Sunday, June 26, 2016

Budapest

Kyle and I spent a wonderful, long Thanksgiving weekend in Budapest, Hungary with our good friends, Nate and Linda.  Budapest has been high on our list for a long time, and it exceeded our expectations.  It's a beautiful city with plenty of European elegance as well as some edginess from it's not so distant communist past.  We enjoyed a wonderful weekend with plenty of historical sites, delicious food, and fun company.

Kyle and I arrived late in the evening several hours after Nate and Linda.  We met up with them at our beautiful hotel, the Corinthia Hotel.  While you can definitely find cheaper accommodations in Budapest, it's also a good place to pay a little bit extra for some luxury that you would never be able to afford in a city like Paris or London.  It had a gorgeous spa that we took advantage of every evening!  Our first night there we only had enough time for a nice dinner at the Zeller Bistro, which I highly recommend.  It was local, in-season Hungarian food with more modern touches.  It was a perfect way to begin our trip!



We started off our first full day with a walking tour of the city.  I love walking tours for your first time in a large city to orient yourself, learn some history, see the major sites and decide if you would like to go back and spend more time at any of the major sites.  Our walking tour was a lot of fun and very informational.  












This is exactly what the Dr. ordered after a ton of walking!

That evening we had my favorite kind of tour booked; a food tour, which was perfect for our Thanksgiving Day!  We had a wonderful guide that took us to a wide variety of food establishments throughout the city.  We tasted everything from traditional Hungarian food to street food, drinks at fun bars and everything in between.  I never regret doing a food tour!

Local charcuterie and cheeses

Langos; fried dough with savory toppings

Our favorite, the Bar Pharma

Custom made cocktails 


The next day after a delicious breakfast at Két Szerecsen (we ate there two mornings in a row!) we rode the Hop On, Hop Off bus to make our way around the city and see some sites that were further away that we didn't get to see the day before. It was a blustery cold day, so it was nice to warm up on the bus between sites!

Heroes' Square

Heroes' Square





We had reservations that afternoon to tour Budapest's most famous landmark, the Parliament building.  We were running a little bit late and ended up running there to make it in time.  (One of two times we ended up running to make it on time that day!) It was worth the run.  The building is just as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.












Near the Parliament building down by the river is a very moving Jewish memorial, Shoes on the Danube.  The memorial honors Jews that were killed by militiamen during WWII.  They were ordered to take off their shoes (so the shoes could be reused) before being shot, with their bodies falling straight into the river.






We had a fabulous traditional Hungarian dinner that evening at the Hungarikum Bistro.  It's a cozy, family run place that serves excellent, hearty dishes.  I highly recommend it, though a reservation is a must!


Kyle's pork paprikash

My roasted duck with red kraut and potatoes

Live entertainment

Budapest is an awesome city to go out in!  There are a huge variety of bars, and they are cheap! Budapest is known for a unique type of bar called "ruin bars," which are exactly what they sound like. The city still has a large number of building ruins in the Jewish neighborhood.  Bars have been put into many of these ruins and they're all very unique, quirky, and have their own flavor.  The most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert, which we visited on the food tour.  We had a lot of fun bar hopping!

Szimpla (very hard to get a pic in such low lighting)


We spent some time shopping at the famous Market Hall and the beautiful Christmas markets.  My favorite part of visiting Christmas markets is sampling the local food and gluhwein!  It's always so delicious, and an inexpensive way to try local dishes.

Market Hall

We did not partake in the rooster testicles.




One evening we took a Danube River cruise.  We ended up running (again) to catch the boat.  The numbers on the docks were not chronological, and so we ended up walking a long time out of the way before we realized we were not going the right way.  Luckily the boat was late taking off, and we made it!






On our last day, we had a late flight home, so we were still able to have a full day of touring.  It was a beautiful day, and our only time to see blue skies while we were there!  It was kind of our communist history day, so we started off at the House of Terror, which gives the history of the communist and fascist regimes of Hungary.  The museum is very well done and informative.

(Linda's pic)

Blue Skies!!
That afternoon we had time to do a walking communist tour of the city before heading to the airport.  It was an interesting way to learn more about the communist history of Hungary, and how they're still transitioning from the regime today.


We had such a fun trip, and we were glad to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with such fun people!  Budapest is definitely a city we would like to go back to.  We didn't even have time to visit the famous baths, and we'd love to see it with some warmth and sunny skies!  I highly recommend a visit to this elegant and quirky city, before everyone else realizes how great it is and the prices go up!