Budapest dining, train
• The restaurant Karpatia Etterem es Sovozo (Inboda Ferencier Tere 7-8, Budapest, Hungary; phone 0036-1-317-3596) is located in Buda, not far from the Danube. This elegant, old restaurant has it all: a variety of excellent food plus ambiance, music and reasonable prices (at least, for Americans and Brits).
The cost for dinner for five people, including wine, dessert and tip, was 29,200 florints (about $26) per person in April ’04.
The musicians, who strolled to different tables part of the time playing requests, played everything from “Hora Staccato” (my favorite) and Hungarian pieces to “Bolero,” Strauss waltzes and pop tunes like “Fascination.”
The service was equally fine, with no one rushing us or hovering. I wanted to stay all evening!
• We found the MAV train we took from Budapest into Romania (four-plus hours) very comfortable in first class. The trip cost only $42.
First-class cars contained compartments of six seats each, with a nonsmoking area at one end of the car. Some trains had dining cars, but this one did not, so it’s best to take food and water with you; you can buy them at the train station.
Tickets, however, have to be purchased at a different site and in advance; however, the MAV ticket office (Andrassy 34, Budapest) was easy to find and conveniently located a short walk from the “Opera” metro stop (yellow line) on Andrassy.
The office was open until 5 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. Fridays (as of mid-April). Visa and MasterCard were accepted, and they spoke English. I didn’t need to show a passport, which was especially nice as I was buying tickets for more people than myself. They even offered the information that a round-trip ticket was cheaper for me than a one-way!