As we entered the Opera house we were stunned by its beauty. It was designed to rival the opera house in Paris and though it doesn’t quite hit that extreme level, it was still overwhelming. I took a few photos and then we asked one of the ushers if they would take a photo of the group of us.
Tongues were clucked and we were informed that the taking of photos was STRICTLY prohibited and a sign was pointed out to us and we apologized. As we ascended the grand central staircase I whispered to Robb, “I know you just got out your camera and turned the flash off... me too.” We took a few quick secret photos and went in to the bar for a pre-opera cocktail. As we stood and marveled (and snapped secretly away) we noticed how many other people were just plain taking photos. Photos. Photos. FLASH Photos. Hey! Why am I being so careful?
Needless to say, you can see some of our handiwork right here on this blog.
The Plot to La Boheme:
Puccini´s most expressive opera describes life among the poor artists of Paris´s Latin Quarter, the original bohemians. Hungry but cheerful, the poet Rodolfo shares a garret with Marcello, a painter, and two others. One Christmas Eve the frail seamstress Mimi comes to Rodolfo´s door for help. The two fall in love. In the meantime Marcello carries on a turbulent affair with Musetta. But Rodolfo is impossibly jealous of Mimi. The two regretfully part until Musetta reveals that Mimi is dying of consumption. Rodolfo flies to Mimi´s side and the lovers are united only to be separated forever by Mimi´s death.
The opera was quite lovely in spite of that fact that Mimi was certain to die. Can’t they ever change the ending just for me?
The protocol at the Budapest Opera was a tad different than what we are used to. Applause at the end of key arias, a curtain call at the end of each act. Long breaks between acts to change the sets. The set for the winter crossing scene even got applause when the curtain opened (it was lovely). In the end, for the final curtain call the leads cam out first followed by the supporting cast. Different.
After the opera it was time to claim our table at the Cigar Bar in the New York Palace Boscolo Hotel! Though it was cold, and our dressy clothes were thin we walked over. When we got to the hotel bar, sure enough our table was set with a large reserved sign and ready for our arrival... or anyone’s arrival. There was NO ONE at the bar. No wonder they could guarantee us that table.
Still no matches in sight (and again, we toured the whole bar) Robb decided to be clever and asked for an ashtray. The ashtray came without matches. We had our drinks we had a good time. We kept trying to figure out how to get those stinking matches. Finally Lyle just asked for matches (we still hadn’t used that ashtray).
It took the poor server about 10 minutes to come back with matches. God only knows where they were keeping them. We got all of two boxes and thankfully they actually said “Boscolo” because by then we were certain she would only be able to find matches that said “Safeway” on them.
We headed out of that Hotel bar and stopped for a drink or two at another bar and realized were getting quite hungry. The trams and underground had stopped running by this time (about midnight) and we were still in our very cold fancy clothes. We walked home in search of food. Food. Any kind of FOOD. Finding none, we decided we’d just order room service... except after 11 pm, that was all crap. Cold baguette sandwich for $8. Spaghetti for $10? So, we changed and headed back out into the night to find bad souvlaki or pizza. I mean, come on, it’s a universal truth that there is always drunken bar food to be had after midnight in any town!
The hotel concierge knew exactly what we were seeking and it was located... right between the Opera and the New York Palace Hotel. Or, right where we had already been but had gone the wrong direction.
We headed back out without Lewis. He placed his order with Robb. As the gimp of the group, I should have been as smart as Lewis. Half an hour later, after an gyros AND a meat pie, I was happy I had come out to get food. But unhappy to have to walk home. Did I mention it was till COLD?