THE RESTAURANT OF HAPPY BIRTHDAYS

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When we couldn’t find what we were looking for at Belcanto, which we’d gone in the hope of listening to gypsy music, we went to another recommended restaurant the next night : The Gundel. We were sure that we would find what we were looking for. We liked this historical restaurant that bragged about hosting many celebrities including the Pope (can’t remember which one) and Queen Elizabeth. It had a beautiful, intimate dining hall with a balcony.

“Well, we’ll definitely make up for last night tonight,” we said!

How overly optimistic we were.

The music at the Gundel was even worse than at the Belcanto.

A small band that talked among themselves more than they played music… A violin player that approached tables for requests and tips… Then more chatter and music: The Beatles… Sinatra… Yves Montand!

We managed to endure all this. But then the happy birthday tunes began – and continued… There was nothing we could do. The lights were dimmed three times to be followed by, yet again, the birthday song. I called the manager over and, after telling him about the Budapest I remembered, said: “What is this? Do we have to listen to this all night?

“What can we do, sir?” he said. “People come here to celebrate their birthdays and we have to play the song for each of them.”

“Becoming a member of the EU certainly hasn’t done you guys any favors. You quickly integrated with the west but lost your identity,” I said before we left.

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