7 Apr 2014

BUDAPEST (part 1)

Late on Saturday night, my sis and I returned from Budapest. Unsurprisingly, we had an awesome time. The Hungarians were v.friendly and helpful (almost everyone we met spoke english), the weather was sublime, most things - particularly the beer - was super cheap, the mix of architecture was a feast for the eyes and the food was guuud. I was told before we left that Budapest is known for its coffee and cake and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Although we were only gone 3 and a half days it felt like a lot longer, most probably due to the fact that we saw a lot of stuff and, consequently, took a lot of pictures. So as not to completely over-load you with photos in one hit, here's what Wednesday and Thursday looked like...

Our cute little apartment was two storeys up on a main road, but thanks to the windows facing this courtyard it was very quiet, not to mention pretty. We arrived at about half six, got settled in and then went for a wander and to stock up on essentials - tea, milk :) before dropping in on our first bar in the city, El Rapido. The ground floor served mexican food (fajitas = yum) and the tiny bar, seating and stage area were in the basement. Here my sister and I drank v.tasty beer (two half litres cost less than £3!) and listened to a guitar and harmonica duo whilst gazing at the decor. The basement was covered from floor to ceiling with odds and ends - shoes, books, signs, toys. A lively, and grotty (in a good way) little venue and our perfect introduction to the city.
The weather on thursday was gorgeous - so sunny and hot that we sat outside Gerbeaud, one of the oldest cafés in Budapest, whilst eating most delicious sundaes ever. This was easily the most expensive place we went to but the coffee was v.good and well, just look at my esterhazy sundae. Next we decided to walk off our decadent brunch by venturing across the beautiful chain bridge to Buda. We were actually looking for Buda Castle but it turns out that it no longer exists and in it's place, at the top of the hill and over-looking the Danube, is the Hungarian National Gallery.
After taking in the amazing views we went in search of the castle labyrinth. The 13th century caves were rather bizarre. The self guided tour started with wax models illustrating the story-line of an opera (cue lots of opera music wailing through the tunnels) which abruptly stopped and gave way to historical artifacts and information about the man-made labyrinth. Up to this point we'd been following arrows on the walls which directed us through the caves but these became few and far between and, even more disconcertingly, the further we went parts of the labyrinth were incredibly dark and even slightly flooded (I'm not going to lie, Katie and I got pretty freaked out at one point). Eventually, the haunting opera music re-surfaced and led us to a room with opera footage projected onto a screen. Thankfully, this was also next to the exit. Is it a holiday if you can't nearly crap you pants in a v.poorly lit 13th century labyrinth? Well yes, but I am glad we went.
Back out in the sunshine we decided to take a stroll along the river (the Pest bank reminded us a lot of the South Bank in London) to see the Central Market Hall - a stunning two storey indoor market selling clothes, souvenirs and  tonnes of food. Thanks to walking almost continually all day, we were starving so I bought a bag of v.tasty pastry things, that were kind of like mini cheese scones. As well as lots of meat and pastry stalls we saw a number of people selling chilli products. Apparently the Hungarian chilli is quite a thing - who knew! I bought some hot paprika to take back for Mitch, that man loves spicy food. Many of the stalls on the upper level sold fabric and cloths with the prettiest and most intricate embroidery - really wish I'd got a better picture of them, or better yet, bought some! We got the tram and metro back to the apartment before going out to dinner at Menza. The restaurant was v.70s looking (entirely brown and orange) but the food, and wine, were grand. I opted for the Hungarian beef stew which was lush. There didn't seem to be a lot of vegetarian choices in the restaurants we went to so I ate quite a lot of meat during the trip, mostly beef. After two glasses of wine and some apple strudel (YUM) we called it a night - a combination of walking for miles and stuffing our faces meant that we weren't good for anything other than sleep.

Still to come: visiting the thermal baths, coffee in the Book Café, trying Hungarian goulash and a boat trip on the Danube.


  1. Looks great. I am keen to go to Budapest. Must say don't think I will be going in the caves. Scary!

    1. yeah it was pretty scary. It felt kinda un-supervised. At one point I thought to myself, "if we got lost down here, would anybody come and find us?"

  2. It looks and sounds amazing! Especially all the food and that massive market - looking forward to the Book Cafe! x

    1. It was :) the book café was v.cool. need to sort the rest of the pictures out x


Ta v.much :)

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