Snapshots from Budapest

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Budapest, it’s a beautiful and versatile city, easy-going, slightly rugged and worn out from some corners.

The bridges crossing the Danube flowing through the city, the banks of the wide river in the evening lighting, the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building, the numerous cafes  and terraces  and  the old yellow trams of which I for some reason just had to take countless pictures.

We spent a weekend in Budapest in early October. We walked and walked some more (I’m a passionate walker): across the Chain Bridge from the side of Pest to verdant Buda and to the top of the Gellért Hill and next to the Fishermen’s Bastion. The views are gorgeous. And the wine glasses plentiful: we decided to have a little day wine from a wine stand on the top of the hill and well, let’s just say that it was adequate.

We enjoyed a pot of rich goulash and shared a piece of a sweet apple strudel for lunch in the busy and lively Central Market Hall (Vámház krt 1–3). Market halls and sea shores are two of my favorite places in new cities. The stands sell vegetables, breads, foie gras, meat and sausage dishes, lace and Russian dolls. We also marveled at the heavy Hungarian street food treat, langós (deep fried flat bread topped with sour cream and grated cheese) and the grocery stores where the entire assortment is placed in the shop windows. We finished our walking tour in  the pioneer of the ruin pubs of Budapest, Szimpla Kert (Kazinczy u. 14).

Budapest, you were good to us.

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Nauvo Magic

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I was thinking about what the magic of Nauvo is made of.

Of goosebumps and the feeling of pure wild joy after a  slightly defiant morning swim in the refreshing sea in late September. The bright yellow ferry that takes us from Parainen to Nauvo, reliably, in less than fifteen minutes and so that you have plenty of time to climb to the upper deck to smile big and wave to the approaching ferry.

A home (or cottage) made rich yummy Finnish/French bouillabaise enjoyed around midnight in candlelight. Around midnight despite of how we tried to start the preparations a bit earlier than last year. By the way, a gastronomic tip, crème fraîche with garlic works really well as the aioli.

The sea. The most powerful and charismatic magic factor. Someone wise and poetic wrote that the sea teaches us. It also tranquilizes. The fire inside which brings a sparkle to my eyes and pushes me forward in life is more lenient in Nauvo. By the sea the slight restlessness folds into calmness.

The sea, again: not watching the tv but spotting the different sea birds and everything that goes on at the sea for breakfast fun.

Biking to the village along a gravel road past fields of hay and patches of sun flowers. Sharing a piece of apple cinnamon cheese cake at Köpmans during the afternoon tea.  This cafe-restaurant is a happy yellow wooden house with a bright blue door. They also have oven baked fish pancakes with granma’s cucumbers. A proper archipelago lunch treat.

The dock of the Nauvo yacht club in the harbour with only  a few sailboats in late September. And the beach boulevard with its small stands of brand labels (a good chance to find pieces from By Marlene Birger like -40 percent off).

True archipelago romance: pitch dark, the starry sky and the steaming breathing of another person.

Butterflies with translucent wings that look exactly like autumn foliage leaves.

The crackle of the fireplace. Pure mindfulness right there.

And the taste of crisp archipelago autumn apples.

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So yeah, an autumnal archipelago visit highly recommended. And to my dear readers from overseas, Nauvo’s (Nagu’s) archipelago refers to two main islands and about 3000 smaller islands and skerries.

Nauvo, a big heart.

Something baffling, fascinating and extremely realistic: Ron Mueck in Tampere

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If you are heading to Tampere, here’s a chocolate tip and an art tip.

The first recommendation is the exhibition of Ron Mueck’s big human figures at the Sara Hildén art museum (Laiturikatu 13). This is the first time the works of this Australia born sculptor are on display in the Nordic countries.

The works are very realistic; his art has also been characterized as hyper realistic.  The body hair, skinfolds, a short bristle, wrinkles, a chip in the toe nail, the blood stains on a gigantic four meter long newborn baby and a bleeding wound.  The size, realism and the subjects of the works make them very impressive, and expressive. Mueck is talented, no question about that. I was both fascinated and baffled while looking at the sculptures.

I almost had to pinch myself from touching the works. The museum has tried to solve this problem by providing a material model with which the visitors can gently feel the materials that the artist uses.

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In addition to the works themselves one fascinating thing was a video showing how the works are made. I watched it twice because the first time I didn’t quite grasp the whole process. So many work phases, an arduous process and so many people that are involved in the making of the pieces.

The exhibition is on until October 16, 2016. Check it out. The art museum is located right next to or almost inside an amusement park.

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And not to forget, the chocolate tip: the chocolate shop Tallipihan Suklaapuoti in Tallipiha (Kuninkaankatu 4) won’t let you down if you want to keep your blood sugar levels high with chocolate truffles and traditional style caramels.