Sunday, August 2, 2014

I take part in a staring contest with a white and brown Maine Coon who might as well be the shopkeeper and face of the endearing Cat Cafe—one of two coffeehouses in Budapest dedicated to the feline companions loved by so many.

The cafe is home to four cats to whose breeds I am oblivious. As a dog person I get points just for knowing a Maine Coon, but I can see why people like cats—sort of. I mean, what’s not to like about a pet who (sometimes) responds to you with affection, while happily ignoring everyone else in the room?

The Cat Cafe reminds me of a cafe near where I lived in Taipei. It was also a modest establishment that looked like it would never fill up. But that’s the point of a ‘cafe city’—there are always enough coffeehouses to provide everyone with their own private corner.

Cats are most of the time calm and elegant in their demeanour, making dogs—and people like me who like dogs—seem like clowns in comparison. A ‘graceful’ dog would be hard to come by indeed. It would perhaps take a few months as a cat owner to truly appreciate the appeal of one of our smallest feline species.

The Maine Coon, one of the largest domesticated breeds of cat, catches my eye as a potential future pet because of its sheer size in comparison with the others in the cat family. It almost resembles a lynx or miniature lion in its physique: a long body with an equally lengthy tail to match; big paws and a lion-like mane.

The ‘Coon’ I encountered also happened to exhibit lazy, Sunday-afternoon behaviour akin to that of male lion: the self-proclaimed leader of a pride who is also wrongly known as the ‘King of the Jungle’—since…well, lions don’t live in jungles. (Sorry to shatter your dreams.)

To sum up: ‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion doesn’t sleep tonight.’

Moving on. Like dogs, however, cats have their vices—a piece of string, or a small bag of sugar. And once you know how to tease them, they provide endless hours of entertainment.

That said, unlike dogs, cats seem only interested in moving, potentially living objects; things that they can prey and pounce on. Perhaps cats are more intelligent than dogs after all.

Elsewhere in Budapest, I stopped by the Great Market Hall where both Hungarians and tourists go.

Also known as the Central Market Hall, one finds in Nagycsarnok locals on the first floor and tourists on the second, as the small building easily caters to both of Budapest’s demographics. I like a place that attracts both, because that shows it’s not just a PR gimmick.

While tourists spend time squeezing through the aisles of the souvenir section on the second floor—or first floor in Hungary and other parts of Europe—locals go from shop to shop in search of the freshest fruits and vegetables; ham and sausages; red and white wines, all at the most attractive of prices.

Sundays in Budapest are interesting. Nothing much is open on the traditional day of rest and most families rush their week’s grocery shopping the day before—including yours truly. If you want to get drunk at home on Sunday, get your booze ready on Saturday or ‘you’re gonna have a bad time,’ as the Internet would say.

As I’ve alluded to not very inconspicuously in the past, indoor and outdoor activities are aplenty in this city. But which do you choose on your very sacred Sunday? Do you spend time in Cat Cafe, or do you opt for sunburn and visit one of the city’s many attractions? Coffee or Buda Castle; beer or Angel of Liberty? As the Internet would again be quick to tell you: ‘¿Por que no los dos?’ JSF.

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