For my last cafe in Budapest, I went to the restored Cafe New York in the New York Palace (named after the New York Life Insurance Co. that built it in the 1890s). The room looked gorgeous, but the items were a bit overpriced (like I was paying for all the gilt and marble with every mineral water). I decided to try the rigo jansci, which I've made myself. I have to say, I like my version better. This is supposed to be a light chocolate mousse, sandwiched between two thin slices of chocolate cake and then glazed in dark chocolate ganache. Their version was just a rather dry mousse with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top.
Walking back to the pension the last time, I couldn't help think how much the neighborhood reminded me of the area of Jerusalem I lived when I was on the Fulbright: Emek Refaim (aka the Greek Colony). Similar sidewalks, stone fences, recessed buildings with green trees. Spend any time in Central Europe and you can see how much of it was brought to Israel by the immigrants.
At 4 am, my alarm went off to get ready for the pick up. The driver spoke no English (or German, French, Spanish, or Hebrew), so he couldn't confirm the price. It turned out to be a shuttle service rather than a taxi, so we me made several other pick ups. When we got to the airport, he walked me to the service counter, where they told me the cost was 2,800 forints, far less than a taxi would have cost.
I'd never been to Budapest Ferihegy airport before, and I hope to avoid it in the future. A massive mob of people in no particular queue waiting to check in luggage at the one of the few check in counters open at 5 am. The reason for the crowd is that they have at least half a dozen flights all scheduled between 7 and 7:15 am. I managed to find a clerk by the automated boarding machine dispensers who walked me through it. Since I had no check in luggage, I could bypass the mob and go straight to security. If I had had to check in a suitcase, however, I'm would have barely made my flight (I saw a couple from my shuttle board the plane in a hurry just before they closed the main cabin door).
The good news with my flights is that I had very short layovers: just under 2 hours in Brussels, just over 2 hours in Chicago. The bad news is both subsequent flights were oversold. At Brussels I was surprised to learn I needed to check in and thought they might bump me (they were offering $1000 travel vouchers at that point to fly out the next day); in Chicago, they called up half the plane to recheck in, but I made it through (only $300 vouchers there, though). No screaming toddlers these flights; mostly middle school and high school students on vacation. All together, about 24 hours from when I first woke up until I walked through my front door at home.