondering at the fact that this was now where I lived.
The next day, I went to a Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra concert at the State Opera House. It was a dream line up: Wagner, Beethoven, and Brahms. The performance lived up to the line up. It was literally and figuratively music to my ears (that’s for Amanda!) and food for my soul. I couldn’t take pictures during the concert, but did so beforehand. I couldn’t wait to tell my dad that the Orchestra had eight string bases!
That Wednesday, I went to a free concert by Antonia Vai. I had never heard of her, but couldn’t help but be intrigued by her description: “singer/songwriter from Sweden known as a bohemian soul diva.” She sang original songs with a deep raspy voice—she was fantastic! The drummer was sitting on a box that was actually a drum. Having played drums before I could read, it was hard to look away from this new type of drum—at least it was new to me.
The next weekend offered a Chocolate Festival with a focus on dark chocolate. Wine on one weekend, and chocolate on the next—amazing! These are my two main food groups; it’s like the festivals were scheduled just for me! I tried one of the best bon bons I’ve ever had: pumpkinseed cream in dark chocolate. I told the chocolatier at Lady Lavender that it was by far my favorite of the day. I finished that day with a hot chocolate that did me in. Hot chocolate here is intense in a wonderful and very rich way. For the most part, they melt chocolate and don’t add much else. It packs a lot of chocolate power, and I should have stopped at half a cup. But I just couldn’t stop.
That Monday, I saw a wonderful contemporary dance performance at the National Dance Theatre, the “home” of Hungarian dance for the last 20 years. The building is situated in the castle district, right next to the Presidential Office, and is the only 18th century Hungarian theatre that still functions as a playhouse today. On May 7, 1800, Beethoven performed a concert here. You can see his memorial plaque on the front wall of the building.
Wine, chocolate, music, and dance—what a combination!